Caplis & Silverman, Josh Penry, 4/20/2010

Station: 630 K-HOW

Show: Caplis & Silverman Show

Guest: Penry


Date: 4/30/2010

Topics: Arizona Immigration, Denver Public Schools, McInnis, BP Oil Spill

Click Here for Audio

PENRY: it’s very nice to be with you, thanks for having me, Dan

CAPLISILVERMAN: thanks, hey for the folks who haven’t yet been able to read your comments on this, where do you come down on DPS venturing into this Arizona bill?

PENRY: uh, it’s silly, I mean it’s outrageous, they have absolutely no standing or no stake or no, uh you know, reason to weigh in on a legitimate public policy debate that’s taking place hundreds of miles away. I mean, and as I said at the time, you know, DPS has not shortage of challenged it should be focused on. You know roughly 50 percent of the students that pass through the schools of DPS don’t graduate and another 50 percent that go through high school and matriculate to college need remediation to get caught up.  There are huge challenges my friend Tom Boasberg and the DPS schools board should be focused on and Arizona immigration laws is not among them.

SILVERMAN: what about the Catholic Church, the US conference of bishops has weighed against the Arizona immigration law, is it none of their business too?

PENRY: nah, uh, they can make more of a logical claim to have a… I, I don’t agree with their position, but they obviously have a stake in the conversation since they have memberships.  There’s two questions, one is do ya support the policy. Two what in the heck is it the business of Denver Public Schools.  On the second question it’s not any of their business at all. And in Arizona and the United States, States are free to pass laws to protect health, safety and welfare, irrespective of whether or not a school district in a neighboring state thinks it’s a good idea.  On the policy, you know, the federal government has been an abject failure, and states are rushing in to fill the vacuum.  You know these laws don’t come out of nowhere. There’s violence, murders, rapes a drug war run amok in Arizona and their elected leaders decided to do something about it, and they’re within their rights.

SILVERMAN: I agree. Arizona has a set of unique problems where literally people are trespassing every night, where unbelievable amounts of kidnappings. Fortunately that’s not happening in Colorado. I can’t remember a kidnapping wave here. That’s why I’m a little surprised that Republicans like Scott McInnis, who you support now (you were running against him) why Scott McInnis would say yeah, I want the Arizona law for Colorado. Isn’t it a different situation in Colorado than Arizona?

PENRY:  A lot of the opposition is trumped up.  Remember, it’s already illegal to be in the country illegally, under federal law. I mean that’s the absurdity of this entire debate. An illegal immigrant in Arizona, or Colorado or Rhode Island is in violation of federal law.  In the state of Arizona to overlay another law is, in some ways a reiteration and empowering their local law enforcement to enforce the existing illegality. So, and here’s the other thing… a lot of the noise about, you know, random searches and seizures and things, I mean the Arizona law did not suspend the 4th & 5th Amendment. Um, if a law enforcement officer engages in an improper activity, arrests somebody or pulls somebody over without probable cause, you know they’ll face sanctions and the charges will be dismissed. That’s the way our system works. But to suggest, you know, implicit in the argument of those against, ah arguing against this is you know, sort of a de facto sanctuary city policy, that local law enforcement shouldn’t engage this illegal behavior. I just think they’re wrong. They’re wrong objectively on the policy and I think they’re on the wrong side of public opinion too.

CAPLISILVERMAN: Has anybody seen mayor Hickenlooper take a clear position on this year? He may very well have. I’ve just been tied up in the law practice all morning.  Has he come down firmly on it guys?

SILVERMAN: Well, I think he’s taken a contradictory position. He says I approve of what DPS is doing, but we’re not going to do that in the city of Denver. I don’t understand that really. Do you?

PENRY: yeah, I don’t, I mean. I don’t. You know. We can have a discussion about whether or not Denver is a sanctuary city many of us believe that it is. They’ve sort of knowingly turned a blind eye.  Mayor Hickenlooper is in support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. I mean his position on this policy actually is one of the few areas where he hasn’t been duplicitous and in the middle.  So, ah, and you know, those are positions that will I think be part of the debate as we look to November.

SILVERMAN: My point is this. If mayor Hickenlooper agrees with DPS, which he has every right to agree, then he should say Denver employees, we’re not going to go to Arizona, or at least we’re going to avoid it. But he hasn’t said that.

PENRY: Yeah, I know, I mean that’s fair. If he says it’s right for DPS, why not for Denver too? I, umm, you know he’s reversed himself on global warming, he’s refused to take a position on you know the largest issues moving through the legislative session.  I think he’s hoping that um, the election for governor will be, you know, akin to running for student body president, that the cool kid in class gets elected. Unfortunately that’s not how these elections work. Especially in really difficult times when people I think are expecting leaders who are gonna take stands and articulate positions.

19 min


SILVERMAN: And Scott McInnis, back to my question. Isn’t it a little simplistic to say yeah, we’re gonna do what Arizona did.  Does he really… is he really proposing a new misdemeanor in Colorado for the crime of being an illegal immigrant? Cause that is a new thing Josh Penry. You know. You write the laws.

PENRY: yeah, it in some ways is new, but in some ways it’s not. Uh, a few years ago when we had that special session on illegal immigration we created a new strike force with the Colorado state patrol to enforce drug trafficking and illegal immigration and smuggling, you know and and (garbled) and all the sort of spectrum of the issues surrounding illegal immigration. We created a special force to enforce these laws. So from a, you know, if you’re open to statute there’s nothing like Arizona on Colorado’s books but there are a lot of things that very much resemble. And that’s why I think you know a lot of this is much ado about nothing. They are in the country illegally and Arizona said it’s illegally illegal as a matter of state law as well.

SILVERMAN: Well, I compliment you. We haven’t talked since you worked on energy in a bipartisan. You add the drill baby part of it. What’s your reaction to what’s happening in Louisiana.  I postulated maybe it’s terrorism. It’s a disaster of unbelievable proportions. What’s your reaction to it being the drill energy guy you are?

PENRY: Well, I mean, you know, somebody who’s gonna have to answer question and say a horrible tragedy on a massive scale… and there needs to be accountability. On the flipside, you know, the demand for energy is just the same and the fact that we rely on foreign sources of energy for to keep our lights on and power our cars is no less real and so you know, there are some on the left, environmentalists who will use the occasion to swing the pendulum back and we can’t. We need to make sure people are accountable and um make sure that steps are taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  The strange thing to me that I don’t get, and I’ve been busy in the last days of the session, so I haven’t read all the stories.  You know Hurricane Katrina ripped through the gulf coast and it didn’t happen. So something, something’s weird. And there are big questions that sort of hang over this.

CAPLISILVERMAN: Josh Penry, House minority leader, kind enough to join us. Josh, last Question. And Josh, you just alluded to it, last days of the session. Sometimes there’s a lot of hinkiness in the last days of the session.  Anything brewing this time?

PENRY: We passed a really good bill today that would reform the tenure system for public school teachers. A handful of courageous democrats who joined every republican in making it more, easier for schools districts to move bad, ineffective teachers out of the classrooms. Not easy still 3 years, lots of appeals, but a really important public policy gain. That bill goes to the house and if we were to pass it our public school system would be a heck of a lot better off for it.

CAPLISILVERMAN: Well Josh, great work. Appreciate your time.

PENRY: Thanks for having me. Pleasure.