While CD 1′s hard-working Dr. Mike Fallon (#2 on the list) looks to be keeping true to his word to be a one-time candidate, the conservatives occupying the next two spots both could be back in the fray for 2012. It was more than 13 months ago I observed about CD 7 primary runner-up Lang Sias (#4): (more…)
Last week I filmed a 14-minute segment with my boss at the Independence Institute, Jon Caldara, on his show Devil’s Advocate. The topic for discussion was the timely news that members of the Colorado Education Association (CEA) have until tomorrow (December 15)to get back money automatically collected with their dues to support (almost completely one-sided) state and local political campaigns.
As I often say, if you like how the union spends your money on politics, you have no reason to complain and absolutely nothing to do. But for those teachers who would rather support their own political causes, or use the money to pay for Christmas shopping or just save for a rainy day, then members need to be informed of their opportunity. One way to find out how to get the Colorado teachers union political refund is to watch the video:
In the episode Jon describes the notifications about teacher options as my personal charity work — the kind of charity work where one gets called nasty names. So be it. In the last-minute rush before the holidays, and tomorrow’s all-important December 15 deadline, here’s hoping this post makes the difference for someone out there.
Disappointing news in my own backyard of Jefferson County, where the reform, Republican-backed “Dads” ticket of Jim Powers and Preston Branaugh were defeated. In my mind, though, the story of the night has to be in Douglas County — where a unanimous majority in favor of the nation’s first school board-initiated voucher-like program appears headed for complete electoral vindication. Other lesser-touted school board results of note: (more…)
Colorado has one issue on the statewide ballot this year: Proposition 103, a large tax hike sold as a way to increase revenues for K-12 and higher education. Unfortunately, there are two major problems with this proposal that render it unworthy of support.
Complaints that public education spending in Colorado has been slashed in recent years conveniently ignore the big picture. Ben DeGrow at the Independence Institute reports that total annual expenditures on K-12, adjusted for inflation, from 1999 to 2010 have increased by $3.2 billion or 46 percent. Per pupil spending is up 24 percent. There’s little to show for it in the way of results.
Leading 19th century American politician James Blaine had a Catholic mother; therefore
The Blaine Amendment he crafted into the state constitutions of Colorado and numerous others were bastions of modern “secular” thought promoting the separation of church and state, as understood by the ACLU and its compatriots; therefore
Republicans in the 1800s were much more secular and enlightened than their contemporary counterparts; and
Forget the fact that parents are given a choice, the Douglas County school board is funneling money to religious schools in violation of a benign state constitutional provision.
Really? Bad history may make for clever political potshots, but beyond that it has little practical use. The leading flaw in Quillen’s column is a fundamental (and willful?) misunderstanding of 19th century American public education — which was “nondenominational” Protestant but clearly not secular as the columnist imagines. (more…)
A number of other states have laws mandating that negotiations between government-employee unions and government agencies be open to the public. In Colorado, that decision is currently left to local government. Colorado law is generally friendly to public openness and disclosure regarding government meetings and documents. Since a majority of funding for public-school districts in Colorado comes not from local property taxes but from the state’s coffers, the state legislature clearly has standing to join other states in passing a uniform law opening these kinds of negotiations to the light of public scrutiny.
As I reported in my 2010 Independence Institute issue backgrounder “Colorado Education and Open Negotiations,” six states currently have laws on the books guaranteeing this brand of taxpayer-friendly government transparency. In Colorado you have to go back to 2005 for Senate Bill 175 and to 2004 for House Bill 1242, the legislature’s last serious (and in the case of 1242, nearly successful) attempts to shine light on negotiations between governments and unions. With momentum growing locally around this issue, might Colorado lawmakers try this approach again? (more…)
Slipping under the radar late in Colorado’s legislative session (sine die is tomorrow, hallelujah!) is House Bill 1320 — sponsored by two conservative Republicans, Rep. Janak Joshi and Sen. Bill Cadman — a rare two-page piece of legislation that would essentially outlaw collective bargaining in state and local governments. It’s not going to pass, and concerned citizens and political observers rightfully are paying attention to Colorado’s redistricting debate instead, so it’s not worth expending too many pixels.
On FOX 31 last night, political reporter did a sit-down with Governor John Hickenlooper for one of the School Cuts 101 series segments. The result? Unremarkable. Hick has been focused on budget issues, rightly so, and education reform barely shows up on his radar screen.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia is the administration’s point-man on education issues. Last week at the Capitol he presented the three-point education agenda. Finding money to implement SB 191 — last year’s significant teacher and principal evaluation bill — is a worthy cause. But tackling the state’s serious 3rd grade literacy shortcomings by traveling the state to ask school districts for their input? Sorry. Try this approach instead. (The third part of the agenda, promoting college completion through the implementation of statewide articulation agreements, is outside my expertise.)
But most of the questions Stokols posed to the governor are largely predicated on some other parts of the School Cuts 101 series. Mainly first, should Colorado updated its school funding model based on an Oregon proposal that allots a share of dollars based on performance? (The idea has some merit in theory, but the Cascade State approach dangerously seeks to consolidate and centralize power.)
In a time when a large fiscally conservative grassroots movement like the Tea Parties have developed a strong voice, we shouldn’t be surprised to see calls for greater transparency in government operations. Not only when it comes to the fiscal ledger (“if you can’t defend it, don’t spend it”), but also when it comes to those union negotiations that drive so much of government spending. Should any government contract negotiations be done behind closed doors? Why should unions be treated any differently?
In Colorado Springs a citizen lawsuit has pressured one of the state’s largest school districts to concede to opening up one teachers union bargaining session to public observation. (Decisions on future sessions pending… most likely on the effectiveness of outside public pressure.) To its credit, the Gazette has brought attention to the story to contribute to the public conversation. Even better, inquiring minds want to know: Did one of its reporters attend Friday’s session? Was there anything to report?
Meanwhile, another local grassroots effort to bring about open government union negotiations has occurred more or less under the radar. On March 3 Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) formally requested that the municipal government for Colorado’s third largest city provide taxpaying citizens access to observe bargaining sessions with local police and fire unions. Transparency seems like the backbone for good public policy, right? Well, in a March 23 YourHub article, CRAG spokesman Jim Frye acknowledged that the Aurora city attorney’s denial “was disappointing though not entirely surprising.”(more…)
This little tidbit I uncovered either shatters the grand Colorado Democracy Alliance (CoDA) conspiracy theory or proves it to be even more convoluted and diabolical than previously imagined. But court documents show two of the Alliance’s core groups — sue-happy Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW) and the Colorado Education Association (CEA), the state’s largest teachers union — on opposite ends of a state supreme court case regarding elections law.
Back in 2008 CEW filed suit against a couple of Republican 527 groups (Senate Majority Fund LLC and Colorado Leadership Fund LLC) claiming that they had overstepped the bounds of campaign finance law by participating in “express advocacy” of state legislative candidates. The administrative law judge ruled against the plaintiffs, and CEW lost on appeal as well. Now the case is headed to the state’s highest court.
CEW’s argument is so absurd based on legal precedent that, well, even CEA has filed an amicus brief defending the Republican groups (so has the Colorado Bar Association, but it’s not as intriguing as the teachers union chiming in). CEA attorney Mark Grueskin summarizes the argument before the Colorado Supreme Court as follows: (more…)
March is a bad month for Colorado Senate Majority Leader John Morse. Last year about this time he went a little ballistic at Amazon.com on a YouTube video he created — trying to blame the company for deciding to terminate its Colorado Affiliates program rather than pay the Democrats’ new tax.
Last year’s episode looks like a warm-up act for this year’s arrogant display, with John Morse threatening the private homes of citizens who filed an ethics complaint against him. You see, March so far has been filled with Colorado Peak Politics (if you’re not reading this blog regularly, you should be! … and no, I don’t know who is behind it) reporting on a brewing scandal: Democrat legislative leader Morse claiming $40,000 in public reimbursements for things like golf outings, political fundraisers, and out-of-state travel. (more…)
This milestone is the culmination of a decades-long trend in which private sector unions have diminished while Big Labor has targeted government agencies as fruitful sources of revenue. As of 2010, we have the first strong indications that the same observation can be made of Colorado — namely, that more of the state’s union members work for government than for a private employer.
In light of the legislative action taking place in Ohio and Wisconsin, I have written on some of the critical differences related to union collective bargaining between the private sector and the public sector. An even better explanation of the inherent defects in government collective bargaining appears in a recent op-ed by David Denholm published in the Washington Examiner. (more…)
Update, 9:00 PM:Common Cause issued a formal “apology” for the vile behavior of its rally attendees, a statement thoroughly deconstructed by James Taranto, who concludes with the zinger: “For the sake of truth in advertising, Common Cause should change its name to Hypocrisy Hub.” Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.
Independent new media journalist Christian Hartsock has a compelling piece up at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government blog. Hartsock went to cover an event sponsored by the Progressive group Common Cause. The goal seemingly was to organize a grassroots protest of the pro-free market billionaire Koch Brothers and conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas for some imaginary collusion on the Citizens United decision, and who knows what else.
Hartsock’s four-minute video (which the Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto labels “devastating”) poignantly captures a rich example of unintentional irony and psychological projection exhibited by the Left: (more…)
Kudos to my friend and colleague Todd Shepherd (of Complete Colorado fame) for catching a surprise exclusive live interview with Colorado’s new governor. In the middle of hosting the Sunday afternoon show on 850 KOA, Todd’s jaw hit the floor when none other than John Hickenlooper heard his name being discussed and called in to the show while en route from Pueblo to an event in Colorado Springs.
Click here for the full hour’s audio: the Hickenlooper call starts about halfway through (not to be completely overshadowed is Todd’s discussion with Colorado RNC committeeman and former state treasurer Mark Hillman at the top of the hour).