Yes: Amendments T, 69, 70, 72, sugary drink tax, schools … Hillary

My ballot is ready for delivery. There’s a law in Colurado that photos of filled out ballots are not allowed. Mine is in the secrecy sleeve.

The election ballot came in the mail the other day. I hear a bunch of people haven’t quite made up their minds yet. I don’t get that. Not that I’m any kind of political guru, but here are my takes on the election.

While I like the convenience of mail-in ballots, having to place first class postage on them is a form of a poll tax. Old school student that I am, I will drop off my ballot at the polling place on election day.

I predict the Democrats will take back the Senate and make a big dent in the House GOP majority. What will continue to stalemate congress is the heavily gerrymandered districts that benefit the Republicans. Democrats who get elected in Republican districts will likely be there for one, maybe two terms. The SCOTUS decision upholding the Arizona election commission as a non-partisan redistricting tool and the 2020 census should enable the creation of more competitive districts.

Presidential Electors – Hillary and Kaine: I was/am an ardent Bernie supporter but now reluctantly for Hillary – but solidly, 100 percent behind her. A vote for Hillary / Kaine is a vote for the Bernie movement. If you’re for social justice, getting money out of politics, balancing income disparity, cracking down on Wall Street, further health care reform, fixing trade deals, then, maintaining a Democrat in the White House  will move that agenda.

I predict Hillary will win by a landslide. It will be unbelievably huge – believe me. Hillary is lucky she’s isn’t running against McCain or Romney this time. It would have been a tight 2016 race.

Write in Moon

If you’re one of those “Bernie or Nobody” or “Hillary and Trump are both terrible” voters, it’s not like you don’t have choices. There are 22 pairs of candidates on the Colorado ballot. If you don’t like any of them, there’s a “write-in” blank. Because of third party candidates, Hillary is likely to win in Utah … WHA’???!!!

If it’s any consolation to my Wyoming friends voting for Trump, in any scenario from a Hillary landslide to a Hillary squeaker, Wyoming goes solidly for Trump. Trump is guaranteed three electoral votes.

For those of you who have forgotten what you learned in political science class, we don’t vote for candidates, but rather for electors who, in turn cast each state’s vote for president. Electors aren’t bound to vote how the state directs them, however. There are people who don’t like this approach, but we’re a nation of states not a nation of people, as we are sometimes led to believe. The electoral college system provides equity to the least populated states.

US Senator – Michael Bennet: This is a no-brainer for me. In a purple state like Colorado, the US Senators have to govern to the center. Michael Bennet after being appointed by Governor Hickenlooper, had a tough reelection campaign in 2010 against Ken Buck. He’s proven his ability to work on both sides of the aisle including with junior Senator Cory Gardner. He stays out of papers and governs quietly.

Representative CD 2 – Jared Polis: I’ve known Jared and his partner Marlon Reis for a number of years. I think I first met Jared when he was managing his foundation and eventually on the state board of education. He is another guy who has to be sensitive to the Republicans in his district, which expands north and east. I’m okay with that.

I tend to support people I know – Republican or Democrat – and that’s no exception for these contested races:

CU Regent – Alice Madden

State Senator – Steve Fenberg

County Commissioners – Elise Jones, Deb Gardener

As for the judges, the blue book gave them all a pass. I’ll let them ride another term.

Constitutional Amendment T – YES: This reminds me of that Seinfeld pilot episode within an episode when a guy is sentenced to be Jerry’s butler. Rather than take this provision out of the constitution, the reference to slavery and involuntary servitude should have just been removed. There are plenty of similar punishments that happen in the forms of community service, restorative justice retribution, etc.

Constitutional Amendment U – NO: People / Corporations who use public land for private purposes should continue to pay taxes. The constitution is no place to be dealing with administrative costs as being a reason to exempt users from paying tax.

Constitutional Amendment 69 – YES: Big pharma and mega-insurance companies are against this one. If it passes, it will signal other states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act which has been a boon to big medicine. There are many people who will be turning 65 soon and enrolled in Medicare. Why should I be okay with paying a little more income tax? It’s for the common good. Besides, I don’t have kids in the public school system and I don’t complain about paying those taxes, because education is public good.

Constitutional Amendment 70 – YES: When I was a kid, I worked for the minimum wage, which was, seems like $1.32, and for a 12-year old that was a lot of money – especially when I was allowed to work sometimes 50 hours a week. What else did I have to do? The minimum wage isn’t supposed to be a living wage. It’s a benchmark. It’s a starting wage. The current $8.31 isn’t even a starting wage. However, for workers who think they can make a living on $9.50 / hour, I have news for them, they better get two jobs or get fit to work into something that is better paying. Small and micro business owners have a good gripe in that this could be an undo burden on them, but it’s a cost of doing business. If a small biz is just squeaking by paying workers $8 an hour, maybe it should evaluate the business model.

