Sentinel Blogs

Dave Perry: Preoccupations


Clearly this difficult election has been made so hard for Republicans and all of us ornery reporters because we’re just not speaking the same language any more.

“Privacy” means one thing to may Republicans and something completely different to the media world.

Republicans in Aurora and Colorado and, hey, all across the country have been vocal about telling the likes of reporters here at the Aurora Sentinel and other places to quit trying to vote-shame them about whether they will or they won’t be voting for Donald Trump.

Congressman Mike Coffman and other Colorado big-office Republicans are being pummeled by stories about how they let a man who is arguably the worst presidential candidate in the history of presidential candidates to become the face of the GOP. They are tired beyond tears of us asking whether they’ll vote for Trump, and when they decided they wouldn’t, and how painfully they lament they ever heard of the guy. The problem for them is, such contrition would be good for the sole purpose of assuaging angry reasonable people, but such bad-mouthing of the man assured to Make America Great Again enrages the fiery Trump crowd.

When Aurora Sentinel reporters pressed down-ballot folks for who they’re supporting at the top of the ticket, there was chagrin, tap dancing and outright indignation.

At the top of the resentment this week was Republican Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, who sniffed at our question of will-you-or-won’t-you and declined to answer.

“The secret ballot is as much a cornerstone of American democracy as is freedom of the press, and last time I checked, officials and office holders of both parties still enjoy the right of a secret ballot,” Hogan told Reporter Brandon Johansson. He went on to say he didn’t think it was newsworthy to ask elected officials who they were voting for so close to the election. “That just doesn’t feel like reporting news to me. It feels like making news. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it doesn’t feel right,” he said.

That was how Hogan felt until Thursday morning, when the campaign to re-elect Congressman Mike Coffman issued a release saying that Hogan and other Republican mayors in the metro area were only too happy to tell residents they were voting for Coffman, and they should, too.

“Mike has been a strong advocate for Aurora. He has made protecting Buckley AFB, and completing the V.A. Hospital critical priorities during his service in Congress. Mike deserves another term,” Hogan said, according to the release.

Apparently not all ballot secrets are worth keeping.

Hogan isn’t alone among local Republicans only too happy to share their ballot secret about their choice for Congress, but solemnly sworn to not tell a soul about their choice for president.

“All three Arapahoe County commissioners, commissioners Nancy Sharpe, Rod Bockenfeld and Nancy Doty, chimed in to support Mike,” Coffman’s campaign said in the release.

That bell rang flat, however, for Doty. Running now for a state Senate seat in southeast Aurora, Doty maintains that she can’t tell the Sentinel or anyone who she’s voting for president, because of the sacred secret ballot thing.

Of course, I could have this thing all wrong. Being truly secret, it could be that these local Republicans are more like New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who may vote for one candidate while supporting another while circling in regard to an endorsement. It could well be these Republicans talk nice about Coffman in public, but then plan to vote for his Democrat challenger, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, when they get the lead out on the actual ballot. It would be their little secret.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and FaceBook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or

Hey, Morgan Carroll and Mike Coffman. Stop already with the lame-brain negative ads against each other.


Let me set this straight, and then let’s move on: Morgan Carroll, a Democrat state senator running against incumbent Congressman Republican Mike Coffman, is not a sleazy lawyer who used her position as state Senate president to get her or anyone else rich. Did not happen.

And Mike Coffman has never snuggled up to Donald Trump and is nothing like him. He probably despises the guy. Who in their right mind doesn’t?

Now stop beating each other over the head with these ridiculous TV ad claims and tell voters something that really might move the needle in one direction or the other in the race for Aurora’s 6th Congressional District seat.

Still not convinced?

Let me tell you about Mike Coffman. I’ve been writing about him so long that we were both young, handsome guys when I first wrote about his leave of absence from his state House seat to fight in the first Iraq War. It was before there was electricity. Now, we’re just old handsome guys.

