Brandon Shaffer’s Electoral College deception

The following was pulled from the old Wrongmont site and appears to be written around 2007.  Unfortunately, most if not all of the hyperlinks are broken as those sites either don’t exist anymore, or the articles were just removed.  But the information is still relevant and helps give full context and perspective on one of the more disturbing activities of State Senator Brandon Shaffer (Dem-Longmont).  Now he wants to be the U.S. Congressman for Longmont. Continue reading

Press Release: FasTracks: Lipstick On A Pig

Anyone who’s read my stuff over the years knows I’m no great fan of State Senator Brandon Shaffer. I’ve disagreed with him on his voting record, specifically the games he tried to play with the Electoral College, and how he basically became Ken Gordon‘s extra vote. We need someone to represent Longmont and District 17, not a puppet who pretty much tows the party line, right down the line.

The following press release was sent directly to me from candidate Katie Witt who is challenging Brandon Shaffer for this seat. – Chris

Lipstick on a Pig: Fastracks in Boulder County in Peril

August 18, 2008: Longmont, CO – Katie Witt, Republican candidate for State Senate District 17, today announced her position regarding the growing controversy surrounding the RTD FasTracks project.

“The prospect of FasTracks getting to Longmont and eastern Boulder County, on budget and on schedule, now appears to be absolutely zero,” Witt stated. “What makes the situation outrageous is that Longmont citizens have been paying for this project—one that my opponent Brandon Shaffer campaigned for in 2004— with little to show for it to date. Where has Brandon been the last four years while RTD heads straight toward fiscal implosion: the answer I fear is, “he’s been asleep at the wheel.”

“While my support of the FasTracks concept remains strong, it’s clear that this is one public works project that has spun out of control. Elected leaders and administrators need to revisit and seriously re-think the viability of the original plan.

“I fear that the worst news is yet to come. When FasTracks reaches full build-out, the operational losses from this poorly conceived project will implode the fiscal foundations of RTD, with taxpayers left holding the bag. It is time to stop the denial about the extra-ordinary fiscal risks involved with “staying the course” through keeping with the current plan. It’s time to stop trying to put lipstick on a pig.

“Fastracks to Longmont, an extension of the North Metro line tied into the Highway 287 corridor, is essential. Because of the growth along the I-25 corridor and number of people working in Denver Metro area, a line to eastern Boulder County would have the greatest impact on our transportation problems.

“If we subtract the politicians from the equation, this is the plan that makes sense for Boulder County. It will do what it was designed to do: reduce cars on the road.

“Obviously, the FasTracks proposal was driven by political considerations, not good mass transit policy. That’s why the FasTracks project is in such deep trouble financially.

“I praise RTD board member Lee Kemp and Longmont’s mayor Roger Lange, who’ve been on top of this worsening situation. What we need now is a task force led by RTD to re-examine alternatives, and legislative hearings at the Capitol to ensure far greater accountability going forward. Our current state senator is asleep at the switch on this crucial project.

“We need strong leadership and clear thinking on this crucial economic development project. Eastern Boulder County needs a FasTracks designed to support job growth and a vibrant east-county economic development effort. We need to see if we can get FasTracks to Longmont and eastern Boulder County.”

Electoral College Scam

See updates in highlighted text

This takes a while to set up, bear with me.

I usually only make comments about Longmont and the local community on this website. When I want to step into the larger state and nationwide issues, it’s usually in the form of a letter to the paper. But this subject crosses over and is important, and I feel, so far, it hasn’t gotten the needed attention locally. For the most part, us “political junkie” types are the only ones paying more than a passing interest to this kind of thing.

Some background: In 2004, there was a Colorado Amendment 36, it would change the way Colorado allocates its Electoral College votes in a presidential election. Prior to that election I submitted the following to a few papers:

Make Colorado Matter©

Amendment 36, or as it’s called “Make Your Vote Count” from its supporters, has a couple serious flaws with it. First, unless it’s a landslide vote in the state, the allocation of electoral votes will almost always be 5-4. That means Colorado will basically be worth 1 electoral vote, less than the District of Columbia and 7 other states that have the minimum 3 electoral votes. Talk about making your vote completely worthless. Colorado would be the most ignored state in presidential politics, and that has local and regional ramifications.

