Archive for the 'Colorado Public Radio' Category

Key state senate race starting to get media attention but more is needed

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

With a few of our more bigger badder news outlets (CPR, Denver Post, Fox 31 Denver, and KMGH-TV Denver 7) finally getting around to covering Arvada’s state senate race, which is the most important contest this election, the simple point should be made: follow-up stories are needed.

The candidates, Republican Laura Woods and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, aren’t being challenged sufficiently on their stances on the issues (See some of their positions, on abortion to guns, here) or on the politics of the race. Some outlets have returned to the races a few times in coverage, which is good, but more attention is required. Some of our state’s most prestigious news entities have essentially dropped the ball on the race.

I’m not saying Aurora’s congressional race, our ballot measures, or other races aren’t important too, but if political journalists want to help voters understand what’s at stake this election cycle, they should turn their attention repeatedly to Senate District 19—and, to a lesser extent, other key state senate races.

Here’s a video to emphasize the point.

Radio host shows Gardner’s vote for Pence won’t count, but fails to find out if Gardner will still vote for him

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

“Unhappy with Trump? Want to Write In Pence? It Doesn’t Work That Way.”

That’s the title of a story by Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, who did a nice job fact checking U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner Monday, reporting that if Gardner writes in the name of Mike Pence as his pick for president, as he promised Sunday, his presidential vote won’t be counted at all.

Warner interiewed Suzanne Staiert, Colorado’s deputy Secretary of State, who said on air that as long as Trump is on the ballot, Gardner’s vote for Pence wouldn’t matter.

Warner : And if someone says they’re going to write-in Mike Pence?

Stairt: “They won’t be counted. It’ll just count as an undervote essentially unless the Republican Party makes some sort of change.”

During the interview, Staiert said “a write-in candidate would need to file an affidavit 15 days before the election for votes to count.”

But the CPR piece was later corrected to state, “In fact, the affidavit would have to have been filed at least 110 days before the election.”

So Gardner has settled on Pence waaaay too late. Or maybe not. Maybe he wants to cast a vote that won’t count?

Omitted from the CPR piece was the question on many listeners’ minds: “So who is Gardner going to vote for?”

Warner should bring Gardner on the show to address that question.

 

Radio interview gives listeners a good overall understanding of U.S. Senate candidate Glenn

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

If you’re still trying to understand Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, consider listening to the interview of Glenn that aired on Colorado Public Radio last month. It’s one of the most illuminating interviews Glenn of  so far.

Host Ryan Warner touched on a bunch of topics, first explaining that Glenn, who describes himself as an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative pro-life, Second-Amendment-loving American,” is an El Paso Country Commissioner whose low-budget primary victory was fueled by a powerful speech at a Colorado Republican convention and his endorsements from Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz.

A good radio interview gives you an overall sense of the interviewee, in addition to the substance. And Warner’s interview of Glenn shows the candidate’s combativeness and confidence. So you should listen to the interview, not just read it, though you can do both here.

Warner pushes Glenn with admirable persistence on global warming, which Glenn rejects as being caused by humans. Here’s the exchange:

Warner: To get you on the record, you do not agree with the majority of scientists who say climate change has human causes. Is that correct?

Glenn: Well that’s your assumption. You’re bringing an assumption to the table and the premise to your question has me to basically adopt your position and I can’t do that without verifiable data.

Warner: Oh it’s not my position. It’s that the majority of scientists believe that climate change has a human caused component. Do you concur with them?

Glenn: Again, you are bringing facts to the particular issue that I don’t have, been presented to me. You’re saying that the majority of scientists are saying that. That’s your statement.

Warner: Right. Well, that’s a fact. Is it a fact that you agree with?

Glenn: Well that’s the fact that you’re representing and I don’t accept your premise of that question.

Warner: Do you believe that climate change has human causes?

Glenn: Well again, I would, I am a data guy, I would want to see the, a verifiable information of that.

Warner: There’s a lot out there. Have you looked at it?

Glenn: We’ve looked at a lot of things. We’ve also looked at that and we’ve also looked at the economic impact of this policy and how they are disproportionally hurting people when it comes to their livelihood. So that’s really where the focus is. We need to make sure we’re looking at policies like that that we’re looking at both sides of the equation instead of just one. And unfortunately I gotta head into another interview. But I really appreciate this opportunity. I look forward to talking to you again in the future.