Mike has always been a smart, savvy and passionate politician. And while he regularly defines himself as a military veteran, he is a career politician. He’s been elected to five very different government positions a whole bunch of times.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

As a legislator, state treasurer and secretary of state, Mike was obsessive about his work. Right or wrong — in my opinion or that of others — he’s always diligent. I’m as appreciative of his long public elected service as I am his exemplary military service. Having watched Mike all these years, I have no doubt his opinion of Donald Trump is only slightly better than my own. I’m not saying that Mike doesn’t deserve knuckle raps for standing silent on the obvious Trump disaster until it was too late to prevent it. In fact, I have said that. But Mike is a politician, and he has the self-preservation instincts and success record over these many decades to prove it — just like every politician I’ve ever met.

I can guarantee you, that if the roles were reversed and the Democratic presidential nominee was an outright lying, mentally unstable, dog-whistling-for-a-national-racist meltdown, fascist, Democrats would be handling this the same way.

They’re all political animals, and so is Morgan. She’s a lawyer, and a really good one. She’s incredibly smart and perceptive, listening to people describe problems and being able to quickly start offering solutions. It’s the lawyer thing. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer. And Barack Obama. And his wife. And Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. There’s nothing wrong with being a lawyer. For years and years she’s represented people who were victims and being taken advantage of. She’s the voice for people who don’t have a way to make their own voice heard. Some of that work has been for injured clients, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re in big-box store and suddenly get clobbered by a crate stored wrong, and the store owner says “toughies,” who are you gonna call? A plumber? Dial-a-prayer?

I’ve watched Morgan take in troubled people to her own home and her own life so they could get back on their feet and move on. She brushes aside political consequences for things like that, and does what she thinks is just right: help people. I’ve seen her work tirelessly to pass bills that have huge impacts in people’s lives, even though that bill may result in someone getting just a couple hundred dollars a year. Just a few weeks ago, she was pressing for ways to help disabled Colorado residents, probably our state’s most vulnerable neighbors, dig through the nightmare of legislation and regulations that prevent them from helping themselves.

She’s the patron saint of people in trouble.

Both of these candidates are smart, caring people. They’re politicians, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mike has spent the last few years focusing on Aurora’s vast immigrant population, and his critics say he did it all for show to try and keep his job in an increasingly liberal district. Maybe, but he really has spent a lot of time at a long list of events with immigrants and minorities, listening to them. Observing them. Nothing but good can come from that. Too many of his conservative peers make judgments without knowing who America’s immigrants really are. Knowledge changes everything.

And Morgan has spent her life being a voice for people under duress. It means she knows what happens when legislation goes bad, because she hears from constituents as a lawmaker, and from her clients as a lawyer when innocent people get strangled by red tape.

What does separate these candidates is their stance on critical issues, and, in full disclosure, that’s where Mike and I often disagree.

If you think climate change isn’t nearly as bad or imminently dangerous as scientists make out, and messing with the economy is a bigger worry, Mike’s your guy. If you think scientists don’t make this crap up and transitioning from a petroleum world ain’t nothing compared to mass starvation from devastating droughts, vote for Morgan.

If you think that we realistically must and morally should assimilate the millions of illegal Americans living in this country, except the felons, Morgan is your pick. If you think we can cherry-pick those immigrants, and wait-and-see what to do with the millions who don’t really fall into the “yes” or “no” baskets, Mike is with you.

If you’re outraged because a woman’s reproductive rights, abortion rights, are being chiseled away by pro-life lawmakers who do things like vote for defunding Planned Parenthood and backing weak-acid legislation, Morgan is at the front of the battle to make it stop. Mike? He’s voted to defund Planned Parenthood with his pack.

Fix Obamacare and drive down prices with a public option? Morgan. Scrap Obamacare and try something else? Mike.

With these two candidates, issues are the issue, not their personal shortcomings, which seems to be what they’re fighting over. Do your research on the issues and pick the one that you want to vote in Congress like you would.

But if you just want a brilliant, handsome older guy who’s never been wrong and is funnier than a pig on a frozen pond, write me in.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or

The moment of truth, and I do mean truth, for Colorado Republican elected officials is now as they must either unequivocally denounce the catastrophic candidacy of Donald Trump or suffer the inevitable consequences.

