Archive for the 'denver' Category

Post-Election TV

Posted by on Nov 08 2012 | Capitol Crazies, denver, Idiot Box (TV Show), obama, Politics, PPC

Post-election blues got you down? Go ahead and and stay curled up in a ball on the couch for Devil’s Advocate tomorrow night as I am joined by Denver Post editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard and Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen for a dissection of what happened on Tuesday and what it might mean for Colorado in 2013. That’s Friday night at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television 12.

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Colorado’s November 2012 Ballot, Explained

Posted by on Nov 02 2012 | denver, elections, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC, Taxes

Still trying to figure out that ballot? Then tune into Devil’s Advocate tonight for an explanation of some of those badly worded ballot measures. First, former Denver City Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt joins me to explain Denver Measure 2A, the forever property tax increase. Then Miller Hudson swings by to discuss Colorado Amendment S, the personnel reform amendment. It just doesn’t get much more spine tingling than that. That’s tonight at 8:30PM on Colorado Public Television 12.

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Measure 2A: Who Doesn’t Like Denver’s Forever Property Tax Increase?

Posted by on Oct 11 2012 | denver, Denver City Council, Denver Measure 2A, PPC, Press, Taxes

If approved by voters in November, Denver Measure 2A would, among other things, remove property tax revenue limitations imposed by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), resulting in a forever and unlimited tax increase for Denver property owners.

It’s more than obvious who wants this forever tax increase passed. Denver Mayor Hancock and his administration have been out making the case for homeowners to balance the city’s budget for them by raising their own taxes. The Denver Post was editorializing in favor of the idea before it was even referred to the ballot. The Denver Business Journal has reported on support for 2A from the Downtown Denver Partnership and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver (though oddly they couldn’t seem to find any opposition to report on, but more on that later). According to their September campaign finance report, the issue committee behind the Yes on 2A campaign, Moving Denver Forward, has received over $400,000 in donations to help put the squeeze on Denver property owners. The list of donors reads like a political class who’s who of bigger government advocates. $25,000 from the Denver firefighters union, another $25,000 each from the Denver Library Friends Foundation and Democratic Party funder Tim Gill, $10,000 each from VISIT Denver (the convention lobby) and left wing politcal funder Pat Stryker. Even the Teamsters Union managed to scrape up $5,000 for the cause.

Contributions from real estate developers and construction firms run six figures.

In contrast, the issue committee opposing Measure 2A, No Blank Check 2012, has raised a little over $2,500.

So a voter looking for information, or a reporter looking for a favorable comment should have little trouble finding the “pro” side of Measure 2A. But who is out there opposing this thing?

The Independence Institute to begin with. My work for the Institute on why 2A is a bad idea can be found here and here in the Denver Huffington Post, and my recent “pro/con” series with Mayor Hancock in the Wash Park Profile neighborhood newspaper is here:

Measure 2A would also fall hard on senior citizen homeowners living on fixed incomes. Their property taxes will go up, while their income remains flat. The Hancock administration tacitly acknowledges this in their proposal to spend the new tax money, which includes (the phrase): “Increase the city’s property-tax credit from $186/year to $372 for 4,000 low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities.”

Since this is new general fund money (discretionary spending), there is absolutely no guarantee that this is what it will actually go towards. Even so, what they leave out is that other low-income and fixed-income senior citizens will pay for the tax credits for those 4,000 people.

Writing on behalf of the Independence Institute, Joshua Sharf makes the case against Measure 2A in the Denver Post here. Writes Joshua:

The mayor’s proposal assumes that rising home values necessarily mean rising incomes. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Denver’s weekly income fell nearly 5 percent in 2011. The mayor’s mill levy override scheme would mean an immediate property tax increase of 10 percent for households who are still finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Joshua has also written on Measure 2A at the WhoSaidYouSaid blog.

Measure 2A is also opposed by former Denver City Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt. Here’s what Gelt, a liberal Democrat, had to say in her Denver Post column:

Personnel costs comprise 70 percent of Denver’s operating budget and they escalate yearly. The current proposal restores employee furloughs but avoids long-term systemic changes to an arcane personnel system.

Gelt also had this to say recently on her regular appearance on Colorado Public Television 12:

Denver voters have a choice. Approve a blank check that never expires for higher taxes, or send Mayor Hancock back to the drawing board to craft a balanced initiative with a mix of reduced expenses and tax increases. 2A is bad for jobs, small business and homeowners. Vote NO.

Ben Gelt runs the No Blank Check 2012 campaign, which opposes Measure 2A and whose website states:

There is no limit to how much the City will collect through this tax increase. When property values go up, so will the tax revenue generated. The City ignored its task force by asking for higher taxes with no ceiling, prior to reducing expenses.

