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Should Another Bush Be Put in Charge of Colorado’s Budget?

4:51 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

Colorado has a decision to make this year for the State Treasurer’s race.

Do we stay with the current Treasurer, Cary Kennedy,

OR

do we elect political newcomer Walker Stapleton?

Let’s take a look at the two candidates.

Cary Kennedy has a track record of helping the State of Colorado navigate Colorado through the difficult budget crises and working with across the aisle to solve problems with our budget.

She helped author parts of Referendum C in 2005 – which was supported by Republican Governor Bill Owens as a way to keep the state budget solvent.

Since becoming Treasurer in 2007, she has made the sound investments that have kept Colorado’s Budget growing at a moderate 3% annually, at a time when other states are defaulting on their loans.

What kind of leadership does Walker Stapleton have to offer?

Walker Stapleton’s political activity in Colorado is limited to hosting a website that whose sole purpose was to oppose Senate Bill 228 – a Bi-partisan bill that would overturn the 1991 legislative bill known as Arveschoug-Bird that limited the State’s General Fund from growing over 6% each year.

Arveschoug-Bird sounded reasonable in the 1990s when the economy appeared destined never again to hit a huge recession.

But a perfect storm has occurred since then.

George Bush started deficit spending on 2 overseas Wars while cutting taxes. Then, the Housing Market collapsed, sending our Federal Government and economy into a recession in 2007 and 2008.

The federal budget, which is running on empty, passed the hat on Federally funded programs to the local State budgets, causing a ripple effect on States’ budgets. Nearly every state in the Union is having a budget crisis from this Federal deficit spending.

In Colorado, moderate Republican leaders like Colorado’s Don Marostica joined with Democrats and took a stand for Colorado in helping pass Senate Bill 228.

Other States have copied the successful budget fix of Senate Bill 228.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger enacted a similar bill to avoid having to make more extreme Budget Cuts.

Walker Stapleton’s express opposition to Senate Bill 228 shows that he is out of touch with the reality that other sensible moderate Republicans and Democrats around the country have acknowledged – you can’t continually cut spending and have a working budget that serves the needs of the State.

Walker Stapleton says on his own website:

Colorado cannot afford to become the next California, with skyrocketing taxes that hurt our state’s economy and our quality of life. The time is now to make a stand.

I could not agree more. We should be keeping sensible and proven leaders like Cary Kennedy in charge of our budget and in office as our Treasurer.

This week, Cary Kennedy’s campaign is calling for a "Bust the Bonus" fundraising pledge for her campaign. It is based on the fact that Walker Stapleton gave himself $500,000 from his inherited business in bonuses to fund his campaign.

It is hypocritical for Walker Stapleton to withdraw $500,000 from the family business’ ATM and then call to oppose budget reforms that will help average Colorado citizens who are really hurting in this economy.

Did I mention that Walker Stapleton is George Bush’s cousin?

Perhaps Walker Stapleton thinks the way the economy was handled under George Bush was just fine, and the recession we have now is no big deal.

Maybe this economy does not seem so bad to Walker Stapleton because he is part of those richest 2% who don’t see how the budget is actually used to keep schools open, roads paved and services for the elderly, the children and those in poverty.

Colorado can’t afford to go back to the George Bush/Walker Stapleton way of leadership.

Support a Treasurer with a proven investment track record

- Cary Kennedy for re-election.

(October 6th through October 10th is the ‘Bust the Bonus’ fundraiser for Cary Kennedy – please contribute to her here.)

Breaking:CO-Sen Michael Bennet bank swap cover up by Tom Boasberg

5:32 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

The bank swap investigation story just took an interesting turn for Michael Bennet and his protege Tom Boasberg. School Board members have repeatedly asked for an audit of the Bank Swap between Denver Public Schools and JP Morgan.
Tom Boasberg and the Bennet campaign have attack these board members as asking for an audit due to political motivations caused by the Primary.
Thanks to an email record provided by a School Board member,
this can be proven to be factually wrong.
The evidence points to a concerted effort to cover up details about the swap that was reported in last Friday’s New York Times investigation .
The New York Times discovered that
Denver Public Schools has lost 25 million dollars from Michael Bennet’s investment swap and will have to pay 81 million in termination fees to get out of the swap.

You can listen to an interview about this on Mario Solis-Marich’ show.

School board members had been asking for a transparent accounting of the DPS banking derivative for years. Despite these requests, the Superintendent has delayed or declined the request.
However, when 3 members started calling publicly for an audit, Superintendent Boasberg attacked them and School Board President Theresa Pena (and Bennet campaign Treasurer) silenced them in meetings through procedural motions. Boasberg and the Bennet campaign stated that these board members’ requests were not about finances, but were politically motivated to hurt Senator Bennet’s chance in the primary.
From March 10, 2010:

"This attack is a regrettable action by a few disgruntled board members who are seeking to create a political controversy where no controversy exists," said Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

One of these school board members, Jeanne Kaplan, provided me her emails proving that this is not true – since she was asking questions about the bank swap and reports of financial losses long before there was a primary – even before Senator Bennet was in the Senate.

Ms. Kaplan began asking questions about the finances in June of 2008 which can be proven
by this list of emails.
That date is important because Michael Bennet was not appointed Senator until January 2009 – in fact, at that time, no one could have known he would be – since Barack Obama had not yet been elected and Ken Salazar had not been chosen for Secretary of the Interior.

