Innovation in Water

Listen to John of Gunnison County talk about how an AG can lead on water

Colorado is a headwater state. This means surrounding states look to us for their water, but I believe it can also mean they look to us for inspiration and innovation when it comes to managing this resource.

Last week, we wrote to tell you of the situation on the Yampa River—a tributary to the Colorado River that’s facing historic lows, throwing local communities into crisis mode as they deal with drought conditions. As a result of the low levels, water users are facing new limits on their supply.

Leading on water management will be one of the most urgent challenges I face when entering the Attorney General’s office. An overarching goal of mine is to bring innovation and creativity into government, which often means finding inspiration in local communities who currently lead in these areas. When it comes to water management, we should all be inspired by the City of Steamboat Springs’ foresight when developing a contingency plan for drought conditions and their strategic reliance on alternative sources of water.

By talking to those who represent the City of Steamboat Springs in a continuing effort to listen to and learn from people across the state, I discovered that the City of Steamboat Springs long ago put alternative supply arrangements in place, allowing the City to adapt to the limits imposed on the Yampa River supply. That foresight is a real credit to the City.

Unfortunately, with respect to the possibility of forthcoming reduction of our Colorado River water supply, we are not in as good a situation. Managing the Colorado River demands smart and proactive leadership here in Colorado--as well as working with surrounding states, many of whom receive water from the river. With decreasing water levels, we need to continue to engage in the sort of far-sighted planning that Steamboat Springs did.

As I travelled to rural areas of the state that have suffered from “buy and dry” situations, it is crystal clear to me what the costs of failure to plan are--the ending of communities and a threat to local agriculture. We simply cannot wait for disputes to arise—between surrounding states or between parts of Colorado—to act. If we do, we will have already lost.

I am optimistic that we will meet the challenge of managing the demands on our water. We’re Coloradans, and we rise together — with creativity and collaboration — to the challenges that face our state. As our next Attorney General, it will be my job to help lead on making these arrangements. My background, including as founder of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, is in innovation. I’m excited to bring a fresh perspective, energy, and creativity to the AG’s office to lead on water.

This week is Denver Startup Week, which is a great showcase of the innovative spirit we have in Colorado, just like we see in the City of Steamboat Springs. It’s what we need to be able to lead on managing water, addressing the opioid epidemic, improving our criminal justice system, and on a range of other topics. With your help, I will bring that spirit to the Attorney General’s office.


Phil Weiser at MLK Jr. Marade

The Fight for Equal Justice for All

As the state’s top law enforcement officer, the Colorado Attorney General is sworn to uphold the United States and Colorado Constitutions. As your next Attorney General, it will be my job to advance the principles of justice, freedom, equality, and fairness for all. I take this commitment very seriously.

Our nation’s vision of equal opportunities for all is a core part of my life’s work. To translate that vision into reality, our country needs dedicated leadership committed to equality for all Americans. Across the nation, State Attorneys General have stood up for equal rights when our freedoms are under assault.  As your next Attorney General, I will defend the rights of Coloradans and stand up for civil rights against federal overreach.

When one of us is subject to illegal discrimination, we are all at risk. This commitment is why we must challenge the Trump Administration’s travel ban as well as its ban on transgender individuals serving in the military -- both of which violate our nation’s commitment to equal justice under law.  In both cases, our current Colorado Attorney General failed to challenge the Trump Administration’s actions.

As our next Attorney General, I will prioritize the battle for equal rights for all—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. In particular, I will:

  • STAND UP against failures at the national level to provide equal justice for all.
  • CONFRONT hate crimes.
  • FIGHT to ensure that all individuals are treated equally in the workplace.
  • LEAD by example in supporting people of all races, ethnicities, identities, and religions in the workplace; and
  • PARTNER with the legal and business community to drive best practices around diversity and inclusion.
Fighting for Equality in the Workplace

Under my leadership, the Colorado Attorney General’s office will work to ensure that everyone is treated equally in the workplace. We will enforce the laws requiring equal opportunity for all in the workplace, and we will lead the community by example.

To work with me on the core goal of advancing equality, I will create a new executive leadership position on Community Engagement, Workplace Culture, and Diversity:  the AG Office Leader on Inclusive Excellence.  This position, which will report directly to me, will oversee efforts to ensure diversity and inclusiveness in our office. The AG Office Leader on Inclusive Excellence will also use the power and visibility of the AG’s office to convene leaders in our legal and business communities, thus helping to lead our community in identifying and implementing best practices for equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusiveness in all workplaces.  Moreover, I will not only work hard to recruit, hire, and promote diverse individuals at the Attorney Generals’ office, I will work to address the pipeline problem (of too few diverse attorneys) by partnering with organizations like Si Se Puede (Yes We Can)—an organization I worked with while Dean at CU Law School—to mentor college students from diverse backgrounds to encourage and support them in attending law school.

In short, the Attorney General’s office will effectively enforce the laws protecting all individuals in the workplace. I will also make sure that it leads by example and through the use of its moral authority.

Standing Up Against Hate

We in Colorado value the ethos of our nation’s motto:  E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one). In Colorado, we pull for one another to thrive and believe we all deserve a fair chance to succeed in life.  In one of our proudest moments, Colorado Governor Ralph Carr opposed the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.

But unfortunately, hate crimes remain all too prevalent in the United States in general, and in Colorado in particular. In the last year, reported hate crimes in Colorado targeted African-Americans, transgender individuals, and Muslims, among others.  These hate crimes took place at homes, on the job, and at places of worship.

We must all call out evil when it emerges. To prevent and address hate crimes, we need leaders who are willing to take an active role. When leaders step forward and act swiftly in the wake of a hate crime, victims feel supported, community members feel safer, and action and dialogue can follow.  By contrast, leaders’ silence on these issues leaves victims feeling ignored and vulnerable, and may further encourage perpetrators.

To win the battle for equality, we must fight white supremacy and other forces for hate in our society.  As our next Attorney General, I will do just that.

I will fight to prevent hate crimes by working with the Colorado legislature to strengthen our hate crimes laws, by working with law enforcement to ensure and improve training on effective hate crimes investigations, and by supporting a broader public education campaign about the importance of standing up to hate.

As Attorney General, I will work with the state legislature to ensure that we have hate crime legislation allowing the Attorney General to pursue a broad spectrum of civil remedies, as is available in other states. Such legislation helps victims receive faster relief, as well as relief in cases where they are unable to secure private counsel themselves. Enabling the Attorney General to seek civil remedies also helps bring increased public attention and understanding to hate crimes issues through the state’s involvement.

My office will also work closely with law enforcement to ensure they have proper training to enable them to investigate possible hate crimes effectively, thoroughly, and with sensitivity towards victims.  The Attorney General’s office houses the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) program that trains Colorado law enforcement officials. This program can play an important role in helping law enforcement officers to ask the right questions and to be sensitive to the issues facing hate crime victims.  Under my leadership, it will also play an important role in training law enforcement officials to be aware of their own biases (particularly unconscious ones) and not unnecessarily escalate situations.

Fighting for Equal Justice for All

As Colorado’s top lawyer, I will fight hard for equal justice under law (meaning everyone is treated equally and fairly) and against governmental abuses of power.  Our nation’s commitment to equal protection for all, while adopted in our Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, remains a work in progress. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously noted: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  As our next Attorney General, I will work hard to ensure equal treatment in the workplace, address hate crimes, and stand up for equality.  Please join my campaign to ensure that I can help lead this effort.

