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POLITICS

Colorado Editorial Roundup

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A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:

NATIONAL:

Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, Nov. 17, on states calling for secession after President Obama's re-election:

When they petition to secede from the Union, at least those upset by President Obama's re-election can say they did something about it.

By the thousands (which isn't much), "patriots" across the nation have signed petitions to withdraw their states from the United States. To be accurate, they have put their names on petitions on the White House website, in numbers enough to trigger a response from the administration. Petitioners in more than 30 states have reached the 25,000 signature minimum to elicit a response.

The response should be, "no."

The notion of dividing the nation — literally — over a presidential election is laughable but nonetheless a symptom of the deep political divide in the nation.

But political division should not lead to the dissolution of this nation, and it won't. That the United States chooses leaders peacefully sets it apart from many other nations around the world. It makes us the envy of those for whom the ascension and transfer of power are marked by bloodshed or bitter divorce.

So, for those who want to dissolve the Union before accepting another four years of President Obama, be satisfied to know that your dissatisfaction is heard, and that you continue to have the power of the ballot, which has not been taken away.

If you are serious about not wanting these United States any more, then ... well, Canada remains an option. A few of those unhappy with George W. Bush might still be there.

Editorial: http://www.reporterherald.com/opinion/editorial/ci_22018505/wrong-way-voice-electoral-angst

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The Gazette, Nov. 13, on Gen. David Petraeus:

Men of honor don't cheat on their wives. Men of integrity don't risk the nation's security while philandering. Gen. David Petraeus has disgraced himself by doing both.

Shockingly, some don't think he should have resigned. It was just an affair — a mere personal matter. President Barack Obama did not demand his resignation, and reportedly took 24 hours agonizing over whether to accept it.

Marc Ambinder, a veteran journalist and former White House correspondent for the National Journal, argued on Friday that Petraeus should get a pass and continue serving as CIA director if his affair did not compromise national security.

"I have a hard time feeling anything but total sympathy for a man, just a man, who succumbs to lower order temptations," Ambinder wrote.

In another passage of the same article, Ambinder explains that Americans are becoming jaded. As if it's a good thing.

"Americans are developing a broader tolerance for the personal indiscretions of public affairs," Ambinder wrote. "There's a ways to go, and we don't want to become like France or Italy, where affairs are almost prerequisites for power. But we should be able to look at individual cases individually, assuming the news somehow gets out, and make a judgment based on whether the person having the affair can faithfully execute his or her job."

Let's not. Instead, let us continue holding highly-paid government executives to a high standard of moral conduct.

Adultery in the military is a crime. A man who will cheat on his wife — a person to whom he swore fidelity in front of God and family — may have even less moral compunction with betraying his colleagues or his country.

Petraeus is retired from the military, but as an officer on retired status he remains beholden to the military's code of conduct. Technically, he could be charged with a crime.

As head of the CIA, Petraeus was trusted with secrets important to the freedom and safety of every American. We must hold such a man to remarkably high personal standards. A man trusted with our most valuable secrets has no business cheating on his wife, especially with a journalist — a person who earns a living by revealing secrets.

The depravity of Petraeus should sadden us all. He and his wife, Holly, are well known in Colorado Springs. The general has visited on business and Holly frequents our community to advocate for military families.

Petraeus is arguably the most accomplished general since Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. His ribbon rack includes three Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the military's highest noncombat honor.

He headed Central Command and U.S. Forces in Iraq. He directed the strategy and called the surge — a risky and controversial move — that successfully turned the tide in our favor. He fixed our mess in Afghanistan.

Petraeus will be the Tiger Woods of public service — an accomplished man who sabotaged his own life. Marriage is a commitment. Violate this contract at the risk of great personal and professional peril.

Editorial: http://www.gazette.com/opinion/own-147291-petraeus-created.html

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STATE:

The Denver Post, Nov. 17, on why Colorado prosecutors are right to drop marijuana charges:

Colorado district attorneys are not known for advocating in favor of legal marijuana — quite the opposite, in fact. So it's a credit to those DAs who've announced they will not prosecute adults over 21 who've been charged with possessing small amounts of marijuana now that Amendment 64 has passed.

We hope other DAs step forward in the coming days to take a similar stand — and that those who've announced they will continue prosecuting marijuana cases will reconsider that course.

Amendment 64 — which won't be the law of Colorado until 30 days after ballots are certified, meaning toward the end of the year — doesn't of course apply retroactively. But it hardly seems fair to prosecute people for an offense that a majority of Coloradans have declared should not be on the books at all.

Nothing so undermines respect for the legal system as the belief that laws are enforced selectively. Yet what could possibly appear more selective — and petty, to be perfectly blunt — than prosecuting and convicting someone for conduct that is illegal one day and legal the next?

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett was the first out of the blocks in announcing that he would not prosecute such cases, but he was followed by Denver's Mitch Morrissey, who has been vocal in the past about his opposition to marijuana legalization.

Morrissey and City Attorney Doug Friednash say they will no longer charge someone over 21 for possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana and will review existing cases for possible dismissal.

Those already charged will have to show up in court, however.

Some critics undoubtedly will say "it's about time" regarding Denver's decision. After all, Denver was the first major city in the U.S. to legalize adult possession of pot, in 2005. And voters reiterated that desire in 2007 by passing a measure urging marijuana cases to be the "lowest law enforcement priority" — all to no avail. Pot cases still were prosecuted, but under state law.

Now that voters have spoken on state law, too, no further excuse for prosecution remains.

Still, we're disappointed that a number of DAs, such as in Jefferson and Weld counties, have indicated they will carry on as before for the time being. Every single person who is prosecuted in the wake of Tuesday's election results will consider their punishment a travesty, and so will a large share of the populace. Why poke a majority of voters in the eye?

Weld County DA Ken Buck issued a statement saying that his office "prosecutes low-level possession cases to get drug users help with their addictions." And while it is obviously commendable to get people into treatment who need it, a higher priority surely should be deferring to the wishes of voters — even in advance of Amendment 64's official starting date.

Editorial: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_22012312/editorial-colorado-das-right-drop-charges-pot

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The Daily Sentinel, Nov. 18, on Great Outdoors Colorado initiative:

In 1992, Colorado voters passed two constitutional amendments that would significantly alter government funding and have a direct impact on nearly every citizen of the state.

One of them — the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR — has been the subject of repeated controversy, lawsuits and attempts to repeal all or part of it.

There's been no ongoing controversy or repeal effort attached to the other amendment, which created Great Outdoors Colorado and directed that money from the state lottery go to wildlife, parks, rivers, trails and open space.

Perhaps there's been so little controversy because Colorado voters so strongly supported the measure 20 years ago, by twice as large a victory margin as they supported TABOR.

Even more important, GOCO has been spectacularly successful. In Mesa County alone, it has directed nearly $28 million to more than 90 projects ranging from parks development to trails to wildlife habitat to open space preservation. The Colorado Riverfront Trail and many of the area's parks wouldn't be what they are today if it weren't for assistance from GOCO. And much of the agricultural land and open space Mesa Land Trust has helped protect wouldn't be protected without GOCO.

The Colorado Lottery had been operating for almost a decade prior to GOCO's passage, thanks to an earlier ballot amendment that voters believed directed money to parks and wildlife. However, the state Legislature repeatedly siphoned off Lottery cash for things like prisons and state buildings.

When people complained but the Legislature failed to act, the GOCO citizens initiative was born. That effort was driven in part by locals such as then-state Sen. Tillie Bishop and Rebecca Frank, then a member of the Colorado Wildlife Commission. Tom Burke of Grand Junction is currently on the GOCO board.

The GOCO amendment mandated that some of the Lottery funds go to cities and counties as it had prior to 1992. The remaining 50 percent of Lottery proceeds are controlled by the GOCO board and are divided among state parks, wildlife, open space and competitive grants to local governments.

Early on, the GOCO board decided not to expend all of its funds on numerous small, independent projects. Instead, it created the Legacy Program, which required multiple entities such as state and local government agencies to submit joint applications for larger projects to benefit a wide group of people. Mesa County's riverfront project and state and local parks were among the first beneficiaries of the Legacy Project.

"Colorado is one of the most collaborative states in the country, and GOCO deserves some of the credit for that," said Frank, who was an original member of the GOCO board.

So, take a walk or ride on the Colorado Riverfront Trail. Visit the Three Sisters area or enjoy some of the many state and municipal parks in the valley. And understand that much of what you enjoy was made possible through GOCO, one of Colorado's best ideas, now celebrating its 20th year serving our state.

Editorial: http://www.gjsentinel.com/S=534e90837138ca73b15a909c0dcd0c9a0df44fa4/opinion/articles/goco-is-among-states-best-ideas/

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