As the emails show,
Ms. Kaplan tried repeatedly to get Tom Boasberg to explain the transaction to her and the board and explain if it was true that they were losing money only to be rebuffed and dismissed.

In the chain of Emails, examine #5 and #6 out of a total 9 emails.

#5

From: (Jeannie Kaplan)
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 11:11 AM
To: Boasberg, Tom; Pena, Theresa’s External;
Cc: Bennet, Michael
Subject: Re: DPSRS-PERA merger memo

Tom – I can’t open the attachment, but is it still relevant? What is happening=2 0with the merger, since the papers indicates it is off? Also, can we get an update on our bond situation, please? Have we lost a lot of money? If so, how much? Are there ways to stop the bleeding? When will programs/salaries/ etc. be affected?

Thanks.

Jeannie

#6 (response)

—–Original Message—–
From: Boasberg, Tom
To: Jeannie Kaplan-
Cc: Pena, Theresa’s Bennet, Michael
Sent: Thu, 4 Dec 2008 12:04 pm
Subject: RE: DPSRS-PERA merger memo

Thanks. think the attachment is of limited relevance at this point.
I think that we are going to try to spend some time at our board meeting this month talking about all these topics so we will have a chance to discuss in some detail .

Thanks.

Best,
Tom

Recently, the requests made by Kaplan and the other 2 board members were met with emails like this one.

I’m extremely disappointed that our Board has not been discussing relevant issues…. I will become much more public with my displeasure if you keep this up.

Theresa

The first thing is that this shows Ms. Kaplan is becoming alarmed at the reports of staggering losses incurred by DPS’s Bank Swap investment long before Bennet has a primary.

Secondly, notice the date of the email – December 3, 2008. Ken Salazar is still the Senator, and he was not picked by the Obama administration until Dec. 17, 2008.

Third, and perhaps most importantly to those outside of Colorado Politics, no one, absolutely no one, imagined at that time that the Governor would pick Michael Bennet, an unelected and mostly unknown DPS Superintendent for Senate. See here "What the Hell!?!"

These emails prove that it is not the 3 board members who are politically motivated, but that it is Michael Bennet, DPS school board President Theresa Pena, and current Superintendent Tom Boasberg – they are the ones who have political motivations to prevent an audit.
There may not be anything illegal about the Bank Swap, but as everyone knows in politics, a cover up of information always gives the appearance that something is wrong or unethical.

Either way, Mr. Boasberg and the Bennet campaign have disparaged the character of 3 of School Board members simply for wanting transparency.
Their decision to support Bennet’s primary challenger, at least for one of those school Board members, is directly in response to Boasberg’s and Bennet’s refusal to open the books on the bank swap.

And this other new detail makes it seem like that is the case:

The second contention made by Boasberg is that a savings of $20 million has been realized by the district on the deal. David Suppes, DPS’ Chief Operating Officer, provided a spreadsheet to the School Board on April 14 on this year. It is the most thorough accounting of DPS’ costs for the transactions to date. No combination of totals from that spreadsheet can be figured to produce the savings that Boasberg touts. What is known is, in its last, audited annual financial report, DPS states that $24.9 million has been lost on the deal.

(hattip to Guerin Lee Green and Christopher Scott)

Now, Chair of the State Budget committee (Democrat Representative Mark Ferrandino) has now called for a bi-partisan audit by both the Colorado State House and Senate of this investment. (see here)
"CO-SEN: Bennet Faces Bipartisan Probe Over Wall Street Deal From Dem-Led CO Legislature"
Listen here to Progressive Talk show host Mario Solis-Marich’s interview of Rep. Ferrandino about the investigation.

The real question about all this – the Bank Swap, the cover up by Boasberg, the accusations against the 3 School Board members, the email list and timeline, and the conflict of interest between Bennet, Boasberg and Pena – all of these are secondary to one question.
With an audit looming, if Michael Bennet wins the primary – how will stand a chance in the General?

Breaking:”bipartisan investigation” for CO-Sen Michael Bennet’s Derivative Swap

8:30 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

This Friday’s New York Times investigation:
"Payback Time: Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt"
casts a laser focus on Michael Bennet’s investment into a ‘risky’ derivative swap by as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools.
Pasts attempts by the Bennet campaign to deflect questions about this investigation are now laid bare and there are guilty parties involved.
Now, Colorado Democratic Representative Mark Ferrandino, Chair of the State Budget committee is calling for a bi-partisan audit by both the Colorado State House and Senate of this investment that has already cost Denver Public Schools 25 million dollars and counting.
Listen here on local Progressive Talk show host Mario Solis-Marich’s Friday show at about 1/3rd through the podcast.

Representative Ferrandino is exactly the person to call for this investigation. In addition to his position on the Joint Budget Committee, he has served as a budget analyst for the Clinton and Bush Administrations – specifically working on the interest rate for the National Debt.

Rep. Ferrandino:

We are going to ask members of both parties and both chambers to do an audit of the investment because this has bigger implications than just DPS (Denver Public Schools), because of the recent merger of DPS and PERA (Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association, because if (the investment) was done wrong, this could have an impact not just on Denver, not just the kids in Denver, but the State as a whole.