Constitutional Amendment 71 – NO: The reason the constitution gets amended so often is because if it isn’t in the constitution, the state legislature can change a law passed by referendum at the drop of a hat. If anything, the constitution should be amended to say that any law passed by referendum can be changed by the legislature, but any changes have to be by majority of each county’s legislators, independent of party of affiliation.

Constitutional Amendment 72 – YES: Taxes like these are paid by people who knowingly use a product that is bad for them like tobacco (in fact, it’s written on all the packages). Tobacco also happens to be addictive so it’s an easy sell. Tobacco smoking isn’t a right, it’s a choice. People who choose unhealthy options, regardless of reasons, also place a burden on the public health and safety through second hand smoke, avoidable health problems such as heart and lung disease. The bad lifestyle choosers also get into insurance pools driving up premium costs. This isn’t about tobacco users (they often think laws like this gang up on them) but rather about tobacco. Also, if this were only a law passed by referendum, the tobacco company lobbyists would have a hey day lining elected officials pockets to get the law gutted.

Proposition 106 – NO: I think there are adequate ways for caregivers to end a person’s life or a sick person to end their own life without adding this huge death industrial complex behind it. Let’s see, there’s Smith and Wesson, the left over oxycodon … This is a choice that a person makes after consultation with family friends, preacher, their dog. The government has no place in this decision.

Proposition 107 – YES: I imagine both political parties are against an open primary because it allows independent voters to vote in either partys presidential primary election. I don’t know how any one who stood in line for hours thinks the caucus system is better than a direct primary.

Proposition 108 – NO: While independent voters would be able to vote in a party primary for state and local candidates, it allows an exception for non-presidential candidates to be selected by a convention of party elites. This must be a compromise voter suppression measure proposed by the GOP.

Boulder County Issues 1A, 1B, 1c – YES: I always vote for the pittance of sales tax increases to maintain infrastructure including parks and open spaces. I seldom use the open spaces, but they are a public good.

Boulder County Issue 1d – NO: Term limiting candidates should be left up to the voters to decide. If the District Attorney is doing an okay job, let him/her serve as long as the public can stand them.

City of Boulder 2H – YES: This is a tax similar to the tobacco tax proposed in Amendment 72. If a person wants to make unhealthy choices, they should be willing to pay a little extra. The Big Gulp from 7-Eleven now costs $1.59 and a refill is $.99 – I’m pretty sure your average Big Gulp drinker would pay 50 cents extra. I know I won’t mind. I’ll continue to buy my fountain soda here, than travel to Longmont for my occasional to save on taxes.

City of Boulder 2I – NO: There are other ways to better utilize the Boulder water supplies. Denying land owners water isn’t the right way to do it. There’s a big debate happening in town now about residential growth. Allocation of scarce resources needs to be a more balanced approach.

City of Boulder 2J – NO: The city of Boulder council is not a full time job and providing access to benefits available to city employees encourages people to run for office not to serve, but to self serve because of the health insurance benefits.

City of Boulder 302 – NO: There is no need to legislate term limits. If anything, there should be another effort to establish city council wards in Boulder to create more equitable representation. Remember the time when two council members lived in the same house?

Boulder Valley School District 3A – Yes: Even though I don’t have kids in the school system, education is a public good. I helped on 2A many years ago which fixed the existing schools and built some new ones.

Yours truly, Michael and Jerry mugging at BIFF

Scientific and Cultural Facilities District 4b – YES: I am self-interested in this one. I’m a member of the Boulder International Film Festival board of directors and some of our funding is SCFD. This is one of most worthwhile taxes, particularly for small to medium sized arts organizations.

In another race of interest to me, I think this is the biggest game changer of all the overlooked elections in the country:

Wyoming CD At Large – Liz Cheney: I predict the Virginia carpetbagger and daughter of Dick Cheney will win in a landslide. She quasi-moved back to Wyoming to take the open seat held by Cynthia Lummis. I further predict that Cheney will ditch Wyoming after two terms and run for president in 2020 / 2024. Carpetbagging worked for Hillary Wyoming is a way easier path to the top than going through New York. If she wanted to take the big state route, Texas – corporate home to her dad’s firm Halliburton – would have been the obvious choice.

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Election day thoughts 2014

Election day 2014 is tomorrow. I voted early but not casting my ballot until tomorrow – election day.

Based on all the “too extreme” for Colorado ads still running on TV, apparently there is still too much money flowing and voters still haven’t made up their minds.

