(At least she’s not your school board member…anymore! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Back in 2015, before conservatives were removed from the Jeffco School Board, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel, a conservative, made the memorable observation that school board member Julie Williams got the “rest of the board into trouble with a lot of foolish, barely thought-out ideas she has expressed inappropriately.”
She’s still saying such things, as evidenced by a Facebook post last week, obtained by a source.
Williams posted an article headlined, “Something Wicked Is Creeping Into U.S. Homes,” which stated, “The U.S. entertainment industry is entrenched with devil worshipers who are actively working to promote and normalize satanism in American culture.”
Williams commented, “Spiritual Warfare is getting stronger…Lord be with us.”
Recall Williams incited protests when she proposed sanitizing American history courses in Jeffco schools.
It’s not known if she would have wanted to put more emphasis on the alleged threat posed by lurking devil worshipers who might want to normalize satanism in Jeffco.
This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.
Our own Senator Bennet spoke at length, outlining what’s at stake in this health care bill.
But – we don’t know what Cory Gardner really thinks about the Senate healthcare bill he supposedly helped to draft. Right now, he looks to be in the “Yes on BCRA” camp, because he pretends that insurance costs will go down with the Senate bill. However, Cowardly Cory will not give his constituents the courtesy of in-person meetings or town halls to discuss his position. Even when said constituents try really, really hard.
Jeffco Republican Faye Griffin is (politically) immortal.
Faye Griffin will still be serving as an elected official in Jefferson County long after your children’s children have come and gone — even if Jeffco Republicans have to get her cryogenically frozen in order to make it happen.
It looks like we need to update a long-running saga involving Griffin’s political history in Jefferson County. Current Jeffco Commissioner Libby Szabo is rumored to be considering leaving the Commissioner’s office in order to focus her energy full-time on the open Congressional seat in CD-7. If Szabo does resign early from the Commissioner’s office, we hear that current Jeffco Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin may be in line to replace Szabo. If this is indeed true, it would mean that the 78-year-old Griffin was leaving the Clerk and Recorder’s office in the middle of her third (non-consecutive) term in order to complete her third term as a County Commissioner. This is absolutely ridiculous, and it needs to stop.
When voters support a candidate, they should expect that person will serve the full term of office. It’s not too much to ask…
…Make no mistake, this isn’t about Griffin’s political affiliation. This is about a vacancy system that empowers party honchos instead of requiring special elections for vacancies, and Griffin’s willingness to abandon a commitment in order to continue in public office.
One of the more amazing parts of that editorial comes from an interview with Griffin herself:
We asked Griffin why she would leave the commission two years early, and she was candid in saying it was due to term limits.
Griffin is in the middle of her second term, and if she stayed in the position, she couldn’t run for the commission again — and there would be no other palatable options for her, in her mind.
“In two years, there’s no county office that is open,” Griffin said. So, she is seeking the office she held for eight years, starting in 1998.
Ahead of the 2018 election, there’s good reason for Jeffco Republicans to continue convincing Griffin to keep moving offices. Democrats appear to have a strong candidate for Clerk and Recorder in George Stern, so it is in the best interests of the GOP to try to place a new Clerk and Recorder now in order to give that person enough time to build up their name ID before 2018. And by moving Griffin back to County Commissioner in the meantime, she wouldn’t need to run again until 2020.
After the 2014 election, Griffin was quoted by the Golden Transcriptwith this comment about her future plans: “I am going to retire sometime, I just don’t know when.” We’re not saying that Griffin should retire — she just needs to finish her damn job for once.
Faye Griffin’s Seat-Hopping History ♦ 1998-2006: Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder (2 terms). ♦ 2006: Elected as County Treasurer (4-year term). ♦ 2008: Elected as County Commissioner after ditching Treasurer’s office mid-term. Republican-controlled Commissioners appoint Republican Tim Kauffman to fill remainder of Griffin’s term as Treasurer. ♦ 2012: Elected to second term as Jefferson County Commissioner ♦ 2013: Griffin announces that she will run for Jeffco Clerk and Recorder again in 2014. For the second time in 5 years, Griffin leaves elected office well before end of term. ♦ 2014: Elected as Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder for third time (1998, 2002). Libby Szabo later appointed to rest of Griffin’s term as Commissioner; Szabo elected to full term in 2016. ♦ 2017: Szabo rumored to consider resigning as County Commissioner in order to run full-time for Congress in CD-7. Szabo’s rumored replacement? Faye Griffin, of course.
