Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Small dairies article fails to mention impact of renewable energy costs and SB13-252

We read with interest the article titled “Weld County’s small dairies struggle to survive[i]” wondering if the Tribune would mention the cost of SB13-252 and renewable energy mandates. 
The article mentions these as factors causing narrow profit margins - “But that increased competition for water, land, feed and workers has made it more expensive for all dairies to operate, and the narrow profit margins are especially tough on small producers.”

The next paragraph states -“In the dairy business, you have so many inputs ... labor, a lot of water, a lot of feed, a lot of electricity, which is all getting more expensive ... while you have so little control over the price you get for the milk you produce,’ said Ellzey, whose 200-milking cow dairy had been operating near Galeton for decades. “Those dynamics have pushed a lot of smaller producers out of business. And it’s not getting any better.”

In spite of the fact that Ms. Ellzey mentioned “a lot of electricity” as part of their dairy’s input costs the author failed to mention energy costs as part of the factors that are causing these small dairies to be forced to close. 

Farmers and ranchers throughout Colorado produce commodities that compete across the region and, therefore, cannot pass along increased costs.  The net effect is lower profit margins which can lead to these small dairies to go out of business.  Although energy costs are just one reason among many that costs have risen, it is a key cost that has been negatively impacted by state legislation.  In 2003, the citizens of Colorado passed a constitutional amendment to mandate the use of higher cost renewable sources for Investor Owned Utilities (10% of input sources).  However, if you look at that vote in rural parts of the state, it would have failed. 

In 2007, the standards were imposed on REAs and increased for Investor Owned Utilities.  Unfortunately, even rural Republican legislators such as Cory Gardner, Jerry Sonnenberg, and Greg Brophy betrayed rural farmers and ranchers by voting for HB07-1281 proving that rural folks can’t even count on their Republican legislators to protect their liberties and way of life.  The renewable energy requirements were increased again in 2010, and finally in 2013 in the infamous SB13-252 bill.

We are slowly eliminating the ability of small family ranchers and farmers to make a living because of seemingly well-intentioned legislation.  However, it is really the role of government to put smaller farmers and ranchers out of business only to subsidize the renewable energy industry and the profits of large utilities such as Xcel Energy?  Renewable mandates such as what has been adopted by voters and legislators for the past ten years is having the impact of forcing smaller farmers and ranchers out of business.

If we want to save locally owned and small business farmers and ranchers, let’s have the discussion about what is driving them out of business and acknowledge ALL of the factors, including the subsidies being provided to large utilities and the renewable energy industry on the back of families that frankly just want to be left alone without the heavy-handed (and sometimes bipartisan) restrictions coming from the state capital.  The question that remains to be answered is how many more small farmers and ranchers will be put out of business as electricity costs sky rocket from SB13-252 and the 30% renewable energy mandate on Investor Owned Utilities that have yet to hit their pocketbooks…

Saturday, November 2, 2013

51st State Initiative Responds to ‘No’ votes from Greg Brophy and Ken Buck by asking another question

51st State Initiative Responds to ‘No’ votes from Greg Brophy and Ken Buck by asking another question

Over the past few days, two prominent residents of what we hope will become the 51st State, Greg Brophy and Ken Buck, have stated publicly they are voting against the 51st State question on their county ballot.  We have a question for Senator Brophy, Weld County DA Buck and other elected officials or those running for state or federal office.  

First, let’s lay some foundation by referring back to the Declaration of Independence in these two key phrases...

"That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

Later in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson says that when a government becomes tyrannical - "it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security."

This is what we refer to as the right of free association - another 'unalienable' right - a right that government should be protecting, not taking away or denying that right.

As we proceed with the creation of the 51st State, does the state government and US Congress have right to deny a plurality of folks living in certain counties to form a new state?  Under what circumstances would it be appropriate for government to deny this unalienable right?

Ken Buck and Greg Brophy have a right to vote their conscience on this issue and we absolutely respect that right. The question is - if elected, will they respect our right to free association and support the vote at the state level?