Words from a Few Team Phil Members on His Commitment to Equal Opportunity
Maxine Burkett, former University of Colorado Law Professor mentored by Phil

"When Phil helped recruit me to Colorado Law and served as a mentor, he made the law school and law teaching a more welcoming opportunity.  That spirit of engagement and support is something Phil has offered me--and many others--throughout my career.  At this challenging time for our nation, we need leaders like Phil, who truly cares about treating people fairly, supporting everyone, and finding innovative solutions to important issues.  Colorado will be well served by having Phil as its next Attorney General."

Franz Hardy, former Chair of the Law Alumni Board and Partner at Gordon & Rees

"Colorado needs Phil Weiser as its next Attorney General. When Phil was the Dean at Colorado Law School, I worked with him to set up our first ever alumni diversity committee, focused on recruiting more diverse students, helping those students find employment opportunities, and recruiting more diverse faculty.  Phil took that work personally, going to bat for our diverse students and earning recognition from the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, among other groups.  What comes through in Phil's work is that he truly cared about every student and worked tirelessly to ensure that they had a good experience.  I know that he will be similarly effective as our next Attorney General."

Glen “G” Matthews, former law student and attorney at Martinez Law Group
Lisa Neal Graves, Denver attorney, former law student, business executive, and Team Phil’s original Field Director
Read Phil's Op-Ed in the Denver Weekly News

January 11, 2018, 2017 #922 (Page 08)


What Does the Attorney General Do?

Lessons From Coach Phil: An Introduction

Whenever I began teaching a new class at the University of Colorado Law School, I told my students, “Please call me Phil or Professor Weiser, whatever you’re more comfortable with.”  And I would always add, “If you’re not comfortable with either, please call me Coach.”  Over the years, a significant number of students have taken me up on the third option, calling me “Coach Phil.”

As I take on this campaign to be Colorado’s next Attorney General, one of the core challenges I face is that most Coloradans don’t know that they have an Attorney General or they don’t know what the office does.  For me, this challenge is an opportunity to teach.

So I’ve created a series of videos and blog posts to explain my plan to represent all Coloradans and lead the Attorney General’s office as a force for progress in our state.  The first video in this series is my Introduction to the Teaching Series.  The second one is What Does the AG’s Office Do?  Please watch them both and forward them to anyone you know who would like to learn more about our Attorney General’s office.

Read below for more information about the set of posts and videos to come (as well as some of those we’ve already shared).

Watch the Video Below:

A New Kind of Leadership

One reason so many Americans are cynical about government is that some public officials play political stunts or allow their offices to run on autopilot.  Under our current Attorney General, we see both problems in full view.

In the political stunt category, the lawsuit that our current Attorney General (AG) brought against Boulder County on its moratorium on oil and gas drilling is a case in point.  The fact that this lawsuit was brought without first reaching out to Boulder County to explore possible solutions underscores that there was very little interest on the part of our AG in solving a problem.  Rather, the goal of this case was to make a political punching bag out of Boulder County.  Indeed, as Boulder County did address the issue (announcing its oil and gas development ordinance shortly after the case was filed), the case was quickly dismissed and widely criticized as a ploy, leading to a bipartisan rebuke.  But for localities, the damage from this case was done.  Our AG had established that she would rather play political games than collaborate to ensure the legal and safe management of oil and gas development.

The challenge of inertia presents a very different threat than political stunts.  In the case of inertia, an agency continues to address an issue the way it has previously, never asking if there is a better way. The results of inertia can be devastating.  Consider the Obama Administration’s terrible rollout of the healthcare.gov website, for example.  In the case of our AG’s office, consider a recent embarrassing loss where the judge sanctioned the office and called the lack of evidence behind the case “breathtaking and amateurish.”  These mistakes happen because people stop asking basic questions like “Is this the right way to solve this problem?” or “Is this case focused on a problem that needs to be solved?”

