Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Public Divided on Banning Sleeping in Public Spaces

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston visits homeless encmapmentDenver Mayor Mike Johnston visits homeless encampment
Photo: Kathryn Scott, The Denver Post

Although the public, especially in urban areas lists homelessness as one of their top concerns, they are divided on one of the main strategies cities use to manage the problem – namely a ban of sleeping in public space. A new Marquette Law School Poll on recent Supreme Court oral arguments found that Americans were divided 47 percent in support of a city being able to ban sleeping, in public space, and 36 percent opposed.

As expected, partisans disagreed. Only about a third of Democrats (36%) supported a ban whereas 63 percent of Republicans were in support.

Can Cities Ban Sleeping in Public Spaces?

But the biggest gap in opinions was seen between under and over 30 years old. More than half (58%) of Generation Z opposed a sleeping ban but among older Americans (60 years old plus), 59 percent support a ban and only a quarter (23%) oppose.

The challenge for urban Democratic leaders is the public’s demand to address homeless and the street population but the resistance of young Democratic voters to use a public sleeping space ban as a tool.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Western Leaders Face Unhappy Public

President Javier MileiArgentina's President Javier Milei speaks during a rally organised by the Spanish far-right Vox party ahead of the European elections, with various far-right leaders, in Madrid, Spain, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ana Beltran

With rare exceptions the public in democratic countries are unhappy with their top elected leaders. The few leaders with more approval than disapproval in a new Morning Consult poll in nominally democratic countries are populists in India, Narendra Modi, Argentina, Javier Milei, and Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Milei, the Argentine anarcho-capitalist who most recently insulted the Prime Minister of Spain and his wife, continues to command public favor by providing entertainment and nationalism in a crisis-ridden country.

Sample of National Leaders Approval and Disapproval

As embattled as President Biden is, he has the highest approval among US allies and Western European democracies. At 39 percent, he exceeds Scholz in Germany (26%), Sunek in the UK (25%), Macron in France (23%) and Kishida in Japan (15%). Centrist leaders are facing dour electorates and populist opponents.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Third Parties Could Have Big Impact in 2024

Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. kicks off petition drive to get on Colorado ballot at Aurora rally | Photo: Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics

National polls and history show that when the major parties nominate two unpopular presidential candidates, third parties become more attractive and can make a difference in the electoral vote. In 2016, third parties received nearly 6 million votes. In the three most closely contested states, the liberal third party candidate received more votes than Clinton lost by. Third parties were held to 2 percent nationwide in 2020 and 3 percent in Colorado (see table below). But they have 14 percent of the current national polling average (RealClearPolitics). RJK Jr. leads with 10 percent.

US and Colorado Presidential Election Results 2016 & 2020

Third party candidates represent a serious challenge to Biden, especially in battleground states such as Arizona and North Carolina. The first significant challenge a third party must overcome is ballot access. The Green Party has access to most states’ ballots.

Although RFK Jr. may get on the Colorado ballot, the state is not likely have a serious presidential contest. But, with a 48 percent unaffiliated voter registration, a record number of minor parties (8) attracting a fragmented electorate and a history of voter independence demonstrated in 1992 when Ross Perot received 23 percent of the vote, a third party candidate could expect considerable support. In the recent Super Tuesday primary, the two major party frontrunners lost a total of two-fifths of their fellow partisans (33% for Haley and 8% uncommitted).

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Waiting for the Federal Reserve

Markets shed points off their highs in late March. The DOW closed at 39,282, or up 5.6 percent on March 28, then sank more than 1,400 points through April but recovered by mid-May to nearly touch 40,000 at 39,908, or up 5.9 percent.

Fed Chair Powell and his board are not cutting interest rates but after the May meeting lower price pressure and a strong sense of a soft landing, the market was greatly relieved. Three rate cuts were expected beginning in June. Now, the market will be pleased with one before year end. However, market watchers are still optimistic and predict an up-DOW/year of 9 percent. Notice the tech heavy NAZ and broad S&P index are up nearly two times the DOW for the year.

The positive viewpoint reflected the amazing resilience of an economy that has faced a surge of post-pandemic inflation, aggressive rate-hiking and geopolitical turmoil from two wars and two hostile great powers. In spite of this, the GDP is up, consumer spending is strong, and unemployment is down.

Dow Jones May 2024

Some observers believe US stocks are overvalued, especially technology and the US is heading for a major slowdown with a market dip. But Jamie Dimon observes investment money from around the world believes the American market remains the safest, and its top companies are worth the pricey valuations.