The “winner-take-all” concept could be improved on, say, by allocating votes by congressional districts won. At least that could open the possibility of 7-2 or 6-3 splits, and make politicians pay attention to areas other than Denver and Boulder. To get an idea of how this might break down, I invite your readers to look at the following page on USA Today’s website, it shows vote by County unfortunately, and not by District. But it makes the point that if a candidate can just carry a large city or two, the rural areas can be ignored and the candidate can take the state. Is that really what we want? In reality, this amendment should be called “Make Your Vote Count – if you vote a certain way”.

Secondly, and most importantly, ALL of the states would have to use this process to make it fair to ALL voters. Colorado could become the unfortunate national embarrassment Florida was in 2000, as everyone waits for us to count the votes for and against this amendment, and settle the court challenges sure to follow. As much as I think ALL states should reform the allocation of electoral votes, or do away with the Electoral College system altogether if that is the feeling of the majority, this amendment smells of partisan politics. Look again at that County map, especially the West Coast states; it’s obvious who benefits from metropolitan areas deciding for entire states. At the very least, it’s disingenuous by the amendments backers to claim it’s not partisan. This is the brainchild of a Brazilian-born Californian using Colorado as his guinea pig. To use this format for California would be disastrous for his candidate. It would mean instead of winning all of their 55 electoral votes, it’d be a 28/22/5 split amongst three candidates based on the most recent poll. Colorado with its mere 9 votes is a safe place to test this idea.

The anti-amendment slogan of “Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea”, is negative and, well, stupid. Is that the best you can come up with? I’d probably let you use my idea above.

The real winner in a system like this is the candidate that receives fewer votes. Instead of zero electoral votes, he’d get probably 4. Colorado is still too close to call, so that could help or hurt either presidential candidate. This November, send a strong message that votes outside Denver and Boulder should matter. That we are not guinea pigs for others and their partisan political games. Regardless of who you are voting for, vote against Amendment 36. It’s the only way to make your vote really count.

This amendment failed by an almost 2-1 margin. The voters sent a pretty strong message, or so it seemed. Fast forward to 2007 and the Majority Leader in the state Senate, Ken Gordon (D) (pictured below)

(303)866-3341 ) sponsors SB07-46, a bill to once again play games with Colorado’s Electoral College vote allocation. This time around, it’s a multi-state pact where Colorado would allocate all of its 9 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of how the state’s residents voted. This would only take effect if enough states signed on that equaled a majority of the Electoral College votes needed to win an election. It’s a cute way around amending the U.S. Constitution without actually going through the “hassle” of a national debate to amend it.

Seems Mr. Gordon also sponsored a 2006 version of this bill (SB06-223) which died a needed death. He was on the Senate Committee on Judiciary, where he brought in some hired guns to speak on behalf of this scam, no dissenting speakers allowed here, and moved that it passed, and voted for it. A one man constitutional wrecking crew. If there’s any justice, he came up a wee bit short in his bid for Secretary of State. Oops, the voters spoke, darn them voters. All they do is get in the way.

But regardless of how you feel about the idea, the bigger problem, as I see it anyway, is the way these people are trying to go around the voters. So not only are they attacking the U.S. Constitution, but also democracy and the way this republic has operated, pretty successfully overall I’d say, for over 200 years.

Here’s a follow-up article I wrote that the Daily Times-Call recently ran:

In the article “Electoral College bypass approved”, the AP left out a little, but extremely important factoid. This scam was attempted in the 2004 election in the guise of Colorado Amendment 36, it lost 65% to 35%, that’s not really very close. Now, whether you are in favor of such an idea, or which side of the political spectrum you sit, sneaking around the voters like this should never be tolerated. It’s one thing if our “representatives” were doing just that, representing those who elected them. It’s another thing altogether to disregard 65% of the voters on a state amendment, and it’s only been 2 years. Ken Gordon’s statement “It makes every person’s vote, every human being’s vote, equal” sure sounds noble. So what about all of those people who voted against this scam? They must not be human beings, or not worthy of equal treatment. Welcome to Colorado’s, and a few other misguided states, version of democracy. Where, regardless of the voters and that little thing called the U.S. Constitution, it’s the “we know better” mentality that wins out. Our new governor has a choice to make whether to sign or veto this nonsense. Let him know what you think, although I thought we did that 2 years ago.

