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Parker Column: Nobody eats wolf

From Little Red Riding Hood’s terrifying encounter with the Big Bad Wolf to Kevin Costner’s balletic romance with some kindred, four-legged spirit in “Dances With Wolves,” Americans have long had a love-hate relationship with the ancestral predecessor of our favorite family pet.

Some want to hunt and kill as many wolves as they can; others want to keep them defended, as they have been since the federal government included the gray wolf in the list of protected animals under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In 2011, Congress voted to remove those protections for wolves in the upper Rockies, resulting in thousands of wolf kills through trapping or hunting.

Soon the same fate may befall the 5,000 or so remaining gray wolves in the lower 48 states, if a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services proposal to lift protections goes through. The public-comment period on the proposal ends July 15, though comments can still be made after that date and the agency is obligated to review them all.

I confess to being a resolute lover of anything with a heartbeat, excluding a few Homo sapiens here and there. I’m not, however, a Pollyanna about hunting. Though the allure of hunting has eluded me, many friends and family members are outdoorsmen and view hunting as a natural way to put food on the table.

Many hunters are also conservationists, whose dedication to hunting corresponds to a commensurate dedication to preserving wilderness and wetland areas. In many cases, their efforts have led to increased animal and fowl populations.

But the wolf is also highly effective at managing deer and elk populations, which upsets the hunters who prefer the same prey. Do hunters have a greater right to eat elk than wolves do? Perhaps the better question is: Are hunters more effective at balancing fragile ecosystems than are the animals who’ve evolved to do just that?

If you hunt without poison, traps or from the air with sniper rifles — it is actually extremely difficult to kill a wolf. Randy Newberg, who hosts an online show on hunting, says that “wolves just might be America’s most challenging big game.” He described hiking through rough mountain terrain for five days with heavy packs, 8-12 miles per day, and seeing only the tails of a few running wolves. After his partner finally killed a single wolf, Newberg wrote of his great respect for this “beautiful” animal, as well as his hope that more hunters would start killing more wolves soon. For him, it was a childhood dream come true.

For many other Americans, seeing a beautiful, noble animal does not inspire the need to destroy it. This is especially true of elephants, lions, giraffes and other endangered species around the globe that trophy hunters slaughter for body parts. Between 2005 and 2014, 1.26 million “trophies” were imported into the U.S.

In a 2017 tweet, President Trump, whose sons are big-game hunters, referred to trophy hunting as a “horror show,” suggesting that he would continue the Obama-era ban on trophies being brought into the U.S. Nonetheless, the ban has been lifted on some animals on a nation-by-nation basis.

An American president’s words matter, and Trump, who recently touted his administration’s commitment to conservation, could prove it by speaking up for wolves. There are other ways to manage wolves without killing them, though, admittedly they’re more difficult. Thus, the essential question comes down to whether we want to ensure that wild areas remain wild, with limited exceptions — perhaps granted to ranchers when their livestock is under consistent predation by wolves. Surely such accommodations would be preferable to rubber-stamping a massive wolf slaughter.

This isn’t to romanticize the wolf or to diminish the concerns already expressed but to offer a balance to the pressures being exerted by powerful lobbies. Wolves have no voice and it is too soon to lift protections, which are the only reason we still have wolves at all. Once delisted, it wouldn’t take long to eliminate the wolf altogether — to the detriment of the environment as well as our collective heritage.

Wolves are neither good nor bad. They don’t pretend to be grandma and they don’t dance with disenchanted soldiers. They are much like our dogs, emotionally, and, like the best hunters, kill only for food. If Trump doesn’t speak up soon, the howl we hear in the night won’t belong to the predator but to the last lonely wolf crying out for all that an inhumane world has lost.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

Stroud column: PI.com en Espanol, and a shift in my editor role

A couple of things maybe jumped out at Post Independent readers this past week, one involving a new online feature and the other a classified display ad, which also is listed online.

First, you may have seen the ad seeking a new Post Independent editor and wondered what’s up with Stroud — or maybe not.

In any case, yes, after nearly a year-and-a-half in this position, I am taking a “step back” in the profession I’ve chosen for my life’s pursuit.

But I’m not going anywhere.

In addition to the chief editor’s position, we are creating a managing editor/senior reporter position. This is the role I will be moving into come mid-August.

