Jeffco School Board Open Thread

For all my Jeffco peeps:

This thread is intended to be a place to share information about the struggle for a representative school board in Jefferson County, vs. right wing ideologues that apparently would like to:


  • break the education unions
  • channel more funding to charter schools
  • politicize and narrow the curriculum to fit right wing ideology

So here's a link to a page, Jefferson County School Board Watch, that appears to be a forum and clearinghouse for rumors and information on what's going on with the School Board. A community member reports on intimidation and sneaky tactics at an informational meeting Feb 11..


You all will have to take it from here; I'm just putting up this thread. Peace!

Another Gun Lobby Fail: Armed Teacher Bill Fizzles

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

AP's Kristen Wyatt reports on action yesterday in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee:

A Democratic House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to reject another Republican bill to expand gun rights. The bill would have allowed school districts to decide if they wanted to let teachers, not just designated school resource officers, carry concealed weapons…

Supporters of the idea were far outnumbered by teachers and students who packed the hearing to speak against the idea. [Pols emphasis]

"There's no reason for teachers to have guns in school when we're trying to keep guns out of schools in the first place," said Karina Vargas, who was paralyzed in 2010 from a shooting outside Aurora Central High.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Gun control advocates, who want fewer firearms in schools, not more, again packed the hearing room at the Capitol Tuesday, intent on demonstrating strength — and staunch opposition to the proposal to allow willing teachers and school staffers to serve as a first line of defense in the instance of a school shooting.

“We have officers who are trained in responding to these incidents, and now we’re adding to that people who don’t have that training,” said Michael Eaton, the chief of security for Denver Public Schools…

After all the supporters of the proposal had finished testifying, the committee continued to hear from the bill’s opponents for another two hours as gun control advocates — even knowing the committee’s vote was likely to go their way — pressed their points. [Pols emphasis]

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

​At this point, quite a number of Republican proposals to repeal the gun safety legislation passed in the 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly have been heard, but despite calls by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other groups for protests and mass testimony, nothing like the pandemonium seen at the Capitol last year has materialized. Despite excuses now being made, this does not appear to have been the intention of the gun lobby, who urged their supporters to turn out in large numbers or risk "emboldening the left." 

It doesn't matter if gun rights supporters now consider their protests "futile" in the face of Democratic control of the legislature–this is an election year, and the failure to hold together the angry momentum they worked so hard to cultivate in 2013 is a major turnaround that will hurt Republicans this November. That failure is already evident in polling that shows public support has actually grown in Colorado for universal background checks and the magazine limit law, even as the gun lobby assailed them 24/7.

As for this particular piece of legislation, allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, it's been suggested to us that the whole emotional push by Republicans for this bill in the wake of last December's shooting at Arapahoe High School may have been a misguided waste of everyone's time. In 2003, the GOP-controlled Colorado legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act of 2003. This legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Owens, appears to allow school districts to designate anyone they wish as a "security officer" (not an official title that requires any training, mind you), and the law specifically allows persons so designated to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

A permittee who is employed or retained by contract by a school district as a school security officer may carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvement erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school while the permittee is on duty;

As we understand it, this 2003 law allows school districts to designate "security officers" who can carry concealed weapons. And if they really wanted, there's no reason why that couldn't be teachers. Note that we're not making a judgment about the efficacy of arming teachers, which as you can read above, far more witnesses turned out to testify against than in favor of. What we're saying is, it appears that yesterday's debate over arming teachers, in addition to being emotionally manipulative so soon after the Arapahoe High School shooting, was superfluous.

And that kind of puts the proverbial cherry on top of their failure.

Perlmutter Statement on Resignation of Cindy Stevenson

We'll have much more on the big news in Jeffco last weekend, but in the meantime, here's a statement from Congressman Ed Perlmutter on the (second) resignation of Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson:

On Saturday morning at a meeting of the Jeffco School Board, nationally recognized superintendent Cindy Stevenson announced that she would resign her position at the end of the month instead of the end of June as originally planned. She stated the new board majority made it nearly impossible to focus on serving our community and Jeffco’s 85,000 students. Read the full story here, or watch the video of Saturday’s board meeting here.