One possible solution Rep. Ferrandino suggests is that Superintendent Boasberg should negotiate with JP Morgan to forgive the 81 million penalty fee for withdrawing from the investment – although that seems somewhat unlikely to happen.

There has been a concerted effort by current Superintendent, and lifelong friend of Michael Bennet, Tom Boasberg and the School Board President, Theresa Pena (and Bennet campaign treasurer) to avoid talk about this risky investment and discredit anyone who brings up auditing the investment – including the 3 out of 7 School board members who have been calling for an investigation.
But, the campaign can no longer deny these people’s claims now that it is being covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and Markos of Daily Kos.

This "exotic deal", akin to a variable interest rate mortgage, has now cost the Denver school system $25 million more than originally planned, and getting out of the deal would cost the district another $81 million in termination fees.

But no one could’ve predicted! (That’s really Bennet’s defense.)

With an ongoing bi-partisan audit of this swap looming ahead, the Republican General Election candidate will have a hammer to wield against Michael Bennet. (the leading candidate being Ken Buck – who does not believe in abortion even in the case of incest and rape)

Ken Buck as Senator will be a disaster for Colorado.
Even worse, Colorado is one of the swing states that could decide the balance of power in the Senate. And the Republicans will most certainly take advantage of this issue and defeat Michael Bennet in the General.
For the sake of holding on this seat for Democratic party,
Democrats must call on Michael Bennet to step down from the primary.
Supporting Andrew Romanoff is not just about liking or disliking a candidate, it’s about the Democrats best chance to retain this Senate Seat.

Visit here for the complete story on the current Superintendent Tom Boasberg’s stonewalling of the investigation, conflicts of interests, paybacks from JP Morgan to Bennet’s campaign, and the collective effort of the Denver Post and Political Blog Colorado Pols to cover up this story.

Your chance to replace a Conservadem in the Senate. Moneybomb for Andrew Romanoff

2:19 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a Senate primary in Colorado – pitting a Conservadem – Michael Bennet vs a people powered candidate, Andrew Romanoff – who has taken the Obama pledge to take no PAC money.
(Conservadem is not my label, Rachel Maddow gave Senator Bennet that name for joining Evan Bayh’s coalition of conservative democrats)
Despite millions of corporate dollars being spent by Michael Bennet, Andrew Romanoff has taken the lead in polls with the Primary on August 10th.
Pundits have written that Romanoff’s win will send a message throughout politics, that we the grassroots voters, can reverse the Corporate Stranglehold on Congress .
First, let me say this, I have been a volunteer for Andrew Romanoff in this campaign, but that’s not all. I worked in Colorado on Democratic Campaigns in 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008. With the exception of 2000, when Andrew Romanoff was running for his first election (therefore campaigning himself) Andrew Romanoff was with us, the Democratic activists on every election, knocking on doors, making phone calls, and growing the party. I don’t have anything against Senator Bennet personally, but prior to being appointed, no one in the Colorado Democratic party had ever heard of him or seen him doing anything for Democrats. That being said, let’s get on to the facts.

Here are 10 Reasons to Support Andrew Romanoff:

Some people have said there is no difference between the two candidates.
Even if that were true, which it isn’t, letting an incumbent who worked against progressive values without a primary challenge sends a message to other Senators that we, the democratic base can be ignored.
What has Senator Bennet’s done that was not progressive?
#1 Senator Bennet joined with Republicans to vote against the Sanders amendment which would have closed a 35 billion tax loophole for Big Oil and invested the money in clean energy investments – something President Obama supported.
#2 Senator Bennet has written letters in support of tax subsidies for natural gas at a time when people of Colorado have flammable tap water from unsafe natural gas drilling practices.
#3 Senator Bennet has sought exemptions for dirty fossil fuels in any Climate Change legislation.
#4 Senator Bennet voted to stop Senator Dodd’s legislation to create a regulatory agency to protect consumers from predatory practices on Wall Street.
#5 Senator Bennet voted against the bill to Break up the Big Banks that were too big to fail, allowing these banks to continue controlling how home mortgages are valued.
#6 Senator Bennet was one of the few Democratic Senators to join with the GOP to oppose Cramdown which would have helped Colorado families renegotiate their mortgages and prevent foreclosures.

Other people have said that Andrew Romanoff, if elected, will be no different in the Senate and is no more Progressive than Senator Bennet.

That’s simply not true.
Andrew Romanoff is more progressive on at least 4 very important issues,
#1 Renewable Energy and the Environment

Andrew Romanoff has proposed some of the most progressive proposals on the Environment as well.
On June 10th he announced his proposal for 50% Renewable Energy in the United States by 2030.

"We have focused most of our attention on cleaning up the spill and holding British Petroleum responsible…
To that end, we should also seize the moment to revolutionize our energy policy… Today, I am proposing that we set a national renewable energy standard. I propose a national renewable standard of 50 percent by 2030."

and
#2 LGBT rights
From the Romanoff Campaign’s LGBT Outreach director:

Andrew Romanoff vs. Michael Bennet on LGBT issues and legislation:
Andrew Romanoff Supports full, federal marriage equality
But Michael Bennet Believes it’s a states’ rights issue
Andrew Romanoff Would co-sponsor Military Readiness Enhancement Act (would effectively repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell")
But Michael Bennet has not co-sponsored the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

#3 Andrew Romanoff fully supports Net Neutrality even writing on article fighting for it, and will join Senator Franken in introducing legislation.
Senator Bennet has not stated a position.