As much as I’ve enjoyed being the lead editor of your community newspaper, I’ve come to the realization that my true passion is reporting, writing and telling stories about the people and organizations that give heart to our local communities.

This new position will allow me to write on a regular basis again, with a focus on business and education, while also helping lead the newsroom and our other reporters as more of an on-the-floor editor.

I look forward to getting back into the community — and out of the office — in this new role, from which I will also be working to build the Tuesday Business and Thursday Education sections of the Post Independent.

If you have any ideas on how to improve these or any other sections of the newspaper, please continue to provide feedback, as many of you do already.

We continue to hear from readers who say they enjoy and appreciate what we are doing with the Post Independent these days, which is ever-evolving as we strive to connect with more readers and remain relevant.

Which brings me to another new Post Independent feature and our online announcement last week — in Spanish — that all stories posted to our website [postindependent.com] can now be converted to Spanish with one click of the mouse.

Many thanks to our digital engagement editor, Natuza Olen, for moving this project forward. It has been a long time coming, and is just another way that we, as the information source for Garfield County, can provide useful news and information to even more of the people who live here.

To preface, I must point out that this is a work in progress and we will continue to make improvements to this new bilingual feature.

The automated translation plugin that we are now using is anything but perfect. It tends to jumble words, making for improper Spanish sentence structure, and it randomly translates people’s names and other proper nouns.

But it’s a start, and is in recognition that there’s a large segment of our population that we can be informing more effectively.

According to the most-recent demographic data, close to 30 percent of Garfield County’s population is of Hispanic or Latino origin — Hispanic meaning of Spanish-speaking descent, whether that’s Mexico, Argentina or Spain; and Latino being specifically of Latin American descent, so anyone coming from south of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Likewise, a growing number of local businesses throughout the region are owned by Hispanic entrepreneurs.

A good portion of this population is perfectly fine reading our stories in English, and in many cases Spanish isn’t even their first language.

But for those who want to read what we offer in Spanish — or maybe brush up on their own bilingual skills — this is just another way to do it. Call it learning.

More importantly, it provides at least the option for those among us who do speak and read Spanish as their first language to obtain news and important emergency information in a timely manner.

To read the postindependent.com in Spanish, just click on the tab that says “Spanish” in the upper right-hand corner of our home page.

We also hope this will be the beginning of other new language features to come, including a possible Spanish-language e-newsletter and possibly some select stories translated into Spanish for print.

John Stroud is editor of the Post Independent.

Micek column: A play on Trump and leaked cables, in one act

(Ext. 10 Downing Street, nighttime. The lights of London shine in the late evening. Revelers wander in and out of pubs. Big Ben stretches imperiously against a July sky. Inside No 10, a phone rings.)

Ministerial Aide: “No. 10, may I help? Mhmhmm … mhmhmm … He called him what? (raucous laughter). Okay, yes, right, I’ll tell her.”

(The aide disconnects the call,shakes his head,and presses a button.)

Theresa May (groggily): “Do you know what time it is?”

Aide: “Yes, Prime Minister, I apologize for the lateness of the hour. But you’re going to want to hear this one. It’s our man in America, ma’am, the ambassador, Kim Darroch. Well, it appears that there’s been a leak of some diplomatic cables to the Mail on Sunday.”

May (suspiciously):”Which ones?”

Aide: “Well, you know the ones, ma’am. The ones where he called the American president “inept” and “insecure?” And the White House “dysfunctional?”

May: “Oh, right, those. Well, he wasn’t wrong, was he?”

Aide: “Oh, no, ma’am. Of course, not We’ve known that since Day One. It’s just that, well, President Trump, is on the Twitter again. And he’s throwing all of his toys out of the pram. He’s in a right snit.”

May (wearily): “What did he say this time?”

Aide (consults laptop, reads, his eyes twinkle with amusement): “Well, Prime Minister, he said that Sir Kim is ‘a pompous fool,’ and a ‘very stupid guy.’

May (laughs): “‘Stupid guy?’ Isn’t this the same president who said the American rebels captured airports during their adorable little ‘revolution’ all those years ago?”

Aide: ‘Yes, Prime Minister. But there’s something worrying. He says the American government won’t work with Sir Kim anymore because of his candor. They seem to want him fired.”

