Morgan Carroll CD-6 Buzz Continues To Build

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Roll Call’s Alexis Levinson reports today on growing Democratic excitement in Washington, D.C.–and trepidation from Republicans–about a possible run by Colorado Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll for incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman’s CD-6 seat:

Coffman has proved resilient over his four terms. He has been a top Democratic target since redistricting reshaped his solidly Republican district into a more competitive one. After a tight race in 2012, defeating his opponent by 2 points, he easily toppled former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff by 9 points last fall…

State Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, term-limited out of her seat, has emerged as the top choice over the past few weeks. She has met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and she attended the House Democratic Caucus meeting last week, shadowing Rep. Jared Polis during her time at the Capitol, according to a source with knowledge of her visit. Carroll has a reputation as a strong fundraiser, and represented the area as a member of the state House and while practicing law there.

That profile alone makes her appealing to Colorado Democrats, who say one of the problems the past two cycles was running two white men who were viewed as carpetbaggers.

“With Hillary [Rodham Clinton] at the top of the ticket, having a woman candidate only makes sense,” said Colorado Democratic consultant Laura Chapin. [Pols emphasis]

The only downside Roll Call speculates about with Sen. Carroll relates to her voting record in the legislature, and the likelihood of “gotcha” attacks on votes she’s taken similar to what we’ve seen leveled against Coffman’s last two CD-6 opponents. As we’ve noted, however, the big difference this time is Sen. Carroll’s willingness–even eagerness–to run on her record, and to articulately defend both her career and the progressive ideals she has always campaigned on.

Unlike 2014’s Andrew Romanoff, Carroll is not a Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) “milquetoast” Democrat who will shy away from her principles, and that may be exactly the edge against the aggressively reinvented Coffman that she needs to avoid Romanoff’s fate. It’s worth remembering, and we’ll have many occasions to point it out in the months ahead, that the victories both Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner enjoyed last year were primarily the result of those candidates flanking their opponents on the left–a tactic that Carroll’s unambiguous progressive record renders ineffective.

Sources tell us that as of this writing, Carroll is “leaning toward” entering the CD-6 race. The increasing likelihood of a tough challenge for CD-6 is reportedly giving both Coffman and national Republican strategists pause, delaying what may once have been an easy decision for Coffman to step up to the U.S. Senate race in 2016–though there is debate on this point as well, with some close to the decision maintaining that he has always been unsure about challenging Michael Bennet.

As of now, Coffman and Republican strategists have an additional worry.

Not Well Played, Sean Bradley

Do not take campaign advice from this man.

This is Sean Bradley. Do not take campaign advice from this man.

Sean Bradley is one of two candidates in the District 11 runoff for Denver City Council, which concludes next Tuesday (June 2). Should Bradley defeat Stacie Gilmore in the runoff, he will treat the City Council Seat like a full-time job. This is notable, because the Denver City Council is a full-time job, and until recently, Bradley was refusing to say whether he would quit his current job if elected.

As Jon Murray reports for the Denver Post, Bradley finally tried to stick a band-aid on that gaping campaign wound that he caused for himself:

Denver City Council candidate Sean Bradley said Friday that if he wins a June 2 runoff, he will leave his job as president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver.

Bradley’s comments to The Denver Post, after declining to answer the question definitively earlier this week, put to rest speculation that he might try to work both jobs.

He started at the Urban League in January. He said Friday that he would not step down immediately, instead making arrangements to help the organization transition to a new leader. He likely would leave the Urban League by the time new council members take the oath in mid-July, Bradley said.

“The reality of it all is, if and when we win this race, there was no way I was going to be able to do two of these jobs,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Uh, you think?

Thus ends one of the more inexplicable self-inflicted political wounds we’ve seen in quite awhile. By refusing to say if he would quit his current job if elected to the Denver City Council, Bradley gave his opponents plenty of time to question his commitment to the job he is seeking, and he made himself look ridiculous in the process.

Did Bradley not know that City Council is a full-time job? Did his bosses at the Urban League not know he was running? Both questions seem absurd, but why else would he refuse to even acknowledge that he would need to quit his current job if elected?