#4 Employee Free Choice

Andrew Romanoff has stated support for Employee Free Choice and will vote for it when it is brought to the floor of the Senate.
Michael Bennet won’t answer what his position is on it.

From fellow Progressive Darcy Burner on Bennet unwillingness to "make a decision" on Employee Free Choice.

And here was Senator Bennet’s response to the Denver Post’s questionnaire on the Employee Free Choice Act: (yes or no boxes)

Congress should pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
Michael Bennet:
The candidate chose not to mark a box
Andrew Romanoff:
Supports

Maybe that’s why Andrew Romanoff has the support of the 2 largest Unions in the state.
There are clear differences between these two candidates.
Andrew Romanoff has proposed some of the most progressive standards for Renewable Energy, will support full Marriage equality and will support the Employee Free Choice Act.
And, Andrew Romanoff will get elected with individual donations only, without corporate PAC money, just like President Obama did.

Send a message that we the people still have the power to elect people over corporate funded candidates.
Support him here on this ACTBLUE page

Andrew Romanoff

Andrew Romanoff

Karl Rove would approve of this Democrat’s tactics – but we don’t

12:13 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

Recently in the Colorado Democratic Primary, Senator Michael Bennet accused former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff of voting to "privatize Social Security."

Upon further review of the record, it seems that Senator Bennet is taking a page from the Karl Rove playbook. Rove was infamous for attacking a rival’s strength and where his own candidate was vulnerable.

Case in point – let’s take a trip back to the fall of 2009, when I first wrote about the letter Senator Bennet signed that would have gone a lot farther towards privatizing Social Security…

(Crossposted at Square State, Firedoglake, Huffington Post, and anywhere else possible, so that everyone will know just what Senator Bennet will do to get elected.)

Is fiscal responsibility good if it creates a filibuster proof commission with the final say on cuts to Medicare and Social Security?

(Senator Michael Bennet) signed a letter supporting the creation of a fiscal responsibility board.

…it would create budget legislation, including deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare. As Conrad has written the proposal, the Senate could only have simple majority (upperdown) votes on this legislation–no filibusters. It would hand over a huge amount of Congressional authority to an unelected, unaccountable commission, all in the name of "fiscal responsibility." Sadly, a dozen Democrats signed onto a letter to Harry Reid yesterday, stressing their concern over deficits.

(Courtesy of mcjoan)

Now, I don’t know about you, but signing onto this commission can only be considered an early Christmas gift to the Republicans. Remember all those attempts to privatize Social Security by Bush and all the talk of how it will be bankrupt by 2020?

Well, this commission will go a long way towards helping that happen even faster.
And it will be done through a process similar to reconciliation – only a simple majority – 51 votes and no filibuster. Mind you, if Reid even thinks about using reconciliation to pass a strong health care bill, the Republicans will start screaming ‘nuclear option’ and about how undemocratic the Democrats are.

Now let’s compare that to Michael Bennet’s charge that Andrew Romanoff wanted to privatize Social Security.

Senator Bennet says Mr. Romanoff voted for a resolution to partially privatize Social Security."

Upon further review of the record and the truth, we see that the Bennet campaign is pulling the old Karl Rove tactic of saying the opposite of the truth.

The bill actually states the following:

Privatization will worsen Social Security’s funding needs by draining resources from the trust fund into private accounts, increasing the federal deficit by $2 trillion over the first decade alone, which will put the nation in deeper debt to foreign creditors

And the bill is titled:

MEMORIALIZING CONGRESS TO OPPOSE PRIVATIZATION OF SOCIAL SECURITY

But the Bennet Campaign distortions don’t stop there. Don’t forget, Bennet voted against giving seniors a $250 check to offset the recession.

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=2&vote=00036

S.Amdt. 3353 to S.Amdt. 3336 to H.R. 4213 (Tax Extenders Act of 2009) Statement of Purpose: To provide an emergency benefit of $250 to seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities in 2010 to compensate for the lack of cost-of-living adjustment for such year, and for other purposes.

How about that? Senator Bennet both signed off onto a letter for a commission that would have led the way towards Social Security Privatization, and voted to block a Social Security increase.

It seems Senator Bennet found out some tricks of the Republican playbook. Working for a billionaire Republican like Phillip Anschutz must have its advantages; he must have gotten some personal tutorials from Karl Rove himself.

Colorado voters know the truth – and who has stood with Colorado and Seniors for this past decade – Andrew Romanoff.

More insanity in Colorado – this time the Senate race

3:03 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

This week, Andrew Romanoff made the bold move to go ‘All In’ on the race and sold his house to fund ads for the last 2 weeks – a move that will add an additional $325,000 to the nearly $700,000 raised in the last quarter – all by small dollar donations.

"I’d like to create a democracy where you don’t have to sell your house to win the U.S. Senate, but we’re not there yet," he said. "I expect to win and repay the loan. I happen to believe Americans of modest means deserve representation, too."