In the minds of rational, thinking Americans, conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican and none of the above, Trump is an unparalleled political abomination in the history of the United States.

As his critics from the left, center and the right have pointed out, and as anybody in their right mind can plainly see, Trump is uninformed, unintelligent, unprincipled, unpredictable, unrepentant and unable to exert even a modicum of self control over his anger or his ego.

A trove of sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, marketers and more have already spent countless words trying to explain how and why Trump enjoys the voter support he does, even though it now seems to be dissolving fast.

The explanation of Trump no longer matters. What matters is that there are throngs of his post-factual-politics fans that are either distracted, ill-informed or full-throttle racists and fascists like Trump himself.

In a few months, a few years or a few decades, we will all be judged by how we reacted to Trump. We’ll be judged in the very same way generations have been judged by how they dealt with George Wallace, David Duke, Joseph McCarthy, Adolph Hitler and Manuel Noriega. We will all soon have to own up to how we handled the Trump nomination.

But Republicans must own up right now, for the good of the country, and if for no other reason, the good of their own careers.

This has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Hillary Clinton. It wouldn’t matter if Donald Trump were running against Nancy Pelosi, Jane Fonda or Mother Teresa, Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president.

I’m not discounting Hillary Clinton’s considerable problems with her own candidacy, but to say that they are so egregious as to make Trump a realistic choice is as ridiculous as saying that a spoiled 6-year-old boy can pilot a 747 because he bought one and can, sort of, ride a bike.

No. I and a growing list of other journalists, from the left and the right, as well as more Republicans and other conservatives each day understand the menace, and the need for honesty and accuracy.

Now it’s time for Republicans in Aurora and across the state to do the same.

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman tapped a political white cane around the tea party’s third rail of Trump for President. In a paid political ad, Coffman said he “didn’t think very much” of Trump.

The move smacks of the same half-hearted political opportunism that allowed Sen. Joseph McCartney to extort the U.S. Senate for America’s dark and unnerving “Un-American Activities” charade in the 1950s. If Coffman is as courageous a politician as he makes himself out to be, he must “stand up” to Trump now, not after he’s president. If he believes it, he must tell Trump that America has no place for such blatant racism and fascist leadership. Dozens of prominent Republicans across the country have summoned the courage to risk alienating the spiteful tea party base by calling Trump out for the imminent danger he is.

Because if Coffman, Sen. Cory Gardner, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, congressmen Ken Buck, Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn and GOP state lawmakers and county officials from all over the state don’t publicly, staunchly and undeniably make clear that they abhor the candidacy of Donald Trump and refuse to support or vote for him, then they leave the public with two options. Either GOP elected officials have such poor judgment that they cannot themselves be trusted to represent their more rational constituents, or they are so cowardly that they will not risk their own political jobs by angering the tea party inmates that are now running this surreal GOP asylum. It is this very same cowardice and poor judgment that allowed for segregation and Jim Crow laws in the South, the Holocaust, apartheid and a long list of odious regimes in places like Russia, China and all over the Middle East.

Warnings like mine aren’t hyperbole or hysteria; they are real alarm bells signaling serious danger to democracy and humanity. Never before have respected members of a political party, including 50 GOP security experts and a growing list of elected officials, called out their own party’s presidential nominee for his utter ineptitude and the imminent danger he represents.

Colorado Republicans must join those ranks. We all must join those ranks.

Because even if Trump is obliterated in the election, his candidacy will live on like a festering cancer in America. And once that cancer’s finally gone, we will all have to answer to what we did to either stop it, or feed it.

If you’re confused about what side of the argument you want to be on now, consider what side of history you want to be on years from now. You know the answer. And we must all summon the courage to act on it.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or

Editors and reporters must offer readers the facts about Donald Trump no matter how hard he and his increasingly angry mob of fans push back.

As an industry we must tell the public not just why Trump should never be U.S. president, but why he shouldn’t be president because of what he did today, and every day.

There has not been one single day, not one press conference, not one rally where Trump hasn’t blustered through a litany of things ranging from inept to frightening and dangerous.

