Woods’ Anti-Buckpedal Dance Deserves Media Scrutiny

Woods shares video opposing abortion for incest

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Sen. Laura Woods continues to differentiate herself from Colorado Republicans, like U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, who’ve tried to disavow their extreme anti-choice records–or dodge questions about abortion.

Woods, on the other hand, has embraced a personhood abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape and incestthroughout her political career, starting in the 2014 primary and general election and continuing at the Capitol, where she not only sponsored a abortion-ban legislation but also a bill requiring women to be offered an ultrasound prior to having an abortion (and also to wait 24 hours before having the procedure).

Today, as in July 21, 2016, the stakes are higher than ever. Woods’ district will likely determine control of Colorado state government, and Woods isn’t doing the Buckpedal–or whatever you want to call the dance senatorial candidate Ken Buck, Gardner and Coffman have performed as they tried to distance themselves from right-wing positions they’d taken during their careers.

Woods, a Republican from Westminster/Arvada, isn’t trying to hide her opposition to all abortion, even for incest, even though political observers say it will hurt her in November.

Take, for example, the video Woods shared on Facebook this week from LiveAction, a anti-choice group.

It shows a woman who’s asked the question, “Do you support aborting the child if it was a case of incest?” (at 2:55 here)

“Yeah,” she replies.

Then the woman is pictured watching a video of an abortion, which convinces her that abortion should not be allowed in cases of incest.

Woods does not return my calls, so I can’t talk to her about the video or whether she thinks her no-compromise stance against abortion, even for incest, will help her hold back a challenge from pro-choice Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in November.

But, judging from other interviews, it appears that Woods thinks she need not take middle-of-the-road positions to win in her swingiest of swing districts, where she won by 650 votes in the Republican wave year of 2014. She’s vowed to stand by her conservative principles.

Woods’ anti-Buckpedal dance, which you could call a form of political chest thumping, deserves more media scrutiny than it’s getting.

Pants on Fire: Politifact Shreds GOP SD-19 Mailer

chinagirlA new fact-check from Politifact Colorado’s Alan Gathright posted at Denver7 is most unkind to new mailers hitting in the pivotal SD-19 race in Arvada and Westminster, where an old and already proven false allegation against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger has apparently been recycled for the current election cycle:

For the second straight election, a conservative group has attacked a Democratic Colorado state Senate candidate with the same claim: “Rachel Zenzinger voted to use tax dollars to take a taxpayer-funded junket to China.”

In late June, political mailers started arriving at homes in the northwest Denver suburbs of Senate District 19. They featured a photoshopped image of a smiling Zenzinger wearing sunglasses with dollar signs on the lenses and an ornamental Asian bridge in the background…

The same group attacked Zenzinger for a taxpayer-backed junket to China in 2014. But just as before, there are key problems with these attacks.

“I’ve never been to China,” Zenzinger told PolitiFact. “I was joking to friends, believe me if I had been to China, I would have had so many pictures on Facebook they wouldn’t have to Photoshop my picture in the ads.” [Pols emphasis]

politifact%2Fphotos%2Ftom_ruling_pof_6Even better, and again this is all well-reported common knowledge after fact-checkers tore the claim apart in 2014:

Also, while on the Arvada City Council in 2013, Zenzinger made — and then voted for — a successful motion explicitly prohibiting use of taxpayer funds for a proposed sister-city delegation to China.

In short, not only is there zero truth to the allegation that Zenzinger “voted to use taxpayer funds to visit China,” everyone knew there was no truth to it two years ago. To reuse this debunked story in new attack mailers against Zenzinger strongly points to a conscious disregard for the truth in the state’s most important legislative race. It’s one thing to make stuff up, it’s another to keep using made-up stuff after it has been debunked.

That takes an additional degree of chutzpah.

It’s against the law in Colorado to make false statements in political communications, but the statute has proven notoriously difficult as a means of bringing actual charges–mostly because prosecutors are reluctant to criminalize such speech-related “political questions.” With that said, it’s pretty hard to argue that this lie was not knowing and deliberate, because it’s not a new lie. We’ll be interested in seeing if that makes a difference.

Ethics or Karma Catch up to Kevin McCasky

Former Jeffco Commissioner Kevin McCasky "resigns" from Jeffco EDC.

Former Jeffco Commissioner Kevin McCasky “resigns” from Jeffco EDC.

