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Dave Perry: Preoccupations

NOTES ON EVERYTHING FROM THE EDITOR OF THE AURORA SENTINEL  — dperry@AuroraSentinel.com @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook


Pardon me while I preen over the fate and karma of yet another righteous righty from Colorado Springs.

The infamous and very former El Paso County Sheriff “Happy Pants” Terry Maketa was back at the county jail Wednesday. But this time he had his shirt on and was smiling for his mug shot instead of his bae after being indicted by a grand jury for a list of charges as big as Pike’s Peak.

Maketa — well-known for his fiery consternations against the evils of gun control, liberals, gun grabbers, liberals, anti-constitutionalists, gun-grabbing state lawmakers, lying, thieving liberals and gun control — is accused of extortion, false imprisonment, kidnapping and official misconduct. Of course he’s better known for getting caught with his pants down with subordinate employees and sending some snazzy shirtless pics to one of his boos.

MAKETA BOCC

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa ducks under a microphone cord as he avoids reporter's questions on his way to speak to the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at Centennial Hall in Colorado Springs, Colo. A campaign is underway to recall Maketa, who has been accused of having sexual affairs with subordinates and committing other improprieties. Volunteers said they had about 1,700 signatures on a petition within hours of starting the effort Monday. Maketa is term-limited and will leave office in January unless he is recalled in November. He has apologized for what he called inappropriate behavior but has said he won't resign. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo) MAGS OUT

Maketa_Sheriff_Clips_1365016316723_396051_ver1.0_640_480

Magazine salesmen and embattled Sheriff Terry Maketa at a press conference last year, photo via 7 News

Black Forest Fire

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa speaks to the press Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at the Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs, Colo., about the details of the Black Forest Fire action report on the eve of the anniversary of the fire. Maketa wouldn't talk about the recent allegations of sexual improprieties in his office. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

RECALL RALLY

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa speaks to supporters of the recall election to oust Senate President John Morse at a rally outside the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Relatives of three people killed in the mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown campaigned Wednesday for one of two Colorado state senators facing recall elections for their votes on gun control, while sheriffs who oppose the new gun laws rallied those hoping to kick both Democrats out of office. Colorado was the only state outside the East Coast to tighten its gun laws after last year's mass shootings, and the recalls are seen as a gauge of support for gun control in this battleground state. Gun-rights activists set up the state's first legislative recall elections after Morse and Giron's votes on gun control measures, including expanded background checks and a new limit on ammunition magazines. (AP Photo, The Gazette, Michael Ciaglo)

John Cooke, Terry Maketa

Weld County, Colo., Sheriff John Cooke, left, with El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, center right, and other sheriffs standing behind him, speaks during a news conference at which he announced that 54 Colorado sheriffs are filing a federal civil lawsuit against two gun control bills passed by the Colorado Legislature, in Denver, Friday, May 17 2013. Among other claims, the group of sheriffs and others joining the suit argue that the laws violate the 2nd and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

1400861826000-maketa-selfie-300x225

Sheriff Terry Maketa in a bathroom selfie, a photograph obtained by the Colorado Springs Gazette

Terry Maketa

This is a Thursday, May 26, 2016, booking photograph of Terry Maketa, the former sheriff of El Paso County, Colo., who resigned in 2014. Maketa was indicted on charges on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, including extortion, false imprisonment, second-degree kidnapping and official misconduct. Maketa was indicted along with a former undersheriff and a department commander. (El Paso County, Colo., Sheriffs Department via AP)

Aside from this, sort of, what’s up with the water in Colorado Springs that these righty-flighty types keep cropping up and crapping out? The likes of Maketa, Douglas Bruce, Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, Ted Haggard and Congressman Doug “Tar Baby” Lamborn seem too much to be a coincidence. As to Maketa’s 11-page grand jury indictment, it didn’t specifically refer to the fiasco reporters at the Colorado Springs Gazette exposed after Sheriff Schnookums reached out for benefits from friends at work.

Previous investigations revealed that Maketa had affairs with three deputies, mishandled internal affairs, removed oversight from his budget and “offered an endorsement to a sheriff candidate in exchange for personal favors,” according to a story by the Associated Press.

After the truth and consequences came out, he refused to quit for months, and the county has so far since paid a few hundred thousand dollars to settle lawsuits against Bae & Co. His response when the sordid truth came out the inevitable became obvious?

“I have performed and risen to the level and beyond what the community has expected,” Maketa said, according to the Gazette. Actually, his indictment and processing at jail this week is what a lot of people were expecting.