May (exhales heavily): “Really?”

Aide: “Yes, Prime Minister, that’s exactly what the American president said.”

May: “Hmmm … remind me, would you, what has President Trump said about other countries and their leaders?”

Aide: “Would you like the exhaustive list, Prime Minister?”

May: “No, no. We’ll be here all night. Just give me the greatest hits. Pretend we’re on ‘Top of the Pops.’”

Aide: “Well, there was that time when he called Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada ‘dishonest and weak.’

“Then, there was the row over him calling Mayor Khan of London “a stone, cold loser,” who was “foolishly nasty” to him over his visit here in June “And, of course, there was that whole thing about him dismissing ‘s**thole’ countries.’”

May: “Oh … right. That one. Where did you find all these? It’s not that American humor newspaper, what is it? ‘The Turnip,’ is it?”

Aide: “It’s called ‘The Onion,’ Madam Prime Minister. And no, all of this really happened. The American newspaper, the Washington Post, which I believe President Trump also mocks because it’s owned by that Bezos chap who’s richer than he is, ran a whole list of insults by Trump and his diplomats this week.”

May: “Wait, American diplomats have been rude overseas too?”

Aide (taps more keys, brings up the Washington Post story): “Oh, absolutely Prime Minister. You’ll recall the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, said video of him saying there were parts of that country that were ‘no-go’ zones because of ‘the Islamic movement was ‘fake news.’ The Post reported that Dutch journalists filleted him at his first news conference over his false claim and demanded an apology.”

May: “Anything else?”

Aide: “Oh yes, ma’am. The Post reports that the American ambassador to Israel,David M. Friedman, and the White House’s Mideast Peace Envoy Jason Greenblatt, were … ahhh … ‘filmed using hammers to break into an archaeological site under Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.’”

May: “Wait? What? Are these career diplomats doing this?”

Aide: “Oh, no, Prime Minister, no career diplomat would be that crashingly dumb.They’re political hacks. Both were former lawyers to President Trump.”

May: “And they were fired, course?”

Aide: “No, Prime Minister. Both still have their jobs.”

May: “And yet Trump doesn’t want to deal with Sir Kim?”

Aide: “Yes, Prime Minister.”

May: “All right, draft up a resignation letter, and have Sir Kim sign it. Make it look convincing. Add something flowery like, “The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands.”

Aide: Yes, Prime Minister. Absolutely. But we’re really not going to fire Sir Kim for being right about Trump are we?”

May: “No, of course not. Don’t be absurd. We’re going to wait a respectful period of time and then do what anyone would do to reward an employee who does their job well. We’re going to promote him. Ask Sir Kim how he feels about being our man in Bora Bora, would you?”

Aide: “I’ll get right on it, Prime Minister.”

An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at jmicek@penncapital-star.com and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.

Will column: To defeat Trump, Democrats should nominate Bennet

WASHINGTON — With a disgust commensurate with the fact, Michael Bennet, the Colorado Democrat, says that during 40% of his 10 Senate years the government has been run on “continuing resolutions.” Congress passes these in order to spare itself the torture of performing its primary function, which is to set national priorities. Bennet is too serious a person to be content in today’s Senate, and if Democrats are as serious as they say they are about defeating Donald Trump, Bennet should be their nominee.

The painfully revealing first phase of the Democratic presidential sweepstakes culminated with two remarkably efficient debates. This phase clarified the top four candidates’ propensity for self-inflicted wounds. When replayed in Trump’s negative ads, what they have already said might be sufficient to reelect him.

Bennet checks a requisite number of progressive boxes: He is impeccably (as progressives see such things) alarmed about the requisite things — the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, climate change, Mitch McConnell, etc. And he has endorsed — perfunctorily, one hopes — other candidates’ gesture-legislation to “study” reparations for slavery (Sen. Cory Booker) and for same-sex couples who lived in states where same-sex marriages were legal but who could not file joint tax returns before the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (Sen. Elizabeth Warren).

Bennet has, however, refrained from frightening and mystifying voters with plans (Sens. Harris, Warren, Sanders) to eliminate their private health insurance. Or with nostalgia for forced busing that shuffled children among schools on the basis of race (Harris). Or with enthusiasm for the institutional vandalism of packing the Supreme Court. Or with disdain (expressed by advocating decriminalization of illegal entry) for the principle that control of borders is an essential attribute of national sovereignty. And because Bennet, 54, was 8 when Joe Biden came to the Senate, Bennet has not had to conduct a Bidenesque Grovel Tour to apologize for deviations, decades ago, from today’s progressive catechism.

If, as Bennet believes, the Democratic nomination competition has become “more fluid,” it is because Harris, Sanders, Warren and Biden have imprudently spoken their minds. And they probably are not done shooting themselves in their already perforated feet.

Unlike them, Bennet has won two Senate races in a swing state that is evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans and independents. He can distinguish between what he calls “the Twitter version of the Democratic Party” and the “actual” version.

Bennet’s father, a descendant of a Mayflower passenger, earned a Harvard Ph.D. (medieval Russian history), and was an aide to a U.S. ambassador to India, and later worked for Democrats Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie and Tom Eagleton. Bennet’s mother, who survived the Holocaust by hiding in a Warsaw suburb, reached New York — via Stockholm and Mexico City — where her parents opened an art gallery. The city was the center of the postwar art world, and they did well. Bennet says that in second grade he won both ends of the competition to see who had the oldest and newest American family branches.

He edited the Yale Law Journal, became an associate at the Washington firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, then prospered working for a Denver investment firm before entering public service, which included four years as superintendent of Denver’s public schools, in which 67% of the pupils were poor enough to be eligible for free or subsidized lunches.

Bennet believes that Trump is more a symptom than a cause of political dysfunction, and he regrets that “the capitalists have lost control of the Republican Party,” which now is controlled by Trump cultists. China’s perfection — and exporting — of the “surveillance state” makes American democracy more important, and therefore its current degradation especially alarming. American politics has become a dialectic of “preemptive retributions” of “do it to them before they do it to us.” Trump’s politics of “I alone can fix it” has, Bennet says, “stripped the American people of their agency.”

In his new book (“The Land of Flickering Lights: Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics”), he quotes Thucydides on the civil war in the city of Corcyra: “With public life confused to the critical point, human nature, always ready to act unjustly even in violation of laws, overthrew the laws themselves and gladly showed itself powerless over passion but stronger than justice and hostile to any kind of superiority.” Such hostility is the essence of populism. Fortunately, the Democratic field includes one person familiar with Thucydides’ warning and who is unafraid to assert its contemporary pertinence.

George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

Letter: Less development-more open space

I would like to see a nice park/open space at the Confluence area. A park/open space that connects Two Rivers Park with Veltus Park. Not more commercial development. Let’s get behind the idea of less development and more open space.

Bob Durand ,
Glenwood Springs

Letter: A cautionary tale

I read with interest a recent article in Vox entitled “Coal left Appalachia devastated. Now it’s doing the same to Wyoming.” Subtitled “Vulture capitalists are sucking value from a dying industry.”

At the beginning of the Wyoming coal boom, politicians and local leaders were supposed to have taken lessons from Appalachia’s boom and bust cycle and prepare for coal’s eventual demise. Apparently, Wyoming was caught unawares in the decline in demand for coal. While part of that decline is driven by competition from cheaper energy sources such as natural gas, most of the decline is actually due to the coal operators betting heavily that the demand for their coal from China would be insatiable. It wasn’t.

In a devil’s bargain to keep the mines active, authorities let the coal companies slide on BLM royalty payments and property taxes. Now those coal companies are selling off their assets to fly-by-night companies that extract some value and then declare bankruptcy allowing them to walk away from debt for vendor goods and services, property taxes, BLM royalty payments, wage tax deductions, and most alarmingly pension and benefits to the miners. These debts are in the tens if not hundreds of millions. Meanwhile the local employment agencies are overwhelmed with suddenly unemployed workers with no immediate prospect of jobs. Finally, the stock holders are left in the lurch as well, as their stock becomes worthless. The only people making it out whole are the coal company executives who are given “retention” packages.

While the companies have “performance” bonds for the required cleanup work when coal mining operations cease, it’s not clear if those performance bonds are adequate or viable (can actually be cashed).

This is known as the “resource curse,” where companies come in and extract resources (coal, gas, gold, etc.) and then when the inevitable bust comes, leave someone else holding the bag for debt and cleanup. That someone else is usually the local community.

