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Thursday, October 7,2010

Boulder Weekly's 2010 Ballot Picks

By Boulder Weekly Staff

Amendment P Gaming regulations


Amendment P was referred to the ballot by the Legislature, and it would amend the Colorado Constitution. It would transfer licensing authority for games of chance, such as bingo or raffles, from the Department of State to the Department of Revenue. Also, it would allow the Legislature to change rules regarding the overseeing department and to change a requirement that a gaming organization must operate as a dues-paying organization for five years to qualify for a license.

On one hand, the Department of Revenue already handles the licensing for other forms of gaming, so transferring games of chance to that office would put gaming under one roof — which should lead to efficiencies. On the other hand, there would be a onetime cost, estimated at $116,000, and opponents question this expense during a tough fiscal time. It’s a fair question, but we’ll favor Amendment P on the efficiencies angle, and because navigating the state’s bureaucracy is tough enough without having similar operations in different departments.

Amendment Q Temporary emergency move of Legislature


Amendment Q is a measure referred to the ballot by the Legislature that would amend the Colorado Constitution. Passing it would make it constitutional for the state to temporarily move its seat of government from Denver in case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or an act of terrorism. Currently, there are statutes and rules that would allow the Legislature to meet elsewhere, but nothing in the Constitution.

Hopefully there would never be a need for such a move, but stuff happens, and there’s no good reason to vote against an amendment that simply makes a move that’s already in law constitutional.

Amendment R Exemptions on property tax on possessory interests


Amendment R is a measure referred to the ballot by the Legislature that would amend the Colorado Constitution. It would exempt individuals or businesses operating on government-owned property (possessory interests) from paying property taxes if the value of the real property used is less than $6,000. For example, a rancher grazing cattle on federal land could be seen as having a possessory interest.

On one hand, it could eliminate small amounts of paperwork for certain businesses and even the state. It’s possible that the cost of tax notification and enforcement could exceed the revenue collected in certain cases, since only small amounts of property tax are collected in those situations. Also, small businesses could save small amounts of money.

On the other hand, it could cost local governments small amounts of money from property tax revenue, and the state might need to replace small amounts of property tax money that would otherwise fund K-12 education. Also, this tax elimination would go into the Constitution, so under TABOR, another statewide ballot measure would be necessary to bring the tax back.

This one’s worthy of some careful consideration, but we’ll favor it. It would work in the favor of small agricultural operations, and it would reduce administrative burdens.

Amendment 60, Amendment 61, Proposition 101 Reducing taxes and government spending


Technically, 60, 61 and 101 are separate ballot issues, but most observers see them as a package, and we urge you to vote against this ill-advised package.

In brief, they are designed to cut taxes, limit government spending and limit government borrowing. In practice, they’d damage education funding, cost Coloradans jobs, and needlessly prevent or delay bonding.

Two of them (60 and 61) would go straight into the state Constitution if passed. Also, drastic reductions in tax rates under 101 would trigger TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) limits if there’s ever a need to re-implement taxes or fees to fund services that 101 would eliminate or slash.

Whether or not TABOR author Douglas Bruce ever talks publicly about his role or lack thereof in bringing these three measures to the ballot, 60, 61 and 101 smack of “Bruceism.” They demonize government spending — while not acknowledging when people benefit from services that the spending pays for — and attempt to cut taxes without care for the consequences. Voters have defeated every statewide Bruce initiative since TABOR passed on the third try, and we should do the same here.

Colorado already ranks near the bottom of states in terms of its support for higher education. It’s a financially strapped state, not because the resources aren’t there, but because of TABOR. Passing these measures means thrusting Colorado deeper into a budget crisis that won’t serve anyone’s interests.

Amendment 60: Property Taxes

• Cuts local property taxes used for K-12 education in half over 10 years.

• Repeals past local elections that allowed local governments to keep property tax revenues in excess of TABOR limits (“De-Brucing” measures).

• Imposes new property taxes on previously untaxed public enterprises (such as CU), and reduces other property taxes by the amount of the new taxes.

Amendment 61: Borrowing • Prohibits all new state borrowing, including its public enterprises (such as CU).

• Allows local borrowing only with voter approval, but bonded debt must be repaid within 10 years.

• Requires government entities to reduce tax rates once bonds are paid off, by the amount of average annual payments.

Proposition 101: Tax and fee reductions

• Reduces the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.5 percent in 2011, and reduces it an additional 0.1 percent every year that state net income increases by 6 percent or more, until the overall rate is 3.5 percent.

• Reduces vehicle registration fees to $10, eliminates or reduces vehicle-specific ownership taxes, eliminates auto rental fees and taxes, and eliminates most taxes and fees on telecommunications.