Whether you agree with Mr. Romanoff’s decision to sell his house or not, Mr. Romanoff is showing the volunteers and supporters across our state that he intends to fight to win this race and prove that the country can elect Senators exactly in the same way Barack Obama was elected.

But the Bennet supporters are hurling all kinds of insults and unfounded accusations towards Mr. Romanoff.

One Bennet supporter wrote this diary Romanoff and the balloon boy
which said this about Mr. Romanoff:

He is so sincere about it(not taking PAC money), he is apparently willing to become homeless for the cause.
Homelessness is a serious societal problem, causing immeasurable pain to it’s victims.

yes, the author is stating here that Romanoff is using Homelessness as a campaign gimmick.

Another blogger – in that diary, goes so far as to accuse Andrew Romanoff of lying about his public service as a teacher in Central Americaread it yourself

"I’m also still looking for what year he claims to have taught English
in Nicaragua. I think he made it up. I was illegal to do business from 1982 to 1990.
Was he there as a guest of Daniel Ortega or the Contras?"

So Mr. Romanoff – not only made up teaching in rural schools in Central America and Nicaragua, if he did, he was working with the Contras!
(and this guy said the same on his facebook page)
And it is not just supporters, the Bennet campaign is also doing the same: by sending their spokes person to crash the Romanoff Press conference at campaign Headquarters: As the Huffington Post calls it -

"Rockies Gone Wild: Colorado Politics Devolves Into All-Out War"

Mr. Romanoff’s campaign and his supporters have done their best to keep this civil.
I fully disclose that I have gone on the offensive on the facts on Mr. Bennet, such as his ties to Right wing Multi Billionaire Republican Phillip Anschutz,and that I have been upset about Senator Bennet’s conservadem votes:
Votes like Senator Bennet’s vote against Cramdown, or how he voted against the bill to Break up the Big Banks and how Senator Bennet joined with Republicans to vote against the Sanders amendment which would have closed a 35 billion tax loophole for Big Oil.
I have even interviewed people who knew him professionally – such as the Teachers who worked under him after he was appointed to be the superintendent of Denver Public Schools and did not appreciate how teachers were treated.
But I have not accused Mr. Bennet of lying about his career or using homelessness as a gimmick.

I believe that Mr. Bennet’s appointment and candidacy represents the calculation that Democrats must be in bed with corporations just as much as Republicans to win – even if those corporate interests are fully Republican themselves.
Someone has to take the stand and follow President Obama’s lead to stop the corporate buyout of our elections.
That can start here with the people funded Andrew Romanoff campaign.

I’m one of many volunteers for Romanoff. I don’t have a lot of money, but I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering to help elect a man with progressive ideals and a vision of cleaning up Washington.
Andrew Romanoff is all in. So are all of his volunteers. There are 14 days to go, and he needs our help.
Donate to his campaign and help us prove that the people are more important than the corporations.
Visit Actblue to donate to Andrew Romanoff.

There is a clear choice on Education in the CO Senate Primary

5:05 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

First, about Speaker Romanoff’s accomplishments from the Colorado House Democrats weblog:

B.E.S.T. Plan Provides up to $1 Billion for School Construction
(DENVER) State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, Senate President-elect Peter Groff, and State Senator Gail Schwartz announced an ambitious plan today to provide up to one billion dollars towards fixing and replacing K-12 schools across Colorado.
“Every child deserves a safe, healthy place to go to school,” said Romanoff. He said that the inequalities he saw while touring were striking. “It’s tough to learn when the roof is caving in or your desk is falling through the floor. The quality of your education shouldn’t depend on your zip code.

Now for Mr. Bennet’s statement that he provided Denver Teachers with the largest pay increase in State history:

Bennet says ProComp fails to provide teachers with enough money early in their careers, incentives are too small, compensation is back-ended in favor of veteran teachers and too much tax money is being banked every year in the ProComp trust.
The ProComp V2 plan offers richer bonuses to more teachers, resulting in "the largest pay increase in the history of Denver Public Schools," Bennet said.
Starting-teacher salaries in the plan would rise from $35,500 to an average of $42,413 for a person with a bachelor’s degree. The DPS figure includes incentives, each of which would grow to $2,900 from $1,067 a year.

Was this true? Ask the Teachers:

(question) (ME) As Superintendent, Michael Bennet stated on camera that Denver Teachers had just received a pay raise – was it a raise?
MS.UNDERWOOD-VERDEAL "Technically that is one way to talk about compensation, but that is certainly not the way we live, because I won’t be able to use my retirement to go the grocery store now.
It was not a raise teachers realized on their paychecks."
So it was not true?
"No, it was not true, in the practical sense."

Bennet was hired as Superintendent for his financial expertise. It has now been revealed that Superintendent Bennet convinced the Denver Public School Board to invest their retirement funds into a Derivative Swap with JP Morgan – the same type of swap that are now coming under scrutiny by the Senate and House banking bill.