But this was hardly Maketa’s first clown rodeo. Before he was the face in the bathroom selfie, the Sheriff of Nuttingham was the face of an effort by a posse of rural sheriffs to sue Colorado. The slingers of the law wanted to rake state Democrat legislators for enacting two gun laws, which did little more than grab a few headlines and never anybody’s gun.

His grace had long been railing against the liberal toads who dared to dabble in gun legislation soon after the Aurora theater shooting and Sandy Hook School Massacre.

Among the rabble on his website while he wore a shiny star:

“We also need to be focusing on our children and the influences they are exposed to and who and what is shaping their conceptual and analytical skills. (Whatever the hell that means — DP) They should be exposed to positive role models that increase their respect and appreciation for human life. They should not be consumed with influences or activities that devalue a human life….Instead of the Federal Government, mainly Congress, continuing to engage in activities of which they have no authority and erodes our constitutional rights, we should focus on criminals and those who are most likely to commit acts of violence and not target the law abiding patriots of our nation.”

Perhaps he and fellow English-As-A-Second-Language Expert Sarah Palin could be a plausible alternative to Donald Trump for prez and vice.

I guess, however, that Maketa and I would now agree that people like him do set a poor example for children and give all of us in the media a healthy sense of job security. If the press didn’t tell you what was going on in Colorado Springs, who would?

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

No, Jon Keyser. You won’t be winning Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s seat in November. You’ve just lost the primary election by losing your dignity, integrity and above all, respect for voters.

In what looked like a pathetic stunt straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook, Keyser — hand-picked and hand-groomed by big-player state Republicans to take on the politically vulnerable Bennet this fall — trashed his already tattered political career Thursday.

Keyser, acting the insolent spoiled brat, refused to answer questions from reporters about why there are at least 10 forged signatures on petitions that got him a place on the GOP primary ballot.

All he would say, repeatedly, is, “I’m on the ballot.”

The weird and sordid affair started earlier this week when Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger broadcast a story about some of the signatures on Keyser’s petitions being forged. Zelinger did a provocative and pretty damned effective camera-in-the-face of people whose names were forged onto those ballots.

And when he asked Keyser to comment? Crickets. For days, Kesyer and his campaign wouldn’t answer questions about what’s up with that.

Instead, his campaign has said outright that the media is in cahoots with the Democrats trying to unfairly smear Keyser to aid Bennet.

In a year where the campaign bull-crap factor is 9.5 in this race and practically across the board, Campaign Keyser just laid a perfect 10.

It doesn’t matter if Bennet’s grandmother hand-delivered the forged signature fraud story wrapped in $50 bills to every newspaper and media station in the state, the signatures are forged. Someone committed fraud. Someone has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Keyser, you could fully expect that if you were a Democrat, or if the allegations were against Bennet, the Colorado media would be barking just the same, and we would be adamant that someone start talking.

For godsake, if you fold like a whiny teenager from this, what would you have done when Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Ted Cruz got in your face or tripped you on the Senate floor? Cry? Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance like some kind of secret spell?

It appears, on the surface, that the lame company Camp Keyser hired to collect the signatures, bypassing having to politic his way onto the primary ballot, is to blame here. And Keyser could easily have turned this into a non-story by saying he wants to work with Democrats and Republicans to clean this signature industry mess up, since he could well have been and may be a victim.

But that’s not the story any more. The story now is that this political plebe thinks that he doesn’t have to answer to the public when questions arise about who he is and how his campaign works.

And so you forfeit, Keyser. The only good that comes from this is that you have served as a fine example to others of how Colorado politics are not Washington politics, and how this kind of thing will not fly. Here, words matter. Fraud matters. And your childish and arrogant behavior matters.

Yes, you may be on the ballot now, but you’ll be off the ballot soon, either when the courts rectify this fraud, or voters do in June.

If you want to take a maneuver from a more respectable play book than Trump’s, look to the U.S. Air Force, which you are member of and which you boast about at every single chance you get. Just how do you think your peers and superiors in the Air Force would react to your behavior if you were accused of something by your critics or opponents? How would “none of your goddam business” fly with the Air Force? Right. You forgot to “Aim High,” Keyser, and now it’s too late.

Reach @EditorDavePerry on Facebook and Twitter, or email him at dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

If you knew Senior, which is what most people who knew Ray Valente Sr. called him, you can hear his voice in your head right now.

“Sure, Dave, go ahead and break every glass in the house. I’m made of money,” the legend of North Denver and Wheat Ridge told me on, sadly, more than one occasion during my long tenure as a sometimes clumsy waiter in one of his famous 38th Avenue restaurants back in the 1980s.

