Attorney: Arguments to SCOTUS in baker case will allege bias of CO Civil Rights Commission

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nicole Martin, the Alliance for Defending Freedom attorney who has represented Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, appeared Denver’s KNUS radio Thursday, September 7, to update listeners on preparations for the highly anticipated hearing of arguments in Phillips’ case by the United States Supreme Court in the coming months.

Speaking with show hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden, Martin highlighted developments surrounding the case since the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and subsequent court appeals ruled against Phillips, who refused services in 2012 to a gay couple requesting a wedding cake for their matrimony celebration.

Martin explained how these developments have steered her legal team’s strategy and tactics in preparing to argue Phillips’ defense to the Supreme Court.

One evolution in the ADF case is to claim that Phillips faced a biased Civil Rights Commission, which demonstrated a prejudice against people of faith. In her radio appearance, Martin points to a statement made by Commissioner Diann Rice:

“So, we pointed out to the court — […] when we were trying to get the stay of that Colorado Civil Rights Commission order while the appeal and the Colorado Court of Appeals was pending, she revealed herself to be openly hostile and biased toward people of faith when she compared Mr. Phillips – whose father was a World War II vet and helped liberate one of the first concentration camps – when she compared Mr. Phillips and his assertion of his First Amendment rights to slaveholders and Nazis. So, we focused on that.”

Rice’s actual statement, however, appears to be a broad, historical observation, framing the root of the debate.

At issue is whether equal protections for the couple, guaranteed under public accommodation laws, supersede Phillips’ claim to his First Amendment rights, which his legal team has framed in terms of religious liberty and artistic expression. Phillips’ devout Christian beliefs were cited in his refusal to sell gay wedding cakes.

Right wing online news outlets have widely cited Rice’s comments as proof of bias against people of faith in general, and against Phillips in particular.

In July 2014, while announcing the commission’s decision to stay the order against Phillips, Rice made the following statement:

“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Another development which Martin believes will bolster Phillips’ case came from the activism of a Christian radio host and provocateur from Castle Rock named Bill Jack, who, in response to the original ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop, solicited cakes with anti-gay messages and imagery from bakeries.  Jack filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission when those bakeries refused his request.

Martin explained how Bill Jack’s case, in which the commission ruled against his complaint, will be used in arguments to the Court:

“So we did beef up the brief extensively, based on that blatant double standard that it depends on […] who the message speaker is.”

Interestingly, in an interview from April 2015, Bill Jack made his own Nazi comparison from the other side of the debate, saying he believed the Civil Rights Commission were “acting like the Nazis. They are acting like those who want to re-educate the public,” referring to the commission’s order that Masterpiece Cakeshop rewrite company policy to comply with lawful, non-discriminatory practices.

Martin’s appearance on KNUS coincided with the filing of amicus curiae briefs – or, “friend of the court” briefs — in the Supreme Court case.

When Hayden inquired who had authored amicus briefs in support of Phillips’ case, Martin replied that she didn’t know specifically, but the list of supporters was long.  The only amicus author she mentioned was The Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After Martin’s interview aired, it was revealed that the United States Department of Justice, led by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had filed a brief in support of Phillips’ defense.

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Callers and hosts rip Senator Cory Gardner on conservative talk radio

U.S. Sen Cory Gardner (R-CO) is taking heat from conservative talk radio hosts and listeners on Colorado talk radio, following his strong statements condemning white supremacy in light of a violent “Unite the Right” rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one counter-protestor was killed and many more were injured.

In a survey of Colorado voters earlier this month, Public Policy Polling revealed that Cory Gardner’s approval rating has fallen to 24%, which positions the junior Senator from Colorado – who also chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee – 16 points below President Trump’s rating in the same poll.

That result should have caused some consternation among the Colorado GOP and national Republican operatives. Gardner’s position as NRSC Chairman, his pivotal role in supporting multiple attempts to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act, his staunch public commentary in response to North Korean threats, and his loyalty to Trump’s legislative agenda and cabinet picks gave the impression that his favorability with Colorado conservatives was solid.

But as bad as the polling results are for him, things may have just gotten worse for Gardner among conservatives.

Gardner has been under pressure from constituents to hold in-person town hall meetings to address healthcare reform and other issues which Republican controlled Congress and the Trump administration have slated on their agendas. He held three town hall meetings on Tuesday, after a 16 month town hall hiatus, where he repeated his condemnation of white supremacy.

Beginning last Saturday and culminating in an off-script contentious exchange at a press conference Tuesday, President Trump has issued equivocating statements regarding which side (or sides) were responsible for the violence, and asserting a moral equivalency between the white nationalists and counter-protestors.

Gardner’s original tweet condemning racism following Trump’s Saturday comments is apparently where the Senator got sideways with some of Trump’s base in Colorado.

On at least two Colorado conservative talk radio shows on Monday, August 14, hosts and listeners calling into the show revealed their frustrations with Gardner.

From Monday’s edition of the Richard Randall Show (KVOR, 740am in Colorado Springs):

CALLER:  Cory Gardner –I’m not going to denounce this guy, but I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to vote for the guy! Nor will I vote for any other politician who is pouncing on the opportunity to throw rocks at President Trump. Again, he said the right things.