• Increases on most vehicle or telecommunications fees in the future would be considered tax increases.

Amendment 62 Rights for fertilized eggs


Amendment 62 seeks to extend the definition of person to include a fertilized egg “from the beginning of biological development.” It is almost a direct repeat of 2008’s personhood initiative, as both supporters and opponents agree. By legally defining a fertilized egg as a person, with all of the same legal and constitutional rights entailed therein, abortion in any circumstance would be criminalized, as would several forms of birth control, including the pill and the IUD, as well as stem cell research. The amendment would also affect some fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, and possibly hundreds of laws.

Supporters, like Colorado Right to Life, say this would protect “little boys and girls” and that any turmoil in the legal system will just have to be dealt with later. Tellingly, National Right to Life does not support the measure.

Imagine if every woman who miscarries has to endure a forensic vaginal exam, in which doctors search for criminal evidence that she caused the miscarriage herself. Imagine victims of incest and rape forced to carry pregnancies to term, enduring nine months of emotional torment and the suffering of childbirth on top of the crime that impregnated them. Imagine having only sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods to prevent pregnancy — and no options at all if one of those methods fails.

That’s the world that Amendment 62 is trying to create.

Opponents, such as Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, say the measure is extreme, allowing judges, lawyers and lawmakers to intrude on private health care decisions. Lisa Radelet, communications director at Women’s Health, says the measure is invasive and that even if it passed, the amendment would face legal challenges “almost immediately,” costing the state money. She also points out that in 2008, Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar amendment.

“Coloradans think this is a bad idea, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” she says.

We agree. Whether you support the right to choose or you consider yourself a pro-lifer, defining a fertilized egg as a person is taking things to absurd extremes. Consider the ramifications: Would miscarriages have to be investigated as a possible negligent homicide? Can an egg inherit property and pay taxes? Should a 12-year-old who becomes pregnant by her own daddy be forced to carry that pregnancy to term? Would pregnant women automatically get to use the HOV lane? Is every sperm truly sacred?

Give us a break! Like 2008’s personhood initiative, Amendment 62 is absurd and insulting to women. We strongly urge you to vote NO on Amendment 62.

Amendment 63 Mandatory health care purchases


Amendment 63 is a citizen initiative that would amend the Colorado Constitution and would prevent the state of Colorado from enforcing purchases of health care coverage under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which mandates that people buy health insurance and fines those who don’t. The registered proponents of 63 are Boulder’s own Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute in Golden, and Linda Gorman from the same organization.

It’s been suggested that 63 is a largely symbolic measure, since federal law trumps state amendments, although you will find debate about that in the blogosphere. Also, 63 cites the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says the federal government only has powers specifically enumerated to it in the Constitution, while others say the Commerce Clause gives the feds the right to implement the PPACA.

Well, we’ll see you in court on this debate for a long, long time.

Caldara and Gorman are running the initiative on the right of health care choice, but they won’t mention a few other “rights” that ordinary people don’t want. The right to be denied coverage. The right to watch your premiums go up until you can’t even afford high-deductible coverage. The right to be denied bankruptcy when your medical bills ruin your life. The right to lose coverage because you lost a job. The right of Americans to pay much more for coverage as a percentage of GDP than other Western nations with worse health outcomes.

These are among the reasons that Obama won in 2008, and while the extended battle in Congress over PPACA sapped his political capital, a lot of ordinary people will eventually benefit.

Opponents say 63 would cost private premium-holders, since the cost of providing care to the people who will remain uninsured will be passed on to premium bills, although proponents differ with that. The amendment would also prevent Colorado from implementing a statewide system such as the one Massachusetts currently has, according to proponents. Opponents say 63 would lead to costly lawsuits. Worse, it would go into our Constitution if approved, ending the debate about health care before we have a true solution. Of course, that’s what the health insurance industry wants. They’re concerned with their profits, not your mother’s cancer treatment.

Vote NO, and let’s keep working to find a better solution.

Proposition 102 Bail bonds and pretrial release


Proposition 102 is a statutory citizen initiative. In short, it would prohibit releasing defendants to pretrial release programs, except for first-time, nonviolent misdemeanor-level suspects. We oppose 102 because it appears to be on the ballot primarily to benefit the bailbond industry.

Many law enforcement officials and agencies also oppose 102, in part because it would lead to increased costs and demand on prison beds. Poorer defendants simply won’t be able to afford bond, which means they’d be locked up at public expense. The Colorado Legislative Council estimates that 102 will increase jail costs by $2.8 million per year. Judges currently have the option to use pretrial release instead of jail or bail bonding, which can save money. But 102 supporters say this allows criminals to get out on the streets — silly scare tactics.