Hardly Anybody’s Buying Cory Gardner’s Birth Control “Sham”

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Freshman Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado unveiled his long-awaited proposal to make oral contraceptives available over the counter last week, nominally keeping a major campaign promise but opening himself to new criticism as the details of his plan are unpacked by experts. Last Friday, Lynn Bartels at the Denver Post highlighted the objections of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to Gardner’s proposal, who say it “would actually make more women have to pay for their birth control, and for some women, the cost would be prohibitive.”

Today, after more experts and advocacy groups have had a chance to look at the bill, the criticism continues to pile on. The Hill’s Sarah Ferris reports today:

The Colorado Republican’s push to make birth control available over-the-counter is not winning him more allies among women’s reproductive health groups…

Groups like Planned Parenthood have opposed the idea, which they argue could drive up contraception prices.

The group has pointed to ObamaCare’s contraception mandate — requiring insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control — and said that insurers may no longer cover the medication if it’s not prescribed by a doctor.

Emily Crockett at RH Reality Check:

Gardner was one of many Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections who campaigned on expanding “access” to birth control by making it available over the counter. Reproductive health advocates said that this was a cynical way for candidates to downplay their extreme anti-choice views on issues like anti-choice fetal “personhood,” which Gardner has supported throughout his political career.

The proposed Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act would waive the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) filing fee and expedite the application review process to encourage manufacturers of “routine-use contraceptives” to apply to the FDA for over-the-counter (OTC) status, according to Gardner’s website…

As Salon’s Katie McDonough explains, this legislation doesn’t do anything except ensure that women who now pay nothing for their contraceptives will start paying:

Birth control is expensive. Oral contraceptives can cost, in some places, more than $600 a year. And that cost can be prohibitive for women already struggling to support themselves. And as funding cuts to family planning clinics continue to devastate access for low-income women, making full-price birth control available over the counter does virtually nothing to counter that…

And no cost reduction through market force could match what’s offered by the new healthcare law: no cost. There simply is no competing with zero dollars when it comes to access. [Pols emphasis] And Joshua Cohen, a health economist at Tufts University, told FiveThirtyEight that such measures may improve convenience, but not cost. “Any improvement in access is likely to be merely a convenience issue,” he said. But that women “would pay more out-of-pocket for the OTC contraceptive than they would for the prescription product.”

Which brings us to the Huffington Post’s Laura Bassett, and the most important reason this proposal is being offered at all–to undercut the requirement in Obamacare that contraception be covered through a guaranteed health insurance benefit with no co-pay at all. Think Hobby Lobby:

[T]he proposal also represents a GOP end run around the Affordable Care Act provision that requires most employers to cover the full range of contraception at no cost to women. Republicans have long opposed and even pledged to repeal that rule because they claim it violates the religious freedom rights of employers who are morally opposed to birth control.

The mandatory contraception coverage under Obamacare applies only to birth control that requires a prescription. So if this bill resulted in various forms of routine-use contraception being sold over the counter, they would not have to be covered by insurance. [Pols emphasis]

On the campaign trail last year, Gardner used this proposal for over-the-counter oral contraceptives to counter allegations that, as a longtime supporter of the “Personhood” abortion ban ballot measures, he had effectively advocated for a ban on common forms of birth control. Despite the fact that the birth control restrictions that would result from passage of “Personhood” were well known to all sides of the debate as far back as 2008, Gardner insisted that he “had not realized” the initiative would have this effect until much more recently. As our readers know, a very large amount of oxygen in the 2014 U.S. Senate race was expended on trying to pin “Personhood’s” worst potential effects on Gardner, which Gardner outlasted via blanket denials that eventually fatigued the public’s interest.

In retrospect, it worked brilliantly–and for low-information voters who don’t know the details, Gardner just “kept his promise,” even as medical experts and pro-choice advocates cry foul to anyone who will listen. The bill is of course never going to become law under President Barack Obama, but that’s not the point.

Because this is not about passing anything, or even helping women get contraceptives. It’s about, as GOP consultant Katy Atkinson candidly admitted last year of Gardner’s women’s health agenda, “muddying it up” enough to confound the politics of birth control and abortion, and helping Gardner complete his reinvention from a conservative “social issue warrior” into an electable mainstream politician.

