John: "With a recession coming, Denver’s proposal for half a billion in new debt on the November ballot is the wrong way to go. If your employer were threatening layoffs, you wouldn’t go out and run up your credit cards. You’d look at the job market. Hickenlooper’s package includes no job creation." So begins the October series of “Head On” debates between former state Sen. John Andrews (R) and former Denver councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt (D), seen daily on Colorado Public Television since 1997. In addition to differing over Hickenlooper's latest tax increase, Bush's S-CHIP veto, and upcoming congressional races, they paid tribute to the leadership of Denver Public schools and the amazing Colorado Rockies. Here are all five scripts:
1. BONDS & TAXES ON DENVER BALLOT
John: With a recession coming, Denver’s proposal for half a billion in new debt on the November ballot is the wrong way to go. If your employer were threatening layoffs, you wouldn’t go out and run up your credit cards. You’d look at the job market. Hickenlooper’s package includes no job creation.
Susan: There is very little new debt in Denver's proposed bond issue - less than 70 million which translates to about $10 a year for the owner of a typical Denver residence. The proposal is about maintenance and investing in taxpayer assets. Not fixing a leaky roof leads to much costlier replacement.
John: Denver taxpayers should vote no on Issues A through I. A dozen tax increases from Hickenlooper already is enough. Existing revenue growth will fund most of the desired improvements. Tell the mayor and council to prioritize better. A-I is good for the Nuggets but bad for your pocketbook. Vote no!
Susan: Denver has the lowest property taxes in the region and is the ONLY jurisdiction between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins with free trash pick-up including recycling and large item pick-up, Most places charge $10 to $20 a month. The cost of maintaining taxpayer assets is a lot less.
2. PLAYOFF GLORY FOR THE ROCKIES
Susan: Wow! Glorious October weather and an astonishing home team. The Rocks - rock! The Colorado Rockies closed the regular season as the hottest team in baseball and for the first time in 12 years made the play-offs. Regardless of the final outcome - the boys of summer have done us proud.
John: Baseball is no longer the national pastime, but Rockies baseball has become the state love affair this October. Congratulations to a team that would never say die, along with a manager and ownership that endured a lot of criticism. It is just a game, but these guys play it beautifully.
Susan: Walt Whitman said it a century ago, "Baseball is America's game: it has the snap and fling of the American atmosphere!" We ought to re-embrace the sport as our national pastime - a winning baseball team demonstrates how diversity contributes to the strength of the whole.
John: Hurdle’s heroes used big bats, fine pitching, and beautiful teamwork to run up an amazing string of victories after more than a decade of disappointment. In recent years the Broncos, Nuggets, and Avalanche have all had their taste of playoff glory. It was definitely the Rockies’ turn.
3. BUSH VETOES S-CHIP BILL
John: Having government make health care decisions for kids is a bad idea. Let moms and dads make those decisions. The CHIP program favored by congressional Democrats is expensive, intrusive, and irresponsible. The President was right to veto its expansion. American health care is the world’s best. Bush’s veto helps maintain that.
Susan: Sadly, the world's best health care is unavailable to thousands of kids and working parents. That's why the CHIP program, managed by state government was so successful in keeping health care costs down. Investing early in infants and children is cost effective, prudent and humane. Bush is a fool.
John: The President’s veto prevented a tax increase targeted on low-income people. The President’s veto prevented illegal aliens from gaining easier access to government benefits. The President’s veto prevented America from taking another step toward the kind of socialized medicine that’s failing in Britain and Canada. Thank you, Mr. President.
Susan: Wrong! SCHIP has nothing to do with undocumented workers or their kids. They have no access - other than emergency room treatment, which costs more than any insurance program. That's why several states have extended coverage to non-qualifying kids. John, you're too smart to make up information.
4. DENVER SCHOOL CLOSINGS
Susan: Denver Public Schools, facing low enrollment and aging buildings, made a tough decision. They propose closing 8 schools and remaking 5 others - far fewer than the 30 to 40 the community expected. DPS has lost 31,000 students translating to $135 million in funding. Strategic closure is the only option.
John: Downsizing any organization is tough, but denying reality is worse. Superintendent Michael Bennet and the DPS board are working toward a sensible balance of educational improvement and fiscal responsibility. Give them an A. Denver’s teacher union is too quick with financial demands and strike threats. Give them a D.
Susan: If teachers aren't valued and included in decision-making, the outcome for kids will never improve. The union may not be serving the rank and file. Twenty-first Century issues and resources are very different. We need a new paradigm for the professional workforce.
John: Bingo, Barnes-Gelt. You said the key word: professional. I’m not sure it’s in the vocabulary of Denver’s teacher union bosses, a bunch of factory-minded complainers who don’t know how lucky they are to have a national star like Bennet as their district CEO. The teachers rank and file should clean house.
5. CONGRESSIONAL RACES HEAT UP
Susan: Two tough Congressional primaries coming up - among Dems in the 2nd CD and R's in the conservative 5th. Republicans Jeff Crank and Bentley Rayburn are challenging first term incumbent Doug Lamborn. For Udall's 2nd CD seat three Dems - Joan Fitz-Gerald, Jared Polis and Will Shafroth are in play.
John: Fitz-Gerald succeeded me as Senate President, and she’s a fighter. She’s twice the politician as Polis and Shafroth put together. Absent a Republican lightning bolt, Joan is headed for Congress. Lamborn is a near-certainty to stay in Congress despite the return match with two of last year’s sore losers. Incumbency is huge.
Susan: Marilyn Musgrave in the 4th is certainly counting on it! However, Democratic Betsy Markey may have what it takes to unseat the radical right-winger - Especially with the active support of Senator Ken Salazar who is very popular in the District.
John: There’s nothing radical about Musgrave’s hometown values, strong work ethic, and solid integrity. She’s a perfect fit for that Eastern Plains district, and the untested Markey, a former Salazar staffer, won’t likely unseat her. I expect Musgrave, Lamborn, and Tom Tancredo to all win reelection in 2008.