Sentinel Blogs

vahospital2

Aurora’s Congressman Mike Coffman came out of another battle victorious this week.

The 21-year military veteran and three-term Republican congressman got into a war of words with VA Secretary Robert McDonald a couple of weeks ago during a House committee hearing on why the Aurora VA boondoggle hospital and similar over-budget, over-deadline boondoggle projects are still over-budget and nowhere near complete.

The heated hearing went nuclear while Coffman pressed McDonald to know whether he’s cleaned up the “corruption” and   “incompetence” at the Veterans Affairs administration. McDonald blew a gasket, giving Coffman the who-do-you-think-you-are-? treatment and shot back, “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?”

That prompted Coffman to post this on his congressional website:

“Let me start by telling you something I haven’t done. I have never run a federal agency that tolerates corruption the way the VA has. I’ve never built a hospital that’s years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget. And I’ve never been a shill for inept bureaucrats who allowed American heroes to die on a medical waiting list while waiting for medical care.”

Ouch. After a brief time when all sides were looking for a way to quit shifting blame and start moving building materials, clearly, the shill is gone, just not from his VA post.

Coffman fought in both Iraq wars and helped run elections in that war-torn country while he was Colorado Secretary of State, and he gets a lot of mileage from his veteran’s veteran status. So then the sniping started about whether Coffman was a real combat veteran, or just did time in a tent in the desert.

Coffman said he won that battle this week when the Washington Post took Coffman to task about what his military record really was. They gave the Aurora native a green check-mark o’ truth, confirming that he was indeed honored by the U.S. Marines for being in real battle during his first tour of duty in Iraq. To get the distinction, you have to be somewhere the enemy is shooting and you have the opportunity to shoot back. No word on whether Coffman did that, but he’s firing back at McDonald by spreading the word of the Washington Post. Your move, Secretary McDonald.

And the Aurora VA hospital? Yuck.

— Follow Editor Dave Perry on Face Book and Twitter, he’s EditorDavePerry

 

Godspell

Good, Godspell. It’s back again.

In the push to revive revived revivals from the days of long hair and madras, “Godspell,” revived, comes to the Miners Alley in Golden for a healthy run starting in March.

If you don’t remember the musical, you’ll remember the songs and music: “Day by Day,” “Godspell,”  “Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” and “By My Side” made charts in some markets.

The biblically based show, popular in the era of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” et al, is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. In the show, Jesus spreads The Word using songs, games, stories and jokes.

The cast includes Matt Kok (Jesus), Drew Horwitz (Judas/John the Baptist), Jacquie Jo Billings, Ashley Brown, Jenna Haimes, Leslie Randle, Felicia Tuttle, Ian McCauley, Gabriel Morales and Carter Edward Smith, according to publicist Gloria Shanstrom. The show’s directed by Brenda Worley Billings.

The Golden production is a regional premier of the most recent Broadway revival, which received good national press for trimming and some new arrangements. The 2,000-year-old story remains the same.

Godspell, the Revival

At the Miner’s Alley in Golden March 27 through May 3

Fri. and Sat. @ 7:30 p.m.; Sun @ 6 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sun., May 3)

$26 Adult – $23 Senior and Youth – $$15 Children under 12

Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Ave. in Golden

303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

— Dave Perry, staff writer

106804_600

Like we all need one more reason to love Congressman Ed Perlmutter. The hero people’s-rep today introduced a bill in the U.S. House that would ban the use of red-light cameras across the whole country.

Go, Ed, go.

Please, start here in Aurora. This paper is no fan of the funky contraptions designed only to rake in cash for cities and inflict tight grips and sphincters upon unlucky motorists who see the flash of light pass before their eyes and car windshields all across the country. Our own state lawmakers hasn’t found the temerity to take on such a substantial line-item budget number in almost every state in Colorado — Aurora included.

It’s hard to see how he could gain any traction on a bill like this since relatively mundane traffic matters are the purview of states. But, hey, Perlmutter is a lawyer, and like President Lincoln said, anything is possible with public sentiment, and impossible without it. And if you ask most folks, they’re seeing plenty of red over the damned things. They immediately bring the overwhelming question to mind when jerks are behind the wheel all over the country, “Where’s a cop when you need one?” Sitting on the other side of the camera, folks.

