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Why are we disconnected? Something is disconnected between the electors and elected in the State of Colorado

Something is disconnected between the electors and the electeds in the State of Colorado.



NOTE: PULP started out with a premise that we wanted to have a frank discussion with elected officials in our region about civility, bipartisanship and compromise in the 2014 legislative session. Our reasoning was, for the most part, politician’s ideologies are generally predictable depending on their party. The goal was to go beyond soundbites and understand how they think things should get done. Instead, the story became realizing a disconnect between how politicians perceive their job and the work they’re doing and how citizens see these same actions.   

Congress’ approval rating has reached a new low. Since 1974, the approval rating has averaged around 33 percent, which could be argued is low to begin with, but new numbers released last month by Gallup said approval has dipped down to 9 percent.

Polling done in June revealed that political gridlock and indecision were the top reasons why Americans are so skeptical of the job congress is doing, according to a Fiscal Times article from Nov. 12.

Compare the approval rating to findings that partisan politics is at a 25-year high. The Pew Research Center has been tracking polarization since 1987, and the value gap has changed. Pew reported there has been more stability than not among the 48 political values they tracked. However, the partisan gap has doubled. In other words, conservatives rule the Republican Party and liberals rule the Democrats.

How in a time, when approval is down, is polarization possibly getting worse?

Joel Johnson, political science professor at CSU-Pueblo, gave one simple reason. Congress as a whole doesn’t have to be popular. Each congressman just needs to be popular enough to get elected in his or her district or state.

This also means state governments are different when it comes to polarization. For example, a state like Utah doesn’t experience gridlock. They’re completely Republican and always have been. A state like Colorado, where both parties have been in power, is different.

“Polarization is so extreme that secession is on the table,” Johnson said.

Ballotpedia, a non-profit and non-partisan online, political encyclopedia, also says states have become more partisan over the years.

In a study completed by the organization from 1993 to 2013, it was found that it is more and more likely now that a state is under the control of just one political party. They call it a trifecta when one party controls the governor’s seat and both legislatures. In 2012, there were two times as many trifectas as there were in 1992.

Colorado is one of those trifecta states.

Of course, polarized and partisan are not absolute synonyms, but columns appearing in the New York Times and Washington Post have said when a state is ‘blue’ (has a Democratic trifecta), it’s more likely to pass progressive legislation and ‘red’ states (Republican trifectas) pass conservative legislation.

The problem in Denver, he added, is that there isn’t any debate between the two parties. Regarding the gun bills, he said, “they (the Democrats) sat in their chairs, because they knew they had the votes.

— Colorado State Senator Larry Crowder

That isn’t anything new, but because Colorado has two strong parties, gridlock and indecision are more common. For instance, the battle over gun legislation and the recall elections that followed. They speak volumes about the political state of Colorado. (See Gun Fight Over Money in the Dark)

The lack of compromise in legislation that led to the recall of two senators and multiple attempts of others is the obvious connection between partisanship and polarization in the state.

Unlike on a national level, state senators and representatives live in the very towns and neighborhoods they represent. For the most part, they preach community rather than partisanship.

Pulp talked to the politicians in Southern Colorado, and the main question we posed was what their role in the minority or majority was and how they are, or have, worked with the other side in the past. If state politics is really about the community and knowing the constituents, party lines should play less of a role.

For Larry Crowder, state senator for Colorado district 35, reaching across the aisle is easy, and he likes talking about it.

After sending one email about my article’s premise, he committed to being at my office two days later to talk about the next legislative session and improving the region. And he showed up.

There were no dodged calls or unanswered emails.

We talked about the issues he believes will be controversial in the next legislative session. They’re few, he said, after all, it’s an election year.

He brought up SB 252, the bill that increased the requirement of alternative energy in electric cooperatives in Colorado by 20 percent by 2020. He opposed it, but he didn’t.

He voted against the bill because it wasn’t good for rural Colorado, he said. It wasn’t the premise that was wrong though. It was the time frame the bill had. To double the requirement in the proposed time was more expensive for the people in his district.

It wouldn’t have mattered who introduced the legislation, Democrat or Republican, Crowder said, he wasn’t going to vote for it.

The problem in Denver, he added, is that there isn’t any debate between the two parties. Regarding the gun bills, he said, “they (the Democrats) sat in their chairs, because they knew they had the votes.”

Garcia said he doesn’t want to be part of a legislative body that is unable to get things done, and he feels 90 percent of those elected into the legislature are their for their districts, not their party.

The partisan acts of the legislature haven’t affected him at all though, he said, “I feel that I was representing the people like I would want to be represented.”

For Crowder, being politically driven, rather than by the people of the district, means they’re walking on eggshells.

He’s comfortable in his position crossing party lines.

The recall of Angela Giron put Senator George Rivera in office, but in the eyes of Rivera this wasn’t Democrat versus Republican. “A lot of Democrats put me in office,” he said.

The recall was about listening to the voters. So would Rivera, if faced with an issue that didn’t support the Republican agenda, vote against his party?

“(I’ll) do what’s best for the most people in the state,” he said, but he didn’t go into detail.

This is Rivera’s first term in office and his first time in politics, but he said he sees a lot of value in working with the Democrats. They have the same values, he said, and “we have a lot more in common than not.”

His goal for 2014 is to get through the legislative session, “I know enough to know that I don’t know,” he said. But he said he doesn’t have an agenda. He wants to build bridges, and repealing the gun laws aren’t even his top priority, though he did say the new universal background check policy has got to go. He said he owes it to the people who supported him.

He talked a lot about taxes. He supports Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff’s proposal of tax-free days and said he would co-sponsor the bill.

Rivera was eager to talk about his duty as a voice of the people in 2014.

Leroy Garcia, House District 46, said in his year in the legislature he hasn’t witnessed much partisanship, “I can only speak from my experience, and the statistics aren’t what I see.”

Last year, he worked on the Critical Care Paramedic Bill, which passed unanimously through the house and senate. He said he also supported the Fort Lyons bill that Ratzlaff-Navarro co-sponsored.

“The legislation I chose to work on were specific to Pueblo and Southern Colorado,” Garcia said. It’s critical at this time, he added, that the two parties work together because no one-person has the answer.

Garcia said he doesn’t want to be part of a legislative body that is unable to get things done, and he feels 90 percent of those elected into the legislature are their for their districts, not their party.

Navarro-Ratzlaff was unreachable. She returned one call, and after the questions were sent to her email she did not respond. A follow-up call was not returned.

Navarro-Ratzlaff was unreachable. She returned one call, and after the questions were sent to her email she did not respond. A follow-up call was not returned.

If you talk to politicians, they’ll say the partisanship doesn’t affect them. They’re in office to serve and listen to the people, but it doesn’t change what the statistics show.

Politicians are supposed to listen to their constituents, but that was the biggest complaint among the the effort which recalled Senator Angela Giron, and it’s the number one complaint in the counties wanting to secede. They don’t believe politics under the gold dome cater to their needs.

With politicians claiming they’re listening, statistics showing partisanship and voters recalling elected officials because they feel like they’re not being heard, there is an obvious disconnect. What started out as a discussion on how elected representatives view civility and compromise ended with this question to me and maybe to you too. If politicians are listening to the voters, why aren’t the voters convinced?

— by Kara Mason, News Editor

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet




Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.

Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.

Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.

Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days



There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter



WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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