BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Much has changed about how Coloradans will participate in the selection o...
A stunning and wide-ranging collection of 120 of the paintings of prolific French artist Claude Monét, called...
Centennial-based GroovyTek was founded close to five years ago. After conducting over 10,000 hours of in-home...
The National Western Center is putting down roots as home of the “New West” – and what better place than where...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Everyone agrees that the current formula for funding public schools resul...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On Jan. 17, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, in her 23rd year in the United State...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On Jan. 23 the White House announced that Susan Beckman has been appointe...
Kicking-Off to a great start for the 114th National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show, the annual and t...
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced Colorado is receiving $31.8 million in gra...
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BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Much has changed about how Coloradans will participate in the selection of the Democratic and Republican candidates for president of the United States in 2020.
For the first time, Colorado will be among the 14 states, representing more than one-third of the entire population of the United States, casting its ballots on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. The only states that will have held primaries or caucuses before March 3 are Iowa (Feb. 3), New Hampshire (Feb. 11), and South Carolina (Feb. 29).
The other states participating in Super Tuesday presidential primaries or caucuses are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.
Two ballot issues approved by the state’s voters in 2016, in effect for the first time ever in a presidential election, allow Colorado residents to choose their preferred candidate for the major parties’ nomination by individual mail ballots (it was previously done in party caucuses that were informal and often unwieldy) and, more significantly, permit the 1,344,562 unaffiliated active voters in this state to cast votes in either (but not both) the Republican or Democratic presidential primary.
Also, for the first time, Colorado’s delegates to this summer’s major parties’ national conventions will be allocated based on the results of the March 3 presidential primary elections. In addition to using the mail or many drop-off centers provided for ballots, in-person voter centers will be made available by county clerks around the state. Ballots will be mailed out beginning Feb. 10. As was done in recent statewide elections, unaffiliated voters will receive both a Democratic and Republican primary ballot, unless they have expressed a preference for one or the other. Only one of the two may be returned in order for the vote to be counted.
Republicans whose names will appear on their party’s presidential primary ballot include President Trump, along with Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, and three others who are likely unfamiliar to most voters but qualified to be on the ballot in Colorado.
There are 17 Democrats on their party’s presidential primary ballot in Colorado. They include the recognizable front-runners, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, along with Tom Steyer, Colorado’s own Sen. Michael Bennet, Andrew Yang, Michael Bloomberg, Deval Patrick, John Delaney, and Tulsi Gabbard. The remaining five candidates have either suspended their campaigns or are virtually unknown.
As of Jan.1 there were 3,392,828 active voters in Colorado. Of that total, 29 percent are registered as Republicans, 30 percent are registered as Democrats, and 40 percent are registered as unaffiliated, according to the Secretary of State.
Colorado is different from the rest of the United States in that regard. A 2019 Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll showed that 37 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans and 42 percent identify themselves as Democrats, leaving only 21 percent to be members of third parties or unaffiliated. Interestingly, the same poll conducted in 2010 had the exact same results.
There continues to be a clear trend away from party affiliation with Colorado’s younger voters. As of Jan. 1, the Secretary of State’s records indicate that 34 percent of registered Republicans are in the 18 to 44 age group and 45 percent of Democrats fall into that category, compared to a whopping 57 percent of unaffiliated voters. Conversely, 27 percent of registered Republicans are age 65 or older, while 23 percent of Democrats are senior citizens, compared to only 14 percent of unaffiliated voters.
A stunning and wide-ranging collection of 120 of the paintings of prolific French artist Claude Monét, called “the driving force behind the group of modern artists who became known as the Impressionists,” opened to the public on October 21 and will close on February 2. The exhibit has been named, “The Truth of Nature.” Tickets are sold out.
Monét was known for capturing many of the same scenes at different times of day so he could show the effect of the light on the beautiful creations of mother nature. He described his art with the words, “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.”
The artist was born in Paris in 1840 and died in Giverny in 1926.
Centennial-based GroovyTek was founded close to five years ago. After conducting over 10,000 hours of in-home personal technology training sessions across Colorado and Arizona, GroovyTek is now expanding its’ services to the South Florida market and opening a new facility in Boca Raton Florida.
Since its founding, GroovyTek has learned a great deal about the state of technology education in our society and the frustrations related to personal technology (smartphones, tablets, and computers). Frustrations often appear to be rooted in a lack of resources available for folks to learn on their own terms. As technology advances so quickly, there is a sense that people don’t know how to “catch up” and a collective feeling that they are falling ever further behind.
Furthermore, GroovyTek has learned that often people are made to feel “stupid” when asking family members or others for tech help. Frustration is often exasperated by generational differences and a lack of respect towards older generations.