It takes a brave man to lift a finger to the camera as you pass by, or to naysayers on the U.S. House floor, or to finally do something in Congress that actually needs to be done.

Go, Ed, go.

— Dave Perry, editor

Here’s the release:

online sales

Colorado’s nascent Sen. Cory Gardner is learning the ropes of the U.S. Senate and how to tell time.

Forever, Senator, is a long, long time.

The congressman-turned-senator from Yuma hasn’t quite grasped that yet. Why else would he proudly become an “original co-sponsor” of a bill by Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, that would make permanent the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998.

“We should never tax the internet,” Gardener said in a statement today. “That’s a position I supported in the House of Representatives, it was one of the pillars of my Four Corners Plan for Colorado, and it’s why I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation.”

I’m for no taxes as much, actually more, than the next guy. But what Gardner and Co. overlook is that the current system unfairly taxes Internet sales where “brick-and-mortar” stores exist in your state. If you order a new blender from Wal-Mart, Target or Best Buy, you pay sales taxes on it. If you order the same blender from WowGetYourOnlineBlendersSansTaxesRightHere.com, you pay no taxes.

The three mega-retailers and many others support Colorado with jobs and taxes. WowWhateverSomethingOrOther.com doesn’t do crap for Colorado and does nothing for the state but suck up sales taxes. And those taxes? They pay for roads, snow plows, teachers, cops, stuff like that.

The reason online sales were tax free to begin with is because, back in the day, who would go to the AOL Intertubes to trust Lord-only-knows what on the other side of the WWW to take your money and send you stuff? So, to get the whole thing going, it was tax free.

It’s going now. A University of Tennessee study and the National Conference of State Legislatures estimate that online and catalog sales kept $23 billion in taxes from states and local communities in 2012.

That’s a lot of asphalt, Senator Gardner.

I’m down with not paying taxes for anything, but I’m also pretty keen on keeping the cops, paved roads and enough government to keep oil companies from washing their trucks out in the Platte River. I’m also pretty keen on treating businesses that invest in Colorado at least as good or bad as the ones sucking cash out of the state at their, and our, expense.

“Wherever the heavy hand of government taxation inserts itself, innovation, growth, and jobs are quick to disappear,” Gardner said.

No. Greed and corruption are economic fun crushers, Senator. Unfair taxation and inefficient distribution of resources are what kills progress and my car’s front-end alignment.

“Never,” Senator? Never is a long, long time.

— Dave Perry, Editor

Gardner’s Feb. 10 press release

Gardner: “Never Tax the Internet” 

Washington, D.C.‎ – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced today that he is an original co-sponsor of legislation to keep the internet tax-free indefinitely.‎  The legislation is being introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD), and would make permanent the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998, which prohibits taxes on internet access or e-commerce. 

“Wherever the heavy hand of government taxation inserts itself, innovation, growth, and jobs are quick to disappear,” Gardner said. “Businesses and customers are increasingly engaging online, and American entrepreneurs are making leaps and bounds forward in creating the companies, services, and communications platforms that will dominate the future of our economy. Keeping the internet tax-free permanently is the only way to ensure that the kind of progress we’ve made online will continue.

 

“We should never tax the internet. That’s a position I supported in the House of Representatives, it was one of the pillars of my Four Corners Plan for Colorado, and it’s why I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

###

 

Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  

 

B40B Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

(202) 224-5941

United States' Lindsey Vonn races down the course during the women's super-G competition at the alpine skiing world championships on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Beaver Creek, Colo. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
United States’ Lindsey Vonn races down the course during the women’s super-G competition at the alpine skiing world championships on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Beaver Creek, Colo. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

Little wonder that sexism is so alive and well in America. We bring ‘em up that way in this country, and even in my own newspaper. We’re following the Alpine World Championship near Vail, just like thousands of newspapers and TV stations across the country. This year, the race is in our own backyard.

Despite culling the sexes, few sports are as equitable to men and women as is extreme and competitive speed skiing. But the news coverage? Nope.

The headline for tomorrow’s main story coming out of the Associated Press sports desk?

“Vonn breaks into tears after Alpine combined at worlds”

Even Colorado cave-dwellers know who Lindsey Vonn is, Colorado’s own invincible and indomitable four-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist. Not only has Vonn stunned the world with her incredible athleticism, skill and determination, she’s back on the slopes after suffering serious injuries.