Warner: Thanks for your time.

On taxes, Glenn told Warner he supports something like a flat tax.

Glenn: “And then you need to come up with a tax philosophy that’s simplified, something that’s easy for people to understand that allows people to contribute their fair share, in my opinion, probably a flat tax rate is something that we should look at.”

Glenn told Warner he does not believe that suspected terrorists on the government’s “no fly” list should be prohibited from buying guns, because the no-fly list is not accurate enough and could delay or stop innocent Americans from buying firearms.

Glenn backs Trump, yet he would not answer a series of questions from Warner about Trump policies, including whether he supports Trump’s proposal to force Mexico to build a wall on the border. And Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

 

On radio, Secretary of State should have been challenged when he implied that getting an ID for voting is easy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Back in January, Colorado’s new Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, suggested that people who register and vote on Election Day should present a “Department-of-Revenue-issued ID.”

Williams made it sound like this would be a snap for voters: “And it’s important to note that in Colorado, ID’s are free, to anyone who’s indigent. Anyone who’s poor, anyone who’s elderly can get a free ID,” Williams told Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner Jan. 11.

Technically, that’s true. But in reality, especially if you’re old or indigent, getting an ID is often neither easy nor free. With the Colorado state legislature debating a bill today requiring IDs for Election-Day registration, now is a good time for Warner to air some of the facts that run counter to Williams’ simple view.

The core problem is that, while an ID itself is free, through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the underlying documentation required to get an ID can be expensive to obtain and time-consuming to assemble.

From reading Colorado’s law mandating free IDs for those over 64-years and the indigent, you might think all you have to do is trot over to your county human services department, pick up the required forms, and then get hooked up with your free ID from DMV.

Not really. At Denver Human Services, you can get a coupon for a free ID if you declare that you are homeless, and therefore entitled to a $10.50 fee waver. But if you don’t have citizenship documents, you have to go to a nonprofit “partner” organization for help, according to Julie Smith, Communications Director at Denver Human Services.

“We recognize that this is a challenge to navigate, especially if you have to obtain a birth certificate,” said Smith, adding that transportation alone is a “big challenge” for people who are homeless.

Metro CareRing is one of Denver Human Service’s partner organizations that helps poor people get their citizenship documents together–at no charge.

“I often refer to our staff person who works on this as, affectionately, a ‘detective’ because people come to us sometimes not even knowing their birth place or all of their birth circumstances,” said Lynne Butler, Executive Director of Metro CareRing, echoing others in the field in Denver. “They might say, they think their mother was incarcerated in the state of New Jersey. Our staff person will begin from a place like that and spend a great deal of time and investigation finding the material and ordering the proper identification documents that come from the state for that birth certificate. So it’s a paper-trail process, and expensive.”

But funding the project now, even without more people potentially requiring IDs for  voting, is thin.

“We’ve had to turn away people,” said Butler, who says her organization provides more documents for the poor than any other  nonprofit in Colorado. “And to think that we might have more people in need of documents now because of [voting requirements] is an alarming thought.”

“Right now, we’re struggling to find the funding that we need,” says Butler. “We had to cut back recently, because some of our funding, in fact our major funder, cut back.” Butler says a “Collaborative ID Project,” with Denver Human Services, Colorado Legal Services, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and Metro CareRing, work together.

The IDs poor people obtain with the help of nonprofits like Metro CareRing serve many purposes, Butler points out, reflecting the widespread belief that getting an ID is a critical part of anti-poverty efforts, even it’s difficult to get IDs. You need an ID to pick up mail, to rent an apartment, get Medicaid and other public benefits, to open a bank account, to get a job, to see a doctor or get medicine from a pharmacist.  Sometimes you can work around the ID requirements, but people like Butler say an ID is a necessity of life.

And she hopes somehow, someday everybody will have an ID.

But as of today, that’s nowhere near the case. And the resources aren’t there to change that reality any time soon, as the government agencies, including DMV itself, and nonprofits that help poor people get IDs are at or near capacity.

And the number of people with no IDs appears to be in the staggering range–especially when viewed from the comfortable perspective of those who have little or no contact with indigent or poor people.