HOST RICHARD RANDALL:  […] You know, Cory Gardner has been noticeably absent, by and large, from media here in Colorado, unless he knows it’s going to be softballs. He’s been invited to be on the program numerous times. My feeling is, I don’t see a lot of support for Donald Trump coming from Cory Gardner. I don’t know if that’s a personal belief, or whether it’s a political calculation that in order to be reelected in Colorado he needs to not do that sort of thing. Or it’s political calculation that somebody tells him, “Well, you need to call on stronger language from Trump because that’s what everybody’s doing so if you want to be like –.”  I mean, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I know this. I haven’t seen much support of Trump from Cory Gardner. And I see him, on the first opportunity he can, pouncing on this President. It — it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And, from the same day on Randall’s show:

CALLER:  Hey, Richard! Thanks for taking my call. I know I only have a few seconds. But, when injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty. And I’m telling you, they’re taking history away from people, and this is what is causing it. And people like Andrew Cohen or Cory Gardner – first of all, Cory Gardner should be recalled. Anybody that doesn’t, you know, participates in this hatred, I think they should be recalled, investigated, and see if Cory Gardner is getting paid by George Soros.

Randal also shared a text message on-air from another listener:

RANDALL:  This comes in by text. It says: “I was a ‘never-Trumper’, but this is ridiculous! Republicans like Gardner will not get another dime (dollar sign) or vote from me! I am changing my affiliation today!

Later that afternoon, on the Chuck & Julie Show (KNUS, 710am in Centennial) there was a similar evaluation of Senator Cory Garnder:

HOST, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR, AND PUBLISHER OF THE GLENDALE CHERRY CREEK CHRONICLE, CHUCK BONNIWELL:  Is Cory Gardner the biggest little snake you’ve ever seen in your life?

CALLER, TOM: Oh, man! I – that guy!

BONNIWELL:  He’s revolting.

CALLER:  I don’t know how we get rid of that guy.  But –.

[…]

BONNIWELL:  I went through the Internet to find anything Cory Gardner said about the Micah Johnson, who shot and killed five police officers [in Dallas last July]. Not a peep from that little creep.  […]Hey, [you’re a] great caller, Tom, and a great American. And you agree with me, so–. Thanks so much for calling!

Then, later in the same show, Mr. Bonniwell interrupted his co-host and wife, journalist Julie Hayden:

BONNIWELL:  Before you go into that, I just want to declare my utter disgust [with] –and revulsion to — Cory Gardner.

HAYDEN:  Yes!

BONNIWELL:  What an awful human being!  What a scum ball!  I look back – I mean, he’s condemning Trump because he didn’t call a particular person ‘evil’. Really! And I forgot, when Micah Johnson gunned down five police officers in Dallas, I went to the internet. I don’t see one peep of Cory Gardner calling on Obama to reject it. And Obama gave some kind of, “Oh, well, we shouldn’t incite racial hatred” – nothing against Black Lives Matter, nothing!  This guy is a total squirrel—

HAYDEN:  Pandering, right!

BONNIWELL:  –a total amoral squirrel. He’s revolting and I’m ashamed that he is my Senator.

HAYDEN:  He should be ashamed of himself.

Colorado Talk Radio Host Discusses Her Own Fox News Harassment Experience

(Fox News scandal comes home? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Krista Kafer.

Colorado’s conservative pundits are not a monolith when it comes to discussing recent allegations of a corporate culture at Fox News which allegedly enabled years of sexual harassment by high-profile leaders and personalities at the network.

Take Colorado Springs’ syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin and KNUS 710-AM talk radio host Krista Kafer as two examples on the spectrum of conservative opinion.

On Colorado conservative talk radio this week, Krista Kafer recounted a personal story from 2011, involving “a very powerful, very wealthy” Fox News contributor, whom she met at a conference for which she was volunteering.

The man in question offered to meet informally with Kafer over coffee to discuss helping her transition from a career in technical writing to “public writing.” But Kafer was stunned when, later that evening, he suggested, “When this is all over, why don’t you come to my hotel room?”

Kafer said that at that point, she left the function because:

“Suddenly, I felt despair. Here is somebody I thought was interested in my career. Turned out, that wasn’t his interest at all. […] It’s creepy! He’s married.”

Late that evening, the same man called Kafer and left a voicemail, again inviting her to his hotel room. “I was horrified, right?” recounted Kafer.

Co-host, Steve Kelley, interrupted Kafer’s recounting to ask, “What were you wearing at the time? Were you being provocative or flirtatious in any way?”

Kafer spoke about the personal impact of this experience, which included feeling deceived, demeaned, disgusted, used, and objectified. She related subsequent feelings of self-doubt where, in disbelief and shock, she initially second-guessed her own interpretation of what had happened.

When the man called her again months later, asking why she hadn’t answered his late night phone call, Kafer explained she was confused about his intentions. He claimed to have only innocent intentions. Kafer offered to meet the man again to discuss her career change:

“[He said,] ‘Oh, I don’t think I can make that happen.’ But before he hung up he asked me, ‘Uh, have you told anyone about that?’”

That’s when Kafer says she knew that her suspicions were confirmed.

After the Fox and O’Reilly stories broke recently, Kafer said she considered going public and identifying the man, because:

“I do think there is a foul abscess of rotten culture, apparently, at Fox News – of which a lot of people are not a part, I have no doubt. […] This stuff needs to be exposed and shamed, so it doesn’t happen anymore.”

