Bad Budget News: Republicans Got Rolled. When Do They Act Like They Have a Majority?

House Republicans got rolled in the last round of budget negotiations, passing a spending plan that looks more like a holdover of Obama priorities than a blueprint for conservative reform. Funding for Planned Parenthood? Check. Money for Obamacare? Check. Dollars still safe for sanctuary cities? Check. Money to build a security fence on the southern border? Nope.

When do Republicans begin to act like they control the House, the Senate, and the White House? They always say they are one election away from being able to do big things, slow the rising tides of government, heal our over-governed nation.

What are they going to ask for to be able to act now? Conservative governments in Australia, Canada, France, and reform in the United Nations?


Spring Snow Hits Denver. Warming Alarmists Hardest Hit…Literally.

The weekend is in the history books, but we’ll always have the memories. Like when the climate action marchers protesting the new administration and Americans’ stubborn refusal to carbon tax ourselves back to the stone age got hit by a Spring snowblast. Now, every adult with an IQ higher than his or her age knows that a weather event does not equal climate. But climatistas and some celebrities and politicians haven’t gotten the memo. They are so tediously predictable and wrong in jumping to blame every tornado, hurricane, forest fire, dry spell, hot spell, or flood on “climate change.”  Life must have been a paradise before indoor heating and the internal combustion engine.

Warm earthers making their point.
Photo credit: KUSA

So, when they take to the streets to protest how modern civilization is torching the planet, only to get a cold wet dumping two days before May, well, it’s hard not to have one’s heart warmed a little by the schnowdenfreude.

Coors Field the day warming passed the critical point.
Photo: Colorado Rockies.

High Court Slaps Greedy Colorado Policy—Of Course Exonerated Defendants Should Get Their Money Back

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a firm rebuke to Colorado on Wednesday, ruling 7-1 that defendants who are convicted of crimes but later exonerated on appeal are entitled to automatic refunds of cost and fines they had been charged. A state law had required defendants who won reversals of their convictions to bring a separate civil lawsuit to prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence in order to be refunded fines and costs.
The court quickly dispatched the Alice in Wonderland logic of making an acquitted defendant sue the government. “Colorado may not retain funds taken from Nelson and Madden solely because of their now-invalidated convictions” Justice Ginsburg wrote for the majority. “[F]or Colorado may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, nonetheless guilty enough for monetary exactions.” Justice Thomas dissented, arguing that though perhaps unfair, there was no automatic Constitutional right to a refund. Justice Gorsuch did not participate in the opinion because the case was argued before he joined the court.
Colorado appears to have been the only state that imposed such a requirement. The decision turns out to be mostly academic, because state lawmakers this session had passed, and Governor Hickenlooper had signed a bill to provide automatic refunds to exonerated defendants.It does not take effect until September, however, so until the court’s ruling on Wednesday, defendants could have fallen in a gap.
The case raises several questions. How could lawmakers have adopted such an unreasonable policy in the first place? Why did the state defend it and fight it all the way to the Supreme Court, only to back down and reverse course even before the Court ruled. And perhaps most interestingly, if the court take seriously its articulated rationale, it would have to call into question the practice of civil forfeiture, where law enforcement seizes money or property based on suspicion it is related to criminal activity. That action too creates a scenario in which a person is not convicted or usually even charged with a crime, yet suffers “monetary exactions.”
Reform minded defense attorneys should look be looking for the right case to make the argument.

The Questionable Mobility As A Service Study

This past Tuesday, April 11th, the Regional Transportation District voted to move forward with the Mobility Choice Study, which is Mobility as a Service, i.e. self-driving cars. It was a close vote, 8-6 with one board member absent

The concept appears to have been first pitched on December 16, 2015 at the Metro Mayors Caucus.

The presentation in December 2016 asserts that the Denver Metro Chamber will “Identify options for connected mobility and choice, such as transit, personal vehicles, for-profit mobility services, car sharing, ridesharing, bicycling and walking. This strategic direction will move the region from dominance of person vehicles to Mobility as a Service (MaaS).”