I find it amazing that there are voters out there who are so uninformed they are actually swayed by the nonsensical mudslinging messages. If you’re one who hasn’t made up your mind, I want to know who you are and get your information from TV ads, I want to know who you are!

Who has the most toys doesn’t translate into victory. House majority leader Eric Cantor spent $168,000 at three restaurants while eventual winner David Brat spent $123,000 on his entire campaign. At the end, Cantor spent 40 times more money than Brat and lost by 10 points.

Here’s how I voted on issues and candidates this year. I follow politics in Wyoming and Colorado where I have stakes. I tend to support people with whom I have some sort of connection and that bears out this election cycle.

US Senate Colorado – Back in the mid 1970s, I went to Washington DC for a student political science institute. I befriended over a couple days Morris Udall. He’s the father of Senator Mark Udall, who is in a neck and neck race with Cory Gardner. I got to know Mo Udall, however briefly during the conference. I met Mark Udall when he moved to Colorado to run for Congress. He’s a career politician and that reputation is catching up with him. i voted for Udall mostly for the good of the order of keeping the federal system split. I think Udall will prevail, much like Senator Bennett did when he defeated Ken Buck.

US Congressional District 2 – I’ve known incumbent Jared Polis for a number of years, mostly through non-profit organization circles when I worked for Assets for Colorado Youth and he was on the Colorado Board of Education. Since he was elected to the US House, I don’t run into him as much as I once did. I voted for Jared again. His opponent is a Chinese guy named George Leing – he pronounces his name in Anglicized fashion “Lang”. He’ll get votes in east and north Boulder County, Weld and Gilpin counties.

Colorado Governor – John Hickenlooper was one of the first people I met when I came to Colorado. He and I served on the Chinook Fund board of directors for a number of years. He’s had to govern to the middle and “Both Ways Beauprez” has had to grasp at straws to find issues that would make John look bad. Recently, Beauprez played the “soft on murderers” card, which I don’t think have played very well. I voted for John again.

68 – I voted for gambling expansion at the Arapahoe County horse track. Not because I want to fund education, but to encourage more gaming.

105 – I voted for the GMO labeling. The proponents came up with a little over $500,000 while the opposition raised over $12 million from multinational corporations like Monsanto, Pepsi Cola, Kraft, Coca Cola. With a cast of characters like that I pretty much had to vote for it.

In Wyoming, competitive elections went away in the mid 1990s when the Democratic main stays were all soundly trounced and never resurfaced – former Governor Mike Sullivan, former Secretary of State Kathy Karpan; former state Senator John Vinich. Since then, the laws were changed to suppress voter registration and voting. In a red state like Wyoming, there end up being various shades of red. I don’t know how long it will take for Wyoming to become competitive again – maybe never.

US Senate Wyoming – My first job out of school was with the city government of Gillette. I was in a class at the University of Wyoming called the Human Services Project. Multidisciplinary students worked together to solve problems arising from rapid population growth during the coal boom there. I worked for then Mayor Mike Enzi and City Administrator Flip McConnaughy – now Senator Enzi’s Chief of Staff. Mike’s wife Diana and I were both members of the Wyoming Private Industry Council charged with administering federal job funds. Mke is running against a former Catholic priest, Charlie Hardy, who’s been logging a lot of road miles in Wyoming and has become a bit of a media darling. Enzi will win this one big. I’ll be surprised if he runs for a 5th term after this.

US Congressional District Wyoming At Large – The incumbent is Cynthia Lummis. She and I, as well as her siblings, all grew up together. Cynthia’s husband, Al Wiederspahn passed away suddenly last week. I don’t even know who is running against her, but she’ll win in another landslide, maybe getting 90 percent of the vote.

Wyoming Governor – I’ve gotten to know Matt Mead and his family over the past four years,  He’s been in a couple videos I’ve made for his art’s awards celebration and for the 75th anniversary of the Wyoming state parks system. It’s election season, but nonetheless, he’s had to govern to the middle, which means something totally different than other places. He’s running against a guy from Pinedale, Pete Gosar. I think he’s the Wyoming State Democratic Party chairman. Matt Mead should win with no problem.

State House District 21 – A friend of mine, Albert Sommers is running for reelection. He’s a level headed and thoughtful guy who should win again. His wife, Sue, is quite the graphic artist. He funds his own campaign and refuses contributions from others.

Lander Mayor – former mayor and state legislator Del McOmie is running for Mayor again.  My second job was working for the city of Lander as Del’s assistant before I worked for the Northern Arapaho Tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation. I don’t know who he’s against, but he should win this one.
There you have it, I’m not trying to influence you, since my opinions are clearly too extreme to help anyone change their minds and I approve of this message