I’m not arguing that we need to cease all resource extractions. as we need those resources to keep our economy running. I’m just saying that we need to enter into any resource extraction compact with our eyes wide open as to the true cost of that extraction (including social and environmental costs) and hold the extraction companies fully responsible for those costs.

Jerome Dayton,

Politics spoiled the fun of America’s soccer cup win

It’s too bad we had somebody like Colin Kaepernick playing soccer in the Women’s World Cup.

I’m a big fan of international soccer – men’s and women’s.

I was excited when the Women’s World Cup came along and I was proud the U.S. team won.

But having to put up with someone like a star like Megan Rapinoe, who did all she could to turn her team’s great victory into a “I hate Donald Trump” event, spoiled a lot of the enjoyment for me.

Rapinoe spent most of her time off the field dissing Donald Trump, dissing America, dissing the National Anthem and praising her left-wing political heroine, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Meanwhile, during her between-game interviews Rapinoe made sure everyone knew there were a whole lot of lesbians playing for the U.S. women’s soccer team.

No kidding, Megan.

Lesbians have been playing in women’s sports for a long time – golf, tennis, basketball and soccer. We, ah, already knew that.

And anyway, so what?

Who besides you and a few queer studies professors at Yale cared about the soccer players’ sexual orientations?

But the worst thing Rapinoe did was to make America’s world cup victory all about herself and her political angst about Donald Trump, not about the triumph of her teammates or her country.

Of course the anti-Trump media were more than happy to fill the airwaves 24/7 with her bleeped out Trump comments.

And if the women’s team had lost to the Netherlands last weekend in the final, Rapinoe and the liberal media would have blamed Trump for somehow causing them severe psychological distress.

On CNN Tuesday night, when she was asked if she had a message for the President, she turned to the camera and delivered this political crapola to the 13 people who still watch that collapsing channel:

“Your message is excluding people. You’re excluding me. You’re excluding people that look like me. You’re excluding people of color. You’re excluding Americans that maybe support you.”

Thanks for the deep political insight, Megan.

And the rest of us get the equal-pay-for-women-soccer-players thing, but an obnoxious style and spewing left-wing politics will not win women players much support from soccer fans in the Hinterland who still happen to love America.

On Wednesday in New York City the country Rapinoe repeatedly dishonored honored her and her team with a ticker-tape parade.

When the National Anthem was played, her teammates put their hands over their hearts while Rapinoe, a brat to the end, put her hands behind her back and smirked.

I honestly don’t care what Rapinoe says about Trump or the U.S. She’s allowed to say any dumb or nasty thing she wants. It’s America, whether she hates it or not.

But what Rapinoe did before, during and after the world cup was different, much worse and far more divisive for the country than what Colin Kaepernick’s protests did in the NFL.

When the San Francisco QB refused to stand during the National Anthem to protest the unfair way he claimed police treated black people, he was taking a knee in the NFL – an American sport.

But soccer is a massively popular international sport.

By not singing the Anthem and not putting her hand over her heart, Rapinoe for all intents and purposes was saying “F-America” in front of the whole world.

The good news is that Rapinoe’s 15 minutes of shame is about over.

It’s time for her to go back to kicking a soccer ball around for a living, not the president.

It’s also time for her to try to grow up.

Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.

Immigrants need to know their rights to protect themselves from ICE

CHICAGO — There are many people reading this who wouldn’t bat an eyelash if they saw an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) walking up the driveway to their house or stepping into their local greasy spoon.

Nothing to fear, right?

Others, like me, look like a potential foreigner themselves or have immigrant family members or loved ones, so we get tense at the very thought of coming into contact with an ICE agent.

It’s not a crazy worry — if your skin is brown and you’re in a place where immigrants are likely to be, there’s always a chance of being mistaken for someone who “looks deportable,” as experts at the American Immigration Council recently noted.

The advocacy organization recently analyzed ICE data from the tail end of the Obama administration and the first part of the Trump years. It found the stunning reality that the number of U.S. citizens who had encounters with ICE — meaning the native-born and naturalized citizens who were interviewed, screened and determined to be lawfully present or not — rose from 5,940 in 2016 to 27,540 in 2018.