Proposition 102 appears to be another in a line of Colorado initiatives with connections to out-of-state interests. The Durango Herald reported that one of two registered proponents, M. Paul Donovan, is the government affairs director of the Pennsylvania-based Bail USA, the largest bail bond underwriter in the nation. The other, Matthew Duran, was linked to an organization called Virginians for the Preservation of Bail. Both men list the address of 2910 N. Powers Blvd. in Colorado Springs on the initiative, and the Herald reported that this is actually the address of a strip mall.

Whether the proponents have the best interests of Colorado at heart or not, enough Coloradans signed petitions to get 102 on the ballot. Still, voters ought to know where our initiatives come from, and they should have a good chance to understand if a measure is being pushed out of financial self-interest.

Vote NO on 102, and we can reexamine pretrial release at a later time if need be.


Bernie Buescher

The players in this contest are Democratic incumbent Bernie Buescher, Republican Scott Gessler and Amanda Campbell of the American Constitution Party. The secretary of state oversees a number of key state functions, including elections, licensing and business functions such as transactions, filings and trademarks. The winner earns a four-year term.

Both major-party candidates have solid resumes. Buescher earned a law degree from CU, spent 11 years in private practice, was the president of West Star Aviation, earned two terms in the state House, served on the state Joint Budget Committee and was executive director of the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

Gessler earned an MBA from Northwestern and a law degree from the University of Michigan. He was a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice, is a private election law attorney, managed a family construction business, taught election law at CU, and served in the Army Reserve.

But Gessler had a hand in what some say was some dirty politics last fall in Boulder County. He represents Western Tradition Partnership (WTP), a conservative group that has been accused of funding attack campaigns against Democratic candidates. WTP contributed to Republican Katie Witt’s campaign for Longmont City Council by funding a “push poll” against Witt’s opponent, Karen Benker. He also was the attorney who successfully sued the city of Longmont to overturn campaign regulations aimed at ensuring transparency in disclosing candidates’ donors. Not necessarily the kind of guy we want controlling our state’s elections.

The next legislative session will likely feature a battle over redistricting, and Gessler fought as an attorney against a court-ordered redistricting plan in 2002 and beyond — as the Republicandominated Legislature adopted an alternative plan in 2003 that Democrats decried as the “midnight gerrymander.” Buescher worked on a bill in 2010 that included allowing same-day voter registration, an option that has been roundly criticized by Gessler and other Republicans.

The court-ordered redistricting plan stayed in effect, the midnight gerrymander was found unconstitutional, and the bill including same-day voter registration was never formally introduced.

We’re endorsing Buescher.


Cary Kennedy

This is a race between Democratic incumbent Cary Kennedy and Republican Walker Stapleton. There are no minor-party candidates, and the winner will serve a four-year term. We’ll support Kennedy, and part of it has to do with her resume. She’s served as a budget analyst in the Office of State Planning and Budgeting and as a fiscal analyst with the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. She was a co-author of Amendment 23, which has kept the state’s K-12 funding from ranking near last or last in the nation. She worked on the coalition to pass Referendum C, which helped the state fund key services over the past five years. She’s been treasurer since 2006.

In other words, she knows the state’s financial structure inside and out. She’s also handled the state’s investment pool in a small-c conservative manner, and Colorado has maintained good credit ratings in spite of the tough economy. She’s increased the state’s financial transparency, in part through online services such as Colorado Tax Tracks.

Stapleton is a second cousin of former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush the First), and the great-grandson of former Denver Mayor Ben Stapleton. He’s got an MBA from Harvard and a graduate degree in business economics from the London School of Economics. He’s the president and CEO of SonomaWest Holdings, a real estate investment firm.

Voters should at least check out the “issues” section of Stapleton’s website. He lists only two. And in the section on “budget and taxes,” he primarily discusses tax limitations such as TABOR and rails against government spending.

It’s also somewhat troubling that his information appears to be outdated and, in some cases, inaccurate. In the “budget and taxes” section, he mentions the “Arveschoug-Bird” 6 percent limitation on budget increases, but it was amended during the 2009 legislative session — and only pertained to the general fund budget anyway. Also, he refers to Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s worker’s compensation insurer, as a “private company,” when in fact it is a quasi-governmental agency.

Perhaps his website just needs an update sometime before the election, but those would have been some significant omissions or mistakes to begin with.

Vote for Kennedy. She knew that stuff a long time ago.