During the past few days during the worlds outside of Vail, she’s has some tough breaks and some disappointing runs. They’re runs, however, that are still better than just about every speed skier on the planet. This is a driven athlete who has leveraged her passion and skill in every competition she’s been in to win. I can’t even imagine the pressure.

But as a man, I can assure you if it were me in her position, and away from talking tough in front of the cameras I started crying in front of my coach and friends, the press would probably either ignore it, or the headline would read that I’d become “emotional.” Check out stories about weepy athletes like Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Bret Favre and Terrell Owens, all famous athletes who became emotional, usually on national television.

In the American press, after all these years, after all we were indoctrinated with in journalism school, after all a lot of us have fought for, after it looks like the next president of the United States is going to be a woman, men still “get emotional” and women still “break down in tears.”

Who’s writing and editing the sports world these days? Oscar Madison? John Inverdale? Howard Cosell?

Here’s what the Associated Press came up with:

Lindsey Vonn smiled and waved to the hometown crowd after finishing a run that didn’t count.

Out of view, she broke into tears. All the pent-up pressure from being the favorite at the world championships boiled over after she straddled a gate in the slalom portion of the Alpine combined Monday, knocking her out of the race.

That she cried under so much pressure hardly makes her less an athlete or more a female or anything else, other than a human. That it becomes the focus of a story, and that she “broke into tears,” rather than cried or became emotional or even viscerally upset, is what shocks me.

This woman, and her peers, perform superhuman feats every time they leave the gate. You may think you can imagine what Vonn’s level of skiing is like, and you’d be wrong. It’s fantastically dangerous, difficult and demanding, probably unlike any other sport on the planet. She travels on the edges of skis on grueling mountains in thin air at speeds that make plenty of people uncomfortable inside of cars. Over and over and over. I’d cry every time. All the time.

Vonn, like so many athletes before her, no doubt shed tears today after a discouraging week, but I have no doubt she’s never once in her ski life “broke down.”  And had she been a man, the press wouldn’t have reported that today.

nra2

In a world that has become so unpredictable, it’s reassuring to know some things can be counted on; Nothing in this country is as consistently bat-guano crazy as is the NRA these days.

In today’s nut-case Olympic feat, NRA board member and Texas State Rifle Association chief Charles Cotton won the whack-o-net while complaining about a proposal in the Texas state legislature that would prohibit public school employees from spanking, slapping, beating or beheading students. OK. Maybe beheading wasn’t in the bill. Why Texas has waited this long to keep teachers from beating students is another story for another time.

Today’s story is about Cotton. He likes the idea of slapping some sense into anybody’s youngin who smarts off or gets some ‘tude at school. And he is tot-slappin’ mad about the bill. Of course you just know some sissy measure like that would come from a Texas Democrat, tired of hearing about teachers whacking good sense into kids.

Brendan James of Talking Point Media quoted Cotton in an intertubes thread saying:

“I’m sick of this woman and her, ‘don’t touch my kid regardless what he/she did or will do again’ attitude,” Cotton wrote in a thread titled “HB567: Corporal punishment in schools.” And he added, “Perhaps a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later.”

Now you have to keep all this in perspective. This is from a state that is also proposing a law that would allow teachers to legally shoot kids for damaging or threatening school property. You have to remember that Texas, like the rest of the South, is the most violent part of the country. And Texas leads the nation in states where more people per capita are killed by fighting with their bare hands than anywhere else. So what’s a little S&M among kiddies and teachers at school?  But even in Texas, folks have got to wonder why the answer to everything for the NRA is “to put a bullet in him?”

So. Questions about who’s inside the pocket and heart of more elected officials than anyone in the country? Questions about where to get reach Cotton for parenting classes or as a cheap babysitter? Questions about why the country needs to reel these folks in before we all get hurt?

As a parent here in the West, we encouraged our kids to talk it out and “don’t hit.” I have to admit, however, that I’m even more frightened when people like Cotton agree to “use your words.” Please, don’t.

Odd timing for Colorado’s newest Senate minority party to protect Second Amendment rights.

In a statement this morning, Colorado Senate Democrats spurned Senate Republicans for voting against an amendment that would “make the concealed carry background check process quicker.”

