Initiative 97 Not the Answer
Drill Deeper For the True Impact Statewide


On the surface, Initiative 97 looks like a safety issue concerning new oil and gas development, including fracking. However, when examining the overall impact of the proposal makes the Nov. 6 ballot, it would do more harm than good for Colorado statewide.
The current laws require new wells be restricted within 500 feet from homes. That is a reasonable restriction. Initiative 97 would require a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as “vulnerable,” including playgrounds, permanent sports fields, amphitheaters, public parks, public open space, public and community drinking water sources, irrigation canals, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams, and creeks, and any additional vulnerable areas designated by the state or a local government.
In other words, the initiative would kill oil and gas production statewide and that would harm many people.
It’s not a doomsday prediction to say such a law would greatly impact the state’s economy and eliminate thousands of jobs. Additionally, public schools would lose tax revenue and the state could face lawsuits.
One study says if Initiative 97 is approved by voters, up to 43,000 jobs will be lost in the first year alone; and within 12 years, the state also would lose $218 billion.
The initiative already has impacted Colorado oil and gas stocks which fell after news broke that it may appear on the November ballot, according to reports. Such revenue losses hurt everyone connected to the industry, from the workers in the field to communities that use tax revenue to help fund such things as parks.
Most Coloradans agree oil and gas regulation is needed but how far is too far. If this initiative is approved, in Colorado’s top five oil and gas producing counties combined, 61 percent of the surface acreage (94 percent of non-federal land) would be unavailable for new development.
As voters, we all have the responsibility to look at the big picture when voting on new laws.  Killing an industry that provides jobs and tax revenue is not the answer.

Wellington E. Webb
Editor’s note: Wellington E. Webb served as Denver’s mayor from 1991 to 2003.

Reunite the Border Children  and Parents Now


No border child or parent separated by the federal government should have to spend another day wondering where their loved one has been taken.
The Trump administration has created this tragedy and now has labeled at least 700 children as “ineligible” for reunification. What does that mean? Are these children suddenly orphans because of a group of misguided bureaucrats say so?
The majority of Americans are outraged about the separation policy and the “power of the people” rightly stopped this inhumane action before it got worse. Our voices cannot go silent until every child and parent is reunited.

I applaud the U.S. Conference of Mayors for taking a leadership role in reuniting the families.
“As city leaders, we want to ensure that the children who have been sent to shelters or other facilities in our cities have the services and assistance they need,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin. “But federal authorities generally do not notify us when they send children to our cities, and they do not make it easy to find out if they are there. This is not only frustrating - it is unacceptable.

“As mayors and as parents, we know this is an urgent matter,” Mayor Benjamin said. “Every day these children and their families are separated adds to the heartbreak and the trauma they are enduring. Our nation is better than this. The situation we are facing is far from over, and it requires us to put aside our partisan differences and find common ground.”

As Americans, we also should never forget that with the exception of Native Americans and black slaves, we all are descendants of immigrants.

The list of famous immigrants would fill hundreds of books. But here are just a few to remind everyone our country is better because of generations of immigrants. Just think if these individuals had been ripped from their parents or turned away from our borders. Their contributions to our country – whether in science, public office, community service, the arts, and sports – would be lost:
Founding father and first U.S Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; scientist Albert Einstein; blue jean inventor Levi Strauss; first female U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Yahoo founder Jerry Yang; telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell; NBA star Patrick Ewing; singer Gloria Estefan; actor Michael J. Fox; political activist Marcus Garvey; singer Bob Marley; Google founder Sergey Brin; guitarist Carlos Santana; actor Jackie Chan; writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel; actor Bob Hope; MLB star Albert Pulos; actress Mila Kunis; inventor Nikola Telsa; author Padma Lakshmi; musician Yo-Yo Ma; NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon; journalist “Mother” Mary Harris Jones; director Ang Lee;  NBA star Dikembe Mutombo;  architect Ieoh Ming Pei;
song writer Wyclef Jean; singer/songwriter Neil Young; pathologist Elizabeth Stern; journalist Arianna Huffington; song writer Irving Berlin; author Isabel Allende.

Wellington E. Webb
Editor’s note: Wellington E. Webb served as Denver’s mayor from 1991 to 2003.

Receipts: Common Sense Business


Denver’s growth brings problems for seniors, and problems attract predators. When staying in your home is difficult and finding a new one impossible, a dishonest landlord has the leverage to exploit the vulnerable. On August 8th, a new law came into effect that keeps fraud away with a simple common sense protection: when you pay your rent, you can ask for a receipt.
Once I learned that receipts weren’t readily available, I set out to fix it. While running a bill, I met “M” who testified in favor of my solution. “M” lives in Denver. She speaks
Spanish, and a little English. After 15 years of being a good tenant, her landlord threatened to kick her out for not paying rent. The staff at The Gathering Place, a drop in shelter for homeless women in City Park West, knew for a fact that it just wasn’t true. They approached her landlord and he abruptly changed his story. He now claimed she paid every month, but not the full amount. The transactions were all in cash, and if it went to court it would be his word against hers.

he Gathering Place saw his pattern of bulling her into paying more, but there was no paper trail that could prove that she was being shaken down. Even after she took refuge with them, the landlord pursued and harassed her. When he started harassing the staff, they banned him from the building.
Still threatened with an eviction that would crush her ability to find housing, The Gathering Place paid a $400 eviction fee to clear her debt, and she agreed to find a new place to live.

But that didn’t happen. Unable to find another place, the landlord pulled her aside and said she could stay in the rental. It wasn’t long before he filed another eviction, kicked her to the streets, and she has been homeless in Denver ever since.
This was one case of many, where proper documentation would straighten everything out. I was surprised that a tenant could be refused a receipt for cash
 rent paid, or even a copy of the lease itself. As a business professional, I know that good records protect both sides in an honest transaction, and with this new law in place that protection will finally be available.

Runaway rents make it hard enough for our elders to stay in their homes, connected to the churches and neighborhoods that support them. As the state senator representing “M.” and the Gathering Place, I was happy to address this issue and make it a little easier for everyone.

It might not be a big change in the law, but it is the sort of change that makes a big difference to the people in Northeast Denver, and the many people across Colorado who are struggling but doing the right thing.

Angela Williams
Editor’s note: Angela Williams is a Colorado State Senator and represents District 33.

Democrats’ Immigration Dogma is Damaging African American Communities


If you’re a Democrat and you question the party orthodoxy on immigration, prepare to be excommunicated.

That’s the grim lesson of a recent fracas involving Our Revolution, the progressive advocacy group founded by Senator Bernie Sanders. Our Revolution fired its “National Justice” director after she publicly pointed out that excessive immigration can hurt low-wage American workers. The staffer, Tezlyn Figaro, a woman of African American and Latina descent, took to Twitter to complain about foreigners “coming into the country and getting benefits that Americans do not get.”

Figaro voiced an uncomfortable truth, and her dismissal reveals a stunning hypocrisy within modern Democratic politics. The party claims to champion the economic well-being of Black and Hispanic Americans; yet it also supports unfettered immigration, which depresses wages and reduces job opportunities for minority American workers.  

Immigrants – both legal and illegal – tend to congregate in large cities and join the unskilled workforce. In fact, in the past 20 years, immigrants who lack high school diplomas have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by 25 percent.  

That puts them in direct competition with African Americans, who disproportionately occupy the low-wage urban labor market. Work from Harvard economist George Borjas shows that when immigration increases the size of the labor pool by 10-percent, wages for African American men drop 2.5 percent – and their employment rate declines by six percent.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission Commissioner Peter Kirsanow emphasized how this competition can lock young workers out of the job market: “You eliminate the rungs on the ladder because a sizable number of African American men don’t have access to entry-level jobs.”

Democrats can’t be champions for African Americans when they advocate for endless immigration amnesties. This includes their support for “sanctuary cities,” which stymie the deportation of dangerous criminals and their opposition to mandatory worker verification enforcement.
In June, a number of high-profile Democratic mayors pulled out of an immigration meeting with President Trump in retaliation for the administration’s crackdown on sanctuary cities.

Pointing out the damage done by free-flowing foreign labor wasn’t always condemned by left-leaning lawmakers. Back in the early 1990s, Barbara Jordan, a civil rights icon and the first African American woman from the South ever elected to Congress, proclaimed that there was “no national interest in continuing to import lesser skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labor force.” She called for cutting immigration by a third.

A decade later, a Democratic senator warned that a “huge influx of mostly low-skill workers... threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans.”
That senator was Barack Obama, writing in his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope.”
Around the same time, Paul Krugman, a liberal Nobel Prize-winning economist, openly acknowledged that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is . . . pretty clear.”  

Democratic leaders can’t claim to care about Black and Hispanic Americans while supporting immigration policies that rob their most loyal voters of jobs and wages.

Tom Broadwater
Washington, DC

Editor’s note: Tom Broadwater is president of Americans4Work, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of American minority, veteran, youth, and disabled workers.