Cindy Stevenson has been an outstanding superintendent for Jefferson County Public Schools for 12 years.  Last year she announced her plans to retire at the end of this school year in June but clearly that wasn't soon enough for the new school board members. It's a shame she wasn't allowed to fulfill her term as previously agreed upon by the board.  Her dedication and commitment to providing the highest quality education to our kids was an asset to our schools and our community. I'm proud to call her my friend and thankful for her public service.

Ed Perlmutter

2013′s Top Ten #8: The Slaughter of Amendment 66 and How it Changed School Board Outcomes

A metaphor.

A metaphor.

The crushing failure of Amendment 66, the school finance measure, was significant for many reasons that extend well beyond the stinging 65-35% margin of defeat.

The campaign itself was an abject failure the likes of which Colorado hasn't seen since Bob Beauprez was staring at a horse's ass. Consider: Proposition 103, which was meagerly funded and unsupported by many public officials (including Gov. John Hickenlooper) failed by a 64-36% margin in 2011. Given Colorado's general opposition to taxing anything, nobody would have blamed the Amendment 66 campaign if it didn't pass in 2013 — but a $10 million campaign should never have performed so miserably as that it couldn't even do better than an shoestring-budged proposition on the ballot just two years earlier. So what happened? As we wrote in early November, this was a campaign that made little sense from the start:

Heavily consultant-driven with a rigidly controlled message, this is a campaign that always seemed afraid of its own shadow despite the massive resources invested. Proponents relied much too heavily on lavish buys of slick television ads, and counted on an "under the radar" field campaign effort that completely failed. The complicated details of Amendment 66 were freely misrepresented by opponents, and the campaign was never quite able to keep up. Apart from the huge ad buys, seemingly no effort was made at secondary earned media, and in fact Amendment 66 appeared to garner less coverage in the media than Proposition 103 did two years before. If this was by design, in hindsight it was clearly a mistake.

Throughout the campaign, proponents expressed confidence that grew increasingly brittle as it became clear the initiative was in trouble. But with no real strategy other than pouring cash into TV ads, the campaign was powerless to do anything to change course. They had their playbook and they stuck with it to the bitter end…

…It was a tough climate for Amendment 66, but Democrats also failed to use the resources they had this time imaginatively–or even just definitively. You can't pass an amendment like this without having a big conversation with Colorado voters, which is a major reason why Referendum C passed in 2005. Amendment 66 needed to be the issue of the election that everyone was talking about, but it wasn't. Anecdotally, we talked to a lot of potential supporters who didn't even know what it was. With a tax increase like this, you absolutely must grab hold of the narrative and never let go. You don't tell people why they should vote for it; you make the case that they must support the measure.

Amendment 66 had the full support of Hickenlooper and any number of elected officials in Colorado, but the strategy outlined by consultants led by Mike Melanson was to somehow run a nearly $1 billion tax increase "under the radar." Hickenlooper was rarely used publicly in support of Amendment 66, and that absence of visible leadership was harmful to both the campaign and the Governor. You can argue about Hickenlooper's favorability ratings, but he's still the Governor of Colorado and the leader of the state — if he isn't front-and-center on the campaign, it gives the impression that he isn't completely committed to the plan, and voters see that.

Where the Amendment 66 campaign really failed was in its decision to avoid "reliable" Democratic voters in order to target some polling- and focus group-molded monster of an electorate that it decided would be the key to passing the Amendment. The result was that "reliable" Democratic voters didn't really know anything about Amendment 66 and were not invested in the outcome…and you can't pass a tax increase in a low-turnout election (which 2013 became). Unlike 2005's Referendum C, which created water-cooler discussions across Colorado, very few low-information voters knew anything about Amendment 66. As a result, the majority of people who were committed to voting in 2013 were those who were anti-Amendment 66; the anti-66 campaign had a natural conservative base that will always turn out to vote 'NO' on things.

