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…)
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).
Todd took a few minutes to get the softballs out of the way. But then he went to work with a series of polite but pointed questions made with the urgency of someone who believed he may never get a second chance. Among other things, Todd got Hickenlooper to publicly declare an official policy of transparency regarding his use of cell phones (see the controversy with Colorado’s previous Democratic administration), to clear up conflicting stories about his knowledge of Denver’s infamous 2009 LoDo beatings, and to announce he would be willing to make a return visit to the Caplis and Silverman Show after previously ducking the LoDo issue (MP3). (more…)
Although it’s not crucial to winning the majority in the state senate — the Democrats have held on — it seems like we have a small dispute over the actual standing of the race in District 16, where conservative Republican Tim Leonard and liberal Democrat Jeanne Nicholson are locked in a close count. Lynn Bartels reported at 10:30 this morning in the Denver Post (H/T Complete Colorado):
And in a multi-county seat stretching from the western suburbs to mountain towns, Democrat Jeanne Nicholson was up by six votes over Republican Tim Leonard, according to a tweet from Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.
A Tweet? Could we use some real confirmation, please? Outlets like 9News and The Denver Channel (Bartels’ own Denver Post election results page is giving me fits) show Leonard with a 372 vote advantage.
And then a little while ago an email went out from Leonard to his supporters, which included:
…Before we embark on changing the world, we need to be vigilant on our upcoming recount. As of this morning, I am 443 votes ahead.
Since this is now less than a .5% difference, there may be a recounting with all the provisional and military ballots before a winner is declared in 8 days. [emphasis added]
Military ballots will break for Leonard. And based on this news from CBS4, there’s legitimate reason to figure provisional ballots will also help rather than hurt.
Wishful thinking by Lynn Bartels, perhaps? I’m guilty of my share of wishful thinking, so I can recognize it fairly well. Bartels’ coverage has shown she isn’t exactly a big fan of Tim Leonard. That’s fine. But seriously? A tweet from a Democratic state senator reported as news while actual results are omitted?
Colorado Republicans will take all the races they can get at this point, with or without wishful thinking.
So if the Denver Post insists that a “recount looms” in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, why do I predict that Ken Buck will defeat appointed incumbent Michael Bennet by four points? What makes me so confident that my prognostication is more accurate than the hype?
On The Spot blog, Post political editor Curtis Hubbard lists the most recent polls from the seven different major firms tracking this race, along with the New York Times blog prediction, listed as follows from most recent to oldest: (more…)
In the most recent edition of The Enterprise Group Political Report (“At the Nexus of Business and Politics”) email newsletter, Andrew Boucher of Boucher Strategies in Fort Collins writes:
I’ll make three fearless predictions for November:
1. In the state legislative races, there will be at least one absolute stunner where a Republican no one has ever heard of knocks off an incumbent Democrat no one knew was in trouble.
2. Everything down-ballot is going to swing heavily towards the Republicans. (The less a voter has been paying attention to a particular race, the more likely they’ll default to the the national mood. Call it surfing the wave.)
3. Ben DeGrow is exactly right: “In this kind of generic political environment, in which most voters keenly see the adverse effects of excessive government spending, the opponents of Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 have their work cut out for them.”
I like these fearless predictions, and not just out of any sort of shameless self-promotional attempt to quote someone else quoting me. But especially reading the first of the three, I was inspired to chime in. Who could the surprise, out-of-the-blue Republican winner be? Let me forward some nominees (then you can discuss amongst yourselves): (more…)
The Denver Post‘s Michael Booth is to be commended for his efforts: He’s working really hard to bolster the flagging campaign of appointed junior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Maybe it’s some sort of “Michael B” bond. Who knows? Though artificially inflating Bennet’s hopes in the end isn’t a terribly kind thing to do.
Seriously, a new Rasmussen survey comes out today showing Ken Buck breaking the 50 percent mark at 51-43, confirming a trend of independent polls that have the Republican challenger beating Bennet outside the margin of error. Yet Booth leads with a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) poll showing Bennet with a statistically insignificant lead of 48-46. (more…)
Complete Colorado broke a story late last night that adds another twist to the governor’s race — specifically tying Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper and the Chinook Fund he founded to timely financial support of the “Transform Columbus Day Alliance” and its 2007 Denver protests that led to 83 arrests. Featuring a somewhat disturbing original picture, Complete Colorado notes:
The 2007 Columbus Day Parade protests included bloodied fake babies in the streets.
Writing on the Denver Post‘s political blog, Chuck Plunkett probes the issue more deeply:
The Complete Colorado report helps provide a snapshot of how donating to “Transform Columbus Day Alliance” type groups causes these kinds of spectacle leads to real-life trouble for city officials and taxpayers.
The 83 arrests led to an overwhelmed jail and dubious police policy.
They also contributed to fears that led Denver officials to prepare for worst-case scenarios that racked up big expenses.
Stories like this one help to answer the question: Why is Hickenlooper hiding from Caplis and Silverman? But given the revelation, don’t you think it’s time for the Denver mayor to provide some more transparency about his history of charitable giving? It’s not asking too much.