As our next Attorney General, I will bring principled and innovative leadership to the office.  This means that the office will always focus on problem solving and asking how we can make progress on a range of issues.  As I explain in my video on What Does the AG’s Office Do?, the AG’s Office has a range of tools at its disposal.  For me, it’s important that we keep them all in mind and take an innovative approach to problem solving by finding the best way to address issues—and not simply relying on the way they have been handled in the past.  I discuss the importance of an innovative mindset in this blog post and this video.

The Core Priorities of the Office

Since announcing my candidacy, I have emphasized that our Attorney General needs to defend our freedoms, fight for opportunity for all Coloradans, and protect our land, air, and water.   In the series of videos and posts to follow, I will offer more elaboration on these core commitments and how our Attorney General should advance these important goals.

Defending Our Freedoms and Fighting for Equality

I’m proud of our constitutional democracy, and I’m running for Attorney General because our country’s commitment to freedom is being tested.  Our Founders envisioned a world where Congress would be responsible for overseeing the executive branch.  Today, however, only one branch of government is functioning effectively—our independent federal courts.  As I explain in my New Separation of Powers’ blog post, State AGs across the country have stepped up to fight for our freedoms and to defend equality, providing a valuable check on executive branch overreaches, such as the decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.  Our AG in Colorado has not stepped up, however, remaining complicit with actions that undermine equality, freedoms, and our democracy.

My vision for the Attorney General’s office is to serve as a force for protecting our freedoms and our democracy.  This is something I talk a lot about on the campaign trail.  As a first-generation American, I grew up with a love of this country.  And I am inspired by Ben Franklin’s observation and caution that he told Americans after the Constitution was drafted:  “you have a Republic, as long as you can keep it.”

I served as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when several historic Supreme Court cases about equality were decided, including the landmark Romer v. Evans case that protected the rights of gays and lesbians and US v. Virginia, which called for the admission of women into the Virginia Military Institute.  But continued progress toward equal justice for all cannot be taken for granted.  We as citizens cannot be complacent about these issues; we must be engaged, work with responsible leaders, and have moral courage to make progress.  As Attorney General, I will fight for equality for all and I will challenge discrimination in all its forms. Fighting for progress on the issues of race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and identity, and gender is part of my life’s work, and I will continue that work as your Attorney General.

Fighting for Opportunity for All

For many Coloradans, the deck feels stacked against them.  Whether they are suffering from predatory debt or a dependence on opioids, people who have been taken advantage of by irresponsible businesses need our Attorney General to defend them.  I will be that Attorney General.  But I also intend to do more:  I will work to support economic opportunity for all Coloradans, starting by ensuring that all Coloradans have broadband Internet access and can participate in the 21st century economy and protecting network neutrality.

Protecting Our Land, Air and Water

For our next generation, protecting our land, air, and water is a moral imperative.  If we don’t make progress on building a clean energy economy, we won’t address the challenge of climate change.  Our current Attorney General has joined former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in undermining protections for our land, air, and water.  We deserve better from our Attorney General.

Join My Team

Like any good teacher, I truly want your questions.  Please send them to me at phil@philforcolorado.com, so I can answer them and we can work together for the future of our state.  And please send my posts and videos to others so they can learn about me and my campaign.  Similarly, when I post testimonials from former students about my commitment to supporting others, please share them so others can get to know what type of person I am and what type of Attorney General I will be.

For us to elect the Attorney General we deserve, we need to educate all Coloradans about what our Attorney General’s office does and why I’m the best person for the job.   Thanks so much for your help on my journey to serve our state and be “Coach Phil” for all Coloradans.


Video: What Baseball Teaches About America

The values of the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers World Series exhibited the same qualities that Phil Weiser, candidate for Colorado Attorney General, wants to bring to the Colorado Attorney General office: hard work, dedication, a refusal to give up, and real ingenuity. Congratulations to the Houston Astros and looking forward to celebrating the Colorado Rockies' first World Series victory next year.

Watch the Video Below:


What Does the Attorney General Do?

Video: What does the Attorney General Do Anyway?