In an email titled “BREAKING: Republicans vote to make your wait longer to get a concealed carry permit,” Denver Democrat Mike Johnston blasted the GOP for treading all over the Constitution, man.

“As a gun owner, I find this offensive,” he writes. “Taxpayers are paying fees to get a public service. These are funds that have already been collected and sitting in a bank. … We shouldn’t make people wait to get a concealed carry permit because of political games.”

I’d argue differently. The state would argue differently. And Johnston — the Dems’ eloquent oratory ringer in the Senate — shouldn’t argue at all.

None of Johnston’s campaign materials mention he’s a gun owner — the word “gun” appears three times in his “On the Issues” page and none of them make mention that he owns one — and his signature speech last year concerning the magazine limit ban was not focused on responsible gun ownership. It’s safe to say Johnston did not run on a platform of being a “gun owner.”

The state’s law requires the Department of Safety to approve or deny applications for concealed carry permits within 90 days. In 2013-2014, the wait was 45 days. This year the wait is expected to reach 54 days, according to the department’s own accounting. Adequate time to complete thorough and adequate background checks. After all, we’re not Utah for godsake.

(The application bump could easily be attributed to “political games” too, namely the GOP’s incessant cry that the gummamint is coming for everyone’s guns and bullets and names, despite data showing the exact opposite.)

But the “gun-friendly” amendment that was voted down was instead an appropriation for 8 full-time employees to the department of safety’s staff, something that had a snowball’s chance in a GOP-held Senate this year. Johnston knew that, the Dems knew it, and to bang the drum with obfuscation of what happened — they didn’t vote for longer waits, they voted against a supplemental appropriation — isn’t legislating.

That’s political gaming.

A preliminary artist sketch of James Holmes, with gray jacket and glasses.

Notes by reporter Brandon Johansson from the first day of the Aurora theater shooting trial of James Holmes as the long process of jury selection gets underway:

3:39 p.m. 

CENTENNIAL | Among the first wave of prospective jurors in the Aurora theater shooting trial to report to court Tuesday, three checked their phones, and one fell asleep — maybe.

Another three were dismissed because they no longer live in Arapahoe County, two because they had a note from their doctor and another whose address is actually in Elbert County despite what Arapahoe records said.

In those six cases, Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said the jurors were not supposed to be dismissed, but instead the jury commissioner was supposed to send him their proof of residency so the prosecution and defense could chime in as to how to handle them.

A preliminary artist sketch of James Holmes, with gray jacket and glasses.

Another juror appeared in court early Tuesday and was mistakenly sent to another courtroom that was preparing for jury selection. That juror was dismissed by another judge and Samour said he would let that judge’s dismissal stand.

As for the jurors who may have used their phones, prosecutors noted to the judge that one of their staffers saw them use their phone while in court, but they didn’t ask that the judge take any action.

And then there was the juror who a prosecution staffer said might have fallen asleep.

Judge Samour seemed confused as to whether the prosecution thought the prospective juror did or did not fall asleep.

Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said he couldn’t be sure.

“There were certain times when I was growing up that my mom thought I was asleep and I wasn’t,” Orman said. “So you never know.”

The first wave of jurors were filling out their lengthy jury questionnaire Tuesday afternoon and the two sides are expected to receive the completed questionnaires around noon on Wednesday.

2:50 p.m.

CENTENNIAL | The first wave of potential jurors in the Aurora theater shooting trial were warned Tuesday to steer clear of any news reports or conversations about the case.

Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. — reading the same prepared remarks he is expected to read to as many 7,000 prospective jurors in the coming months — told the group that steering clear of any discussion of the case is a daunting task, but one they need to stick to.

The initial group Tuesday was expected to include between 130 and 150 prospective jurors.

Samour also told the jurors that they are not allowed to visit any of the locations connected to the case, including the movie theater where James Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding 70 more in July 2012.

The prospective jurors are expected to begin filling out their questionnaires this afternoon.

More jurors are scheduled to report to court tomorrow morning and afternoon, with two sessions nearly every day until a jury of 24 is seated.

Holmes sat quietly at the defense table, leaning back in his chair throughout the first session.

11:40 a.m.