Stan Garnett

This is a race between Republican incumbent John Suthers and Democrat Stan Garnett, the district attorney for

Boulder County. The attorney general represents and defends the legal interests of Colorado, and the winner earns a four-year term.

Suthers has spent a great deal of his career in the public sector, although he spent seven years with the private firm Sparks Dix, P.C. He earned his law degree from CU, became the deputy and chief deputy DA for Colorado Springs, and was elected DA of El Paso County in 1988. He served as executive director of the state Department of Corrections, then became U.S. attorney in 2001. He was appointed AG in 2005, and was reelected in a race against Boulder’s Fern O’Brien in 2006.

Garnett also earned his law degree from CU. He has spent 22 years in private practice as a trial lawyer with the Denver-based firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. He worked for the Denver DA’s office from 1981 to 1986, and served as treasurer and president of the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education before winning the 2008 election for DA.

Suthers could have been unopposed in this race, but Garnett decided to challenge him after Suthers joined a multistate lawsuit against the federal health care bill. Suthers claims that the federal government overstepped its authority relative to states’ rights. Meanwhile, Garnett has noted that many major steps in our nation’s history — including the Civil Rights Act — have been criticized or opposed on the basis of states’ rights before they gained acceptance.

Many people will base their vote on this issue, and in this case, we agree that Suthers took this legal action despite legitimate public opposition.

Both men are accomplished attorneys with the ability to manage large cases. Garnett helped settle a water dispute that delayed the Great Sand Dunes from becoming a national monument, and settled a $39 million embezzlement case.

Suthers settled a $35 million case regarding environmental damage at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal site, and wrapped up cases regarding Rocky Flats and the California Gulch Superfund site while in office. Both men are clearly capable of doing the job.

So once again we have a race between a Boulder County Democrat and an El Paso County Republican, and this race could boil down to ideology once again. We support Garnett partially because of Suthers’ health care decision, but also because he’s one of ours, and we believe he’s up to the challenge.


Melissa Hart

Simply put, this is the one regent race that is really up for grabs in the university’s political landscape, considering that the 4th District seat is likely to stay Republican and the 1st District seat is likely to stay Democratic with incumbent Michael Carrigan.

Sorry to say it, but Libertarian Jesse Wallace is probably not a major factor in this race, unless he pulls some votes away from Republican Steve Bosley.

We appreciate the fact that Bosley’s extensive experience and background in banking and finance may give him the upper hand in addressing the budget crises that CU is wading through. Given that background and the fact that he is the incumbent, he demonstrates thorough knowledge of what needs to be done to get the university out of this financial calamity alive.

But Melissa Hart is a brilliant mind. She clerked for the Supreme Court and graduated from Harvard Law School. She is a faculty member in the CU School of Law, meaning that she will bring some actual education experience and faculty values to the board, something that has been lacking for some time now.

Republicans have held the majority on the Board of Regents since 1980, and it’s time to put an end to the right-wing agendas that have silently plagued CU for years. It’s time for a changing of the guard.

Vote for Hart.


Angelika Schroeder

We’ve got an easy decision in this race. Vote Democrat Angelika Schroeder, the incumbent and a former member of the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education.

Schroeder’s opponent, Republican Kaye Ferry, has one problem — a lack of experience in education. Ferry’s platform calls for focus on commitment, engagement and accountability (educators everywhere are now saying, “Wow, never heard that before!”). But demanding accountability isn’t such a bad thing, until you consider this excerpt from her nomination acceptance speech in May 2010:

“So what will I do? I don’t have specifics yet, but starting next month I’ll be attending the State Board of Education meetings to try to get ahead of the curve.”

Schroeder’s already ahead of the curve, so why waste time waiting for Ferry?

Schroeder’s resume includes eight years on the BVSD board, serving as a parent representative to the Teacher and Special Services Professional Standards Board, and serving on the boards and executive committees of the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Alliance for Quality Teaching. She is presently a member of the Teacher Quality Commission, the liaison to the Colorado Association of School Boards and a board member of the Public Education and Business Coalition. Give her your vote.


Robert Bishop-Cotner

Given the demographics in this district, Sue Sharkey will likely win this race because of the “R” next to her name, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to convince you fine folks in Longmont to consider Robert Bishop-Cotner instead.

Both candidates are running on a platform of making CU more affordable.

But Bishop-Cotner, who goes by “BC,” is a high school teacher and, what’s more, he actually has a college degree. His opponent does not.

For some elected offices, it might not matter that someone lacks a college degree, but when that post involves governing a university, this is relevant. Also, given that the Board of Regents has been dominated by right-wingers for three decades, the last thing we need is another Republican complaining that CU faculty are too liberal or that there should be a department of Western civilization. Sharkey seems to think that people who go to college tend to get liberalized, and she’s out to change that.