With all of this in mind, it’s easier to understand why pro-choice advocates are so angry over this proposal. It’s not sour grapes over 2014, more like proof that what they said about Gardner’s reproductive choice “con job” last year…was right.

Stapleton Kicks Off Taxpayer-Funded “Statewide Tour”

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Fresh off an avalanche of bad press for absurdly denying having backed legislation to shore up the state’s public employee retirement system when questioned about it on right-wing talk radio, Colorado Treasurer Walker “Bush” Stapleton is heading out on a “listening tour” of all 64 counties in Colorado–including the counties with basically no people in them. From Stapleton’s press release:

Today, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced the kick off of a 64-county tour across Colorado. The goal of this summer-long road trip is to update civic and community leaders on what is happening at the State Capitol, and to hold meetings with county elected officials to get a better understanding of the issues impacting local communities…

“As I begin my second term, it is important to step out of the office, hit the road and continue to listen to the needs of people across our state,” said Treasurer Stapleton. “When I was in the private sector, I found it immensely useful to go out and talk to customers and co-workers. That’s where the good ideas come from, the people, not the boardroom. But you have to be willing to put in the legwork.”

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports that Stapleton claims the trip has been “in the works” since March–apparently he’s more willing to talk to Bartels about this trip than her colleague John Frank about the recent controversy over the Public Employees Retirement Association bill. We don’t doubt that Stapleton was planning this tour for longer than he has been in hot water over his backpedaled support for legislation to reduce the unfunded liability owed by PERA, but we can’t see how this helps him either.

Setting aside the PERA gaffe, Stapleton’s aspirations for higher office are very well known, and this “fact-finding tour” to every county in the state can easily be portrayed as an improper campaign (or at least pre-campaign) activity paid for with taxpayer dollars. It’s one thing when the Governor tours the state for “fact-finding”…but the Treasurer? Coming from a politician everybody knows is angling for a run for higher office in three years, this kind of self-serving junket is just too easy to criticize.

Enough that it’s likely to cost Stapleton–politically, since you’re the one paying–more than it was worth.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 26)

Get More SmarterHey, look at that…the sun is still there, after all. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

House Republicans may yet put a stop to a trade deal favored by President Obama, which gained initial approval from the Senate last week.

► Construction at the VA Hospital Project in Aurora will continue for about three more weeks. Congress approved a plan late last week to kick the can down the road so they could leave town for their Memorial Day recess. Meanwhile, a VA whistle blower indicates a significant lack of oversight for the hospital project. This is where we remind you that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee under the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

 Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Tuesday Open Thread

“The fibers of all things have their tension and are strained like the strings of an instrument.”

–Henry David Thoreau

City Council Candidate Still Not Explaining GOP Support

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

City Council candidate Wayne New, who changed his voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated in March, acknowledged in a Denver Post interview last week that he’s spotlighting progressive ideas to try to prove to voters that he’s not as conservative as you might think from his record of donations to Republican candidates like Cory Gardner and others.

But Wayne New still hasn’t said why he donated to Gardner, just last August.

Wayne New told The Post he supports progressive ideas, like a plastic-bag fee, and he doesn’t want to get into partisan scrapping. Fair enough. But it’s not a partisan attack to want to know why Wayne New donated to Cory Gardner. It’s a substantive question. What issues did he agree with Gardner on? (Somehow, I don’t see Gardner supporting the bag fee.) What did he like about Gardner? About Mitt Romney? About John McCain? About the Republican National Committee?

(more…)

VA Whistleblower Report Shows Lack of Oversight

Exasperated Mike Coffman

Exasperated Mike Coffman

The Denver Post has more details today about a Veterans Administration whistleblower and an apparent lack of oversight with the VA:

A former high-ranking federal Veterans Affairs official responsible for overseeing the troubled Aurora medical center complex figures prominently in a whistleblower’s claims that the agency misspent at least $5 billion yearly through illegal contracts and other purchases.

Whistleblower Jan Frye, VA’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, alleged in a 35-page letter to the VA secretary that a pattern of cover-up and indifference permeates all levels of the agency.

Frye accused Glenn Haggstrom, the former principle executive director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction, and others with intentionally trying to hide transactions in which the VA wrongly bought pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other goods and services without contracts that are required by federal law.

