Dougco 2013 Showdown Could Lead to Wisconsin-Like Vindication, Or….

For the past couple years, Wisconsin has been the locus of the political battle to weaken public-sector union power. After Gov. Scott Walker not only survived but thrived amid a failed recall election, conservatives breathed a sigh of relief. Most prominently, the costly but decisive victory revived hopes that fiscal sanity and a sense of fairness could be restored. Modest cuts to lavish benefits for government employees, along with some of the accompanying tools approved in Walker's controversial Budget Repair Bill, put the Badger State back on a healthy fiscal setting and brought compensation more back in line with private sector workers. But a new video from the Association of American Educators reminds us that the Wisconsin … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Improvement to Teachers Union’s “Every Member Option” Annual Political Refund: Ask Members First

It's funny how so many of those Colorado teachers union deadlines fall at inconvenient times. Want to sign up for one of the Colorado education Association's local affiliates? You can do it any time. Want to opt out of union membership, perhaps to choose a different membership option? Well, finding the exact dates you can opt out depends on which school district you work in. For so many, though, it comes at the beginning of the school year as classrooms are being decorated, lesson plans developed, routines established, and so much more. But September 15 passes before you can get down to the local union office -- say, in Jeffco, Commerce City, Englewood, Longmont, or Canon City -- and you have to wait another 350 days to stop the … [Read more...]

Road to the Colorado Statehouse: Dem Allport Will Have to Pick Up Pace to Challenge Libby Szabo in HD 27

I'm back. This time I mean it. With Colorado's legislative session in gear and both chambers of the General Assembly up for grabs in this fall's election, there is no time to dive into the fray like the present. While Mount Virtus may never be as prolific a place as it's ever been. You can follow some of my other writings as follows: Education Policy Center (including the blog Ed Is Watching) for coverage of the world of education policy, school choice and reform issues Also occasionally on the Ed News Colorado blog Writings on teachers unions and related government labor issues at Public Sector Inc A new less-than-regular column on education labor and related issues at Colorado Peak Politics Nevertheless, this year you can count … [Read more...]

Colorado Teachers Union Political Refund Opportunity Ends December 15

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 … [Read more...]

Louisiana Seeks to Beat Colorado to Open Teacher Union Negotiations

A lot has happened in the month since I last posted here about the open negotiations controversy in Jeffco Public Schools. I was glad to see Mike Rosen bring attention to the issue on his show and in his May 12 Denver Post column, in which he concluded: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 … [Read more...]

Memo to Colorado Lawmakers: Collective Bargaining in Government Different than in Private Business

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. However, I found the apparent reason for HB 1320 being held up on the House floor a bit disheartening -- albeit not surprising, given the unimpressive record of the new Republican majority:Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, … [Read more...]

FOX 31 FAIR AND BALANCED ON EDUCATION? We Report, You Decide

Originally posted at Colorado Peak Politics. Re-posted here with permission. As author, I am solely responsible for the content. Local FOX 31 Denver News and reporter Eli Stokols are to be commended for wanting to look at the effects of K-12 education spending cuts and innovative ideas for addressing the challenge. But the first edition of the televised series cries out for context and correction. First of all, it's important to stress that yes, for the past couple years Colorado schools have been experiencing real budget cuts -- after years of steady increases in per-pupil funding. And of course, the cuts will have an impact, albeit an impact that can be heavily mitigated and overcome in the long run by re-thinking how our school system … [Read more...]

Aurora Citizens Denied: Colorado Springs Not State’s Only Front in Push for Open Government Negotiations

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 … [Read more...]

Supreme Court Campaign Case Pits Colorado Ethics Watch vs. Colorado Education Association

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 … [Read more...]

A New Way to Contact Elected Officials; A Solution for Grassroots Apathy?

Efforts to organize constituent groups to contact and lobby their elected officials have grown more sophisticated in recent years. Many of us like the ease of the online petition that automatically directs messages to our representatives based on our input location data -- though I frequently prefer to tailor the pre-fab messages with my own words. I can't be the only one who has subjected myself to an onslaught of email messages urging me to call my Congressman or state senator over the latest hideously outrageous or earth-saving piece of legislation. A result of the sheer volume of these messages, combined with limited resources and competing priorities, my eyes long since have glazed over most of them. Have I become too cynical? … [Read more...]