2012 Ballot Recommendations

As many have requested my recommendations regarding amendments and judges on the 2012 Colorado General Election ballot, I am posting them for readers’ information.

Amendment S – State Personnel System

Recommendation: YES

Explanation: Makes modest changes to the state personnel system (written into the constitution in 1918) in order to give the Governor greater flexibility in hiring and firing one percent of all state employees (or 325 jobs out of 32,500).  Changes to the state personnel system are long overdue.  This is a small step, but at least it is a step in the right direction.


Amendment 64 – Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

Recommendation: NO

Explanation: A few years ago, I was warming to the idea of legalization of some drugs due to the vast amount of money governments spent prosecuting drug users whose only crime may be drug use, which is largely a crime against oneself.  I will concede that some people may use marijuana recreationally and responsibly with few adverse side effects.

However, after Colorado legalized “medical marijuana,” legalization became a reality I could see with my own eyes and not just a hypothetical discussion.  I witnessed the criminal element of drug dealers coming out of the shadows and into our streets, parks and buses where they are closer to our kids.  The fact that “medical marijuana” is now legal hasn’t changed the type of people who are drug dealers and who want to see more young people “experiment” with a drug that is harmful to them in so many ways.  Making marijuana more readily available to adults obviously makes it more available to kids under 18.

Frankly, I don’t want to make it easier for drug dealers to do business or to lead our kids down a path that steals their potential and ruins their lives.


Amendment 65 – Instructing Colorado Lawmakers to Restrict Free Speech in Elections

Recommendation: NO

Explanation: This measure would instruct Colorado’s legislative representatives to support a federal constitutional amendment to limit personal campaign contributions.  Translation: a vote for Amendment 65 is a vote to restrict your First Amendment freedom of speech in elections.  The U.S. Supreme Court has correctly said that political speech is the heart of the First Amendment and that obviously includes the right of every American citizen to freely choose to spend his or her own hard-earned money to elect or defeat the candidate or issue of their choice.

The way to get big money out of politics is not to restrict the freedom of citizens.  The way to get big money out of politics is to take power and money away from government.  Without government control of power and money, few people or corporations would be motivated to spend vast sums of money to influence elections.

Finally, our elected representatives should be accountable to the voters, not bound by some silly amendment passed by a self-serving special interest that, ironically, spent a lot of money to get this amendment on the ballot.



My recommendations regarding the retention of judges is based upon whether they generally apply the law as written in the Colorado Constitution and Colorado Revised Statutes.  I recommend voting YES/RETAIN on those who adhere to the law as written and NO/DO NOT RETAIN on those who seem inclined to substitute their own policy preferences for those of the people and their elected representatives.

• Nathan B. COATS, Supreme Court, YES/RETAIN.

• Laurie A. BOORAS, Court of Appeals, NO/DO NOT RETAIN

• James S. CASEBOLT, Court of Appeals, YES/RETAIN

• Dennis A. GRAHAM, Court of Appeals, YES/RETAIN

• Gale T. MILLER, Court of Appeals, NO/DO NOT RETAIN

• Daniel Marc TAUBMAN, Court of Appeals, NO/DO NOT RETAIN

• John R. WEBB, Court of Appeals, YES/RETAIN

Obama on business: ignorance or arrogance

What’s more frustrating about President Obama – his ignorance of how difficult it is to make a profit in business or his arrogance that there’s so little he doesn’t know?

Here’s a man with less business experience than a third-grader with a lemonade stand and who has said that during his one, brief private-sector job he felt “like a spy behind enemy lines.”

You need not connect many dots to conclude that his attitude toward America’s businessmen and women is “dismissive, even derisive,” to quote from Obama’s 2009 Apologizing for America Tour.

Obama treats America’s job creators like inconsequential punching bags. His recent comment that government is more responsible for a business’ success than hard work, ingenuity or intelligence smacks of someone who – unlike, say, Henry Ford or Steve Jobs – achieved his success not because he’s especially talented or works harder than anyone else but because he’s a smooth talker and knows the right people. (more…)

ObamaCare ruling is a mess with a message

For anyone who naively thought the Supreme Court would render a clean and tidy decision on ObamaCare, Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority-of-one opinion should be instructive.

Rarely does the high court render an opinion that draws bright lines by simply applying the constitution as written. More often, the court’s opinion is sufficiently muddled that a future court in a similar case can arrive at any decision it desires simply by selectively quoting only the passages that support its desired outcome and ignoring those that do not.