The Longmont Connection

Much to my disappointment, the House sponsor for this bill is Representative Jack Pommer (D) (303)866-2780 (pictured at left). I met and spoke to Mr. Pommer at a candidate forum, and even voted for him, twice. Seemed like a decent enough guy, and he shouldn’t be judged on one issue. But he obviously feels pretty strongly about it as he’s a sponsor. I feel pretty strongly about playing games with the will and voice of the voters. Just because your party has a grip on both houses and the governorship, doesn’t give you the right to pull a fast one on us. Last years version of this bill, SB06-223, was laid over (means: make dead) by request of the House’s sponsor. This years sponsor, Mr. Pommer, should follow suit. No reply to initial email.

Next up, Senator Brandon Shaffer (D) 303-866-5291 (pictured at left). He voted for this bill, not a surprise, nearly every Democrat did. But it was something else he voted against that bothers me more. In SB46 there were the following lines:

16 SECTION 2. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds,

17 determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate

18 preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

What is this garbage? I have a life, so maybe I don’t know the finer points of legalese when it comes to bills, but this has a funny smell to it. Then I found the following:

Senator Mitchell moved to amend the Report of the Committee of the Whole to show that the 26 following Mitchell floor amendment, (L.002) to SB 07-046, did pass. Amend printed bill, page 7, strike lines 16 through 18 and substitute the following:

“SECTION 2. Refer to people under referendum. This act shall be submitted to a vote of the registered electors of the state of Colorado at the next biennial regular general election, for their approval or rejection, under the provisions of the referendum as provided for in section 1 of article V of the state constitution, and in article 40 of title 1, Colorado Revised Statutes. Each elector voting at said election and desirous of voting for or against said act shall cast a vote as provided by law either “Yes” or “No” on the proposition: “SHALL THE STATE OF COLORADO ENACT AND ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT AMONG THE STATES TO ELECT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BY NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE?” The votes cast for the adoption or rejection of said act shall be canvassed and the result determined in the manner provided by law for the canvassing of votes for representatives in Congress.”.

Summary: A fellow senator wanted to strike that odd “Safety clause” and bring this to a vote of the people. Keep in mind, we already voted for something similar to this. Senator Shaffer voted NO, along with Bacon, Boyd, Fitz-gerald, Gordon, Groff, Hagedorn, Isgar, Keller, Morse, Romer, Sandoval, Schwartz, Takis, Tapia, Tochtrop, Tupa, Veiga, Williams, and Windels – all Democrats. Not one voted opposite. This group, in my opinion, stands for meaningless and questionable language in an already questionable bill, and against the voice of the voters. They not only want to ignore how you already voted, they want to go about something without giving you a chance to be heard again.

Mr. Shaffer not only voted for SB06-223, last years version of this scam, but also was a co-sponsor! Form letter reply to initial email.

Longmont’s other representative is Representative Paul Weissmann (D) – (303)866-2920

Mr. Weissmann is the Chair on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, which is where this bill is right now. He was on this committee last year as well for SB06-223, which is where the bill died. So far, Mr. Weissmann has been the only one to respond to initial emails, which I appreciate.

The point is to call or email your representatives. I’ve made it painfully easy to do with all of their contact info and a brief tour of this subject. Also, since this is now in a House committee, here are the specific members you need to contact:

Chair: Weissman / Vice Chair: Todd

Members: Cadman, Carroll T, Casso, Gallegos, Jahn, Labuda, Lambert, Liston, Lundberg. Dems=7 / Reps = 4

There is much more on the internet about this, just do a Google web or news search using “SB46” or “SB07-46” or “Colorado Electoral College”. Here is a link to the Colorado General Assembly website, look for SB07-46 and click on the links involving it. Here are some links to articles you may or may not find interesting and/or educational. It’s a story that’s getting state and national attention. Hopefully I somewhat brought it all together for you. Now do something with it.