Hmm. Instead of having another politically motivated conservative join the board, why not a high school teacher? The board already has a banker and a PR type, not to mention attorneys, so how about someone with some experience in K-12 education? We think BC would bring a valuable perspective to the board, given his work with the very population that CU is trying to attract.


Cindy Domenico

Cindy Domenico, the incumbent, lists among her goals providing open government, restoring funding for human services, supporting the recovery process for people affected by the Fourmile Canyon fire and preserving open land for wildlife habitat and recreation, as well as for farming and ranching to enhance local food production.

Eva Kosinski wants more openness in county government by making minutes and reports available promptly online and rescheduling meetings and webcasts to make it easier for working folks to watch them. She argues that the board should have five members instead of three, in part because it “sneaks under the radar of Sunshine laws.” She wants to protect property rights and believes that dictating home sizes is “just wrong.”

Kosinski also implies that the commissioners and city of Boulder government are in cahoots too often. She says “it’s time to take a closer look at the historically interwoven coordination of decisions between the county commissioners and the city of Boulder to create a fairer balance and ensure that the interests of all of the county’s residents are considered in every decision.”

Dick Murphy has a Ph.D. and a strong financial background, having served as deputy treasurer and chief investment officer for the state of Colorado in the 1970s, a general partner at Boettcher and Company in the 1980s and chief financial and operating officer of the Boulder Valley School District in the 1980s.

All seem like strong candidates, but Domenico has done an admirable job, and there is no compelling reason to

vote her out.


Hillary Hall

We certainly appreciate Republican Daniel Martin’s desire to increase efficiency and accountability in counting votes (not to mention his taste in music — he lists Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles among his favorites). But his call for no more mail-only elections and the elimination of serial numbers and barcodes on ballots seems a bit extreme. We are as cynical as the next guy when it comes to election fraud, given the way Shrub won his first election, but there has to be some way of tracking where the votes have gone, if for no other reason than to ensure against shenanigans.

While there have been some delays in Boulder County election tallies in the past decade, the administration of Hillary Hall has taken measures to correct the mishaps and has made vast improvements over previous votecounting operations.

“We have enhanced our testing and election preparation to address potential issues, and we are proud of our auditing and verification processes,” Hall says. “We have also implemented online vehicle registration, improved the auditing and canvassing of our elections, and improved our recording system. We are especially proud that we have executed all of these responsibilities under budget.”

Hardworking Hall has made enough improvements to be re-elected.


Incumbent Joe Pelle, a Democrat, is running unopposed, and we support him. Pelle takes a sincere and compassionate interest in the wellbeing of county residents, demonstrated every day in his actions and those of his staff. On top of that, he’s a badass. We’re glad to be able to keep him around.


So the surveyor is that dude who makes sure your property lines are correct and also maps out things like topography and buildings. Democrat Jason Emery, the incumbent, is running unopposed.


Robert Hullinghorst

Republican Marty Neilson wants to bring “a reflection of liberty and selfdetermination” to Boulder County government, which she says is “rife with tyranny of single-party rule.”

Ouch. We never knew oppression could go unchecked for so long without someone saying something.

Neilson’s goals seem noble enough:

ensuring riskaverse investments of taxpayer money to fulfill the county’s financial obligations, effective management of the treasurer’s office, great customer service. She also wants to implement other counties’ online tax lien sales programs to generate cost savings and a more user-friendly environment for buyers.

But Robert Hullinghorst, the incumbent, has a strong track record that includes creating a lean government training program called “SLIM.” Hullinghorst says his office is now serving 50 percent more taxing authorities, has a higher tax collection rate and is collecting more taxes, all without an increase in staff.

Also among his accomplishments he lists various pieces of legislation his office has initiated to benefit seniors, members of the Colorado National Guard and Army Reserve, churches, nonprofits, small businesses and local governments.

Then there is the customer service program his staff created. “To add fun like the famous Seattle Fish Company, but without throwing fish, we start Fridays with a dance,” he says.

We’re going with Hullinghorst, despite the tyranny.


Jerry Roberts

Incumbent Jerry Roberts, a Democrat, has more than 30 years of experience in the field and is a licensed appraiser. He says his opponent does not have experience in appraisal or real estate.

“I don’t think the voters of Boulder County would consider voting for a sheriff without law enforcement experience, or a coroner without forensic experience, or the county surveyor without a surveying license,” he says.