What about Congress? The Post heard from Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

“Incredibly, VA leaders either didn’t know or just didn’t care about the damage Haggstrom was doing,” Miller said in a statement to The Post. “In fact, they rewarded him for his reign of incompetence with tens of thousands in bonuses year after year after year.”

Hmmm…it seems like there should be a group of people…heck, a subcommittee even, who could provide a layer of oversight and protection for this sort of thing…

It also seems like this would be a good place in an article to insert the perspective of a Colorado resident with knowledge of the subject…

Alright, as you probably know, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is not only a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, but is also the CHAIRMAN OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATONS. Oddly enough, Coffman just happens to represent the district which contains the $1.73+ billion Aurora VA Hospital boondoggle. It is a minor miracle that Coffman has largely managed to avoid any tough follow-up questions on a VA Hospital project mess occurring in his own backyard.

The tone and substance of this latest whistleblower report may have changed that, and from what we’re hearing of national media requests surrounding this story, Coffman may be getting a bit uncomfortable.

A whistleblower gets people to look up the ladder, wherein people start checking for names of the supervisor’s supervisors. It doesn’t take but a few steps up that ladder before you realize that the VA Hospital Project is in the home district of the Congressman who is the chair of Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee. That makes Coffman more than just interesting — it makes him a great headline: Aurora Hospital Boondoggle is in Oversight Chair’s Home District!

Unfortunately for Coffman, that’s when the questions get sour. How is it that the Oversight Chairman let this happen in his own backyard?

D’oh!

Investigation Underway Into Alleged Student Bullying By Jefferson County School Board, Staff

We wrote two weeks ago about an ugly and perhaps legally actionable incident that occurred at the May meeting of the conservative-controlled Jefferson County Board of Education. A complaint from Jeffco parent Wendy McCord the following day asked for an investigation of the displaying of a Jeffco student’s name on the overhead projector at this public board meeting, and board President Ken Witt accusing the 17-year-old student in question of “favoriting racial epithets at district leaders”–an apparent reference to an anonymous Tweet that is it turns out isn’t “racist” at all. From McCord’s complaint:

All administrators, teachers, and classified staff who witness student bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately take appropriate action to stop the bullying, as prescribed by the district and building principal, and shall promptly report the bullying to the principal or principal’s designee for appropriate action. (Policy JBC)

That it is the Board members who continue to endanger our students and staff is of no relevance. You are OBLIGATED to act to ensure the safe learning environment required by CRS 22-32.109.1(1.5). The Colorado legislature enacted this statute because of their commitment to “a learning environment that is safe, conducive to the learning process, and free from unnecessary disruption.” I am quite certain that the legislators never truly considered that it would be the Board Members themselves from whom students needed to be kept safe. But that doesn’t change the spirit and letter of the law. Nor does it change your obligation to protect our students.

I demand that a formal investigation be undertaken in connection with Witt’s behavior and comments, and that prompt and equitable remedial action be taken to deter future bullying and harassment and to remedy the effects on the victim(s) of Witt’s bullying behavior. Such actions should include “[h]olding training and inservices to assist [the board] in being alert to student bullying, taking appropriate action when bullying occurs, and helping to engender an atmosphere where bullying is not tolerated at school or school-related activities.”

Here’s the bottom line: social media has become a central communications hub for opposition to the conservative Jeffco board majority, and on several occasions, social media organizing and communication has resulted in extremely embarrassing situations for the school board–from the #JeffcoSchoolBoardHistory hashtag that went viral globally after Julie Williams’ disastrous AP History “review” proposal to Williams more recent linking to a hate group’s protest of the LGBT Day of Silence endorsed by the district. In response to these incidents, the team of paid communications consultants hired by Jeffco Communications Office Lisa Pinto has vigorously responded with a proxy campaign through local conservative blogs and social media–like the recent “Mean Girls” website from the right-wing Independence Institute, seeking to turn the anger on social media at the Jeffco school board into a sympathy ploy.

