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Colorado News Miner 112

Taxing Tracks, school abuse, GOP meltdown, capitol guns, rental contracts, airport regs, train make-work, charter schools, HOAs, and more.

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
April 24, 2024

Tracks and Tax Policy: Andrew Feinstein, owner of the gay nightclub Tracks in Denver, and Jon Caldara discuss the club and doing business in Denver. Super interesting conversation. Feinstein says that homeless encampments, crime, and wage controls have been challenging for businesses. "The number one killer" of business, Feinstein says, is increasing property taxes. He says property taxes on his business (just Tracks) have gone up from around $174,000 to $376,000 within a couple years. That's insane. Colorado politicians are working overtime to murder the golden goose. Feinstein discusses the absurdity of taxing properties, not according to what they are, but according to their alleged "highest and best use," as determined by bureaucrats. Government should not be hindering the development of residential high rises, but neither should it punish small businesses for not redeveloping. Again, my position is we should just abolish property taxes. I say Andrew Feinstein for governor.

Abuse at School: Remember that NPR asserts, without any evidence, that homeschool children "are more vulnerable to child abuse." As far as I know, there are no good stats on the matter, and it would be pretty hard to gather reliable stats. What is obvious, though, is that abuse at schools happens quite a bit. Here are some recent Colorado-specific examples. Katie Langford: "A former Poudre School District paraprofessional [Tyler Zanella] was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison and two years in jail after pleading guilty to assault on an at-risk person, harassment and child abuse for hitting disabled students as they rode the school bus." Katie Langford 2: "Lakewood police arrested a 31-year-old former Brady Exploration High School paraprofessional on suspicion of child sex assault by a person in a position of trust, sexual exploitation of a child and other charges." Elizabeth Hernandez: "A former Littleton Public Schools paraprofessional is facing a felony charge after police say video footage revealed she beat a non-verbal child with severe autism last month on a school bus that was transporting special-needs students."

The Boebert Vax Conspiracy: This is a good indicator of how crazy the Republican right is these days, from Jason Salzman: "In the days after U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was rushed into emergency surgery to remove a blood clot that threatened her life, the online underworld swirled with speculation that the clot resulted from Boebert receiving a COVID vaccination." Boebert had to take to the airwaves to declare, "I'm not COVID vaxxed, so we can we can squash those rumors now." Meanwhile, back in reality, sensible people realize that COVID vaccinations reduce the risks of heart problems and blood clotting caused by the virus.

GOP Meltdown: To get a sense of the complete meltdown of the Colorado GOP, listen to the April 18 Get More Smarter episode. See also Mario Nicolais's column on the ridiculous move to impeach Jena Griswold.

Republican Loses Gun: Kyle Clark had fun mocking Republicans for losing their guns in a first and second segment. So this proves legislators obviously should not be allowed to carry guns in the capitol, right? No, it doesn't. I've been to the capitol lately. There's usually a single person guarding the visitor entrance. I don't know how extensive is the non-obvious security system, but the capitol is not exactly a fortress. How about this as a rule: If you leave your firearm unattended in the capitol, you lose your privilege to carry in the capitol. But your mistake doesn't affect everyone else.

Child Welfare: Government should remove children from genuinely abusive or dangerous situations and otherwise leave families alone. Unfortunately, government agents often err either by leaving children in dangerous situations or by interfering when they have no good reason to do so. Paolo Zialcita offers an example of the latter: "Boulder City Council voted . . . to settle a lawsuit filed by Joslynn Montoya, a deaf woman, who had her children taken from her for two months, following miscommunication at a domestic violence shelter and with police." In related news, Rob Low tells the complicated story of a father in a divorce case who allegedly made up child-abuse allegations against his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Indigent Legal Defense: Radley Balko has a helpful overview of Colorado's system, with special attention to Aurora.

Falcon School Board: Suzie Glassman has an informative article about a January 6 insurrectionist who attended a Falcon School District 49 meeting to complain about the districts's performance. He "didn't explain what the Constitution has to do with the reading and math scores," she writes. Glassman also quotes former board member Ivy Lui, who in a social media post called John Dewey a Communist (he was a socialist) and improperly compared test results from different tests across years.

Kansas Asset Forfeiture Reform: C.J. Ciaramella: "The Kansas Legislature unanimously passed a bill overhauling the rules for when police can seize property under a practice known as civil asset forfeiture. . . . Among its provisions, the legislation would make offenses related to possession or personal use of drugs ineligible for civil asset forfeiture, require law enforcement agencies to notify county prosecutors of a request for forfeiture within 14 days, and limit when local police can let federal law enforcement 'adopt' their forfeiture cases. It would also require judges to consider whether a seizure is unconstitutionally excessive, put the burden of proof on prosecutors to show that the seizure was proportional to the offense, and allow some property owners to recoup legal costs when they successfully challenge a seizure."

Grocery Bureaucracy: Sarah Mulholland: "Kroger and Albertsons . . . initially announced plans to sell 413 stores across the U.S. . . . in order to address concerns the merger might violate antitrust laws. The new agreement includes an additional 166 locations." Notice the word "might" here. In many cases nobody has any idea what constitutes a violation of antitrust laws until bureaucrats make their arbitrary pronouncements.

