Colorado goes to the dogs
DENVER, Colorado; LINCOLN, Nebraska; BERKELEY, California––Democratic challenger Joe Biden narrowly led Republican incumbent Donald Trump at 1:45, Pacific time, on November 4, 2020.
The three major ballot issues and one mayoral race directly involving animals appeared to have ended, however, with a win for pit bulls in Denver, a narrow win for wolf reintroduction in the state of Colorado, a big loss for opponents of horse racing in Nebraska, and an overwhelming defeat in Berkeley, California, for both candidates once associated with the vegan advocacy group Direct Action Everywhere.
Pit bulls win 64.5% of Denver vote
Denver Ballot Measure 2J read, “Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance authorizing the city to grant a provisional permit to owners or keepers of a pit bull, provided the owner microchips the animal and complies with additional requirements set by Denver Animal Protection.”
Facing no organized opposition, against a well-funded pro-pit bull lobby with national backing, Ballot Measure 2J passed with 178,007 votes in favor to 97,971 votes opposed, a margin of 64.5% for allowing pit bulls, to 35.5% opposed.
The vote puts into effect a bill introduced in January 2020 by Denver city council member Chris Herndon, passed by the city council in February 2020, but vetoed by mayor Michael B. Hancock, who said little about it during the run-up to the November 3, 2020 general election.
Denver still has breed-specific ordinance, but not ban
Summarized Denver Post reporter Conrad Swanson, “The measure would replace Denver’s pit bull ban with a type of restricted license for the dogs. Owners would be required to register their pit bulls, limited to two per home; pay a higher fee than is required for other dogs; maintain appropriate paperwork; and have no issues for three years before the restricted license would be removed.”
Summarized Herndon to Michael Roberts of Denver Westword, “If 36 months passes and the dog doesn’t have any violations of Denver animal ordinances, the dog can transition to the regular license that any goldendoodle can have now.”
How long before Denver pit bulls kill & maim?
Goldendoodles, however, have yet to kill or disfigure anyone during the 38 years that ANIMALS 24-7 has logged fatal and disfiguring dog attacks in the U.S. and Canada. Pit bulls have killed more than 500 people and disfigured more than 5,000 in the U.S. alone.
The chief remaining questions pertaining to pit bulls in Denver are how long it will be before Denver joins every other U.S. major league city in having a fatal pit bull attack during the present century, and in having at least one victim left in critical condition by a pit bull rehomed from a local animal shelter?
Wolf reintro appears to win a squeaker
While pit bulls won easily in Denver, Colorado Proposition 114, to mandate gray wolf restoration, lost in every rural county, and barely found enough urban support to appear assured of passage with 85.5% of the total vote reported, despite having had a huge lead in all pre-election polls.
The balance stood at 1,414,295 voters, 50.2%, for reintroducing wolves to Colorado, to 1,404,510 opposed, 49.8%––a difference of 9,785.
“Most of the votes still left to be counted come from urban areas, including Denver and Boulder, where strong majorities have supported reintroducing wolves,” assessed Denver Post environment reporter Bruce Finley,
“The measure,” Finley explained, “would require Colorado Parks and Wildlife to create a plan based on the best scientific data and reintroduce a sustainable number of wolves, by the end of 2023, on designated public land west of the Continental Divide.”
Wolf comeback along the Rockies
This “would be the first time voters in a state have forced efforts to recover an imperiled species,” Finley observed, and would also “expand a comeback along the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to Mexico that began in 1995 with reintroductions in Yellowstone National Park and has led to more than 1,700 wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.”
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on October 29, 2020 announced that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is removing gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection throughout the Lower 48 states.
The wolf delisting was, and is, widely seen as a blatant concession to hunters and ranchers on the eve of the November 3, 2020 national election.
Nebraska voters gamble on reviving horse racing
“Nebraska voters solidly approved Las Vegas-style gambling at the state’s horse tracks,” reported Sioux City Journal managing editor Dave Dreeszen.
Responding to the easy passage of three enabling ballot measures, Dreeszen wrote, “Ho-Chunk Inc. prepared to spend $300 million to open casinos at tracks in South Sioux City, Omaha and Lincoln. Ho-Chunk, the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe, this week formed a new entity, called WarHorse Gaming LCC, to manage the new casinos, Ho-Chunk CEO Lance Morgan said as the election returns came in.”
More Nebraskans vote for gambling at race tracks than attend races
With 94% of Nebraska ballots counted, Initiatives 429 and 430 appeared to have passed by near-identical 64.9% shares of the vote, while Initiative 431 had drawn 68.6% support.
Ho-Chunk and other supporters of the three initiatives argued that they would “create more than 4,600 jobs statewide, including many in rural areas to support the resulting expansion of the horse racing industry,” which in reality would merely be revived and propped up, after a year of track closures due to the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Pari-mutuel betting on horse races was legalized by Nebraska voters in 1934. The Nebraska State Racing Commission was established in March 1935. As of 2020, the commission licensed horse racing at six sites: Atokad Downs, Columbus Races, Fair Play Park, Fonner Park, Horsemen’s Park, and Lincoln Race Course.
Atokad Downs, however, a South Sioux City facility owned by Ho-Chunk, after hosting no races from 2012 through 2015, ran only one three-horse race a year in 2016, 2017, and 2018, in order to keep a gaming license against the prospect of eventually being allowed to open a casino.
Direct Action Everywhere founder polls 23%
The four-way Berkeley mayoral race featured two candidates once associated with the Berkeley-based vegan advocacy organization Direct Action Everywhere: founder Wayne Hsiung, 39, and Aidan Hill, 27, vice-chair of the Berkeley Homeless Commission. Hill was identified by Berkeleyside news website cofounder and executive editor Frances Dinkelspiel as “a disaffected former member of Direct Action Everywhere.”
Hsiung, who officially turned the Direct Action Everywhere leadership over to chief executive officer Priya Sawney in 2019, “mobilized an army of 200 volunteers to knock on 26,000 doors and place green and white lawn signs seemingly everywhere,” reported Berkeleyside editor Frances Dinkelspiel.
Despite that effort, Hsiung finished a far distant second to incumbent Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguín, who polled 18,541 votes, 65% of the total. Hsiung drew 6,489 votes, 23%.
Aidan Hill, who said little or nothing about vegan and animal issues, won 2,483, or 9% of the turnout, but still finished far ahead of multiple-time candidate Naomi D. Pete, who won 614 votes, good for only 2%.