Why Udall Really Called for the VA Chief’s Resignation

May 29, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki

Sen. Mark Udall has come down hard on the Veterans Affairs Department, leading the most discerning of observers to conclude that it must be an election year.

Udall was silent when it was revealed last month that the VA center in Phoenix had a secret waiting list on which health care officials placed problematic veterans who might endanger their bonuses.

When 40 veterans died waiting for treatment, not a word came from Udall.

When an inspector’s general report in early May exposed the VA center in Fort Collins trying to game the system in a similar manner, Udall was silent.

But now a new and improved inspector’s general report supposedly gave Udall enough cover to call for Shinseki’s resignation on Wednesday.

More likely, Udall saw some unfavorable polling that inspired him to push Shinseki off the side of the sinking ship known as the Obama administration.

Or, it could have been those robocalls from the national Republican Party that flooded the phones of Colorado voters exposing Udall’s cowardice in the VA scandal. Read more »

National Green Groups Work Behind the Scenes in Local Fracking Fights

May 29, 2014

LOVELAND — Protect Our Loveland bills itself as a homegrown, grassroots campaign run by ordinary folks, but so far Colorado’s local anti-fracking drives haven’t been quite as local as they claim.

Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, Frack Free Colorado and Moveon.org were among those who contributed to some or all of last year’s so-called citizens’ anti-fracking initiatives in Boulder, Broomfield and Fort Collins, according to campaign-finance reports filed with the city clerks.

All three ballot measures won in the November election, despite being outspent by the oil and gas industry and pro-business groups. A fourth anti-corporate initiative in Lafayette also passed after receiving help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in Mercersburg, Pa.

Former state Rep. B.J. Nikkel, who headed the campaign against Broomfield’s Question 300 and now leads the fight against Loveland’s Question 1, says national environmental groups have set up shop in Colorado to help push local fracking bans. Read more »

McMinimee Elected Jeffco Superintendent, Despite Union Protests

May 28, 2014

GOLDEN – Daniel McMinimee was elected as the new superintendent of the Jefferson County school system during a raucous Tuesday night meeting despite disruptions from hundreds of pro-union supporters, several of whom were escorted from the room by police.

The vote split 3-2 with pro-reform members Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk voting yes, and pro-union board members Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman voting no.

The meeting room was filled to its 300 capacity with mostly union members and activists intent on impeding the process by shouting down the proceeding or interrupting with loud clapping.

At least four people were removed by police for their unruly behavior, actions that drew loud cheers from the disorderly crowd.

Protestors chanted the union’s slogan “stand up for kids” and heckled the board with shouts of “I can’t do my job,” “This is a sham,” and “We don’t trust you.”

The behavior and comments annoyed some in the audience who said the focus should be on the students and not on the teachers’ union. Read more »

Biden Campaigns for Udall Before Hitting Steyer Fundraiser

May 28, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden

DENVER–Democratic Sen. Mark Udall famously refused to commit in January to campaigning with President Obama, but Vice President Joseph Biden is a different story.

Biden flew into town Tuesday to participate in a coffee-shop confab with the senator before headlining at a private Udall fundraiser in Denver. The vice-president is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, then head off to a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the home of San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer.

Steyer’s NextGen PAC made headlines last week by selecting Udall and six other Democrats for financial support. Steyer has said he will donate $50 million and raise another $50 million in the 2014 campaign to promote climate change as a campaign issue. Read more »

Western Lawmakers Seek Decade Ban on Grouse Listing

May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — Western lawmakers are collaborating on legislation to block the Interior Department from listing the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act for a decade allowing for states including Colorado to develop conservation plans.

Critics of the rushed proposal to list the species say the affected states have different needs to protect the bird based on unique geographical differences, as well as concerns about the impact on local economies. An estimated two million acres in Colorado would be affected by the proposed listing.

The bill is sponsored by Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner and cosponsored by Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, as well as key House leaders from Utah and Montana.

The Senate companion measure is sponsored by Republican Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming and cosponsored from Senators in Utah and Idaho. Colorado Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are not cosponsors. Read more »

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