A shout out goes to my friend Chuck who brought it to my attention as it was a topic on the Mike Rosen show on 850 KOA. If you are still unclear what this all meant, this show can be listened to (after you sign up, which is free) at this link (Select Rosen Replay for 3/12/07 Hours 2 and 3) It’s well worth a listen for educational purposes no matter what side you sit on this issue.

This is not the first time this idea has come up, and probably won’t be the last. The two smiling faces above are your representatives, State Senator Brandon Shaffer and State Representative Jack Pommer (the bills co-sponsor). Mr. Pommer never even responded to my emails (or the Times-Call’s inquiries I’m told), and Mr. Shaffers aide wrote me what was not much more than a condescending form letter. Credit is given though to State Representative Paul Weissmann, who answered promptly and reasonably.

Here’s the point: This was a big waste of time and potentially taxpayer dollars (well, not completely potentially, their time is our taxpayer money), and a strong message needs to be sent to knock this nonsense off. You’d think the repeated NO votes and killings in committee would put an end to this coming up every year, but no. State Senator Ken Gordon is on this Electoral College destruction crusade, and if our Longmont reps want to go along with him, they will be held accountable. In the final committee meeting on this bill, Mr. Pommer heard from experts that this bill violates both the Colorado and U.S. Constitution, need to read that again? Mr. Gordon probably knew this as well, did Mr. Shaffer? If not, what kind of attorney is this that either doesn’t know the law or will knowingly violate it? And have the gall to not allow voters to have any say on it! Given all that, Mr. Pommer continued supporting the bill in the meeting until it’s needed death.

Here is a link to the committee report I will ask each of the three above, and you should as well, to take a hint and pledge to not sponsor or vote for any similar scam like SB46.

If they won’t, then you know all you need to know about how they serve you as your representatives: Voters, committees, and their repeated messages be damned, we’ll be renegades and do what’s best for our party, not our state or country. Which pledge will it be?

Longmont Daily Times-Call

Electoral College bypass approved (link no longer valid)

Rocky Mountain News

Don’t Neuter Electoral College

Electoral college bill ignites partisan fight

Electoral College dropout

Denver Post

Electoral-vote change gains

Under the dome, 1/19

There’s a lawmaker in my soup (link no longer valid)

Hands off Electoral College

Boulder Daily Camera

One person, one vote

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Cutting Colorado’s clout (link no longer valid)

The Pueblo Chieftain

Still ill-conceived (link no longer valid)

Colorado Springs Gazette

Senate OKs bill to make state bypass Electoral College

CBS4 Denver

State Senate backs Bypass Of Electoral College

Denver Daily News

Colorado ignored? (link no longer valid)

The Independence Institute

Memo to the General Assembly: No means “NO!”

All American Patriots.Com

Colorado Attorney General Urges Colorado Legislature And Governor To Oppose National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (link no longer valid)

By Senators Request

I always encourage constituents to contact their representatives. In an editorial by State Senator Brandon Shaffer, he asked for his constituents to “engage in a dialog” with him on issues in the upcoming legislative session. Here’s one, don’t waste time playing games with the Electoral College (EC). It was attempted in 2004 with a ballot initiative that would split up the EC votes by statewide popular vote, and lost. It’s been tried behind voter’s backs in the Senate, throwing all of our EC votes behind the national popular vote, and lost. Senator Shaffer co-sponsored this and even voted to keep it off the ballot.

Are his constituents clamoring for this change? Or does he give more of his considerations to Majority Leader Ken Gordon, who usually spearheads this pointless, and yearly, exercise?

California is considering changing how their EC votes are split up, in this case by congressional district. To be consistent, Senators Gordon and Shaffer should throw all of their support behind this, why do I get the feeling they wont? Does it not benefit them or their party? What’s good for the goose and all that, right?