Bull Market Continues to Run (February 29, 2024)

Monday, May 20, 2024

Nederland Repeals Rights of Nature Resolution as Harmful to Water Security

Middle Boulder CreekNederland diverts drinking water from Middle Boulder Creek. (Town of Nederland photo)

Gary Wockner (formerly Save the Poudre River, Save the Colorado, and now Save the World’s Rivers) is not happy. One of his first “rights of nature” towns, Nederland, with “guardians” appointed, has repealed the resolution because it is being used in ways that could jeopardize the town’s water security. The repeal is a major setback as Nederland was a high profile victory for the movement and the repeal is receiving major coverage in environmental press.

Michael Booth’s report of the controversy provides considerable evidence of the deceptive arguments made to local municipalities by advocates when campaigning for the resolutions. (Colorado Sun May 7, 2024, also Inside Climate News 5-7-24-Kate Surma and NPR Northern Colorado 5-9-24, Michael Lyle)

The so-called guardians said they just provide watershed information and are not policymakers. But Wockner made clear that he “fights dams”, and will do so regardless of the Town of Nederland’s interests or policy preferences. Mayor Giblin was an articulate advocate for the town’s interest in protecting its water rights and option for water storage. He pointed out that Wockner and Save the World’s Rivers filed legal objections against numerous projects, saying “I have major concern with an outside organization fighting to dictate conditions to local communities in our efforts to secure our water rights.”

Several other Colorado towns and cities have adopted or have been solicited to adopt Right of Nature resolutions. They should consider the Nederland experience.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Trump Confident, Dems Stressed

TIME Cover Photograph by Philip MontgomeryPhotograph by Philip Montgomery for TIME

Six months out, Donald Trump and his campaign appear confident and Democrats increasingly stressed. Trump’s ebullient mood was showcased in his Time Magazine interview where he described his aggressive, authoritarian initiatives for the next term. Democrat nervousness is highlighted by the Administration trying to lock in Biden Presidential executive orders and Beltway cocktail chatter on countries to move to.

Polls are producing the current Democratic gloom. Joe Biden’s State of the Union address produced a brief surge, but the national polls are now deadlocked with little movement. Democrats’ main problem is the electoral college. Biden is losing most of the battleground states. Out of seven, Biden is only close in three.

Also ominous is Biden’s trailing Trump in trust to handle key issues such as the economy 46% to 32% (see table), inflation 44% to 30%, crime 41% to 33% and immigration 47% to 35%. Biden wins abortion 41% to 29% but it was judged less important. (ABC News poll Gary Langer)

Presidential Polls
Below is a polling average drawn from RealClear Politics (RCP) with regular comparisons to FiveThirtyEight (ABC News) website, Gallop, and other credible polls.

2024 Presidential Poll 05-06-2024

There are no credible national political analysts who believe Biden is on a winning trajectory. As Peggy Noonan opined in the WSJ on Saturday, “Mr. Trump is ahead in most if not all of the battleground states, and I’m struck by the number of political operatives, veterans and thinkers now asking, honestly, if there is anything the president can do to pull it out.” (WSJ 5-12-24)

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Law & Order Now Tops Police Reform as Public Concern

Joseph and WalshLeora Joseph and Jon Walsh | Photo Alex Edwards, Denver Gazette

A demand for more security in schools, downtown streets, and neighborhoods has intensified since the end of the pandemic. District attorney contests today tend to be battles between post-George Floyd police and legal reforms and newer, intense demand for law and order to stop a surge in high profile snatch and grabs, shootings, assaults, carjackings, and break-ins. And the reformers are on the defensive with even some DAs being recalled.

In Denver’s primary on June 25 for retiring DA Beth McCann’s open seat, both candidates claim to be tough on crime, so money, endorsements, and ability to attract voters attention in a likely modest summer primary vote will be important.

John Walsh, former Colorado US Attorney, is running against Leora Joseph, the director of the Colorado Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health. Walsh has the advantage in money ($355,000 to $280,000) and endorsements from a host of former Denver DAs (including the retiring incumbent), mayors and both US Senators. Joseph has the police and fire fighters’ unions.

In describing the race, Denver Gazette reporter Carol McKinley wrote:

“The money helps turn out the vote,” said longtime Colorado pollster and commentator Floyd Ciruli, who predicted that the race would see “a pretty modest turnout” in Denver’s primary election.

“Both Walsh and Joseph have positioned themselves as law and order candidates, which Ciruli said is an important issue to Denver voters this year.

“You saw it in Denver related to the school district election, when voters were very concerned about violence in the schools. You saw it in the mayor’s election, when the public wanted to know the candidates’ positions with police and with the homeless,” the pollster said.

“So, we’ve had two major elections in which crime and the public’s security were big issues and it’s likely to be that again for the Denver District Attorney race,” Ciruli said.

“This year’s race promises to be much closer, Ciruli said that both candidates “have elements of law and order. My sense is that this is important in this political atmosphere.”

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