It appears that in the interest of “defending” the board majority from such criticism, Pinto and even elected members of the school board went on the hunt to identify persons to blame, discovering this minor student who had “favorited”–not even “Retweeted,” mind you, just “favorited”–a few Tweets critical of Pinto and the board majority. Emails forwarded to us from a recent Colorado Open Records Act request appear to be a “smoking gun,” setting up the incident that transpired later that evening between board chairman Ken Witt and the minor student in question:

pintosmokinggun

In the end, it doesn’t matter if this minor student “favorited” a Tweet. It wouldn’t matter if he or she was the original author of the Tweet that offended the board majority. That minor student is still entitled to protection from intimidation and bullying–and that includes bullying by a board member during a public board meeting.

Elected school board members have no business intimidating children. Period.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 22)

MoreSmarterLogounderwaterA sopping wet Memorial Day Weekend to you! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Sen. Cory Gardner’s “pay twice” proposal for birth control women can currently receive copay-free under Obamacare is going over like a lead Zeppelin. The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels has an updated story with more reaction from pro-choice advocates–quoting Karen Middleton of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado:

As we saw throughout his career and campaign — when he denied a ‘personhood’ bill he cosponsored even existed — Cory Gardner can’t be trusted when it comes to Colorado women and their health care.

With this legislation, he’s trying to limit women’s access to contraception by undermining the Affordable Care Act and double-billing them, first for insurance then for full retail cost of their birth control. This adds up to hundreds, even thousands, of dollars many women don’t have in their budget — and if birth control isn’t affordable, it isn’t accessible.

And Dr. Mark S. DeFrancesco, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

The Affordable Care Act removed many barriers to preventive care that keeps women healthy. By making contraceptives available to women without a co-pay, it has truly increased access to contraception, thereby decreasing unintended pregnancies, and allowing women to better plan their futures. Unfortunately, instead of improving access, this bill would actually make more women have to pay for their birth control, and for some women, the cost would be prohibitive.

Ouch. So much for that, Sen. Promise Keeper.

► The GOP-controlled House passed a Band-Aid to forestall negative press over the Aurora VA hospital disaster for a couple of weeks. Rep. Mike Coffman, who has chaired the Oversight Subcommittee supervising this project for years, hopes to use that time to thread the precarious needle between solving the problem and being part of it.

► Republicans are itching for Hillary Clinton to testify about the Benghazi attacks–and so are Democrats, confident that she’ll make mincemeat out of Republicans obsessed with a story that has already been beat to death without uncovering anything scandalous whatsoever.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Woods sees “not a lot of difference” between political parties, raising specter of a primary

(You read it here first – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

You need only to stick your toe into Colorado’s talk-radio world to know that state Sen. Laura Woods is a superstar on the Tea-Party airwaves, regularly receiving love from KLZ 560AM’s Ken Clark, KNUS 710 AM’s Peter Boyles, and others.

The last thing these guys want is to lose Woods in a primary next year, funded by deep-pocket Republicans. So you’d think they’d want to rally their listeners to stop this before hit happens. And Woods, who previously called herself Laura Waters on the radio, seems to be hinting that it will, judging from her continued criticism of establishment Republicans.

For example, in a May 14 interview with Clark, Woods said there’s “not a lot of difference” between mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans–raising the question of whether Woods thinks Colorado Republicans will field a primary candidate against her. But Clark didn’t ask the question.

Woods (at 4:15 below): “I think that for the establishment Republicans, and there is no doubt in my mind that Cory Gardner is one of them, and Democrats, there’s not a lot of difference. Where we see a difference is between conservatives and that group of people.”

Earlier in the interview, at two minutes, she referred to “squishy Republican committees,” further showing her displeasure with the GOP in Colorado.

I’m not saying this is unexpected, given Woods’ ride to power on the back of Tea-Party supporters, but I’m surprised the radio crowd doesn’t talk openly about the obvious possibility of a primary and how to prepare for it.

(more…)

Cory Gardner Delivers Turd (As Promised!)

Suppose someone promised you that in June 2016, they would come to your house and kick you in the shins.

Now suppose it is June 2016, and this same person has just kicked you in the shins. Would you be upset over your newly-bruised legs, or would you congratulate that person for doing what they said they were going to do one year earlier? We like it when people keep promises, in part because it helps to validate our opinion of that person, but the contents of the promise are still important. Should we still applaud someone for keeping a shitty promise?