That’s simply shocking. Especially when you stop to consider that some U.S. citizens actually get detained, sometimes for long periods, and others even get deported to countries where they have no legal standing to reside.

Writing on the academic website The Conversation, law professors Cassandra Burke Robertson and Irina D. Manta describe several situations in which citizens got caught up in a slow-moving and ultra-complex system. Sometimes this was simply due to misspellings, accidental omissions or other silly mistakes.

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities reportedly detained for three days Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a veteran born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who served with the Marines in Afghanistan, in 2018, because the agency did not believe he was born here,” wrote Robertson and Manta, who both study citizenship disputes. “ICE also detained for more than three weeks a man named Peter Brown, who was born in Philadelphia and lived in the Florida Keys in 2018 because the agency confused him with an undocumented Jamaican immigrant — who was also named Peter Brown.”

Sometimes U.S.-born children end up in custody because they’re with an undocumented parent when they’re swept up. The Los Angeles Times found records from the Justice Department detailing how a 10-year-old boy from San Francisco was mistakenly held in immigration detention in Texas for two months.

That’s a life-changing error.

This is all top-of-mind because word on the street is that the Trump administration is preparing for ICE deportation raids across the country Sunday.

True, ICE is targeting 2,000 immigrants whose deportations have already been ordered, but a defining characteristic of this administration’s approach is to turn a blind eye to collateral damage.

Between January 2016 and September 2018, ICE encountered and arrested more women than men because they happened to be around when someone else was being targeted by ICE. And for both women and men, more than 85% of people deported by ICE had either no criminal convictions or no convictions for crimes classified as violent or serious.

Clearly, we’re looking at a show of force designed to scare immigrants enough to either go back to their country of origin or not come here in the first place, instead of to keep our country safe from the so-called threat of immigrants who are living in the U.S. unlawfully.

Either way, it’s important to know that immigrants, and anyone else who comes into contact with ICE, have legal rights — whether they are here legally or not.

If you’re not presented with a warrant, the authorities may not arrest you unless they have evidence you’ve committed a crime or are not authorized to be present in the United States.

Everyone has the right to remain silent and to deny access into their home, unless you are presented with a search warrant signed by a judge — not to be confused with an administrative warrant issued by an immigration judge.

This is truly confusing and, to a certain degree, obscure. Anyone who feels they are in danger of being accidentally harassed by ICE even though they are a U.S. citizen should have an immigrant advocacy organization’s hotline programmed into their phone.

Everyone else can be an ally. Maybe program some of those numbers into your own phone on the off chance that someone around you is mistakenly targeted because, yes, that’s the kind of country we’re living in these days.

Esther Cepeda’s email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com, or follow her on Twitter: @estherjcepeda.

Mulhall column: ‘De-Brucing’ Colorado

On July 2, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis welcomed former Reagan economic advisor Art Laffer to the capitol to help gin up Republican support for Proposition CC, which would allow Colorado to keep and spend $1.2 billion in tax revenue surpluses estimated over the next three years.

These revenue surpluses would ordinarily get refunded under Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and right now there’s $575 million on the table, so Gov. Polis may call a special session to make a play for it.


Perhaps because some of Colorado’s Democrat leaders don’t think something like a Constitutional amendment should stand in the way of spending.

Under TABOR, state and local governments, including schools, cannot raise tax rates without voter approval. Likewise, if tax revenues roll in faster than the rate of inflation and population growth, Colorado cannot spend the windfall without voter approval.

To many, TABOR’s not a popular amendment, and nearly every article on the subject invokes the fact that TABOR’s author spent time in the pokey for tax evasion, as though you’d have to flip a lot of rocks to find a slimier SOB. But the guy took taxation seriously, and in 1992 Colorado voters did too.

TABOR arises from the idea that government can only spend what it gets by taxing citizens, which as almost anyone will tell you is only true in laboratory conditions.

Every Colorado politician was once a citizen and at some point answered the question, “Government! What does it do, and what should it do?”

Even if a Colorado politician never answers that question publicly, his or her stance on TABOR tells you almost everything you need to know.

By 2010, most Colorado voters knew Jared Polis by his first of five terms in Congress, yet last year we elected him governor anyway, so it should come as no surprise that after his gubernatorial dalliances with gun control and the Electoral College, he’s now set his sight on TABOR.

