Colorado Editorial Roundup
Aurora Sentinel, Nov. 14, on “blue wave” drowning common sense and public safety:
Voters in Arapahoe County and all over the state made their voices heard loud and clear last week: Residents here have no business electing government administrators.
The shocking and illogical party-line votes in Arapahoe County and elsewhere shined a new and ugly light on the state’s arcane partisan way it empowers mundane government administrators.
A Sentinel Colorado story this week by reporter Quincy Snowdon focuses into the county’s new sheriff: Tyler Brown.
Brown, a Democrat, is 35 and currently a police officer in Mountain View.
Never heard of it? It’s a sort of a 12-block town of less than 600 people tucked between Wheat Ridge and Lakeside. It’s claim to fame is how the town makes money. A joint 9News-Rocky Mountain PBS investigation in 2014 and beyond revealed that the townlette is a notorious ticket farm. Stories made public that the municipality makes up to half its revenue by having its 10-person police force hand out a mountain of tickets for things like having an air-freshener hanging from a rear-view mirror or driving a car with a cracked windshield.
The Arapahoe County sheriff oversees a staff of deputies and jail employees nearly as large as the town Brown is now policing. He previously was a police officer for a short time in Northglenn, and before that, a code enforcement officer in Aurora.
He’s a smart and affable man. And he may eventually make a good sheriff. But if Brown were applying for a similar top police job in any county or city in the country, he wouldn’t even get an interview because of his lack of ranking experience.
The current sheriff, Dave Walcher, virtually has a lifetime of experience. He also boasts rave reviews from local officials and peers across the political spectrum as a solid lawman.
He lost last week’s election because a “blue wave” of votes for Democrats washed over just about every Republican in the county.
Walcher is a Republican.
The county has long been a Republican stronghold, so despite the recent anti-Trump, anti-Walker Stapleton sentiment, the down-ballot outrage for all things Republican was surprising.
The same thing happened to Arapahoe County assessor and clerk incumbents. Both were tossed out last week by voters only because they were Republicans.
Voters have just elected a Democratic Realtor to run one of biggest and most complex property tax assessment offices in the state, throwing out an esteemed pro who’s worked as a professional for years.
The county assessor, clerk, treasurer, coroner and sheriff have no more to do with partisan politics than does the employee who plows the roads.
At the very least, these should be non-partisan offices, but for the sake of the public, they should be appointed by the county commission in the same way cities like Aurora appoint its police chief and top administrative officials.
State lawmakers this year should create legislation to permit and encourage counties to end the ludicrous partisan pandemonium for all elected positions, but especially administrative ones.
Better yet, counties should be required to end the pioneer-days notion of electing these positions. They’re important enough to require specific skills, experience and much more accountability and scrutiny than they now get just once every four years. And these positions are far too important to be decided by the political whims of voters taking out their righteous disdain for politics in Washington and Denver against down-ballot elected officials with the wrong letter at the end of their name on the ballot.
(Colorado Springs) The Gazette, Nov. 11, on never soaking the rich:
Pandering politicians claim the rich are a problem for the poor. They talk of “income disparity” and a “concentration of wealth” among the few. They appeal to class envy and declare something must be done.
The Gazette’s editorial board heard it recently in a meeting with our friend, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. The wealthy Democrat is a likely candidate for president and speaks of the need for future tax policies to address a “concentration of wealth” resulting from the technological revolution.
“When you look at all senior executives and shareholders of these companies, basically you have to switch your eyes,” Hickenlooper said. “That’s sucking money out of every man, woman and child in this country.
“We as a society have to figure out what we’re going to do about it. It’s going to doom us to not be able to take care of our elderly when they’re sick. It’s going to doom us. We’ll face moral situations we’re not going to want. I sound like a (expletive) socialist, but I’m not.”
He is a quintessential capitalist, if we consider his actions instead of words. His life story belies his concern.
Hickenlooper’s tale reveals the secret of success. It is a recipe of patience, vision, delayed gratification and using money like seed corn.
He worked as an oil and gas geologist in the 1980s. When oil prices fell, he lost his job.
With extremely limited resources, Hickenlooper built a dream job. He converted a vacant warehouse in lower downtown Denver into a brewpub, before most people knew about craft beer.
