Teacher Performance Pay Back on the Docket?

For the second consecutive year, State Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, is coming forward with a bill to provide state dollars to schools that develop and implement performance-based compensation plans for teachers - a reform idea that has gained tremendous bipartisan support nationally. Last year I provided legislative testimony highlighting the new body of research showing the effectiveness of merit-pay programs. On a party-line vote, Democrats in the committee killed it. This year, the Governor's P-20 Education Council has included a tepid endorsement of "alternative teacher compensation." With this new political reality, there may be a better chance to see Colorado become a progressive leader in educator pay. But the devil will … [Read more...]

Ouch! More Pain in Ritter’s Behind-the-Scenes Union Revelations

The Rocky Mountain News today published an article which may qualify as one of the richest, most revealing local political stories of the year. It begins: On the day he issued his executive order making unions a bigger player in state government, Gov. Bill Ritter and union representatives assured Coloradans they weren't going to rock the boat. But behind the scenes, the waters were anything but calm, e-mails and other documents provided by Ritter's office in response to a Rocky Mountain News open records request show. Ritter's senior staff scrambled in the hours leading up to his announcement to deal with what they accurately predicted would be "a good deal of backlash." And a group representing seven Colorado unions rushed … [Read more...]

A Thanksgiving Meditation

Psalm 28:6-9 6 Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 8 The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. May you have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving holiday, a time of growth in your gratitude to God and others. … [Read more...]

Unexpected Thanksgiving Wishes from (Candidate?) Armstrong

I haven't commented much on the Republican primary in Colorado's 6th Congressional District, but I wrote in a post two weeks ago:The primary race for the safe Republican seat now appears to be mainly between Coffman and State Senator Ted Harvey. I've been aware of the word on the street (and in the press) that Wil Armstrong, son of former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, was interested in throwing his hat into the ring. But not having sources that could confirm any activity coming from that corner, I didn't give attention to his candidacy. Until yesterday, that is, when I received a Thanksgiving card from the Wil Armstrong family with a friendly message on the inside and a family portrait on the front. Nothing overtly political about the … [Read more...]

Chieftain: Ritter’s Order Unnecessary, Counterproductive, and Harmful

The Pueblo Chieftain joins other Colorado newspaper editorial voices in rejecting the arguments made for Gov. Ritter's executive order unionizing state employees:While he hopes his partnership arrangements will lead to new efficiencies, just the opposite could result. Unions are notorious for demanding - and receiving - work rules that often run counter to efficient operations. In addition to high medical insurance costs, old-line industries such as steel and autos had work rules that made them less competitive than those plants which operate without unions. The governor maintains that the restrictions on the state budget ensconced in TABOR would limit the amount the state could meet in future union pay demands. But there’s always the … [Read more...]

Polis Trip to Iraq Could Spice Up CD-2 Primary

Liberal Democrat and Colorado Congressional candidate Jared Polis, with whom I frequently disagree on this blog, is to be commended for deciding to take a look at what's going on in Iraq himself:Polis, former chairman of the state education board, is leaving today to spend a week with relief agencies, Iraqi civilians and two deployed Colorado lawmakers. Polis said the point of the trip is to "get a broader picture of what's going on" in Iraq, not "hold a large turkey for photo ops." Contrast Polis' apparent open-minded with the self-blinding attitude of his chief Democrat primary opponent, who typify the Left's talking points that dominate with their party in Congress:Fitz-Gerald's campaign said the trip isn't necessary. "The facts … [Read more...]

Gazette: Ritter Throws Tasty Raw “Sirloin Steak” to Labor Leaders

The Colorado Springs Gazette's editors decry Gov. "Back Room" Bill "Bag Man" Ritter for his executive order unionizing state employees: For the second time in less than a year, Gov. Bill Ritter has gotten into political trouble by throwing a bone to his labor union friends. In this case, however, he didn’t just throw them a bone, but a sirloin steak, by granting state employees de facto collective bargaining powers in an executive order issued late in the afternoon of Nov. 2. Contributing to the backlash this time around is the secretive, unilateral way the political payoff was orchestrated, and the slick, Clintonesque way the governor has tried to spin the issue by playing semantics. Ouch - it's worth reading the whole thing. … [Read more...]

Ritter Unionization Order to Cost Taxpayers

With input yesterday from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers comes the first evidence that Ritter's union executive order will cost taxpayers money after all - despite the protests of the governor's office: Suthers told the committee Wednesday that he expects leaders of other state agencies to seek out legal advice on how to handle labor-relation issues in light of the new bargaining power of state workers. That, in turn, will probably require his office to either contract with or hire lawyers with labor-law experience, he said. "There is no question in our mind that there is going to be an increase in demand for legal services in our office," Suthers said after the meeting. Suthers, a Republican, said he cannot yet put a … [Read more...]