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Colorado Editorial Roundup

March 6, 2019

The Denver Post, March 5, on John Hickenlooper running for president:

It would be wonderful if someone like John Hickenlooper — a down-to-earth, thoughtful and decent man — could become our president.

Hickenlooper is a man who actually made his fortune through a risky business plan, hard work and determination. Then the political novice became mayor of Denver and then governor of Colorado.

He led the Mile High City and this great state with a steady hand while making some big dreams become a reality.

We think he could accomplish much with four years in the White House, not least of which would be helping to calm the rough political seas in which America has been set adrift.

We know not everyone agrees with his politics or his decisions. Hick is, after all, a Democrat in a purple state who enacted gun safety laws like universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines. He believes in climate change and has taken steps to decrease Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions.

But no one can deny that as governor he always tried to strike a tone of unity. In 16 years, we have never once seen him try to demonize his political opponents, even behind the scenes his staff has operated under a strict code of refusing to take cheap political shots. He doesn’t have a Twitter account filled with angry messages intended to divide this nation nor does he have a “basket of deplorables” moment that would haunt him in a general election.

“This is a crisis of division,” Hickenlooper said early Monday morning on Good Morning America. “Ultimately I’m running for president because I believe that not only can I beat Donald Trump, but that I am the person who can bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done.”

Will America’s Democrats cast their primary ballots for someone whose campaign brand is working with the other side? Contrary to popular belief, there is a political middle in America, a universe of moderates who may have been snapped out of their election funk by a president who is outside reasonable norms.

It is optimism, not naivete, which makes us hope for a candidate for president who is not focused on burying political enemies but on burying the hatchet.

Hickenlooper did indeed work well with Colorado’s legislature when the Capitol was divided with Republicans holding one chamber and Democrat’s holding the other. Perhaps that’s because Hickenlooper has done the opposite of surrounding himself with “yes” men during his career, and has hired some of the most admirable civil servants we can think of, including picking two excellent lieutenant governors in Joe Garcia and Donna Lynne.

We don’t know if Hickenlooper can win a Democratic primary that has at least 14 other qualified candidates — many of whom would also be good picks for the White House — already running for a chance to become president.

But we do know that we’re glad he’s trying and that America could do, and has done historically, far worse than electing a president like John Hickenlooper.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/2VxHpfQ

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The Daily Sentinel, March 3, on Mesa County and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act:

Several Western Slope county commissioners stepped away from their Club 20 meeting on Thursday to convene at the Sentinel and express support for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.

They described a yearslong collaborative process to shape the legislation, drawing the input of counties, businesses, ranchers, outdoor recreation groups, conservationists and sportsmen to protect — through a variety of designations — about 400,000 acres of public land largely situated on Colorado’s Western Slope.

Eventually, the conversation turned to the elephant in the room — Mesa County’s opposition to the CORE Act, which commissioners expressed in a misinformed letter they approved on Monday.

None of the lands covered by the CORE Act are in Mesa County, specifically because county officials expressed early in the process that they didn’t want public lands in their jurisdiction to be protected. But on top of making a mockery of the concept of local control, Mesa County commissioners based their opposition on a false claim that the CORE Act proposes wilderness designation for lands in the Thompson Divide. It doesn’t.

What the CORE Act does for the Thompson Divide area near Glenwood Springs is withdraw new oil and gas development on 200,000 acres. But it preserves existing rights for leaseholders and even gives them the option to receive credits if they choose not to develop their leases.

Commissioners from other counties whose lands are affected by the CORE Act respectfully suggested that Mesa County should mind its own business — especially since it refused a seat at the negotiating table.

“If you believe in local control, you believe in local control all the time,” Gunnison County Commissioner Jonathan Houck told the editorial board. “If you’re going to use local control as a mantra of doing business, then you’ve got to support the local control of other governments around you as well. We listen to our constituents and they say this is what they want and we’re going to stand behind that. But please (Mesa County commissioners) give us the deference that we’re giving you.”

The CORE Act unites and improves four previously introduced bills: The Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act; the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act; the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act; and the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act.

Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse introduced the CORE Act at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Denver last month, touting it as an investment in Colorado’s $62 billion outdoor recreation economy.

These are well-vetted public land bills that have an extraordinary amount of support because they’ve undergone countless revisions to reflect the concerns of stakeholders, said Peter Hart of the Wilderness Workshop. From boundary adjustments to leaseholder credits, changes have virtually eliminated opposition — “except for some of that crazy, potentially uninformed ideological opposition,” Hart said.

