Considering Colorado

The transformation of Colorado from a conservative-leaning to a liberal-leaning state did not thoroughly occur until the 2008 election of Barack Obama.  According to a cnn.com 2016 article, “Colorado was squarely in the Republican column for decades, only awarding its electoral votes to Democrats twice between 1952 and 2004.  The state was transformed into a hotly contested battleground when Barack Obama campaigned, and won, in 2008 and 2012.”  I have been following headlines regarding the state of Virginia’s politics since the 2018 election gave its government a liberal majority, and long-postponed legislation started pouring down the legislative pipeline.  Colorado’s political ‘flip’ has been far more slow-motion and less-sweeping, to date.  However, expressions of Christian faith  — once considered a significant part of the Colorado Springs identity — Second Amendment rights, and pro-life positions are unquestionably being challenged in this state.  Click to News & Views, or Political Juggernaut to read a few that caught my attention over the past year or so.

I discovered a 2016 article carried by theatlantic.com, sharing several political points of view regarding the election between then-candidate-Trump and Hillary Clinton.  It is a fascinating read that has me on the seat’s edge of curious anticipation regarding “what’s next?” as President Trump begins his 2020 election swings through Colorado this month (February).

The bottom line, however, is to embrace the leading of  the Holy Spirit to guide you in prayer as you read about different issues confronting our state.  Timothy 2:8 (The Message) states, “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray — not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.  And I want the women to get in there with the men in humility before God…”

CURRENT ARTICLES:

July 30, 2020: Governor Polis States Reopening Schools is “Reasonably Safe”

I was quite surprised to read that Governor Polis is also quoted by the gazette.com as stating, “We can’t let (the virus) succeed at its goal of hospitalizing and even killing more Coloradans. But the second thing is, we can’t let this virus hold us back from living our lives, and that means being able to work and being able to go to school.”

However, Polis’ statement is consistent with an assessment shared with nbcnews.com nearly three months ago, in a May 3 article. Ted Trimpa, described in the article as a “Colorado-based Democratic strategist,” stated that Jared Polis “isn’t following Republican governors — he’s leading Democratic ones.”

July 25, 2020: Immigration Policy Fellow at Colorado’s Centennial Institute Speaks About President’s Policies and China

This article would have fit under several blogging categories, but with the Centennial Institute located here in Colorado, I thought I would shoot from there. Chinese native Helen Raleigh has publicly declared that — in Donald Trump — “The CCP has met its match.” We should all hope and pray this is the hand of God at work.

According to foxnews.com, immigration policy fellow Helen Raleigh recently stated in an interview that “The White House’s aggressive stance has been a wake-up call for China’s government and is not something its officials are used to dealing with.” She described the Chinese Communist Party as believing in “the law of the jungle. ‘Might makes right.'” As a result, “The Trump administration is the first foreign administration the CCP has ever met that also believes in the law of the jungle and is not afraid to confront the CCP.”

Raleigh uses the closure of the Houston Chinese Consulate closure as an example. “They knew China would retaliate, but they are willing to take that risk that no one else in the world is willing to take.”

In February, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the National Governors Association and was quoted by foxnews.com as pointing out, “The Chinese government has been methodical in the way it’s analyzed our system…it’s assessed our vulnerabilities and it’s decided to exploit our freedoms, to gain an advantage over us at the federal level, the state level, and the local level. Competition with China is happening. It’s happening in your state.”

On June 24, Senator Tom Cotton published an unclassified document listing numerous Chinese companies within the U.S., directly affiliated with the CCP military.

June 22, 2020: SRO Officers are “Out” at Denver Public Schools

Maybe I just didn’t catch the news a few days ago, but I did respond with a great big WHAT? when I heard this. Time will tell, I guess, as to whether this will be advantageous or disastrousmy hope would be that ALL available resources are combined to produce the best and safest environment for schools.

According to kdvr.com, on Thursday, June 11, “The Denver Public School Boards of Education voted Thursday night to remove student resource officers from campuses, thus ending the district’s contract with the Denver Police Department.”

Receiving unanimous approval, the Boards called for 25% reduction by the end of the current year, and the police service contract terminated by the end of 2021. The article points out that financial resources will be directed “to things like mental health services, psychologists, and restorative justice practitioners.”

So what, exactly, is a “restorative justice practitioner”? I first found numerous online listings explaining how to get training for such a role, with very little information regarding the role, itself. On the website ccrkc.org, Eastern Mennonite University professor emiritus Howard Zehr is quoted as stating “Restorative Justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.”