The dismal defeat of Amendment 66 will give pause to efforts at raising taxes in the near future, which is a serious problem in a state like Colorado where funding for anything remains a major issue. But the more immediate impact of November's election (aside from the money that schools will not receive from 66), was felt in local school board elections in counties like Jefferson and Douglas. The Jefferson County School Board, for example, is now controlled by right-wing, pro-voucher forces that have already made clear their intention to ignore the public and ram through their own initiatives. The Jeffco School Board flipped when all three open seats went to right-wing candidates; but if the Amendment 66 campaign hadn't done so little to promote turnout among a public education-supportive base, it's likely that at least one of those three seats would have gone to a more moderate candidate and prevented wholesale radical changes.

Low turnout related to Amendment 66 also destroyed the hopes of school board candidates in Douglas County that were seeking to retake control of a board that, in just a few years, had dismantled a school district that had been among the best in the nation. Moderates came within just a few hundred votes of retaking control in Douglas County — which they almost certainly could have accomplished had overall voter turnout not been so dismal.

The colossal failure of Amendment 66 wasn't just one of the biggest political stories of 2013 — its impacts will be felt for many years to come.

More Questions (and Ducking) on New Jeffco School Board

Ken Witt

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt: Silent but Deadly?

Following up on a story that first appeared here at Colorado Pols (and Jeffco Pols), Zahira Torres of the Denver Post digs into the strange goings-on among the three new members of the Jefferson County School Board:

The Jefferson County school board's new majority may have skirted a law that requires them to conduct business openly by hiring an attorney without a public interview process, according to an open-government expert.

Thomas Kelley, a lawyer for the Colorado Press Association and The Denver Post, said the board's 3-2 decision last week to hire Colorado Springs-based law firm Miller Sparks LLC may have violated the state's open-meetings act, which requires board members to conduct business in public.

"It's not all that common for a board of a public entity to, by itself, conduct interviews, but when they do, at least when it doesn't involve interviews for a personnel position, they have to do those interviews in public," Kelley said.

Led by board president Ken Witt, the majority hired Miller Sparks to represent the school board without seeking proposals for the contract, publicly vetting the candidates or getting cost estimates. Witt and board members Julie Williams and John Newkirk — who were elected in November on a conservative platform — did not return phone calls seeking comment. [Pols emphasis]


New board members Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk continue to thumb their noses at the idea of an open and transparent government. The trio has consistently refused to speak to the media, not returning calls for this story or an editorial that appeared yesterday in the Post. From Post editorial writer Alicia Caldwell:


New Jeffco School Board Members Already Breaking Law, Spending Money

UPDATE: There may be much more to this story than originally thought. Check out this information from

Although Witt did not provide the board or the public with information about the terms of compensation, the Loveland Reporter-Herald states that Thompson School Board is currently considering a contract with Miller’s firm, Miller Sparks LLC, to represent their school board at hourly rates of $225 and $205, respectively.

The Reporter-Herald also stated that on Wednesday, Dec. 11, Thompson School Board President Bob Kerrigan told his school board that Miller Sparks was the “Colorado Springs-based law firm that currently represents Jefferson County schools.”

Kerrigan’s comment raises additional questions, because Jeffco’s contract with Miller was not approved until 24 hours later at Jeffco’s regular school board meeting on Thursday and key details of that contract are still not available to the public. [Pols emphasis]

That last sentence is a doozy. It seems that members of the Thompson School Board knew about a new attorney in Jefferson County before some members of Jeffco's school board (let alone the public).


The three new members of the Jefferson County School Board were sworn-in just three weeks ago, but they've already managed to break the law.

Republicans Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams were elected in November and gained majority control of the school board when they were inaugurated on Nov. 21. The pro-charter school, anti-tax conservative slate has been quiet about their intentions since Election Day, refusing to comment in a Denver Post story published one day before their swearing-in ceremony, but all three were supported by Alex Cranberg-funded pro-voucher groups — the type that have advocated for recent "reforms" similar to those that have plagued Douglas County Schools in recent years.

