On Wednesday October 15, the Independence Institute hosted author and former small business owner Michael Daugherty. His book, “Devil Inside the Beltway” is an ongoing tale of the big guy (government) vs. the little guy (Michael and his company). Listen as Michael tells a magnificent tale of government overreach and cronyism. And he’s still fighting to this day.
Welcome to Jon Caldara
Jon Caldara's official blog! Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute, Colorado's free-market think tank in Denver, Colorado. Caldara also hosts a radio talk show every Sunday, from 5 to 8pm on 630 KHOW. His current affairs television program Devils Advocate, on Colorado Public Television Channel 12, airs on Fridays at 8:30 pm repeated the following Monday at 1:30pm. Be sure to follow Jon on Facebook and Twitter!
For years, we’ve been frustrated by secrecy in government, particularly the secrecy surrounding the negotiations over teacher union contracts with school districts. It’s where 85% of a district’s budget will be decided. Also decided is how our children will be taught and how teachers will be compensated. Yet this negotiation is most often done in a smoky back room.
In the last decade, the Colorado legislature had four opportunities to bring these meetings under the Open Meetings Law, and four times the special interests who meet in that back room got the bills killed.
So, about a year ago we made a bold decision. If we wanted sunshine on those dark meetings, the only way to change the law would be through a citizens’ initiative. And if that were to happen, we’d have to do it. Who else would take on the unions, school districts and school boards? So off we went.
But this morning I had a panic attack. Our little, underfunded Prop 104 received an endorsement from the Denver Post. If the Post likes it, it must be a terrible idea! Right? Well, I’m imagining folks at both Independence Institute and the Denver Post saying of each other, “You know, a broken clock is right twice a day.” So, we’re happy to be a broken clock.
Prop 104 also has been endorsed by the Greeley Tribune. They now join the Gazette (Colorado Springs), Pueblo Chieftain and Durango Herald. In fact, I’m not aware of a single newspaper that has opined against measure and the transparency it will bring. Journalists, no matter their political beliefs, understand that secrecy is the enemy of good government.
On Wednesday, October 15, at 5:30 PM we will host Michael Daugherty, author of Devil Inside the Beltway, for a presentation and book signing at our offices. It’s a frightening firsthand account of the federal government’s ability to manufacture a case against a small business and shut it down. But Michael is fighting back. Attendance is FREE, but please RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/michael-daugherty-tickets-13583760393
Also, on Thursday, October 16, at the Denver Post Auditorium, there will be a live debate over Proposition 105, that if passed would mandate the labeling of certain genetically modified or engineered foods. Doors open at 5:30 PM, and the debate is scheduled to last from 6:00-7:00 PM. Two representatives from each side of the issue will square off for the debate that has brought a great deal of national attention to Colorado. Moderated by Dominic Dezzutti, host of Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television, the debate will go into all of the details of this high-profile measure. Please contact Mary@i2i.org if you’re able to attend.
The number of Coloradans in the labor force has fallen significantly for several key groups according to the National Labor Force Participation Rate report from our friends at The Liberty Foundation. To download just the Colorado report, click here.
The report analyzes the employment percentage of each demographic in Colorado’s labor force, revealing staggering participation losses, often within the last half decade.
Coloradans saw the number of those active in the labor force dip 4 percent overall – from 72.1 to 68.1 percent – from 2008 to 2013. But the broad numbers disguise the decline across many demographic subsections.
In 2008, on the cusp of the recession, the labor force percentage for Hispanics stood at 71.9 percent, dropping to 67.7 percent by 2013. But while the percentage remained relatively flat for Hispanic women (near 60 percent), Hispanic men saw a decline by nearly 9 points - from 84 to 75 percent.
African-American labor force rates declined 2.5 points over the same time span, but the decline for men outstripped the overall decline, from 75 percent to just below 70 percent.
Colorado women saw their numbers shrink as well. Even as most of the age groups for women saw relative stability, the number of women aged 20-24 in the labor pool slipped more than 5 percent.
The data reveals Colorado’s employment problems are neither racist nor sexist. In fact, men have been plagued with reduced labor participation rates as well. While their older male counterparts have seen employment tick back up slightly, the bottom has fallen out for young males. In 2001, teen male employment stood at nearly 62 percent. In 2008, the rate dropped to 45 percent. Today? Just 35.6 percent of males between ages 16-19 participate in the labor force – nearly half what it was in 2001.
Here’s where the unemployment rate of each group stands, looking at the 5 year period ending in 2013. Overall, the unemployment rate grew from 4.8 percent to 6.6 percent. Hispanics saw the largest jump, more than 3 percent, with women and then men trailing with unemployment increases.
Cato’s 2014 “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors” gave incumbent Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper an “F” – second from last -as they dinged the Democrat for “ballooned” general fund spending. You can read my blog post about Hick’s failing grade here.
According to the report, spending would increase 28 percent from $7.2 billion in 2012 to $9.2 billion in 2015, an average of 6 percent each year. Cato noted that the billion dollar Hickenlooper-backed Amendment 66 tax increase that would have increased Colorado’s income tax from a flat 4.63 percent to an onerous, two-tiered rate of 5.0 and 5.9 percent, was “soundly rejected by voters” at a 2-to-1 margin. Thank goodness.
Our friends over at the Cato Institute just came out with their Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors (2014). You’ll never guess where our governor lands in their ranking. Would you believe it if I told you Hick is 2nd?! Yes, Governor Hickenlooper – Mr. I haven’t met a tax or debt increase I haven’t liked – earned 2nd.