Kafer has since decided not to identify the man. She cites how the resulting publicity might adversely impact her credibility as a commentator and analyst— shifting focus from her experience, expertise, and accomplishments to project ulterior motives upon her—as one of the reasons she decided not to identify the man in her story.

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Colorado Springs City Council Candidate Talks About Campaign Complaints

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last Sunday, conservative talk radio host Tron Simpson of KVOR’s Weekend Talk with Tron, interviewed Colorado Springs City Council candidate for District 5, Lynette Crow-Iverson, to discuss her position on issues related to the city, and to address the issue of a criminal complaint filed with the El Paso District Attorney against her campaign by her opponent, incumbent city council member, Jill Gaebler.

Gaebler, who also serves as an Executive Board Member of the Colorado Municipal League, maintains that the Crow-Iverson campaign misrepresented Gaebler’s voting record at CML, falsely stating in a campaign mailer to constituents that Gaebler had voted with other CML board members to oppose a controversial bill introduced in the legislature by State Representative Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs), which would create criminal and civil penalties for politicians and government workers who are deemed uncooperative with strict policy guidelines proposed by the bill for identifying, detaining, and turning over undocumented residents to federal immigration authorities…

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CO Attorney General Coffman files suit in support of Oil & Gas Commission, will not “indulge” Boulder County

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

On Tuesday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman appeared on KDMT’s (1690am) Business for Breakfast with host Jimmy Sengenberger  to announce her intention to intervene in a dispute between Boulder County and the state Oil and Gas Commission.

Coffman has decided to file a lawsuit – seeking a permanent injunction– to end Boulder County’s five-year-old moratorium on oil and gas development, which was instituted in February 2012 and continued via extensions approved by the Boulder County Commission.

The moratorium and subsequent extensions were passed with the intention to “allow them time to develop new regulations in their county and prepare to accept new applications for oil and gas development in Boulder County” Coffman explained.

While other local communities have instituted similar moratoriums – specifically in Longmont, which prompted a Colorado Supreme Court ruling in May 2016 that found a moratorium lasting two-and-a-half years is too long — Boulder’s moratorium is uniquely the only one statewide which remains in place.

Sengenberger inquired as to how the Attorney General arrived at the decision to file suit.  In her response, Coffman confirmed that the decision is discretionary to her office, but seemed to be triggered by a “magic number”.

HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER:  […] Is this a choice you’re able to make, sort of, with your own discretion, or is this something that would be required for you to move forward with, as Attorney General?

COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, I suppose I could ignore it–the fact that a local community is violating state law – but I don’t think that is a wise or responsible thing for me to do as Attorney General.  […]  So, for five years they’ve just continued to extend their moratorium.  Their last extension was in December of last year.  And attorneys for the Oil and Gas Commission told them at that point and in public hearings, “Look, you’re violating the law and the Supreme Court rulings in cases involving Longmont and Fort Collins — that were directly on point – in May of 2016 and said, ’Communities, you can’t do this any longer.’”     Boulder is the only one that continues to say “no”, and to lock down any new applications for oil and gas development, which hit the five-year mark – which is sort of the magic number as far as we are concerned in our office.  And that was last week.  And we just said, “All right.  This is enough.” We can’t continue to indulge Boulder in taking more time to write regulations, [as Boulder is continuing to request].

Later in the interview, the Attorney General also pre-emptively defended against charges of doing the bidding on behalf of the Oil and Gas Commission of Colorado, which inexplicably are not filing the lawsuit directly, despite their position with standing and their previous involvement in the case.

Coffman stated to Sengenberger that her direct involvement was driven by a number of considerations, including the long history [of oil and gas industry] in Colorado bringing well-paying jobs to the state which have fueled our economy, and protecting Colorado’s reputation as “business friendly” by enforcing parity and predictability in policy.

Journalist David Sirota, in his International Business Times article on Coffman’s intervention in the Boulder County dispute, reviewed reports and analyses of campaign finance disclosures which show steep increases in campaign contributions in 2014 and 2016 Colorado races from oil and gas donors.  The implication is that Coffman directly and indirectly benefitted from the influence of oil and gas campaign donations, and therefore her rationale is subject to scrutiny.

Further coverage of Attorney General Coffman’s interview can be found in the Coloradopolitics.com blog piece, linked here.

Owen Hill advocates for less local control in school funding, less accountability for teacher licensing

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Owen Hill.

State Senator Owen Hill, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, appeared on KNUS last Saturday to discuss upcoming legislation which will impact school funding and licensure for Colorado teachers.

Earlier in same “Weekend Wakeup” show, hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden featured another guest, Stacy Rader, from the Colorado League of Charter Schools.  Both Rader and Sen. Hill advocated in favor of legislation that would mandate equal sharing of all tax revenues between public schools and charter schools, which receive public funding but are independently operated.

Sen. Hill and Rader also oppose possible legislation that would mandate that teachers in publicly funded schools be licensed by the state.

While Senator Hill maintained that there is bipartisan support for the equal funding proposal, the interviews with him and Rader revealed that lawmakers may not be in agreement that these two categories of schools operate under the same rules and laws governing their accountability and transparency, and that funding is discriminately unfair to charters.

Despite the differences in management, accountability, and oversight,  Owen Hill and Vader work hard to frame both categories of schools as “public”.  They appear to want to blur the lines of distinction between them for funding purposes, but insist on distinguishing them for purposes of teacher accountability.

