Author Archive

Institute for Justice Event This Wednesday

Posted by on Apr 14 2014 | Events, U.S. Constitution

It isn’t easy being illiterate. My dyslexia makes everything more interesting, just like those dyslexic atheists. They don’t believe in dogs.

Anyway, when my staff emailed me all excited about getting the author of Terms of Engagement to speak here, I said “okay, do it.” You see, I thought they said the author of Terms of Endearment. Seemed like a chick flick to me, but Jack Nicholson was way cool in it so, you know, whatever.

Apparently Terms of Engagement is a book. Who knew?

Clark Neily is a senior attorney for one of the greatest outfits around – the Institute for Justice. He litigates economic liberty, property rights, school choice, First Amendment, and other constitutional cases in both federal and state courts.

Thee new book, which doesn’t even have a forward by Jack Nicholson, argues that judges need to take a lot of the blame for the hard turn to the left our nation has taken. And he offers a solution.

Well, come hear him speak at the Independence Institute offices (727 E. 16th Ave. Denver, CO 80203) this Wednesday, April 16th. Event starts at 5:30p with light refreshments. Did I mention the event is FREE? All you’ve got to do is RSVP either online here or over the phone at 303-279-6536.

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UPDATED! Article V Symposium featuring Rob Natelson

Posted by on Apr 09 2014 | Article V, Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, U.S. Constitution, Video

The other day I posted 4 of the 7 videos of the Article V Symposium that Rob Natelson moderated/MC’d. Below you’ll find the 3 missing videos for the whole collection!

Here are Rob’s opening remarks (8 minutes)

Author Bob Berry outlines several amendment ideas (20 minutes)

Michael Farris’ remarks (17 minutes)

Here’s the roundtable discussion (48 minutes)

Senator Kevin Lundberg and Representative Lori Saine’s resolution (13 minutes)

Questions and Answers (33 minutes)

Here’s Mark Meckler’s closing comments (11 minutes)

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Article V Symposium featuring Constitutional Scholar Rob Natelson

Posted by on Apr 07 2014 | Article V, Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, U.S. Constitution

Our senior fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence Rob Natelson was asked to be the moderator for this Article V “Convention for Proposing Amendments” symposium. Below you’ll find Rob’s remarks and the rest of the symposium for your viewing pleasure.

Here are Rob’s opening remarks (8 minutes)

Author Bob Berry outlines several amendment ideas (20 minutes)

Here’s the roundtable discussion (48 minutes)

Here’s Mark Meckler’s closing comments (11 minutes)

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April Fools’

Posted by on Apr 01 2014 | Purely Personal

I thought you might get a kick out of our April Fools’ joke press release we sent out today. Since the Left claims every organization that promotes Liberty (including us) is funded by the evil Koch brothers, we thought we should make their dream come true. At least one AP reporter ran with the story on twitter, then had to retract it.

Enjoy,

Jon

 

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 1, 2014

Contact: Mary MacFarlane, 303-279-6536 ext. 102, Mary@i2i.org



Independence Institute announces partnership with Koch Brothers
 

Today the Independence Institute, Colorado’s premiere think tank, is pleased to announce an exciting new chapter in its nearly 30 year history as Charles and David Koch commit to a sizable investment in Colorado.

Jon Caldara, president of Independence, announced, “After months of negotiation with the Koch brothers we have reached an agreement on ownership of the Independence Institute which preserves the integrity and effectiveness of this great free market organization. This arrangement ensures our future and our impact in Colorado.”

Under the terms of the agreement the Koch brothers have invested an undisclosed amount of funding into the Institute, in exchange they will receive 51% ownership of the organization. This will provide Independence with the resources necessary to continue operations and serving the cause of freedom in Colorado.

Caldara said that the change in ownership will not have a sizable change in the operations or the direction of the Institute saying, “We are thrilled about keeping the name “Independence” in the new iteration of our organization.”

Caldara declared that the newly titled “Koch Institute at Independence” pays tribute to our proud history but also points to our new and properly funded future.

The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Denver.


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Just the Fracking Facts: Hydraulic Fracturing Debate

Posted by on Mar 17 2014 | energy, Events

Just a reminder of our fracking debate coming up this Thursday at the Denver Post building.

Here’s the Facebook event page.

Fracking_Debate_Final

To RSVP online, go here. Or you can call Mary MacFarlane at 303-279-6536, ext. 102.

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Debate inside the mysterious Denver Post building

Posted by on Mar 14 2014 | energy, Events

Ever been inside the Denver Post building? Well, I have, and it’s frightening. Framed pictures of Karl Marx on the walls, everyone wearing those little gray Mao uniforms, and a soup line in the lunch room. Filing into the building, workers must pass 10-foot-tall reprints of the Post’s endorsements of Amendment 23, Fastracks, Ref C and D, last year’s Amendment 66, and scores of other tax and debt increases.