Rep. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge announced her run for Senate District 20 yesterday, a closely-divided swing Senate seat now held by term-limited Sen. Cheri Jahn:
Serving Jeffco in the State House has been a tremendous honor – and I am proud to have passed laws that are protecting vulnerable seniors, advancing equal pay, looking out for veterans, protecting our environment, and helping Colorado families get a fair shake when the odds are often stacked against us…
With your help, I will go to the State Senate and continue fighting for a better future – by empowering hard-working Coloradans who want to send their kids to great public schools and build a secure future for their families.
Whether it’s legalizing rain barrels or making child care more affordable, I have passed common sense laws focused on helping make day-to-day life a little easier for regular people. Just this year I passed the Wage Theft Transparency Act, which will shine a light on employers caught cheating workers out of their pay.
In the State Senate, I will continue to uphold the Colorado values that make our state a better place to live. The chaos in Washington shows that it’s up to us – here in the states – to stand up to powerful special interests and protect what makes Colorado unique. As state senator, I will never stop fighting for Colorado, for Jeffco and for you.
Sen. Jahn’s last election in 2014 against Republican candidate Larry Queen was a real nail-biter, with Jahn emerging victorious by fewer than 500 votes. Democrats nonetheless consider Rep. Danielson an ideal successor to hold the seat, with an excellent legislative track record and solid campaign skill and experience–good enough that she was considered a possible candidate for Congress to succeed Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Danielson is a sufficiently strong contender that we would be surprised to see a serious primary opponent emerge, though with an open seat you can never rule one out.
Either way, Democrats are feeling good about holding this swing seat on their way to recapturing the Senate majority in 2018, and now you know why.
Education is a motivating issue anywhere in soccer-mom country, but in Colorado its force is compounded by the lingering impact of the emotional 2015 Jefferson County School Board recall election, in which voters overwhelmingly tossed out conservatives.
Republican Bob Beauprez’s outspoken alignment with the losing school board members, including his support of vouchers, during the 2014 gubernatorial election was arguably a key factor in his loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper. And Republicans have lost a string of state legislative races in Jeffco, with the winning Democrats standing against public school privatization.
So along comes the 2018 gubernatorial race, and reporters should note where Republican candidates come down on vouchers, charters, and education issues. Will they distance themselves from the positions of the losing Jeffco School Board members? Or will they align with them?
Republican candidate George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney, has already spoken up for vouchers, agreeing “100 percent” with KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis last month that vouchers benefit kids and empower parents, particularly in low-income areas.
Caplis (11 min 30 sec below): I’m a big believer without even increasing the budget, kids would be benefited immediately by healthy education competition, and by empowering those poor and middle income parents with true purchasing power in education through vouchers, etc. Where do you come down on school choice?
Brauchler: I 100 percent agree with you, in every place, specifically inner cities and socio economically depressed areas. Every place you offer parents the opportunity at a charter school or choice, you see a mad scramble to be part of that successful system. And our family is no different. I got four kids, 14, 12, 9, and 7. They are all in charter schools. They’ve all gone to charter grade schools. Two of them are still there. I am a big believer in choice. And they are figuring out a way to put a better product on the field and turn out students with a better education, better scores than the big establishment system. That’s not an indictment of the entire big establishment system. That is a challenge. That is that kind of competition that you and I have talked about that give you a better product. I am a big believer in choice…big-time public school system, which I am a product of, my wife’s a product of, my kids are going to be a product of it, has got to look internally, but also externally at a better way to do what they are doing.”
I can’t find campaign statements by other Republican candidates on public school privatization, but it’s likely they will be coming soon–with Democrats likely to continue to oppose vouchers. In any case, it’s clearly a key issue for reporters to track, given the Jeffco history and the stakes involved.
Tony Sanchez is like the Winter Olympics of Colorado politics: He re-appears every four years to a lukewarm reception, and most everything he does is fairly confusing. This snapshot from Sanchez’s Twitter feed tells you everything you need to know about his return to Colorado politics:
Tony Sanchez last appeared on Twitter in Oct. 2014
Colorado political observers will recall that Sanchez emerged out of nowhere (also called “California”) when he announced in 2014 that he would seek the Republican nomination for State Senate in SD-22 (Lakewood). Sanchez was a recent arrival in Colorado, but he somehow convinced conservative groups such as Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) to back him in a GOP Primary against the more moderate and better-known Mario Nicolais.
Sanchez pulled off a surprise victory over Nicolais in a bitter primary fight that caused much consternation among Republicans; Democratic incumbent Andy Kerr went on to defeat Sanchez in the General Election for a seat that Republicans thought they had a decent chance of winning. Kerr was a probably a better candidate than either Nicolais or Sanchez, but the general opinion at the time was that Republicans might have had a shot at capturing SD-22 with a less-extreme candidate who actually had some sort of personal history in the area.