Indeed, the commissioners present at Thursday’s editorial board meeting, representing Ouray, San Miguel, Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison counties, said the CORE Act provides common-sense provisions to protect watersheds, ranching, hunting and recreation, while largely protecting existing uses. Less than a quarter of the proposed protections involve a wilderness designation.

Sen. Bennet’s collaborative stakeholder process is “exactly why we have Congress,” said Sarah Shrader, who owns an outdoor recreation-related business based in Grand Junction.

“The federal government is supposed to listen to local communities and put into legislation something that suits everybody,” she said. “That’s what happened here. Washington politicians, stuck in the D.C. gridlock, listened to local stakeholders and let them negotiate a solution that works for their communities.”

Mesa County’s “siloed, non-collaborative behavior ostracizes us from our Western Slope neighbors,” she added. “There really should be no objection to Sen. Gardner bringing the CORE Act on board.”

We agree. These bill have been introduced, reintroduced and reworked to reflect a consensus that Colorado’s other U.S. senator, Cory Gardner, and Rep. Scott Tipton should be supporting.

Meanwhile, Mesa County commissioners should drop the fly-in-the-ointment routine where other counties’ interests are concerned. If they truly believe in local control, they’ll respect other counties when they exercise it.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2XJgDTx

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(Colorado Springs) The Gazette, March 1, on enacting objective, real-world sex education standards in Colorado:

Children learn about sex in manners good and bad. Ideally, they learn from caring discussions with parents, guardians or grandparents. In an imperfect world of challenging family circumstances, schools fulfill the task for a high proportion of kids.

Done properly, sex education can reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It can reduce misogyny, misandry and prejudices based in fear of homosexuals, transgender people and others who comprise a diverse array of sexual identities.

School sex curriculums should ensure children have an objective, well rounded, global, and historical view of human sexuality. That’s because well informed individuals understand how sexuality intersects with art, science, religion, culture, public policy, and most other aspects of life.

Alongside teaching the fundamentals of sexual relations, comprehensive sex education should instill an understanding of our culture’s ongoing effort to accept sexual relations historically marginalized. It should teach the role of religion in human sexuality, so young adults understand society’s struggle with abortion rights, why some women wear burqas, why Americans circumcise nearly 80 percent of male babies, and why even today some empowered theocracies punish and even behead homosexuals,

Sex education should teach children to understand sex and gender issues they will encounter in their travels and within the world’s most diverse melting pot.

That’s not what they will get if Colorado Democrats don’t improve House Bill 1032, which prescribes new sex education standards for public schools. The bill dictates a standard sex education curriculum that forbids “explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”

Much of this is good. Any sex education bill should forbid language that shames or stigmatizes, and should go further. It should denounce any shaming and stigmatizing language and behavior. No informed person should shame, stigmatize, disparage or otherwise bully people for personal traits. Likewise, no thorough sex education course would leave out information about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender orientations.

Problematic is the erasure of norms and religion, which play enormous roles in human sexuality for better or worse. The bill rightly forbids the “endorsing” of anything pertaining to religion. It shouldn’t proselytize, endorse or otherwise encourage children in any direction. It should only inform and educate them objectively about all aspects of human sexuality.

Objectively “teaching” norms and religious traditions is entirely different than endorsing them, and should be allowed if not required.

A school cannot explain burqas, genital mutilation, sodomy laws and other forms of sexual policy — common in the world our children inhabit — if we ban objective teaching of religious traditions and norms.

Though the bill forbids teaching this important information, it allows for “discussion of moral, ethical, or religious values of individuals as they pertain to human sexuality, healthy relationships, or family formation. The bill does not explain how a teacher might discuss religion without teaching.

The bill would leave children ignorant of Colorado’s Safe Haven Law, which has everything to do with teens having sex. It allows a parent to turn over a newborn tess than 72 hours old to any employee at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. The law results from traumatized parents abandoning newborns in dumpsters, and has saved 60 babies since taking effect in 2000, HB 1032 does nothing to ensure children hear about it. Senate Democrats stalled a separate bill requiring schools to teach Safe Haven, and recently revived it. Regardless of that bill’s undetermined fate, the comprehensive curriculum established by HB 1032 should include this information.

The controlling party has a chance to get this right and govern for all Coloradans, teaching objectively about sex and advocating nothing. Pass a bill that guarantees an objective, comprehensive, real-world approach to teaching about sex.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2tPPVex

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