CENTENNIAL | Court officials expect between 130 and 150 jurors to report to court Tuesday afternoon for the first day of jury selection in the Aurora theater shooting trial.

In court Tuesday morning, Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. said that while court officials have called 250 people to appear, only 188 of that initial group remain eligible. Some potential jurors have been dismissed because they have connections to people involved in the trial, and Samour said other summonses were undeliverable.

The first session is set to start at 1 p.m.

At each session, Samour said he expects between 130 and 150 prospective jurors will report.

After sending out a total of 9,000 summonses, Samour said there are about 7,000 potential jurors remaining in the pool.

When the jurors report, they will hear a 30-minute introductory speech from Samour, watch an 18-minute video that all jurors in the state watch and then receive their juror questionnaires.

According to court documents, the questionnaire includes 75 questions, but in court Tuesday, Samour said the questionnaire has 77 questions.

With that many questions, Samour said he expects some prospective jurors to need more than two hours to complete it, while others could finish in about 45 minutes.

“It is difficult to tell how long it’s going to take them to fill it out,” he said.

In an October order laying out the final version, Samour bluntly admitted that at 75 questions, it was lengthy.

“The questionnaire is extensive,” he wrote.

Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor who now teaches law at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, said jury questionnaires often try to extract some personal information about the jurors — including their personal experiences with mental illness, law enforcement or other extremely private issues.

Because of that, the questionnaires are rarely, if ever, seen by the public.

“When we are asking jurors for a lot of very personal and sensitive information, the goal is that the information be between the judge and the attorneys,” she said.

Steinhauser said she has tried cases where after the lawyers were done reviewing prospective juror’s answers, they were required to return the answers to the court.

In this case, Samour has ordered the two sides to destroy the questionnaires — including any electronic copies — once they are done with them.

In his opening remarks to jurors — a final version of which were released this month — Samour will tell them they should answer honestly and in detail because those that don’t fill the questionnaires out in detail stand a better chance of being called back for individual questioning.

From February through May, Samour said some jurors will be dismissed and others will be called back for a second round of questioning as the court tries to whittle the pool to 100 to 120 potential jurors.

That group will be called back a third time in May or June for a two-day group questioning session, he said.

But, Samour said, those are only hopeful estimates.

“It is very difficult to estimate how long the process of selecting 24 jurors will take. Our best estimate is that it will take us until approximately May or June to select a jury,” he said.

The trial itself — including a possible death penalty phase — will then run from May or June into September or October, he said.

10:20 a.m.

CENTENNIAL | The judge in the Aurora theater trial abruptly ended a hearing about videotape evidence from the Arapahoe County Jail on Tuesday, citing concerns that testimony could taint the jury pool.

It wasn’t clear from testimony Tuesday what the videotape evidence shows, other than that it shows Holmes in the jail sometime after being booked in July 2012. Holmes’ defense team said jail staff deleted some video without checking with them first.

The defense asked for the hearing after they said jail staff failed to turn over some video evidence until Jan. 9, 2015, months after they had asked for it and just a few weeks before the trial is set to start.

With the first wave of prospective jurors set to report to court Tuesday afternoon, Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. said he would like to wait to finish the hearing until after jurors have received the initial admonishment about avoiding media coverage of the trial.

With 9,000 prospective jurors called — and with about 7,000 expected to report — Samour said the process could take several weeks.

Tuesday afternoon marks the first time Holmes will appear in court in the presence of potential jurors, so he is allowed to wear civilian clothes. He sat quietly next to his lawyers on Tuesday morning wearing a black blazer, a blue and white striped shirt and khaki pants.

Unlike previous hearings, where Holmes appeared wearing a jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled, Holmes’ hands were not cuffed at the start of the hearing. His left leg, however, was chained to the defense table with a cable that was hidden from the jury’s view.

The first prospective jurors are scheduled to report to the courthouse at 1 p.m.

8:30 a.m. CENTENNIAL | Jury selection in the Aurora theater shooting trial is set to start Tuesday afternoon after a brief morning hearing on evidence recently turned over to the defense.

The accused gunman, James Holmes, is due in court at 9 a.m. for a hearing about a videotape that prosecutors recently gave to the defense.

It isn’t clear what the videotape shows, and Tuesday’s hearing likely won’t shed light on it. In a heavily-redacted order last week setting Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. ordered the two sides not to discuss details about the videotape in open court.