Yes, this Nov. 5, your ballot might pose the question, “Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges, and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend under Colorado law, with an annual independent audit to show how the retained revenues are spent?”

What a rosy way to say “if you let us spend what we owe you plus any windfalls that occur from here on out, future politicians will show you how it’s spent.”

Yea, right.

A blank check. A Seventh Street beautification fund. A weekend at Bernie’s. Call it what you want, but Gov. Polis looks at surplus revenues due back to Colorado taxpayers the way a sweaty glutton looks at a porterhouse — a nice start.

And why not? The spending isn’t over when the surplus is gone, for Proposition CC “de-Bruces” Colorado.

What’s de-Brucing?

It’s a verb for undoing TABOR, and it came about because it happens all the time — 200 Colorado municipalities and 174 of Colorado’s 178 school districts have already de-Bruced to one degree or another, as well as numerous counties and special districts.

How do you “de-Bruce?”

That’s easy. Write a ballot measure like Proposition CC and get it passed. Up to now, no one’s had the chutzpah to do it at the state level.

Of course, de-Brucing Colorado begs the question, “Why have a constitutional amendment if politicians just work ways around it?”

The answer, of course, is that we shouldn’t — if you go by the view of those who see TABOR as an unenlightened nuisance that stands in the way of government.

From a social compact standpoint, de-Brucing is at best a dismissive way to look at consent of the people.

At worst? Well, that’s harder to imagine because it’s something like chaos — a social compact so constantly undermined that in time it fails to unify.

Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com.

Hastings column: Father’s lessons

Sometimes the personal overrides the burning political — just before it doubles back to connect. For me, I reflect on this day of my late father, who would be 94 today had he lived. He was a mentor, a teacher, a counselor and a friend. He taught me values that I continue to strive to uphold: integrity, honesty, fairness to all, courage, unbiased respect for all, care for the environment, care for and engagement in the community, grace and generosity. In fact, in those rare moments I reach beyond my normal slothful greedy self, I can see him.

He was a member of that “greatest generation,” barely making it to high school graduation in the early 1940s before rushing to enlist in the Navy and shipped to the Philippines “for the duration.” So many never returned, so I am a lucky one — to even exist. He said almost nothing about his war experiences, but his lifetime peace activism spoke volumes.

Thomas John Hastings became a psychologist and both practiced and taught. His pro bono work was all at the VA in Minneapolis, and he did a lot of it. Like all the peace vets I’ve ever known, his attitude was hate war, despise the chickenhawk politicians who drag us into most of them, and love the veterans.

Of course today’s polarized conceptually monochromatic political factions cannot abide nuanced thinking like that, so my Dad would be even more out of touch. He was friend to Israeli Jew and Palestinian, and not in a just surficial sense, but in deeper contexts he tried to help me understand, rooted in the long European persecution of Jews that culminated in the sincere attempt by Nazis to hunt and kill every last Jewish man, woman and child; and anchored as well in understanding Palestinian history on that land and persecution in 1948 as hundreds of their villages were destroyed to make way for Israel.

It was tough to get my father interested in any political candidate, and he never joined a political party. He taught me to be wary of talk and to check out action as speaking loudest. That does tend to give pause to any potential excitement about any candidate for office, though he seemed to vote maybe half third party and half Democratic Party for most of his life. Never Republican. Ever. He had respect for virtually all people but despised the pro-corporate, anti-environment and often unjust actions taken by most elected Republicans. I pretty much agreed with him and was grateful for his tutelage.

He read voraciously, at least one paper a day, some magazines every week and month, and perhaps one book a week, on average. I appreciate his triangulation of evidence — he’d factcheck when curious or surprised, a trait I try to emulate.

My father never once held any ambitions to be wealthy, and gave away a lot. I saw him do that, and I hope I learned.

One wonders what some fathers teach their sons. “Here’s how you screw the next guy.” “Beating someone is the best satisfaction you can get.” “Lying to get ahead is the way of the world.” “Dirty tricks are normal. Do them better than anyone else.” “Women are on this earth for men’s pleasure. Use ’em.” “Get ahead and stay ahead. Never stop accumulating.”

The difference is painful and is on buck-naked display at the highest levels right now. I can hear my father as I listen to the daily news: “Cripes! Who raised him?”

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and on occasion an expert witness for the defense in court.