Last year, in a review of studies on voter-identification issues, the Government Accountability Office found that between 5 and 16 percent of registered voters do not have photo identification. That’s registered voters, potentially hundreds of thousands or more of them among Colorado’s 3.5 million registered voters. Colorado voters must show show a photo ID when they register to vote, if they have one, so Colorado may have fewer registered voters without IDs than other states, but we don’t know for sure.

Still, you’d have to think the percentage of unregistered voters (over a half million in Colorado) without IDs would be higher, potentially in the tens of thousands.

The Department of Motor Vehicles issued a total of 23,458 free ID cards in 2014, with nearly 18,000 of those going to people over 64, according to data supplied by the Department of Motor Vehicles. About 2,000 were distributed at no charge to a holder of a county coupon, most likely indicating homeless or indigent status. Another 1,800 were issued at no cost to the Department of Corrections.

So when you explore the world of getting identification cards for the poor, what you find out is that it’s a huge problem without a simple fix, especially with current resources. A Loyola University study found that while some votes would be voided by a photo ID, tens of thousands of people without IDs would be disenfranchised. This confirms a Brennan Center for Justice study citing research that voter-identification “laws disproportionately harm minorities, low-income individuals, seniors, students, and people with disabilities.”

Here in Colorado, if a law passed requiring a person to have an ID to register to vote on Election Day, it would clearly be impossible for some people to get an ID card, if they decided to vote on Election Day itself. And it might be impossible even if they planned months in advance or longer.

So, when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams hits the media circuit and implies it’s easy for poor people to get an ID, reporters should be sure to offer up the other side, invisible as it is to most of us.

Wider perspectives needed on TABOR impasse

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

In a piece yesterday outlining the partisan agendas at the state legislature, Denver Post reporter John Frank reported that state Senate and House Republicans are unified in wanting to return tax-surplus funds to taxpayers, as stipulated by TABOR.

Frank wrote Democrats are split on the issue, noting that Senate Democrat Morgan Carroll “supports a move to seek voter approval to spend the money if it comes from an outside ballot initiative effort.”

For perspective, reporters covering this apparent impasse should seek opinions of partisan leaders away from the Capitol, including the bipartisan leaders of Referendum C, which was approved by voters in 2005 and allowed Colorado to hold on to funds that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers under TABOR.

Opinions from outside-the-dome could be surprising.  In an interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton said he was open to not returning TABOR refunds:

Warner: “You were a vocal critic of Amendment 66, which would have raised taxes to pay for education. In the way that you got involved with that, would you throw your support behind something that you felt was responsible and meant the state held on to the TABOR refunds?”

Stapleton: “Absolutely. TABOR is the popular whipping post, but Gallagher and Amendment 23 have also created a Gordian Knot of automatic ratchets in the budget and we need to free ourselves of automatic ratchets and get more control over where we spend dollars and more results-oriented spending for our budget going forward in the future. But I’m not opposed reflexively to anything, other than I’m opposed to anything that doesn’t give taxpayers a voice in where their money is being spent.”

Stapleton also said: “The more hopeful way to look at it is, if we in government do a good job and do our jobs in hopefully explaining to people where money is going to go and why resources are needed, that people will be reasonable enough to support fixes to our budget problems in Colorado.”

Media omission: Would Beauprez sign Gardner’s personhood bill?

Friday, September 26th, 2014

In the wake of this week’s revelation that Bob Beauprez once said he’d sign a bill outlawing abortion in Colorado, even for a 16-year-old who was raped, you have no choice but to ask yourself this bizarre question:

If Beauprez were governor, and Rep. Cory Gardner’s federal persohood bill successfully overturned Roe v. Wade, as it’s intended to do, freeing up the Colorado legislature to send an abortion-ban bill to Beauprez’s desk, would he follow through on his promise to sign it?

Yup, there are numerous hypothetical leaps there, and the leaps are significant, but they are smaller than you might think, and outlawing all abortion, even for rape and incest, is actually factually what both these candidates (Beauprez and Gardner) have pushed for throughout their political careers.

So I’ll quickly explain the steps involved in the question.

First, the federal personhood bill, co-sponsored by Gardner last year, would have to clear Congress, which is not so far-fetched when you consider that Republicans could take over the U.S. Senate this year. Then the Supreme Court, whose pro-choice majority is already questionable, would have to overturn Roe, based on the new legislation and other factors. Then, and possibly the biggest hurdle, Colorado Republicans would have to get their act together and take power under the dome. (This is already a reality in numerous other states, where Republican majorities would quickly ban abortion if Garnder’s bill had it’s intended effect.)