At last night's Jeffco School Board meeting, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams surprised fellow board members Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman by announcing that they had extended an offer to Colorado Springs-based attorney and charter-school advocate Brad Miller to represent the board on legal matters — even though the district already has a chief legal counsel (Allen Taggert is retiring at the end of the month, but the school district already had a transition plan in place for a new attorney). Witt told the board that it was important to have Miller in place before Saturday's Board Retreat, though he did not provide information about the cost or other specifics regarding Miller's offer. Witt, Newkirk, and Williams shrugged off questions about why there was such a rush to spend taxpayer funds on another attorney for the school district, and pushed the matter through by a vote of 3-2.


Andy Kerr Replaces Hudak As Senate Ed Chair

Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood).

Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood).

As reported by FOX 31's Eli Stokols Sunday evening:

Senate Democrats are set to announce Monday that Sen. Andy Kerr will replace former Sen. Evie Hudak, who resigned her seat last month to avoid a recall election and preserve her party’s one-seat majority in the chamber, as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee…

Kerr was chosen over Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, a former teacher and principal who also sits on the committee.

Johnston will continue to serve as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, a post he’d have had to give up to head the education committee.

A higher profile for Kerr will be good for Democrats generally, and for Kerr's own competitive re-election bid next year.

Stokols briefly discusses the background of Sen. Mike Johnston's education reform efforts, like Johnston's role in passing the controversial 2010 Senate Bill 191 "teacher accountability" legislation, as well as this year's defeated Amendment 66. Stokols traffics a bit more than we would in unsourced rumors from a conservative blog to raise the possibility that Sen. Andy Kerr was a contentious pick over Sen. Johnston (we haven't ourselves heard that). That said, we tend to agree that for the purposes of unifying Democrats after a tough 2013, Kerr is probably the better choice to lead the Education Committee.

Who Will Replace Hudak in State Senate?

FRIDAY UPDATE: Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post reports that Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp will not seek appointment to the SD-19 seat vacated by Sen. Evie Hudak. Rep. Kraft-Tharpe reportedly endorses former Rep. Sara Gagliardi.


Democrat Evie Hudak's resignation from the State Senate on Wednesday effectively ended the attempted recall in SD-19, but it still leaves Democrats with a significant election battle in 2014.

Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp

Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp

Hudak was re-elected to the State Senate in 2012 by a slim margin over Republican Lang Sias, which meant Democrats wouldn't need to think about the seat again until 2016. With Hudak's resignation on Wednesday, Democrats don't have to worry that a recall election might swing control of the Senate into Republican hands for the 2014 session, but they still have to think about maintaining a majority into 2015. Democrats will fill Hudak's seat through a vacancy committee, but whoever wins the appointment will have to run for a full term next year.

Democrats have represented SD-19 for the last decade, with Sue Windels serving two terms prior to Hudak's 2008 victory, but the district has not been an easy seat to hold. With the 2014 election right around the corner, Democrats have a critical decision to make when the vacancy committee convenes.

Sara Gagliardi

Former Rep. Sara Gagliardi

There is certainly time for other candidates to emerge, but as of now, it looks like a potential three-way race among Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, former Rep. Sara Gagliardi, and Arvada City Council member (and a former campaign manager for Hudak in 2012) Rachel Zenzinger.

All three candidates will have their share of supporters, all three have strong credentials, and all three can make a good case for why they should get the appointment. But from a purely strategic perspective — we're not going to get into any potential policy arguments here — one makes more sense than the other two. Here's why:


Can Naquetta Ricks Help Democrats Control CU Board of Regents?

Naquetta Ricks for CU Regent

Naquetta Ricks, Democrat for CU Regent

Colorado Democrats have had quite a run of success in the past decade-plus, taking control of both U.S. Senate seats, the Governor's Mansion, and the legislature, to name a few. But despite that success, there are still two elected bodies where Republicans still control a majority: the State Board of Education and the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

There are 9 members of the CU Board of Regents; two seats are elected "at-large," meaning in a statewide race, and the other seven are elected by voters in congressional districts. There are currently 4 Democrats on the board: Michael Carrigan (CD-1), Joe Neguse (CD-2), Irene Griego (CD-7), and Stephen Ludwig (at-large). Assuming Democrats can retain control of seats in CD-2 and CD-7, that leaves one 2014 opening that could swing the district…CD-6.