Kerr will exhaust his term limits in the state Senate in 2018 (he’s running for Congress in CD-7), and Sanchez is back to take another shot at the legislature. It is not clear yet who will be the Democratic candidate for SD-22, but the presence of Sanchez won’t exactly be a deterrent for anyone considering the possibility.
Soon to be ex-Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.
Denver7’s Blair Millerreports on another endnote in the long battle to wrest control of Jefferson County Public Schools back from a conservative majority elected in 2013 and ousted in an historic 2015 recall election–the departure of conservative superintendent Dan McMinimee:
Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee is out of his job early, as the district announced Thursday he was stepping down immediately.
The district announced in December that his three-year contract would not be renewed, and he was set to be out of a job as of June 30.
But the district said Thursday that McMinimee and the school board agreed to McMinimee’s early ouster.
He will remain with the district through June 30, Jeffco Public Schools Communications Office Diana Wilson said, but will not have day-to-day operations responsibilities.
Wilson said McMinimee will “be available to the board in an advisory capacity and will assist as needed in the transition to a new superintendent.”
Dan McMinimee was hired by the conservative majority Jeffco school board in 2014, a pick that was fraught with controversy–McMinimee was formerly an assistant superintendent at arch-conservative Douglas County Schools, whose right-wing board and perceived anti-teacher bias resulted in an exodus of qualified teachers from the district.
As the battles between the new board and the district’s parents and teachers heated up, McMinimee drew fire for not intervening in the board alleged “bullying” of students who showed up to testify at board meetings, as well as his participation in intra-board intrigue on behalf of the majority.
After the recall election that sent the conservative board majority packing, McMinimee was the career equivalent of a dead man walking. Immediately after the recall election we predicted his swift departure, but the new board made the magnanimous (and fiscally prudent) decision to allow McMinimee to serve out his contract. We suppose it’s even hypothetically possible that he might have lived up to the expectations of the new board and had his contract renewed.
But it didn’t happen, and now McMinimee’s departure marks the final stages of a housecleaning three years in the making.
Ernest Luning at the Colorado Statesmanreports on the next generation of Colorado Democrats in Jefferson County, waiting to move up in the event Rep. Ed Perlmutter makes the decision to run for Governor in 2018:
Two Lakewood Democrats say they’re likely to run next year for the 7th Congressional District seat represented by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter if the six-term incumbent Democrat jumps in the race for governor.
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen told The Colorado Statesman this week that she will run for the suburban congressional seat if Perlmutter seeks the gubernatorial nomination in 2018, and state Sen. Andy Kerr told The Statesman he’s “very seriously looking at it.”
The two legislators share many of the same constituents — Kerr held Pettersen’s House District 28 seat for three terms before winning an open seat in the upper chamber in 2012 — and both say their ability to win in their own swing districts means they’d be contenders for Perlmutter’s suburban swing seat.
Although Rep. Perlmutter’s seat is on-paper competitive, his strong leadership and deep ties to his Jefferson County constituents have made CD-7 completely unwinnable for the GOP since defeating Rick O’Donnell for Bob Beauprez’s open seat in 2006. The last real attempt at the seat was in 2012, when the late Joe Coors lost to Perlmutter 53-41%. Since then Perlmutter has faced only B-List opposition.
With that said, we do expect that Perlmutter giving up the CD-7 seat to run for Governor would embolden Republicans to make another attempt. Either Sen. Andy Kerr or Rep. Brittany Pettersen would make for excellent general election candidates against any Republican we could think of who might run–especially in potential matchups against Tim Neville, Lang Sias, Libby Szabo, and other early names that have been floated.
With the biggest variable everyone is waiting on being Rep. Perlmutter’s next move, we don’t expect to see any major updates in this race until he makes his decision–a decision that reportedly depends on whether former Sen. Ken Salazar decides to run for Governor. But if Perlmutter does jump, there is a deep bench in Jefferson County waiting to fill resulting vacancies all the way down the ticket.
“Run, Ed, Run! Ed Perlmutter’s always a true congressman with character. Now a whole lot of us want him to be a governor with guts. Draft Ed for Gov!” the page states.
“Ed’s district has always been a top target for House Republicans. And he’s always won it, and BIG! If nominated, Ed Perlmutter will keep the Governor’s Mansion blue — and he’ll stand up to Donald Trump like few others can,” a post on the page states.
Backers of the page are even paying for Facebook sponsorship status, though who the backers are has been a mystery to many in the Jefferson County Democratic community.
The link provided in the story above directs readers to Perlmutter’s congressional campaign website; we’re assuming this is a mistake and is meant to point to this “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor” Facebook page instead.