The defense contends the tape should have been turned over to them sooner.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 and injuring 70 more during a July 2012 shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Starting Tuesday afternoon the first 250 of 9,000 prospective jurors will report to court. Jury selection is expected top last several months with opening statements starting in May or June.

7:30 a.m.

Quiet so far. Just a few members of the media here to pick up credentials.

James Holmes’ trial will likely stretch from now until August, lawyers said previously.

Judge Carlos Samour said he plans to select 24 jurors, a number that includes 12 alternates.

Two dozen jurors is an uncommonly large number — typical murder trials in Arapahoe County often have just a few alternates in addition to 12 jurors —  but Samour said it is necessary.

There is a motions hearing slated for this morning, and the first prospective jurors appear at 2 p.m.

forget

For God’s sake, give up the public prayer thing before someone gets hurt.

Thursday brought another predictable flare over prayer, this time at the state Capitol. The public offering-turned-offending happens every time some two-bit pastor warms up the state Legislature or a city council. This especially odious ode illustrates why this bad habit should end.

Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels, who vigilantly watches over the General Assembly — mostly when state lawmakers wished she wouldn’t — reported Thursday morning’s inflammatory antics by the questionably Rev. Doug Toller of Winter Park Christian Church.

He riled Democrats and, hopefully, some thoughtful Republicans, when he raised this request to his maker:

“And Lord,” Toller said, “I pray for courage that they might vote in a way that’s not according to the culture acceptance, but according to what’s right before you so we can experience your blessing on us,” Bartels wrote.

Bad grammar aside, culturally accepted and even lauded lawmakers like the Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Mainstream Colorado, who is openly gay, was offended. So were others. So am I.

This is not a free speech issue. Gay marriage or rights were not being debated, and they certainly weren’t being debated by this “Christian” yahoo. If he, or any other preacher, wants to bash gays, do it in committee like our system of government calls for, or back in church.

The reason why it’s so obvious to end this prayer thing is because Toller’s public insult begs the question, just what should these people be praying for? In many cases, it’s pretty obvious that only an act of God can bring reason and sense to a place that expects the divine creator to widen I-70 from Floyd Hill to the Eisenhower Tunnel, because the state Legislature sure as hell can’t figure out how to do it. Given that the state Capitol is chock full of some of the weirdest and most unreasonable people in the state (God bless their freaky little souls, though) we can assume it would be OK to pray for them to be less weird and unreasonable. Can I have an “amen” for that?

And just as difficult as it is to answer the question of what’s reasonable to pray for at the beginning of a government meeting, it’s a tougher question to answer what should be off limits. Is it not OK for the good Rev. Brimstone to pray that legislators do the right thing about the “feminazi” agenda and outlaw abortion, short dresses and women in the workplace? Is it OK to pray that any lawmakers opposing more stringent regulation of food trucks get explosive diarrhea during the hearing on a bill?

To keep from offending someone, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and lawyers, who also are supposedly welcome to observe and take part in Capitol proceedings — well, maybe not lawyers —prayers pretty much have to be as strident and meaningful as fortune cookies.

“May the Good Lord help everyone here have a nice day, and by nice I don’t mean that the GOP nicely prevails in overturning gun-control laws. Amen.”

Just stop it. If someone is so religious that they feel the need for divine communion or intervention before reaching for the green button or dozing off in their cushy, green easy chair, then hold a moment of silence to let folks reach out to Jesus, Mary or Jon Stewart, or whomever gives them the guidance and moral fortitude to appease the real judges of their work: voters and campaign donors.

— Dave Perry, Editor

Read Lynn Bartel’s story in the Denver Post here.

Dave Perry

Aurora’s Congressman Mike Coffman kept a promise and bucked his party’s extremists fighting a petty political battle with President Barack Obama — at the expense of millions of innocent people.

Coffman, a Republican, voted against a broad bill what seeks to undo the ability of illegal immigrants brought here as children to find a permanent home in the United States.

Good for you, Congressman. It was an impressive and important move. The vote was nothing but a flagrant political slap to President Barack Obama as retribution for seeking administrative ways to solve immigration problems. But it passed, 236-191 because other Republicans don’t have the temerity and good sense Coffman showed.