Therefore, the article explains, Restorative Justice “brings a victim, an offender (core participants) and community members together for cleansing and respectful conversations that can lead to healing. All parties are empowered to solve issues and all voices are valued for what they bring.” Statistics from studies done primarily from 2006 to 2015 indicate that “victim satisfaction” is high and expulsions/suspensions are significantly lower when Restorative Justice programs are enacted in schools. Professor Zehr has also authored a book titled, “The Little Book of Restorative Justice.”

An article published by salon.com cites several studies regarding the impact of Restorative Justice programs in different settings. One study revolves around the Denver Public Schools where an incident in 1992 sparked the formation of a group called “Padres & Jovenes Unido,” which was fully formed by 2000. In 2006, a pilot program of restorative justice in the area of race relations was implemented in four schools “to address racial disparities in disciplinary practices.”

Citing different statistics for the different schools involved, the overall conclusion, again, was a reduction in suspensions. Despite this encouraging news, the article states that Padres & Jovenes gave Denver Public Schools a mere C+ “for its efforts to improve the disciplinary process and end the school-to-prison pipeline.”

A C+? Are you kidding me? I would consider that a mediocre rating, at best, and certainly disappointing after the amount of years, time, and resources poured into RJ training and implementation.

Wnd.com summarizes the “Restorative Justice practitioners” as “essentially third-party mediators who sit down and help victims and their attackers talk out traumatic experiences.”

Well, yes, that would be my assessment, as well!

The article further goes on to point out, “Exactly how these restorative justice practitioners intend to prevent bloodshed at Colorado schools isn’t clear.” Denver Public School Superintendent Susana Cordova was quoted as saying that the Board “has voted on this revolution with the best interests of students at heart.”

Wnd.com also points out that “Denver’s far-left school board has forgotten” the safe-school lessons from the Columbine High School Massacre.

June 18, 2020: Good News and a Warning from Governor

Governor Jared Polis noted in a news conference this week that “12 out of 14 days” have “marked a downward trend of new COVID-19 cases in Colorado,” according to kdvr.com. At the same time, he pointed out 100 cases in Boulder primarily restricted to college students, and stated they had been partying and “weren’t following health guidelines.”

Polis also expressed concern over COVID rates being increased in Utah and Arizona, quoted as saying, “We’re seeing a lot of cause for concern in neighboring states.”

June 11, 2020: John Hickenlooper States He Believes Tara Reade, Still Voting for Joe Biden

It’s no surprise to me that John Hickenlooper plans cast his vote for the Democratic Presidential nominee, whether it is Joe Biden or another. But the oh-well combination of these two statements is highly unsettling.

According to the freebeacon.com, John Hickenlooper recently interviewed with the Colorado Sun, and was quoted as saying he “believed” Reade’s story “to a large extent,” praising her for the “great deal of courage” to come forward and speak out. Shortly after this statement, however, he reaffirmed, “In the end, I still support Joe Biden for President, absolutely.”

The link projects.coloradosun.com details where candidates John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff stand on various issues.

June 9, 2020: State Senate Approves SB217, Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Bill

According to gazette.com, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Amber Widgery describes Colorado as “the only state that has introduced an omnibus policing reform bill.” Senator Julie Gonzales of Denver is quoted as saying, “Senate Bill 217 allows us to begin a new process of establishing a different relationship between police and the communities they serve.”

Among the many provisions of SB217, police bodycams will become mandatory starting in 2023 at an approximate cost of $3400 per camera; annual reports will be issued, detailing use of officer force causing either injury or death; new parameters for acceptable use of tear gas or projectiles during protests; an obligation for an officer to intervene if observing another officer using undue force; prohibition on choke holds. Read the bill in full. Senate Bill 217 was passed in the Colorado Senate, 32-1, and now moves to the state House.

June 8, 2020: Colorado Voters Have Opportunity to Vote Down Late-Term Abortions in November

According to a news release shared on June 8, Due Too Late/Initiative 120 will appear on the November 2020 ballot in Colorado. The Colorado Secretary of State has accepted more than 180,000 signatures turned in by volunteers of Due Too Late to “prohibit abortion in Colorado after 22 weeks, with an exception for the life of the mother.”

Due Too Late claims a volunteer force exceeding 1,500, and shared that “Democrat and Unaffiliated voters joined to add thousands of signatures in a truly bipartisan effort.” The organization also points out that Colorado is “1 of only 7 states where abortion is legal up to the moment of birth for any reason.”

