Colorado is not better off as the legislative session wraps up with Democrats having pushed through a hard–left agenda, says John Andrews in the April round of Head On TV debates. Susan Barnes–Gelt disagrees, lauding the session as enlightened and pragmatic. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over gun control, illegal immigration, lapses by law enforcement, and a sweetheart land deal in local government. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for April:
1. LEGISLATIVE REPORT CARD
John: It’s legislative report card time. Voters fired the House Republicans and gave Democrats control. They responded by raising energy costs, empowering trial lawyers, encouraging illegal immigration, attacking gun rights, undermining traditional marriage, and proposing a billion–dollar tax increase. Colorado is not better off.
Susan: Get a grip John—it’s the 21st Century. Colorado’s legislature reflects the rest of the country—diverse, focused on the economy—not the bedroom, enlightened about our fragile ecology, pragmatic. Ferrandino led a strong session, though it’s unraveling a bit ‘cause the days are numbered.
John: Having served in the General Assembly, I respect the goodwill and dedication of 100 representatives and senators making laws for the other 5 million of us. But I’m very glad their grandiose plans are somewhat restrained by the constitution, including a session limit that cuts them off at 120 days.
Susan: Right—if the lege spent 120 days focused on the budget, civic infrastructure and public safety. Instead, too much time is absorbed on social issues thanks to right–wing, small government conservatives, committed to obsolete wedge issues—God, guns & gays—instead of the public’s priorities.
2. CONGRESS DEBATES GUN CONTROL
John: Here’s your clueless politician update. Move over, Nancy Pelosi. Make room for Diana DeGette. Everyone remembers “Pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Now we have “Ban high–capacity magazines without knowing what they are.” These congressladies are dangerous. Put’em under trigger lock and leave gun regulation to the states.
Susan: DeGette’s stupid gun manifesto reflects how out of touch she is with anything but the beltway bozos. Shame on her, but that’s not the point. That congress may be, possibly reaching consensus on the most moderate controls re registration is the real point. Way to go ladies & gents!
John: Nothing in the Constitution authorizes the federal government to regulate firearms in the first place, nor will the expanded background checks increase public safety. This is just Obama and a bunch of senators grandstanding to boost their power and their poll numbers. And over in the House, constitutional conservatives aren’t buying it.
Susan: Pullleezzz. How can a man as smart as you advocate for the rights of criminals, abusers, terrorists and the insane to but a gun? You can’t drive a car without being tested, licensed and insured. A majority of gun owners support the weak bill in front of Congress. Get real!
3. DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
John: The beat goes on with liberals pandering to border–jumpers and visa–jumpers, with the ultimate goal of 10 million new Democratic voters. First it was subsidized college tuitions. Now it’s a Colorado driver’s license for illegal immigrants. Except we can’t call them that any more, according to the Associated Press. Where will it stop?
Susan: There you go again … Senate Bill 251 allows undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license upon presenting state tax returns, a federal tax ID and a country–of–origin proof of identity. Licensed drivers are insured, must pass a driver’s test and make our streets and hiways safer.
John: You’re so soothing, almost hypnotic. Don’t fall for it, folks. I repeat: the name of this game is 10 million new Democratic voters. If someone broke the law to come here, and you reward them with a driver’s license, it encourages all kinds of other lawbreaking, including election fraud. Bad idea.
Susan: C’mon John. Licenses will say non–citizen—voter fraud’s not the issue. The more consequential question is, why assume that a majority of recent immigrants are going to vote D? Hard to imagine all the old dogs in the Republican Party are resigned to permanent minority status. Ironic—EH?
4. DESPITE LAPSES, LAW ENFORCEMENT SERVES US WELL
Susan: BIG screw–ups regarding a Denver sheriff deputy aiding a criminal to escape from jail and the brutal murder of State Corrections Chief Tom Clements by parolee Evan Ebel don’t signal a failure of American justice as we know it. However, big cuts to public safety budgets take a toll.
John: The convict who shot the corrections chief was paroled several years early by mistake. He was then allowed off his ankle monitor for several days by mistake. The jailbird who fled with help from a crooked cop was given too much leeway inside by mistake. Too many mistakes. Heads should roll.
Susan: We agree—too many mistakes. Heads should roll. The utter failure of the state parole system had deadly consequences. The Denver sheriff should have gone to his superiors when his life and family were threatened. Let’s hope the powers that be at the state and city figure it out.
John: We tape these debates once a month, and while this one was being scripted, Americans suddenly learned of the bombings in Boston and the ricin letters to Obama and Sen. Wicker. Hats off to law enforcement everywhere, whether here in Colorado or nationally. They have their hands full. Say amen, Susan.
5. QUESTIONABLE DENVER LAND DEAL
Susan: Shame on Mayor Michael Hancock and DPS Super, Tom Boasberg. The behind–closed–doors swap of 11 acres of open space for a fixer–upper at 1330 Fox is a bad deal for taxpayers—a textbook example of why people don’t trust government. The deal may tank Hancock’s re–election.
John: Okay, I read your column about this DPS land deal, and though the details made my head hurt, it does sound cutesy and perhaps shady. But with due respect to your investigative work, Susan, for an urban density advocate you seem strangely worked up about a few acres of crummy flood plain.
Susan: The 11 acres of designated open space belongs to Denver taxpayers who have a contract with their representatives—the mayor, council & school board—to protect and conserve that interest. Hancock will pay for his bad judgment, and so should Superintendent Boasberg.
John: Whether the mayor suffers politically for an obscure real estate swap with no graft involved, I doubt. But I applaud your civic indignation and determination to expose this thing, my friend. With newspaper coverage dwindling and no opposition party to keep Denver local officials honest, we need more watchdogs like you.