The famous Wynkoop Brewing Company led a cultural and economic renaissance in a dilapidated warehouse district.
Hickenlooper had no reason to stop. He opened more brewpubs, including the popular Phantom Canyon in downtown Colorado Springs. Phantom Canyon inspired others to invest in the neighborhood. Over decades, the growth of Hickenlooper’s small investment helped make Colorado’s Front Range the Napa Valley of high-end beer.
In creating a small restaurant empire, Hickenlooper’s net worth grew to millions. As he concentrated wealth, investing in constructive endeavors, he deprived the working class and poor of nothing. He created work for truck drivers, waiters, cooks, janitors, CPAs, lawyers, architects and more. By growing his wealth, he spread wealth.
Hickenlooper’s success enhanced the tax base, generating revenue for indigent health care and other social concerns he cares about.
In a free market, wealth amasses among those who provide the goods, services and commodities humanity needs. One gets rich by producing riches, which are all that backs the value of a dollar.
To simplify, consider a tale of two young twins. Bobby and Cindy receive $5 gift cards from grandma. One will grow the money, the other will not.
Each child wants the latest Fortnite game app upgrade, a bag of Skittles, and a Sprite. Problem is, the game costs $4. The remaining dollar won’t buy Skittles and Sprite.
Bobby settles for the game. Cindy commits to having all three and buys none with her $5. Instead, she spends $4 on powdered lemonade and sets up a table at the park. She sells 32 drinks for 50 cents each. She earns $16. Minus her $4 investment, plus the dollar she had, Cindy has $13 instead of $5.
With $13, Cindy buys the game, the Skittles and the Sprite for $7. She has $6 remaining and invests an additional $4 in Lemonade. Each time she repeats the cycle, she has more cash and more of what it can buy. She uses her expanding pool of capital to start additional lemonade stands run by kids who repay her with a cut.
Cindy took nothing from Bobby or anyone else. By growing her capital — and her net worth — she helped people in need of refreshment. The local store sold more Skittles, Sprite and lemonade. She traded her wealth with many, each benefiting from the exchanges. It all began with 5 bucks.
Bobby considers Cindy’s wealth unfair, even though he benefits from her plentiful candy supply and regular Fortnite upgrades.
“Tell Cindy to share her money. She has more than she needs,” Bobby says to mom.
Think: new tax on Cindy.
“If I do that, Cindy will have less to invest in lemonade. That does no one any favors,” mom explains. “Go help Cindy sell lemonade.”
This phenomenon scales up and the outcomes do not change, whether one turns dollars into millions or billions. It works the same when Apple sells iPhones or Exxon sells fuel. It works the same when a jobless man creates an entertainment trend in a warehouse.
Constructive endeavors grow the gross domestic product. Everyone wins when millionaires, billionaires or penny ante lemonade barons grow the economy.
Because of capitalism spreading around the globe, by humans accumulating wealth, the world poverty rate fell from 28.6 percent in 1970 to about 5 percent in the early 21st century.
Don’t believe the myth of the zero-sum game. Someone getting rich does not cause someone to get poor.
Capitalists do not bury money in the backyard, keeping it from the middle class and poor. They succeed financially by solving problems and improving the way we live, work and play. To do so, they create jobs, distribute goods and consume. They are economic brewer’s yeast, growing the money supply and keeping it moving. By amassing wealth, they benefit the rich, poor and middle class alike. As you did, Mr. Governor. It is a far cry from doom.
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Nov. 11, on transitioning to Gov. Polis:
Fresh off his Election Day win, Governor-elect Jared Polis on Thursday pledged to protect the state’s public lands and promote its outdoor recreation industry, which he said provides 229,000 jobs and $2 billion a year in state and local taxes in Colorado.
For Polis, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Denver couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. The show provided a ready audience to tout his commitment to Colorado’s outdoors heritage. The Outdoor Retailer trade show left Utah because state leaders there were perceived as hostile toward public lands issues, including protecting Bear Ears National Monument.
“I will very much take seriously my responsibility to be a faithful steward of our outdoor resources as well as an evangelist for growth of the outdoor tourism and recreation economy,” Polis said at the massive trade show.