Roberts also points out that his office has won three distinguished assessment jurisdiction awards from the International Association of Assessing Officers, which he says “is more of these awards than any jurisdiction in the world.”

Republican challenger Joel Champion describes himself as a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a retired small business owner and corporate executive. He says he has more than 40 years of experience as “a practicing leader and manager.” Champion holds a Ph.D. in management and organization theory and has taught at the university level.

While Roberts deservedly caught some heat after his office drastically underestimated the value of the home of Boulder City Council member Macon Cowles, he is clearly more qualified than his opponent.


Daniel Pruett

Tom Faure is out, so either way we’re getting some new blood into the coroner’s office, so to speak. And that’s a good thing. It took Faure weeks to perform autopsies.

Both candidates are unaffiliated.

Emma Hall has training and experience as a crime scene investigator, evidence analyst, autopsy technician and death investigator. But since she has only worked in this field intermittently since 2005, she has a fraction of the experience possessed by her opponent. Daniel Pruett has 20 years of full-time experience as a medicolegal death investigator in Boulder and Jefferson counties. He is currently chief deputy coroner of Jefferson County. He also has eight years of experience as a paramedic prior to his coroner experience.

While Pruett’s statement to Boulder Weekly that he “can keep the same quality of death investigation going in Boulder, if not better” is not exactly inspiring, his experience trumps that of Hall, whose claim to fame seems to be that her family has lived in the county for more than 130 years and owned Hall Ranch in Lyons, where she grew up.

BOULDER COUNTY ISSUE 1A Funding for human services


Ballot Issue 1A asks voters to approve a $5.4 million annual property tax increase of 0.9 mills for five years to backfill deficiencies in state funding for county human services programs.

In short, the county has found a way to stop the decay of its child and family safety net after the state stopped paying its share. Without 1A, human services programs for the most needy among us will be in even worse shape than they already are.

The language of 1A is clear that if the state ever recovers from this budget crisis and gets its you-know-what together, the county will lower the tax and let the state restore funding.

For now, though, the state isn’t going to come to the rescue of battered women, hungry children or anyone else with an immediate, emergency need, so it would be negligent of the county to leave them in the lurch. Everyone knows this isn’t the best time for a tax increase. But it’s also not a good time to be in need of emergency help. Suck it up, and vote for this relatively small tax increase to make sure no member of our community is left behind in these difficult times. Vote YES.


1B Funding for open space


This tax increase — equal to a penny and a half on every $10 purchase over the next 20 years — will be used to purchase the last large open space sites on the county’s 30-year wish list. These areas of land are around the Heil, Hall and Caribou ranches and contain major wildlife habitat, stream corridors and trail connections crucial to the county open space plan.

It’s tough to ask citizens to fund open space purchases during a recession, but this may well be the only time these key properties — family-owned ranches — will be available to the county as open space. The families who own the lands need to sell them now, and if the county doesn’t purchase them, developers will.

Voters have two choices: approve the tax and complete the plan that county leaders established more than 30 years ago when they established the open space program, or scrap the plan and allow developers to have their way with once-pristine forests and meadows.

Personally, we’d rather be able to hike from Boulder to Lyons in a beautiful natural setting than watch wealthy developers tear it apart for nothing more than their own profit. We’re voting in favor of this one. Vote YES.


Increase in public accommodation tax


City of Boulder Ballot Issue 2A would increase the accommodations tax from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent “to fund improvements and services to the residents and visitors of the city and to promote increased tourism in Boulder.” Up to 20 percent of the revenues produced from this tax would go to the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau and be specifically earmarked for promoting tourism and pimping Boulder to the rest of the world. The other 80 percent would go into the city’s coffers to cover budget gaps. The increase in revenue would raise up to $1 million each year and would never expire. The Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board supports the measure, as does the Boulder Hotel and Motel Association as a whole. While some hoteliers fear the increase in room rates could discourage visitors, others, including a majority of BHMA members, say more money is needed to promote tourism and are in favor of the issue.

We suggest voting in favor of Ballot Issue 2A because, quite frankly, the city could use the money, and an extra 2 percent — which would mean an extra two dollars for every hundred spent on a hotel stay — is a pretty small premium to pay for staying in one of the greatest cities in the nation. Plus, it’s not costing us residents anything. Vote YES on Issue 2A.


Five-year utility occupation tax to replace lost franchise fee revenue


Ballot Issue 2B is a bit tricky to explain, but easy to vote for. When energy provider Xcel was under a franchise agreement with the city of Boulder, Xcel paid a franchise fee of about $4 million each year to use our roads and rights-of-way. Like any good corporation, they passed that cost directly onto consumers in order to protect their bottom line, and Boulder residents have paid this fee for years as part of their monthly energy bill. A bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul, but apparently it got the job done.