GroovyTek focuses on being the change agent in this equation. After providing over 10,000 hours of in-home personal technology training sessions, GroovyTek has learned how to work with folks from all generations and learning styles to change the tone of their relationship from one of frustration to one of empowerment and excitement.
“After fine-tuning the in-home training session model and approach, we are able to confidently send trainers to work with folks in their home environment, which is a big help. All of our trainers are patient and respectful. We have proven we are able to set our clients up for continued success and independence working with their technology, in as little as three training sessions,” said founder Alex Rodas.
Training sessions are based on the client’s objectives and interests. While there are certain common frustrations that lead to people calling in for help, the solutions and the path to empowerment differs for each individual. GroovyTek believes that no two people use their technology in the exact same manner. Having a personal trainer who knows what you’d like to accomplish, how you learn best, and what makes sense to share and explore is part of the secret sauce for success.
With the forced adoption of personal technology growing every day, GroovyTek believes that personal technology training will become as mainstream as personal trainers are for fitness and health. Every day, more and more people are being forced into using new phone applications, online banking, or ticketing. Even grocery coupons are turning digital! Find out today how a GroovyTek Personal Training session can help you remove technology-related frustration from your life. These sessions can empower you with knowledge so that you can cross that bridge from technology frustration to excitement. Join the growing legion of GroovyTek’s family of clients today!
Call 303.317.2800 or visit www.groovytek.com.
The National Western Center is putting down roots as home of the “New West” – and what better place than where old and new meet at the National Western Stock Show stockyards?
“We’re all so excited for the future of the National Western Center,” Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelly Brough told the sellout crowd of 1,220 guests – the largest audience to date at Boots ‘n Business. “Where country meets city is where the magic happens. That’s what this event is about.”
The event – hosted by the Chamber and National Western Stock Show, and presented by U.S. Bank – kicks off the start of the 114th Stock Show. And, the 16-day show is big business, said Stock Show President and CEO Paul Andrews, noting that people from 45 states and dozens of countries are here just to take part in the livestock show, and that’s not counting the dozens of rodeos and other entertainment that locals and visitors alike will enjoy.
“That’s how we got to be the Super Bowl of livestock shows, and it’s right here in Denver,” Andrews said.
Boots ‘n Business guests got a preview of the entertainment of the Stock Show, courtesy of Entertainment Sponsor Hensel Phelps.
That fun – and business – will continue year-round with the opening of the National Western Center in 2024, said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.
A Look at the ‘New West’
With partners Colorado State University, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, History Colorado and the Stock Show, visitors of the revitalized National Western Center can expect to learn and see innovation and be entertained.
“We are planning for the next 100 years,” Hancock said. “They will see the sights and sounds and flavor that we believe represent the new west, and we’re very excited about it.”
Learn more about the progress at the National Western Center:
Our food and agriculture industry continues to be a critical part of Colorado’s economy, Brough said, noting that it employs 116,000 Coloradans and contributes $1.6 billion in exports each year, from beef to sweet corn.
The beverage industry, and the local barley and hops grown to support it, also have an impact, said David Coors, vice president of next generation beverages at Molson Coors Beverage Company, our Innovations in Agriculture Sponsor.
“We’ve always been grateful for these farmers who work hard day in and day out to give us the high-quality, top-notch ingredients that go into our beers,” Coors said. “And we’ve also been working with them and spending tens of millions of dollars to help future-proof their businesses with sustainable farming practices so they can go on for generations and generations.”
Connecting with Future Ag Leaders
A portion of the proceeds from this and other Stock Show events support National Western Trust scholarships for future farmers, ranchers and veterinarians.
Gov. Jared Polis applauded that effort, adding that the state’s focus is “to make darn sure that ag isn’t just a storied part of Colorado’s heritage, but it’s a dynamic and growing and exciting part of Colorado’s economic future.
Guests met one scholarship recipient, 2019 Youth Equestrian Showcase Grand Champion Halley Moak.
She is a student at Front Range Community College and is studying equine science and equine business management. Growing up in Estes Park, she was always around horses – and her grandfather was an equine veterinarian.
“(My family) put me on a horse at 3 years old and I’ve been riding for the 16 years since,” Moak said.
Students will compete this season to be named the 2020 Y.E.S. Grand Champion – one of many events that will in total draw an estimated 700,000 people to the Stock Show and create $120 million in economic impact.
“It’s huge economic impact for Denver,” said Hassan Salem, Colorado Market President for U.S. Bank.
The National Western Stock Show runs Jan. 11-26. Buy tickets at nationalwestern.com.
