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Colorado News Stories: Connecting Some Dots

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Today was another day in which a number of news articles caught my eye.  They warrant additional context, especially the connections between some of them.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been working behind the scenes to talk with what the corporate media likes to term “centrist”/”moderate” Democratic Senators regarding health care.  He will continue to try to convince CorporateDems to vote to allow debate on the Senate health bill.  What’s the center position between corporatist lackeys and principled public servants anyway?  Another very popular Washington buzzterm came into play: Salazar is involved because he was involved in several bipartisan agreements while a Senator.  He was at the forefront of what I term the Gaggle of Gangs in the Senate – joining with other “centrists” to keep the filibuster around but ensure Democrats wouldn’t use it while in the minority.  Which is part of the reason why Salazar is being sent back to work on his former colleagues: the Cons are threatening to filibuster the health bill (though Democrats won’t actually force them to carry one out) and -gasp- Democrats might join them.  That’s the answer to “How did that bipartisanship end up working out”.  Whatever happened to the Cons’ “Upper-down-vote!” they couldn’t get enough of?  One person of concern is Sen. Lieberman, the man who campaigned for Sen. John McCain in last year’s presidential election and is doing everything he can to keep himself in the news this year.  Salazar was “mentored” by Lieberman when he joined the Senate, so I’m sure Lieberman can be convinced to play nice – aren’t you?  Oh, and after watering down the bill with nonsense to appease “centrist” Republicans, where are their votes to move to debate?  MIA?  Why did we negotiate with them exactly?  They’re not going to vote for the final bill.

Sen. Mark Udall’s credit-card rate freeze bill (actually the 2nd) died yesterday in the Senate.  Gee, what could have caused that?  I thought the Cons were really and truly interested in bipartisanship.  I was supposed to believe in this make-believe story because folks like former-Sen. Salazar and Sen. Udall have told us a million times that they’re really good at working across the aisle to get things done.  Really?  So the Cons putting a hold on the bill is actually reaching back across the aisle?  Listen up Senator: the Cons have no interest in moving anything through Congress.  They don’t want to work with you.  And if Dems don’t start getting things done on their own, they’ll find out just how much voters appreciate all bipartisan talk, no any kind of action in Nov 2010.

The Independence Institute is 25 years old.  Whoopty-freaking-doo.  Of more concern is Jessica Fender’s opening question: what has allowed it to live long enough for a 25th-anniversary celebration?  In typical fashion, a Post reporter dutifully copies down everything Jon Caldara wanted her to.  The answer, Jessica, is incredibly obvious if you really wanted it.  She made no mention of any of the big Con donors who have kept the Institute well-funded for these 25 years.  In contrast, Post stories on liberal think tanks regularly include questions about their funding sources.  She made no mention how their flagship effort to cripple Colorado’s state government has turned out (apparently crumbling infrastructure and public education aren’t worth the effort).  There was no discussion about the impacts of the worshippers of the mythical free-market god on the rest of us in the state.  There was no discussion about how ultra-partisan the Institute is – their scorched-earth tactics are referred to as “inching discourse to the right” and “attention grabbing” with a “flair for the dramatic”.  No – this is just a fluff piece on how amazing the sparkly Institute really is.  And they say there’s no feel-good stories in the news these days.

Xcel made the news twice.  They’re asking a state Air Quality Control Commission to renew pollution permits that have expired for two dirty coal plants: Cherokee in Denver and Valmont in Boulder.  They also “settled for” a $136 Million rate increase, after receiving a $112 Million rate increase just this last May.  The coal plants should be made to run cleaner, since technologies are available today to do so, especially in light of the hundreds of millions of dollars in rate increases they’re consistently awarded in Colorado alone.  The permits will likely go through without any additional requirements, however.  Because statements like this will make everyone feel better when they learn that coal pollution makes our water undrinkable: “If the permittee meets all terms, conditions and applicable requirements, the permit (or permit renewal) will be issued.”  Of course, in relation to the rate increase, this isn’t exactly what I want to hear either:

The rate increase would allow Xcel to recover more than $1.7 billion in power-plant, transmission and distribution- system investments.  “We see this as a significant step to continuing our ability to provide reliable service,” said Tim Taylor, chief executive of Xcel’s Public Service Company of Colorado.

Got that?  I’m sure every single penny of that $1.7 Billion will go exclusively toward infrastructure and not to profits or executive compensation.  So as low-income families get their power turned off this winter, remember that brown-out and black-outs will be much rarer around these parts and power plants will run much cleaner (oops! Don’t read the first story).

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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