When the City Council decided to axe the franchise agreement with Xcel, the franchise fee went out with the bath water. The $4 million-a-year bath water, that is. To make up the lost revenue that Xcel was paying by way of residents’ wallets, the city wants to put a new tax in its place — a replacement tax, you might call it. If Ballot Issue 2B passes, the city will tax the public utility company serving Boulder (for the meantime, that’s still Xcel). And like the franchise fee, this new tax would be passed on to consumers. That means you’d be paying the same amount of money each month, just with a different name. Chances are, you didn’t even notice you were paying it in the first place, but the city sure did. Losing that much money would hurt nearly every city department, including police, fire, public works and parks and recreation.

The ballot issue also includes language instructing the city to develop a plan for increasing Boulder’s renewable energy use. Not only would the replacement tax keep Boulder from going broke, supporters say, it would get us started down a path of truly sustainable energy. Vote YES on 2B.


City of Boulder height limit exception for renewable energy improvements


What do spires, belfries, cupolas, chimneys and silos have in common? They are all on a list of exceptions to Boulder’s 55-foot building height limit.

Ballot Question 2C asks whether rooftop renewable energy improvements, like solar panels, should be on that list, too. Allowing renewable energy “appurtenances,” as they’re called, to exceed the 55-foot limit means more homes and businesses could take advantage of the 300 days of sunshine and reduce their carbon footprint. Sounds good to us.

And while these structures would be exempted from the 55-foot limit, that doesn’t mean we’d suddenly have gigantic, unattractive solar panels and turbines obstructing Boulder’s beautiful vistas. There are still requirements that any additions be no larger than absolutely necessary and as unobtrusive as possible.

“In most cases these solar panels aren’t going to be all that visible anyway because of the angle they have to be at,” says Karl Guiler, a planner with the city’s land use review department.

Vote YES on Ballot Question 2C.



City of Louisville Ballot Issue 2D asks voters to approve a 3.5 percent use tax to replace the city’s current 3.375 percent use tax. The increase would allow the city to collect an additional $1.5 million annually. The extra funds will be used for open space, historic preservation and other uses to be determined by the Louisville City Council.

Louisville has been named the best place to live in the country by Money Magazine and the book Best Places to Raise Your Family, but it won’t make any lists in coming years if something doesn’t change. Low revenues have forced the city to cut some services and abandon altogether its 2010 fireworks display, a genuine small-town tradition. This relatively small tax increase will help restore some of Louisville’s charm without digging too deeply into residents’ pockets. Vote YES on Louisville Ballot Issue 2D.


Publication of ordinances


To save money, the Town of Jamestown is proposing a ballot question that would allow the city to publish proposed ordinances by title only, instead of printing them in full in a newspaper, as they are required to do now.

While the Town of Jamestown is to be commended for seeking cheaper solutions to some of its duties, the publishing of ordinances is too important a part of the democratic process to abandon. We certainly understand that municipal budgets are tight, if not shrinking, in this economy, and we can sympathize with the desire to save money.

But by publishing the titles only, the city would force residents to do further research to understand an ordinance. The law was put in place originally to give residents easy access to the public business of its town council, and hindering that process in any way would come at the expense of the liberty of the people of Jamestown. We’re sympathetic to the need for Jamestown to save revenue, but the public’s business — especially a city’s ordinances — need to be available to the public in their entirety. Vote NO on Town of Jamestown Ballot Question 2E.


Prohibition of medical marijuana operations


Jamestown Ballot Question 2F would prohibit the operation of medical marijuana centers, cultivation operations and facilities for which a medial marijuana-infused products manufacturer’s license is required.

With more and more municipalities approving the use of medical marijuana, it stands to reason that there will have to be places where the stuff is grown, manufactured and distributed. Putting up barriers to such inevitability is pointless, as the residents of Jamestown doubtless already know.

Medical marijuana is a valid way for those who suffer from chronic health conditions to seek relief. It’s also a form of grassroots health care reform because marijuana isn’t controlled by Big Pharma, hospitals or the insurance companies. We need to support, not inhibit, the growth of this alternative health industry.

Vote NO on Jamestown Ballot Question 2F.


Boulder Valley School District mill levy override


Yeah, paying taxes kind of blows, but so does a crippled education system. And considering all the cuts coming down the pipeline from the state, our schools are going to need a serious crutch. The Boulder Valley School District mill levy override, Ballot Issue 3A, would increase property tax revenue by a total of $22.5 million in 2010, for collection in 2011.