State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) in his off-season attire.
State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) is at the State Capitol today as the legislature officially convenes for the 2017 session. The accommodations under the Gold Dome are (probably) considerably more comfortable than where Leonard was biding his time three weeks ago, when he was finishing up a 14-day jail sentence in Jefferson County.
From everything we hear, a majority of Republicans at the state legislature would like Leonard to resign — nobody really wants to be associated with the first sitting legislator in at least 40 years to spend time in jail — but Leonard has no plans to give up his seat in the near future. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is a personal friend of Leonard, so there is no immediate pressure from GOP leadership, either. Since Leonard is likely stay right where he is for the time being, you might think he would be eager to keep his head down and do a little reputation cleansing.
Former Jeffco School Board member John Newkirk
Leonard’s paid legislative aide at the State Capitol is a name you may recognize: John Newkirk.
In short, a state lawmaker who just spent time in jail has hired a legislative aide who was recently kicked out of a different office by essentially the same group of constituents that Leonard represents. This seems like a bad idea.
Newkirk is independently wealthy and doesn’t really need the $12.50 per hour wage paid to legislative aides, so it would make sense that this is being orchestrated so that Newkirk can eventually try to take over Leonard’s seat in HD-25. Leonard isn’t likely to resign from the legislature, but that doesn’t mean he plans to run for re-election in 2018 (not that we would blame him — this video alone would run on a loop for months).
Keep an eye out for this pairing as the legislative session grinds along. Leonard-Newkirk is Colorado’s bizarro Batman and Robin.
Westminster City Councillor Bruce Baker, who briefly ran for Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s CD-7 last year before losing the primary to George Athanasopoulos, has a reputation as a far-out anti-immigrant firebrand–so much so that he has drawn the ire of moderate Republicans for “embarrassing the party.”
But since the election of Donald Trump, Baker has been on an empowered tear against immigrants, and (especially) the response of his fellow councillors to Trump’s immigration proposals–which culminated yesterday evening in a bizarre recorded statement played back by Baker into his own microphone during a council meeting. Apparently, it was easier for Baker to record his little diatribe in advance than, you know, say it live. Excerpts:
The plain fact is that American culture has poorly dealt with sexual assault…addressing these crimes after the fact is too little too late. It was a mere forty years ago that marital rape was finally recognized as a crime in the United States. Old attitudes die slowly…we all must obey the law. Support the law. Be smart about situations, intervene if possible, and encourage everyone in society to do the same…
It is only by obeying the law that we will keep full value of the wonderful place we are. Sexual assault laws are not weapons that hurt Americans, sexual assault laws are a shield that protects Americans…and that’s true with robbery, and fraud, and embezzlement, and being unlawfully present in the United States. [Pols emphasis]
My colleagues are afraid to approach the crime of being unlawfully present in the United States. Part of that fear stems from the fact that for the crime of being unlawfully present in the United States, there is no sympathetic victim to which we can point. If there was a distinct individual victim, that victim and their injuries would provide a point of focus we all could grasp. But the victims of people that are unlawfully present in the United States, while many in number, have no obvious injuries which the media can showcase. Their stories of loss and displacement are difficult to quantify. Their hurting is minimized and ignored…
Instead of talking about the real harm to victims of people unlawfully in the United States, my colleagues chose to talk about being a ‘welcoming community.’ How odd. I do not think for a second that my colleagues would be welcoming to perpetrators of sexual assault. [Pols emphasis]
So, there’s a lot wrong with this. First of all, the simple act of being present in the United States without documentation is not a crime. It’s a civil offense under federal law. The act of entering the U.S. illegally is a misdemeanor offense, but not simply being here. That means the whole premise of Baker’s diatribe, that illegal immigration is a “crime” on par with sexual assault, is nonsense.
From there, we can explain that in addition to being nonsense, likening undocumented immigrants to perpetrators of sexual assault is extremely offensive. It’s interesting how Baker concedes there is no “distinct individual victim” of illegal immigration, in effect admitting that scaring Americans about this supposed imminent threat has no factual basis.
Yes, comparing undocumented immigrants to rapists worked for the President-elect of the United States. But–and we mean it in every possible way except this lowest common denominator–Bruce Baker is no Donald Trump.
Former Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, who returned to the ranks as a deputy DA after being termed out of the top job, had a little too much to drink on New Year’s Eve as FOX 31 reports:
Former First Judicial District Attorney Scott Storey was arrested on New Year’s Eve on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to court records.
Storey, who served two terms as district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, was cited for a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol early Saturday morning by the Littleton Police Department, according to court records.
