Wiretap: Doing better for vets; looking at poor people

Doing Better for the Vets

Glenn Haggstrom, principal executive director in the office of Acquisition and Construction for the Department of Veterans Affairs, has resigned. Trouble has plagued construction at the 182-bed Denver VA hospital in Aurora. Project delays and overruns have been at the center of news reports and congressional scoldings for months. Calls for heads of the people in charge by the members of the Colorado congressional delegation grew after project spokespeople announced a new estimate of $1.73 billion.

Looking at Poor People

How poor are the poor? Tom Edsall asks the question and gets a variety of answers, most of them starting with “It depends.” Mostly, it depends how you measure being poor. Absolute poverty is not as bad as it used to be. Relative poverty — the distance from those at the bottom of income distribution to the middle — is clearly worse. The answer is important. And which measure you use may depend on whether you believe in the continuing need for a safety net.

But also Rural Child Poverty

This week, Colorado Children’s Coalition reported that the state’s overall child poverty rate dropped by a single percentage point in 2013 — the first decrease recorded in five years. But not all of Colorado is experiencing progress: “The economic recovery hasn’t necessarily hit our rural communities, and we certainly hear that when we go talk to folks,” president of the nonprofit Chris Watney said. Via the Gazette. 

Journalist, Do Not Look Away

Journalists are tapped out on Campaign finance stories and that is not OK. The absurd corrupt and corrupting system in place is the biggest story in contemporary politics. Or as Paul Waldman puts at the Washington Post: “It’s often said that when it comes to campaign finance, the real scandal is what’s legal, and I’m sure most reporters think that’s true. So they ought to treat that story the same way they treat the rest of the things (often trivial) that we give the name ‘scandal.’”

From Childhood to Death… in Prison

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett is breaking ranks with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council by publicly backing Rep. Daniel Kagan’s recently introduced bill that would give judges in the state reduced sentencing options for juveniles convicted of Class 1 felonies. In 2012, SCOTUS ruled that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional, yet there are still around 50 people in Colorado prisons doing life for crimes they committed as teenagers. This bill would make those inmates eligible for re-sentencing, which Garnett calls a “step in the right direction” but which CDAC executive director Tom Raynes calls too severe and aggressive. Via the Daily Camera.

Way Off Track

Bad train week in Weld County: A coal train en-route to La Junta derailed Sunday near the town of Hudson in eastern Colorado, spilling tons of coal and damaging part of the track. Not more than a day later, a Union Pacific train carrying fertilizer pellets partially derailed near Highway 85. Investigations are ongoing. Photos of the first via FOX31 and of the second via the Coloradoan.

More Leaning on Activist Judges

Republicans may actually be beginning to put together a plan to replace Obamacare. The first part of the plan begins – where else? — in the Supreme Court. Via the National Journal.

Desertion Decision

Why the Army is charging ex-POW Bowe Berghdal with desertion: According to the Atlantic, it was either a court-martial or an honorable discharge. That doesn’t mean Berghdal will end up being court-martialed.

The Cruz Plan

E.J. Dionne: Ted Cruz knows what he’s doing. He’s going hard after the conservative vote. And if it works out for Cruz, it’s bad news for Scott Walker and very good news for Jeb Bush. Via the Washington Post.

It’s Not Personal, Bibi

It’s not Obama vs. Bibi. It’s Obama’s policies vs. Netanyahu’s policies. And apologies won’t help. Via the New Yorker.

No Name Cops

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has to decide by Monday whether to sign a bill that would keep the names of cops involved in serious shootings confidential for 60 days. Even in Arizona this is controversial. Via New York Times.

Fossil Fuel Break

Costa Rica went 75 days without using any fossil fuels for electricity. Which doesn’t mean that larger, richer countries could do the same. Via Vox.

Photo by DVIDSHUB via Flickr.

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