A day later, Polis put some teeth behind those sentiments by naming Sarah Shrader and Ken Gart to his transition team. Both have been evangelists in their own right about plumping up the role outdoor recreation can play as a driver in the Grand Valley’s economy. Shrader, the founder and owner of Bonsai Design, which is anchoring a private-public partnership to establish an outdoor recreation-themed business park at Las Colonias, and Gart, one of the owners of Powderhorn Mountain Resort and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s bike czar, were appointed to a transition team subcommittee focused on economic development and labor.
All told, there are seven committees, “each tasked with helping us find the best talent in Colorado to join our administration and helping us dig into a specific stet of questions or challenges,” according to Polis’s transition website, www.BoldlyForward.co. The Keystone Center is facilitating the work of the transition team subcommittees.
The transition team includes major political donors and prominent Democrats, such as former Gov. Bill Ritter, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and former Colorado State University President Al Yates. But Polis spokeswoman Mara Sheldon said no lobbyists or current lawmakers are part of the team and the transition website invites anyone to apply for a position among the subcommittees and the working groups they oversee.
In a statement Polis said he and Lt. Gov.-elect Dianne Primavera “plan to hit the ground running in January and get to work turning our vision for a stronger education system, expanding access to affordable health care, and an economy that works for everyone into reality,” Jared Polis said. “Over the next 60 days, a group of more than 60 experts in their field, community leaders, and Coloradans representing the broad diversity of our state will be helping us prepare to take on these challenges.”
We’re glad to see Polis reaching out to the Western Slope, especially in the realm of outdoor recreation. Hopefully some of the region’s other luminaries with expertise in health care, education and transportation — and the challenges they pose in rural areas — will find their way onto the roster regardless of political affiliation. Because the best ideas always transcend partisanship.
The Durango Herald, Nov. 9, on Colorado voters’ approach to amendments and propositions:
Decision-making by ballot was in high order in this fall’s election in Colorado. Tax increases and additions to the constitution and new statutes which never would have been created by the legislature were subject to much rhetoric and to limited discussion. For the most part the craziness was voted down.
Amendment 73, which would have added to the taxes of businesses and high-income individuals to provide $1.6 billion for public schools was defeated by 12 percentage points (following the 2016 election, amendments to the state Constitution require 55 percent approval). Residential taxes would contribute and the Gallagher’s factor’s downward spiral would be halted; on the other hand, noncommercial property owners would see a school tax reduction. And, a new funding formula was have been required.
Amendment 73 included appealing components, but it was too expansive to be absorbed by voters in a couple of months. It did not lend itself to yard signs.
More importantly, and unfortunately, 73 is not a mix that the Colorado Legislature would be able to design. Anything like it would require extraordinary participation from all players.
Coloradans made clear they also do not want to pay for highways with new taxes nor threaten the state’s budget. An additional sales tax which would have put a big dent in the state’s backlog of construction needs lost by 12 points (a statute, so only 51 percent was needed). A second, limited approach to use existing revenues to fund a smaller list of projects also failed by about the same amount. Voters likely heard the opposition cautioning voters that in difficult economic times, that money would have to come from other state needs.
What will be the next approach? The newcomers whom the state’s strong economy are attracting are growing the state’s highway needs. Current funding mostly covers repairs only.
The extreme oil and gas well setback distance, which originated in and around Boulder County, where wells back up against subdivisions, rightly failed by 8 percentage points statewide. Proposition 112 was too excessive for most of the state, and would have almost halted the exploration industry which comes with good jobs and healthy local and state tax revenues. Voters showed good judgment.
It was the possibility of a large setback requirement that caused the energy industry, aided by agricultural groups, to put forth the “takings” amendment to the Constitution, which would have had governments compensate landowners for reducing the value of their property - preventing drilling, that is. But that compensation could have been extended to the negative effects of all kinds of government decisions involving property, leading to government inaction and legal frenzies. Wisely, Amendment 74 was defeated.
Ballot questions can be overly simplistic or excessive, poorly constructed or miss their mark. And they can test voters’ wishes. A Colorado election can include examples of them all.