Senior’s gone now, but the legend, and that booming voice everyone could hear all over Marc’s and Valente’s restaurants will live on forever. As least for me. He died May 6 after living one helluva life for 91 years.

He, and the rest of his family, were my foster family for years. At least that’s what I considered them. Ray Jr., Mark and I became friends in our late teens when the infamous Port o’ Entree was the stomping grounds for delinquents back in the day. It was the 1970s, a fun and different time, and we had more than our fair share. Of everything.

Ray Valente’s Obituary on Denver Post

That’s when I first met Senior. It was a world of Garceos, Spanos, Rotolas, Carbones, Smaldones and a veritable parade of real North Denver. We’d drink all over town and then end up eventually at Valente’s to eat macaroni — which is what North Denver Italians call spaghetti — or fried chicken or scrambled eggs and peppers or pizza to try to prevent or soothe a monstrous hangover.

“You get enough to eat?” Senior would always, always ask in his tough North Denver Italian growl.”Huh?” he’d follow, because he always did whether he heard you or not. He wasn’t just a restaurateur. He was a host. He was a father. He was a friend.

A few years later his son, Mark Valente, spearheaded a new venture and opened Marc’s across the street from Valente’s on the well-worn West 38th Avenue. A social worker, I was considering going back to school for a new career in writing, maybe journalism, and I needed a job to get me there. And so I joined my friends for several adventurous years.

Senior became my surrogate dad while I worked my way through journalism school. I was good at what I did, and he knew it. He appreciated it, although sometimes he didn’t sound like it.

“Dave, treat these people nice,” he’d say as he sauntered up to one of my tables. “Don’t make ‘em beg for stuff like you make me.”

The customers loved it. They loved him. And he loved them.

But he didn’t just hand out the shtick on the floor, in the middle of the rush, when you’d clench your jaw and take deep breaths to keep it together while your station full of customers seemed to be falling apart, he’d suddenly appear in front of you.

“Those people couldn’t say enough good, Dave,” he’d say. “Thanks.”

And then he’d ask if your apron was getting tight or something and maybe you should lay off the bread. And just like a dad, he’d be talking to you, maybe seated with customers, and suddenly say, “When are you gonna cut your hair? You look like a damn girl.”

And just like a dad, when things were bad. He was there. When I was going through a divorce, he pulled me aside to tell me that if I needed anything “anything” just say. When I needed a car and loan, “I know a guy.”

Damn, did Senior know a lot of guys. He was the face of North Denver, which is what people who grew up here still call it. “Highlands” is for uppity Realtors and immigrants from the Midwest, Texas and SoCal.

He was among the natives of “North” (high school), “Tee-hone” “Show-Shone” and “Pea-kus” streets to venture into Wheat Ridge.  But his heart and soul forever haunted the ‘hood at Holy Family, Mt. Carmel, Carbones and everything between. He did his haunting in the famous 38th Avenue Trolley, his beloved El Camino. Even before he got his “Valentes” vanity plate, everyone knew his ride. He probably drove a few hundred thousand miles up and down that North Denver boulevard, picking up sausages or dropping off pans of pizzaiola or cavatelli to someone with a death in the family. God only knows how many errands had Senior on that street from early to late. Not that many years ago, I’d frequently see him in that miraculously preserved El Camino, buying fruit or bread in the barrio even though he lived miles away in a swank house in Lakewood.

“They had cereal on sale,” he said in the parking lot of a neighborhood market one day when I saw him years after I’d left Marc’s and went on to be a journalist. “You want one? I got a few.”

Senior’s generosity was surpassed only by his love of cereal. But that was nothing compared to how much he loved his kids and his grandkids. That’s when he shined as the world’s best dad. He was painfully proud of Mark and Ray, and he adored their wives and grandkids when they came along. I never once saw him waver from that. While so much of North Denver and Wheat Ridge benefited from his attention and generosity — firefighters, cops, the bereaved, the schools, the Carnation Festival and generations of employees and causes — his immediate and extended Italian family were gold.

Join a Facebook tribute page to Ray Valente Sr. here

He taught me that. Family isn’t just the people who would match your DNA sample, they’re the people you grow up with and live around. Senior’s love of North Denver and all the funny, peculiar, wild, talented and mostly everyday people in the ‘hood were real family.