Democrat Naquetta Ricks is kicking off her campaign for Regent in CD-6 tonight with an impressive list of endorsements already under her belt. Ricks is currently the only candidate for the open seat being vacated by Republican Jim Geddes, who was elected in 2008 — before redistricting — and cannot seek re-election because he no longer lives in the district (Geddes was just elected to the Douglas County School Board anyway). The new CD-6, as we all know, went from a safe Republican seat to a toss-up after redistricting; in fact, President Obama carried CD-6 in 2012 by a 52-47 margin (Republican John McCain carried the district 53-46 in 2008).

If Ricks can win her race for CU Regent, and CD-2 and CD-7 remain in Democratic hands, the CU Board of Regents would be under Democratic control for the first time in decades.

Why Amendment 66 Got Slaughtered, Part 1

A metaphor.

A metaphor.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols offers some solid insights into last night's biggest story in Colorado politics, the crushing defeat of the Amendment 66 school finance measure by a 65-35% margin:

After an election in which fewer than 1.2 million Coloradans — roughly 30 percent of the electorate — cast ballots, it’s hard to draw too many big conclusions about our state.

But it’s safe to say that the overwhelming defeat of Amendment 66, an income tax hike that would have funded a number of education reforms, is another reminder of the near-impossibility of raising taxes under TABOR and another rebuke to the Democrats who control the state Capitol…

Democrats trying to convince their neighbors to approve the tax hike, from Gov. John Hickenlooper with his diminished approval ratings on down, did so with a weakened hand. In some ways, the party appears to have lost the trust of the state’s swing voters, the suburban women; Tuesday’s overwhelming defeat of Amendment 66 by a two-to-one margin (the Yes on 66 campaign still thought it had a chance to win as of just a week ago) shows their message never really resonated with moderates, never mind many Democrats (even in liberal Denver, voters were split on it).

Convincing voters to raise their own taxes is going to take more than politicians, smart strategists and willing donors. It’s probably going to take a genuine grassroots movement.

In 2011, a much smaller and less-funded coalition attempted to pass a smaller tax measure to fund public education, Proposition 103. Proposition 103 failed by a 64-36% margin after spending about $600,000 on the campaign. The highest-profile face of the Proposition 103 campaign was Sen. Rollie Heath, the longsuffering 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate who lost by a mile to Bill Owens. In the aftermath of Proposition 103's defeat, much of the blame was laid at the feet of Heath and the underpowered coalition backing the initiative.

Today, Rollie Heath should feel a little better. Two years after Proposition 103, a ten million dollar campaign for Amendment 66, headlined by Gov. John Hickenlooper with a much larger coalition, performed even worse than Proposition 103. The question is, why?


…But They Will Tax Weed


The Colorado Independent's Shelby Kinney-Lang reports on the statewide tax measure that did pass yesterday in Colorado:

Coloradans on Tuesday passed a meaty statewide sin tax on pot in Proposition AA, handing a windfall to the state’s emerging marijuana regulatory regime and some yet-to be determined amount to local school budgets.

The first $40 million taken in will be set aside for the state’s BEST school construction grant program, which can be used to build new schools or improve existing school buildings. That’s the only money to be generated from Proposition AA promised to a specific program, according to state regulators at the Department of Revenue, which oversees the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

“If there is additional revenue, it has to be appropriated by the General Assembly, which can be for the regulatory structure, as well as related costs for health, education and public safety,” Daria Serna, communications director at the Department of Revenue, told the Independent in an email…

[B]ecause HB 13-1317 is not constitutional, there are no strong rules governing the revenue, which means the legislature, after funding the new enforcement division, will use the Marijuana Cash Fund as it likes. [Pols emphasis]

A major unknown question is what the actual cost of regulating the commercial sale of marijuana will be. There's a good possibility that the regulatory regime won't cost anywhere near the amount Proposition AA will collect. After a suitable period cautiously banking those excesses, it's entirely likely that marijuana taxes will provide a revenue stream above and beyond the current stated purposes of school construction grants and regulation of the industry.