You might remember former Jefferson County Commissioner Kevin McCasky, who resigned midway through his second term in the Commissioner’s office in order to take a high-paying job with the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

McCasky had an ethically-questionable tenure in Jefferson County government. His departure from the Board of Commissioners was quintessential McCasky: On the way out the door, he left Jefferson County with (another) ethics complaint over his role in convincing the county to write a big check to the organization that he was leaving to direct (that ethics complaint was ultimately confirmed several years later).

As the Columbine Courier reports, McCasky’s shady past may have finally caught up to him:

An executive board member of the Jeffco Economic Development Corp. said simultaneous resignations of three high-level staffers were part of a restructuring.

Rob Osborn, a past chair of the EDC’s board of directors, said the departures of president and CEO Kevin McCasky, executive vice president Doug Bene and investor relations manager Lilly Daniels mark the first step in a downsizing of the Golden-based organization.

There’s another story here — the one you can easily read between the lines:

When asked whether funding partners were concerned about the changes, Osborn said most wanted to know how the EDC will move forward.

“Folks just understood that this was the best decision for Kevin (McCasky) at this time,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

The Jeffco EDC, a nonprofit that formerly was called the Jefferson Economic Council, received $300,000 in funding from Jefferson County in 2015, and a $5,000 membership fee from Jeffco Public Schools, according to the school district’s accountability website. It also receives funds from municipal governments in the county….

…McCasky resigned from Jeffco’s county commission in January 2011 to accept the top job at the EDC. The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission later ruled that McCasky violated state ethics laws by voting to approve $400,000 in county funding for the EDC while he was a candidate to become its president.

McCasky did not return calls for comment on this story.

Well, at least Jefferson County was able to continue to pay McCasky’s salary long after he left the government offices. That was nice.

“Tea Party” Tim Leonard Wins HD-25 Seat

That’s the word from Jefferson County’s Taj Majal this afternoon, where the political machine of U.S. Senate candidate and GOP grassroots leader Tim Neville has succeeding in winning the Colorado House seat of retiring Rep. Jon Keyser–Keyser, of course, resigning to take on Neville in the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate primary.

The appointment of Tim Leonard to succeed Jon Keyser, overwhelmingly and in the first round of balloting, is a huge win for the Jefferson County Neville political coalition. Leonard, a co-founder of the whackjob-friendly American Constitution Party willingly hijacked by Tom Tancredo in 2010, was far enough to the right to lose in SD-16 to Democrat Jeanne Nicholson in the Tea Party year that year but the party’s recent shift rightward under Neville’s influence has, if you will, brought Republicans to him.

In addition to Rep. Leonard making the Colorado General Assembly a very colorful place in the coming months, something Democrats will be happy to record for posterity, this win shows how the Neville machine is in full control of the party in the state’s most important suburban battleground.

And that is a story much bigger than Colorado House District 25.

Williams lashes out at ‘Liars and Cheats’ in Jeffco

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recalled Jeffco School Board member Julie Williams lashed out at Jeffco voters and others last month, writing on Facebook:

Williams: “Liars and Cheats and the majority of the people believed the rhetoric.”

Williams’ sour-grapes comment came after state data was released on the amount of money spent by state groups to recall Williams and other conservative school board members from office, prompting Williams to write, “Infuriating that being exposed does not mean anything.”

The data did not include figures for how much was spent by organizations that are exempt from disclosure and campaigned indirectly to try to keep Williams in office, despite her repeated gaffes and substantive flaws that even infuriated fellow conservatives.

Correction: This post initially stated that Americans for Prosperity did not disclose campaign spending. Some spending was disclosed.

Scrubbing Jeffco Schools Clean of Partisan Turd-Shiners

millerAs the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday, two of the more controversial expenditures approved by the outgoing right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board are swiftly going the way of the dodo following this month’s blowout recall election:

Brad Miller, the attorney hired by the conservative majority that was ousted in this month’s recall election, resigned this morning.

Miller was hired by the Jeffco board just a month after the November, 2013 election, a hiring that some have claimed violated the state’s open meetings law.

In his resignation email to board liaison Helen Neal, Miller cited the incoming school board’s desire to use the district’s legal counsel and statements by new board members that they would not need a private attorney…

As our readers will recall, the hiring of attorney Brad Miller by Jeffco Schools was hotly controversial, both due to his shady, very possibly illegal approval process, and his known-quantity status as an insider advocate for charter schools. According to the Denver Post’s report today, Miller’s contract stipulated $7,500 monthly for “services not to exceed 30 hours per month.” Nice work if you can get it!