Last week, Mark, Paula, Elaine, Junior and Linda weren’t the only ones to lose an amazing patriarch. We all did.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

Now I know who state Sen. Bill Cadman reminds me of. He’s the ex so many of us have suffered through who lives by the credo, “Oh, yeah? Watch me.”

For years, every time the soon-to-retire Colorado Springs Republican state senator-cum-state-Senate-president pulled one weird partisan or maladjusted stunt or another, I had that déjà vu thing. At the beginning of this legislative session I stood in the Senate chambers corner, where the press is relegated to, listening to Cadman say how anxious he was to spread bipartisan cheer across the land. And then, almost immediately, he said anything that smells like the Democrats’ short list was DOA.

Cheers.

And so it’s gone this session. At the top of the list for Dems was the so-called “hospital provider fee.” It’s a part of the chronic Colorado budget problem inflicted on us by the misnomered “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” What voters thought was tax limitation turned out to be a budgeting nightmare. In 2010, Colorado took advantage of federal matching Medicaid dollars in an effort to keep so many poor people from getting “free” healthcare at local hospitals. Those “freebies” have for decades been passed on to paying customers. A  “hospital provider fee” was assessed, reimbursing the state for increased Medicaid costs the feds won’t cover. Colorado didn’t invent the idea. About 40 others states use it. It was a win-win situation, until the economy got better and Cadman took the wheel of the state Senate. Because of TABOR, healthy economy tax revenues mean forced “refunds” to taxpayers, even if the state is desperate for dollars, which Colorado is. The only reason TABOR refunds were triggered is because some Tea Party Republicans, read: Cadman, say the hospital fee money is tax dollars.

Yeah, it’s that stupid. It did mean that hundreds of millions of dollars in school and road funding was in jeopardy because Cadman and Co. don’t like Medicaid. He stayed the course, even though members of his own party tried to do an end run around his obstinacy several times this session. Just like the spiteful ex who, while packing up their crap to move out, starts a fire with your favorite books because, hey, he was cold, and you’d already read them anyway, and that’s why you couldn’t wait to get rid of him.

Although he’s finally term limited and toast in just a few days, this final blow to the Colorado budget is his parting gift to all of us.

Gee, thanks.

Of course stiffing the state of a few hundred million bucks is preferable to what he wanted to give a fellow lawmaker in 2005 when he and Cadman were serving in the state House. They got into it over a bill creating special license plates for families of soldiers killed in action. After calling each other and some bill amendments “garbage,” Cadman told his fellow legislator, “If you try that again, I’ll ram my fist up your ass.” First he tried to deny it. Then he doubled down to defend it.

He had similar love for Aurora’s Tom Sullivan, who has spent that last four years as a legislative activist after his son was murdered during the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. During a 2013 town hall event at a Denver newspaper, focusing on gun regulation, Cadman snapped at Sully when he tried to press a collage of pictures of his dead son into the conversation, Cadman shot back, “I know what he looks like,” and once again he made big headlines for his diplomacy and forward thinking.

And here we are at the end of his legislative career, and he’s holding up critical funding for roads and schools, saying that it’s all Democrats’ fault for working to improve health care in Colorado and cut insurance rates the rest of have to pay.

“When the Democrats are ready to get serious about entitlement reform, and about establishing budgeting priorities that serve the entire state, not just the entitlement state, they will find willing partners in Republicans,” Cadman said in a statement Tuesday.

Bull.

Smirking in the waning hours of his one-term, one-seat majority “reign of error” over the state Senate, there Cadman is at the helm. Arms crossed. Burning your books. Cutting up your favorite shirt. Scratching your vinyl collection. Threatening to lend you a hand in a place you don’t want it. Because he can, and he’s smiling.

Take a breath, Colorado. Two more days and the session ends and he’s nothing but a dark, brief part of state history. It will be miraculous if Republicans are able to keep control of the state Senate this fall, unlikely after anti-Trump voters get even for a session filled with personhood and whacky gun bill shenanigans. Voters will be  anxious to take political revenge on lawmakers who set fire to a chance for serious road and school money, equal pay legislation and much more. But even if the miracle happens and the GOP leads the upper House, there will be another state senator running the show.

So better luck next time, Colorado. You’re going to need it.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

Four years later, we’re still arguing whether some vestige of southern segregation has a place here in Colorado and America.

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the case of whether the religious rights of a Lakewood wedding cake decorator allows him to refuse service to gay customers.

No, is the short answer to a longstanding problem in America.

By refusing to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling, the state’s high court in effect reinforces past rulings that ensure public businesses cannot cite religious beliefs to justify discrimination.