Sara Crocker is the communications manager for the Denver Metro Chamber.
Everyone agrees that the current formula for funding public schools results in inequitable state subsidies to school districts in Colorado. It isn’t anyone’s fault. It happens because of the effect of the 1982 Gallagher Amendment that set an arbitrary ratio between residential and non-residential property taxes and one aspect of the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) that automatically lowers mill levies when property values increase. Complicating matters is the fact that many school districts, but not all, asked and got permission from voters to ignore that part of TABOR, so those school districts have not had to lower their mill levies as property values rose.
Those are just some of the complexities of school funding in Colorado. There are also voter-approved “overrides” in many school districts that allow them to increase their total mill levies for capital improvement bonds and normal expenses without impacting the amount of their state subsidies.
There is a proposal being discussed at the legislature to institute a uniform mill levy for all school districts “to create fair, equitable, and sufficient school funding for all Colorado students.” The more specific purpose of the uniform mill levy is to achieve a reduction of state funding and an increase in local funding in those school districts that are viewed as receiving excessive state funds under the current formula. The Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) is one such district.
Officials of CCSD have expressed strong concerns that the change under consideration could have a severe negative impact on their residents, resulting in significant tax increases or slashed budgets that could result in “a reduction of approximately 700 teachers.”
The uniform base mill levy being discussed in the legislature is 27 mills for all Colorado school districts. CCSD’s current base mill levy will be 18.756 mills in 2020-21, resulting in a gap of 8.244 mills. Under the proposal being discussed, CCSD would have to get voter approval to raise property taxes or reduce its budget by approximately $7 million starting in 2022 and $7 million more each year (i.e., approximately $14 million in 2023, etc.) until it was collecting $54 million more every year from local property taxpayers than it does now. That translates to $59 in additional property tax for schools for every $100,000 in the actual value of a home after nine years. That could mean a gradual increase of about ten percent in residents’ total annual property tax bill.
The Littleton School District’s base mill levy is 25.353 mills so the increase to reach 27 mills, if that is adopted as the uniform rate, would be only 1.647 mills to fill the gap created by a reduction in state funding, which is 80 percent less than what would be required in CCSD.
The Villager asked state Senators Jack Tate and Jeff Bridges, along with state Representatives Meg Froelich and Tom Sullivan, all of whom represent families with students in CCSD, where they stand on the uniform mill levy, focused on its impact to CCSD.
Tate responded, “While I support the idea of fixing a broken system, what I understand of the current proposal is that it calls for unrealistically rapid tax increase responses from some school districts to maintain current funding levels. As such, I am working to see a more common-sense plan be introduced.”
Froelich said, “I am a partner with our public schools in providing the best possible education to all students. I hold Cherry Creek Schools, as well as Englewood and Sheridan Public Schools, which I also represent, in high regard. There is a fundamental problem with equity in school funding that we are trying to address in the fairest way possible while holding down property taxes”
Bridges told us, “A bill on this topic hasn’t even been introduced yet, so everything is still very preliminary and up for discussion. I look forward to working with folks from across my senate district on how to increase funding for our schools in a way that’s fair and equitable to all of our hard-working Colorado families.”
From Sullivan, “I know there are discussions about how to address the mill levy system and the inequality in school funding around our state. I haven’t seen what a final proposal would be, so I haven’t taken a position at this point. I’ll be watching the effort closely if legislation is introduced on this topic. Funding for education for our local schools is of critical importance, and we need to ensure that all our districts have the resources they need to provide our students with the education they deserve.”
The Villager will continue to follow this story as it develops over the legislative session.
On Jan. 17, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, in her 23rd year in the United States Congress representing Colorado’s first congressional district, sat down with members of the local media to talk and answer questions.
She opened with the topic on many people’s minds. “Impeachment wasn’t on our agenda, but after the Ukraine phone call surfaced, we felt we had to act because President Trump was operating outside of his authority. We were also concerned about him withholding aid from Ukraine, which he did not have the right to do. Now the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has said what the Office of Management and Budget did (by withholding Ukraine Security Assistance funds beginning July 25 until they were released September 12) was illegal.”
DeGette addressed her highly visible role as Speaker of the House Pro Tempore for the impeachment debate. She said, “I was chosen as Speaker Pro Tempore by Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi because of my deep knowledge of the rules and my ability to keep things from getting unruly. I was complimented by many of my Republican colleagues on how I handled the job.”
She told the six local reporters around her conference table that the U.S. House passed over 400 bills in 2019 and that two-thirds of them were bipartisan. Many, she said, were “sitting on the desk of (Senate) Speaker Mitch McConnell.”