Furthermore the presentation asserts the nonprofit will “Develop strategies to implement more cost effective solutions for first and last mile access to existing transit.”

Of course the kicker at the end: “Hand off implementation of the strategies to existing or new agencies.”

I hope you are as thrilled as I am that the Denver Metro area is looking to add more government agencies dealing with transportation and taking upon itself to decide what mode of transportation I should use. That government ambition alone should be concerning but there is much more to this. Read on, it gets worse. Much worse.

You might just be asking yourself, what is this?  According to CEF Notes Mobility Choice Initiative this study will “Maximize existing investments in the metro Denver transportation system by leveraging technology to meet future workforce mobility needs, resulting in enhanced economic opportunity and quality of life.”

I know, more words that do not really tell you what they are intending to do.  That is part of the problem with this ‘study’ as a whole – what is it they intend to do with your taxpayer dollars?

Upon further questioning by RTD board members, it was revealed:

·       There would be 4 “partners” – CDOT, RTD, DRCOG and the Mobility Choice Board.

·       The Mobility Choice Board (MCB) would be comprised of 15 members, the majority being Denver or Boulder business interests.

·       Each partner would contribute $400K.

·       MCB would pay overhead costs, including the Executive Director who would be paid $10,000.00/month.

·       The “public” agencies’ (CDOT, RTD & DRCOG) money would be used only for the cost of the report.

·       The resulting report could recommend changes to transportation policy, funding, placement and pricing of public transportation in the designated area.

·       The results would not binding on any of the agencies.

·       The stated purpose of the report/study is to determine transportation options for the region.  However, when it was pointed out that there were no representatives from the (1) taxpayer, (2) personal vehicle, (3) disabled, (4) senior, (5) low income, (6) suburban populations, it was suggested that the participating public agencies were knowledgeable and could represent those sectors of the public.

·       The MCB would have control over how the report was implemented.

This matter becomes even more interesting because this same issue has now been studied multiple times by multiple government agencies. Why would they want to do yet another study and in a manner whereby the tax payers fund the study but the actual study is controlled by a consortium of private companies – all of whom may have a financial interest in the outcome of the study? Is the answer to this because the previous studies did not reach the conclusion these private companies desired the studies to reach in order for these companies to enhance their profits? Is this whole matter nothing more than a framework for crony capitalism?

It is difficult to determine why the Regional Transportation District and the Denver Regional Council of Governments would allocate the taxpayers money to restudy a matter which has already been studied – with the only change being that taxpayers are footing the bill this time for a study conducted by private companies – all of whom are perfectly capable of investing their own money to conduct a study. There are indications of there being something shady here.

Why would these government agencies even have an interest in this? Perhaps because it has been suggested that the outcome of the study would recommend that Mobility as a Service, i.e. self-driving cars, should be a Public Utility. Yes, you read that right. The concept here is that an RTD-like government agency would at some point in the future control all transportation. One might reasonably presume private corporations acquiring the lucrative contracts required for government to exercise that control is apparently in their blood.

The evidence one might look for to suggest that this is not crony capitalism simply is not present. For example the study that the RTD board voted to pay for with your money has no charter, no plan and no criteria for success. What is more there have been suggestions that this study will be the basis for a 2018 ballot initiative. Ballot initiatives exist in order that we the people may remind the government who is in charge. That government may effectively use our tax dollars against the will of the people by promoting their own ballot initiatives is kind of despicable.

Here was the vote tally on this study from the April 11th RTD meeting:

Lorraine Anderson
Jeff Walker
Chairman Larry Hoy
Doug Tisdale
Bob Broom
Kate Williams
Paul Solano
Chuck Sisk

Judy Lubow
Ken Mihalik
Tina Francone
Claudia Folska
Barbara Deadwyler
Natalie Menten

Ernie Archuleta

Please take the time to thank those who voted no.

There will be another RTD meeting at which this topic will be discussed on Tuesday, April 18th at 5:30 PM. The meeting will take place at the RTD Building at 1600 Blake Street in downtown Denver. You may voice your opinion on this matter at that meeting and I suggest you go and do so.