Every time I see historical photos of “whites only” signs in southern shops, restaurants or at water fountains, I marvel at what could possess someone to justify and defend bigotry.

I can remember hugely passionate speeches from the 1960s where Alabama Gov. George Wallace and others argued that it was God’s will the races be separated. He and others invoked previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding segregation and bigotry. Among them was the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, a case trying to resolve whether blacks could be refused business and government services and treated lesser than whites.

“The object of the [Fourteenth] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to endorse social, as distinguished from political, equality. . . If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.”

And that is where the mystery of this problem begins and ends. Ruling whites had learned and believed that black Americans were somehow inferior to whites, justifying segregation.

And here we are again. Instead of hanging “No Negroes” signs, businesses like the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood want to be able to cite their religion as justification for putting “No Gays” placards on the door. Actually, owner Jack Phillips has said he doesn’t want to do anything so offensive as advertise his bigotry on the front door of his business. He prefers to keep his discrimination quiet and private, seeing how it’s just among him and his god and the two men he refused to make a wedding cake for in 2012, because the Bible tells him so.

But his religion makes clear to him is that homosexuals are inferior to heterosexuals as judged by society, the law, his peers and his maker. It’s no different than the 20th Century U.S. Supreme Court — and for generations after all over The South — ruling that their beliefs justified seeing blacks as inferior to whites, and that the government was righteous in segregating them.

I’ve never been able to understand how Judeo-Christian types decide which parts of the Bible to take seriously, metaphorically, historically or with a pillar of salt. I’ll stipulate that the Good Book has advice on homosexuality, but as many enjoy pointing out, the Bible insists on killing, maiming or snubbing people for things like sassing the husband, talking crap to your mom and dad, adultery and accommodating those with flat noses.

Those age-old “Bible-says” arguments were settled by federal courts and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court long ago. Why can’t we get over it?

In a spate of rulings, such as Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, Atlanta Motel Inc. v. U.S. and Katzenbach v. McClung, and Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent in ruling that there are no reasons public entities and public businesses can discriminate. None.

Hats off to the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union for fighting off the newest attempt to wrap religion around bigotry.

Of course you can believe anything you damn well please. Those who think a blasphemous state supreme court has tromped all over the First Amendment refuse to understand that you have the freedom to practice any religion that suits your fancy, as long as you’re not fancying imposing your view on others, usurping their rights, or outright directly abusing someone. That’s the kind of thing that sets us apart from places where Sharia Law calls for stoning to death mouthy daughters and men who have a thing for other men.

Critics of the entire lawsuit say the ruling should go the other way because these two gay men could easily have found someone else to make a cake to celebrate their same-sex nuptials. That would mean that we should allow businesses to go back to hanging up “Whites Only” signs on businesses, as long as blacks and other minorities have other options at hand.

No. Those of us who know just how seriously wrong that is must help those who don’t understand that homosexual Americans are not inferior to heterosexuals, the same way America helped The South move beyond it. But until everyone in America gets it, we have to have laws and court rulings to fill in the gap. And here in Colorado, that’s what we’ve done.

From Monday’s Associated Press

Colorado court: ruling stands that baker can’t cite religion

DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press

DENVER | The Colorado Supreme Court refused Monday to take up the case of a suburban Denver baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, letting stand a lower court’s ruling that the Masterpiece Cakeshop owner cannot cite his Christian beliefs in refusing service.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the development.

“The highest court in Colorado today affirmed that no one should be turned away from a public-facing business because of who they are or who they love,” Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project who argued the case, said in a statement. “We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and discriminate against them.”

Tabacco Mar had argued on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who had been refused service by baker Jack Phillips.

Attorney Nicolle Martin, who represents Phillips, said they had not yet decided whether to accept the ruling, ask Colorado’s highest court to reconsider, or approach the U.S. Supreme Court. Martin says she is surprised the Colorado court would not consider the case.

“This is a matter that affects all Americans, not just people of faith,” Martin said.

Phillips declined to make a cake in 2012 for Craig and Mullins, who were married in Massachusetts and planned a celebration in Colorado. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which ruled in December 2013 that Phillips discriminated against them and ordered him to change his store policy against making cakes for gay weddings or face fines. The Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled against him.

Phillips, who referred questions from The Associated Press to his lawyer on Monday, has said he has no problem serving gay people at his store, but that making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his Christian beliefs.

Such issues have been considered by courts and legislators across the country. A new North Carolina law prevents local and state government from mandating protections for LGBT people in the private sector or at stores and restaurants. The law suffered a blow when a federal appeals court issued an opinion that threatens part of the law requiring students to use bathrooms in line with their gender at birth in public schools and universities.

Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill in February that would have blocked the state from taking any action that may burden a person’s religious freedom unless it was the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. A House committee indefinitely postponed discussion on the bill.

Critics say the legislation that has been proposed in states across the country to protect those who — due to religious beliefs — decline to employ or serve certain people are aimed at the LGBT community and are discriminatory.

Sure they can.

Aurora Dem and former state House hopeful Nancy Cronk took to Facebook this week to ensure rules are followed and rat out right-wing gunners trying to jimmy the system at a local Department of Motor Vehicle office. Her son went there to do driver-license stuff and noticed that outside the office was a table set up with volunteers, collecting signatures for those who want to see a pro-gun-rights initiative make it to the statewide ballot.

Nancy clearly would not.

The volunteers ask folks if they want to sign, and if the answer is “yes,” they give up the John Hancock right there. And if they’re not registered voters, a requirement to sign a ballot petition — well, how convenient. Just step that way, register to vote, come on back and sign.

If they have no interest in signing the petition, or get squinty about Colorado already having way too many guns and gunners, well, see ya.

Legal?

Sure, according to election officials. Nothing in state or local laws precludes petition gatherers from using busy public property for such a thing, and props to someone clever enough to know that county DMV and clerk’s offices can register the willing but unable.

You don’t even have to ask, said Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane. “You can just set up shop.”

Anybody can, he said. Gun rights activists, anti-frackers, potential political candidates, bleeding hearts and conservative curmudgeons alike.

One complaint about these petition gatherers focuses on whether they were asking people if they were Republicans.

“I don’t think there’s anything illegal about it,” he said, although he questioned the wisdom, diplomacy and ethics of asking people their political persuasion, potentially putting off a potential signer.

As to the image of the Arapahoe County Sheriff at the DMV, it’s a poster of Sheriff Dave Walcher sporting the county’s snazzy new black uniforms, which have replaced the deputy blues they’ve worn for decades. It’s part of a campaign to educate residents about what the county cops now look like. Walcher’s term doesn’t come up until 2018, and he hasn’t said publicly whether he’s running for re-election.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher

As to creepily watching stuff, well, they do that for a living.

Here’s the Facebook post:

My son went to the Arapahoe County DMV to renew his driver’s license. On the premises was a table and a volunteer who asked him if he wanted to sign a pro-gun rights petition. (A friend also told me they have a similar table at the County Clerk and Recorder’s office, inside the building, on County premises). When someone answers yes, they are directed to a table where they are given the opportunity to register to vote, if they are not already registered. If they say no, they are not.

Is this legal? Would the Republican Secretary of State do anything about it? Would the Republican Clerk and Recorder in Araphaoe County do anything about it if it were illegal? Also doubtful.

As if that weren’t enough, a few feet away is a lifesize, labeled photo cutout of the Sheriff (R) who is running for re-election. The photo does not reference voting — it just appears to be monitoring the area in a creepy way. Welcome to Arapahoe County CO, folks.

Sometimes I get confused whether I’m asleep and dreaming or awake and hallucinating. Not that it’s an advancing middle age kind of thing, it’s the weirdest damned presidential political cycle I’ve ever seen in my increasingly long lifetime.

I was there in front of the TV for Nixon’s famous “Checkers Speech,” although I really only remember duck-and-cover scares and the assassination.

But I don’t ever remember anything like this cycle’s election. Late on Tuesday, I realized this:

The wife of the Democratic president who was famous for not having sex with that woman — not that woman, the other woman, only he did  — finally beat the elderly socialist enough to make it look like she’s going win like we all thought she would win. So now, it looks pretty certain that she’s  running against the billionaire Republican fascist who used his reality TV-star persona to snatch the GOP nomination from the religious extremist, Canadian-born Cuban senator from Texas, who’s the most hated man in congress and suspected in Florida of being the Zodiac Killer.

And here in Colorado? Republicans vastly preferred the Lone Star Canadian Zodiac Killer’s Sharia Law proposal over the orange fascist’s final solution for Mexicans and Muslims. Supporters of Sen. Smug have been gloating over how stupid billionaire Trumpah Lumpah and his gang is because they didn’t know GOP presidential caucus rules for this state and that party during this cycle allow the sneakiest candidate to steal all the candidates while the looooooserrrrr watches.

Colorado Democrats leaned toward drinking up Grampa’s Commie-Lite Kool-Aid punch, and not so much for the woman candidate that women don’t like. And now, everybody says they’re a winner and pretty much assured a White House victory.