A call for transparency on a financial deal done by then Denver Public School Superintendent Michael Bennet has roiled political waters. School Board members, including Cherry Creek-area school board member Jeannie Kaplan, have asked for an accounting of a deal centered upon a “synthetic” interest rate swap, which has cost DPS millions. The deal, which involved mortgaging schools for an yet unrealized interest savings, has given Wall Street banks and shadowy Belgian firm Dexia (NASDAQ:DEXB) millions in taxpayer dollars. Dexia, a player in the Madoff scandal, was insolvent last year, and had to be bailed out, partially by American taxpayers…
DPS appears to already have been in a position to lose money. In fact, in its very first month, taxpayers lost $1.5 million alone, excluding fees. The deal, which is keyed to the interest rate banks charge one another, is pegged far outside of the long-term rate average, almost guaranteeing that DPS would lose money. DEAN (Denver Education Advocacy Network) has estimated the deal has lost $51 million to date, although no actual accounting has been provided to the public or school board members. Recent testimony at the statehouse on the state pension fund concluded that the deal was $78 million underwater, and created risk for the state.

This was one of many teachers I spoke to who was willing to speak about the changes she saw in the way school was administered under Superintendent Michael.

"When he (Arne Duncan ) came to town with Michael Bennet, he called us
‘dead wood’ – he said that they needed to ‘clean house’ – they don’t want career teachers… and it is not just about a Union issue -
(me – They are trying to save money?)
"That’s just it, I don’t make that much money, I really don’t"

(Patty Corsentino was a biology Teacher for 26 years who was forced out – step by step as part of clearing the ‘dead wood’)

This is driving out Career Educators – leaving short term and younger teachers in their place. From my experience, it was the older veteran teachers who had learned the best methods for education and taught me the most.

Andrew Romanoff speaks to this new kind of business model approach to education.

Schools are not factories and students are not widgets. The silver bullet approach – the suggestion that we should transform education by charter-izing or voucher-izing or privatizing it – that approach is doomed to fail. The real work is hard and tedious and often expensive.
But it is worth it. What keeps most teachers up at night spending their spare time and spare change is the challenge of reaching a student who might otherwise be lost.
"The joy of awakening a mind to a new idea that what drove these talented men and women to teach in the first place. But we will continue to lose effective teachers if we demonize and demoralize them – if we saddle them with the blame for society’s shortcomings and strip them of the resources they need to succeed."

For voters interested in education there are two choices:
On the one hand you have a business man – Michael Bennetwhose philosophy on education comes from being a business person – and whose investment strategies are now costing the Denver Teacher’s retirement pension millions of dollars.
And on the other hand you have an educator – Andrew Romanoffwhose philosophy on education comes from being an educator and whose leadership in the State House was demonstrated in his procurement of 1 billion dollars in investments in Schools in Colorado.

For voters of Colorado, on Education, it is a clear choice.
More importantly, for our Education policy, having an actual educator in the Senate is just plain common sense.

Support Andrew Romanoff.

The Next Democratic Primary Senate Candidate We Need to Support

2:39 pm in Uncategorized by wadenorris

Before talking about Mr. Romanoff, we must examine his opponent.
Senator Bennet was appointed to the Senate, and since taking office he has voted as a Bankster with a pattern of siding with Big Money over the individual.
Bear with me, through a brief litany:
#1 Bennet was one of the few Democratic Senators to join with the GOP to oppose Cramdown

Bowing to intense lobbying pressure from the mortgage industry, the U.S. Senate killed a bill Thursday to allow bankruptcy judges to modify loan terms on primary residences the way they can on second homes, yachts, cars and other pieces of property.
The American News Project caught mortgage bankers in a celebratory mood as it geared up to kill the homeowners bankruptcy protection, known as Cramdown, in an episode that could only be called “Take Your Banking Lobbyist to Congress Day and Let Him Stomp All Over Your Right to the Courts.”

Nice. A millionaire himself, he can’t be bothered to help average families stay in their homes.
#2,Senator Bennet voted to stop Dodd’s first attempt to reign in Wall street in the Fall of 2009:
the headline says it all
"Bennet joins with GOP to warn about Wall St. bill"
(with friends like these….)

#3, Bennet voted against the bill to Break up the Big Banks this past month.

#4 and worst of all, there is the scandal that involves Bennet’s decision to invest the Teacher’s retirement fund into a fancy banking derivative or ‘swap’ – that now is costing retiring teachers their pensions.

Michael Bennet Says He "Listens to Coloradans Hurt by Wall Street"

Bennet’s direct involvement in a $750 million Wall Street transaction associated with Denver Public Schools’ teacher retirement system has fed taxpayer money directly into the waiting mouths of several of Wall Street’s biggest firms.
To do this, Bennet convinced the Denver schools’ board of education to approve the $750 million deal, failing to tell them about key risks associated with the transactions….
So far, Bennet’s 2008 transaction has directly cost Denver taxpayers at least $50 million, all of which went down Wall Street’s gullet…
The real winners during Bennet’s tenure as superintendent of Denver’s public school system were JP Morgan, Citi, Bank of America, and the Royal Bank of Canada. The losers are you and me. As for Bennet, he gets millions from Wall Street to pay for his senate campaign.
Wall Street firms know which side their bread is buttered on — the Bennet side. (Bennet is in top 5 in the Senate for Wall Street donations)

If you have ANY doubt about the way Denver’s Teachers feel about Michael Bennet’s tenure as Superintendent – just watch this video ("We know teachers, lifelong democrats, who said they will vote Republican before voting for Bennet")
In addition to these actions, I have a personal issue with Senator Bennet’s conservadem votes on Climate Legislation.
#1 Bennet signed a letter to Senate Leadershiop to ensure that there would be Tax subsidies, not for renewable energy, but for Natural Gas – at a time when people in Colorado already have flammable tap water from Haliburton’s fracking fluid. (watch the video – hard to believe)
#2 Bennet also signed a letter that would exempt coal pollution for Utility companies in any Climate legislation coming out of the Senate
- Think about that, Bennet signed a letter that wants Climate Legislation to allow increases in Coal burning pollution exemptions – the opposite of what that legislation should do.

