If you are an individual who values accountability, responsibility, and transparency, this essay of the Best and Worst of Colorado Politics in 2022 is a helpful summary of the past year. Hopefully, these stories will inspire all of us to focus our citizen engagement to improve our communities. Our state needs watchdogs over education, public health, and elected officials. Find the area that you can improve with your time and talents in 2023.
WORST ELECTED STATE REPRESENTATIVES: Sen. Priola & Rep. Caraveo
Colorado Senator Kevin Priola (D) finally came out as a Democrat, after years of sponsoring and voting with Colorado Democrat legislative agendas at the Capitol (going back to 2014 when he was forced to resign as the House Republican caucus whip). As reported by Colorado Public Radio, Priola claims he had to turn his back on the Republican party because it supported “a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election” referring to a protest by unarmed citizens in Washington D.C. almost two years prior on January 6, 2021. Is it plausible that he waited 20 months to form a “last straw” stand against the GOP about an unsubstantiated insurrection, or more likely that he waited for the last few months of mid-term election cycle to give the Democrat party an advantage in numbers? Priola answers this question for the public by his statement of “there’s too much at stake right now for Republicans to be in charge.” In his last term, he has already informed the public that he will continue to support “climate change” and restrictions to vaccine exemptions, along with his previous support reported by Colorado Politics for “a controversial state recycling program, bills on reducing greenhouse gases, renewable energy, electric vehicles, use of plastics in fast-food meals, and a school immunization bill in 2020.” Priola’s constituents in SD13 can join a recall effort when it resumes in January 2023.
US Representative-elect Yadira Caraveo (D) from Colorado’s CD8 became the only known candidate to ever pay herself a salary of $39,072 from campaign contributions, as reported by Complete Colorado Page 2. Running for federal office nearly doubled her salary from the Colorado House of Representatives which pays $41,449. Caraveo is a former pediatrician, and supported experimental vaccines, mask mandates, and school closures for children. She did not support the legislative efforts of the Rep. Baisley and Rep. Ransom (mentioned below) to affirm natural immunity and to protect people from discrimination in the workplace for their choice to refuse an experimental COVID19 vaccine. Caraveo (48.4%) narrowly defeated Barbara Kirkmeyer (R) (47.7%), with a Libertarian candidate in the race with 3.9% of the vote. Who would have thought a state representative position is more lucrative than that of a pediatrician? Caraveo’s constituents should be scrutinizing her tax returns.
BEST ELECTED STATE REPRESENTATIVES: Sen. Baisley, Rep. Ransom, & Rep. Sandridge
Former Colorado Representative and now Colorado Senator-Elect Mark Baisley (R) sponsored HB22-1144 as a science-based exit strategy from COVID19 restrictions. “The bill requires an employer, as a condition of employment, or a state agency that imposes a COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirement to allow a person subject to the requirement to instead provide documentation demonstrating that the person has naturally acquired immunity to the disease.” This bill did not pass with the Democrat majority in the House Health & Insurance committee. When the Democrats rediscover natural immunity, likely when the federal COVID-19 funding ends in 2023, remember that Baisley sponsored this bill in 2022 to restore full access to employment and state agencies for all people in Colorado.
Colorado Rep. Kim Ransom and Rep. Shane Sandridge sponsored HB22-1100, to prohibit discrimination based on COVID19 vaccine choices.
“The bill prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee or an applicant for employment based on the employee’s or applicant’s COVID-19 immunization status. The bill allows an aggrieved employee or applicant for employment to file a civil action for injunctive, affirmative, and equitable relief and, if the employer acted with malice or wanton or willful misconduct or has repeatedly violated the law, the court may also award punitive damages and attorney fees and costs. Additionally, the bill specifies that the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, that the state cannot require any individual to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, and that government agencies and private businesses, including health insurers, cannot discriminate against clients, patrons, or customers based on their COVID-19 vaccination status. A person aggrieved by a violation of these prohibitions may file a civil action for injunctive and other appropriate relief and may be awarded punitive damages and attorney fees and costs for wanton, willful, or repeated violations.”
By the time this bill was introduced, 5,290 healthcare workers had already lost their jobs in 2021 as reported by the Colorado Sun due to an illegal Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) COVID19 mandate ordered by CDPHE and Gov. Polis. The threat of discrimination was not hypothetical; vaccine discrimination was impacting all sectors of the workforce including severe pilot shortages in the airlines as reported by CNBC. Once again, the House Health & Insurance committee blocked this bill from moving forward. Constituents can hold accountable the pro-discrimination Representatives: Susan Lontine, Chris Kennedy, Brianna Titone, David Ortiz, Kyle Mullica, Karen McCormick, and Emily Sirota. Their voting record does not reflect the party that claims to support civil rights.