“The President’s executive actions are clearly unconstitutional and I strongly oppose his unilateral decisions on immigration but my party needs to stop just saying what we are against and start saying what we are for when it comes to fixing our broken immigration system,” Coffman said in a statement. “Under the DACA amendment that passed, young people who were taken to this country as children, who grew up here, went to school here, and often know of no other country but the United States, would not be allowed to renew their status and would face deportation. We should have had an opportunity to pass a version of the DACA program into law.  Moving forward, immigration reform should be about securing our borders, growing our economy and keeping families together and we need to do it all the constitutional way – through Congress.”

Coffman just fought against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to keep his Aurora congressional seat, which has turned much more blue since Coffman won the seat as a conservative Republican six years ago. The race pushed him to left on numerous issues, including immigration. Coffman worked hard to learn Spanish, and he backed the DACA philosophy. He not only pushed back against GOP pressure to back today’s vote, he lashed out at fellow Republicans, calling out their short-sighted and mean-spirit folly.

He earned my appreciation, and his comments should show fellow Republicans that the way out of the Washington weeds depends on being practical, compassionate and acting like grown ups.

— Dave Perry, editor

Coffman’s Statement

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) offered the following statement following his vote against the Blackburn Amendment which would have defunded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and barred renewals in the program.

“The President’s executive actions are clearly unconstitutional and I strongly oppose his unilateral decisions on immigration but my party needs to stop just saying what we are against and start saying what we are for when it comes to fixing our broken immigration system,” said Coffman.

“Under the DACA amendment that passed, young people who were taken to this country as children, who grew up here, went to school here, and often know of no other country but the United States, would not be allowed to renew their status and would face deportation. We should have had an opportunity to pass a version of the DACA program into law.  Moving forward, immigration reform should be about securing our borders, growing our economy and keeping families together and we need to do it all the constitutional way – through Congress.”

The AP story about the vote

House votes to undo Obama immigration policies

ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON | The Republican U.S. House voted Wednesday to overturn President Barack Obama’s key immigration policies, approving legislation that would eliminate new deportation protections for millions and expose hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants to expulsion.

The 236-191 vote came on a broad bill that would provide nearly $40 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year.

Democrats accused Republicans of playing politics with national security at a time of heightened threats, and Obama has threatened to veto the legislation. Prospects in the Senate look tough, too.

But House Republicans, in a determined assault on one of Obama’s top domestic priorities, accused him of reckless unconstitutional actions on immigration that must be stopped.

“This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself,” said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. “The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.”

But Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., accused Republicans of “viciousness” for trying to make it easier to deport immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., called the GOP effort “a political vendetta,” adding, “It’s a reprehensible, reckless tactic which will compromise, has already compromised, the full and effective functioning of our Homeland Security Department” at a time of heightened security risks.

The immigration measures were amendments on the Homeland Security bill.

One of them, approved 237-190, would undo executive actions that Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief to some 4 million immigrants in the country illegally. A second amendment would delete Obama’s 2012 policy that’s granted work permits and stays of deportation to more than 600,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. That measure passed more narrowly, 218-209, as more than two dozen more moderate Republicans joined Democrats in opposition.

The changes Obama announced in November especially enraged the GOP because they came not long after Republicans swept the midterm elections, taking control of the Senate and increasing their majority in the House. Republicans pledged then to revisit the issue once Congress was fully under their control.

But even with Republicans in control of the Senate, the bill faces difficulty there, especially because House GOP leaders decided to satisfy demands from conservative members by including a vote to undo the 2012 policy that deals with younger immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

Republicans are six votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to advance most legislation in the Senate, and even some Republicans in that chamber have expressed unease with the House GOP approach, especially given the importance of funding the Homeland Security Department in light of the Paris terrorist attacks.

Some House Republicans acknowledged that the Senate was likely to reject their approach, perhaps forcing them in the end to pass a Homeland Security funding bill stripped of controversial provisions on immigration.

“They’re not going to pass this bill,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

Homeland Security money expires at the end of February so House leaders have left themselves several weeks to come up with an ultimate solution.

Immigrant advocates warned Republicans that Wednesday’s votes risked alienating Latino voters who will be crucial to the 2016 presidential election.

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Connie Cass contributed to this report.

FindIt!