Roberts did exactly that in finding ObamaCare’s insurance mandate unconstitutional under the constitution’s Commerce Clause: “[T]o permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority.”

But next Roberts ignored the court’s precedent that distinguishes a “tax” from a “penalty,” as the dissenting conservative justices noted: “We have never held that any action imposed for the violation of the law is an exercise of Congress’ taxing power – even when the statute calls it a tax, much less when (as here) the statute repeatedly calls it a penalty.” (more…)

Santorum’s Surprise

Editor’s Note: My recent Capitol Review contained an old headline, but new text.

Nice guys don’t always finish last.  Sometimes they win three states in a single day.

Rick Santorum’s improbable hat trick — sweeping Republican presidential contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado — provided yet another surprise in a wildly unpredictable nominating process.  It also ensures that the primary season will last longer, that we will learn more about candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, and that voters in more states will have a say in selecting Barack Obama’s opponent.

Pundits gave Santorum a fighting chance to beat Romney in Missouri without Gingrich on the ballot.  But wins in Minnesota and Colorado were particularly noteworthy because Romney had decisively won both states in 2008.  This time, Romney slipped from first to third place in Minnesota, and in Colorado, where he garnered 60% in 2008, finished second with 35%. (more…)

Health care takes bite out of education funds

Budgeting is about setting priorities.

In most states, K-12 education is the top priority and receives the lion’s share of funding.  Yet across the country, states are grappling with a budget monster that pits education funding against federal health care mandates.

In the last three years, total spending on K-12 education in Colorado has fallen by $389 million.  Spending on health care, however, has increased by $763 million during that same period.

The problem is that states no longer have the ability to set their own priorities. (more…)

Rationality eludes judge in school lawsuit

When Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that the state will appeal a Denver court’s ruling that the state inadequately funds education, he acknowledged what Judge Sheila Rappaport — and previously the Colorado Supreme Court — would not: money is a finite resource, even when it’s spent on worthy causes and when it’s spent by government.

The state legislature allocates $4.3 billion to educate more than 800,000 students — just under $6,500 each — in K-12 public schools.  According to the Colorado Department of Education, other sources bring that total to a statewide average of nearly $13,000, as of 2009-10.

Over two years ago, the supreme court ruled, in a contentious 4-3 decision, that a lower court should entertain claims brought by a group of parents and school districts that the state constitution’s call for a “thorough and uniform” system of free public schools should be interpreted to require a specific funding amount.

That lawsuit, Lobato vs. Colorado, reverted back to Rappaport’s courtroom, albeit with instructions that “the trial court must give substantial deference to the legislature’s fiscal and policy judgments.”

Rappaport’s decision, however, offered no such deference. (more…)

Anti-TABOR lawsuit is cynical slap at voters

Because those doggone Coloradans just won’t vote to increase taxes often
enough, a cadre of folks who just can’t bear to see state government spend
less is asking a federal judge to do something voters won’t – to strike
down voters’ constitutional right to approve tax increases.

Led by Democrat State Rep. Andy Kerr, plaintiffs contend that the
Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) in the Colorado constitution violates the
U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that all states have a “republican form of

Don’t think that the plaintiffs have become orthodox disciples of James
Madison.  They’re just sick and tired of state government being forced to
tighten its belt during a recession as ordinary Coloradans must do.
They’d rather raise our taxes and hope we’ll forgive or forget before the
next election. (more…)

Obama’s vision for an irreversible legacy

Say this for President Barack Obama: he doesn’t lack for vision.

As a candidate, Obama spoke of “chang(ing) the trajectory of America” in a way that no president has since Ronald Reagan. Obama’s vision is, of course, antithetical to Reagan’s.

Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Obama believes that government spending can stimulate the economy and that government regulation will fix health care. (more…)

Gerrymandering by any other name: still the same

Gerrymandering — the conspicuous, irregular manipulating of electoral district boundaries to advantage one political party or candidate — is widely considered a distasteful, if not downright corrupt, practice.

Through gerrymandering, incumbent politicians seek to choose their voters rather than vice versa, packing their legislative or congressional districts with enough like-minded constituents to make re-election almost effortless.

Rather than conform to statutory or geographic boundaries (county lines, city limits, mountain ranges, watersheds), gerrymandering eviscerates those boundaries for the purpose of achieving a specific result on Election Day. (more…)