Update, 8/21: Lynn Bartels’ story in today’s edition of the Post fills out a little bit more detail and gives more attention to both the major party candidates… including a lede that identifies Perlmutter’s Bush-bashing blameshifting (which makes the headline above obsolete). Guess the blog focus on the Libertarian candidate was supposed to be the teaser for today’s story (?). I also was promised some video footage from the Frazier campaign, and will post that here when it arrives.
This morning featured the first showdown of Colorado 7th Congressional candidates at a chamber of commerce-sponsored debate. It was practically in my backyard, but who has $20 or more to swing for such luxuries?
The only coverage of the debate I’ve found is from the Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels. With her former fave Lang Sias out of the 7th CD race, guess whom Bartels ended up showering the most attention on? Not rising Republican star Ryan Frazier. Not incumbent Pelosi Democrat Ed Perlmutter. Who then?
If you guessed Libertarian Buck Bailey (without reading the blog post), you win tonight’s star prize: a self-congratulatory pat on the back and a warm heaping helping of self-esteem. Taking nothing else into account, one is left to infer from the Post‘s coverage that the exchange between the two major party candidates was somewhat less than interesting. (I mean, I’m sure Mr. Bailey is a nice guy and everything….)
But the Ryan Frazier campaign had a different take. Full press release from his campaign below the fold: (more…)
Republican state senate candidate Owen Hill was blindsided yesterday by a Colorado Springs Gazette story with fabricated claims that Hill plagiarized statements off his Libertarian opponent’s website. A friend of mine, quoted in the story, does his job of defending his Party’s position and candidate, but issued his quote carefully:
“My understanding is, from Doug, that Doug had written the stuff, and he noticed it was on his opponent’s website and was not pleased with that discovery,” said David K. Williams Jr., chairman of the Libertarian Party of Colorado. [emphasis added]
Unfortunately, the Gazette opted for a sensational he said / he said story rather than perform a little basic investigation. Owen Hill’s campaign did the homework for the reporter showing that Hill’s statements were posted on his blog in January, months before the Libertarian even had declared as a candidate or put up a website. (more…)
For what it’s worth, if you want a glimpse of the public mindset concerning 16 major institutions in American society, you should check out the new Gallup survey (H/T Mike Antonucci). The following are some salient observations on how favorably Americans view the 16 major institutions: (more…)
Driving home from the office yesterday evening, listening to the tail end of the Caplis & Silverman Show on 630 KHOW, I could hardly believe my ears as Denver mayor and Democrat gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper assumed an uncharacteristically defensive tone when the hosts pressed him on his refusal to disclose any names of the charitable organizations his personal wealth has supported through the years. As the show’s closing music played, Hickenlooper lashed out at the show as biased and indicated he wasn’t too interested in coming back on the show again.
Complete Colorado has posted the audio.
Rossputin provides a great recap and thorough breakdown of the Mayor’s “strained” argument that raises more questions about the ideological bent of his giving and gives credence to the theory that Hickenlooper has a “political glass jaw.” (more…)
In case you’re like me and didn’t listen to the Peter Boyles Show this morning, then you’ve probably missed this gem from our state legislature. As reported by Colorado Senate News:
A memorial to honor soldiers that have sacrificed their lives fighting the War on Terror could be derailed following objections from one Democrat lawmaker.
“It is disrespectful to the families of fallen soldiers to drag this memorial into the political mud,” said Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton.
Kopp sponsored the 2007 legislation that created the War on Terror Fallen Heroes Memorial. Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, was the only lawmaker to oppose the proposal. Now Weissmann is saying the memorial should be renamed since President Barack Obama declared an end to the War on Terror last March….
Click here to listen to the audio of Senator Kopp’s interview with Peter Boyles (note: large file).
Three takeaways: (more…)
Update, 12/2: More valuable insights from Joshua Sharf.
First, the Denver Post‘s Dan Haley weighed in on the Republicans’ “Platform for Prosperity.” Today, the story went national with coverage from Wall Street Journal reporter Stephanie Simon, and a quote from from one of my favorite grassroots activists (in spite of her misplaced football loyalties):
Republicans, however, said the platform would prompt voters to focus on the party’s message, rather than their feelings about individual candidates. “People can vote for the agenda,” said Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman who had been mulling a run for governor.
But Nikki Mata, a conservative activist in suburban Denver, said that such a strategy misses the point of the tea-party movement. Endorsements and platforms matter less to her and her fellow activists, she said, than their gut feelings about whether a candidate would shake things up — or would cave in to the establishment. (more…)
Chuck Plunkett is one of the more liberal members of the Denver Post‘s editorial board, but he’s a straight shooter. And his Friday posting on the state of Colorado’s Republican primary for governor — “Whither Tancredo?” — is full of spot-on insights, such as:
Party insiders say the problem is that the campaign [Scott] McInnis has structured to date has created a vacuum that conservatives abhor.