Do me a favor and don’t roll your eyes at this blog post, because all you have to do is think of Texas and look at all the places in America where abortion rights are already restricted or threatened. Here’s a great summary. It could even happen in Colorado. This is an issue that matters.

Bottom line: Along with their anti-abortion allies across the country, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and senatorial candidate Cory Gardner could theoretically work together to ban abortion in Colorado and/or in other states. Gardner could push for the federal legislation allowing Beauprez to sign a state bill making personhood a reality.

Reporters who don’t think Beauprez’s abortion position is important should read this

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

I wrote last week about gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s comment, unchallenged by reporters, that he believes a governor has “very limited impact” on a woman’s right to choose–even though he told Colorado Public Radio back in 2006 that he’d sign a bill outlawing abortion, if such a bill landed on his desk.

If you’re a reporter, and you’re inclined to sluff this off, because Beauprez isn’t thumping his chest about banning abortion nowadays, you need to know more of what he said during that interview with CPR’s Ryan Warner back in 2006.

You can read his exact words below, but, to summarize, he dismisses the notion of making abortion exceptions for rape an incest with, “No. No. I don’t make exceptions for that.”

He also said, specifically, that he’d support a law preventing a raped 16-year-old girl from having the right to choose abortion, saying pregnancies resulting from rape are “relatively few” and the “child” conceived by the rape should not be punished.

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview:

HOST RYAN WARNER: Let’s start with abortion. As governor, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, would you sign a bill banning all abortions in Colorado?
BOB BEAUPREZ: As long as it protected the life of the mother, I would.
WARNER: Rape? Incest? Anything like that?
BEAUPREZ: No. No, I don’t make exceptions for that.
WARNER: Would you seek such a bill?
BEAUPREZ: Uhh, —
WARNER: Or would you sign it if it came to your desk.
BEAUPREZ: I believe that what happened up in — I believe it was North Dakota, or South Dakota –North, if I remember right.
WARNER: South Dakota
BEAUPREZ: South Dakota, excuse me. I thought that was a legitimate question to put in front of the people again. And I thought that’s what South Dakota did. If there was a move mood within the legislature, I’d, uh — I would applaud that.
WARNER: Let me give you what is admittedly an extreme hypothetical. A sixteen-year-old girl is raped. She and her parents want to get an abortion for her. They would pay for it, it wouldn’t be state dollars. You would support a law preventing her from getting an abortion under those circumstances?
BEAUPREZ: Yes, and I’ll tell you very simply why.
WARNER: Please.
BEAUPREZ: I don’t think it’s the child’s fault. And I think we either protect life — all life, especially the most innocent of life — or we don’t. The situations of rape or incest. and pregnancies resulting from, are relatively few. And I think, unfortunately, what we have done, sometimes, is use rather what we think of as extreme exceptions, to justify a carte blanche abortion policy that has resulted in– well in excess, as I understand it, of a million abortions a year in our nation. Tragically, I think, in some of our ethnic communities we’re seeing very, very high percentages of babies, children, pregnancies, end in abortion. And I think it’s time that we have an out in the open discussion about what that means.
WARNER: Do you know which ethnic communities, in particular?
BEAUPREZ: I’ve seen numbers as high as 70% –maybe even more– in the African American community, that I think is just appalling. And I’m not saying that it’s appalling on them. I’m saying it’s appalling that something is happening to encourage that. Frankly, it raises another question, you know? Do we think it is okay that that many African American babies aren’t allowed to be born and live an otherwise normal life and reach the blessings, the fullness of the American Dream. I think those are very serious, very intense, very personal questions that a society such as ours ought to ponder. [BigMedia Note, After being called out by MediaMatters of Colorado, Beauprez later admitted that his 70% figure was incorrect.]
WARNER: Do you believe the state has a role in preventing unwanted pregnancies?
BEAUPREZ: Yes. Yeah, and I’ve supported abstinence training, for example, which is very consistent with my belief and my background. I think that’s a very appropriate role. Some, certainly, their beliefs embrace birth control and the use of condoms. I think that kind of awareness is fine. I’ve got, you know, my own personal beliefs. But I think we need to — certainly need to provide that kind of education to people.
WARNER: Just to briefly–
BEAUPREZ: –especially to young people, I might add.
WARNER: On your personal beliefs, where do you stand on birth control and prophylactics?
BEAUPREZ: We don’t use them. I’m Catholic. And I’m Catholic by choice, and I embrace the teachings of my church, and so we’ve used what our church calls — and I think is widely recognized as ‘natural family planning’ It served me and my wife very, very well.