June 4, 2020: Public Prayer Walk For “Racial Healing”

According to gazette.com, Acacia Park at 10AM in downtown Colorado Springs on June 6 will be the primary site for local faith leaders to “pray together for racial healing” in response to the last several days of ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rev. Kelly M. Williams of Vanguard Church is quoted as saying, “We will be asking God to heal the divisions of our city, state and country and give us wisdom on a way forward regarding racial issues.”

krdo.com reported on May 30 that “peaceful demonstrations” began around 3pm on Saturday, marking the first day of protests in Colorado Springs. One black resident was quoted in the article as stating, “We’re tired of following a process that looks like it’s going to work, but it’s not working.”

June 2, 2020: Governor Polis Critical of Trump’s Comment to Militarily “Intervene” If Necessary to Restore Order

According to denverpost.com, Governor Polis “rebuked calls by President Trump and others to activate the military to put down civil unrest in cities across the country,” comparing his suggestion to potentially being a “Tiananmen Square” moment.

The Colorado Governor activated the National Guard over the last weekend to assist in restoring order in Denver. A May 30 denverpost.com article pointed out that the Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock, also imposed a curfew in Denver over the weekend. Kristin Bronson, Denver City Attorney, confirmed that a curfew in Denver had not occurred “in recent memory.”

May 23, 2020:  Recipients of Senior Property Tax Exemption Victim of  COVID-Impact Budget Cuts for 2020-21 

According to csbj.co (Colorado Business Journal), despite a vigorous defense of the Homestead Tax Exemption from the El Paso County Commissioners on May 19, just a  day later the Joint Budget Committee suspended the Homestead Tax Exemption.  The Commissioners had argued that “We should not be balancing our budget on the backs of our seniors or disabled veterans.”

Under this program, if you have been in the same house for 10 years and are over 65, property taxes can be waived for 50% of the first $200,000 of property value.

May 19, 2020:  Executive Order 70 Divvies Up COVID Money Colorado Legislature Had Planned to Discuss

According to 9news.com, in mid-April Governor Polis informed Congressman Scott Tipton that “the legislature would manage the money” when COVID CARES Act funds were distributed to Colorado.  Now, mid-May, Polis unexpectedly created Executive Order 70, which “spelled out how the $1.67-billion would be split among state departments.”  A majority of the funds will be spent in the education sector.

Colorado Joint Budget Committee member Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Douglas County is quoted by 9news.com as saying “I read the press release on social media.”

As reported by thedenverchannel.com, Senator Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, stated, “For the Governor to announce this allocation of funds — without so much as consulting the chief budgeting body — is not only a lapse in leadership but has now eliminated the people’s voice over how their money is spent.”  Rankin is also a member of the JBC.  The Joint Budget Committee has been working “to finalize the state budget for next year,” as Colorado faces a $3.3-billion shortfall in revenues.

May 14, 2020:  A Little Good News — Colorado Hits Fourth Week of Decline in New Unemployment Claims

According to gazette.com, unemployment claims are still “more than 10 times last year’s weekly average” but first-time unemployment claims are down 20.2% from the last week.  Nearly 40% of unemployment claims are in the areas of healthcare, retail, and hotel/restaurant industries.

May 13, 2020:  Colorado Schools Receive $121-million from CARES Act…for What?

According to coloradopolitics.com, Colorado school districts have received $121-million from the CARES Act to “prepare for an unpredictable future due to the coronavirus, this money will support students and staff in the coming months,” as quoted from Education Commissioner Katy Anthes.

But while Anthes discusses the financial assistance as being helpful for school reopenings in the future, “the state” is releasing only 90% of the money directly to schools, with yet-undetermined purposes for the remaining 10%.  Moreover, the article later states that the 90% will be distributed “directly to districts based on the percentage of low-income students.”  By this reckoning, Denver Public Schools will receive the largest share, or about $28.4-million.

So — just how does that allocation help all school districts prepare for that “unpredictable future”?  Moreover,  the announcement concludes states that “allowable uses” are limited to “delivering services to at-risk youth or students of color, purchasing cleaning supplies, coordinating meals or technology during long-term school closures and providing mental health services.”

Huh.  Does anyone else smell a political agenda?

May 6, 2020:  Meet Your New Colorado Neighbor, Michael Bloomberg

Although the real estate transaction was completed around mid-April, news of Colorado’s new resident seems to be circulating only recently.  I have to ask:  WHY would Michael Bloomberg add Colorado to his list of acquired multi-million dollar estates?  A 2012 article on nypost.com stated that “Mayor Bloomberg gobbled up two more properties, expanding his real estate holdings to 11.”  So is he coming here for some fresh air?  Buying this $44.79-million ranch — coincidentally — in an election year for his good health and love of nature?  I guess we will have to wait and find out….