It’s like Cuba, except with a Starbucks.

Well, here’s your big opportunity to see it for yourself! We are hosting a debate on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado. And we’re doing it in the Post’s swanky auditorium this Thursday, March 20, at 5:00 pm. It’s going to be a conversation with both sides of the issue. We’re glad to have the Left-leaning Alliance for Sustainability partnering with us, and the always dapper Eric Sonderman serving as moderator. Tickets are free, but required, to get in.

 

Get info and reserve a seat before they’re all gone on our events page here.

And I hope you know I was just kidding around about the inside of the Post building. There’s no Starbucks.

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You’ll Like This Story

Posted by on Jan 30 2014 | Politics, Purely Personal

In a good story or movie, something happens which then makes something else happen. Luke Skywalker buys a droid. The droid has a message. Luke brings the droid to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan makes a deal with Han Solo for transport to another planet…

If Luke didn’t buy that damn droid in the first place, there’d be no Star Wars, and George Lucas would be working at Olive Garden today.

This idea that something causes another something, which causes yet another, well, it works in our world of politics, too. Here’s an example:

Our investigative reporter, Todd Shepherd, walks into my office asking for money. This is a pretty common occurrence (usually due to his gambling habit), but this time he wants it for an open records request. While Colorado has open records laws, it can cost quite a bit to make public records actually public. Anyway, Todd’s in my office paddling on about his great idea, and it’s only going to cost us around $400. After wearing me down like a teen-aged girl asking her daddy to borrow the car, I finally give in.

Days later, he breaks the story that U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s staff was pressuring state employees to change the official number of Coloradans who got insurance cancellation notices thanks to Obamacare. Accuracy is rarely good in an election year. Not only does this story become front page news in Colorado, but it also makes national news and highlights Udall’s key role in passing Obamacare.

Now, when Chris Christie’s folks were caught intimidating state workers, he fired them and apologized. Senator Udall, by contrast, doubled down and stood by his staff. So the story continues. Pressure built for an ethics investigation. So a “neutral and objective” Ethics Panel was convened and quickly determined that Udall’s staff did nothing inappropriate. Story ends? Nope.

Other media outlets made their own records request of the “neutral” Ethics Panel only to find there were no records. The head of the state regulatory agency wouldn’t release any of the panel’s records, saying there were none. So that causes everyone– from the Denver Post, to legislators, to candidates for governor– to demand an investigation into the investigation. But they still wouldn’t even release the names of those who made up the “neutral and objective” Ethics Panel.

But all that causes the agency head to leak the names to just one news source. And that causes all of the other news sources, like the Post, to cry foul. So that causes the state to release the names of the “neutral and objective” panel officially. And we find out the panel was made up of that same head state regulator, who is a Hickenlooper appointee, her deputy, and her legislative liaison, the former chief of staff for the state Senate Democrats.

So now we know what “neutral and objective” is. And the story will continue.

Imagine. All that wouldn’t have happened if Todd Shepherd didn’t walk into my office to sell me his simple idea for an open records request.

Remember, your support made this happen. To fund future projects like this, donate here.

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Colorado Teachers Can Get Refunds!

Posted by on Dec 10 2013 | education, Idiot Box (TV Show)

Tune in to my show Devil’s Advocate as our senior education policy analyst Ben DeGrow highlights the upcoming December 15 deadline for Colorado Education Association members to request up to $63 in Every Member Option political refunds. The episode featured a showing of the 45-second Schoolhouse Rock-style animated video explaining the refund option.

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What Made Tuesday’s Election Victories Possible

Posted by on Nov 08 2013 | education, elections, Taxes

Alright. Here’s my terrible analogy. Really, I don’t think it’s all that good, so please let me know if the point gets across.

Have you ever seen a house being built? They get the framing up, and then it looks like everything just stalls. I mean there’s like no progress, but you still see guys just milling around. And then one day, out of seemingly nowhere, the drywall goes up, and you think, “Wow, look at all that progress; it all happened overnight!”

Well, Tuesday night’s amazing election victories might seem like that, too. Amendment 66 went down to defeat by a 2 to 1 vote, and school reformers won in Dougco, Jeffco, and Loveland school boards. Wow, all that happened overnight!

What you might not have seen at the house being built were all the small and crucial tasks that MUST be completed before the drywall goes up — electricians running wires, plumbers laying pipe, HVAC guys bending sheet metal for vents, and so on. From a distance, you don’t really see any of that work,but you sure notice when the walls go up. It looks like big movement.

