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 Ritter a “personal and confidential” letter urging him not to sign the order because it did not go far enough.
There is something pleasingly ironic about the thought of Ritter and Company working overtime on PR damage control in response to an article that highlights their earlier missteps at attempting to perform PR damage control. Here’s the nub of the perception problem: While the governor repeatedly has downplayed the order by asserting that he is the CEO of state government, labor union leaders have a lot more sway than his administration cares to admit.
After all, the timing of Ritter’s “important” state government business (i.e., his unionization executive order) was determined by union leaders’ behind-the-scenes plans.
I’m sure today’s revelations by the Rocky Mountain News will further unsettle the confidence of many Colorado business leaders and other citizens in Gov. Ritter’s leadership.
Cross posted at Ritter Watch