According to bizjournals.com, “New York City’s billionaire former mayor Michael Bloomberg appears to have planted a flag in Western Colorado with the $44.79 million purchase of Henry Kravis’ Westlands Ranch.”  About an hour out of Aspen, the property had been for sale since January, 2019.  The sale and purchase of the property was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Libertyheadlines.com states that while Bloomberg “quietly” acquired the property, he continued to face “a series of lawsuits for failing to pay health care benefits and salaries through the November general election as promised to all campaign workers upon employment.”

None of the venues covering the purchase had received quotes from Bloomberg, nor did they speculate as to why this particular property was of interest to him.

May 6, 2020:  Colorado Included in List of “10 States with Biggest Drop in (COVID) Cases”

Theblaze.com shared a John Hopkins University study regarding which states were “moving down” or “moving up” in the number of COVID cases after multiple states began a partial reopening of businesses.  In comparing the weeks starting April 27 and May 4, the report also stated “More than a third (20) of the states — plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — still had a growing number of cases over the last week.”

Data on Colorado listed it as seventh in overall case drops, demonstrating a 27% decrease in cases.  At the top of the list was Wyoming, with the 63% decrease.

April 30, 2020:  Both Praise and Criticism for Governor as Colorado Starts to Open 

Helen Raleigh, senior contributor for thefederalist.com, described Gov. Polis as “very far left, yet at times can also be a pragmatic politician.”  She points out that he no doubt was aware “many Coloradans have had enough of this stay-at-home order,” particularly with the “hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered at the state capitol to demand the state reopen” the previous week.

While describing Polis’  “phased approach” and stating that much citizen approval of his plan appeared to follow liberal-conservative party lines, Raleigh also mentioned the inconsistency of leaving the schools closed for the remainder of this year.  Raleigh states, “It doesn’t make sense,” quoting the information that “Colorado’s own coronavirus data shows that those under age 19 have very low infection and death rates.”  Moreover, “Reopening schools would allow parents who have school-aged children to return to work if they still have their jobs.”  She additionally cited additional advantages of children returning to school, especially from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

April 23, 2020:  Colorado’s “Stay at Home” Becomes “Safer at Home” — And No School Openings

Gov. Jared Polis is allowing the Stay at Home order to expire on its original date, April 26 — but warns that the state will not “in any way be going back to normal,” according to gazette.com.  Among the items “opening up” are a return of doctors able to perform elective surgeries, “personal services” (hair salons, manicures, tattoo parlors), limited retail business activity (curbside pickup, no inside shopping).  Retail stores may begin limited-entry customers into their stores after May 1.  No restaurants, bars, gyms, or “larger social environments” — which presumably includes churches — can resume activities until after May 4.  Commercial offices can also begin half-force operation at that time, but social distancing must be accommodated.

A day earlier (4/22), Gov. Polis held a statewide conference call with School District Superintendents, informing them that “all public and private K-12 schools” needed to continue online instruction through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Then came the surprise — a challenge to school districts statewide:  “For the fall semester, the governor advised superintendents to develop proposals for continued distance learning but also create models that would employ staggered start times and new formats for lunch, passing periods, and other interactions that would allow for proper social distancing measures,” according to gazette.com.

What a crock!  No scientific facts currently advocate — nor did advocate, six weeks ago — that closing K-12 schools in any way brought benefit to anyone for any reason at any time regarding the spread of COVID-19.  Yes, Grandma and Grandpa would likely need to “bow out” of attending crowd-intense school functions.  But given the science substantiating that young people are virtually unaffected by COVID-19, I think it’s a terrible injustice to have shut down the schools and continue to suggest they might not open in the Fall.

April 19, 2020:  Protest in Denver, “Reopen Colorado”

According to denverpost.com, “The city of Denver became the latest city in the country to hold protests to open the economy as health experts continue the fight against coronavirus.”

One protester is quoted as saying, “A lot of these small business owners are getting crushed.  They should have the option of being open if the public can make their own decision.”  According to the article, “more than 100,000” Coloradans filed for unemployment early in April, and the number has since continued to grow.

cnn.com pointed out that “a small group of healthcare workers counterprotested” at the gathering, mostly by standing at an intersection and making their presence known.  The article also quoted a John Hopkins University statistic that as of 4/19, Colorado had reported 9,730 cases statewide, with 420 deaths.