This interview is proof positive that reporters should ask Bob Beauprez to clarify, precisely, what kind of abortion restrictions (counseling, MRI’s, hospital requirements, etc.) he’d impose in Colorado, if legislation, for example, requiring a woman to view an MRI of her fetus before being allowed to have an abortion, as passed in other states, is presented to him for his signature.

Good questioning in radio interview raises more doubts about secession

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, who’s been pushing for rural counties to secede from Colorado, admitted in a radio interview last week that “first and foremost” his secessionist campaign aims to let the world know “there’s a problem,” and, aside from secession, he’s got “ideas and suggestions to move this ball forward,” including ideas about how urban and rural leaders  “communicate with each other.” 

But wait! Conway is allegedly so fed up with the State Legislature that he’s ready to walk away from Colorado. How could there possibly be any middle ground left?

That’s what Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, who interviewed Conway Oct. 29, asked him. And here’s Conway’s response:

Conway:  …I have conversations with a lot of folks who much more liberal than I am, come from a different party than I belong to.  And you know what I found?  When you sit down and you actually engage in a dialogue with people, the thing you quickly find out is there are about 80% of the things you can agree upon.   But what happens is, we spend all of our time on the 20% that we disagree on.  And we don’t spend any time on the 80% of the issues that we agree upon.  

Warner:  Sean, you know what surprises me is that you’re someone who believes so strongly in coming to the table, but you’re someone who’s advocating for leaving the table.  I’m trying to square those two things about you.

Warner put it nicely, and gently.

Another way of putting it is, do you really walk away from the table when you agree with your opponents 80 percent of the time? Shit, I don’t even agree with my allies that often. Or my wife.

I don’t agree with myself 80 percent of the time.

For reporters, Conway’s 80-percent statement again raises questions about why he’d lead a fight for secession, which is clearly an extreme move, the nuclear option. It smells overwhelmingly like a media stunt, no? Why doesn’t Conway try harder to get along?

These are questions that should come up tonight as the secession election results are analyzed.

Have CO Republicans outside state Capitol really thrown in the towel on Medicaid expansion?

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The Denver Post’s Daily Dose and Colorado Public Radio’s “Check and Balance” blogs reported Friday that no one testified against Colorado’s proposed expansion of Medicaid, a key step in the implementation of Obamacare that would provide 100,000 to 150,000 uninsured people in Colorado with health insurance.

CPR Health Reporter Erick Whitney reported on the hearing:

[Republicans] fought Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act in Congress in 2009. When it passed, the state’s Republican Attorney General joined the lawsuit against it at the U-S Supreme Court. When the court upheld the law, but made it’s mandate to expand Medicaid optional for states, Republicans tried to win enough votes in the statehouse to say no to President Obama’s plan.

And that led to this small but significant moment yesterday, when Linda Newell, vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services committee asked:

[State Sen. Linda] Newell: Is there anyone else in the audience who wishes to testify? Seeing none, testimony phase is over….

Whitney: That was the sound of no one stepping up to testify against the Democrats’ bill, a quiet admission that President Obama’s party stands united behind Medicaid expansion in Colorado, and the bill is all but guaranteed to be signed by Governor John Hickenlooper.

Whitney should have phoned up some of the Obamacare opponents outside the state Capitol–from Attorney General John Suthers to Rep. Mike Coffman to find out what happened.

These guys have been on the war path against Obamacare ever since it changed its name from Romneycare. Is their absence really a “quiet admission” of defeat? That hasn’t stopped them before. What gives?

As I blogged last year, Coffman specifically singled out Medicaid expansion as a “radical” part of Obama’s health plan.

Coffman said that “there are some very radical elements to [Obamacare] such as the expansion of Medicaid, a government run health care program.”

What’s Coffman thinking nowadays? What about Suthers?