It gets confusing when charter advocates demand local and independent control for charters, but reject state-wide mandates for accountability and oversight of teachers.  Yet, at the same time, they reject the current laws which allow local districts to fund their schools according to the needs and demands of their communities.

COLORADO STATE SENATOR AND CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, OWEN HILL:  Absolutely.  We’ve got a bipartisan opportunity here. We have two kind of main categories of our public schools in Colorado.  We have the traditional neighborhood schools, and then we have public charter schools.  So when you hear about people going to charter school, these are all public schools as well.  But sadly, there are many districts in Colorado that don’t share the tax dollars — the property tax dollars or the bonding money — they don’t share that money equally with these public charter schools.  […]  So, when you pay your taxes to the state, you know, every April, those are all shared equally.  But when you write that check for your property taxes — usually it will come out of your mortgage — that property tax money, that is not shared equally.  And many districts are saying they are going to fund public charters at about 75 to 80% of the other traditional charter — [correcting himself] or  traditional public schools.  And so we need to honor our constitution and say, “Every single one of the public school students will be treated equally and fairly.”  That’s what our bill will do this year.  […] We give our local school boards the opportunity to determine how that funding is shared.  And sadly, many of these local school boards have this — uh, they kind of treat the public charters like a, uh, inferior—

BONNIWELL: Red-headed, left-handed stepchild.  Yeah.

HILL:  There you go, that’s exactly right.

Following the discussion on equal funding for charter schools, host Chuck Bonniwell questioned Hill about a possible teacher licensing mandate, which seemed to dismiss pedagogical study and training, while conflating advanced degrees in different subject areas with a person’s ability and expertise to understand and implement proven, effective, developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom.

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In CD3 race, Schwartz and Tipton radio interviews reveal contrasts on public land management positions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gail Schwartz.

Gail Schwartz.

During separate interviews broadcast last Wednesday on KSJD (91.5 FM, Cortez), host Austin Cope questioned the two major party candidates running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) and former legislator and CU Regent, Democrat Gail Schwartz from Crested Butte. Their answers highlighted one of the more contentious issues emanating from the coverage of their race: Schwartz’s attacks on Tipton’s record in protecting and managing federal lands in Colorado, and Tipton pushing back by characterizing her attacks as misleading or untrue.

In recent weeks, the CD3 race has gained unexpected attention, with a volatile campaign landscape in an unconventional and somewhat unpredictable presidential cycle, attracting late and significant increases in political spending from Colorado entities and out-of-state sources.

Schwartz has benefited from a surge in momentum in a district where Republicans were previously heavily favored.

The candidates’ contrasting policy positions on public land management have been highlighted in reporting and endorsements from an array of Western Slope and front range media outlets, including The Daily SentinelThe Durango Herald, Real Vail, The Pueblo Chieftain, The Colorado Independentand Colorado Public Radio.  

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Jeffco Conservative School Board Insults Parents by Omission on Talk Radio

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: The hits keep coming for conservative Jeffco school board member John Newkirk, 9NEWS reporting this afternoon:

During a public hearing Tuesday evening to discuss the proposed budget for next year, Jefferson County School Board member John Newkirk made a comparison that some are calling offensive…

Newkirk wants the district to increase funding to charter schools to make funding more equal compared to district schools.

Scott Kwasny with the Jefferson County Education Association shot video of the meeting Tuesday night and provided a clip to 9News with Newkirk’s comments.

“We had a diversity day at Evergreen High School that I attended last month, and one of the people we heard from was a lady from the Deep South,” Newkirk said during the hearing. “She is African-American, and she spoke of growing up there in the 60s and how certain people would be treated differently from others just because of their skin color, and that thought was so foreign to me. It just made me just shake my head and go ‘what were they thinking?’ And, I think we almost have a metaphor here at this moment. Why would the district discriminate and say that certain students would be worth less than others just based on where they choose to go school? So, this is a quintessential what were we thinking moment here. This district has the opportunity here to validate that inequity by not working upon it.”

Got that? Being a charter school student is like being black in the 1960s Deep South.

Backpedal time, Mr. Newkirk.

—–

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Activist parents of Jefferson County Public Schools students don’t rate a mention with conservative school board members and radio talk show hosts, when discussing the future of district schools, teachers, students and programming. 

In fact, if you take the words of Krista Kafer and Jeffco board member John Newkirk at face value– from their interview on the Dan Caplis show on 710 KNUS, on Monday, May 25– the only players with any stake or voice in the debate are “childish” teachers, “useful idiot” students, paternalistic board members, and self-righteous radio hosts.

Smells like desperation, to me – a desperate attempt to minimalize the force and action of dedicated and commited parents’ organizing and sacrifice, to bring accountability to board members who do not represent their interests. 

Kafer and Newkirk disingenuously call for an “adult debate”, while chiding teachers and mischaracterizing their alleged participation as “disgusting”, “mean”,  “vicious” and “bad examples” for students.  And they try to demonize activist unity as blind allegiance to the teachers union and more incredulously, to a universal rejection of performance pay. Even if this were true, which it’s not, it’s based on the false premise that Jeffco rejected performance incentives in previous negotiations.

I’d be insulted, too, were I a concerned parent in Jeffco.  Conflating the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum review protests as an extension of contract negotiations, trying to blame teachers for the collective irreverence of Twitter and social media, and portraying a massive rally of first amendment expression as, in Newkirk’s quip below, “Occupy Wadsworth” only serves to further marginalize and stir the hive of Jeffco parents and voters. 