Wake me up when it’s really all over.

The gloves didn’t exactly come off Monday in the anticipated mega-battle between state Sen. Morgan Carroll and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman for Aurora’s 6th Congressional District, but the race’s first video ad spilled onto the Internet.

State Sen. Morgan Carroll, left and Congressman Mike Coffman, right, battling in 2016 for the 6th Congressional District seat

Carroll, who unsurprisingly clinched the Democratic nomination unanimously this weekend at a statewide party confab, doesn’t jab at incumbent Congressman Coffman but rather pokes gently at the need for someone in Congress offering “real” representation.

It’s essentially a “how d’ do” video, letting people know Carroll —formerly state Senate president, then minority leader, and longtime Aurora activist and labor lawyer — is well connected and imposing on Coffman a serious battle to keep his seat. Takeaway newspaper headlines keep marveling over how Morgan is a “top tier” candidate.

Two years ago, top-tier candidate former Democratic state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff struck out big taking the then three-term Republican incumbent on. Since then, Carroll has been systematically building a case and battle plan against Coffman.Dave Perry

She’s succeeded in getting the backing of top-level national Democrats, earmarking the race for cash.

In a time and place where political civility has evaporated on the national and even state level, this race has so far been almost spookily tame and polite.

Coffman has launched a couple of verbal eye-rolls Carroll’s way about where she stands on closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing inmates to Colorado prisons. Carroll has fired campaign spit wads at Coffman trying to tie him to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Coffman’s campaign missives have been almost solely about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi personally wanting him out and choosing Carroll to do her political dirty work. Carroll has focused mostly on a do-nothing C0ngress that she says she can change.

Anything resembling serious political differences and mud is being handled by proxies so far. There, local operatives have been pounding Coffman for his allegiance to GOP policies on abortion, equal-pay legislation and ties to conservative-extremist candidates and causes. Coffman allies have fired away to bind Carroll to Pelosi, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, big government, deficit spending and a smattering of hot-button conservative causes.

So meet Carroll on her video here. Her website is here. 

Camp Coffman’s website is here. All you can see so far is a nice picture of Mike, a form to sign up for email missives and a link to give money. No specific video yet. Officials in his campaign weren’t available right away to say what’s next or if voters can expect a premier video roll soon as well.

Given the huge stakes for him as well as the Democrats and the Republicans, it can’t be long before all this politesse gives way to some the familiar partisan punches.

Follow the 6th Congressional District race on Twitter with @AuroraPols. Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook.

At the top of the list of the myriad things I’m thankful for is that the digital age wasn’t not around in the 1970s to document my extreme adolescent folly.

Being a parent of a college kid now, I cringe in parental sympathy when I hear the tales of teenagers busted for taking naked or lurid selfies and sending them out as some kind of oh-my-god-what-in-the-sam-hell-were-you-thinking flirtation.

I’m one of those parents who agonized over having the “stranger danger” talk with my daughter. Should we protect kids from what plenty of us are sure is a planet-full of perverts, all hoping to accost them? Or does that “protection” only make them jaded humans like me, who see people talking to my kid as potential suspects? In full disclosure I cut her grapes in half until she was 17, intent on avoiding the choking hazard.

I know I’m not alone. It’s people like me who were well meaning when they took “sexting” seriously, seeing it as an easy way for pedophiles to make our worst nightmares a reality.

Unfortunately, rather than keeping naked pics of our kids out of the hands of malevolent creeps, we’ve snared thousands of our kids who aren’t bad guys — they’re just stupid guys, and girls.

They’re stupid like the law that snags them. The law says that if you send someone a picture of a provocatively naked minor, you are a sicko felon and we’re going to brand you as that, possibly for life. The law is stupid in that it potentially makes you a sicko felon for life, even if the nastygram was of yourself expressing your 16-year-old stupidity and herd mentality. It makes you a potential sicko felon for life if you’re 17 and your also-teen boyfriend sends you his proudest moment pic and you keep it on your phone.

Keep in mind this is all perfectly legal but equally as stupid for two 18-year-old kids to do. Or, say, a growing list of high-profile inadvertent political celebrities. State officials say that although there have been a handful of over-the-top sex-offender charges filed against minors, none have been convicted — yet. That part of the problem is worse nationally than here. But there are still herds of stupid kids tripped up by this inadvertent law, many ending up in city, county and district courts.