We've said repeatedly that a major factor in voter approval of 2012's Amendment 64 legalizing marijuana was the opportunity for a new and robust tax revenue source. The extremely high profit margins for medical marijuana presently sold in Colorado strongly suggest these taxes can be absorbed in the market price of the product. If that's true, concern about driving consumers "back to the back market" will quickly prove unfounded.

Beyond the larger issues of justice and harm reduction, it's the money that will make commercialized marijuana a success in Colorado. Money to be made, and to be taxed. It's worth remembering that House Bill 13-1318, which referred Proposition AA to the ballot, passed the Colorado House on a party-line vote. In an election short on victories, this is a win Democrats can at least partly console themselves with today.

Gessler “Suspends Campaign” To Help In School Board Race

UPDATE #2: Colorado Community Media's Jane Reuter:

Gessler asked for support from other conservatives to knock on doors, and said he also would have some paid opportunities.

As Secretary of State, Gessler is charged with overseeing and administering Colorado’s election code, voter registration and campaign finance laws.

Gessler’s political director did not respond directly when asked if the Secretary of State’s involvement in the board election was appropriate, given the office’s stated mission to “ensure the integrity of elections.”

Gessler “is not afraid to lead when the future of education in Colorado is at stake,” Rory McShane responded through an email, adding that election integrity is Gessler’s top priority. “If not Scott Gessler, then who? Where are the other candidates with the courage to fight for the future of education in Colorado?”


UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

“We are currently following and will continue to follow all campaign finance laws,” [Gessler political director Rory] McShane said.

Campaign finance laws prevent a candidate committee from accepting contributions or making donations to another candidate committee…

McShane said groups supporting the conservative school board candidates are paying the walkers, not Gessler’s gubernatorial campaign but that’s not how critics read the missives.

In fact, there's nothing in the messages posted by Scott Gessler's campaign clarifying that at all, but there's your answer on the legality question.


Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

An "important update" from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's gubernatorial campaign today:

I’m a firm believer that we conservatives need to be team players. That means sometimes we do something that’s inconvenient or difficult because it advances the cause of liberty that we all believe in. As you know, Conservative Education is one of my top priorities, and I’m proud that it’s a front-and-center issue in my campaign.

Nowhere in this country is the battle for conservative reform more pronounced than in Douglas County, just south of Denver. If we’re able to defeat the union-funded liberals there, we have hope for defending education across Colorado.

Against the advice of the Denver political elites, I’ve ordered my campaign for Governor to shift focus for the next week until the Douglas County elections, to ensure that conservatives are victorious this year. [Pols emphasis]

We’re actively recruiting door-knockers to get out the vote. We also have paid opportunities – but we need you if we’re going to be successful as a team.

First of all…"Denver elites?" He's the Colorado Secretary of State.

Moving past that, according to the announcement on Gessler's Facebook page, he's hiring "walkers" for the Douglas County school board races at the competitive rate of $11 an hour. One the one hand, there's not a lot to lose by spending time in conservative Douglas County as a Republican gubernatorial primary contender. On the other, why would he hire staffers to help campaign for Douglas County school board candidates? The upside of ingratiating himself to those involved in those admittedly hot races just doesn't seem like it's worth funding a field campaign. It's not the first time that Gessler has behaved in what seems to be an erratic and tangential way on the campaign trail, but perhaps it will pay off beyond our visible horizon.

One possible explanation might be the support Gessler has received from former U.S. Senate candidate and state board of education chair Bob Schaffer. The "voucherization" scheme at the heart of the controversy in these school board races is one of Schaffer's pet issues, and apparently Gessler's as well–to the extent that he capitalized "Conservative Education" for emphasis.

And of course, this must all be legal, because it's our own Secretary of State doing it (pregnant pause). Right?