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Peter Boyles Critiques Local Coverage of the Hudak Recall Effort, as Only Peter Boyles Can

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the heated battle and drama surrounding the efforts to recall Colorado State Senator Evie Hudak, accusations of malfeasance and misrepesentation have been thrown back and forth, a gubernatorial candidate has proffered obscene gestures, and local news outlets have entered the fray to parse out the truth and report on the contentious issues raised by the two sides.

Never the wallflower, KNUS 710AM radio talk show host, Peter Boyles, has become the media point man for the Recall organization, hosting the organizers Mike McAlpine and Laura Waters in daily appearances for updates and rallying cries. As you might guess, the tone of the show these days is combative and loud.

When KDVR Fox 31's reporter Eli Stokols and KCNC CBS4 Denver's Shaun Boyd ventured into Arvada and Westminster to report on the Recall and efforts to thwart it, they were not spared from Mr. Boyles cutting criticism and confrontation.

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USA Today Misleads with Hickenlooper Headline –should read: “Hick Asks Reporter Why NRA Gets a Pass”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reporter Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief at USA Today, and her editors apparently need our help.

So, here is a challenge I pose to readers: Please watch Page’s interview with John Hickenlooper and suggest a headline which fairly represents the content of our Colorado Governor’s remarks, while highlighting the most newsworthy and attention grabbing aspects.

My guess is that your best amateur efforts will exceed the misleading and misrepresentative headline waving over the video interview posted Monday morning on the USA Today’s online “Washington Download” program. I mean, did Hickenlooper actually give the NRA and gun-rights groups an endorsement for unilateral and uncontested access to Colorado voters, as the USA Today headline suggests?

The interview covered a range of timely topics, including the roll-out of the Colorado Health Care Exchanges, the government shutdown and its effects on Colorado’s flood recovery, and Hickenlooper's prospects for re-election to the governor’s office and ambitions for higher office. Any of those topics could produce a worthy headline.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s accept that Colorado’s gun laws passed during the last legislative session and the resulting recall elections in El Paso and Pueblo Counties, along with the latest recall attempt initiated in Senate District 19, are prime topics to highlight in an attention grabbing and timely headline. A month after the recalls, they are still relevant and reverberating across our local media landscape and beyond. News from the recalls convey the controversy which the competitive, market driven media industry and consumers of news love.

So, in constructing our salacious headline, let’s focus on that section of the interview.

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PERA News Undermines Treasurer Stapleton and Talk Show Hosts’ Message of “Fantasy” Projections

The news out of Public Employees’ Retirement Association today is good news for Colorado and Coloradoans.

PERA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report announced a realized 12.9% return on investments for 2012, and a 22 year average of 10%. This return outpaced PERA’s projection which had been set at 8%.

However, for Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and his sycophantic chorus of talk radio hosts, the news undermines a centerpiece of their talking points.

Since taking office in 2011, Stapleton has been making the rounds of right-wing talk radio shows, inciting GOP and Tea Party posses with predictions of looming financial Armageddon due to an unsustainable pension system for Colorado’s public employees. Without a squeak of protest from his hosts, he asserts the root of the problem to be unfunded liabilities resulting from the PERA board’s unrealistic projection on the rate of returns for their investments.

Here’s an exchange with Jon Caldara on Devil’s Advocate from November 2011:

Walker Stapleton: In Colorado, we have set an expectation that people will be guaranteed effectively an 8% rate of return on the investments that the pension fund makes over a 30 year time period.

Jon Caldara: Eight percent?!

Stapleton: Eight percent. So —

Caldara: Wait, wait, wait, slow down, here! Because I’m not a financial genius on this, but I’ve been looking at my 401K plan and it’s not getting anywhere close to 8% — more like negative 8%. But it doesn’t seem that 8% as a guaranteed rate of return has anything to do with reality. Does it?

Stapleton: Right. I don’t believe that it does. And if you look, you know, markets go up and markets go down. We’ve witnessed the stock market lose more than five percent in one week alone this year. So to guarantee a 8% rate of return is a very difficult benchmark to achieve […]

Caldara: Am I wrong, or is this just fantasy […]?

Fantasy? Apparently not. Despite a desperately challenging economic climate for investments since 2008, PERA has proved to be a capable and responsible steward of the retiree’s assets. Sound decision-making based on actuarial data and smart investment strategies have quelled the hyperbolic fearmongering on talk shows, for now.

Perhaps we should just feel thankful that talk show hosts aren’t managing our portfolios. Their “realistic” rate of return would miss the mark of actual earnings by a factor of ten. On Grassroots Radio last year, hosts Ken Clark and Jason Worley, along with their guest, CO Senate candidate Dave Piggot, scoffed at PERA’s projections.

Ken Clark: […] You tell me where on this planet right now anybody can get an 8% return.

Jason Worley: Guaranteed.

Dave Pigott: [laughs] I can’t do it. I don’t know where you can get near 8% rate, unless you work for a payday lender, or you are on the receiving side of VISA or MasterCard.

Clark: Guido and Rocco—

Worley: Yeah, there might be some loan sharks out there who—

Clark: Guido and Rocco, I think, are getting about 8% but that’s about it. There isn’t any place you can go. We just talked about in our very first segment how the market and this last week has lost all of the 2012 games. You think the mutual funds are doing well? You think Oppenheimer is really having a great day? I don’t think so.