SECOND FROM DEAD LAST THAT IS. Only California Governor Jerry Brown was ranked lower than Hick.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture (click to enlarge):
Each state get its own little paragraph. Here’s the commentary for Colorado, ranked 49th out of 50:
General fund spending has ballooned over the past three years under Governor Hickenlooper, from $7.2 billion in 2012 to a proposed $9.2 billion in 2015. The governor’s proposed spending increases have averaged 6 percent over the past three years. His most recent budget included a 15 percent spending boost for higher education and new spending on corporate welfare programs. State government employment is way up under Hickenlooper, rising 16 percent since he came to office. He pushed for a huge personal income tax increase on the ballot in 2013 to fund education, which would have raised more than $900 million annually. If passed, Amendment 66 would have replaced Colorado’s flat income tax of 4.63 percent with a two-rate structure of 5.0 and 5.9 percent. Luckily for Colorado taxpayers, this increase was soundly rejected by voters, 65 to 35 percent.
Read the whole thing here.
In the latest episode of IITV, our constitution scholar Rob Natelson sits down with host Justin Longo to discuss why learning Latin (the “dead” language) is so important for fully understanding our nation’s founding and the Constitution.
In this episode of IITV, Independence Institute Research Director Dave Kopel speaks with legendary music critic, journalist, syndicated columnist, and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff. They discuss the current state of civil liberties in America and Nat explains why Obama has been the worst president of all-time when it comes to our individual freedoms.
Like it or not, the Denver Post is the newspaper of record for Colorado. Which in a political season means that to a lot of voters, if it’s not chronicled in the Post, in didn’t happen. That’s a big responsibility for a struggling paper.
And I get that the Post is a shadow of what it once was, for many reasons beyond the control of the good men and women who work there. But damn it, bias in story selection is very much under their control.
They found it newsworthy that Congressman Mike Coffman had a “senior moment” and couldn’t recall the word “contraception” during a debate. Fair enough. Yet when CompleteColorado.com published the video of his opponent, Andrew Romanoff, leading a team of “dreamers” to deface private property with chalk (and then running away in his Prius when they got caught) it’s not newsworthy. Go figure.
Our governor’s memory issue is the latest non-newsworthy event. I guess since the Post months ago reported Hick’s “I never spoke with Michael Bloomberg” (“I did not have sex with that woman”) fib, there is no need to report when Hick doubles down with a brand new whopper.
In a debate over a week ago, Hickenlooper’s challenger asked him why he lied to the sheriffs of Colorado about talking to Bloomberg. Hick then admitted he DID talk to the billionaire who has poured millions into Colorado Leftist causes, BUT it was three weeks after he made the decision to sign the anti-gun bills.
Hick then put out the challenge to verify his three-week claim, “Look at the phone records. It’s all public record.” Well the Post won’t look at the public record. The Guv talked with Bloomberg on March 2 when the gun bills hadn’t even been brought to the senate floor. He signed the bills on March 20. Three weeks after that would be mid-April.
The only way this timeline works is if John Hickenlooper has a time machine. And maybe I’m wrong here, but I think a governor owning a time machine is newsworthy!
Let me put it in Denver Bronco terms: If a referee calls a player for holding, should that ref throw the flag again if he holds again? Not if the referee were the Denver Post. Even if the player insists “go ahead, check the instant replay!” The Post wouldn’t.
We’ve come to expect that politicians behave badly and make things up. But foolishly I still expect the newspaper of record to report when it happens.
So apparently Governor Hickenlooper owns a functioning time machine and the mainstream media is choosing not to report on this miracle of modern science.
Well, either he has a time machine or he is lying about talking to former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. I’ll leave it up to you fine folks to figure out which it is.
In this previous legislative session, Senate Bill 187 was passed to create a health care commission for the purpose of discovering what drives health care expenditures in Colorado. Health Care Policy Center Director Linda Gorman was appointed as the sole health economist. Tune in to discover what the commission’s stated goals are and how Linda expects to contribute.
My 15-year-old Toyota Camry just broke 200,000 miles! You’d think all the mileage, rust, and cracks in the windshield would be a turn-off to the women I try to date. Well, I can say the ladies love my car as much as they did when I first bought it. Sadly.
Oh, and other important stuff that’s going on:
The single most important task of an elected school board is negotiating the collective bargaining agreements with employee unions. Not only do the agreements cover about 85% of a district’s budget, they also determine how our children will be taught, how our teachers will be treated, and how taxpayers’ money will be spent. Unfortunately, school boards across the state hold this key process in closed-door back rooms, even though sunshine is crucial for democracy to work.
Our Proposition 104 on this fall’s ballot changes that. It does just one tiny, little thing. It says that school board work must be done in public, like other government work under the state’s open meetings law.
Who in the world could be against opening the doors to the smoky back room? Well, you know, those who are in that room – unions and school districts.
The teachers union challenged our ballot initiative as it was going through the process (all the way to the Supreme Court) and lost. But not to worry, they haven’t given up. They fear sunshine that much. Their likely next step is to take legal action to try to pull Prop 104 off the ballot. Their lawyer, skilled at costly nuisance lawsuits, will soon challenge the validity of the signatures we got to get Prop 104 on the ballot.
In the end they’ll lose that challenge, and they know it. But it will cost us large amounts of legal fees, time and energy. It’s a brilliant tactic, you’ve got to admit.
We are readying for the legal fight, but I need your help. Could you invest in our work to get sunshine on school boards and fight off the legal attacks by giving us $100 today?
We also go on the legal offense here at Independence. Partnering with our friends at the Center for Competitive Politics, we have just filed two lawsuits asserting that state and federal campaign finance disclosure laws are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. To learn more, go here.
We are asking the courts for permission to run two ads – one asking Democratic Colorado U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet to support a federal sentencing reform bill, and one asking citizens to urge Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to initiate an audit of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. Yes, we live in an age where we need to go to court to enjoy our First Amendment rights.