Blue Book Abuse, the Colorado Governor's Race, and More:

My father, Jerry Kopel, is a columnist for the Colorado Statesman, Colorado's weekly political newspaper. Before that, he served for 22 years as a Democratic State Representative from Denver. Before that, he worked for several Colorado newspapers, including the Rocky Mountain News (for which I currently write a media column). Here's a sample of his recent columns, all of which are available on his website:

Analyzing the 2006 race for Governor, he suggests that Marc Holtzman (who formerly served in Bill Owens' cabinet) will beat Bob Beauprez in the Republican primary, because Holtzman is the candidate with "fire in his belly." On the Democratic side, he predicts that former Denver D.A. Bill Ritter will have trouble with the Democratic base, because of his anti-abortion stance.

The story of Blue Book abuse does not involve the manual of legal citation. "The Blue Book" is also the name of a state guide about ballot issues which is mailed to every voter before elections. The Colorado Constitution specifies that the text of the Blue Book--describing the ballot issues, and summarizing pro and con arguments--must be written by non-partisan legislative staff. Yet a recent decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals (the intermediate appellate court) allowed the legislature to get away with writing a statute that in effect nullified the state Constitution, by authorizing legislators to tamper with the Blue Book wording.

The shady financial dealings of the CU Foundation, which has provided enormous funding to various administrators and programs at the University of Colorado, has become a major controversy in Colorado. A December 19 column details how my father attempted to lead a legislative investigation of the CU Foundation's finances, but was stymied by legislative leadership which did not want to dig very deeply.

Colorado, like many states, has "Sunrise/Sunset" legislation, which requires that bills to impose new licensing on a profession must go through a special "sunrise" study process. All licensing regulations for professions are supposed to "sunset" on a regular schedule, unless the legislature chooses to renew them. (My dad sponsored the first such law in the United States, in 1974.) In the 2006 legislature, one faction of naturopaths (those with degrees from four-year naturopathic schools) will make their third try to attempt to outlaw the practice of naturopathy by anyone else.

Meanwhile, law enforcement lobbies will push for professional licensing for burglar alarm installers. The claim is that licensing will reduce the number of false alarms. Yet a study by Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies concluded that false alarms were the result of consumer behavior, and licensing of installers would not reduce false alarms.

Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Always fun when all these pseudo-professionals try to get licensing in order to impose a monopoly. Of course, we, as attorneys, need to be regulated. But that is because we belong to a REAL profession, not like naturopaths and burglar alarm installers.

The Blue Book is always problematic. In the last election, I found the description of esp. ref D esp. misleading. I think that it may partly come from a push by the League of [Liberal] Women Voters awhile back for a non-partisan English language description of ballot issues. (My mother was state legislative chair and head lobbyist for them for awhile when Lamm was gov. - I suspect that she knew your father back then). In any case, the Blue Book wording can sometimes be critical as to whether an initiative passes or fails, and, as you well know, it is continually fought over for this reason.

Personally, as a Republican, I do hope that Beauprez wins the nomination, as I think he is the only one who can beat Ritter - and I think the judiciary moved quite a ways to the left under Govs. Lamm and Romer, and is slowly moving back towards center. Any Democrat, even Ritter, is going to move it back to the left. But then, I wouldn't mind someone else winning the Democratic nomination who was more beatable. However, Speaker Romanoff seemed to endorse Ritter on the radio tonight, and arguably wouldn't have if he hadn't checked with Mayor Hickenlooper and made sure he wasn't running first.
1.5.2006 4:57am
Bruce, you've either begged the question or committed the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy in your first paragraph. (Or was that captialization of REAL supposed to make it tongue-in-cheek?)
1.5.2006 8:44am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Of course it was somewhat tongue in cheek. After all, I am a member of a guild in Colorado that is licensed and regulated, and as a result has a monopoly on certain commerce (in my case, the practice of law). But I find myself philisophically opposing the licensing of most other areas of commerce because licensing invariably involves significant costs to the consumer through monopoly pricing by the licensed guild members.

Why the apparent hypocracy? I can't even say tradition, because Colorado has unlicensed numerous "professions" through sunset laws over the last couple of decades, and, to my view, much to the better. Yet, I do still think that certain traditional professions, notably law and medicine, should continue to be licensed and regulated. Maybe on the grounds of the level of harm that they could do if unregulated and unlicensed. Yet, I am still left with the feeling that maybe my views there are a result of being in one of those "core" guilds / professions. So, I keep asking myself, am I a hypocrite here?
1.5.2006 12:27pm
Cheburashka (mail):
When I was on law review, I had an argument with the girl I was seeing over how little time we were spending together, and it ended with her beating me over the head with the blue book.

Seventh edition, which I have to say really offended me because she knew how much I disagreed with the 7th's position on the use of "cert. denied" signals.
1.5.2006 1:12pm