Novitas' Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

Novitas’ Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

As Goodland continues at the Independent, Miller isn’t the only line-item from the old board’s tenure being shown the door:

Saturday, the school district posted a job opening for a chief communications officer. Those duties have been handled lately by Novitas Communications and Michelle Balch Lyng.

Novitas, a public-relations firm, was brought in last February, under a $50,000 five-month contract, to handle “supplemental communications duties.”

Novitas was hired by Lisa Pinto, who served as communications chief for less than six months. Pinto, an attorney with no background in public education communications, was deemed unqualified by the district search committee. Hired by Superintendent Dan McMinimee, she was frequently criticized for unprofessional behavior. After Pinto resigned, Lyng became the district’s chief spokesperson…

In retrospect, Novitas Communications’ service to Jefferson County Public Schools was an unqualified disaster. A solidly GOP-aligned public relations outfit staffed by local Republican usual suspects, Novitas was brought in to “supplement” the work of another longtime Republican Party communications flack, Lisa Pinto. Pinto’s lack of qualifications and by-all-accounts horrible interpersonal skills necessitated Novitas’ “help”–which ironically even more pointedly demonstrated Pinto’s uselessness, and hastened her departure a short while later under a considerable cloud.

But in the end, as is now a matter of history, Novitas couldn’t save the board majority that hired them.

Observers expect that the new Jeffco school board majority will work toward re-establishing the status quo ante in the district’s public relations office, using qualified district employees instead of high-priced contractors. Likewise with the board’s need for legal counsel. We haven’t heard if that future will include ex-Novitas GOP media operative Devan Crean, but we could certainly see how it might not.

The moral of the story: when your agenda for your organization is constructive instead of malicious, there’s less need for all that, you know, “outside help.”

Dems Take Aim At Laura Woods on Veterans Day


A press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund on a new ad (above) playing on cable in Senate District 19, the ultra-swing Jefferson County district held by hard-right Sen. Laura Waters Woods expected to play a central role in the Democratic strategy to retake the Colorado Senate in 2016:

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (DSCF), an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, launched an ad today highlighting State Senator Laura Woods’ hypocrisy on veteran’s issues. The ad was spurred by a recent Woods Facebook post about Veterans Day writing she supports veterans – “I am reminded I owe each veteran a debt I can never repay.” Woods can never repay because she repeatedly votes against veterans.

“Laura Woods does not get to call herself a patriot just because she posts a flag on Facebook or carries a sign in a parade. She’s playing politics with our veterans and it makes me sick to my stomach,” said Korean Era Veteran Dennis Larsen. Larsen explained, “I’m a veteran in Laura Woods’ district, and I want answers. Why has Laura voted against those of us who have put their lives on the line for our country?”

Beginning with Woods’ statement that she refers to herself as a, “liberty-minded patriot,” the ad outlines some of Woods’ harmful votes against veterans. This includes her vote against tax breaks for veterans (HB 15-1181), against in-state tuition for dependents of active duty military members who have attended school in Colorado (HB 15-1215), and her “no” vote on establishing employment services for veterans (HB 15-1030) seeking job training. The ad ends, “Laura Woods. What a hypocrite.”

“Laura needs to explain her record. Why did she vote against the majority of her party and against veterans? What would drive someone to vote for not taxing soft drinks (SB 15-274), but then vote to tax active duty service men and women (HB 15-1181),” said Andrew Short, Executive Director of the DSCF.

It’s a good ad that makes a number of hard-hitting points in rapid succession, and ends with a simple message: “what a hypocrite.” Taking advantage of the seasonal lull in political ads just after the election, it’s actually a very good time to plant messages on low-name ID downballot candidates like Sen. Laura Waters Woods–whose negatives Democrats hope will become her story ahead of 2016’s hottest state senate race.

As just these few votes demonstrate, they’ve got plenty to work with.

Why do Colorado Senate Republicans think it’s a good idea to attack Jeffco voters?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Control of the Colorado Senate swings in the balance next year, with the Democrats hoping to pick up one itsy bitsy state Senate seat and the Republicans clinging to a majority of one itsy bitsy Senate seat. And that seat is most likely in Jefferson County.

With this in mind, after last night’s uprising against conservatives in said Jefferson County, you’d think the Republicans’ official Senate Facebook page would speak in a humble tone, with an eye on the not-so-far-away-longer-term.