HONORABLE MENTION: House Minority Leader Rep. Hugh McKean passed away unexpectedly in 2022, and the Larimer County Republican Party Chair Ron Weinberg was appointed to serve his term starting in January 2023 as reported by Colorado Newsline.
WORST USE OF FUNDS: Denver Defund-the-Police to Refund-the-Police
Denver Mayor Hancock ignored opposition to “Defund the Police” in 2020. He waited two years until violent crime, drugs, homeless camp trash, and fecal waste were so problematic that he had to declare a “compassionate crackdown.” According to the Denverite, one community member called Union Station a “hellhole.” Businesses and convention groups abandoned Denver. “The reality is that we are losing businesses in downtown Denver,” Hancock said. “The reality is that we are losing conventions.” In order to counter the problems which Hancock says were caused by the pandemic, not defunding the police, he has added $5.3 million to the police patrol budget for 2023 as reported by the Denver Gazette.
Statewide, there is evidence of a mass exodus of people out of Democrat counties due to government malfeasance, and a mass influx into conservative counties which did not defund police. According to migration data from 2020-2021 reported by KDVR:
“Denver lost the most, with 8,867 moving out of the county. Jefferson saw 3,414 move out, Arapahoe 2,285, Boulder 1,413 and Adams 468. In contrast, Douglas, Weld, El Paso, Larimer, Mesa and Pueblo counties saw more people move in. Over 7,500 more people moved into Douglas County than left, followed by Weld County with 6,730 and El Paso County with 2,988. Larimer County had 2,602 new residents and Mesa County had 1,738.”
BEST USE OF FUNDS: Douglas County Reintegration and Transportation Program
Douglas County, with the aforementioned 7,500 new people who prioritize safety and cleanliness in their community, has developed a Reintegration and Transportation Program for people exiting the county jail or experiencing homelessness. A team with support from the Sheriff’s department, Detentions Administration, and Health and Human Services will ensure the individual has basic needs and transportation to a relative’s house or shelter, as well as connections to community partners for mental health support or Medicaid applications. This program reduces panhandling, homelessness, and non-violent crimes in the community associated with transient people with few resources.
WORST SCHOOL PROGRAM: Transitioning genders of children
In Poudre School District, Laurel Elementary School transitioned a student’s gender pronouns at school against the objections from parents. The district “Chief Academic & Equity Officer” gave this guidance to the school assistant principal reported by Parents Defending Education: “The school should use the student’s affirming name and pronouns at school and use their legal name and corresponding pronouns when talking with the family until they are supportive of the student’s new name and pronouns.” PSD denies that administrators deceived the parents, and admits they allowed the minor student to use a preferred name and pronoun at school instead of the student’s legal name and biological sex. While public schools hyperfocus on equity and gender, Chalkbeat Colorado reports that Colorado’s 4th grade students declined to 36% proficiency in math and 38% proficiency in reading.
BEST SCHOOL PROGRAM: Homeschool
A Colorado Springs homeschool team won the state-wide Science Olympiad competition and advances to the national competition as reported by The Gazette. This academic achievement follows last year’s victory by a homeschool student from Minnesota who won gold at the International Physics Olympiad. According to HSLDA, Evan Erikson, now age 18, is “one of the most accomplished students on the planet when it comes to physics and math.” Colorado Department of Education reported that homeschooling doubled in 2020 to 15,773 students. Homeschool allows students to excel in education including special needs students and black students (increase from 3% to 16%).
MOST SHAMEFUL PUBLIC PROGRAM: Child Protective Services (CPS)
Most law-abiding people have been led to believe that CPS is an extension of trustworthy law enforcement, but CPS is actually corrupt privately contracted individuals who often work for public schools and hospitals to coerce families into submission to agendas without due process. According to Child Maltreatment Reports in Colorado, 73% of child abuse and neglect investigations were unsubstantiated (false accusations) in 2019 and 76% of child abuse and neglect investigations were unsubstantiated (false accusations) in 2020. Targeted families must have significant funds to hire lawyers in a guilty-until-proven-innocent system which has incentives for case workers to re-home children.