Bennet says that his Corporate donors do not influence his actions, but when you find out that he is in the top 20 for Donations from Coal burning Utility companies, that statement is hard to reconcile.
Andrew Romanoff has strongly supported lifting the cap for Oil Companies involved in the Gulf Oil Spill – while his Bennet remains silent.

Lastly – who funds Michael Bennet?

Michael Bennet’s former employment before being appointed was as a corporate raider for Philip Anschutz, a prominent Republican Billionaire who has funded Anti-gay measures, funds the Discovery Institute which promotes intelligent design over evolution, and has used his newspaper the Examiner to not only insinuate that Obama is a racist, but was one of the key proponents of repealing funding for ACORN.
Now, you might say, Bennet only worked for Anschutz, it doesn’t mean there is any further connection between the two, unless you consider that for the first time, Anschutz is contributing more to a Democratic candidate (Bennet) than to the Republicans.
And who else?
Wall Street

With a push in Congress to reform regulation over Wall Street, financial firms have been spending big, and among the major beneficiaries is Sen. Michael Bennet. In less then six months, the Colorado Democrat (Bennet) has received $401,000 from campaign donors linked to a combination of hedge funds, securities firms, insurance companies and real estate interests. Bennet’s take is bested only by four senators, including Harry Reid, the powerful Senate majority leader, and Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Convinced yet?
Well,here are some positive things about Andrew Romanoff:
Andrew Romanoff brokered a tough deal by convincing a Republican Governor and legislators to pass Referendum C – which raised 3.7 Billion for public K-12 education, higher education, health care and transportation. In addition to that, his BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) act funded the largest increase in school building funding in state history – something Teachers and students statewide are thankful for.
And as Speaker he helped pass some of the most progressive renewable energy solutions in the Nation.

*I am proud to announce that Andrew Romanoff became the first candidate to be endorsed by the Daily Kos Greenroots community*

And instead of working as a corporate raider, prior to being in office Andrew Romanoff worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center where he was part of a Neo-Nazi and Klan tracking program.
He also spent time teaching in rural schools in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Consider that Andrew Romanoff organized for Colorado Democrats for several years before running for office and getting elected in 2000.
He worked to elect democrats around the state and has grown the party – and his best achievement was in 2004 in getting a Democratic majority in both chambers in Colorado for the first time since the Kennedy Administration – at a time when Bush was at the zenith of his power.
Andrew has spent his career in public service, and more importantly, working to strengthen the Democratic party.

Lastly, isn’t a coincidence that Bennet has connections to one of the richest Republicans in the World and just when the Senate is about to take up Wall Street reform, Bennet is appointed to the Senate and then placed on the powerful Banking committee – the very committee in charge of Wall St. reform – including Bank Derivatives – which is something we know from Bennet’s history at Denver Public Schools, is something Bennet apparently favors?

Maybe Bernie Sanders is right – we are at risk for turning into an Oligarchy.

Andrew Romanoff knows this too. This video is from the State Assembly on May 22,2010 where he won the delegate count by a margin of 60.4% to 39.6% – showing how much support he has with the base of the party.

We’re here not just to select a senator. We’re here to decide who we are, what kind of party and what kind country we want to be. You choose.

We can settle for the status quo, where we sell Senate seats to the highest bidder and turn Congress into a wholly owned subsidiary of the industries it’s supposed to be regulating.

Or we can say no. We can reject the politics of business as usual, the pay-to-play culture that corrupts Washington and corrodes our country.

Part of changing that culture, a member of the Senate once said, “is recognizing that special interests – the insurance companies, the banks, the drug companies, the HMOs – have come to dictate” our agenda. And “the only way you break out of that,” this senator said, is to stop taking money from those groups “so that ordinary people’s voices are heard.”
I believe Senator Obama was right.
I am the only candidate in this race – and one of the few in America – who refuses to accept contributions from special-interest groups. When we win this election, I will owe my seat not to Washington, not to Wall Street. I will owe this seat to you.

If you think the power of the people is more important than someone funded by Wall street and corporate Republicans, then contact Move-On, Democracy for America, Act Blue and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and editors of this site, and let them know that you want Andrew Romanoff to be the next Netroots supported candidate.

Support Andrew Romanoff, the people powered candidate.

Orwellian tactics used to whitewash the Dylan Ratigan story?

2:11 pm in Elections by wadenorris

First, what you’ll notice is that the people who voted the right way on the ‘too big to fail’ bank bill included Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter – also involved in heated Primaries.
The third person in a primary that should have voted that way, but curiously did not was Colorado Senator Michael Bennet.
Tactically, his campaign also released an email about his plans to reform Washington and he even wrote an article on Huffington Post called
‘Close the Revolving Door’.