It doesn’t matter if California’s idea isn’t the same as what’s been tried here. Two other states, Nebraska and Maine, already apportion their EC votes by congressional district, how many do it the way our Senates tried? (Answer zero). We should all do it the same way, whether that’s abolishing the Electoral College, or some other idea. Cherry picking states for political gain, no matter who’s doing it, is not acceptable. But more to the point, why does Senator Shaffer continually beat this drum and who’s asking for it? Who does he really represent?

Senator Shaffer said he hopes he’s proven he’s “always ready and willing to listen to constituents.” I know, I’m nobody, but this is an important issue, all that’s been proven to me is that he has staffers who can throw out talking points. I know everyone has staffers and they are required, but we didn’t vote for them. If their words are representative of his words, and if his votes on the tough issues, not the feel-good issues he often raises in his editorials, kowtow more to the senior leaders in his party instead of his constituents, then he shouldn’t get any of our future votes.

Backstabbing or Bandwagoning, Pt 1

I like making predictions. I don’t much care if I’m wrong, it’s not as if my life or livelihood (in this context) depends on it. I look at past words and actions, current trends, and make opinions and predictions on possible future strategies and outcomes. Unless I predict candy-filled skies and rivers of chocolate, half of you are not going to like these opinions. As always, I don’t care about, or need, anyone’s approval or high rating. If you have a constructive disagreement, great, have at it. But if you’re just another hater and this doesn’t fit your worldview, pound sand and go scream in your own blog.

I don’t pay or subscribe to any commentator or personality. I didn’t go to one of those websites that bends news or transcripts to fit their (or their readers) political leanings. Much of what I comment on is bumped into accidentally, something that catches my attention. I don’t need someone else’s talking points, I have enough of my own. Today it’s the political fallout of the Iraq War.

For months now we’ve been hearing about the September Iraq report from General Petraeus. It appears that the report will be positive on the situation over there. By many accounts, including anti-war correspondents, things, while not perfect, are trending in the right direction. The reaction from our leaders sure could be interesting.

On the one side you have the “stay the course” people, and while some have been swaying, they should be content with the report. I expect some “We told you so’s” and the historical context of the number of casualties. On the other side, it’s all over the map and it could go a couple of different ways.

Let’s start with the negative approach: Total character assassination of Petraeus including lack of credibility, he’s a liar, he’s a Bush hack, not telling the whole story, etc. This should come from the same quarter that calls our soldiers criminals, thugs, mercenaries, baby killers, runners of gulags, and the comparisons to Nazi Germany. You know, the same ones who are against the war yet support the troops? (No one’s buying that line anymore, by the way)

Speaking of which brings up a local angle on this, State Senator Brandon Shaffers votes on the war. He not only voted twice for SJM07-002 “Memorializing Congress and the president to stop the escalation of the war in Iraq”, he was also a co-sponsor. He then voted for, and co-sponsored SJR07-022 Concerning an expression of support for the United States military personnel in Iraq.” Guess the winds (from Ken Gordon’s office) were blowing differently that day. Re-election time is November ’08 for him, watch carefully how this “tow the party line” type of representative zigzags.

The group that is anti any war should be consistent: no matter how things are going, we shouldn’t have gone there in the first place and need to get out. A stand on principal, I can accept that, but they usually can’t help themselves and delve into the same shrill nuttiness. I have noticed our local 3 marchers have taken down from their website the slanderous remarks toward some alleged troop misdeeds. I’m not sure if these are the same troops that were recently cleared of these charges, but it is telling how quickly this group will attack the military. Then again, not all military members are of one party affiliation, now are they?

In Part 2, we’ll look at the implications of this on “Election ’08”. Speaking of predictions, in addition to calling every state but one (damn you Wisconsin!) in the ’04 election, prior to the ’06 midterm elections I predicted if one party controls both houses of Congress between ’06 and ’08, whichever party it is, that party will lose the presidential election of ’08. Did I expect Congress’s poll numbers below the President’s this soon, or ever? No. Did I expect a possible positive Iraq report? No. Could I still be wrong? Sure, but these things don’t point that way.