Worley: Do you think that all the money that PERA has out there invested—

Clark: […] oh yeah! PERA just took a hit as well. If you want a guaranteed rate of return, you’re talking 1.2%.

Projections are not guaranteed, granted. But PERA realized returns above the short- and long-term projections. For that, we should all be happy.

Considering the optimistic indications, perhaps Stapleton, Caldara, Worley, and Clark will reform their message to a more upbeat, accurate representation of reality. But then again, considering the ideology that drives them, perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.

 

PERA News Undermines Stapleton, Talk Radio Message of “Fantasy” Projections

Promoted by Colorado Pols — The sky may not be falling after all. Again.

The news out of Public Employees’ Retirement Association today is good news for Colorado and Coloradoans.

PERA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report announced a realized 12.9% return on investments for 2012, and a 22 year average of 10%. This return outpaced PERA’s projection which had been set at 8%.

However, for Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and his sycophantic chorus of talk radio hosts, the news undermines a centerpiece of their talking points.

Since taking office in 2011, Stapleton has been making the rounds of right-wing talk radio shows, inciting GOP and Tea Party posses with predictions of looming financial Armageddon due to an unsustainable pension system for Colorado’s public employees. Without a squeak of protest from his hosts, he asserts the root of the problem to be unfunded liabilities resulting from the PERA board’s unrealistic projection on the rate of returns for their investments.

Here’s an exchange with Jon Caldara on Devil’s Advocate from November 2011:

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CO GOP Chair Ryan Call to be Challenged by DougCo GOP Chair Baisley

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

When it comes to Ryan Call, Ken Clark and Jason Worley are not impressed.

In the past week on Grassroots Radio Colorado (airing weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on KLZ 560 AM), show hosts Worley and Clark have been heard to call for current GOP State Party Chairperson Call to own up to his responsibility for the devastating November election losses “like a man”, and step down from his leadership position.

Last Friday on Grassroots, Arapahoe County Tea Party Chair Randy Corporon was filling in as guest host, as he often does.  Worley and Clark were on a “top secret” special assignment.  The guests that day, freshman State Representative Justin Everett (HD-22) and John Ransom from Townhall.com/Finance pleaded with Corporon to throw his hat into the race for the GOP Chairmanship.  Their enthusiastic request was modestly evaded.

And then yesterday, Mark Baisley, Douglas County GOP Chair, appeared on Grassroots to announce his candidacy for the position.

Ryan Call probably isn’t too worried.

He has endorsements from approximately half of the current County GOP Committees that will eventually vote to decide who leads the state party, as well as support from GOP notables such as AG John Suthers, and Rep. Cory Gardner.

Call’s ascendency two years ago came in a firestorm of name calling and finger pointing around previous Chairman Dick Wadhams, who withdrew his candidacy for reelection after the debacle that was The McInnis-Maes-Tancredo Show and Ken Buck’s losing challenge to Democrat Michael Bennet’s senate seat.  

Stating his frustration with trying to herd the un-herdable cats of Colorado’s GOP, Wadhams said in a recent Lynn Bartels blog post for the Denver newspaper’s political blog, The Spot (January 11, 2013) “he was “tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is.”

In the same column, Bartels quoted Wadhams pointing to fundraising as another piece of the fallout from his decision to withdraw. He said donors were reluctant to give money to a GOP that is “run by an idiot.”  Wadhams said that Call was the donors’ pick for the CO leadership position.

The “idiot” refered to in Wadham’s quote is most likely Senator Ted Harvey, who was challenging Call at the time with support from liberty and grassroots groups in the GOP.  

Could the same divisive scenario be setting up for this spring’s GOP Chair election?  Well, Baisley is no Ted Harvey, although they appear pretty similar on paper.

Worley and Clark were happy to give Baisley a soapbox to announce his candidacy, as they have with other successful GOP candidates.  But they didn’t hold back with their criticism of Call, who they said runs a party that’s not all too inviting to liberty groups’ participation.  Worley points out that he and Call went to high school together, but they still butt heads.

Callers to Grassroots Radio last Friday echoed some of Wadhams’ concerns from 2011, namely the danger of splitting a minority Party whose wounds continue to weep along ideological fractures, and the proven abilities of a candidate to deliver in the Chairmanship’s two biggest responsibilities:  winning elections and fundraising.

Baisley addressed both concerns.

He asserted his longstanding friendship with Ryan Call and said they have always worked well together.  He’s offering to unite the all who believe in limited government with his “model of respect,”  where everyone is invited to share their talents in defeating the Dems – apparently to include  “nuts” and “idiots.”

As proof of his capabilities, Baisley cited his success in organizing over 3,000 Douglas County volunteers, activitating a localized ground game for getting out the vote, and the notable coup of electing seven conservatives to the Douglas County School Board which eventually tossed the American Federation of Teachers union from the district.

As far as fundraising, Baisley reduced its importance as secondary to the ground game, but noted his successes, just the same.  On the finance committee during Bruce Benson’s tenure ten years ago as leader of the Colorado GOP, he helped raise more than $10 million for the Party.  In Douglas County this election cycle, enough funds were generated to cover all GOTV costs, max out a contribution to Mike Coffman’s congressional campaign, while filling in gaps in other legislative races, he said.

Addressing Ryan Call’s claim of early support from the counties, Worley and Clark enthusiastically point out that new leadership in the counties committees could undermine some of those initial endorsements.