Watch the video, below:

Phil Weiser, candidate for Colorado Attorney General, describes what the Attorney General does, and, why it is important for all Coloradans.

Transcription:
Hi. My name is Phil Weiser, and I'm running to be Colorado's next Attorney General. On the campaign trail, the question I get more than any other question is: what does the Attorney General do, anyway? So, let me tell you. The Attorney General oversees an office of 484 people, 270 lawyers, and those lawyers, they work for all of us. They represent every Coloradan, whether it's our civil rights, our consumer rights, our rights as a worker, or protecting our land, air, and water. This office needs to have our back. But, this office doesn't only bring lawsuits, even against the federal government. This office works with others, including our state legislature, County commissioners, district attorneys, county sheriffs - working together we can solve a range of challenges from criminal justice reform to the opioid crisis to ensuring that all Coloradans have access to broadband Internet access. This is something that I want to do as our next Attorney General because we need a leader in an office with energy, creativity, and vision... who can work effectively with others to solve problems. So, please, support us and join my campaign to become Colorado's next Attorney General.


Phil Weiser

Video: Why I am Running for Colorado Attorney General

Watch the video, below:

Phil Weiser, candidate for Colorado Attorney General, expresses his personal thoughts on why he is running for attorney general for the state of Colorado.

Transcription:

Hi, I'm Phil Weiser and I'm running for Attorney General in Colorado because I love our great state and I love this country.

Last November, when Donald Trump became our president, all of us had to ask what would we do to protect the rule of law, our Constitutional freedoms, and our way of life. The founders recognized that our country was going to be built on activated citizens and responsible leaders. If we don't stand up in this moment and fight for the rights that we believe in, we’re going to look back and we’re going to regret not having protected what is dear to us.

I grew up as the first member of my family to be an American citizen from birth. My mom was born in a concentration camp at the end of World War II, and she came to this country at age six appreciating our freedoms, appreciating the opportunity, and committed to enabling me and my brother to live the American Dream. And so, I've been able to live a life of purpose, of meaning, where I was able to do what was most important in my life – and that was public service. That's why I worked for President Obama at the White House, that's why I worked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court.

In these efforts, it's been of paramount importance to me to protect our constitutional freedoms, to protect the rule of law. Our freedom of religion, our freedom of press, the due process of law - we cannot allowed these to be trampled on. Right now, Congress is not providing a check on the executive branch, but state Attorney Generals are. We have our sovereign rights here in Colorado and we need an Attorney General who stands up for them and stands up for us. We also need to fight for the American Dream. A lot of Americans feel that opportunities are getting out of their reach.

As consumers, as citizens, and as workers, I want to do everything that I can to fight for all Coloradans because we need to work together as a state. That's what we do best here in Colorado. And finally - our land, water and air – they are at risk. We cannot allow the threat of climate change to go unchecked. We cannot allow polluters to threaten our water, our air, and our land. We need leadership from the Attorney General's office. I'm running to provide that leadership because this is a challenging time and if we don't get the leaders we deserve, we’re going to look back and we’re going to regret not doing more. So please support me in this race. Thank you.


Video: Phil Weiser's Reaction to Comey Testimony

Phil Weiser, candidate for Colorado Attorney General, reflects upon the testimony of James Comey, former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director, to the U.S. Senate on June 8, 2017.

Transcript:

What we heard from Jim Comey’s testimony is that our president, Donald Trump, ordered him to layoff from criminal investigation of one of his associates, Michael Flynn. When Comey didn’t do that, he was fired. This goes against the principles of the rule of law. In our country, this is a sacrosanct principle. Our constitution is built on it. Everyone needs to be treated equally, no matter how rich or powerful. If people don’t stand up, don’t criticize threats to the rule of law, we will not able to continue living in the constitutional democracy that our founders envisioned. I’m running for attorney general because I believe deeply in this principle. Please, as citizens we need your voice. We need your help. Please join us.