Infrastructure, dreamers, cannabis, and private detention centers
We asked the congresswoman what was on her agenda once the impeachment fracas is behind us. She said she “hopes to introduce a comprehensive infrastructure bill to include portability of medical records in addition to funds for roads and bridges.” We asked if that could include funding for important local projects like the rebuilding of the Belleview Avenue and Quebec Street interchange. DeGette said that there used to be earmarks for specific projects but the process was eliminated after rampant abuse by powerful legislators. She would like to see earmarks brought back because individual representatives are the most knowledgeable about their districts’ needs, but the process would have to have very strong checks and balances to prevent abuse.
On “dreamers” (young adults who have grown up in the U.S. after being brought in by their parents at a young age undocumented), DeGette said she co-sponsored the Dream Act, but that it too was “sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk.” She noted that a bill for agricultural workers was passed and signed into law. On the larger question the congresswoman said, “The longer we go on without comprehensive immigration reform, the more heartbreaking the stories are.” She said it is particularly problematic for the ski industry and the hospitality industry in Colorado because it’s hard for them to find employees.
Degette said that, “prisons and detention centers are government functions and should not be run by private contractors.”
She “supports deregulating cannabis and removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.” She talked about U. S. Rep. Perlmutter’s SAFE Banking Act to allow the marijuana industry to use banks. It has passed the House and is also being held by McConnell, even though it was introduced in the Senate in April by a bipartisan group of 22 senators, led by Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner.
FDA, insulin, and U.S. Olympic Committee
DeGette told us that she is working with Republican colleagues on a bipartisan bill to modernize how the Food and Drug Administration approves over-the-counter medicines. She feels the process being used is arcane and takes too long.
She is working on a bill to reform the U.S. Olympic Committee to address the culture that has led to the abuse of athletes that is often unreported for years. Sen. Cory Gardner, DeGette said, is the Senate sponsor. They hope to change the focus of the Committee to the welfare of the athletes, instead of just winning.
While the congresswoman would like to address the cost of all prescription drugs, as the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Diabetes, she plans to introduce a bipartisan and bicameral bill to reduce the cost of insulin. In October, DeGette issued a statement making it clear why. She said, “My daughter Francesca has Type 1 diabetes and just learned her insulin won’t be covered by her new insurance. She was told it will cost her $7,488/year for the insulin she needs to stay alive.”
Congresswoman DeGette, 62, has given no indication about when she might be thinking of retiring. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will be 80 years old in March.
On Jan. 23 the White House announced that Susan Beckman has been appointed Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for Region VIII, which includes Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Beckman resigned her state House district 38 seat on Jan. 17.
Beckman told The Villager that while she has enjoyed her time in the legislature, she is very excited to assume her new responsibilities and “they fit perfectly with my professional background.” A graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo with a B.S. in communications, Beckman worked in the Colorado Department of Human Services as the director of the office of administrative solutions from 2013 to 2016, when she announced her candidacy for the state legislature. After a trip to Washington, D.C. for orientation with HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Beckman will return to her new Denver office to get right to work.
Beckman is in the final months of her second two-year term representing House district 38, which includes Centennial, Littleton, Columbine Valley, Columbine, and Bow Mar.
Beckman was first elected in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. In 2018, when many Republicans were defeated by Democrats in Colorado, she was narrowly re-elected by a 374-vote margin out of 47,594 votes cast. Prior to the state House, Beckman served as an Arapahoe County commissioner from 2001 to 2013 after two years on the Littleton City Council.
A Republican vacancy committee will meet soon to consider candidates and make an appointment to replace Beckman in the state House. Beckman told us she is confident that President Trump will be re-elected in November and that her state house seat will remain in Republican hands after the next election.
Kicking-Off to a great start for the 114th National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show, the annual and traditional Kick-Off parade ushers in the start of Colorado’s events and social calendar. Excitement was everywhere with dancing at Denver’s Union Station before the parade start, to dancing in the parade with people and animals. In attendance were the NWSS Citizens of the West Marcy and Bruce Benson, the 2020 Kick-Off Parade Grand Marshal Jake Jabs along with both students and US Military marching bands, rodeo royalty and off course longhorn steers and cowboys and cowgirls riding horses. Getting time off from school or perhaps work children of all ages, including the adult variety, got the chance to enjoy a traditional event that is uniquely Colorado in style, taking one back to what things once were with ranching and farming. Where can anyone see both horses, tractors and livestock in the middle of a downtown metropolitan city right along in traffic with luxury SUV’s? As always this year’s parade is a great indicator of everything that the NWSS has to offer.
Photos and story by Stefan Krusze
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