When I make a mistake, it's a beaut

    Update, June 16: My letter to the Rocky refuting Salzman's slur was published today. The bottom line is that Dems raised taxes and we Republicans never did, in fact we cut them. That's the inconvenient truth which Salzman and his allies fear in next year's campaign.

Liberal media hitman Jason Salzman used his Rocky Mountain News column on May 12 to call me a hypocrite and a flip-flopper for opposing Bill Ritter's $1.8 billion property tax increase this year, after being on record with a yes vote for a similar proposal in the Senate in 2004. In today's column he ups the ante by suggesting the whole affair proves me a liar. Jason, Jason -- are you and the Dems really that panicked about the damage this huge, unconstitutional tax hike may do with voters in the 2008 election? Apparently so.

The most anyone is going to "prove" here about former Sen. Andrews is how consistently imperfect and frequently inattentive I was in public office -- and am in daily life, for that matter.

Salzman in his June 9 piece ignores my quote in his own earlier column: "I voted for it without having had the tax-increase feature of it brought to my attention. I plead guilty to casting an ill-informed vote. But I have to plead not guilty to the idea that I was an active proponent or advocate for this approach." Instead he dwells on my comment that Sen. Norma Anderson, sponsor of the 2004 tax hike, used "sleight of hand" to temporarily pass it through the Senate -- before House Republicans called the mistake to our attention and we, Senate Republicans, ultimately OK'd a school finance bill minus the Anderson poison pill.

On his blog he gives the transcript of a five-minute floor debate between a single Republican senator, Andy McElhany, who argues this is a tax increase and three senators (Anderson, Republican Ron Teck and Democrat Ron Tupa) who say it's not, or who say pass it anyway. Tupa's remark that Norma was doing "vintage dragon lady" with bluster against McElhany -- which Salzman actually cites in his column today -- is but another way of saying what I've said repeatedly: this woman was a master at railroading anything and anyone. Hence the ill-informed, ill-considered vote cast by me and most of the GOP caucus on that occasion, prior to Rep. Keith King and his House colleagues straightening us out.

Salzman's breathless speculation in the lead of today's column that "Andrews is lying" relies on his own ill-informed, subjective, naive, and credulous interpretation of how the legislative process works and who the personalities involved were. It is a reckless innuendo resting on zero hard evidence, and as such, journalistically irresponsible in the extreme -- nice work for a self-proclaimed guardian of ethical journalism.

Jason isn't even that sharp as a copy editor, as we see in this careless but revealing error on his blog: "Andrews says that, thanks to Andrews, he cast an ill-informed vote for the freeze." The second name in that sentence was obviously meant to be ANDERSON -- but I will accept the sentence as written, since I have already owned my bad vote and stated "I plead guilty." We've met the enemy, in Pogo's famous phrase, and he is us.

I must thank the Rocky for that nice photo of me, which will make a fleeting positive impression with ten times as a many readers as the number that plow through the text below where my character is negatively portrayed. And by way of explaining the title of this post, I cite the cheerful mea culpa once offered by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia: "When I make a mistake, it's a beaut." Yours truly says amen to that.

But the far bigger mistake here is that of Gov. Bill Ritter and the Democrat-led legislature in passing into law in 2007 (not just temporarily accepting, then ultimately rejecting, as we did in 2004) a huge bump in taxes on homeowners just at the time when assessments across the state are going UP and resale values are going DOWN. That one is a beaut indeed, and no amount of spinning and "everyone does it" subject-changing can erase the grave political vulnerability it creates for Dems next year.


Mea Culpa PS: Also in the May 12 Rocky, two pages from my owning-up with Salzman, I owned up with columnist Mike Littwin, who wrote: "'It was an ill-informed vote - one I wish I could have back,' Andrews says. 'You don't serve down there without making some dumb votes. That was one.'" My friend, Sen. Steve Johnson (R-Loveland), went on to compliment me for that self-criticism. I in turn must compliment the only two GOP senators to vote right on the 2004 Anderson tax hike, McElhany and Lamborn. Fittingly, their fidelity to fiscal conservatism is now rewarded by Andy being Senate Republican leader and Doug being elevated to the US Congress by his grateful El Paso County constituents. As for retired Sen. Norma Anderson, she is on record as regretting her support for Lamborn and me in the redistricting bill of 2003, while I'm on record regretting my support for her little school finance maneuver of 2004. So I guess we can call it even -- though she still has some 'splainin' to do about being a token Republican on Gov. Ritter's transition team.