Instead, the Colorado Senate GOP lashed out at the Jeffco electorate, which, did I mention, will be voting again in just 12 months (or, about 364 days).

Here’s what the Colorado Senate GOP Facebook page had to say, in a statement that deserved wide coverage:

Parents not willing to support school reform get what they vote for — reform-resistant status quo schools run according to union shop rules. If that’s good enough for their kids, so be it. It’s the students, not the parents, who will live with the consequences.

Do Colorado Senate Republicans hope to hold their Jeffco swing districts with this attack line? Do they think attacking the Jeffco parents is a winning strategy for 2016?  It’s a legitimate question for reporters to put to Senate Republicans, given what they said today on Facebook.

Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee: Please Don’t Fire Me

THURSDAY UPDATE: As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports today, Jeffco school board victors are showing considerable magnanimity to Superintendent Dan McMinimee, at least for now and perhaps in part due to a hefty “golden parachute” worked into his contract signed with the outgoing board:

With the dust clearing on a tumultuous recall election in Jefferson County and a significant turnover on the Douglas County school board, newly elected leaders in both school districts spent Wednesday mapping out the future.

That included the future of Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee, whose compensation package was fuel for Tuesday’s successful recall effort. But the leader of the state’s second-largest school district won’t be shown the door anytime soon.

“If he’s willing to take direction from the board and is capable of implementing its policy, I don’t think he has anything to worry about,” said Brad Rupert, an Arvada attorney who will take over the seat of ousted board member Julie Williams.

All we can say is, that’s pretty big of them.

—–

Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

At 7:15PM last night, just after the election returns dumped in from Jefferson County showing victory for the recall campaign against the Jeffco school board majority, Superintendent Dan McMinimee, the highly controversial hire from conservative Douglas County that helped drive the recall campaign, sent out this contrite little message to school district employees:

With the polls now closed and the campaigns for our School Board concluded, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts with you.

I want to begin by thanking you all for keeping student growth, both academically as well as socially and emotionally, the focus of your daily efforts. Having visited over 70 schools so far this school year, I can assure our various communities that our school leaders, teachers, and staff are all working diligently to improve our practices that support student learning. I want to especially thank our school leaders for ensuring that we maintained a neutral position on the election and campaigns during the past few months. I know that you were often challenged by well-meaning stakeholders wanting to use our schools and communication channels for their particular campaign issues. I appreciate your efforts to make our community members feel respected while educating them on our need, as a system, to remain neutral.

It is important for all of us, as Jeffco employees, to recognize that elections, by their nature, have winners and losers. Our school communities often have both sides of an election represented in their schools and classrooms. It is vital that we acknowledge this reality and continue to maintain a neutral position on the outcome of the election… [Pols emphasis]

While we are of course not aware of any decision that has yet been made about McMinimee’s future as Jeffco Schools superintendent, the circumstances of his controversial hire–as well as his conduct as superintendent, working in what was by all accounts close concert with the right-wing board majority that was recalled from office yesterday–make it a fairly safe bet that McMinimee will not be in his $280,000 job for very much longer. The simple fact is that this was not a close election, and McMinimee’s position as superintendent was one of the chief points of contention in the recall campaign.

Maybe if he hadn’t embarrassed the district by chumping the governor of Colorado? Maybe if he hadn’t hired that totally incompetent political hack communications director? Maybe if he hadn’t threatened teachers with retaliation if they didn’t stop their meddling protests? Maybe if he had tried, at least tried, to stand up against the bullying of students in school board meetings?

Time to polish up that resumé, Dan. We’d say it’s back to P.E. class for you.

Earth-Shaking Jeffco Recall Victory Confounds Local Media

Jeffco recall supporters celebrate last night.

Jeffco recall supporters celebrate last night.

To kick off our recap of 2015’s biggest election in Colorado, last night’s landslide recall of the right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board, we’re skipping our feckless local media and going straight to the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss:

Voters in the Denver suburb of Jefferson County on Tuesday tossed out three conservative members in a recall vote that was marked by some $1 million in spending, including support for the incumbents from a Koch-backed organization. The school board earned national attention when the members in 2014 said the Advanced Placement U.S. History course was not patriotic enough and needed to be changed…

In Jefferson County, Julie Williams, Ken Witt and John Newkirk have been in office for two years. They won seats in 2013 on the five-member board and moved quickly to institute controversial school reforms, including a merit pay system for teachers and an educator evaluation system that used student test scores.