Focus on the Theocrats: Focus on the Family is in bed with the election conspiracist and theocrat Jody Hice, Steve Rabey points out.

Clark with Silverman: Listen to the episode.

Car Thefts: Turns out they can be quite dangerous, as when someone stole a vehicle with a six-year-old inside.

Squatting Hurts the Poor: As is obvious to anyone who has driven around Denver, and as is obvious from 9News footage, squatters set up around poorer areas of town, because wealthier people have the political pull to keep them out of their neighborhoods. Governments have a responsibility to maintain public areas for public use, and when they fail to do so by allowing squatting they do enormous harm to local residents and businesses.

Cat Hunting: A group wants to ban big-cat hunting in Colorado. Offhand I don't have a big problem with this. Wildlife managers still could kill or move cats for safety and such.

Sloth: A baby sloth was born at the Denver Zoo.

Legislative Update

Remove Anti-Gay Marriage Language: Colorado's Constitution still formally bans gay marriage. Sen. Joann Ginal wants to change that. Good. I endorsed this idea a couple years ago.

Rental Contract Interference: Again, the basic problem with housing is that local governments have largely outlawed the development and use of properties. The legislature is taking some steps toward fixing that problem. But the governor also has signed a bill to interfere with rental agreements. The main effect of this bill will be to discourage the provision of rental housing especially to people perceived to be potential trouble-makers. My read is that Polis signed this bill because he didn't think it would do much and wanted to appease the socialist wing of his party. It's a bad bill that undermines property rights and a bad signature by the governor.

Housing Controls: Another set of housing controls: Bill 1175 would give cities a so-called "right of first refusal" in order to buy certain residential properties. Anything but a free market in housing!

Airport Regs: Monte Whaley: Bill 1235 "would help aircraft owners phase out lead fuel [by providing a refundable income tax credit] and ensure Coloradans living near smaller, commuter airports are represented on the Colorado Aeronautical Board." Offhand I don't have any problem with the lead provisions. But, regarding the noise, I have two observations. First, many residential developments went up around existing airports. If you buy into a house near an airport, you're buying into the noise. And, as someone who lives next to a small airport, the sound of aircraft is a positive benefit to me, not a harm. Yet typically only the noise whiners get heard by the powers that be.

Train Make-Work: Javier Mabrey, who sports a Democratic Socialists of America endorsement on his web site, has sponsored a bill at the behest of "unionized rail workers" to reduce train length, making them more expensive to operate, Ed Sealover writes. The pretext is safety but the obvious purpose is to increase labor costs. Ultimately this is a self-defeating plan, as raising rail expenses will hasten the development of alternatives, including driverless trucking.

Punishing Pharmacists: Because the Democrats' price-control scheme for insulin is working poorly, now the legislature wants to double-down. "HB24-1438 would punish prescription drug manufacturers and pharmacies who fail to comply with Colorado's insulin affordability program," Paolo Zialcita writes. Producers must be punished at all costs!

Health Insurance Quagmire: A bill killed in committee illustrates the maddening state of health insurance. The idea was to override "in network" insurance requirements for doctors. But the basic problem, caused mainly by the federal government, is that health insurance typically is tied to work, which is incredibly stupid. And health "insurance" largely has become mandate-laden prepaid medical care, which drives up costs and reduces consumer autonomy. There's nothing wrong per se with the idea of in-network doctors, but within the current government-deformed system people often lose their preferred doctors.

Anti-Charter School Bill: The legislature killed the anti-charter school bill 1363. Pam Benigno writes, "If the bill was adopted, it would have granted a public school district with declining enrollment the power to revoke a charter school's charter. . . . The legislation would have removed the second charter appeal to the Colorado Board of Education, leaving the final decision to school districts if new charter schools open or if they renew current school contracts." People who tell you this bill was just about transparency and accountability are lying to you.

Safe Drug Use: The legislature killed a bill to allow cities to allow safe drug use sites. I'm convinced such sites generally save lives. However, when cities have other bad policies, the worry is these sites also can contribute to local squatting and open-air drug use.

Brain Privacy: The legislature made the New York Times for a bill "protecting the privacy of neural data."

HOA Business: Marissa Ventrelli: "Gov. Jared Polis has signed a measure into law that prohibits homeowners associations from barring the operation of home-based businesses, saying it is one of his 'favorite' bills this session.'" This is a bad bill. HOAs exist for a reason, and if people don't want to live under HOAs, they can decline to buy into one or move out of one. Yes, in many contexts HOAs banning home-based businesses is stupid. But HOAs also have internal mechanisms for reform. Polis says people have "rights to run their businesses from their home." Ordinarily that's so. But people also have a right to join a mutual contract governing home ownership under an HOA, in which case they consent to paying fees and giving up autonomy in certain ways. I do think the legislature should take a look at how new HOAs are formed, and make sure they are truly opt-in. And I'm okay with the legislature overriding obviously stupid rules pertaining to foreclosure and safety.

Vexatious: The legislature has killed a proposal (part of a bill) to label certain persons "vexatious" for purposes of limiting their CORA requests.

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