March 26, 2020:  Statewide Stay at Home Order — Two Viewpoints

I came across this statistic on the Colorado Coronavirus Updates site and was jarred by the final line:  “The state has started to distribute the equipment it received from the Strategic National Stockpile.  The supplies include nearly 50,000 N-95 face masks, 117,000 surgical masks, and 108,000 pairs of gloves…the state said the delivery covers the equivalent of one full day’s supplies across the medical system and are being distributed to counties based on need…”  (italics mine) All those supplies, only one day?  I don’t even have a grid for multiplying that into weeks, months.  Wow!  On the other hand, I believe that ‘appropriate measures’ in each situation should be — well, appropriate for the situation, but allowing that each city and county has radically different realities with which to cope.  Low-case areas should not be subject to the identical measure as high-case areas.

According to a cpr.org, “The Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, which represents over 2,600 Colorado doctors and medical students, sent a letter to Polis asking him to reconsider his resistance to such an order (of statewide stay at home).  The medical association fears cases of COVID-19 could quickly overwhelm the state’s healthcare system without more dramatic action.”

On the other side of the coin, denverpost.com hosted an editorial stating, “Stay the course, Governor.  Don’t be stampeded into joining the herd of other states — and cities and counties for that matter — whose leaders believe a ‘stay at home’ “order” is necessary…the tone of stay-at-home orders is counterproductive…suggesting that we must cower indoors like hostages until an all-clear signal arrives…this is a corrosive message for psychological health and respect for leadership.”

We will be observing and participating in how this shakes out!  Lots of time for prayer in this prayer-needed situation.

March 19, 2020:  Colorado Distilleries Join Others in Producing Hand Sanitizer, Donating Product, Offering Training

According to theknow.denverpost.com, Spirit Hound Distillers thought making a small batch of hand sanitizer “was just a lark.”  However, they quickly discovered that their “lark” produced a huge benefit as shortages continue.   Following guidelines from the World Health Organization as to content, Spirit Hound soon made “a 48-gallon batch of 80-percent alcohol hand sanitizer,” which filled 1,000 donated 4-oz. bottles, plus multiple gallon bottles to appropriately distribute.  Main recipients have been the Lyons Fire Protection District, local businesses, and healthcare nonprofits.

At Boulder’s J&L Distilling, co-founder Seth Johnson sent out an email to his list of subscribers, asking if there was interest in “a hand sanitizer workshop.”  The positive response resulted in a workshop attended by 50 people.  Johnson was quoted as saying, “There’s a need in the community and I’m uniquely positioned to fill it…it’s somethig I can do to feel useful.  It’s hard to feel useful when all this is going on.”

March 11, 2020:  Denver Offers First Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Station

According to denverpost.com, one of the nation’s first drive-thru testing facilities for coronavirus opened to the public on March 11, at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment State Lab on Lowry Blvd.  Later in the day, denverite.com shared that “Health workers tested more than 160 people between 10am and 2pm.”  All persons tested were required to show a doctor’s verification that the person met the state’s criteria to be tested.

March 4, 2020:  Progressive Turnout Project Takes On Denver, Colorado-Springs Areas

According to the turnoutpac.org website, Turnout Project has set as its goal, “To help Democrats take backthe Senate and the White House.”  Colorado Springs will have one office, targeting slightly over 23,000 voters, with the intention on knocking on 85,800 doors to support Democrats.

March 4, 2020:  Bernie Sanders May Have Swept Denver…But Only 32% Actually Voted

OK, I admit I was pretty surprised to read this, especially in view of the other statistics reported.  According to coloradopolitics.com, only 134,727 ballots from a potential 415,000 voters had been received by 11:30 p.m. on Election night.  According to the site, “The registered electorate comprises 48% Democrats, 12% Republicans, and 40% unaffiliated voters.”

February 13, 2020:  Colorado Senate Votes Down Abortion-Survivor Bill

According to faithit.com, “Colorado Democrats have voted against a bill that would require medical care to be provided to survivors of failed abortions.”  Jennifer Popik, the legislative director of National Right to Life, is quoted in cbn.com as saying, “It is outrageous that a born-alive human person may be subjected to lethal violence with impunity or treated as if she is medical waste.”

Colorado State Representative and bill co-sponsor Shane Sandridge emphasized that House Bill 1068 did not address any abortion-issue parameters but focused strictly on the issue of infant-care, post-birth.

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