If this is just my opinion, it’s also the expressed opinion of Republicans, his allies, pundits and experts from the left and the right, and a growing number of conservatives who once thought they could quietly tolerate his candidacy.

The media is under extreme pressure from both Trump’s knowing and naive followers to treat the New York hotel magnate and his campaign just like any other. Daily, we are bombarded by fanatical and unreasonable critics saying our overly moderated yet pointed and regular coverage of the outlandish, menacing and treacherous things Trump says only proves to them how unfair the media is to him.

I learned journalism from masters. They were serious thinkers who not only studied our ethical, legal and integral role in democracy, but who practiced what they loudly and regularly preached. Former Rocky Mountain News copy desk chief Greg Pearson — as dean and creator of Metro State University of Denver’s unique journalism school — howled this mantra almost every day I saw him for years: “Accuracy. Accuracy. Accuracy,” he bellowed at every tiny mistake he uncovered.

Every day, I, and most journalists, ask the same questions every time we file a story, a brief, a headline, a photo or a caption: Is it accurate? Is it fair? Is it written for the reader and not the source? Above all, is this the real story?

Most of us learn enough about journalism to understand the rudimentary rule of the profession: he said, she said. Supposedly, objective and fair reporters let each side tell their own story, stand back, and then the reader decides who’s right.

But allowing Donald Trump to make comments without context and background make the story inaccurate.

“(Russian President Vladimir Putin is) not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want,” Trump said Sunday during an interview George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

It’s not Trump’s opinion. It’s erroneous. Putin’s grab of the Crimea is already a historical scandal and acknowledged threat to world peace. Likewise, it’s not an opinion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya — it’s false. It’s untrue that Obama is a Muslim. It’s untrue that “global warming” is a hoax. The China trade deficit this year isn’t $505 billion, it’s closer to $340 billion. Ten percent of American bridges are deficient, but 61 percent are not on the verge of collapse. He said ISIS built a hotel in Syria. No. They commandeered one. He said that in the event Iran goes to war with Israel, the United States must side with Iran because of the Iran Anti-Nuclear Agreement. Absolutely not.

Despite what his followers say, these aren’t opinions that the media should obligingly permit Trump to espouse in the same vein that “Obama is the worst president ever,” or “Ted Cruz is the biggest liar ever.” He is a walking, talking fountain of misinformation and disinformation, and if the media — especially the wildly tilted Fox News brand — doesn’t point that out, his naive fan club simply takes his froth at face value. Despite what he says, there aren’t two sets of facts — and he’s regularly on the wrong side of them.

And when the media does point out his inaccuracies, which are usually so glaring to have captured media attention, his fans rabidly accuse the press of bias, and in some sort of conditioned response, rattle off their complaints about Hillary Clinton.

First, the media rightfully treats the accuracy and problems of each candidate separately. But more important, the contest, in the eyes of Trump supporters, is one of weighing who is the most egregious candidate based on the level of shrillness created by critics.

I’ll bite. Hillary has plenty of faults, but as a person, as a politician, as a candidate, her missteps and shortcomings pale compare the off-the-charts horror that Trump parades every single day. And the media has erred in not making that clear, despite what his unaware or complicit fan club says.

It’s like the media reporting on the sinking of the Titanic with Trump at the helm and his supporters pointing out that the dinner served on Hillary’s ship was cold.

Clinton’s shortcomings are real, but they’re irrelevant to Trump’s. For voters, weighing one brand against the other is expected, but when Trump says 81 percent of murdered white people are killed by blacks, and he cites the crime statistics bureau of San Francisco, which doesn’t exist, the press has a duty to point out that 85 percent of murdered whites were killed by other white people.

Trump is a geyser of mistakes, hyperbole, bloopers, gaffes, howlers and outright lies, and the media is irresponsible in not being more forthright about immediately debunking what he says, essentially as he says it.

Trump is not just another flavor of political candidate, he is an unparalleled threat to America and the world that cannot be exaggerated. So the least the media can do is stick to the canons of our profession and ensure readers are offered the facts.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or

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.


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


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)


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)


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

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

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

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.


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.


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

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.


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.