Then  Baisley said he had heard from some county leaders, who said if they’d known Baisley was running for the Chair, they would never have endorsed Call.   They promised Baisley they wouldn’t be seen campaigning actively for Call.

It all sounds very encouraging for Baisley, if you can believe Grassroots Radio.

But can he herd cats?

Ryan Opposes Tax Shelters for Rich, but What About Romney’s Off-shore Accounts?

(Oh, well, there’s that, um… – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Brandon Rittiman’s six-and-a-half minute interview with Paul Ryan on 9news’ Your Show last week raised more questions than it answered.  Not that Rittiman didn’t try his hardest.   But reporters who encounter Ryan further on down the campaign trail should press him for more details.

With help from viewers’ submissions, Rittiman posed timely, topical, and well-constructed questions to Ryan.  But the GOP vice-presidential nominee’s responses were scripted and predictable (on Obama’s record), broad (on taxes), simplistic (on limited government), evasive and misleading (on women’s health issues) and even humble (backpedaling on his previously reported extraordinary marathon time).

Ryan began by debunking President Clinton’s assertion during his speech at the Democratic National Convention that in a single term, no president could fix the mess that President Obama inherited.  Ryan called that argument an excuse, and then recited oft-repeated numbers on unemployment and growing poverty.

He finished his statement with,

“We want growth, we want prosperity, and we have a very specific plan to get jobs created, to get higher take-home pay, to get people back on a path to prosperity – out of poverty.”

Wanting growth, jobs and prosperity doesn’t distinguish Ryan from anyone else in America, including every Democrat.  Thankfully, Rittiman deftly followed up with the obvious question – he asked for specifics on the Romney/Ryan plan on taxes and spending.

Ryan barely complied.  He advocated across-the-board tax cuts of 20%, (paid for by “getting rid of loopholes”) and then proposed a transparent, democratic process (no “backroom deals like they did with Obamacare”) to determine which loopholes to close and who should benefit from write-offs.

“… and who should get the write-offs?  Should we be giving write-offs to specific businesses?  Should Washington – which Republicans and Democrats have both done, pick winners and losers?  Or should high income individuals be able to shelter their money from taxation?  We don’t think so.  By closing these tax shelters, by plugging loopholes that go to specific industries and businesses, that go to higher income people who shelter their money from taxation, you can lower tax rates for everybody.”

Hold the phone.

Was Ryan talking about rich people with tax shelters?  What was that he said about Swiss bank accounts, Bermuda shadow corporations, and $30 million of Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands?

As Newt Gingrich has pointed out, and Vanity Fair has investigated, and American voters like me have observed, the Romney/Ryan plan might cause some consternation for people like Romney.

And what about that call for a transparent process?  If it’s going to be transparent, we may need to know about which presidential candidates have which assets tucked away in which off-shore accounts.   Hmmm.  Releasing tax returns could help in that regard.  Just sayin’…

Rittiman persisted in asking for details, and Ryan reiterated, with no satisfaction to my inquiring mind.

“We’re actually saying, “Don’t lose tax revenue, but don’t have a massive tax increase and restructure the tax code so that it is fairer, simpler, and more internationally competitive to create jobs.”

Does that mean that Ryan and Romney might be down with “a moderate tax increase”?

Rittiman didn’t ask, but the “numbers guy” Ryan did offer that he would not support “higher tax rates on successful small businesses which is where most of our jobs come from.”

But, if we close loopholes, couldn’t some businesses and Republicans spin that as a tax hike?  After all, many take issue with the idea of repealing the Bush tax cuts, saying that restoring previous tax rates would actually amount to a tax hike.

And another question:  does a “fairer, simpler, and internationally competitive” system include sheltering assets in strawman corporations in sunny Caribbean locales?

Ryan insists in the Your Show interview that there is Democratic support for the Romney/Ryan plan.

“The Simpson-Bowles Commission proposed a similar process of lowering tax rates and plugging loopholes even more that what the Romney/Ryan plan does.”

One might wonder, how did House Budget Committee member Ryan vote on the Simpson-Bowles recommendation?  I’ll save future interviewers some trouble here.

He voted against it.

 

 

The GOP’s False Claim of ‘Significant Strides’ with Hispanic Voters

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

by Michael Lund

Ryan Call appeared on an ABC interview Wednesday from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, commenting on Colorado’s status as a swing state in this November’s general election, and highlighting Hispanic, women, and young voters’ key role in deciding who gets the nine electoral votes at stake.

Call acknowledges that candidate Mitt Romney needs to do “appreciably better among Latinos” than McCain in 2008 in order to win Colorado.  He said:

“We are making significant strides within those members of our community. The issues of entrepreneurship, about creating opportunities for education, and especially as it relates to the current status of the economy and jobs, that’s the contrast that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan bring to the table versus the failed record of Barak Obama.”

The question that immediately springs to mind is, “Is the GOP making ‘significant strides’ among Hispanic voters?”

And if, as I suspected, he might be wrong, why didn’t the journalists interviewing call him on the inaccuracy?

My analysis of polling among Hispanics suggests that Call might be a little overly optimistic.  While McCain garnered 31 percent of the Latino vote in 2008 (Obama came in with 67 percent), a Gallup poll from June 24, 2012 shows Romney with only 25 percent of the registered Hispanic vote (Obama with 66 percent) – a drop of 6 points from four years ago.  That’s a drop of 6 percent, hardly “significant strides”.  In an even more recent survey from NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo (August 22, 2012), 65 percent of Latino voters plan to back Obama compared to 25 percent for Romney.  That’s not good news for Call or Romney, no matter how you try and spin it.