I was so shocked by the anger in the ‘Comments’ section concerning Bennet’s Nay vote on Kaufman-Brown, I wrote a companion piece highlighting the comments – called
‘Actions Speak Louder than Words Senator Bennet’

that specifically mentioned the comments by people who cited the Dylan Ratigan article on the Bankster Senators and Bennet’s Nay vote. (look in the comments to Bennet’s article for yourself)

Now curiously, Ratigan’s article on Huffington Post excludes Bennet’s name.

Fortunately, many other cites had companion articles citing Ratigan story,
such as this one from the Center for Media and Democracy.

Here is the Screen Shot:

and a close up – clearly listing Michael Bennet:

and here is the current article (which has been altered) on Huffington Post by Dylan Ratigan:

and the close up – notice Michael Bennet’s name is now gone from the list.

and even more Ironic, Michael Bennet sent out a fundraising letter to lobbyists and top dollar donors for a DC fundraiser, on the very same day as he put up his ‘Close the revolving door’ lobbyist article.

Notice it helpfully lists the committees he belongs to.

What is going on here?
Senator Bennet has a lot of money, but does he have the kind of influence to get a well known blog like Huffington post to alter a nationally known reporter’s story for one Senator to hide his votes?
Either way, the people of Colorado knew his name was on the list at one time and that he DID vote against the bill.

Contact MSNBC and let Mr. Ratigan know his story has been tampered with, and also contact Huffington Post as well.

Actions Speak Louder than Words, Senator Bennett

3:48 pm in Financial Crisis, Politics, Republican Party by wadenorris

Senator Bennet: Speaking as one of your constituents, I must say that it is my philosophy that actions speak louder than words (more honestly as well).

As others have pointed out in previous letters on this article, your name is conspicuous by being listed as one of those that voted against the Kaufman-Brown SAFE amendment.
Would you care to explain your actions? It will determine what actions I will take in November.

.

Appointed never-been-elected Senator Bennet, I would also like to know why you voted no on the cramdown legislation. Will you continue to vote in favor of the banks and against tax payers? Why don’t you stop taking contributions from the banks after all banking reform legislation is before you and it would be the right thing to do?

Talk about revolving door. Bennet just voted against downsizing the biggest banks. This guy is one of the greatest recipients of money from financial institutions. How corrupt can you get. He is on his way out come November. Good riddance to this corrupt senator from CO.

"Yeah, I agree with you, Senator Bennet!! The close of "the revolving door" should begin by voting you out in November. With this piece, are you trying to cover up your tracks—-voting against the American people and for the banks?? If that’s the reason of penning this piece, then I think you haven’t succeeded.

I used to like you as a senator, but yesterday’s vote scuttle it all when I wasn’t able to find your name among the "yeahs" to that amendment. I guess it’s time for Coloradans to try Romanoff out by sending him to Washington in your place."

and the hits just keep coming…

So what specifically did Bennet do that was so wrong?
from a press release from the Romanoff campaign:

The battle between Main Street and Wall Street has emerged as a key dividing line in the Colorado Senate race:

• Twice, Sen. Bennet voted against a full audit of the Federal Reserve. This morning, Sen. Bennet voted no on the Vitter Amendment (S. Amdt. 3760 to S. Amdt. 3739 to SB 3217) that would require a full audit of the FED. He did the same in April of last year. (S. Amdt. 875 to S.Con.Res.13) Andrew would have voted to fully audit the Federal Reserve.

• On May 6th, 2010, Sen. Bennet voted against an amendment that would have imposed leverage and liability limits on bank holding companies and financial companies, to prevent them from becoming too big to fail. (S. Amdt. 3733 to S. Amdt. 3739 to SB 3217) Andrew supported this proposal.

• On April 30th, 2009, Sen. Bennet voted against legislation that would have prevented mortgage foreclosures and preserved home values (S. Amdt. 1014 to SB 896). Andrew supported this proposal. Sen. Bennet’s no vote was a victory for Wall Street and an insult to families across the country who are struggling to stay in their homes during this weak economic time.

Yikes. This is where raising the 5th highest amount of campaign money from Wall Street changes from being an advantage to a liability.

It seems Mr. Bennet’s votes certainly have a way of favoring those who have given him the most money.

The real question though is why? Bennet had to have known that these votes were going to be fodder for either his primary or general opponent – so why do it?
That’s the real rub – he HAD to vote these terrible votes because of who is really representing – Wall Street and the banks.
They have their Senator, but we have our opportunity to be heard in the Primary.

For those who like Senator Bennet and can overlook his votes, consider the fact that in polling done vs his Republican rivals, he trails them by a larger margin than his Primary candidate, Andrew Romanoff.
Most importantly, Bennet’s poll of positive view vs. negative view
is 45 positive vs 45 negative – which is worse than any other candidate running – while Andrew Romanoff’s numbers of 46 positive to 34 negative and is better than all three Republicans in the field.
If you need anything to know, it’s that keeping Bennet past the Primary is the most certainly the best way to turn a Senate seat over to the Republicans – most likely a Tea Party candidate .

For me, I agree that it is time to support someone who has pledge to take no Corporate PAC money – Andrew Romanoff.

Stop by his fundraising page and toss him a buck or two.