Conservatives, especially in Colorado, lose and lose and lose because they keep trying to put up the walls before doing the prep work first. That prep work takes years, it’s hard, it’s often boring, and it takes resources.

We at the Independence Institute are in the business of doing that political prep work. And I think folks just might be starting to get it. Without the coalition building, detailed policy work, investigative news reporting, community organizing, and educational efforts that we do, victory simply is not possible.

Take for example the story of Douglas County School District. This district, the third largest school district in the state, was the first in the nation to implement a voucher program on its own and basically de-certified its union among many other great reforms. And on Tuesday, despite a massive influx of national union money to defeat the reform candidates, Douglas County residents gave them a “thumbs up” and re-elected them.

The prep work you might not have seen started over six years ago when our education policy stars, Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow, started working with school board members in the minority. In 2009, we worked with the new candidates before they were elected and then continued to provide assistance as they carefully crafted and implemented their reforms. Starting a year ago, we brought in community organizers and implemented a door-to-door, face-to-face educational campaign to educate the voters in Douglas County, so they could better understand the impact of these powerful reforms. When the battle to re-elect these reformers came, the prep work was done.

Well before Governor Hickenlooper launched his campaign to raise Colorado income taxes by 27% with Amendment 66, we had already been working on our “Kids Are First” educational campaign. The goal was to show that throwing even more money into a failed system was helping unions and monopolies, not children. We advocated raising expectations, not taxes.

But it was the years of work before that, building relationships and coalitions, investigating the phone conversations between the Guv and Michael Bloomberg, detailing how to get a billion dollars more out of our state budget without a tax increase with our “Citizen’s Budget,” and building a network of freedom fighters around the state that made the difference. The prep work took years. The loss of Amendment 66 was a formality.

For those who invest in and are part of our long, slow, methodical political prep work, well, I just can’t thank you enough. You made Tuesday’s victories possible.

Now back to more prep work…

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Forget Waldo. Where’s Hick?

Posted by on Oct 24 2013 | Amendment 66, Economy, education, elections, Taxes

When it comes to raising debt and taxes, John Hickenlooper is a rainmaker. As mayor of Denver, he jumped out of airplanes to poke a hole in TABOR, wore a blue bear suit for tourism taxes, rode the trolley for RTD’s Fastracks boondoggle, walked with Sesame Street-like letters A through I to raise property taxes and money for Pro-comp for Denver teachers, and a new jail…

Now, in his first foray into tax hikes as governor, he is AWOL. He has worked the phones to pull in millions for the Amendment 66 campaign and said nice things about this 27.4% income tax hike at public events, but he has been missing in action when it comes to taking the lead in selling it. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

In his past anti-taxpayer conquests, he was able to build a broard coalition of diverse organizations and bipartisan support. But not a single elected Republican supports 66. His usual partners in crime at the Denver Metro Chamber won’t even stand by him. Business groups like the NFIB and Colorado Concern have endorsed a “No” vote. Even Left-leaning editorial boards like the Fort Collins Coloradoan urge defeat.

Without the comfort of the herd, Hick seems content to play only a supporting, backroom fundraising role. Could it be that, after his debacle taking Michael Bloomberg’s advice on gun control (which cost him two senate seats), angering rural Colorado with a renewable energy mandate, and being unwilling or unable to make a decision on clemency for mass-killer Nathan Dunlap, Hick wants distance from another potential embarrassing loss?

Well, we can’t stay quiet and MIA like Hick. The Independence Institute has taken the lead in spreading the truth about Amendment 66. In fact, our work has made it up to our friends on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Their lead editorial today warns: “Democrats and unions try to kill Colorado’s flat tax.”

Our educational effort is called Kids Are First. I urge you to go to www.KidsAreFirst.org right now. There, you’ll see many resources, including the videos we’ve been airing on television. Please share this site with everyone you know. Unlike Hick’s team, we don’t have $7 million+ to get the word out.

And our scholars have been busy actually READING this 150 page monstrosity. Learn about their findings:

Ben DeGrow’s Issue Paper: Amendment 66: Unfair and Overpriced

Ben’s op-ed: Tax Hike Won’t Deliver on its promise

Linda Gorman’s Issue Paper:
A Billion Dollars Worth of Bad Ideas: Amendment 66 Tax Hike

Linda’s Issue Backgrounder: Amendment 66: Spend More, Get Less

My debate with Senator Michael Johnston: 9News video

You know the whole country is still reeling from the last bill we “had to pass to see what’s inside of it.” Amendment 66 is Colorado’s version.

Please get involved in sharing the word. The wallet you save may be your own.

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