Robin Niceta, an Arapahoe County Child Protective Services employee, plead not guilty to a false child sex abuse claim against Danielle Jurinsky, an Aurora City Councilwoman. Jurinsky had made public criticisms of Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson’s incompetence. Wilson was later fired as police chief. Niceta, who was in a romantic relationship with Wilson, allegedly retaliated against Jurinsky with an anonymous child abuse claim traced to her cell phone. Fox News reported as of December 2022: “Jurinsky and 25 other people have also filed a lawsuit against Niceta, the Arapahoe County Board of Supervisors and the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services alleging the agency has wrongfully removed children from the custody of their parents.”
MOST HONORABLE PUBLIC PROGRAM: USMC Memorial Foundation
The United States Marine Corps Memorial is located in Golden, Colorado. It was completed in 1977, and it will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2027 with the goal of a $3.5 million renovation and expansion project led by a non-profit, volunteers, and brick donations. The Memorial’s mission is to honor Marines and all who served. The USMC Memorial hosts large gatherings on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day every year. The plans include five symbolic walkways in a park-like setting within the triangle intersection, and the addition of a nearby building for veterans to have community with each other and to share history with the next generation. Supporters can purchase and dedicate a walkway brick at https://usmcmemorialfoundation.org
WORST INVESTIGATION: Phil Weiser, Colorado AG
How did Colorado achieve the highest auto theft rate in the nation? George Brauchler explains in Colorado Politics how the current Colorado AG promotes offender-friendly policies while blaming the pandemic for crime and advising people to buy more car insurance:
“In the first Attorney General candidate forum of the 2022 election cycle, Phil Weiser, the current incumbent of the office, told a group of Windcrest Senior Living Center residents that Colorado’s specific crime tsunami was caused by the global pandemic. He went on to reveal why he believed Jefferson County was seeing a downturn in car thefts. ‘After someone commits a third or fourth car theft in, say, three months,’ Weiser said, ‘they should be kept in (jail) with a really high bond, because you got a sense they are going to get out they’re going to commit more crimes. …In Jeffco, that’s what they do.’”
According to CDPHE, Colorado also experienced a 70% increase in fentanyl overdoses from 2020 to 2021. How did Colorado become the second highest rate of fentanyl deaths in the US as reported in Axios? “Fentanyl Phil” Weiser voiced no objections to offender-friendly reforms in the legislature when as reported in the Greeley Tribune: “Incredibly, a Colorado law passed in 2019, made possession of four grams or less of fentanyl a misdemeanor instead of a felony…” Then in 2022, the Democrat controlled legislature decided to “reform” per Colorado Public Radio (HB22-1326) their previous reforms (HB19-1263) that enabled the fentanyl crisis, and passed a bill to make possession of 1 gram or more a felony.
BEST INVESTIGATION: Boulder GOP Chair Theresa Watson & Boulder Investigators
Rep. Tracey Bernett (D) of Longmont was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly falsifying her residency for purposes of running for House District 12, as reported by Colorado Politics. Bernett rented an apartment in Louisville (HD12) for her address on her voter registration, in addition to her long-term primary Longmont residence address (HD19) on her driver’s license. Theresa Watson, Chairwoman of the Boulder County Republican Party, filed a formal complaint with the DA. The DA’s investigation “included the use of witness interviews, search warrants, and cell phone location data” resulting in an arrest affidavit and warrant to the court. Evidence on social media showed Bernett at the Longmont home, and evidence obtained from searches at the Louisville apartment showed an empty refrigerator and closet with no computer or other electronic devices.
WORST INCOMPETENCE: Secretary of State’s Office
As reported by NPR, “The Colorado Secretary of State’s office, which oversees the state’s elections, accidentally mailed about 30,000 postcards to non-citizens who were not eligible to vote containing instructions for how to register. At least some of the people who received the postcards are living in the country without authorization.” NPR asserts that this is a “clerical error” and not massive voter fraud.
MOST COMPETENT: New and expanding K-9 units across Colorado
Welcome new K-9s Xaros and Zuma to the Windsor Police Department as reported by the Coloradoan. These K-9s will be trained to detect narcotics and apprehend suspects. Every local municipality should consider funding a K-9 unit given the aforementioned Polis administration’s fentanyl crisis. In March 2022, a Weld County Sheriff’s Office K-9 team detected 93 Fentanyl laced pills in a traffic stop, saving potentially 93 lives. Larimer County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit explains, “It is estimated that each K9 team can save between 800 and 1,000 man hours per year. K9 teams respond to violent calls, building searches related to alarms or reports of forced entry, fleeing subjects, searches for missing, lost, or endangered children or persons, and narcotic calls.” K-9 Friends reports, “Since 2011, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit has been responsible for 20,000 deployments, 1,418 arrests and 623 assists in surrounding counties, while seizing over 900 pounds of narcotics and $1.2 million in cash.”