Enter Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who introduced legislation today that he first outlined during the 2014 Senate race. As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post explains:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner today made good on his promise to push for over-the-counter contraceptives, introducing legislation to encourage drug manufacturers of “routine-use contraceptives” to file an application with the FDA to sell their products over the counter.

The Yuma Republican first brought up the idea last year in an opinion piece published in The Denver Post. At the time, the congressman was trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat…

…Planned Parenthood Votes claimed at the time that Gardner’s over-the-counter proposal actually took away coverage for birth control. When Democrats questioned Gardner on his positions about women and reproductive rights, he would point to his op-ed and say he didn’t want to place restrictions on contraceptives but expand access to them. But critics noted he still sponsored the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which would ban common forms of birth control and abortion.

Planned Parenthood was not impressed with Gardner’s idea in 2014, and they’re still not happy about it. In a press release, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, had this to say:

“This bill is a sham and an insult to women. It would give women fewer birth control options and force women to pay twice for their birth control.”

Opposition to Gardner’s bill from the left has always been about the specific proposal, and not about agreement or disagreement with increasing access to birth control. Gardner’s bill would actually end up making contraception less available and affordable for women by making it too expensive: In order to make more options available over-the-counter, the bill first removes the requirement for insurance to cover birth control. Under Gardner’s bill, you might not need a prescription for certain contraceptives — you just won’t be able to afford them. Problem, not solved.

But hey, he did what he said he would do! 

Hooray, or something.

Hickenlooper Makes Jeffco Schools Super Look Pretty Stupid

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader follows up on the story of the conservative-controlled Jefferson County school district’s snubbing of Gov. John Hickenlooper this week, denying his office’s request for a bill signing ceremony at a Jeffco public school.

Hick’s sense of humor wins the day once again:

Gov. John Hickenlooper fired back at a perceived snub from Jefferson County Schools on Wednesday after two high schools refused to let him hold a bill-signing ceremony on school property.

“The last time I was at Lakewood High School, Katy Perry was there and somehow she wasn’t a risk,” [Pols emphasis] Hickenlooper told a crowd gathered for the bill signing at a historic one-room schoolhouse owned by the city of Lakewood. “I fear, I’m not sure, but I fear that it’s a reflection that education has become more polarized and more partisan.”

Gratuitous Katy Perry photo.

Gratuitous Katy Perry photo.

The Colorado Statesman’s Vic Vela has more:

The Democratic governor recently sought permission from Jeffco schools to hold an education bill signing at Lakewood High School. Instead, his request was denied by conservative district Superintendent Dan McMinimee, who cited security and other logistical concerns.

Instead, Hickenlooper held a May 20 event to sign into law key changes to student testing policy from inside an old school house at a museum site in Lakewood. From there, Hickenlooper said he was “disappointed” with McMinimee’s decision.

“I think it introduces at least the impression of partisanship,” Hickenlooper told reporters after the bill signing, which was held on the grounds of the Lakewood Heritage Center…

Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy said the school also hosted a 2012 event with Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who at the time was a vice presidential candidate. Murphy said the city and the school district was only given a couple of days notice, but that all the necessary security was put in place. [Pols emphasis]

There’s little question about it, the negative press the already embattled Jeffco school district received for rejecting Hickenlooper’s bill signing was not worth whatever political points they may have scored with fellow conservatives. The district’s spokesperson Lisa “Big Résumé” Pinto insists that politics weren’t a factor at all, but that doesn’t square with the public’s recent recollection of political campaign events in 2012 and 2014 at various Jeffco schools–like the 2012 event for Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan at the same school. If those were okay, voters will reasonably ask, why couldn’t Hickenlooper sign a bill directly pertaining to education?

It’s doesn’t matter what excuses the district’s right-wing staffers offer up, the optics of this situation are awful. The incident underscores what a lot of Jefferson County voters already believe–that this school district has been taken over by divisive partisan political operators, who are now dispensing their own political paybacks. Even conservatives in Jefferson County should be able to see the problem with a school district alienating high-ranking elected officials with petty games, not to mention the chilling effect this could have on ordinary citizens who don’t share the board’s political agenda.

Is it their worst offense? Hardly. But it’s pretty revealing.

  • RECENT COMMENTS