The Glendale/Cherry Creek Chronicle, a Denver neighborhood newspaper, recently editorialized against Measure 2A:

The voters are told Denver has a structural deficit which means even in bountiful times the city’s revenues can never meet its expenses. The obvious conclusion to the existence of a structural deficit is that Denver city government is unable to stop spending money it does not have. Why in the world would anyone want to give such a government $68 million per year more to squander?

In a Denver Business Journal guest opinion piece (hidden behind a subscriber pay wall) Tyler Smith and Scott Peterson from the Denver Metropolitan Commercial Association of Realtors (DMCAR) urge readers to “Defeat ballot measures that raise taxes” including Measure 2A.

And in the Denver Post’s Sunday Perspective section, Mark Ver Hoeve makes a compelling case against 2A:

For 2013, Mayor Michael Hancock has proposed a 3.9 percent increase in the General Fund, the city’s operating budget, or $964 million, up from $926 million in 2012. Tax revenue for 2013 is projected to be $945 million, a 3.5 percent increase. That’s right: Tax revenues are up and higher than the previous year’s budget, but the city wants to spend more.

And finally, the No on Denver 2A facebook page can be found here.

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Independence Institute Writers in the News

Posted by on Aug 13 2012 | criminal justice, denver, Growth of Government, guns, Op-eds, PPC, Right to carry, Taxes

Gun laws, tax increases and the Californication of Republicans are all topics of recently published works by Independence Institute writers.

In USA Today, the Denver Post and National Review Online, Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel makes the case for both resisting calls for expanded gun control in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting and for not inadvertently making a celebrity of the killer.

Also in the Denver Post, guest writer joshua Sharf explains that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s proposed permanent property tax increase lacks vision:

The mayor’s proposal assumes that rising home values necessarily mean rising incomes. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Denver’s weekly income fell nearly 5 percent in 2011. The mayor’s mill levy override scheme would mean an immediate property tax increase of 10 percent for households who are still finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Whole thing here.

In the Colorado Springs Gazette, senior fellow Barry Fagin advises Colorado Republican against Californicating themselves:

Do Republicans want to be like Democrats, or do they want to beat them? If Colorado is to avoid California’s fate, then Colorado should avoid California’s Republicans. They should hit economic issues much harder, and stop obsessing over problems that the federal government can’t solve, are fundamentally religious in nature, or are better addressed through cultural change and not the ballot box.

Read it all here.

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Primary Voting, Cartoonist Kenny Be on Devil’s Advocate

Posted by on Feb 10 2012 | denver, Idiot Box (TV Show), Politics, Polls, Popular Culture, PPC

Look, we already know how tonight’s blind date is going to turn out, so instead, stay in and watch the Independence Institute’s public affairs TV show Devil’s Advocate. First, syndicated columnist Jay Ambrose sits down with me to discuss the odds of Republican primary voters picking a candidate who can’t beat Barack Obama in a general election. Then Kenny Be swings by to talk about his many years as the editorial cartoonist for Westword; Denver’s alternative weekly newspaper. That’s Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Colorado Public Television 12.

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Are You Serious and Mature Like Your Fellow “Defaulters?”

Posted by on Jul 26 2011 | Capitol Crazies, denver, Economics, Economy, Government Largess, PPC, Taxes

Oh Diana. We know economics isn’t one of your strong suits, but at least think a little harder before you parrot irrational talking points. Like the good Keynesian she is, Congresswoman Diana DeGette continues to push the popular and fallacious narrative of debt ceiling default. Here is what she had to say in the North Denver Tribune,

To avoid defaulting on our obligations and sending the world economy into a tailspin, we must raise the debt limit by August 2nd.

I talked about this last week and made the point that although this false narrative is winning the popularity contest, it is still magnificently illogical. The strategy of, let’s call them “defaulters,” is to scare the daylights out of the American public with talks of an impending economic doom if we don’t raise the debt ceiling. It’s quite likely you’ve heard a dozen catastrophic doomsday scenarios from various political pundits and politicians. Diana DeGette takes the typical doom and gloom talking points, but adds her own unique twist: asserting “defaulters” as mature adults looking for compromise, and the opposition as immature little children holding onto to principles with deadly consequences.

For example, are you “serious” and “mature” like Diana?

If they resisted the extreme urgings of some in their party to hold out for unpalatable concessions on budget cuts, serious policymakers in the center could hammer out bi-partisan solutions and mature policy decisions.

Apparently, I’m neither serious nor mature. In fact, I think it’s very unserious of Diana to suggest that we balance the budget without touching the 2 biggest items in the budget: Social Security and Medicare. I bet the immature folks over at Reason Magazine would agree. They’ve been hammering back against this silly narrative for awhile now and just released a short and completely unserious video, “3 Reasons Why the Debt Ceiling Debate is Full of Malarkry.” Gosh, if only they knew about the mature adults taking a serious position on this issue.