Public school activists charged that the three were part of a reform movement trying to privatize public education and started a recall effort that attracted national attention, including money from outside the state from partisans on both sides. Americans for Prosperity, the national organization founded by Charles and David Koch, contributed to the reformers, while unions supported their opponents. Some $1 million was believed to have been spent in the race, one of a few local elections around the country in which outside money played a role.

Jon Caldara.

Jon Caldara.

In the days leading up to the election in Jefferson County, conservative opponents of the recall led by activist firebrand Jon Caldara’s Independence Institute and national “astroturf” organizing group Americans for Prosperity pulled out all the proverbial stops in an attempt to re-energize the “Tea Party” electorate that had put this school board majority in power in 2013.

But it wasn’t just conservative groups: the local media showed distressing bias against the recall effort, both in editorial and “hard news” coverage. This bias was most evident in the continuous dismissal of the recall campaign as a “union effort” in supposedly objective news reports. High-visibility events like the “Boots on the Boulevard” protests along Wadsworth were ignored with no explanation. Then, just before Tuesday’s election, Denver’s highest-rated television news station 9NEWS apologized for a “Truth Test” of an anti-recall ad that conservative recall opponents didn’t like. The abject, debasing apology offered by Kyle Clark for that “Truth Test” simply doesn’t make sense given the difference of interpretation over Superintendent Dan McMinimee’s salary their supposed “error” boiled down to.

Because 9NEWS has a reputation for not being anyone’s squish, we’re quite curious to know who was able to ring their proverbial bell this way. It was out of character to say the least.

Today, there’s plenty of blame to go around for this lopsided defeat that the local press didn’t see coming: Caldara’s shameless exploitation of the children of school board members in campaign ads, including Julie Williams’ special-needs son, should be remembered as a ugly low point in our state’s political history that rightfully backfired. Overall, Caldara’s brash style of emotional manipulation and unapologetically devious tactics was powerfully repudiated in yesterday’s elections. AFP’s vaunted field operations came up totally empty. “Independent” local pundits the press relies on like Floyd Ciruli and Eric Sondermann revealed themselves as fundamentally clueless about the electorate on which they were pontificating.

As our state’s foremost bellwether suburban population center, what happened last night in Jefferson County is hugely prophetic for the direction of Colorado politics. Democrats have finally broken the curse of off-year elections going famously badly for them, and established critical momentum going into next year’s general election in a county whose voters can swing the entire state. Without a doubt, Democratic campaigns at every level of American politics are looking at these results and thinking big.

As for our local media? They can either tell the story of this new reality, or be left behind by it.

Election Night Open Thread

You may begin…

Jefferson County Election Results

♦ Colorado Election Results (via Secretary of State’s Office)

♦ Denver Post results page

—–
UPDATE #3: After getting off to a scary start, Proposition BB (Marijuana taxes) has rebounded:

Proposition BB
YES: 510,953 (66.51%)
NO: 257,264 (33.49%)

—–
UPDATE #2: The closest race of the night might be in Lakewood, where the race for the next Mayor is neck-and-neck:

Adam Paul: 17,217 (50.09%)
Ramey Johnson: 17,153 (49.91%)

—–
UPDATE #1: First batch of numbers are out in Jefferson County, and the recall is well on its way to becoming a runaway winner…

Jefferson County School District Open Seats:

District 3
Ali Lasell: 74,749 (57.95%)
Kim Johnson: 54,245 (42.05%)

District 4
Amanda Stevens: 85,037 (67%)
Tori Merritts: 42,324 (33%)

 

Recall Election
District 1 (Julie Williams)
YES: 96,160 (64.4%)
NO: 53,178 (35.6%)

District 2 (John Newkirk)
YES: 94,871 (63.8%)
NO: 53,841 (36.2%)

District 5 (Ken Witt)
YES: 95,509 (64.38%)
NO: 52,848 (35.6%)

Poll: Will The Jeffco School Board Majority Be Recalled?

Embattled Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Embattled Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

This year’s biggest election in Colorado is only open to voters residing in the Jefferson County R-1 School District, which includes Jefferson County and a small portion of the City and County of Broomfield. Voters in this district are deciding on a recall of three right-wing majority members of the Jefferson County Board of Education: Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams, in addition to two open seats previously held by progressive retiring board members Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper.

