The Democrat Party’s intramural squabbles are intensifying, and Colorado is ground zero for the shakedown. The Denver Post reports this morning that the Teamsters’ James Hoffa, Jr., confronted Governor Bill Ritter yesterday with the threat that the party’s convention scheduled for Denver next year could “blow up” if Ritter doesn’t kowtow to the Big Labor agenda. Still a bit angry about the governor’s veto of House Bill 1072, don’t you think?
The response from Ritter’s office?
The governor has said he made the decision in order to advance a broader agenda. He declined an interview Monday on his encounter with Hoffa.
But his staff pointed to Ritter’s recent restoration of a voluntary payroll deduction for state workers that automatically covered union dues. That option had been suspended by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens.
An interesting way for the Post reporter to phrase the action, but the governor’s staff essentially admitted Ritter’s executive order was a peace offering to Big Labor: “Here, have access to the state’s payroll system.”
Meanwhile, the governor’s office has yet to speak out on the controversy [Update: I was mistaken to write this point – as the Colorado Springs Gazette reported today, Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien went a long way toward reassuring support for charter schools at a meeting yesterday.] generated by the revelation of deep-seated hatred and the viciously anti-charter school agenda of the state legislature’s two committee chairs. In today’s Rocky Mountain News, Senator Sue Windels (D-Arvada) pleads innocent for having been merely the recipient of the incendiary email.
As a result of the intense scrutiny, Windels also said she is going to let her anti-charter school bill (Senate Bill 61) go away and die. Why? In part because six senators from her own party have clearly stated they won’t support the legislation now that the sponsors’ motives have been exposed. One has to wonder how the growing numbers of pro-school choice Democrats feel about their party rewarding with power members who have a vicious hatred for their support of giving options to all parents – including many poor and minority students trapped in failing urban schools.
Governor Ritter is trapped in a brouhaha with Big Labor, with the peace offering of the state’s payroll system not enough to satisfy union appetities. What’s more, he has to be hoping the growing tensions within his party’s ranks in the state legislature over charter schools and school choice will just cool down and go away.
Leading Democrats in Colorado are busy trying to put out fires that threaten to damage the state and national coalition. Politically speaking, I can’t say I’m too distraught by the news.
But give them a chance to regroup, and the attacks on workers’ rights and school choice will resume full force.