There isn’t much more being reported as of now, except that there was reportedly an accident that preceded Storey’s arrest. One interesting sidenote to this case is that Storey’s prosecution will presumably be handled by the office of his former subordinate, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler. It’s widely rumored that there is no love lost between these two prosecutors, and Brauchler likely hasn’t forgotten his former boss’s conspicuous failure to endorse him in his own run for elective office in 2012.
As Yesenia Robles reports for Chalkbeat, the Jefferson County School Board is pondering what to do about its Superintendent as the end of Dan McMinimee’s contract approaches:
Jeffco school board members held an executive session last week during a conference in Colorado Springs in which they started discussions on the superintendent’s contract, a district spokeswoman said. The board is scheduled to go into executive session again Thursday to continue the discussion.
“You don’t wait until the contract expires,” Ron Mitchell, the Jeffco school board president, told Chalkbeat. “Should the board be thinking we want to go in another direction, that requires a fair amount of prior planning. That’s the rationale for the timing — the only reason we’re beginning those discussions.”
McMinimee received the lowest scores of partially effective on three out of the 12 goals including one related to creating a new charter school application process, and for mixed results increasing the number of third-graders meeting or exceeding expectations in reading.
Based on the review, McMinimee received $20,000 in performance pay.
During that discussion, board members pushed back on the draft, suggesting that some of the goals McMinimee had set should be expectations of his job, not additional goals for bonuses. They asked for more goals that can be tied to reliable data. [Pols emphasis]
Given his fairly lackluster performance and $220,000 salary, it was pretty balsy of McMinimee to push for more money in “performance pay” for, you know, doing your job.
We took note a few weeks ago of the gobsmacking announcement by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that Ken Witt, the recalled ex-president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, has been selected as an “education co-chair.” Less than a year ago, as everyone with any knowledge of Colorado politics is well aware, Witt and his two fellow conservative activists comprising a majority were thrown off the Jeffco school board by an overwhelming majority of voters. The Jeffco school board recall was a national story over the course of months in mid-to-late 2015, and the crushing defeat for these three conservative “reformers” has been interpreted as a major setback for the larger right-wing “Separation of School and State” education agenda.
Politically, Trump taking on the baggage of this recall by elevating Witt goes beyond whether or not it makes political sense, which is of course does not. It invites very basic questions about the wisdom of the Trump campaign–at least in Colorado. Jefferson County is considered a bellwether for the state as a whole, with a large politically diverse suburban middle-class population that often proves decisive in statewide elections. In is not an exaggeration to state that the Trump campaign has chosen one of the most demonstrably unpopular political figures in recent Colorado political history, certainly in Jeffco history, to front for them with the voters.
Donald Trump (R-IDGAF).
Witt is the Trump campaign’s official surrogate in a guest op-ed in the Denver Posttoday:
I was encouraged to hear Donald Trump unveil his school choice policy earlier this month, because school choice made made such a difference for my family. Trump committed to provide $20 billion in existing federal spending to states in the form of block grants, so more at-risk families can find the best educational fit for each student, allowing every child to realize their full academic potential…
I am hopeful to once again have a president in office who understands that one size does not fit all, and that our students best succeed when they can each find their own best academic setting in which to thrive.
Witt’s forgettable anecdotes about school choice helping his family, an issue which hasn’t really come up on either side as a campaign issue, won’t distract Jeffco voters from the fact that Ken Witt is the author of the pro-Trump op-ed in today’s Denver Post head-to-head. The pro-Hillary Clinton side was represented by former Colorado Governor and Los Angeles Public Schools superintendent Roy Romer, whose relative credentials to speak about education policy…for pity’s sake, do we even need to say it? This “matchup” is an insult to Gov. Romer, and your intelligence too. And politically, it’s so incredibly foolish it leaves us at a loss for words.
In a perfect world, Witt re-emerging from his disastrous recall as Trump’s education spokesman would be nationally lampooned–at least earning the attention that last year’s recall of Witt and the right-wing school board majority itself did. At the very least, it’s an incredible mistake to make in Colorado’s most-watched suburban battleground, and it will cost the Trump campaign dearly with voters in Jefferson County.
And to whoever thought this was a good idea…seriously, get your head examined.
Recalled Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).
Last year’s recall of Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams is widely considered a huge factor in this year’s Arvada/Westminster state senate race that will likely determine whether Republicans retain control of the state senate.
Williams makes no secret of her support for Woods, and Woods, who doesn’t return my calls, has apparently accepted Williams’ backing, which makes sense since Woods and Williams align in their support for Trump and guns, among other links.
Here’s Williams’ Sept. 17 Facebook post, obtained from a source, endorsing Woods: