Why I Voted For Michael Bennet Over Andrew Romanoff
Andrew Romanoff seems like a nice guy. He really wants to be Senator. If I met him at a social event, I bet I'd like him. If he gets the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator for Colorado, I'm sure he'll be much better than his Republican opponent and I'll vote for him.
But I can't support Andrew Romanoff in the primary race against Sen. Michael Bennet, and I voted for Sen. Bennet. I voted against Romanoff because of his record as a state legislator (including his tenure as former Speaker of the House) on criminal justice, immigration and sentencing reform issues. I don't want to see a repeat performance in the U.S. Senate. (Details below.)
If you're sitting on your mail-in ballot, I hope you'll do the same, in time to beat the deadline, or vote in person on August 10. [More...]:
In the Colorado House, Romanoff voted against proposals to abolish or de-fund the death penalty. He was one of the few Democrats to vote against reform bills limiting authority of prosecutors to directly file cases against juveniles in adult court; He voted against the bill to allow sealing of criminal records (here too); He voted in favor of greater wiretapping authority; he voted against allowing juveniles to be placed on lifetime parole after serving 40 years of a life sentence; and practically every bill aimed at sentencing reform. [More...]
Records Sealing: Romanoff was one of the few Democrats who voted against the 2007 bill that would have allowed for record sealing for certain offenders who had been offense-free for ten years following the completion of their sentence. He voted against it even even though the bill provided the District Attorney had to agree to the sealing, and the Court still could deny it. There was ample bi-partisan support for the bill. The bill passed anyway and became law.
Death Penalty: Romanoff was a supporter of the death penalty while in the state house and he voted against House Bill 07-1094 which would have abolished it.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Paul Weissman and spearheaded by Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons (FOHVAMP.) It would have abolished the death penalty and used the savings to create a cold case unit within the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, consisting of agents and support staff dedicated to analyzing available evidence and investigating leads in old homicide cases. (In 2009, the bill came out of the House again but died on the Senate floor - Romanoff was gone from the House by that time.)
Direct Filing on Juvenile Restrictions: The bill Romanoff opposed would have raised the minimum age from 14 to 16 for direct filing on a juvenile in adult court. It would allow the adult court to conduct a "reverse transfer hearing" to determine whether the case should be transferred back to juvenile court. The bill failed to pass.
On juvenile justice: From PRISON POPULATION JUMP TIED TO STRICTER SENTENCING;OFFICIAL CITES OTHER, CHEAPER OPTIONS FOR LOW-LEVEL OFFENDERS Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) March 4, 2005
While lawmakers considered ways to reduce the $1.5 million daily cost to run prisons, two legislators argued that some juvenile offenders should be locked up longer.
Courts would be authorized to quadruple jail time for an aggravated juvenile offender who is at least 18 at the time of sentencing under a bill introduced by House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver. Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, is the Senate sponsor.(my emphasis.)
Romanoff also sponsored HB04-1189, a bill to make violent offenders serve 75% of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Government statistics have shown that violent offenders have a lower recidivism rate than non-violent offenders. (Report here, see Table 9.) The report examined the recidivism rates of 272,111 offenders. Non-violent crimes had the highest rates of recidivism.
"Colorado passed more bills to curb illegal immigration than any other non-border state in the nation. We did more to solve the problem of illegal immigration than Congress has done in a decade."The bill's stated legislative intent:
24-76.5-101. Legislative Declaration. IT IS THE PUBLIC POLICY OF THE STATE OF COLORADO THAT ALL PERSONS EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER SHALL PROVIDE PROOF THAT THEY ARE LAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES PRIOR TO RECEIPT OF CERTAIN PUBLIC BENEFITS.
He also supported a bill denying state drivers' licenses to the undocumented. And this bill requiring state police cooperate with feds on immigration so we don't become a sanctuary state. It provided:
1) Any peace officer who has probable cause to believe that an arrestee for a criminal offense, except domestic violence, is not legally present in the United States must report the incident to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE) whenever the arrestee is NOT detained.
2) If the arrestee IS detained and the county sheriff reasonably believes that the arrestee is not legally present in the United States, then the sheriff must report the arrestee to the ICE (except arrestees for domestic violence).
3) A person who is arrested for a domestic violence offence and who is believed to be in the country illegally must be reported to ICE when he or she is convicted.
Romanoff also co-sponsored this bill:
CONCERNING MEASURES TO ENSURE THAT AN ILLEGAL ALIEN DOES NOT PERFORM WORK ON A PUBLIC CONTRACT FOR SERVICES, AND MAKING AN APROPRIATION IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.
From the Colorado Independent:
After the bill passed, Romanoff said, “We got more done on this issue in five days than Congress has managed in two decades.” He added, “I hope the package we put together will serve as a national model, not just in terms of the substance but also the spirit. We proved that Democrats and Republicans can work together to solve problems.”
...Rudy Gonzales, executive director of Denver-based Servicios de la Raza, a nonprofit human service and advocacy agency, told the Colorado Independent, “Many of our clients, the majority of them are immigrants and most of them are monolingual and would not be able to get services anywhere else due to what I call the foundational bill of 1023 in 2006 that was passed by Andrew Romanoff — the special session bill.” He also called it the “foundation” to Arizona’s new law SB 1070.
On the 2006 initiative to legalize marijuana: Romanoff, as House Speaker, allowed false and misleading information be published in the 2006 election blue book on Amendment 44, which would have legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of pot. The Rocky Mountain News castigated him for it.
House Speaker Andrew Romanoff told us "every single word" of the controversial line "is true" because "it is accurate in terms of the laws on possession of marijuana."
Romanoff says this because state law makes it a felony to give anyone under 15 marijuana, and that law would remain in place if Amendment 44 passes. And since there is no explicit prohibition against transferring pot to anyone older, the council felt justified in maintaining that an adult could give "up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older" under the amendment.
Unfortunately, the clear implication of that statement - that the amendment decriminalizes such transfers, at least insofar as the state is concerned - is simply false. It is a crime in Colorado to help any juvenile break any federal or state law, and under both federal and state law it will continue to be illegal for minors to possess marijuana even if Amendment 44 is approved. So someone giving a minor marijuana would be breaking the law as well.
Here are the minutes from the 2006 Legislative Council meeting where the misleading language was pointed out, in a meeting chaired by Romanoff, and accepted anyway.
Andrew Romanoff is no progressive on crime issues. He is conservative on these issues and far too eager to reach across the aisle.
Sen. Bennet doesn't have much of a record on crime issues to speak of. He did introduce a meth bill, but it had no criminal penalties, it was directed at providing awareness about the drug, and stressed prevention efforts. S. 3278:
Authorizes the use of grant funds for: (1) television, radio, Internet, and print advertisements and educational materials; (2) community outreach to motivate community involvement in methamphetamine education; (3) a benchmark survey and periodic studies of attitudes and behaviors related to methamphetamine ; and (4) qualitative research to assist in the development and testing of Campaign messaging and the effectiveness of methamphetamine education.
America's incarceration rate is shameful. The "tough on crime" policies of the 90's don't work and carry exorbitant price tags. Sentencing reform is desperately needed. And make no mistake: the biggest disaster would be the election of Republican Ken Buck or Jane Norton in November.
But, faced with a poor record by Andrew Romanoff and no record to speak of by Sen. Bennet, I voted for Senator Bennet.
Since Bennet took office in January, 2009, over a year and a half ago, he's done nothing to indicate he won't be progressive on criminal justice and sentencing reform and nothing to hurt the cause. When talking to Sen. Mark Udall a few weeks ago, whom I consider as much of a progressive on these issues as Dems allow these days, he was exuberant about Bennet. I also think Sen. Bennet has greater state-wide appeal and can raise much more money than challenger Romanoff, making him likelier to win in November.
If you haven't yet voted, I hope you will join me in voting for Sen. Bennet. Either way, please keep in mind that whoever wins this primary, the real battle is in November and we cannot afford to lose this Senate seat.
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