Posts Tagged ‘colorado’

Swanson and the Colorado Christian Homeschoolers

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

This is quite the article: “Pastor Who Advocates Death for Gays to Appear With CO Lawmaker and Legislative Aide at Conference.” The pastor in question is Kevin Swanson; the conference is the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference, sponsored by the group Christian Home Educators of Colorado.

The Reckless Colorado GOP

Monday, November 30th, 2020

This is pretty outrageous. On the same day that the state reported record numbers of people currently hospitalized for Covid-19, several Republican state legislators chose not to wear masks while attending in-person meetings at the capitol. Meanwhile, a GOP staffer who had tested positive for the coronavirus showed up at the capitol for work and was in close proximity to maskless legislators while she herself wore a mask beneath her nose.

That sort of behavior shows a reckless lack of consideration for the Coloradans funding this clown show, not to mention the Colorado health care providers working with Covid-19 patients.

As of this evening (November 30), the state has recorded 3,037 “deaths among cases” and 2,656 “deaths due to Covid-19.”

The main source for the claims above is a Tweet by Denver Post reporter Alex Burness. Burness shows a photo taken by State Rep. Cathy Kipp. It shows a man in a tan suit clowning around with a mask on top of his head, while speaking in close proximity to two other men who are not wearing masks. Behind the man with the mask atop his head sits a woman wearing a mask beneath her nose. Here is Burness’s description: “You know that photo of Rep. Larry Liston that’s been going around? . . . The woman with the brown hair in the background is [Ellen] Moroney, the GOP staffer who posted ‘I have COVID’ on Facebook on Nov. 24.”

House Speaker KC Becker distributed the following notice: “It has come to our attention that a House Minority staffer tested positive for COVID last week and was on the floor this morning. The staffer in question has been told to leave the building and not to return for the remainder of special session and until testing negative. CDPHE will be working on contact tracing for anyone who may have come in contact. We want to remind everyone that all staff are required to wear masks at all times and get tested before entering the building, or they are not allowed in the building.”

In an earlier Tweet, Burness shared another photo with the comment, “About half the Colorado Senate Republicans present for the special session are not wearing masks.” I commented, “Colorado Republicans try to convince voters that they deserve another shot at power by. . . senselessly putting other people’s health and lives in danger. Immoral, and idiotic.”

I added, “I’m shocked that, during the current pandemic, [the Colorado legislature] is even meeting in person. Why not do this all remotely? If I were in the legislature and had to go in person, I’d definitely have on (at least) goggles and an N95 or KN95 mask.”

Burness also wrote up an article on the matter for the Post. He writes, “Incoming House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said Moroney tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 17—not Nov. 24, the day she posted on Facebook” that she had Covid. Burness reports that “Incoming House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland” said in a statement, “That aide [Moroney] sought the advice of their physician and was given permission to return to work in person on the 24th of this month.” Burness also quotes another comment by Becker, “The minority’s dangerous disregard for simple and effective protections and this staffer’s presence on the floor has placed the health of every lawmaker and member of staff at risk.”

Colorado Payroll Tax Proposed

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

This Fall Colorado voters will decide (and probably pass) a 0.9% payroll tax initially (and a 1.2% tax later), payed 50–50 by employers and employees, to fund “medical leave.” This is Prop. 118; see also the BallotPedia review.

Here’s what I Tweeted: “Generally I think “we” should repeal all payroll taxes, not add more. If you want to run a welfare program, just do that through general funds. Payroll taxes hurt esp. lower-income workers.”

Colorado Learning Pod Regulations

Friday, September 11th, 2020

“Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order . . . temporarily suspending statutes that require certain licenses for adults wishing to supervise children.” This pertains to “learning pods.” Why not make this change permanent? It’s really hard to organize something like this, and the arbitrary expiration date will discourage people.

The Trouble with Malkin

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Colorado conservative activist and writer Michelle Malkin recently made the news for getting chased out of a pro-police rally in Denver. I wrote about this myself.

The background issue is that Malkin has expressed support for a alt-right figures.

Erik Maulbetsch offers his take from the left. Conservative consultant Andrew Struttmann wrote, “Conservatives have moral duty to disown Michelle Malkin, Alt-Right.” District Attorney George Brauchler had her on his radio show.

Malkin replied to some of her critics in a video.

Media about Lauren Boebert

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Lauren Boebert beat Representative Scott Tipton in the Republican primary. Following are some news stories about her. I also provide additional background, with various links, in a Tweet thread. Donald Trump congratulated Boebert.

Boebert’s Campaign Embraces Far-Right Militia Movement”

Boebert embraced a conspiracy theory that Democrats and Hollywood stars drink the blood of children in a global pedophilia ring.”

Boebert praised the closing of the “autonomous zone” in Seattle.

In her “contract with Colorado,” Boebert says she is “America first.” She believes “life begins at conception.” She’s for “free markets,” “liberty,” “strong borders,” and more.

Boebert suggested (wrongly) that Scrabble dumping some words “chips away” at the First Amendment.

Boebert said, “‘Flatten the curve’ turned into Communism very quickly.”

The New York Times has an article discussing Boebert’s comments about QAnon. See the direct link.

Radio host Ross Kaminsky hosted Boebert.

Progressives [have] tagged Boebert as a QAnon conspiracy theorist and a lousy restaurateur owing to three-year-old accusations that involve bloody diarrhea.”

Corey Hutchins discusses media handling of Boebert’s remarks about QAnon.

Boebert’s restaurant has had some financial troubles.

Boebert picked up the endorsement of Tom Tancredo.

Peak Politics defended Boebert regarding her various arrests.

Last updated August 30, 2020.

Colorado Oil Well Cleanup

Monday, July 27th, 2020

A problem in Colorado is that some oil companies go bankrupt and don’t clean up sites. Joe Salazar notes that “SB19-181 [which passed] . . . will eventually . . . require oil and gas operators to provide financial assurances that they can take on a project from birth to remediation.” See also Chase Woodruff’s report.

Colorado’s COVID-19 Testing

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Ben Markus has out a report about Colorado’s lackluster testing program for COVID-19. Aside from the terrible federal response, the state had two main problems: the health department had a serious leadership meltdown leading into the pandemic, and outside help didn’t seem to accomplish much. I Tweeted a summary with some supplementary information.

In other news: “Thousands of people defy public health orders, pack into a field in Weld County for an outdoor concert.” Here’s more.

And: “Woodland Park [Colorado]-based Andrew Wommack Ministries held a multi-day conference that included over 1,000 attendees from July 30th through July 3rd. Now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has traced a COVID-19 outbreak to the event, with seven staff members and fifteen attendees testing positive.”

Rioters Shut Down Denver Pro-Police Rally

Monday, July 20th, 2020

The difference between a protester and a rioter is that the latter hurts people or destroys property. On June 19, a conservative group attempted to hold a lawful, permitted pro-police rally in Denver. A group led by Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation intentionally “shut down” the rally, in some cases by violently attacking ralliers, and drove them from the area. As I mentioned on Twitter, the attack was not merely “opposing speech.” I noted that the ralliers “were met, in some cases, by violent assault. And infiltrating another group’s peaceful, lawful, permitted rally with the intention of shutting it down, which they did, is a violation of speech.” Michelle Malkin (with whom I often disagree) posted video of the event, where she had been planning to speak.

Tangentially related issue: Malkin reports that Governor Jared Polis blocked her on Twitter with his @jaredpolis account. My take (edited): “This is an interesting case given lawsuits regarding elected officials blocking people on social media. My quick read: Because this is Polis’s personal account, and he has a separate Twitter account in his capacity as governor [@GovoOfCo], he’s probably ok legally to block people.”

Colorado Price-Gouging Law

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Colorado law now bans price gouging during disasters — but doesn’t define the term.” Price controls are especially harmful during an emergency.

License Portability in Colorado

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

Colorado governor Jared “Polis signs bipartisan occupational licensing portability bill.” The bill in question is HB20-1326.

Elijah McClain

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Elijah McClain was a young Black man who was killed by police officers in Aurora, Colorado. Reading the in-depth portrait of McClain by Grant Stringer, it’s very difficult to imagine that McClain, a massage therapist who literally would not hurt a fly, presented any threat, whatsoever, to the police. McClain was, by all accounts, an unusual young man. He routinely wore his running mask out in public, perhaps (a friend of his speculated) to ease his social anxiety, perhaps to ward off the chills. He went to the store to buy some items for his cousin and was walking home, wearing his mask and “flailing his arms,” i.e., (probably) dancing. For that someone called the cops on him. The police who confronted him had no indication he may have committed any crime. Police say McClain ignored their commands, which, so far as I can tell, they had no authority to give. Police said McClain was in an “agitated mental state”—it’s “funny” how people tend to get “agitated” when police screw with them for no good reason. The police called the fire department, and fire paramedics gave McClain ketamine. Police also put McClain in a choke hold. The lawyer of McClain’s family described the officer’s treatment of McClain as torture (this all from Stringer’s account). At one point “an officer threatened to sick a dog on” McClain, Stringer writes. Amazingly, the officers’ cameras became “dislodged.” McClain’s heart stopped on the way to the hospital, and he died several days later.

Subsequent reports indicate that the officers claim that McClain tried to grab one of the officer’s guns. That doesn’t add up to me. Anyway, the officers had no legitimate business hassling the man to begin with. The officers are now back on the job.

Colorado’s Police Reform Legislation

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

The speed at which Colorado government passed significant police reforms is remarkable. This certainly would not have happened but for the intense protests in Denver and around the country over the death of George Floyd.

Among those to write about the legislation are Nick Sibilla and Jesse Paul and Jennifer Brown.

Governor Jared Polis signed the measure, SB20-217, on June 19. Here’s (some of) what the bill does:

  • Requires police to wear body cameras in most interactions with the public. There’s a lot of detail here in terms of requirements, exceptions, and penalties.
  • Expands reporting requirements of police interactions with the public.
  • Revokes peace officer certification if an officer is convicted of (or pleads guilty to) a crime involving the use physical force, or is found civilly liable for misuse of force. This applies to failure to intervene if another officer misuses force.
  • Limits police use of force in response to protests with respect to “impact projectiles” and chemical agents.
  • Enables citizens to sue officers in state courts for violating their rights, notwithstanding “qualified immunity.” In some cases, an officer can be personally liable for the first $25,000 of a settlement, depending on the officer’s employer’s determination of “good faith.”
  • Limits the use of force by police officers. “Peace officers . . . shall apply nonviolent means, when possible, before resorting to the use of physical force. A peace officer may use physical force only if nonviolent means would be ineffective in effecting an arrest, preventing an escape, or preventing an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death to the peace officer or another person.” An officer may not “use deadly physical force to apprehend a person who is suspected of only a minor or nonviolent offense.”
  • Prohibits the use of chokeholds.
  • Requires “a peace officer [to] intervene to prevent or stop another peace officer from using physical force that exceeds the degree of force permitted.” Failure to so intervene is a misdemeanor.
  • Limits profiling by requiring a “legal basis for making contact.” (I’m not sure this will do much good, as officers often use minor offenses as a pretext to profile.

In all, this is a profoundly important piece of legislation and a huge win for liberty.

Bias and Media

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

Colorado journalist Chase Woodruff said last year, “I’m an extremely biased journalist; my bias is that I don’t think the survival of hundreds of millions of people and habitability of entire regions of the world is a less important question than oil companies’ profit margins.”

Let’s try to step back from whether we agree or disagree with the factual claims at the base of Woodruff’s remarks. What I want to point out is that a bias is not the same thing as a moral belief. The presumption that any moral belief is automatically a bias (or the result of a bias) stems from the false belief that morality is purely subjective or arbitrary.

Libertarian radio host Ross Kaminsky said something comparable: “I don’t claim to be unbiased. I just claim to be non-partisan and also that I try to state my biases up front. For example, I’m biased in favor of individual liberty.” I replied, “You rationally endorse individual liberty.” To this, Kaminsky replied that “many people on the left and the right oppose that.” I answered, “I think you’re misusing the term ‘bias.’ Lots of people think the biological theory of evolution is false, but I’m not ‘biased’ for endorsing it.” So there are two issues here. A bias is not a belief that many people reject, nor is it a moral belief.

A bias is some mental disposition or habit or quirk that leads or tempts a person to believe something which is false. A genuine bias is always something we should try to overcome. The idea that we should embrace (some of) our biases stems from a confused notion of what a bias is.

Denver’s Black Press

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

When working on my article about early Colorado legislator Joseph H. Stuart, I relied heavily on articles published by the Statesman. Corey Hutchins offers some good history of the Black press in Denver. The Statesman was founded in 1888 and was rebranded the Denver Star in 1912. History Colorado reviews the story: “The Statesman/Denver Star flourished under the direction of notable editors and publishers. Joseph D.D. Rivers, the first proprietor of the Statesman, was a former student of Booker T. Washington. . . . Edwin H. Hackley, who took over as editor in 1892, was the first African American to be admitted to the Colorado bar. . . . In 1898, George F. Franklin bought the Statesman from Hackley and served as editor until his death in 1901, after which his widow, Clara Williams Franklin, and his son, Chester Arthur Franklin, acted as editors/publishers. In August 1906, the Statesman became Franklin’s Paper, The Statesman. Then in November 1912, C.A. Franklin announced that the Statesman would become the Denver Star . . . in order to distinguish it from the similarly titled Colorado Statesman, edited and published by J.D.D. Rivers, the original editor of the Statesman. In March 1913, Franklin sold the Denver Star to the Denver Independent Publishing Company, which published the paper under this name until 1963.” The newspaper archives lists the Statesman and the Star but not the Colorado Statesman.

Incidentally, an overtly racist newspaper also ran out of Boulder during part of 1925, the Rocky Mountain American. The Denver Library offers more detail about this.

Restorative Justice in Colorado

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

Free the People has out a 43-minute documentary that it describes as follows: “A city in Colorado tries a different kind of justice system, powerful enough to transform a broken system of mass incarceration in the United States. Instead of locking up non-violent offenders, these advocates focus on the challenging but rewarding process of individual responsibility, forgiveness, and redemption that radically shifts our idea of justice and our part in it.”

Colorado History Hidden in Microfilm

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

It’s the year 2020. And yet many of the important documents of Colorado’s history are hidden in hard-to-access microfilm. The online Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection is a fantastic resource. But, as I recently learned, not all the historic newspapers have been digitized. History Colorado relates, “The Colorado Historic Newspapers website features some of our collection. We were able to digitize them thanks to many grants and collaboration with the the State Archives. We have active digitization newspaper projects, but we need financial support to do even more. We have the largest collection of Colorado newspapers, over 22,000 reels of microfilm containing millions of pages of Colorado stories. Since 2016 we have received over $400,000 in funding from [the National Endowment of the Humanities] which has helped us digitize around 200,000 pages.” As I replied, can’t “we” organize a state-wide fundraising effort to finish the job, or organize a volunteer effort to scan the documents?

Colorado Needs a Rainy Day Fund

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Mark Hillman writes, “The legislature has never established a ‘rainy day fund’ to help offset budget cuts in hard times, making Colorado the only state without a permanent budget savings account.”

This is tricky, because I don’t love the idea of government setting up investment accounts, which are inherently political. Tentatively, I’d rather have an emergency tax-hike provision, but I think that would be prone to abuse.

Notes on Joseph H. Stuart

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

My recent article features my preliminary research on Joseph H. Stuart, Colorado’s (I think) second black legislator and an extraordinary man by all accounts. Here I’m going to summarize the research from that article and add new items. Note that in some cases I’m quoting from old newspapers that used language that offends the modern ear.

Annie Nelson writes for the Denver Library, “1881 – In November, John T. Gunnell becomes the first African American to sit in the Colorado Legislature.” I believe that Gunnell was elected in 1880 and served a single term starting in 1881. I found almost nothing more about him. Interestingly, this source also says that Frederick Douglass’s sons Lewis and Frederick Jr. lived in Denver and “established Denver’s first black school.” And it briefly summarizes the contributions of various other important African Americans in Denver. But it doesn’t mention Stuart.

The Colorado Daily Chieftain, October 27, 1894, describes a Republican campaign event where Stuart spoke.

Various newspapers, including the Silver Cliff Rustler (December 1, 1897), mention that Stuart was “admitted to practice before the federal courts,” according to the paper the first African American “to be given this privilege.”

The Statesman (July 20, 1906) describes an absolutely jaw-dropping legal victory (criminal defense) of Stuart’s.

And the Statesman (April 16, 1910) memorializes Stuart’s death, confirming he was in the legislature.

Now for some additional sources (that I didn’t mention in my article).

The Denver Library has a biography of Elizabeth Piper Ensley, who “was born the child of a former slave and spent her life fighting for women’s suffrage and the rights of African Americans.” The biography continues, “In 1904, Elizabeth founded the Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. This was an attempt to unite various organizations around Colorado, push for greater equality, and provide educational opportunities. Part of Elizabeth’s work included gaining the support of black men on issues like national women’s suffrage. She even helped unite men and women of all races to elect Colorado’s first [I think second] black legislator, Joseph Stuart.”

An old book by R. G. Dill (p. 61) lists John T. Gunnell as part of Colorado’s Third General Assembly, which squares with other information. An overtly racist article by the Leadville Democrat (February 24, 1881) says that a “Representative Gunnell, of Arapahoe,” is African American.

A book by Quintart Taylor lists “Nineteenth-Century Black Western Legislators” as including John T. Gunnell (1881–83) and Joseph H. Stuart (1895–97), suggesting that each man served a single term. Another reference to both men comes in a book by (lead) Arturo J. Aldama.

A Swedish paper lists Stuart as a candidate in 1894.

The Statesman later turned on Stuart, accusing him of “treachery” (August 22, 1908) for apparently not supporting another black legislative candidate. This seems like a deeply personal dispute where the paper took the side opposite Stuart.

Apparently Stuart sought to run for the legislature again in 1906. The Statesman was highly critical of Stuart at this time (September 7, 1906).

The Colorado Daily Chieftain (November 2, 1898) discusses a rally in Bessemer (now Pueblo) where Stuart spoke. The subhead notes, “Two prominent colored speakers from Denver made stirring appeals to the audience to support the Republican ticket.” The article reports, “J. J. Jennings made a stirring address to open the meeting, and he was followed by J. H. Stuart, of Denver, a prominent colored man, who is running for representative on the republican ticket in Arapahoe county. . . . He laughed at the idea of the democrats accomplishing anything that was good for the people, even the free coinage of silver.”

The Colorado Daily Chieftain runs an article (February 22, 1895), reporting that, on February 21, Stuart introduced resolutions in the state house honoring Frederick Douglass, who died February 20.

The Statesman reports (November 30, 1907), “A delegation of colored lawyers called on the governor in support of Joseph H. Stuart” for a Supreme Court position, which went instead to Joseph C. Helm.

The Colorado Transcript (September 12, 1894) notes that Stuart was nominated.

Stuart participated in the State Business League (Statesman, July 31, 1909).

The Fort Collins Courier (November 15, 1894) notes Stuart was elected as representative in 1894.

On February 25, Governor Jared Polis posted the following note to Facebook (with a really outstanding photo of Stuart): “During #BlackHistoryMonth, we honor people like Joseph H. Stuart, the first African American to be elected to serve in the state’s House of Representatives in 1894 and fought to end housing discrimination and other forms of racial intolerance.”

The San Diego History Center has a write-up of Stuart by Robert Fikes, Jr.: “Rail connections had been completed to the east and north, and San Diego appeared to be on the verge of a population boom when Joseph Henry Stuart (1849-1910) arrived in 1890 via Kansas City, having earned his law degree at the University of South Carolina fifteen years before. The San Diego Union, a newspaper that routinely allowed biased racial terminology referring to African Americans in its headlines and articles, took notice when the ambitious 31-year-old registered with the bar [Stuart] announcing under the headline ‘A Colored Attorney Admitted’ [San Diego Union, January 7, 1891, p. 5]. . . . But despite some positive regional economic indicators and the presence of some determined and accomplished ex-slaves and their descendants, Stuart’s year-long stay ended because a legal career could not prosper serving a ‘colored’ population of only 289, representing fewer than one percent of the city’s residents [Robert L. Carlton, “Blacks in San Diego County, 1850-1900” (Master’s thesis, San Diego State University, 1977), p. 83]. And it was particularly difficult for a black attorney to launch a successful practice in this era of egregious racial segregation when he had to prove his competence even to his own people, working solo without the advantage of professional consultation, and probably forced to do more pro bono work than he would have preferred. So Stuart, a social activist with a taste for politics, packed his bags and moved to Denver, Colorado, then with ten times the black population of San Diego, where eventually he was elected to the Colorado State Assembly and, in 1900, was privileged to sit at the table of honor with Booker T. Washington and Paul Laurence Dunbar when these celebrities visited the Mile-High City [David L. Erickson, Early Justice and the Formation of the Colorado Bar (Denver: Continuing Legal Education in Colorado Inc., 2008), pp. 97-108].”

“In 1942, Earl Mann became the second black man [I think third] elected to Colorado state office when he won a position in the Colorado state house of representatives” (Summer Marie Cherland).

J. Clay Smith, Jr. has out a book, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer 1844–1944, that discusses Stuart. Smith is the only source I found claiming that Stuart was elected twice to the state house. Smith says that Stuart graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1877, and on “December 1, 1891 . . . became the second black lawyer admitted to practice in Colorado,” having “previously been admitted to the Kansas bar in 1883. Smith claims Stuart “was elected to the Ninth and Tenth Colorado General Assemblies as a representative from Arapahoe County. He served in this capacity from 1893 to 1897. Among Stuart’s major achievements in the Colorado legislature was the sponsorship of a bill to strengthen the state’s existing civil rights legislation.” However, in a different section, Smith says Stuart “was elected to the state legislature in 1895.”

The Herald Democrat (March 27, 1895) mentions that, on March 26, “Stuart’s civil rights bill, prohibiting discrimination, passed third reading” (apparently in the state senate).

The Indicator (February 16, 1895) offers more detail about Stuart’s bill: “The House then went into committee of the whole on the civil rights bill, and Mr. Stuart made an extended speech in its favor. The bill amends the law so that colored persons cannot be excluded from hotels or theaters. Mr. Stuart said that colored citizens were constantly discriminated against in Denver, confined to certain objectionable portions of the theaters, and refused a place in restaurants. The bill passed unanimously, the decision being greeted by a brisk round of applause from colored citizens who thronged the galleries. They could be seen smiling, shaking hands and congratulating each other vigorously as they filed out. The bill fixes a minimum fine of $10 and [text obscure; perhaps, a maximum fine of $200 for violations].”

The Saguache Crescent (April 4, 1895) describes House Bill “175, Stuart, an act protecting citizens in the full and equal enjoyment of privileges of inns, restaurants, barber shops, theaters, and all places of public accommodation and amusement.”

Wallace F. Caldwell says that Colorado first past “public accommodations laws” in 1885. It’s unclear (to me) how the law changed in 1895.

A story in the Aspen Weekly Times (November 16, 1895) discusses a case of a person who professed to discriminating against a black patron but who has let off by a jury: “John O’Riley, proprietor of the Delmonico restaurant, was placed on trial in Justice Leahy’s court yesterday afternoon for having refused to permit a negro to enjoy equal advantages with white men at his boarding house. The case was heard before a jury, which, although the defendant acknowledged by his own testimony that the charges were true, returned a verdict of not guilty after half an hour’s deliberation.” The article goes into the trial in substantial detail.

The Klan in Colorado

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

We cannot understand the present unless we understand the past. In that spirit, I have started to look more deeply into a rotten element Colorado’s past, the rise of the Klan in the ’20s.

In a recent article, I look at the life and work of the remarkable Joseph H. Stuart, an African American Colorado lawyer elected to the state house (I believe) in 1894. Back then, the Republican Party still was the party of Lincoln, and most black people were Republicans.

Distressingly, the Klan rose in Colorado in the 1920s and, for a time, took over the Republican Party. James S. Davis tells this story for Colorado Magazine (1965). “Grand Dragon” John Galen Locke established the Klan in Colorado in 1922, Davis writes. By 1924, the Klan selected “almost all” of the Republican Party’s candidates. By 1925, “In both the Senate and the House there was a majority of members elected from the Klan-controlled Republican party,” Davis writes. Governor Clarence Morley had close ties to the Klan.

Let’s pause here on Morley. The state’s biography of him notes that he didn’t actually enjoy many legislative successes. “Despite his apparent lack of legislative success, Morley was responsible for ratifying the Colorado River Compact, strengthening prohibition laws, developing a successful inmate labor program, and promoting legislation that allowed the state to carry its own insurance on its public buildings.” He developed “a police force, that many felt, enforced the prohibition laws too aggressively.” Morley was arrested in 1935 on mail fraud and later spent five years in Leavenworth. Wiki has Morley down as serving as governor from January 1925 through January 1927, after which he was succeeded by rival Democrat William “Billy” Adams. (I’m not sure how governor’s terms worked back then.)

Lynn Bartels quotes a document from the Center for Colorado and the West (a document that, unfortunately, I cannot find): “His [Morley’s] vitriol toward all things un-American was thinly veiled as an attack on Catholics, and further, on immigration. His goal wasn’t simply to eliminate the use of demon alcohol by banning the use of sacramental wine; it was to stop key elements of Catholic practice, thus the religion itself. Morley espoused the view that if public schools weren’t good enough for Catholic children, then Catholics should not teach in public schools. He agitated for the University of Colorado to fire all non-Protestant (that is, Catholic and Jewish) professors.”

Ed Quillen discusses Morley, Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton, U.S. Senator Rice Means, U.S. Senator Laurence Phipps, and others in Colorado government associated with the Klan. Quillen notes (I don’t know where he got this), “Colorado, in a perversely progressive way, was the only Klan realm with a women’s auxiliary.” Quillen notes that the ’20s iteration of the Klan was inspired by the infamous and racist film, The Birth of a Nation. Quillen says the Klan’s “national leader, Imperial Wizard William Joseph Simmons . . . himself went to Denver to start building the Colorado Klan” in 1921. Here is an important detail: “Dr. Clarence Holmes, president of the Denver NAACP chapter, started a drive to integrate Denver’s theaters. The Klan burned a cross in front of his office and sent a threatening note, but he persisted.” The Klan chased one black man out of Denver with threats and (people suspected) bombed houses. The Klan in Denver kidnapped and beat two men, Patrick Walker and Ben Laska (a Jewish lawyer). Quillen quotes Robert Alan Goldberg: “Just two Klan-endorsed bills became state law: one requiring schools to fly the American flag and the other making ownership or operation of a still a felony.” (This doesn’t perfectly square with Davis’s account.)

Quillen writes that, in the ’20s, some of Colorado’s Italian “immigrants ignored Prohibition in favor of their traditional wine-making, which quickly evolved into bootlegging and violent struggles for control of the liquor trade.” The Klan actively participated in sheriff-sanctioned liquor raids. However, Quillen writes, “Colorado Springs Police Chief Hugh Harper was one of the few Colorado peace officers to fight the Klan from the moment it arrived.” Quillen notes, “C. C. Hamlin, publisher of the city’s two leading newspapers [and a Republican], The Gazette and the Evening Telegraph . . . flayed the Klan on the front pages and the editorial pages.”

Reviewing Phil Goodstein’s In the Shadow of the Klan, Sandra Dallas writes, “The Klan organized boycotts of stores owned by Catholics and Jews, although many female Kluxers refused to stop patronizing Neusteter’s, the high-fashion store that was owned by Jews.”

Back to Davis: Davis quotes the Denver Times, January 13, 1925 (p. 1) to summarize Morley’s inaugural address. (Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be part of the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection and is apparently only on microfilm at History Colorado, which seems crazy to me. It’s 2020 and we’re still using microfilm?) Morley laid out the following goals: “the establishment of a state reformatory for women, appropriation of funds to carry on negotiations for interstate river treaties, a minimum wage law for women, assistance in revival of the mining industry, elimination of further taxation on gasoline,” and so on. Klan-inspired items “included the passage of acts excluding certain aliens from residing in the state, eliminating from the prohibition law the right to obtain intoxicating liquors for sacramental use, amending the primary election law so that members of one political party could not participate in the primaries of an opposing party, and abolishing many state boards, bureaus, and commissions.” (Davis goes on to explain why the Klan favored some of these proposals.) A detail: The legislature passed a bill that “eliminated primary elections entirely,” but Morley vetoed it. Although the House was friendly to Morley, Davis writes, a coalition of Democrats and disaffected Republicans blocked most of Morley’s program in the Senate.

An odd detail: Morley gave a pre-inaugural address by radio, surreal to read, in which he touted Colorado’s treasures and told a dumb joke about “dry farming” as not relating to Prohibition.

Another Klan aim, writes Davis, was “repealing the civil rights laws, which would allow discrimination against Negroes.” (Here Davis cites the House Journal, p. 216, and the Denver Post, January 24, 1925, p. 14.)

A document from the Mesa County Library notes a curious detail: “Even people like future Oscar winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo” contemplated joining the Klan; he “thought about joining but didn’t.” (I have no idea what the source for that is.) Here’s what IMDB says: “Of his early politics, a much older Dalton Trumbo told how he asked his father for five dollars so he could join the Ku Klux Klan, a mass organization after the First World War. He didn’t get the five dollars.”

See also a write-up from the Denver Library.

Denver even had it’s own Klan newspaper for a few months, the Rocky Mountain American.

Westword‘s Conor McCormick-Cavanagh has a couple of informative write-ups on Twitter about the Klan in Colorado (one and two), specifically about Stapleton. Why did the Denver airport get named after a KKK mayor? McCormick-Cavanagh quotes Colorado state historian William Wei: “I suspect that it was, in part, a reaction to the civil-rights movement that was occurring at that time, during the mid-1960s. They came up with this way of honoring him and were implicitly opposing the efforts of civil rights.” See also McCormick-Cavanagh’s article in Westword.

This is some grim and distressing history to review. But review it we must, to prevent something similar from happening again.

Colorado Government Collective Bargaining

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

The Colorado legislature passed a collective bargaining bill for state employees. Saja Hindi writes, “Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions, the union representing more than 28,000 state employees, called the bill a win after a 12-year fight to allow collective bargaining with the state, helping to address issues of systemic inequality for workers who have traditionally been excluded from the right to organize.” Amazingly, Hindi apparently could not find a single person to criticize the bill. The basic argument against collective bargaining for state employees is that it allows government employees to negotiate with other government employees about how to spend other people’s money. And state employees already constitute a solid pro-spending voting block. So the dynamics are substantially different than they are with a private business. I don’t have any comments at this point specific to the bill at hand, HB20-1153.

LGBTQ Legal Protections

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, [Supreme Court Justice Neil] Gorsuch wrote, which bars discrimination ‘because of sex,’ also covers claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said, “My statement after the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ workers are protected from discrimination: This strong 6-3, Supreme Court ruling is a victory for LGBTQ workers and a significant step on the road to equality. We must continue to create a community where people feel safe, and loved, and valued, and respected. No person should be afraid to show the world who they are – and no LGBTQ person should risk losing their job by doing so. Colorado will continue to lead on anti-discrimination policies and my administration will continue to build a Colorado For All.”

Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone also commented on decision as the legislative session wrapped up.

Ilya Somin breaks down the decision. I personally wish this matter had been resolved by Congress clarifying the relevant legal language, but of course Congress is infested mostly with moral cowards and imbeciles.

Andrew Koppelman, pointing to a 1988 paper of his, says, “I’ve been arguing in print, since I was a law student, that discrimination against gay people is sex discrimination. I’m glad the Supreme Court finally saw it.”

Walter Walker’s Sin and Reform

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Colorado Mesa University’s Walker Field will be renamed. The airport in Grand Junction used to be called Walker Field, and its address remains Walker Field Drive. So who is Walter Walker? Dan West reviews, the president of the college, Tim Foster (a former Republican legislator) said Walker is “the leader of the Grand Junction Klan, the founder of the Grand Junction Klan.” West writes, “According to interviewees from the Mesa County Oral History Project, Walker helped bring the Ku Klux Klan to Grand Junction and was a member. He later turned against the group and published editorials in the Daily Sentinel attacking the KKK and was even the target of violence from Klan members.” On one hand, I have no problem with changing the name of the field due to Walker’s sins. On the other hand, I hope that we don’t lose the lesson of Walker’s reform.

A Daily Sentinel editorial provides important context: “Walter Walker . . . was the second owner and publisher of The Daily Sentinel who helped establish Mesa Junior College and the local veterans hospital, built The Avalon and brought air service to Grand Junction. . . . He was also responsible for bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Grand Junction in the 1920s. . . . Noel Kalenian provides a thoughtful treatment of Walker’s story [here] based, in part, on audio recordings of interviews with Walker’s contemporaries included in the Mesa County Oral History Project housed at the Mesa County Libraries. . . . The Klan was proving to be a political force in Colorado — and across the country — in the 1920s. Prohibition provided the Klan with a new platform to spread its anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, white Protestant nationalist rhetoric. It promised to clean up communities and rid them of bootleggers and moonshiners. But that’s not how the Klan operated here. Beer was served at meetings. It was more of a men’s social club. . . . Under Walker’s leadership, the club refused to take an activist position on the Klan’s tenets. But at some point, Walker was stripped of his leadership position and the club took a sinister turn. That’s when Walker started writing editorials warning of an organization ‘that preyed on prejudice to incite hatred,’ Kalenian wrote. . . . In September 1925, several local Klan leaders including a deputy sheriff and a police officer assaulted Walker as he walked from a barber shop to his newspaper office. But that didn’t stop his anti-Klan campaign and membership dwindled to insignificance by 1926.”

The Sentinel may be putting a positive spin on the “social club,” but its portrayal of Walker seems accurate. Here’s what Kalenian says: “According to [Robert Alan] Goldberg [author of Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado, which seems to be out of print], the Western Slope’s geographic isolation from Denver in an age of poor roads allowed the Klan in Grand Junction to function as a kind of social club similar to the Elk’s Lodge, but with cross burnings, grotesque robes and dumb, pointy hats. Membership in the Klan was so popular among Mesa County’s white Protestants that it seemed like everyone wanted to join, even people like future Oscar winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (who thought about joining but didn’t), Al Look and Walker. Look and Walker later started an organization called the Soup Eaters to help poor and minority children in the Grand Valley. After leaving the Klan, Walker supported the presidential candidacy of Al Smith, a Catholic. The club under Walker’s leadership eschewed many of the Klan’s tenets, including prohibition. In fact, Goldberg says that the Grand Junction club served beer in their meetings. The club also refused to take an activist position on immigrants, African-Americans and Catholics, and kept the small minority of Klansmen who favored action against such people at bay.”

Catholic Bingo

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Here’s a tidbit of Colorado history I didn’t previously know: “Catholics in the northwest Denver were able to build St. Catherine of Siena parish by holding lavish and lucrative bingo parties that eventually led to the nick-naming of ‘the carnival parish’ in the Harkness Heights area of North Denver.”

Colorado Klan

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

One of the most shameful episodes of Colorado history. . . “Clarence Morley, the Ku Klux Klan-picked Republican candidate, became Governor of Colorado in 1925. . . . [John] Locke, as Klan Grand Dragon controlled Morley as Governor, Ben Stapleton as mayor of Denver, obtained a majority in the House and Senate, elected the Secretary of State, and secured a Supreme Court Judgeship and seven benched in Denver District Court.” Morley later went to prison for mail fraud. See also James H. Davis’s haunting article about the Klan in Colorado.