Government Ruins Nearly Everything
Visit Laura’s website: LauraCarno.com
We are in the final stretch! My new book, Government Ruins Nearly Everything, is due out March 30, 2016. It will be available on Amazon.com and I will send the pre-order link to my email list, and post it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as soon as it’s available. If you are not yet on my email list, I’d be honored to have you as a part of it. You can sign up right here.
What is Government Ruins Nearly Everything about? Does the subtitle Reclaiming Social Issues From Uncivil Servants give you an idea?
We all know that the government isn’t good at much of anything. Sure, it put a man on the moon, but can you name two things government has done right? Can you name ten things it has done right? Most of us have a lot of difficulty getting past one or two government accomplishments.
Why, then, do we turn to the government to solve our problems —especially the most important problems in America?
In Government Ruins Nearly Everything, I detail why government can’t solve big problems and why individuals like you and me are better equipped to develop workable solutions. There are individuals and organizations —today— improving problems outside of government and the political process. I tell their stories in this book.
Just what are these big problems that government can’t fix but we can? In Government Ruins Nearly Everything, I write about 4 issues that cause the most “fireworks” in the political process: Abortion, Schools, Guns and Marriage.
One side of the aisle wants government out of abortion and marriage, but wants government to fix failing schools and reduce gun violence. The other side of the aisle wants government out of schools and guns, but wants government to reduce abortions and strengthen marriage.
For most voters, one or more of these issues is very important to them. But if we know government can’t solve our problems —especially those most important to us— why do we keep expecting that they can? And how can we, outside of government and the political process, have a positive impact on those issues most important to us?
Government Ruins Nearly Everything answers these questions.
I hope this has piqued your interest! I am excited for these ideas to become part of the political conversation.
Visit Laura’s website: LauraCarno.com
Laura Carno talking about gun policy, politics and CCL on Gun Freedom Radio in Arizona with Cheryl Todd.
KUSA – In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton was forced Saturday to defend her record in the Obama administration and as an original supporter of the Iraq War.
Standing between her two opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination during the party’s second debate, Clinton said the United States is not responsible for the latest spate of terrorist attacks but must “bring people together” to defeat the Islamic State.
All three candidates — Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — stressed the need to take the fight to Islamic jihadists in a rallying cry that made them sound more like the larger number of Republicans vying for the White House.
“It cannot be contained. It must be defeated,” Clinton said of the terrorist threat. She promised to outline a plan to work with European and Middle East allies against “the scourge of terrorism” because “all the other issues we want to deal with depend on our being secure and strong.”
At the same time, Clinton said, “I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists.”
The Paris attacks dominated the early part of the Democratic debate in Iowa, where voters will kick off the 2016 voting in February.
Although Sanders and O’Malley have taken stands more dovish than Clinton in the past, they jumped at the opportunity to point out her support for President Obama’s cautious approach in Syria and elsewhere, as well as her 2003 vote for the war in Iraq.
“The disastrous invasion of Iraq … has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Sanders said. “The invasion of Iraq led to the massive instability we are seeing right now.”
But like Clinton, Sanders said the United States can’t dominate the battle. Middle East allies, he said. “are going to have to get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground. They’re going to have to take on ISIS.”
O’Malley said the growth of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks has been caused by a lack of “human intelligence” on the ground. As a result, he said, Afghanistan, Iraq,Libya and Syria are all “a mess.”
While the Paris attacks dominated the first part of the debate, the candidates also quarreled over wages and Wall Street, immigration and education, health care, guns and race.
See original post
By Laura Carno
Do voters deserve to be educated on who is funding Issue 2C?
I have previously written about Colorado Springs Issue 2C and have been running a small campaign against it. My position is that government at any level should never come to the voters asking for more money until they have turned over every stone looking for alternatives. I don’t think Colorado Springs politicians have done that. There are some people who think that the politicians have done everything they could before putting 2C on the ballot. Reasonable people can disagree.
The pro-2C advocates have waged a high-dollar campaign to convince the voters that this sales tax increase is necessary —that it’s the only way to fix the roads. They have done this through TV and radio ads, mailers, robocalls from the Mayor, and paid canvassers to knock on doors. The Gazette also tried to help the 2C advocates by running a hit piece against me personally, digging through my past employment in an attempt to discredit me. I have also had numerous social media posts and profanity-laden emails accusing me of being funded by the Koch Brothers. I am not funded by the Koch Brothers. And community members, including at least one city council person, attacked me on social media, calling me an “out of town special-interest,” because I live in Black Forest.