BVSD has already cut $11.7 million from its 2010-11 budget, and while some of those cuts were restored by federal emergency funds, that’s only a short-term solution. Ballot Issue 3A would increase 2011 residential property taxes about $130 on a $350,000 home, or a little more than 35 cents a day. The money would go toward early childhood education, teacher and staff compensation and keeping class sizes down.

Supporters of the measure warn that without 3A, programs and services will have to be cut and class sizes will increase. Education really is the most important gift we can give our children and the best way to invest in our future. Vote YES on Ballot Issue 3A.


Jeanne Nicholson

Tim Leonard, who acknowledges that he has never been elected to office, touts the typical Republican company line: decreasing taxes, lifting burdens on the free market, reducing regulations, fewer bureaucrats in the government wasting our money.

This wouldn’t be such a bad idea if Colorado had a bloated state budget, but the opposite is true.

And unfortunately, when it comes to undocumented immigrants, he sounds like Tom Tancredo.

“Illegal immigrants should not be given the economic incentives to come or stay in Colorado based upon taxpayer-paid free benefits,” he says. “Free social welfare only attracts free-loaders. In addition, Colorado needs an Arizona-type law making it illegal to reside in our state illegally.”

Jeanne Nicholson seems to be more in tune with reality and mainstream values. She has a good handle on a variety of issues, from water and transportation to education and renewable energy. Nicholson believes Colorado should have one nonprofit health care system that treats everyone equally. She believes that reproductive health decisions should be made by the individual and not the government. And she believes that homosexuals should have the same rights as everybody else.

Plus, she thinks marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed.

Amen, sister. Vote Nicholson.


Democrat Dickey

Lee Hullinghorst, the incumbent, is running unopposed. Plus, she has a cool name.


Deb Gardner

Democrat Deb Gardner and Republican Wes Whiteley agree on at least one thing: that improving the state’s economy and creating new jobs are the highest priorities for Colorado’s Legislature. They just disagree on how to get the job done.

Gardner talks about investing in education, because it results in the development of new technologies and new business.

Whiteley says cutting taxes and reigning in spending will jump-start Colorado’s job market.

Um, last we checked, the state budget has been slashed by millions over the past couple years, and any fat that existed before has been trimmed, along with a fair amount of muscle and bone. There’s simply nothing left to cut.

We happen to agree that investing money — not that there is any — in education will ignite the economic recovery more than additional state budget cuts.

We prefer Gardner in this budget environment, because anyone who says we need to cut taxes further in a lowtax state like Colorado should have his or her head examined, especially considering what TABOR and Amendment 23 have done to strangle the public coffers in the past decade. Vote for Gardner.


Matt Jones

This race actually gave us pause.

Matt Jones has the experience, having served in the Legislature before, but he was accused of engaging in a type of negative campaigning known as a “push poll” earlier this year against his opponent in the Democratic primary, Jake Williams.

Jeffrey Ilseman, to his credit, con centrates on solutions to economic recovery in his talking points, instead of veering into some of the more controversial stances taken by many of his Republican colleagues, but he implies that taxes need to be cut further in a state that is in a financial straitjacket.

Bo Shaffer is not as extreme as some of the other Libertarian candidates and rightly points out that Jones has already had his chance to change politics as usual in the Legislature, and that Ilseman has no experience in the political arena. But he accuses Democrats of almost bankrupting us with taxes “to pay for socialist programs,” which is a bit out there.

It was a tough call, but we’ve got a slight lean toward Jones. He has pioneered energy conservation legislation, beaten cancer twice, prioritized funding for education, and he serves as a wildland firefighter.


Claire Levy

Republican Robert Houdeshell says voters can let an “out of control state government tax more, regulate more and kill more jobs, or they can vote for relief.”

This state government, if anything, is out of control only in the sense that it can’t afford to cover basic expenses any longer. To imply that the state government is taxing more in an environment in which massive budget cuts have been and are being made to essential public services is ludicrous.

“We cannot ignore the facts and pretend that Colorado can provide the services its residents need while cutting taxes at the same time,” says Democrat Claire Levy. “The families in House District 13 want excellent schools. They want public safety. They want a functioning transportation system. They want the state to police the big insurance companies, banks and mortgage lenders that have grown rich while others suffered. The legislature has made responsible and balanced decisions under extremely difficult circumstances. Colorado continues to rank among the top five business-friendly states.”

Levy helped sponsor legislation expanding the use of alternative energy with “solar gardens,” not to mention the Boulder Weekly-inspired law regulating the shackling of female inmates in labor.

We will be voting for Levy.

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