Archive for the ‘Local Politics’ Category

Amazon to Colorado Associates: “You’re Fired!” continues to demonstrate their willingness to play the bully and to take hostages in their business dealings. Remember when they attempted to strong-arm the publisher Macmillian into pricing ebooks their (Amazon’s) way by deactivating the BUY buttons on all of their (Macmillan’s) authors, a tactic whose main victims were authors (who lost sales and possibly future publishing contracts thereby) and Amazon Associates affiliates (whose links suddenly were all broken), neither of whom had any say in the pricing scheme Amazon was supposedly protesting?

Not having yet learned how stupid it is to hurt the public whose opinion you hope to sway, Amazon have done it again. On March 8, they closed all Amazon Associates accounts owned by Colorado residents (some of whom aren’t even Colorado residents anymore, real smart there Amazon, there’s an extra helping of failsauce on your failburger) because they didn’t like the recent Colorado tax legislation:

In response to recent legislation in Colorado (HB 10-1193), has sent a letter to its affiliates in Colorado informing them that the on-line sales giant will no longer be advertising through businesses in the state that that make money by referring buyers.

In order to close a $1.5 Billion budget gap, Colorado Democrats this session have passed a law that would make it possible to collect sales taxes on on-line purchases by creating an economic nexus between state residents and on-line retailers.

The bill, which was part of a package of tax measures aimed at increasing revenue, originally sought to create a nexus between the state and on-line retailers based on their ties to local affiliate websites, which link to products. The bill was ultimately altered due largely to fears that retailers like Amazon would simply cut ties to Colorado companies that make money by referring buyers.

(Huffington Post, “Amazon Reacts To Colorado Internet Sales Tax Measure By Firing Its Colorado Associates.“)

So. Let me get this straight. To begin with, Amazon think they have as much right to influence Colorado legislation as do Colorado constituents, despite them not being Colorado constituents. Strike one. And they attempt to exert this right to influence Colorado legislation by essentially firing all their Colorado affiliates, and telling them that if they don’t like being fired, well, they should pressure their Colorado legislators into repealing HB 10-1193. Strike two. And they tell their Colorado affiliates this not back when the new bill was in the works, when a campaign of phone calls to legislators might have been a useful thing to organize, but instead on March 8, well after the new bill became law–and several hours after actually killing all the hostages. I mean the Associates accounts. Such that on March 8, with no warning, a whole bunch of Coloradans found themselves with broken links and a loss of revenue. Strike freakin’ three.

Given that HB 10-1193 was altered so that it would not affect affiliate referrals, why did Amazon still decide to fire their affiliates and yet still sell products to Colorado residents? Seems like, if you don’t want the burden of all that extra paperwork involved in either “collecting sales taxes or provid[ing] a summary of people’s web purchases in the state,” you stop doing business in that state so as not to be subject to that burden anymore. Why hurt an entire class of Colorado resident whose hurting gets you nothing but a loss of their good will? It would have made as much sense for Amazon to stop selling books by say, Connie Willis and other authors living in Colorado, and say that Colorado’s legislators “forced” them to do that.

Clearly, Amazon know better than to cut off their nose to spite their face. Thus they opt to spite their face by cutting off other people’s heads.

And for even richer irony, Amazon want you to think they oppose HB 10-1193 because it hurts small businesses. Newsflash: Amazon hurt small businesses by killing all Colorado-based Associates accounts.

There is, no doubt, a valid argument to be made against HB 10-1193. There are several arguments, ranging from “Not more tax-and-spend! Get out of my paycheck, big government!” to “Aren’t sales tax on online purchases prohibited by federal legislature?” to “Sales tax in any form is regressive and no state should levy it.” There are also arguments for HB 10-1193, such as “Online retailers, by not having to charge state sales tax, have an unfair advantage over local retailers, which advantage they enjoy at the cost also of everyone living in the state who relies on local infrastructure getting the funds allocated from sales tax in the state.” As I say, there are arguments in either direction.

But I’m not going to get into those arguments. I’m going to just point out the inarguable: Amazon think they are entitled to get their own way in all things, and are quite content to use hostage-taking tactics to get their way, hurting the very people who they ought to have sought as allies. Look, Amazon have actually managed to piss off opponents of HB 10-1193. That’s stupid of them.

I made very little with my own Associates account. I believe I had about $3 in there before they instituted a quarterly fee and reclaimed my meager earnings for themselves. And I had changed all my own Associates links into IndieBound Affiliate links back when Amazon, over Easter weekend 2009, suddenly delisted all search rankings for GBLT-related material as being in the “adult” category (because Heather Has Two Mommies = gay pr0n, right?) and subsequently tried to blame it on some dude in France. And the Macmillian incident only increased my resolve to close my Associates account. I aspire to be published by a Macmillian subsidiary myself, and I dislike having the validity of my links subject to sudden piques of Jeff Bezos’s temper. March 8, Amazon spared me the bother of closing my account myself. Amazon, you are dead to me. Good night, sweet prince. By which I mean “good riddance, you jerk.”

(Have you tried IndieBound, by the way? IndieBound helps you find books at, or refer people to, local, independent booksellers who actually have a stake in Colorado’s well-being! Unlike Amazon, who don’t even appear to have a stake in books!)

But I seriously feel for all those individuals and small businesses in Colorado for whom the Amazon Associates program provided a non-trivial portion of their revenue.

Iran Protest in Denver

*updated 5/21/2009 with video*

If you’re curious about what today at the Colorado Capitol Building looked like, see this link for photos.  Around 250 Iranian Americans showed up to show support for the people of Iran, not the government.

Here’s my ten minute long youtube video:


Link to cbs4denver’s report here.

The Amtrak Pioneer Line: Back From The Dead?

Squee #1 – Amtrak are considering reviving the Pioneer line which used to run between Denver and Seattle (discontinued 1997). Imagine that – Denver Union Station actually serving more than one long distance train route! Wouldn’t that be something? Just four years ago, I heard no common knowledge beyond “Rail travel is dying, enjoy it while you can.” I get wistful looking at those signs in the Union Station tunnel naming and dating all the routes that are no more. The idea of any Amtrak route being raised from the dead fills me with more delight than I can adequately express. And that the route under consideration serves the Denver area? Squee indeed!

Squee #2 – Boulder City Council are urging Amtrak officials to alter that old line a bit. The Pioneer used to run through Greeley, but considering all the local support surrounding FasTracks and the much-anticipated Boulder Transit Village, they suggest the revived Pioneer run instead through Boulder. Direct rail travel from Boulder to Seattle? OMGWTFBBQ!!!1!1!1!!!eleven!

I done saw it in the Daily Camera (also in the Colorado Daily, for more detail, via Twitter feed AmtrakNews) where the sole commenter as of this moment is voicing support for the reinstated line but not for “regular Amtrak trains through Boulder.” I’m not quite sure why. Do they fear the noise and congestion of 20 TRAINS DAY, I SAID TWENTY MILLION TRAINS A DAY, SINGING A BAR OF ALICE’S RESTAURANT– Dude, chill. You got any reason to expect the Pioneer will run more often than the California Zephyr, which is to say once a day in either direction? You think that’ll add any significant hullabaloo to the existing freight traffic that passes daily through town on the BNSF? Or maybe they worry that Boulder will suddenly host a super big amount of car traffic as the new Amtrak Mecca? I am confused. Enlighten me.

As for me, I totally support an Amtrak stop in Boulder. Do you? Squee here! Don’t you? Explain!

Real Estate Tax Assessments

Today I spoke with a few of my friends about their property tax assessments.

Jefferson County recently sent out their assessments for this year.  Ours went up by a ridiculous amount and I had to ask a few of my friends whether they had seen similar increases.  They all reported the same thing.  Their assessments were raised by $50,000, $60,000, even $150,000 from the previous year.

Needless to say, we are all going to appeal.

The question is – why?  Given what we all know to be a major drop in real estate values, why would Jefferson County have picked this year to increase our assessments by such large amounts.

We all came to the same conclusion – they need the money….  I think this is also why there are so many police cars out their handing out speeding tickets.  They need the revenue.  And they are taking it out on us.

More on the Possible Elimination of the Death Penalty in Colorado

House Bill 1274 – which would repeal the death penalty in Colorado just passed the House by one vote.  Now it is on to the Senate.

The Denver Post wrote about this here.

For a little background on this bill and the national trend to eliminate the death penalty, please see my previous posting on the the possible repeal of the death penalty in Colorado.

Colorado Death Penalty On Death Row

The Colorado legislature is considering the elimination of the death penalty in Colorado.  House Bill 1274, proposed by Colorado House Majority Leader Paul Weissman, would eliminate the death penalty in Colorado in order to save money.  Some of the money saved may be used to solve and prosecute cold cases.

Almost identical legislation narrowly failed in 2007, but may have a better chance of passage this year given the budget challenges and the fact that the Democrats are the majority party in both houses of the Colorado legislature and we have a Democratic Governor.

Colorado currently has only two people on death row and has only executed one person since 1967.

Both the Denver Post and the New York Times have written articles documenting the fact that in addition to Colorado a number of other states (including Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Maryland, Montana and New Mexico) are considering repealing the death penalty to save money at a time when states are facing enourmous budgetary pressure as a result of the recession.  These articles document the fact that death penalty cases cost as much as ten times what it costs to prosecute criminals and keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.  According to California’s Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, California spends an additional $63 Million each year just to imprison its death row inmates.  That expense does not even include the cost of trials and appeals which can be up to ten times as expensive as trials where the penalty being sought by the state is life imprisonment.

The Daily Sentinel reported:

The money spent on prosecuting death-penalty cases and subsequent appeals, according to Weissman, is a drain on state law enforcement resources. “We spend about $2 million from the state, and about $2 million locally on a death penalty that we never use,” Weissman says.

Add to this the facts that very few death sentences are carried out each year and that a number of death row inmates have subsequently been exonerated through DNA evidence, and there appears to be a strong argument to repeal the death penalty this year when state budgets are so tight.

I have mixed emotions about the death penalty.  As a general matter, I am opposed to the idea of killing anyone.  However, I am a husband and a father and I have read news accounts over the years about gruesome murders by criminals who are so repugnant that I can see where an eye for an eye has an appeal.

I know that many family members of victims disagree, but I have to believe that Colorado can find better ways to spend the money it will save by repealing the death penalty – especially during this recession when all of us have to make difficult choices.

Carbon Monoxide Dector Legislation

The Colorado House of Representatives is about to pass a bill requiring the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to be installed in all new construction.  According to the Colorado House Democrats Blog:

House Bill 1091 requires all new homes and apartments to install CO detectors. It also requires installation of detectors in new construction of single or multi-family dwellings, including rental properties. Prior to renting, the bill states that a landlord must replace or repair existing alarms, and permits a local government to set more stringent requirements for the installation of alarms.

While I tend to be fairly liberal politically, this legislation does give me some hesitation.  It does seem to to be an intrusion into our private lives.  (There is an appeal to libertarian thinking….)  That said, according to the Cherry Creek News:

The CDC reports about 500 Americans die each year due to accidental CO poisoning, and another 20,000 end up in the emergency room. Children are especially vulnerable. Although CO poisoning can happen anytime, most incidents happen during the winter months, mainly due to an increased use of fuel-burning appliances.

Six people have died in Colorado since Thanksgiving from Carbon Monoxide poisoning and fifty people have been treated in Colorado emergency rooms.

Last weekend, on Valentine’s Day, our good friends called us in a panic – they needed us to take their dogs for the night.  Their CO detector had gone off – they had just installed it a week before.  The fire department had determined that their stove was leaking gas and they had to leave their house for the night.  Thankfully, they had their CO detector installed or they could have been another statistic….

This morning, I installed a second carbon monoxide detector in our house.  It was our choice and we don’t have the Colorado legislature mandating – yet.  But, maybe it is a good thing to mandate this.  It is relatively inexpensive, it will save lives including a few people who knowingly accept the risk and other unknowing beneficiaries of the pending legislation.

Boulder Barack Battle

2/20: updated with link to someone who has some experience with Boulder High and race: Alexis Gentry hit this one pretty well on the head.  Read the whole thing.

My issue with this has little to do with Obama and more to do with the blatant hypocrisy exhibited by naming a school where racism, discrimination, and segregation are not only allowed, but enforced by the staff and administration.

To understand why I am so upset about this, you need to know my back story. As a bi-racial student at BHS from 1999-2002, I have first-hand experience with some of Boulder’s infamous hypocritical behavior.

2/12: updated: Students pull plan

9News reports that Boulder High School students say it’s time for a “Barack Obama High School”.

Well, you have to give them props for going right along with the whole “Yes We Can” motif that has swept the country coast to coast and threatens to drown the rest of us in an overdose of Hope and Change.

All right, maybe that was a little snippy, but I’m just going to come out and say it. This Obama worship that seems to be breaking loose from the far and near corners is a more than a little creepy and embarrassing. In the United States it feels like we’ve suddenly given up hope in ourselves and placed it in the hands of one man. People, he’s the President. He’s not the guy who is going to save America single handily. This whole crisis is not just one guys fault. There’s plenty of blame to go around and Former President Bush is not the only one to put on a pike and dance around gleefully.

Although I suspect some would gleefully suggest such a thing.


nablowrimo day 27: Motherfuggin’ Denver Parking

I didn’t think I’d be back here with National Blog Writing Month, but I am.  Not by choice.  But by requirement to vent.  Without the ventilation, I’d be bum rushing every parking attendant I see in my area. And believe me when I got my mail late this evening, I’d blew a gasket.

Much like I’m going to now. Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

About a month ago on the 25th of September I was leaving my house at about 12:30pm intent on going to my second shift job. I recently moved into the DU area in June. Because there are five people living in the house, there is limited parking in the garage. Which means I’m the odd man out. Therefore, we were issued “guest” permits since there are only so many resident permits allowed.

I have one of those guest permits. I have hung it faithfully since I received it. I even had it renewed last week because I knew I’d get the ticketing ticketers on my tail if I didn’t.

Anyway, on the 25 of September I found my car had been ticketed. I was upset. Then the meter person (maid is probably offensive) honked at me and apologized, said he hadn’t seen my pass and if I could give him the ticket he’d take care of it. I said, “Oh, cool. Thank you very much” and was as pleasant as Pooh Bear on a honey buzz. I smiled, thanked him again and was on my way to work with nary a thought to the ticket.

Until today.


Obama Rally in Civic Center Park today

I headed out into the early (9am) morning winds to the 16th st mall, hopped on the mall ride to the end, walked about a mile and a half to the end of a line that turned out to go nowhere, and finally landed in a pretty good spot in the park, where I saw an Obama shaped spec in the distance.

Rumor has it, we had about 100,000 people turn out. I believe it. The entire park was jammed with people, as well as the lawn of the capital. I was shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Colorado Dems, and it was pretty damn cool!

Obama rally snippet

I took a bunch of pics (which are stuck on my iPhone until my main laptop is back from the shop, short of emailing each one to myself), and 16 clips of video. This is one of them. I woulda done his whole speech, but my arm wouldn’t have made it.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.