GOP Too Extreme? CU’s “Conservative Thought” Prof Says No

Dr. Steven Hayward, CU's

Dr. Steven Hayward, CU

Sarah Kuta of the Boulder Daily Camera reports:

The University of Colorado's Steven Hayward says the Republican Party served Americans well when it pushed back against President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act.

"Is the Republican Party too extreme?" Hayward asked. "My answer is, 'I certainly hope so.' It may not have chosen the best tactics in recent weeks, but it's doing us a service in making a fight about these matters."

"A lot of liberals these days have contempt for our democratic form," Hayward said. "Many of them, if they could work their will, would throw out the Constitution entirely. But somehow it's the Republicans who are called extremists." [Pols emphasis]

Wow! And just so Steven Hayward, the University of Colorado's "visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy," is in no way misunderstood, the recent government shutdown/default drama in Washington is exactly the way the Founders intended our government to operate:

Hayward, who is teaching two classes this semester at CU, pointed to James Madison and his Federalist Papers, which he said more than 150 years ago correctly predicted the state of today's government.

"James Madison is saying, 'Of course we're going to have some really ugly fights like this.' So why the liberal freak-out [Pols emphasis] over our government operating exactly as Madison understood that it would?" Hayward said.

As readers know, we've taken a dim view of the years-long quest by University of Colorado President Bruce Benson to achieve "ideological balance" on the state's flagship university campus by recruiting politically conservative professors. With that in mind, we've defended the particular choice of Dr. Hayward for this position despite the fact that we consider the position itself needless and kind of silly. Whatever "affirmative action" may have been needed to bring Dr. Hayward to the CU campus, he is academically well qualified to be there.

But as for the argument Dr. Hayward making about Republicans and the recent shutdown, all we can say is that the public does not agree with his assessment. A recent poll shows that fully 77 percent of the public, including 3 out of 5 Republicans, disapprove of the GOP's handling of this latest round of budget negotiations. Hayward may be able to find some bit of rhetoric in the Federalist Papers to theoretically justify the GOP's recent fiscal brinkmanship, but the polls say he is arguing a minority opinion even among his fellow Republicans.

And with all due respect, that would seem to have limited educational value.

New video exposes “Amendment 66: The PERA Fiction”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Yes on 66 campaign released a video on Monday dubbed “The PERA Fiction” in response to the latest instance of an opponent repeating a widely discredited claim about how money raised for schools under Amendment 66 might be used.

The claim was recently made by political consultant Laura Carno during an appearance with Amendment 66 supporter Laura Chapin on The Denver Post’s video program “The Spot.”

“Colorado voters are smart enough to see through the scare tactics opponents are using,” said Yes on 66 Campaign Director Andrew Freedman. “New money raised for schools under Amendment 66 is constitutionally and statutorily prohibited from being used on anything but education reforms and program enhancements, and we’re happy to make that clear to voters.”

“We’re not agreeing to disagree. We’re saying that our opponents are wrong, period.”


Denver Post Helps Partisan Pollsters Fool You

The Denver Post's Kevin Simpson reports on a new poll from GOP-aligned polling firm Magellan Strategies. Not surprisingly, this poll shows this year's school finance initiative, Amendment 66, in "serious trouble."

A survey by Louisville-based Magellan Strategies found that only 7 percent of 600 likely voters said they were "extremely informed" about the proposed amendment, which would revise the way education funds are parceled out to school districts and put more money toward expanded kindergarten, preschool, at-risk students and English-language learners.

Focusing on the tax ramifications, which would provide for a two-step state income tax increase, the poll asked two questions. First, it asked one with minimal information about the amendment and then a second question with more detailed information about the proposed new tax structure.

To the general question, 44 percent indicated they would oppose the measure, compared with 38 percent in support and 18 percent undecided.

The margin against the measure widened with the more detailed question, as 52 percent said they opposed it to 38 percent in support and 10 percent undecided. [Pols emphasis]

Sounds pretty bad for the school finance initiative, doesn't it? That's in large part because the Post didn't tell its readers anything about who made this poll, or what it actually asked in the way of questions. For that rather vital part of the story, we must turn to FOX 31's Eli Stokols: