Sen. Mark Udall campaigns in Granby | SkyHiNews.com

Sen. Mark Udall campaigns in Granby

Sen. Mark Udall passed through downtown Granby and grabbed a cup of coffee at the Midtown Café while campaigning for re-election. Udall and his entourage arrived around 3:30 p.m. on Monday and were greeted by supporters at the café. "This is about choices," Udall told supporters, "when it comes to the future, what the quality of life in Grand County is going to be." During his seemingly impromptu speech, Udall touted his record in securing $700 million for flood recovery efforts on the Front Range and taking action against the pine beetle epidemic, which has had a disproportionate effect on Grand County. Udall also took the opportunity to attack his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, for voting in favor of the government shutdown while Colorado "needed all hands on deck" following catastrophic flooding last year. The senator spoke briefly about health care, saying that Grand County needed a health care system that doesn't discriminate against women or those with pre-existing conditions. Addressing concerns with the Affordable Care Act, Udall said that he would work to improve the law, though he did cite successes in getting more people enrolled in health insurance through Colorado's insurance exchange. "There's more to do to make the law work," Udall said. The reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank is set to expire on Sept. 30, which Udall said was one of his priorities. Some conservative Republicans have expressed their desire to see the bank close. "It would really disadvantage a lot of good Colorado companies that export," Udall said of the bank's potential closing. Local water issues, energy Udall took time to address local water concerns during his stop on Monday, saying that Grand County should have more say in water negotiations regarding diversions from local rivers. "The mountains would not be what they are without the water that gives them life," Udall said, adding that he had "held Denver Water's feet to the fire" during water negotiations. When it comes to energy development in Colorado, Udall called himself a "best of the above" kind of guy. Udall addressed accusations of being late to the fracking debate, saying he had articulated his views that a statewide ban on fracking "doesn't make sense" from the beginning, though he said that the natural value of some areas precludes the value of additional oil and gas exploration. He pointed toward Colorado's wind energy industry as an example of what's going right with energy development in the state and said he was dedicated to meeting climate change "head on." Closer to home, Udall also said he is committed to reopening Rollins Pass, which he noted was part of the legislation creating the James Peak Protection Area. The top of the road has been closed because of Boulder County's concerns about liability through the Needle's Eye Tunnel and because of environmental concerns. Udall suggested more damage is occurring to the area now than when the road was open because of widespread "overland use" by visitors. Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

Randy Baumgardner makes official his candidacy for U.S. Senate

GRANBY — Republican State Sen. Randy Baumgardner, of Cowdrey and Hot Sulphur Springs, kicked off his Senate campaign at Maverick's Grill in Granby on Friday, July 12, saying he believed the incumbent in the race, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is vulnerable. Baumgardner vowed to represent the working class of Colorado if elected to the U.S. Senate. "His (Udall's) votes have not been reflective of Colorado," Baumgardner said. "They are reflective of Washington D.C." Baumgardner could be challenging Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) during the Nov. 5, 2014, general elections, if he wins in the primaries next summer. Baumgardner was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2008, and successfully won election to the Colorado Senate in 2012. He represents Senate District 8, which encompasses Grand, Garfield, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Rout, and Summit Counties. "I have always represented my district at the State Senate and House of Representatives, and I will continue to do that same job for them at the Capitol," He said. "I have given them 100 percent and I will continue to give 100 percent." Baumgardner operates two ranches in Colorado with his wife Lori, who is a small business owner in Kremmling. One ranch is located in between Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby, and one is located in northern Jackson County. "I am Colorado," he said. "I make my living by working in the dirt." Baumgardner discussed his intention to protect Constitutional rights if elected to the U.S. Senate, namely 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms as well as Constitutional rights to privacy, which he says Udall has not given enough support. Baumgardner commented that Udall is in favor of allowing drones to operate over U.S. soil, something he said he supported over maritime boarders to enhance boarder security, but that he did not approve of over states such as California, Wyoming, and Colorado. "I can't understand why anybody would want that," he said. Baumgardner also plans to address the Affordable Care Act, which he believes was enacted too quickly and without a full understanding of its ramifications. Udall has held office in the U.S. Senate since 2009 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Colorado's 2nd Congressional District from 1999 to 2009. Freshman State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), recently announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate as well. Other main issues that Baumgardner has said he plans to address are civil liberties, such as second amendment rights, immigration issues, states rights, and energy issues. Baumgardner has said he supports exploration and production of coal and oil and gas both in Colorado and nationally as well as supports the production of other types of energy such as wind and solar energy. During the announcement of his candidacy, Baumgardner noted that he would speak for Colorado if elected to the U.S. Senate. "I want the voice of Coloradans heard," he said. Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Grand County has been capably represented by Udall

