- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The (Boulder) Daily Camera, July 18, on Colorado’s delegates and the GOP convention:

There was something rich about the Colorado delegation leading an uprising and walking out of the Republican National Convention during its first day Monday.

Complaints from Colorado delegates and others about being steamrolled certainly appeared to be well-founded. In apparent panic, convention managers pushed through the report of the Rules Committee on a voice vote without debate Monday afternoon. When dissidents petitioned for a roll-call vote, they were first ignored and then rebuffed.

“This is a meeting of brownshirts,” former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire told NBC.

“What do you mean?” asked a reporter.

“People who act like fascists,” Humphrey replied.

The root of the dispute was the Hail Mary attempt by anti-Donald Trump forces to change the convention rules to make it easier for delegates to vote for someone other than Trump on the first ballot. It was not entirely clear whether convention managers decided not to permit a roll-call vote because they were worried about the outcome or because they didn’t want to give Trump’s critics the satisfaction of winning a procedural fight.

“It’s the real fireworks of this convention,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. “Sometimes you’re better off if you’re in a position of strength to allow a vote to occur.”

Of course, it doesn’t help the credibility of the complainers from Colorado that they managed to create a delegation composed entirely of Ted Cruz supporters through an arcane selection process of their own. Colorado Republicans intentionally ditched a presidential preference poll at party caucuses in March, preferring a series of congressional district meetings they orchestrated into a unanimous Cruz delegation.

So make no mistake, this is not a dispute over principle. This is a dispute between anti-Trump delegates who avoided an open process in their own state and pro-Trump delegates trying to avoid an open process at the convention. If you’re keeping score, the dissidents submitted petitions with signatures from enough states to force a roll-call vote on the rules. Convention managers got some of those delegates to sign new petitions withdrawing their names from the first petitions, leaving the roll-call vote petitions without the support of enough states, according to convention managers.

“They cheated,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general and anti-Trump activist. “They just violated their own rules.”

Procedural details aside, the takeaway from the first day of the GOP convention was that Republicans have a long way to go to put the acrimony of their selection process behind them.

“This action on the floor does not bode well for wanting to have unity in the party,” said Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate leading the anti-Trump movement.

The day began with Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, attacking John Kasich, governor of the host state of Ohio, for not attending the Cleveland convention. Based on the first day, Kasich looks to have made a good call.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/29U8DbL

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The (Loveland) Reporter-Herald, July 14, on addressing issues related to transients:

In May, a reporter traveled to the “dispersed camping” areas near Nederland and came away with a startling story about how some U.S. Forest Service land is being used - and overused - by transient young adults attracted to this state and its lifestyle, but unable to find housing or a job when they get here.

This past week, we have seen one negative outcome. According to published reports, a pair of young men admitted to having started a campfire that turned out to be the source of the Cold Springs fire near Nederland. They were camping on private property and reportedly told law enforcement members that they thought a campfire they had been using had been extinguished by the rocks they placed on top of it.

There have been other negative outcomes, too. Larimer County has reported criminal activity among some of the transients who have arrived in the state. While some of the transients note that Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws attracted them to this state, others talk about the economic prospects being better here than in their home states or just that it’s “more exciting” here.

Other arrivals, especially in mountain towns, are seasonal workers who cannot find housing and end up in tents despoiling the public lands surrounding the towns.

Such developments are troubling.

If Colorado is going to take on the role of the destination of choice for this generation’s Okies, state and local leaders are going to have to confront the consequences of the inbound migration. For those who are employed, transient campers looking for housing, better and more sanitary options need to be made available. And for those looking to enjoy the freedom of our public lands, rangers need to be vigilant in enforcing existing rules on length of stay and resource protection.

To those looking to get high and make mischief, however, it must be made clear that Colorado’s not the place to be.

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

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The Daily Sentinel, July 13, on fracking in Colorado:

Hydraulic fracturing isn’t polluting wells in northeastern Colorado with methane - an important scientific conclusion at a time when voters may be asked to consider banning the practice statewide.

University of Colorado researchers sifted through 25 years of public data maintained by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state’s regulatory agency, to determine the source of dissolved methane in the Denver-Julesburg basin’s groundwater supply.

As The Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reported Tuesday, researchers identified the culprit as a natural microbial process that occurs around shallow coal seams that crisscross the region. High-volume fracking - the practice of using sand, water and chemicals to free up gas in tight formations - has little to nothing to do with methane in groundwater supplies in that type of formation, according to the report.

Last year, the EPA issued draft findings of an exhaustive study that concluded fracking hasn’t had “widespread, systemic impacts” on the country’s drinking water. The Colorado study seems to put an exclamation point on that assertion.

That doesn’t mean drilling is 100 percent safe. The Colorado study’s lead author conceded that accidents and leaks do happen. The takeaway - that fracking, when done properly, doesn’t pose a significant threat to drinking water - won’t deter fracking opponents. They’ll simply burrow in on the idea that widespread drilling increases the risk for contamination by virtue of the possibility for error.

That refusal to see the big picture is like demanding a ban on air travel because there’s a possibility that a jetliner could crash. Voters would never approve such a ban, but fracking is another story.

There are currently three proposed ballot measures dealing with fracking. Two would give local governments more authority in regulating drilling activities. A third would establish a 2,500-foot setback rule from occupied structures or “other specifically or locally designated area.” Opponents say the third measure is written so broadly that it would effectively ban the use of hydraulic fracturing in the state.

We agree and we’ve already warned that such a ban could devastate the state’s economy, costing thousands of jobs and millions in revenue. It would also conflict with Colorado’s constitutionally protected mineral rights, setting the stage for a legal battle that could be very costly for taxpayers. The legal question would center on how far the state can go in usurping property rights. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that cities could not ban fracking in their city limits.

We hope voters rely on scientific validity instead of guesswork and innuendo before jumping on the anti-fracking bandwagon.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/29R94UU

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The Denver Post, July 13, on a loan program to help people with developmental disabilities:

An important tool for Colorado families with relatives or children with developmental disabilities suffers from misuse and ought to be fixed as quickly as possible.

The problem is that a well-intentioned loan program supported by Colorado taxpayers faces an unusually high default rate. According to reporting by The Denver Post’s David Migoya, default rates at 10 times the national average plague the Family Support Loan Fund. The program is in neglect, befuddled by poor record-keeping and hampered by unclear rules on how audits of loans are to be conducted.

This is a program all of us should want to see succeed. Its mission is to help give families access to loans worth up to $8,000 to do things like remodel homes or upgrade cars as they care for developmentally disabled children or family members.

The program is open to families at all financial levels. It can be a real help where Medicaid assistance often isn’t enough. Terms are more than generous; families with even subprime credit scores can take up to five years to repay, and interest rates are nearly nonexistent. Yet Migoya found that nearly half of almost 100 current loans are in default, with more on their way toward failure.

The amount of money for those troubled loans isn’t scandalous. The underwater loans total less than $245,000 in value. But the laxity of repayment in the history of the program, launched in 1993, has been so great in some cases that it appears some families defaulted without ever having made a single payment. Because repayments and interest payments help shore up the program for other families, the failure by some to make them detracts from what could be available to other families dealing with these challenges.

Though the rules of the program require the state to conduct yearly audits, state officials with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (CDHCPF) say the statute is unclear on how audits are to be performed.

One result of that lack of clarity: Migoya found such poor record-keeping that officials conceded it’s hard to square up which receipts go with which loans.

No doubt a part of the problem resides in the particulars of the fund’s management. Oversight has changed hands recently; the CDHCPF took it over from the Department of Human Services in the spring of 2014.

Lawmakers should review the fund’s challenges. The program isn’t suited to serve as a de facto grant program. The rules should make clear how the fund is to be properly monitored. If an outside agency is better suited to assume that responsibility, then let’s have that discussion.

We’d hate to see this option for families suffer any further.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/29Xm63t

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