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Lower Your Expectations For Public Servants

Posted by on Apr 04 2011 | denver, Denver City Council, Denver Mayor's Race, PPC

As Colorado Springs voters head into a municipal election, the Colorado Springs Gazette’s reliably pro-free market, pro-liberty editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen reminds us all that “politicians can’t give you a life.”

We’re taught that elections choose leaders, which isn’t true at all. Elections choose public servants, who should have nominal roles in our lives — even in this age of big, intrusive government. The mayor and council should lack the power to enhance or diminish your life. Mostly, they should oversee a reasonable level of public safety, the efficient maintenance of streets, the sale of water and the sale of utilities. We should not ask for much more, nor should we expect it.

Something for us Denver voters to keep in mind as our own municipal election gets near.

Whole thing here.

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(Re)Calling All Future Mayors

Posted by on Mar 16 2011 | Capitol Crazies, denver, Denver Mayor's Race, Economics, PPC, Taxes

Attention future mayor of Denver. Take this story from Miami as a wake up call. We voters, tax payers, citizens will not take kindly to tax increases, spending increases, regulatory increases, special interest favors, and broken promises. Remember Gray Davis? Now you can add Carlos Alvarez’s name to that recall list.

You’ve been warned. Don’t mess with our wallets.

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Denver Mayor Candidate Writes About “Cutting Red Tape,” Offers No Specifics

Posted by on Feb 24 2011 | denver, Denver Mayor's Race, Economy, PPC

I recently criticized Denver mayoral candidate James Mejia for writing that he wants to “reduce the bureaucracy” in Denver government as part of his “vision for economic development,” without offering any actual examples of existing bureaucracy he thinks needs reducing. I called this “seductive at a superficial level.” Well, it looks like Denver mayoral candidate Chris Romer is also unafraid to engage in seductive, but unsubstantial “pro-business” rhetoric.

Writing at the Huffington Post, Romer points to a “maze of rules and regulations” that recently kept a cupcake truck business sidelined by Denver city bureaucracy. According to candidate Romer:

If we want to put people back to work, our city government needs to work with businesses, not against them. It is critical that we change the attitude at City Hall about attracting business to Denver. We need to expect more of city government — by cutting red tape and streamlining regulations so that we keep businesses here and bring in new ones.

Sounds great, except that “cutting red tape and streamlining regulations” should actually be seen as expecting less from government rather than more. Less bureaucratic stifling of the entrepreneurial spirit means more private sector wealth and job creation. More to the point, claiming to want to cut red tape and streamline regulation (not quite the same thing as less regulation) without citing a single specific existing bit of red tape that should be cut, or a single existing regulation that needs to be streamlined, makes it hard for this Denver voter to take seriously candidate Romer’s stated desire to “change the attitude at City Hall about attracting business to Denver.”

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Denver Mayoral Candidate Promises to “Reduce the Bureaucracy.” How About Some Examples?

Posted by on Feb 17 2011 | denver, Denver Mayor's Race, PPC

As the Denver mayor’s race heats up, jobs and the economy are emerging as a major campaign theme. This means that to make an informed decision, Denver voters like myself are going to need to wade through the looming avalanche of “pro-business” and “job creation” rhetoric by candidates to separate empty promises and magical thinking from the rational reality of the mayor’s role in private sector job and wealth creation.

For example, over at the Huffington Post, Denver mayoral candidate James Mejia lays out his “vision for economic development,” writing, among several other things, that:

When I am mayor, Denver will be Open for Business. I will ensure that employers stay and new businesses are brought to Denver. During my administration, I will reduce the bureaucracy that slows the pace of business growth and discourages relocation.

Sounds pretty seductive at a superficial level. But seductive is not the same as substantive. An example is when presidential candidate Barack Obama told us all that, if elected, he was going to “go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less…” At the time, Mr. Obama had already been in the U.S. Senate for several years, presumably then having a strong enough grasp of the federal budget to have actually cited a few examples of programs in need of elimination. Instead, that superficially seductive line is now an example of an empty campaign promise.

Mr Mejia has already been involved in various bureaucracies in Denver city government stretching back to the Wellington Webb administration (1991-2003), and thus presumably has at least a working grasp of Denver’s “bureaucracy.”

So a couple questions for Mr. Mejia:

1. Could you please amend your “vision for economic development” to actually cite some specific examples of existing bureaucracy within the City and County of Denver that stifles growth and keeps away new business, bureaucracy that you are both willing and able to “reduce” if elected mayor? This would help voters like myself to determine if you are indeed serious about Denver being “open for business” under a Mejia administration.

2. A willingness to “reduce the bureaucracy” certainly seems to also imply a willingness to reduce the number of bureaucrats who work within the bureaucracy (unless you are shooting for less bureaucracy, but the same level of bureaucrats, which frankly would seem to defeat the whole purpose). So along with the examples of bureaucracy you would work to reduce as mayor, could you also give an idea of how many fewer bureaucrats would be around under your administration.

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