For a while, we just turned a blind eye to the horror stories about kids dragged in as criminals for stunts that don’t meet that criteria under any concept of the term. Lots of sympathy and tongue clucking over devastated lives that lots of people figured were just messes the kids brought on themselves.

That all changed last year when practically all of Cañon City High School in southern Colorado got hauled in because practically everybody was doing it. There were so many kids foolishly passing nudes back and forth that the sheriff of those parts said it would be ridiculous to do anything but give the kids scoldings instead of court summonses.

We were wrong when we took this so seriously. Not that it isn’t stupid, but it’s really not much more stupid than streaking was in the 70s, and it certainly registers about the same or even less on running afoul of felony sensibilities. It’s not nearly as dangerous as passing around trays of magic mushrooms or LSD at concerts. So I’ve been told.

It turns out our society, our media and our digital prowess have created an uncomfortable social problem that we’ve wrongly turned into a criminal problem.

This week, Republican state lawmakers wisely turned back a well-meaning Democratic-led effort to create a new misdemeanor crime of texting your junk to your teenage pals and significant others. The idea is we could get the courts to swat at kids for their inanity, but in a way that is erasable, unlike the Internet.

Just undo this part of the problem. Start with decriminalizing nudie selfie incidents for minors. What we risk in facilitating a genuinely sick 16-year-old, we gain back by realizing the vast majority of kids should never be dressed up as criminals. We just have to find a way to persuade them dress before they hit “post.”

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Facebook and Twitter or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

And from today’s “no-limits” political saga, a shot rang out across the Colorado Twitterverse when GOP state Sen. Tim “Dead Eye” Neville tweeted a picture of himself, gun in hand — safety off his sense of judgment — looking like an NRA poster boy for everything that scares the crap out of middle and left America.

Today’s controversy is part of the Republican drive to push Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet out the door on Election Day this fall. Neville is part of a large pack of Republicans running to be the one to take on Bennet after a June primary election.

Dave PerryIn the picture, Neville is sporting a sporting grin, a jacket emblazoned with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners — a group so unnerving even the NRA disavows them — a Trump-like hat that says, “American Patriot,” and he’s holding what looks to be an AR-15 with what a good friend calls “some sexy tactical furniture.”

The picture appears to be taken at a firing range, or possibly the family Tin Foil Hat Hotel and Bunker in his Jeffco basement. He looks to have fired a couple dozen rounds into a copy of an editorial by the Colorado Springs Gazette he didn’t like. Mind you, the legal limit for newly purchased magazines in Colorado is 15 rounds, but who’s counting? Not TimmyBadger.

The Sunday editorial is a warning to Republicans to vote for just about any GOP U.S. Senate hopeful other than Neville, because of his politically dangerous stance on guns and association with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Unlike Neville, who had a few shots wander way off to the right, and who knows how many out into the parking lot, the Gazette didn’t miss their target. Saying that Bennet is extremely vulnerable and that just about any of the more popular GOP candidates should be able to take him out, so to speak.

“Neville’s potential nomination poses Bennet’s best hope,” The Gazette wrote.

Ouch and ouch. The editorial pretty much says the paper was inspired and obligated to take aim at Neville because he’s a straw-poll favorite to make the ballot at a statewide confab this weekend. They clearly had no idea that Neville would lock, load and fire back.

Tim Neville TweetPainful to Neville is a famously conservative newspaper saying he’s just too extreme for their tastes. Mind you, this is a town that has happily produced the likes of Douglas Bruce, Doug Lamborn and Colorado’s infamous bible-thumping, gay-hating, liberal-lashing YouTube preacher-cum-lawmaker Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt.

According to the op-ed deciders at the Gazette, Neville doesn’t fit the bill.

So aiming for the editorial but apparently hitting his own foot, Neville fired away with the camera snapping, thinking this was as good or better an idea than all of the gun giveaways he’s been doing as part of his election campaign.

I would say, no. The tweet plays like a political ad paid for the committees to elect Michael Bennet and erstwhile GOP establishment favorite, Jon Keyser.

A few months ago, we were all cautioning the country’s political hopefuls to “stay classy.” Now, we’re hoping that they stay sane, or something close to it.

Shooting at unflattering newspaper editorials while dressed like the Ducks of Hazzard and showing folks what a marginal shooter he is does not inspire confidence in his judgment nor his prowess. No need to write a letter to the editor, make him or her realize bad things can happen when you take on the TimmyBadger.

Think pathetically creepy yet comically menacing. The only disappointment was that he didn’t take the shot as a selfie, making me worry that someone else also thought this was a good idea.

Pretty easy to see for yourself, it was not.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

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