Senator Brophy will be presented a vote as a state senator (if he becomes Governor, the Governor doesn’t have a vote at the state level with respect to the 51st State).  DA Ken Buck would be allowed to vote at the federal level if he gets elected as Senator.

What the media should be asking these two gentleman (and others running for office) is this:

Regardless of how you feel about this on a personal level, will you recognize the people’s desire for self-governance and self-determination by respecting their unalienable right to free association?  Will you vote for the creation of the 51st State?  If not, why?

Find out more about the 51st State Initiative at www.51stState.org and https://www.facebook.com/The51stStateInitiative#.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why the Phillips County Proposal is Flawed

Why the Phillips County Proposal is Flawed
In the past few weeks since the Weld County Commissioners proposed the formation of a new state, several ideas have been suggested by others.  The two alternatives that have risen to the top are the Phillips County proposal and requesting annexation into Wyoming. 

Investigation as to the Wyoming annexation idea is under way.  There are pros and cons to this proposal versus the creation of the 51st State.  For now, we’ll set aside the discussion of those pros and cons because we want to discuss the pros and cons of the Phillips County proposal.

Their proposal is – rather than starting a new state - to amend the State Constitution to change the representation model in one of the two chambers – presumably the State Senate.  The change would be to have representation determined by location rather than by population similar to the model of the U.S Senate.  The idea would be to have each County have its own Senator regardless of population.  This would increase the number of Senators from 35 to 64 and would increase the significantly influence the voice of rural Colorado when compared to the current model.

There are three issues we see with the Phillips proposal. 

First, the first hurdle would be to amend the state Constitution.  With the legislature being controlled by larger metro areas (Denver / Boulder / Colorado Springs / Fort Collins / Pueblo), the likelihood of the legislature referring it to the ballot is low.  This would leave the rural areas with collecting signatures as a citizen’s initiative to refer it to the ballot.  The same challenge exists with a statewide ballot.  Would those that have control at the state level agree to dilute their control of the state legislature?  Again, unlikely…

Second, let’s assume we can get it approved on a statewide ballot.  There is already a 1964 Supreme Court case Reynolds vs Sims which ruled that states can’t apportion representation in a manner other than by population (one man, one vote).  In other words, states can’t have representation apportioned the same as the U.S. Senate.  Our next challenge would be to fight a Supreme Court case that has existed for nearly 50 years.  We would need a Governor and Attorney General willing to take this case to the Supreme Count – a multi-year battle.  Think about what happened in California related to Proposition 8.  Even if the voices of the people speak on an issue, there has to be willingness of the State government to defend that vote.  As this battle continues… do you think we’ll have a Governor and Attorney General that are willing to fight for the voice of rural Colorado.  The longer this goes, the more the urban population grows.

Third, even if we clear both of these two hurdles and win better representation, what we are left with?  We will have the ability to block future legislation that is harmful to the rural communities, but with the House still controlled by population, we’ll never be able to overturn the damage that had been done.  We know what damage has been done most recently as part of the 2013 legislative cycle.  Who knows what will happen in the 2014 legislative session that will damage it even further?  Look at the ‘education’ tax initiatives likely to be on this fall’s ballot – a 27% increase on individuals (including those that file LLC schedule C returns) and S Corps – this being on income over $75K; and the marijuana tax.  Is Phillips County (and other rural Counties) likely to receive their proportionate share of that which is being taken from their County.  Or, will it end up being spent on Denver / Boulder on their pet projects?  I think we know the answer to that question.

Both the statehood idea and annexing with WY would allow us to live under a government that much better reflects and respects our values.  The Phillips County proposal, at best, stems the tide, but it does not allow the damage to be undone.  

Find out more about the 51st State Initiative at www.51stState.org and www.facebook.com/The51stStateInitiative

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Post: Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher responds to Representative Jared Polis' FRACKED article

Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher submitted this guest blog in response to Representative Jared Polis' FRACKED article.  Well done Commissioner Rademacher!

After reading the recent article in the paper written by Congressman Jared Polis, I was compelled to respond. As a fourth generation Farmer/Rancher of Weld County, I can attest the oil and gas industry has been a critical part of Weld County’s heritage for the past 70 years and beyond.

Congressman Polis’ assertion that there are health risks associated with the industry is unfounded, even after many attempts to anecdotally make a connection. He claims that air emissions are making people ill – where are the studies to back up his claims?  On the other hand, you can look to the multiple studies recently commissioned by the Town of Erie to prove their air is safe, despite nearby oil and gas operations. He also claims the industry has de-valued the property in Weld County, which is again contrary to the real data.  
His constant attack on the practice of “fracking” is losing credibility, especially when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and most recently, the Department of Energy (DOE), continually claim the practice is safe.  This is by the current administration which is looking for any excuse to stop the industry.  It shows a lack of common sense on the Congressman’s part.  

The fact remains that over one million wells have been “fracked” across this nation and not one single hydraulic fracturing operation has been shown to contaminate the ground water.  Instead, hydraulic fracturing has led to lower bills for consumers, a renaissance for manufacturers, and a 20-year-low in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., due to less reliance on coal-powered electricity plants.

The oil and gas industry has taken many steps to improve their practices to make operations as environmentally friendly as any other industry that produces energy.  So, is it the mission of Congressman Polis to improve the industry, or to stop it completely? If it is to stop an industry currently creating wealth and jobs, while loosening the grip of the Middle East, is he in favor of sending our young men and women over to fight for something we can produce safely in this country?

Perhaps he would be willing to live without the convenience which fossil fuels bring to his daily life.  He could start by not driving any vehicles, because even the electric cars require electricity to function. He should also forgo the jet rides he enjoys at our expense and start riding a horse back and forth to Washington.  Would he be willing stop buying anything made from plastic and rubber or the medicines and cosmetics made from fossil fuel? I doubt it very much, but if so, I hear there are some caves in Rocky Mountain National Park which he could reside in.  

It is important to acknowledge and mitigate the risks of our energy development, and in Weld County we put significant effort toward doing so.  However, continuing to base a dialogue on groundless assertions with no factual evidence, such as Congressman Polis’ frequent sentiments, is unproductive and damaging to this state’s economic vitality and our country’s energy security.  But then let’s not let the facts get in the way of the truth… 

Weld County Commissioner
Douglas Rademacher

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Open Letter to the Greeley Tribune Editorial Board: Let the Voters Decide on the 51st State Initiative

In your June 11th, 2013 editorial titled “Commissioners must ensure conversation occurs in wake of secession plan” you wrote that the political leadership at the state capitol “aren’t willing to listen and learn about this (the rural) part of the state.”  I would agree wholeheartedly with that statement. The arrogant and imperious attitude of the politically powerful in Denver is precisely the reason why ideas like the “51st State Initiative” are being discussed and debated at all.

I certainly don’t expect local newspaper editorial boards to embrace legal separation. What conservatives in Greeley do expect, however, is time to analyze the issue and decide whether to support or oppose it by themselves. So far, it seems to me your papers’ inclination is to minimize popular support for the effort. Headlines such as “Northeast Colorado counties favor more representation instead of secession” and “Rural-urban tensions true, say northeast Colorado residents, but few want to form 51st state” are recent examples that highlight this apparent bias. Of course rural Coloradans would rather have their elected representatives reflect the values of those of us living outside the metropolitan Denver area. That would obviously be the preference of every citizen. But is that likely to happen? I would argue it is highly unlikely based on recent history.

To my knowledge, no reputable polling firm has taken the time to conduct a scientific poll on the issue since the public discussion began several weeks ago. As the Greeley Tribune is well aware, on-line polls are decidedly non-scientific and are easily manipulated by activists, cynics, or those with an axe-to-grind.   What on-line polls can do is to frame the debate in a negative light for the supporters or opponents of any particular topic. I would argue that the provocative language of the Tribune’s recent on-line poll (Should the Weld County commissioners table the 51st state proposal?) did just that, and was strongly biased in favor of opponents of the 51st State Initiative.

The Tribune has written in the past that it was a good thing for Weld County Commissioners to, at a minimum, have a ‘conversation’ about the Initiative.  We assumed you meant unbiased and factual conversation.  To that end, might I suggest that at least for the time being, you be more careful about the language you use in your on-line polls, or even better, switch to a method that cannot be so easily manipulated. A minor disclaimer about the on-line poll being “unscientific” is kind of a cop-out if you are trying to push the debate in one direction or another.

The only poll on this topic that means anything will come on Election Day, when voters in Northern Colorado cast their ballots for or against the idea of creating their own state. How about your editorial staff just letting the voters decide for themselves, until that time comes, instead of trying to steer the debate in one direction or another.

Jeffrey T. Hare

The 51st State Initiative

Friday, July 12, 2013

Liberals should be wary of the Bob Roberts Effect

Twenty years ago, liberal icon Tim Robbins made a “mockumentary” ---about a conservative politician named Bob Roberts. The film was a bit of a flop at the box office, but it went on to become a cult classic in the eyes of many young conservatives of the era. In fact, the original folk-songs sung by Tim Robbins’ character in the film, a US Senatorial candidate named Bob Roberts, became so popular with right-wingers, that Robbins actually refused to make a soundtrack of his own film, fearing that his film had caused the exact opposite reaction than he had intended. To this day, the only place you can find these songs is YouTube.

Recently, activists over at Progress New Colorado seem to be falling into the same trap in their attempt to smear Northern Colorado’s growing movement to legally separate from Denver. The Political Director of Progress Now Colorado (Alan Franklin) has recently posted a link on the North Colorado: 51st State Initiative Facebook page.
 See http://northcolorado.us/ which has this picture:

The irony is that in their attempt to mock us, they might have given us some great ideas for a new state flag.  In fact, most of the folks I have spoken to about the flag found it an interesting combination of funny and fitting (perhaps a cow rather than a pig would have been more appropriate).  But everyone loves the crossed AR-15’s, the pitchfork, and the oil rig.

Yes, we are proud of our agricultural heritage as represented by the pig and the pitchfork.  We are thankful for the jobs created by the oil and gas industry and are proud of their continued contribution to our country’s national and economic security. Yes, we are unapologetic supporters of the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights. And most of us value the sanctity of life.

We believe in faith, and freedom, and family.

The fact that this 'flag' was developed and posted on our Facebook page to 'mock' the movement with which most of us identify is indicative of the divide between the rural part of the state from the entrenched liberal and progressive forces that dominate the political establishment in Denver.

The heart of the 51st State Initiative is simple - we just want to be left alone to live our lives without heavy-handed restrictions from the state capitol.  Without the massive over-reach by Democrats in the legislature and Governor’s office, it is doubtful the Fifty First State Movement would even be discussed. If liberals in Denver really have so much disdain for those of us in rural Colorado, then do what grown-ups sometimes do when differences are irreconcilable - grant us our divorce papers.  

We are happy to go our separate ways and are asking to do so through the creation of a new state - that which we call North Colorado. And frankly, we have some pretty good ideas for a new state flag, thanks to our opponents.

Find out more about the 51st State Initiative at: northcolorado.org. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Interest in joining the North Colorado: 51st State Initiative now coming from OUTSIDE Colorado

Interest in joining the North Colorado: 51st State Initiative now coming from OUTSIDE Colorado as well.

Weld County Commissioner Bill Garcia comments on interest from other states in the interview with World Net Daily (WND).
“We have received phone calls from citizens in the Nebraska panhandle complaining about how they are having the same issue with Omaha that we are having with Denver, Garcia said. “Then last week we talked to people in New Mexico who are interested in part of peeling part of the state off and joining with Texas.
“In each of these cases rural residents are being disenfranchised by the populated urban areas of their state who are attempting to pass regulations that may make sense in a city but are not necessary in rural areas.”

Read more at http://mobile.wnd.com/2013/06/county-wants-to-be-51st-state/#MFVqUIKc9888l7qi.99 

Jeffrey Hare is a webmaster of the northcolorado.org website along with the North Colorado: 51st State Initiative Facebook page.  He is a successful small businessman, life-long gun owner, a charter school board member, and an at-large member of the Weld County Council. Hare lives with his wife of 20 years, and three children in Greeley, Colorado.  

press contact: jeffreythare@gmail.com