MOST APATHY IN PUBLIC HEALTH: Arapahoe County
Last year, Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) dissolved into three independent county health departments, due to controversial COVID public heath orders in 2020 and 2021. Arapahoe County hired the former TCHD Deputy Director, Jennifer Ludwig, as the Executive Director of the newly formed Arapahoe County Public Health Department, along with six other executive leaders from the former TCHD, and a total goal of 181 employees. Arapahoe County sent letters of interest to hire 121 former employees of TCHD. It seems that Arapahoe County citizens either approve of lockdowns and mask mandates or have a high rate of apathy in engaging in public health decisions. According to The Villager,
“Ludwig told the [Board of Health] that the staff had already conducted community engagement on the question of, ‘How important is it for a health department to engage the community before issuing an evidence-based public health order that has been recommended by experts and/or a medical officer?’ The result, she reported, was that only 29% of respondents said it was important, 45% said it was not important, and 26% were neutral on the question.”
Colorado Community Media summarized the different plans for the three new county health departments. Adams County plans to hire 60 employees from the former TCHD with a total of 170 employees, and Douglas County plans to hire 12 employees from the former TCHD, with an overall small government plan for 35 total employees and contracted clinical services.
BEST PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN HEALTH: Pueblo
In response to a proposed plan to build an abortion clinic in Pueblo, citizens filled the city council meeting with a crowd that exceeded the fire code capacity of the building. When the Pueblo Mayor said there was nothing he could do, citizens demanded that the city council have the legal department draft an ordinance prohibiting abortion clinics in Pueblo, modeled after a sanctuary city for the unborn in Hobbs, New Mexico.
As reported in The Pueblo Chieftain, one pastor informed the city council members to expect the abortion clinic to “put a drain on law enforcement due to the number of protests that will take place daily.” A doctor explained that “it is never medically necessary to perform an abortion in order to save the mother’s life, especially when it comes to cases of third-trimester abortions,” adding that stillborn babies can still be delivered “safely” — ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages are not the same as abortions.”
Attorneys on both sides of the issue are poised to enter a legal battle in 2023 to prohibit an abortion clinic in Pueblo.
WORST IMPERSONATION OF A LIBERTARIAN: Gov. Polis
A gale force “WHAT?!?” swept across Colorado on November 11, 2022 when Gov. Polis told Bill Maher in his public relations tour kickoff for a Presidential campaign that he was a Libertarian. In “The ‘Progressive’ Democrat Who Pretends He’s a Libertarian,” Rob Natelson articulately explains in a Townhall column why Polis is NOT a libertarian who maximizes liberty. Polis issued daily Executive Orders during the first months of the pandemic to restrict freedom with “lockdowns” and “mandates,” destroying 43% of all Colorado small businesses. Polis expanded the state government by renaming taxes as “fees” which included a $5.4 billion increase in a new gasoline tax as reported by Colorado Politics and new fees for retail deliveries and rideshares and shopping bags and family leave and vehicle registration…with many of these new “fees” becoming incrementally more burdensome in next few years. Polis signed legislation for “environmental justice” that created regulations restricting energy production. According to Colorado’s Free Enterprise Report 2022 Edition, “There are more than 10,000 fewer energy jobs in the state now than there were last year” and the energy outlook (along with jobs and economy) is negative. In summary, the Polis Administration’s increased control over people’s lives by excessive orders, regulations, taxes, and directly impeded the economic recovery of Colorado.
BEST LIBERTARIAN POLICY: Proposition 121
According to “Prop 121 gives back to those who deserve it most” in Colorado Politics:
“Proposition 121 would reduce the state income tax from 4.55% to 4.4% for everyone. In total, it would save taxpayers $400 million per year. That’s real money that will be going back into working Coloradan’s checking and savings accounts. Projections by the Common Sense Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank, show that Prop 121 would also add jobs to Colorado’s economy. The dynamic impact of tax savings in 2023 would be an estimated additional 9,110 jobs.”
This ballot measure was approved by voters, and it will offset the near $1000 monthly increase in costs for Colorado households, with the highest inflation in the nation due to billions of dollars in new state fees imposed by the legislature and signed by the governor. Thank you to Independence Institute for Prop 121.
OXYMORON OF THE YEAR: Family-friendly drag shows
WORD OF THE YEAR: gaslighting
May we learn from 2022 how to fight the battles for needed changes in 2023!
Great article. Is their an email list for any other updates or articles? My email is email@example.com