Please vote in our unscientific poll below. Remember as always that we’re not looking for your preference, we want you to tell us what you actually think will happen tomorrow when the polls close and votes are finally counted.

(more…)

Witt says Jeffco teachers “bring students” (pawn-like) into Jeffco recall fight

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

On KNUS 710-AM’s Weekend Wakeup with Chuck Bonniwell and July Hayden Saturday, embattled Jeffco School Board Chair Ken Witt continued his attack on Jeffco teachers and students, saying that students are essentially pawns, “brought into this kind of thing” to advance the agenda of teachers and unions.

Questioned by Hayden, Witt said:

Witt: It’s absolutely the case that passions run high in education. And it’s unfortunate when our educators get involved in the passion, and bring students into it, instead of keeping it outside and the dialogue outside the school grounds… The unfortunate fact is that as these kinds of dialogues happen about education, particularly the union, brings those who are actually delivering the education into the fray, if you will. Unfortunately, there is some spillover into the classrooms. And of course it’s never appropriate for our students to be brought into this kind of a thing.

Bonniwell: Well, the children are pawns…

Witt: Yeah. It is unfortunate.

The accusation that students and others in Jeffco are pawns of the teachers’ unions, or somehow brought into the debate agains their will, is demonstrably false, as everyone knows after seeing the spontaneous protests against Witt, Williams, and Newkirk’s policies.

Why Witt keeps saying it, particuarly as he’s fighting to save his seat on the Jeffco Board is beyond me, because it damages him. It insults the intelligence of the students and community.

Listen to the entire interview below, where he discusses this and other issues in more detail, even citing a instance when he says his kid was bullied:

(more…)

List of Ballot Drop-Off Locations in Jefferson County

If you still have not returned your mail ballot for the 2015 election, you should head to a ballot drop-off site. Remember: Ballots must be received by the County Clerk no later than 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Ballots that are postmarked before Nov. 3 but received after 7:00 will not be counted.

Go to GoVoteColorado.com to check your voter registration status or to print out a sample ballot. You can also check out JustVoteColorado.org for more information. For more details on local school board elections, check out ProgressNow Colorado’s voter guide.

If you are a Jefferson County voter, you can view a list of ballot drop-off locations after the jump…

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Floyd Ciruli: The Tweedle-Dum of Colorado Politics

Floyd Ciruli.

Floyd Ciruli.

We took note a couple of weeks ago when an often-quoted “independent” Colorado political pundit, former SE2 principal Eric Sondermann, had what can be best described as a sexist meltdown via Twitter during the Democratic presidential debate–deploring Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s “cackle” of a laugh, and suggesting that she and opponent Bernie Sanders “adjourn to a room upstairs” after Sanders came to Clinton’s defense.

Despite a wealth of eloquent opinionmakers available to ring for comment at any time in Colorado politics, some who might actually be plausibly considered “independent” for the purposes of fair-minded journalism, there’s a disturbing lazy tendency among local political reporters to rely heavily on two middle-aged white dudes whose opinions tend to be anything but “independent” (or, for that matter, “informed” or “useful”). We’re referring of course to the aforementioned Eric Sondermann and 9NEWS “analyst” Floyd Ciruli, who we affectionately call the “Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum of Colorado politics.”

The latest example of Ciruli’s special brand of “independent” skullduggery occurred on this weekend’s edition of Balance of Power. A show that often features some of the more insightful political reporting to be had on Denver TV, Sunday’s broadcast turned into an upsettingly slanted look at the Jefferson County school board recall. It didn’t help that host Brandon Rittiman and education reporter Nelson Garcia invoked the word “union” in just about every sentence, to the point of using the word as a substitute for actually explaining what they’re talking about. But Ciruli’s over-the-top union bashing dragged the conversation into downright silliness. In Ciruli’s view, neighborhood schools are “union-run schools,” and “fundamentally” the recall election is all about the evil teacher’s union’s desire to stop every good thing happening in education today.

Apparently it doesn’t matter a bit that the union and the school board signed a contract.

Considering the parents and other stakeholders that have no “union” affiliations whatsoever and are the faces of the recall campaign, and the fact that while some by no means all, or even a majority of funding for the recall campaign is from unions, yesterday’s Balance of Power was a bizarre capitulation to one side’s talking points. For all the respect we have for the reporters involved, it was not 9NEWS’ best work.

But for Floyd Ciruli, who may have run the Colorado Democratic Party back when they lost every election but today is a wholesale shill for very much un-democratic interests, it was par for the course.