To the Editor: Grand County was one of several counties to wisely elect Mark Udall as our representative to the United States House of Representatives, where he has served since 1998. Now Mark Udall is asking for our vote to elect him to represent all of the state of Colorado in the United States Senate. Despite the fact that he represents a much larger constituency on the Front Range, Mark Udall has been a very good representative for Grand County. During the debate about the proposed James Peak Wilderness Area, Udall listened to the Grand County commissioners and their constituents and compromised to have the area in Grand County designated as the James Peak Protection Area (in 2002) so that bicycles, snowmobiles and driving cars on roads would continue to be allowed in the area. Mark Udall supported Betty Dick in her fight against the federal government. Because of Udall’s intervention, she was allowed to stay on her homestead in Rocky Mountain National Park until her death in 2006. Aware of the devastation and fire danger that the mountain pine beetle has caused in Grand County and other mountain communities, Mark Udall has worked in a bi-partisan way to pass significant legislation to help solve these problems. Mark Udall has spent many years supporting the development of renewable resources for our energy needs. At the same time, he recognizes the continuing need for oil and gas extraction in the state of Colorado. He has worked hard with communities of the Western Slope to ensure that oil shale is developed in an environmentally responsible manner. Unfortunately, Swift Boat advertising has come to Colorado. These organizations use scare tactics, half truths and outright lies to convince you that a candidate or issue is evil. These out-of-state organizations have already spent $12 million attacking Mark Udall. They represent big business and big oil companies. They know that Mark Udall is going to work for YOU and not for them. Four years ago I met Mark Udall and found him to be a down-to-earth, genuine person. Mark’s father Morris Udall served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. His uncle Stewart Udall was the secretary of the Interior under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Following in his family’s footsteps, Mark Udall is one of the few politicians of our times who is a true statesman. He is known in the halls of Congress as a legislator who is willing to reach across the aisle and work with members of both parties to get things accomplished for us, his constituents. Mark Udall has proved that he will work for us in Congress. Let’s keep him there by voting for him for the U.S. Senate. If you wish to learn more about Mark Udall, visit his Web site at http://www.markudall.com. Martha Hut Tabernash

Conversation with … Mark Udall, Senate candidate

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall is seeking the U.S Senate seat held be Sen. Wayne Allard against Republican candidate Bob Schaffer. Udall began his career in public service in the Colorado Statehouse in 1997. For a decade, he has represented Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Udall is a member of the Armed Services Committee, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and has led efforts as one of the nation’s leaders in aerospace jobs and technology. He has also served on the House Natural Resources Committee, House Small Business Committee, and House Agriculture Committee, and co-chairs the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, and has passed legislation to reduce wildfire risk and bark-beetle infestation in Colorado . According to Udall’s campaign Web site, his family has lived in the West for five generations, and the Udall name has become synonymous with public service for 150 years. His father, Morris “Mo” Udall, played for the Denver Nuggets before serving for 30 years in Congress. In 1976, he sought the Democratic nomination for President. Udall’s mother, Patricia “Sam” Udall was a native Coloradan, and her father, Roe Emery, was a cowboy-turned-entrepreneur who eventually came to own the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and was the first concessionaire in Rocky Mountain National Park. Udall’s uncle, Stewart Udall was a congressman and served as the Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Stewart’s son, Tom Udall, is a congressman in northern New Mexico and a candidate for the New Mexico’s recently vacated U.S. Senate seat. In southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, the campaign slogan for both Mark and Tom is, “Vote for the Udall nearest you!” Udall lives in Eldorado Springs. His wife, Maggie Fox, a prominent environmental attorney, and he have two children: Jed is a freshman in college, and Tess is a senior in high school. Udall has climbed many mountains, including all of Colorado’s “Fourteeners.” Q: Colorado’s delegation has made efforts in the past to squeeze more funds out of the U.S. Forest Service’s budget for work needed in the Rocky Mountain Region. But the problem of the mountain pine beetle far exceeds dollars available. What do you propose if elected to see to it that federal forest and park agencies, as well as state and county, find the mitigation funds they need to make Grand County safer from expected wildfire in the wake of the beetles? A: I have been working since I was elected to the Congress to address forest health issues and the bark beetle epidemic. My efforts have focused on two areas: (1) securing more funds and resources to the federal land agencies to perform fuels treatment work (cutting trees and removing excess vegetation), and (2) cutting obstacles to performing more treatment work to reduce excess fuel loads. Clearly, there are limited funds to address the enormity of the problem of the bark beetle and the excess fuels that create fire risks to our communities. So, although I have been working to help secure more funds for fuels treatment work, I have also been working to (1) increase the value of the wood to be removed by creating incentives for the commercial and energy use of the dead and overgrown trees and providing tax relief for those who remove trees, and (2) reducing the costs associated with performing fuels treatment work by streamlining the environmental review process and focusing limited funding on the highest priority areas around communities. My extensive work on these issues stands in contrast with that of my opponent, whom the Denver Post has called “strangely inactive” on wildfire prevention work, planning, and funding. Q: West Slope leaders have been upping their game in protecting Upper Colorado River basin water for fear trans-basin diversions will threaten the health of rivers and natural Grand Lake. What have you accomplished thus far to help West Slope water efforts and what do you plan to do on behalf of those efforts as U.S. Senator? A: My efforts on water have been to “bridge the divide” ” working together to provide for the water needs of all of Colorado and not pit one region against another. In that spirit, I strongly opposed Referendum A, the 2003 ballot issue that would have given the state a $2 billion blank check to build water projects on the West Slope and transfer that water eastward without any protections or compensation for West Slope communities. In addition, I urged the Denver Water Department to work collaboratively with Grand County and others to address potential negative impacts to the Fraser River related to the Department’s expansion of the Moffat Tunnel diversions, introduced legislation requiring the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grant “cooperating agency” status under the National Environmental Policy Act to counties like Grand County affected by water diversion projects (H.R. 3465), and I urged the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to include all users of the Green Mountain Reservoir in any requirement to maintain a minimum level of water in that reservoir and not place all of that responsibility on the Western Slope users. I also voted for the final passage of the Animas La Plata water storage project near Durango to satisfy the water needs of the Ute Tribes and the communities of that region, and in all wilderness and public lands legislation I have worked on ” including the James Peak Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Spanish Peaks, and Colorado Canyon ” I have made sure that West Slope water rights have been protected. I plan to continue to work for all of Colorado to develop consensus-based solutions to water issues and make sure that we do not return to the water wars of the past. This is also an area where Bob Schaffer and I are very different. Bob Schaffer supported the fundamentally flawed Referendum A in 2003, which nearly 85 percent of Grand County opposed. In fact, Referendum A was defeated in every single county in Colorado. Congressman Schaffer also backed a court decision that would have made water from the Blue Mesa Reservoir on the Gunnison River available for sale. Water is a precious resource on the Western Slope. We shouldn’t be selling it to the highest bidder. Q: Finding affordable health care is a major concern for under- and uninsured Grand County residents as well as all Americans. What solution do you propose to ensure that Colorado’s citizens have access to health coverage and health care that is more affordable than it is now? A: Too many families are one illness or injury away from bankruptcy, and that is hurting our strength as a country. I believe all Americans ” starting with our kids ” deserve access to the same kind of quality, affordable health care that members of congress have. We can start by expanding SCHIP ” the children’s health care program ” to cover more uninsured kids. We’ve been trying to do that in Congress, and President Bush has blocked us every step of the way. We should also give health care tax credits to families, create health insurance pools to lower costs for small businesses, and allow the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Better use of technology can lower costs as well. And we should ban insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, my opponent does not share these priorities. While in Congress, Bob Schaffer even voted against the Patient’s Bill of Rights, a bill that passed the House with support from both Democrats and Republicans and was endorsed by over 200 health care providers and consumer advocacy groups. Q: Tell us about your views on energy. How can the United States, which reportedly uses 25 percent of the world’s oil for 4 percent of the world’s population, wean itself off of foreign-oil dependency? A: Soaring energy prices are hurting Colorado families. We’ve got to throw the kitchen sink at our energy challenge, with steps that lower gas prices now and expand our ability to produce the energy we need right here in America. And, just as we did in Colorado, we’ve got to work together across party lines to find the way forward. For my entire career, I’ve been working to promote American energy independence and put Colorado on the cutting edge of a new energy economy. It’s been a bipartisan effort, and it’s paid off for our state. We passed one of America’s first renewable energy standards, requiring that we get at least ten percent of our electricity from renewable sources. Since then, Coloradans have gotten $16 million in rebates and renewable electricity credits, and we’ve created nearly a thousand new jobs right here in the state ” jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. Recently, Senator Salazar and I introduced a comprehensive energy plan, building off a bipartisan plan developed by the so-called “Gang of 10” Senators, that will provide immediate relief from high gas prices and set America on a course towards energy independence and a new energy economy. In the short term, I propose an emergency release of 70 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and cracking down on market speculation that drives up the price of oil. These measures can offer immediate relief to the pain Americans are feeling at the pump. Looking to the future, we must make a national commitment to renewable energy by extending renewable energy tax credits, setting a national renewable electricity standard of 20 percent by 2020, and increasing funding for research and development of renewable technology. We must promote energy efficiency by raising fuel economy standards, transforming our motor fleet to one capable of burning various biofuels in addition to gasoline, and increasing residential energy efficiency. And we can responsibly expand American production of traditional energy sources by adding additional off-shore drilling for oil and gas, and taking a fresh look at nuclear power. My opponent, Bob Schaffer, has refused to set aside the bickering and join me on this bipartisan plan, because it takes the billions of dollars in tax handouts that we’re giving to oil companies ” companies that are making more money than any companies in the history of the world ” and invests it in the energy technologies of the future. He’s made it clear that he won’t lift a finger to create a new energy policy for this country if it means taking a dime away from the oil companies. That’s his priority, but my priority is getting this right for our state and our country. Q: What sort of education reform do you propose as a U.S. senator? A: One of the first things that inspired me to run for the State Legislature 12 years ago was seeing the over-crowding in my own son’s classroom. I believe that our public schools are a cornerstone to the strength of our communities and of our nation. That is why I have worked hard since my days in the state legislature to support and improve public schools, working with teachers, parents, and students to make them the strongest they can be. Colorado ranks near the very bottom of the country in support for public schools and for higher education. That’s a mistake ” it’s bad for our families and it’s bad for our economy. I’ve been a leader in the drive to fix the problems with No Child Left Behind, supported better pay and training for our teachers, and worked to protect public schools from those who would drain even more money away from them. I have introduced legislation that would reform the NCLB by creating a more accurate measurement for student achievement; the bill would allow schools to better target groups with higher needs by offering transfer opportunities and supplemental resources to those groups alone instead of entire age groups. If this bill-or other similar reforms-are not passed this year, I will continue to work to achieve passage in the Senate. I also believe we should ensure that every person who has the desire and the ability to succeed has access to higher education. This means we need to make college more affordable for average Americans through a combination of tuition tax credits, government grants, and subsidized loans. Q: Finally, what plan do you support on the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan? A: I voted against the Iraq War from the start, because I believed the Bush Administration was rushing into the invasion without a clear plan, mission, or exit strategy. Our involvement in Iraq has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars, while stretching our armed forces thin and diverting them from the real terrorist threats in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I will not support cutting off funding for our brave combat troops, but I have proposed a bipartisan strategy (based on the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group) to carefully phase our troops out of Iraq while working with our allies to bring in more international support. I am heartened by recent news that the Bush administration and the Iraqis are close to an agreement governing the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, and I hope that this means we are making real progress towards the end of an open-ended commitment in the country. As I mentioned before, Afghanistan is the true center of the war on terror and we must have a national security strategy that ensures victory there. Right now, we are losing ground there, and al-Qaida has been able to regroup and rebuild much of their previous strength. We cannot afford to lose the war there, and I will continue to work to make sure our soldiers have the equipment and support they need to succeed. ” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

Muftic: Cory Gardner a red flag for the middle

Cory Gardner, opposing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, is ranked as the 10th most conservative member of Congress. Colorado is hardly the 10th most conservative state in the union. Gardner sounds and looks moderate, but his legislative positions were, are, and would align closely to his Tea Party House colleagues. This election is also about electing a senator for the next six years who will represent your views and will be voting to determine Supreme Court replacements. Gardner's and Udall's visions of freedom are very different. Udall promotes freedom for individuals from an intrusive government, a maverick leader in the Senate against overreaching NSA surveillance. He is a strong advocate for the ability for women and men to choose their reproduction schedules and whom they marry. Freedom for Udall also means freedom from worry about affording health care and college for their kids. Gardner's vision of freedom is to gut environmental laws and favor tax policies for business while supporting greater government interference in choices individuals can make. His position on reproductive rights and marriage equality are the most extreme of any, even criminalizing abortions and doctors, and opposes birth control practices that interfere with his belief that life begins at conception. The U.S. unemployment rate is now back to pre-crash levels, and in Colorado it is below the national average. The deficit has been cut in half and the national economy is growing at 3 percent. Colorado has the highest economic growth in the nation, which is not only due to an improving national economy, but to a booming energy sector. Science denier Gardner is not even sure humans cause global warming. Mark Udall prizes a balanced approach to natural resource development, and Colorado's growth is evidence that approach can work. Gardner, unlike Udall, has voted in Congress to make it even more difficult for the middle income earners to recover from the Great Recession. He has voted to cut Pell grants and opposed decreasing interest rates on student loans or refinancing student loans to lower rates. Most Colorado families depend upon women working, but Gardner has voted against raising the minimum wage or furthering equal pay for women in the workforce. One of the most underrated boosts to middle income earners is the ACA (Obamacare), which both the GOP and Gardner still want to repeal. Gardner offers no alternative, no fixes no workable way to pay for covering pre-existing conditions. He has no viable plans to make health insurance affordable for 30 million Americans, mostly middle income, who once again would have to choose between losing their home or health care treatment because they could not qualify for or afford insurance. No traditional Medicare coverage was lost due to the ACA (contrary to a very misleading Gardner ad), and the ACA added 14 years to the life of Medicare. Gardner supports changing the efficiently administered Medicare program to provide a voucher system and block grants to states that upends a system that now guarantees coverage that keeps up with costs and gives stability to co-pays. For more, visit http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com.

Grand County: U.S., state races draw a host of candidates

A Hot Sulphur Springs resident is running for Colorado’s House of Representatives. The House District 57 seat, held for eight years by part-time Winter Park resident Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, is being vacated as he enters the ace for state Senate District 8 against Kenneth (Ken) Brenner, D-Steamboat Springs. Republican Randy Baumgardner is seeking office in a race against Democratic candidate Robert Hagenbuch of Phippsburg to fill the House District 57 seat being vacated by White. Baumgardner, a highway maintenance employee for the Colorado Department of Transportation for more than 10 years, said he hopes to continue the fight for West Slope water. “I want to see that what has started into motion stays in motion,” he said. “Being a rancher myself, I’ve figured out in the last 13 years that water is important to this community and I realize there has to be a balance between irrigation, maintaining livestock and fishing and rafting for recreation.” He has lived in Hot Sulphur Springs two years but has been in Grand County since 1994 and has been attending interagency water board meetings. “We must find alternatives to keep water in the river where it needs to be,” he said. Aside from his work at CDOT, he and his wife Lori own a cattle business and lease several thousand acres from the Bureau of Land Management. His platform also includes finding a balance for motorized BLM trails and that of camping areas and hiking, finding ways to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic, health care and education. Running for office, he said, “is something I’ve been thinking about for quite awhile because personally, I haven’t liked seeing the way some things are happening. I hope to change them to make them better. I have no personal agendas; I’m here to listen to the public and get done what they would like done.” In Colorado Senate District 16, Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, has not yet filed his paperwork, though he is running as the incumbent after being appointed late last year to fill the term of Joan Fitz-Gerald, who vacated the seat to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. The appointed state senator’s opponent is Republican Donald Ytterberg of Evergreen. A former congressional staffer for U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, Gibbs, said he is setting up town hall meetings and coffee shop hearings in Grand County to create a forum in which to hear local concerns, “and based on those concerns, take them to the state Capitol,” he said. As an advisor to Udall, Gibbs worked behind the scenes on several issues such as defending the Fraser River, earmarking improvements for Highway 40, working with the Three Lakes Watershed Association regarding Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake and helping to allow Grand Lake elder Betty Dick live the remainder of her life at her home in Rocky Mountain National Park. So far in the Senate, Gibbs has been a proponent in seeking funding for communities hit by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Grand County Democratic voters will be choosing their party candidates in the primary on Aug. 12. The race for the 2nd Congressional District is holding strong with three leading candidates vying for Rep. Mark Udall’s seat: former Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, former Great Outdoors Colorado Executive Director Will Shafroth and former Colorado Board of Education member Jared Polis. Udall is vacating the seat to run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Wayne Allard at the end of his second term. His lone Democratic opponent is state Democratic Executive Committee member Mark Benner, who advocates single-payer health insurance, which Udall has not endorsed, and the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, which Udall also does not support, according to a report from the online “Colorado Confidential.” The successful Senate Democratic candidate will run against Republican Bob Shaffer, who from 1997 until early 2003 represented Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House. ” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

Grand County updates electronic voting equipment

With the Hart brand of electronic voting equipment recertified by the state, the county decided to make a major upgrade to its equipment Tuesday. Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene requested that the county purchase one central scanning machine and the appropriate program to make ballot processing more efficient in November. Commissioners approved an expense of $110,000 ” $60,000 of which was budgeted ” to purchase the Hart Ballot Origination Software System set-up equipment and the Hart BallotNow scanning machine to replace four existing smaller scanners that failed in the past and needed repairs. Even with the four scanners in working order, “They are not enough” to cover all precincts or voting centers in the county for the November election, Rosene said. Word among Colorado’s county clerks is that the standard-sized ballots in the upcoming election are predicted to be two-sided, two pages long. The new central scanner, which would be located at the courthouse, will be used to count all ballots on Election Day more efficiently, Rosene said, and has the capability to scan larger ballots. To help get accurate results in a timely manner, certified election judges would be able to pick up completed ballots throughout the county earlier in the day, thereby keeping an ongoing tabulation. To save the county about $6,000, ballots will be printed by the county. Although printing would be done in-house, Rosene said, the specialty ballot paper used would be water-marked and bar-coded with numbered stubs to prevent any duplicate ballots. The state rectified the Hart optical scanner, the eScan, central count scanner and BallotNow software, but imposed two requirements: (1) that language be included on the ballot notifying voters of the need to check their ballots carefully for any extraneous or stray marks within the voting boxes, and (2) in any recount, every ballot must be physically examined for the presence of extraneous marks in voting boxes so that voter intent can be properly recorded by election judges. Trestle project The Trestle Townhome Development near Fraser may see a reprieve. Grand County will start advertising requests for proposal to seek construction bids on how to correct serious drainage issues the neighborhood’s developer left behind last year. Improvements in the development were completed incorrectly, according to Grand County, and because of this, the county is using the bond that guaranteed completion of improvements to pay for fixing the problem. This attempt to secure a contractor for the project is the second attempt to get the work done. Winter Park resident joins Udall’s team Matt Sugar of Winter Park is the new western slope field director for U.S. Rep. Mark Udall of the 2nd District. Sugar, recent director of communications at Winter Park Resort then director of communications for the Colorado Democratic Party, joined Udall’s staff a week and a half ago. Udall’s Western Slope office covers Grand, Summit and Eagle counties with an office in Minturn. Sugar said he plans to remain a Winter Park resident. “That hasn’t changed,” he said. Udall is a Colorado Democratic candidate running for the U.S. Senate in the 2008 election against fellow Democrat Mark Benner and Bob Shaffer, R-Fort Collins. The secretary of state lists another Green Party candidate, Bruce Lohmiller of Grand Junction. Besides his new position working for the congressman, Sugar continues to hold his post as a Gov. Bill Ritter-appointed Great Outdoors Colorado board member for the 2nd Congressional District. Sugar attended Grand County’s Board of County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday to introduce himself and offer his services to the people of Grand County on behalf of Udall. Besides commissioners’ request for help with water issues as the West Slope works to defend its streams, rivers and natural lakes, Commissioner Gary Bumgarner brought up a federal item with which the county has struggled involving Grand County’s veterans. Veterans are forced to drive two hours to the nearest veteran medical facility, Bumgarner said, and past efforts to find a way for veterans to use local medical facilities with reimbursement have been unsuccessful. “WWII veterans 80 and 90 years old are told they have to drive two hours,” Bumgarner said. Sugar said he would look into the commissioner’s request. Coincidentally, he said, Congress is looking to re-examine American Veterans benefits on a national scale.

Sens. Mark Udall, Michael Bennet to visit Grand County July 1-2

Each of Colorado's U.S. senators will be visiting Grand County next week. In press releases issued on Friday, June 28, the camps of both Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) announced each of them would be visiting businesses in Grand County central to timber issues facing Colorado. At the beginning of next week, Bennet will pay a visit to Parshall's Colorado Timber Resources mill and Udall will tour Hester Log and Lumber in Kremmling. Bennet Bennet will tour Colorado Timber Resources to see firsthand "its success creating jobs, helping to maintain the health of local forests, and building Colorado's timber industry," states a press release. He will be joined by Grand County Commissioners as well as U.S. and Colorado State Foresters and local loggers. Colorado Timber Resources specializes in processing beetle kill trees into two-by-fours. By creating a local market for beetle-killed wood, this mill creates wood processing and logging jobs and reduces the fuel loads to help mitigate the risk and severity of forest fires. Among beetle-kill-related work, Bennett has supported the Senate Farm Bill, he championed efforts to double funding for beetle kill mitigation work, reauthorized the Healthy Forests Reserve Program, and supports permanently reauthorizing the Permanent Stewardship Contracting Authority Act, which supports public private partnerships to allow private entities like sawmills the ability to turn the problem of excess biomass into profit. Udall On Tuesday and Wednesday, Udall plans to hold events in Grand, Routt and Moffat counties to "highlight his work to support local job creation, promote public-private partnerships to encourage a smarter forest and land management strategy, and develop a balanced national energy portfolio," according to statements. He plans to tour the Hester Log and Lumber in Kremmling to learn more about challenges facing the timber industry and ways that public-private partnerships can improve forest management and promote healthier forests. From there, Udall will host an alternative energy roundtable with local businesses in Steamboat Springs. This roundtable discussion on alternative energy is part of Udall's energy outreach tour which "highlights ways Colorado is leading the nation on energy independence," the release states. A visit to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) summer program in Routt County rounds out his activities Tuesday, then on Wednesday Udall is scheduled to start the day touring Rogue Resources' Mountain Pine Manufacturing, which has been working closely with local, state and federal entities to help mitigate the pine beetle outbreak while creating jobs. Rogue Resources recently received a $300,000 USDA grant to expand its market to invest in wood straw products that can be used for erosion control. Next, Udall hosts a land trust roundtable with land trust leaders in Hayden to discuss federal land protection and figure out ways that these public-private partnerships can work better to protect land and provide good-paying jobs. Finally, he tours Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association's Craig station to learn about the innovative ways the plant is using coal byproduct to create stronger building materials, such as concrete for highway paving.

Randy Baumgardner to challenge Sen. Mark Udall in 2014

Colorado Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, who represents Grand County and six other counties in the Colorado Legislature, will try to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., in 2014, Baumgardner acknowledged on Monday. A spokesman for Udall said on Monday that the senator is not particularly worried about the challenge, and that Udall is concentrating on his job in the Senate rather than on politics. At least one other Colorado Republican, State Rep. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, also has said he plans to run against Udall. "Yes," Baumgardner said in response to a reporter's question about his plans. "The official announcement was not supposed to be until Friday." But Baumgardner had made a remark on Sunday to Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels, who broke the news on Monday on the Denver Post blog, The Spot. Remarking somewhat caustically about "those big Denver papers needing to get out in front of each other," Baumgardner admitted to being inundated with telephone calls from news organizations since the blog went public. But, he said, he still plans to make his formal announcement from Maverick's Grille in Granby, reputed to be a political hangout for area residents. Baumgardner is in his first term in the state Senate, serving Senate District 8, having defeated incumbent Sen. Jean White in the 2012 primary by a margin of 58 percent, and then downed Breckenridge Democrat Emily Tracy in the general election by a margin of 51 percent to 44 percent. Prior to that, Baumgardner had served two terms, or four years, in the state House of Representatives. Udall's expected bid for re-election was unopposed at the beginning of July, although Republican strategists had been discussing the situation since the middle of 2012. In May, when Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, backed away from challenging Udall, Baumgardner was mentioned in a Fox 31 news analysis at the bottom of a list of other potential challengers. But Republican planners have been eyeing Udall as vulnerable for some time. "Mark Udall looks very vulnerable on paper, but we're going to need the right kind of Colorado Republican to face him, i.e., a libertarian — and a Latino-friendly one," wrote political commentator Moe Lane in the blog, redstate.com, on Nov. 17, 2012, when he handicapped what he termed "at-risk Democratic Senators in 2014." Udall's public relations chief, Mike Saccone, told the Post Independent on Monday that Baumgardner's announcement has not concerned Saccone's boss. "Sen. Udall right now is focused on doing the job he was elected to do for the people of Colorado," said Saccone, mentioning various national issues such as finding ways to encourage job growth, passing comprehensive immigration reform, and others. Although Baumgardner was the first Republican in recent days to make his challenge public at this point, on Monday another Republican state representative, Rep. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, also tossed his hat into the ring. Hill, according to a story in the Colorado Springs Gazette, confirmed on Monday he would be challenging Udall. Hill has served one term in the state house. The Gazette mentioned another possible challenger for Udall's Senate seat — State Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, although Stephens has yet to make an announcement.

Muftic: Fibs, lies and political ads

Once in a while a series of negative and political attack ads are so off base, outrageous, and offensive that they just cannot go unchallenged. These attack ads are fibs about alleged fibs. There are such ads running against Sen. Mark Udall, Democrat running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, that accuse him of virtually lying about Medicare and insurance premium costs. In fact, bottom line, no benefits have been removed from Medicare, insurance premiums have not increased but slightly decreased, and Obamacare has extended Medicare's life. Yes, some had to find a new insurance plan, but nearly all found another plan that had more benefits than their old one. How Gardner would vote in the Senate on Obamacare: to repeal, and he has offered no plans to replace, which means if the GOP had its way, millions would be back to scrambling again to change plans and be back to being overcharged, capped, no way to cover pre-existing conditions, most would be unable to afford any insurance, and everyone would be out of luck if they lost employer insurance. Some fact-checking: One ad attacks Udall for his support of Obamacare because Udall said Obamacare would strengthen Medicare. Instead, the ad continues, Obamacare removes over $1,000-plus from seniors' benefits. No traditional Medicare benefits are affected by Obamacare. Period. What the attack ads do not disclose is that instead of weakening Medicare, Obamacare has added at least 14 years to its solvency, and Gardner would reverse that. What is affected is Medicare Advantage, which combines Medicare and supplemental policies. Insurance companies had been raking in excess profits with Advantage by overcharging and hiking prices above what government Medicare costs. Those subsidies have been removed and applied to funding health care. Also what attack ads do not disclose is that Udall's opponent Gardner consistently has voted in Congress in lockstep with the rest of his GOP caucus to privatize Medicare (premium support) to let seniors under 55 buy private insurance and to give block grants to states to fund it, eliminating Medicare government direct payments to the rest of seniors with no assurance increases would keep up with future increases in health care costs. Another attack ad related to Obamacare is that Udall misleads us about Obamacare reducing the costs of insurance. While not all of the October rates for Obamacare insurance in all states are in, that has not happened on the average in states with their own exchanges, including Colorado. A Kaiser Family Foundation report came to that conclusion, though there are variations per state and per plan. States like Colorado (unlike most red states) also permit Medicaid expansion that reduces having hospitals shoulder unpaid charity bills and then shift costs to premiums of paying customers. If all states expanded Medicaid as Obamacare permits, a move fought tooth and nail by the GOP, we would all begin to see less cost shifting to all of our premiums nationwide. For data sources, visit http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com.