If ABC News didn’t know that polling data contradicted Ryan Call’s contention, they could have asked him to substantiate his claim.

If they had, Call would have had a hard time reconciling his efforts to attract Hispanics with the polling data available to him and everyone else with access to Google.

Back in April of this year, in an article from The Denver Post, Call acknowledged the uphill battle, saying, “We will work to do much better.” He qualified this by saying that, typically, the GOP party ‘s real efforts to recruit Hispanic voters come later in the election cycle.

So now, with 65 days left until the election, I’m wondering about a couple of things.  First, how “late in the cycle” is too late in the cycle for the GOP’s Latino surge to materialize and show substantive results in the measure everyone’s watching, namely, the polls.

Second, where has the GOP gone wrong?  What does the polling data suggest about each party’s successes and failures in securing Hispanic support and votes, especially here in Colorado?

Maybe I can shed a little light for ABC News journalists covering the RNC convention and reporters everywhere.

In the past six months, Colorado’s GOP chairman Ryan Call has appeared on Spanish-language radio, Solomon Martinez and Pauline Olvera from Colorado Hispanic Republicans have made their pitches on the talk radio circuit, and celebrity Hispanic politicians from both sides have been paraded and promoted in front of cheering partisans at public events, most notably and recently at the GOP convention. The GOP has deployed Latino outreach directors in many states and implemented social media strategies.

In those efforts, the generalized GOP message has been coordinated and consistent: Hispanic voters are actually Republicans who are not yet enlightened enough to know it (see Susana Martinez’s speech to the GOP convention), jobs and the economy are the basket in which to place all your eggs, and that the Republican platform promoting values such as faith, family, freedom and free market is all that is needed to convert traditionally Democratic Hispanics and recruit them to the big tent of the GOP.

Call, in his ABC interview from the convention, offered only a slightly enhanced version of that message, by acknowledging “opportunities for education” as part of the GOP pitch to Hispanic voters.

Hispanic voters have consistently rated jobs and the economy as the most important issue affecting their decision as voters in this election, over other issues such as education and immigration.

But the spiel on the campaign trail doesn’t get much more nuanced than calls for unchaining the private sector and reducing the regulatory burden.  Apparently, that generalized message hasn’t paid off.

In addition to the overriding jobs issue, education is clearly an issue Hispanics care about, but the Republicans haven’t been able to capitalize. Besides being co-opted on many K-12 policy innovations involving accountability, choice, and charters, the Colorado GOP has acquired an obstructionist image in their handling of policies which directly engage sectors of the Hispanic community.

One example of “education policy as political opportunity” was the ASSET tuition bill in Colorado (as well as the previous five similar bills presented to legislatures over the past decade, which would have made college more affordable for undocumented students who qualify).

Call told FOX31 Denver last April that he was “disappointed” that House Republicans killed the bill in committee.  I’d be disapointed, too, considering the opportunity it presented for engaging the Hispanic community.  And remember, this was a measure that had broad support. Seven newspapers, seven school boards, six chambers of commerce, ten organizations that represent k-12, eight institutions of higher education, five local governments, twelve faith based organizations and tens of thousands of individuals and organizations endorsed ASSET.

Then, earlier this summer, when media attention was piqued around Metropolitan State University of Denver’s decision to institute a new tuition rate for undocumented students, Republicans missed another opportunity. Instead of engaging Hispanics by debating merits and implications of the bill, Colorado Republican legislators challenged the move by Metro’s Board of Regents, and called on Governor Hickenlooper to block the measure.  They grumbled about collusion among Democrats, perhaps justifiably so, but in doing so lost the opportunity portray themselves as proactive problem solvers and representatives of the broader Hispanic community.

Immigration, another issue rated as less important than jobs and the economy to Hispanic voters in polling has proven to be similar lesson in lost opportunity for Republicans.  Obama’s executive order of Deferred Action for the deportation of qualified minor children of undocumented immigrants engaged the media and boldly addressed an issue undeniably important to Hispanics.  It’s not that all in the Hispanic community universally agree with Obama’s mandate, but it was an acknowledgement and a proactive action to a problem which has long demanded bipartisan solutions.

The Deferred Action mandate could turn out to be a liability to Democrats and a net loss in their electability standings, but it was a vehicle for Obama (and Democrats by proxy) to gain visibility in the Hispanic community and affirm their presence, participation, and importance in America.  Lawmakers who are viewed as obstructionists, along with their supporters, were the losers in this window of opportunity, at least in the short term.

Hispanics’ view of the GOP as obstructionists might also extend to the GOP’s response to another issue important to Hispanic Voters – Healthcare.

Add in the selection of Ryan for Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, and you might be able to make a case charging the GOP with playing to their base of extremists at the expense drawing Hispanic votes. Ryan has voted against the DREAM act and is hostile to other issues Hispanics care about.  Another lost opportunity.

So, with all this behind him, Ryan Call goes on ABC is able to say with a straight face that the GOP is making significant progress convincing Democratic Hispanics that they’re actually Republicans. And he’s not asked to justify it? He’s not asked to explain why his lack of success reflects the lost opportunities?