Let me address that accusation. I live in Black Forest, just outside of Colorado Springs. The money I spend in Black Forest is limited to buying my coffee beans at R and R Coffee Café. If you haven’t been to Black Forest, CO, its business district is pretty small. Nearly all of my shopping is done in Colorado Springs. Nearly all of my sales taxes are paid in Colorado Springs, so the passage of 2C does affect me. In addition, I don’t get to vote against 2C, as I don’t live in the city limits. Even if the sales tax increase didn’t affect me personally, I have a First Amendment right to speak out against government action when I think it lacks integrity, thus my little campaign.
So on to the punch line —who is funding the Yes on 2C campaign? And what might they hope to gain from their contributions?
To start, as of the most recent campaign finance report filed October 30th, the primary group funding the Yes campaign —Springs Citizens Building the Future— had raised over $387,000. To be clear, they have outspent me by almost 50-1. I’m not complaining about this. Part of our First Amendment right to speak out politically is our right to raise more than the other side, and get our persuasive argument out there. I have almost always been outspent in campaigns I’ve run. That’s the way it goes.
But let’s look at who comprises that $387,000.
There are your average citizen donors. Great, they are participating in their local government, just like I am.
Would it surprise you to know that 76% of the dollars donated came from developers, construction industry companies, and other large companies? Issue 2C is slated to fix the roads in Colorado Springs. I wonder what road construction companies could possibly hope to gain from their big donations? I’m hoping they aren’t expecting preferential treatment in bidding on the roadwork. If 2C passes, we expect to see a transparent, competitive bidding process.
The construction industry alone contributed over $168,000. A quick look at just those over $5,000:
|Associated General Contractors of Colorado||15,000.00|
|Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association||10,000.00|
|Martin Marietta Aggregates||10,000.00|
|Pikes Peak Electrical Partnership||10,000.00|
|Transit Mix Concrete Co||10,000.00|
|Kiewit Infrastructure Co||5,000.00|
|Colorado Construction Industry Coalition||5,000.00|
|Rocky Mountain District Council No. 5||5,000.00|
|CAMPC Opportunity Fund||5,000.00|
|Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt, Inc.||5,000.00|
Remember those people who wrongly attacked me for being funded by the Koch Brothers? Are they OK with these donations?
And remember those people, including a city council person, who attacked me for being an out of town special-interest? Three of the above organizations are in the Denver–Metro area and one is in Raleigh, NC. There are even more out of town companies who donated amounts below $5,000. And we haven’t heard a peep from my critics.
I don’t blame these companies for their donations. The proponents of 2C are actively seeking these donations. They and the city leaders are also responsible.
If you are voting for 2C, make sure you have all the facts. Road construction companies and developers really want 2C to pass, and are putting significant amounts of money behind it to make sure it passes. If this kind of cronyism is OK with you, please vote yes on 2C.
If you are as concerned as I am that big companies are trying to buy this election, thereby enhancing their chances of personally profiting from your increased taxes, then vote no on 2C.
Don’t trust me on these astounding numbers. If you’d like to see more information about donors on both sides of the issue, all of the detail is available at the City of Colorado Springs website.
I challenge the Colorado Springs media to educate voters on who exactly is trying to buy this election to pass Issue 2C. Don’t you think voters deserve to know this?
By Laura Carno
Colorado Springs voters will have a decision to make this November. Will they approve yet one more tax increase, or will they ask the city leaders to sharpen their pencils and tighten their belts?
Politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — like to grow government. And the only way they can grow government is to require taxpayers to foot the bill. We are lucky in Colorado that we have the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which requires the politicians to put the tax hike to a vote of the people. And when they ask us for more money, we need to be very skeptical about whether they need it or not. The voters are in the driver’s seat. The politicians need our permission to raise taxes.
In Colorado Springs, Issue 2C will be on the Nov. 3 ballot, and would increase the sales tax on purchases made within the city limits. If passed, this increase of 0.62 percent would take the sales tax in the city of Colorado Springs to 8.25 percent, far above the average in Colorado of 7.39 percent. This $50 million annual tax increase would be in effect for five years and would be dedicated to road repairs and improvements. No one disputes the need for road repairs. The dispute arises over how best to pay for them.
One interesting twist: Republican Mayor John Suthers actually campaigned on raising taxes.
A Colorado Springs group — Colorado Springs Forward — is hoping to raise $100,000 to support the tax increase. According to the Colorado Springs Independent: “The campaign will be funded by donations from nonprofits, community leaders and professional organizations, such as the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, the Regional Business Alliance and auto dealers, among others.”
But not all business interests are supporting the tax increase. In fact, the Colorado Springs Business Journal called the tax hike “unethical and imprudent.” Their concern, in part, is that a sales tax is regressive, and hurts the poor and elderly the most.
Americans For Prosperity Colorado hired Steve Anderson, a CPA with experience in municipal budgets, to review the city’s budgets and audits and propose options within the existing city budget to find an annual $50 million for road repairs — without raising taxes. Anderson came up with many ideas and Americans for Prosperity Colorado detailed these ideas for the mayor and the City Council.
But the mayor and the City Council aren’t interested in Anderson’s proposals. They want the tax increase. It might seem like an easier path for city leaders to raise taxes than to make difficult decisions in city government. But it’s their job to make difficult decisions.
Before any government — whether state or local — asks its citizens for more money, it needs to look at its own books, just like we do in our family budgets. The government needs to remember that every dollar it spends is a dollar you and I earned. If any politician supports a tax increase, it needs to be only after they have turned over every stone looking for another way.
I have started a grassroots ad campaign to educate citizens on this proposed sales tax increase. You can see my first ad at IACEaction.com.
Occasionally, there might be a legitimate reason for a tax increase. But when elected officials refuse to look for another way, when they just want to dig deeper into our pockets, we have an obligation to stop them.
Here in Colorado, we have a constitutional educational structure that promotes local control. Unfortunately, we also have a 400-person bureaucracy called Colorado Department of Education (CDE.) Over 6 billion dollars of taxpayer money is flowing through CDE. In theory, CDE has a fiduciary responsibility to students, parents, and taxpayers. However, all too often, the inner workings of CDE have been co-opted by special interest groups who do not share the same responsibilities.
The CDE reports to the State Board of Education which is comprised of a seven member elected board. The head of Colorado’s CDE is called the Commissioner of Education. In July of this year, CDE Commissioner of Education, Robert Hammond, retired. An interim Commissioner, Elliott Asp, was appointed by the State Board in August. Now the State Board and CDE have retained the search firm of Ray and Associates to help find and vet a new Commissioner of Education for Colorado. CDE has set up two avenues to obtain public input.
First, you can provide input through an online survey. If you go to http://www.cde.state.co.us/ there is a link for ‘Complete the Commissioner Search Survey’, which will be open for input until Monday, September 14. Second, beginning Thursday, September 10, there will be a series of Public Input Meetings. Please see list of dates, times, and locations below. If you cannot attend in person, there is an opportunity to attend by phone.
So what are we looking for in a new Commissioner? Our new Colorado Commissioner of Education must take a strong stand to eliminate the connection between the Colorado Department of Education and special interest groups, as well as begin to eliminate unnecessary and redundant functions in the educational process at the state level.
The Colorado State Board of Education, via the CDE, has a fiduciary responsibility to oversee the implementation of the laws written by the General Assembly, and to provide guidance to the 178 local school districts that represent approximately 800,000 students and their families. In the past, CDE has employed foundation-funded, ideologically and politically driven organizations to advise and implement policies that bypass the local control process and do not show fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers and voters.
One example of this was highlighted in the December 18, 2014, Colorado Joint Budget Committee Hearing. Legislators questioned the ethics and legality of having privately funded, non-profit entities, acting as government employees in our Department of Education. These “employees on loan” come from the Gates Foundation funded Colorado Education Initiative, (or better known as Colorado Legacy Foundation, before changing their name to CEI). There were 5 such CEI employees in our Colorado Department of Education overseeing the implementation of the new Common Core aligned standards and assessments.
We must demand a Colorado Commissioner of Education who is committed to:
- Minimizing state level bureaucratic control and oversight
- Restoring local control
- Promoting transparency in CDE finances, transactions, contracts, lobbying, and business partnerships
- Taking a strong stand to eliminate the connection between the Colorado Department of Education and special interest money and its influence on education policy. An example is CDE’s relationship with the Colorado Education Initiative as noted above
One avenue that the new Commissioner can take to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness would be to call for a complete and thorough audit of our Colorado Department of Education.
Our ability to participate in our own government process is one of the greatest aspects of America, but we only have rights if we exercise them. Please don’t miss this opportunity to be heard. Our kids deserve no less.
List of Public Meetings and Call-In Participation. RSVP Requested: RSVP to Jennifer Lee, Temp_Lee_J@cde.state.co.us or 303-866-6817
- Grand Junction – Location TBD Thursday, September 10 8:15 – 9:15
- Glenwood Springs – Roaring Fork SD, RM TBD Thursday, September 10 11:45 – 12:45
- Denver – 201 E. Colfax Ave., 4th Floor Atrium Thursday, September 10 9:45 – 10:45
- Denver – 201 E. Colfax Ave., State Board RM 101 Thursday, September 10 6:15 – 8:45
- Denver – 6000 E. Evans Building #2 Suite 100 Friday, September 11 10:30 – 11:30
- By Phone ** Thursday, September 10 4:45 – 5:45
**Call-in number provided when attendance is confirmed.
August 31, 2015
Here’s how the free market works: If you have a product people like, they buy it. If you have a product people don’t like, they don’t buy it.
In the free market of presidential politics, if people like a candidate, they can send them a donation, attend their rallies, post positive messages about them on social media, and express their preference in a poll.
In the real free market, those candidates who are most appealing to prospective voters would be on the main debate stage at the upcoming September 16th CNN debates. But that isn’t what’s happening. CNN and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are making sure that Carly Fiorina won’t be on the main stage. Why might that be?
By means of disclosure, I haven’t decided yet on a candidate for President. I have a pretty good idea of whom I don’t want, but there is certainly a pool of acceptable candidates I’d consider voting for.
Christopher Rants of the Des Moines Register published a column entitled “Why Are Republicans Letting CNN Pick Our President?” He explains in detail how the process for selecting debate participants was developed. At a high level, CNN and the RNC agreed on the criteria by which presidential candidates would be determined eligible to be on the main stage. The main stage is the prime time debate of the 10 highest polling candidates. Those that don’t make the cut are relegated to the non-prime time debate.
In the August 6th Fox News Channel debate, Carly Fiorina was appropriately placed in the non-prime time debate, based on the most current polls just before that debate. By many accounts, she won the debate, although she wasn’t on the main debate stage. I agree that she won. If you haven’t seen Fiorina speak, take a minute to watch her closing from the Fox News Channel debate.
The criteria for the CNN debate —agreed upon by the RNC— includes 9 polls from before the Fox News Channel debate and only two polls conducted after that. The Fox News Channel debate put Fiorina on the map. In current polls, she is coming in at 7th place, a showing that would easily put her on the main stage.
If Fiorina is bumped up to the main stage that means someone else is bumped down —as it should be. If a candidate is polling worse now as a result of his August 6th debate performance, and that puts him in position #11 or lower, he doesn’t deserve to be on the main debate stage. In a true free market of presidential politics, if people stop supporting a candidate, he has earned his way off the big stage.
Back to the question of why the RNC would have accepted —much less promoted— this methodology of determining the make up of the main stage. You can be assured that the RNC supports someone other than Carly Fiorina for President. Fiorina has been very persuasive and very effective on the campaign trail. That could certainly hurt someone like Jeb Bush, likely the RNC favorite. And in a 2014 article, the RNC admitted that it wanted to keep out candidates whom they didn’t sanction. Is the RNC afraid of Carly Fiorina?
Having Fiorina on the main stage would also hurt front-runner Donald Trump. Voters are hungering for someone who is not a career politician. Like Trump, Fiorina is also an outsider to politics. But she says what needs to be said in a style that is far less abrasive than Donald Trump’s style. Trump’s manner of insulting people, either individually or as a group is beneath the dignity of the office he seeks. A candidate calling a reporter a bimbo, at minimum, is terrible professional manners.
I like candidates who don’t sound like career politicians. As the former proprietor of the Udall Lied campaign, I love that Fiorina speaks the truth plainly and clearly: Hillary Clinton Lied. There is plenty of evidence that Clinton lied, and Fiorina isn’t afraid to say it. She uses words that most people use in their daily lives and they can actually relate to what she says.
Fiorina should be on the main debate stage. The debate will be more interesting and more informative for her being there. Republicans say they believe in people earning their own way. Carly Fiorina has earned her way on to the main debate stage.
What can we do about this?
1. The RNC has the power to say to CNN: Change The Rules. They are each private organizations that set the rules for the debate. They can change them. Call the RNC at 202-863-8500 and let them know you want more recent polls used in determining who is on the main stage at the September 16th If you are active on Twitter, send a tweet to @Reince to let the chairman know your opinion.
2. If you are one of the rare people called for a presidential preference poll, take the time to answer and express your preference for Carly Fiorina, even if she is not your current choice. The debates will be better for her inclusion.
2. If you have a few extra dollars, consider sending her a donation to express your support of her being in the debate.
3. Sign the petition at: https://carlyforamerica.com/cnn-rnc-do-the-right-thing-for-america
4. Share this blog on your own social media accounts and ask your friends to take the above steps.
August 3, 2015
There are few things more sacred to Americans than a secure and secret ballot.
On August 1, 2015, Vincent Carroll of the Denver Post wrote a column entitled: The high risk of e-voting pointing out some concerns with electronic transmission of military and overseas balloting. This overview should cause us all concern about both the security and the secrecy of ballots that are cast in this manner.
The Heritage Foundation also published a column with similar concerns on July 14, 2015.
The extent to which Internet–based voting allows our deployed military members —who have no access to mail ballots— to vote is a good practice. No one wants to get in the way of their right to vote. The question is: Is Internet and email balloting being used only as a rare exception, or is that method of voting expanding?
A 2011 Colorado State law (HB 11-1219) ensures that overseas military members get their ballots in order to vote and return their ballot through the mail in a timely fashion. They have 53 days from when the ballot leaves their County Clerk and Recorder’s office to when their ballot must be returned in order to be counted for that election. In most situations, this is sufficient time. Service members may also request an electronic ballot be automatically sent to them, so that they can print it out, vote, and mail it back to their county office. All of this is important and necessary.
Senator Kevin Lundberg, was a member of the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee during 2006 when this bill’s predecessor was passed. Senator Lundberg has spoken out against the use of the electronic transmission of voted ballots in all but the most rare of circumstances. He can be heard discussing this on a May 29, 2015 podcast with radio host Ken Clark, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. The relevant portion of the conversation starts around 25 minutes in.
Consider a submariner who is underwater for months. Consider a service person deployed to a place in the world where mail isn’t an option. The law makes it clear that the overseas or military voter may, “return the ballot by electronic transmission in circumstance where another more secure method, such as returning the ballot by mail, is not available or feasible.” Note that the law acknowledges that electronic transmission is less secure than returning the ballot by mail.
In the May 29th podcast above, and a separate May 14, 2015 podcast, Secretary Williams says that this option for overseas and military voters to transmit their completed ballots electronically also applies to additional overseas voters, such as missionaries and students doing a semester abroad. The relevant portion of the podcast begins at about 1 hour and 21 minutes in. Senator Lundberg expresses concern in both of these podcasts about electronic transmission of completed ballots becoming a common practice as opposed to a “rare exception.” According to Secretary Williams, there were over 3,000 military members who used the electronic transmission method of voting in the 2014 general election. That is over 50% of the number of military and overseas voters who voted. Not all of these 3,000 were in areas where mail services were neither available nor feasible. Some may have been right here at home.
How safe is electronic transmission of a completed ballot? The language in the 2011 legislation admits it is not as safe as mailing in a ballot. New headlines every day like this and this show how vulnerable data is to being hacked. Here is a quick demonstration of how ballot data, using a 3rd party vendor, might be hacked and how a vote can be changed.
As for the 3rd party vendor, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office has contracted with Everyone Counts to be the technology link between the military or overseas voter and the County Clerk and Recorder’s offices throughout the state. When a military or overseas voter marks their ballot online, it doesn’t go directly to their County Clerk and Recorder. It goes first to Everyone Counts, along with the voters’ verified identity. After a copy of the electronic ballot is saved, the voter emails it to the clerk. Although Everyone Counts boasts about “secure and reliable voting options,” according to Secretary Williams in the May 14th podcast, the voter has to acknowledge that they are “voluntarily waiving their right to a secret ballot.”
It disrupts a voter’s access to a secret ballot when a commercial vendor collects the voter’s choices. If Everyone Counts were to be hacked, what would happen to a voter’s privacy? Would Everyone Counts be able to sell voter data?
The public was offered an opportunity to attend a July 7, 2015 Secretary of State hearing on the rules surrounding electronic transmission of ballots, and the opportunity to weigh in online if they were unable to attend the meeting. Most of the public comments were against electronic transmission of ballots.
While listening to the podcasts above, I heard an interesting question raised. The final caller on the May 14th podcast asked Secretary Williams about the family relationship between an employee of the Secretary of State’s office and an employee of the vendor, Everyone Counts. The Secretary didn’t answer the question, but if true, the Colorado Secretary of State should —at minimum—publicly disclose that fact, and ensure that there is an arms length relationship between the two entities, so that there is no appearance of impropriety.
If these issues are as concerning to you as they are to me, please contact the Colorado Secretary of State’s office immediately to express that concern.
You can send your comments to:
SoS.Rulemaking@sos.state.co.us and email@example.com.