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November 13, 2007 07:02 PM UTC

Business to CO GOP: "Where's The Evidence" To Back Up Attacks On Ritter? (UPDATED)

  • by: davidsirota

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last week, I appeared on Colorado statewide television to debate Gov. Bill Ritter’s recent executive order giving state workers the right to join state-recognized employee partnership associations – that is, to give workers a bigger voice, and join the majority of states that give workers such a voice. In the debate with the House Republican Whip Cory Gardner and Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute (which you can view below or at this link), my opponents claimed Colorado businesses are outraged over the executive order. This is a complaint that the conservative political Establishment and the media has been parroting for more than a week. Except there’s one problem – The Denver Business Journal today reports that the claims are a fabrication.

As the Journal reports, the Colorado businesses “lack the bitter outrage expressed by Republican politicians who claim the action will stifle the state’s economy and hurt businesses.” That’s not surprising, considering that the Denver Post has reported that Colorado businesses like Kaiser Permanente have very similar employee partnerships that they say “has worked well.”

Here are a few choice excerpts from the Journal report:

“I can’t tell you ethically that the business community is mad as hell and won’t take it anymore,” said John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. “Is this a major boost of energy for the unions? No doubt. But I’ve tried really hard to think about how this directly affects business and came up with nothing.”

As of Nov. 5, Brackney said he hadn’t received a single email from the chamber’s 1,600 member businesses about the order.

Republican lawmakers claim they’ve heard from “a number” of concerned businesspeople about the matter. But House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said on Nov. 6 that no business leaders had contacted him about the issue…

Jim Howell of Denver-based Howell Construction…didn’t think [Ritter’s executive order] would affect his business, hurt public-private partnerships or discourage businesses from backing campaign initiatives like Referendum C.

Dan Pilcher, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), said he can’t see the connection between government action and business in the private sector.

“Where’s the evidence to back the assertions?” Pilcher asked. “If I were a vice president of a manufacturing company, I’d be wondering how this affects me.” (emphasis added)

This is a positively devastating article for Republicans – one that echoes precisely what I said on the PBS show last week: It is simply laughable to claim that business is offended by an initiative that does not affect business or its bottom line in the least, which is all that Ritter’s executive order does, nothing more, nothing less.

But it gets better. The article is even more damning when you consider that leading business voices are even applauding Ritter’s decision to make the move via executive order – another absurd point of criticism that Republicans have been airing, despite the fact that many states administer their state workforce via executive order (including Colorado under Republican Gov. Bill Owens). Here’s a bit more from the Journal:

Donnah Moody, vice president of governmental affairs for CACI, said she was “personally glad” the governor dealt with the bargaining matter through the executive order so that legislators can focus on other priorities for CACI’s membership.

The Progressive States Network (on whose board I serve) last week released a detailed fact sheet on the executive order, which you can read here. It goes over many of these points – but again, this Denver Business Journal article is a huge blow to the GOP’s sad attempts to slander Ritter’s very modest measure as supposedly “anti-business.”

UPDATE: Mike Saccone at the Grand Junction Sentinel reports that former Colorado Republican House Speaker and now-Republican Cabinet secretary Russell George is saying that Ritter’s executive order will be beneficial to him running his Colorado agency. As Saccone says, George’s statements and the Denver Business Journal report  “run counter to the assertions of Colorado Republican lawmakers.”

Independent Thinking – 11/8/07

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14 thoughts on “Business to CO GOP: “Where’s The Evidence” To Back Up Attacks On Ritter? (UPDATED)

  1. You’ve done a great job pointing out, in a reasonable and well documented way, what is wrong with not only the front page editorial we’ve heard so much about, but the anti-labor, right wing noise machine…..without calling them names.

    Now, elsewhere on this blog today there have been some discussions about whether voting right wing is intelligent or not. You’ve stayed above that fray and stuck to the facts. “Absurd” and “slanderous” are not too harsh here, and simply point out that the Republican (I believe that is an accurate assignment) message lacks nuance, sophistication, research and a well thought out position.

    I can’t be more kind, either.

  2. [CACI’s executive committee on Wednesday issued a  statement raising questions about the “substance, process and appearance” of Ritter’s order.

    The statement raised concerns that if state workers negotiate for fewer hours and more time off, it might delay the processing of applications for permits, requests for rulings and other actions that may be required by state agencies.

    CACI also worried that wage increases negotiated by the union could divert funds from the organization’s priorities such as transportation and higher education.

    “CACI does not believe that the executive order was necessary or that it serves the interests of the citizens and businesses of Colorado,” the statement said.]

    #1. it certainly isn’t helpful to business.  The timing and the nature of the order don’t bode well for businesses when they argue against 1072 coming out next session.

    #2. of a more immediate impact, it is certainly bad for taxpayers.  Who stands around in line at a govt agency and thinks “yeah, we need more of this.”?  This order will only serve to slow down the govt process by adding an extra layer of bureacracy.  And, it was advertised as a way for state employees to finally get all the compensation they’ve been entitled to, but lacking, for all these years.  That should also work out well for taxpayers.

    1. is yet anothe unsubstantiated talking point and the bit about diverting funds from transportation and higher is a hollow argument.

      And what “government lines” are you talking about? Did you take that straight from the Reagan Revisionist handbook of who state employees really are?

  3. Given that our Minority Whip is an attorney (and someone in a position where he should understand our Constitution before he makes baseless accusations on state TV and calling press conferences for legislative remedies), here’s his lesson for the day:

    Article 12, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution vests power in the State Personnel Board to assign specific grade to civil service positions.  Various grades always include salaries attached to each one based on the salary survey. 

    The General Assembly has the ultimate power whether to fund the salary survey.  It is obvious the Colorado Constitution contemplates the setting of salaries by the State Personnel Board acting through the Department of
    Personnel and Administration.  Since that power is vested by the Constitution, there is no requirement that the state collectively bargain with its employees.  In fact, the state constitution does not contemplate or include collective bargaining rights for state employees with respect to wages.  Since they don’t have collective
    bargaining rights, they by extension do not have the right to strike and if they did, the governor could fire them in the same manner as President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. 

    Neither Governor Ritter or any other governor has the right to change or amend this constitutional scheme short of a constitutional amendment and its obvious Governor Ritter did not attempt to do so.

    Singleton’s editorial and the Republican response is baseless rubbish; further, May and Gardner’s bill is ridiculous. 

    1. of the world must be getting increasingly desperate as they see the once sure-fire scare tactics that have worked like a charm since the Reagan era, now failing time after time. 

      They have grown so isolated from the real world experience of the overwhelming majority, they can’t quite believe we are no longer taking the bait.  If only they scream louder, get more hysterical… once again they will convince us by repetition to believe them and not our own lying eyes, dwindling buying power and crumbling infra-structure.  They just can’t let go of the good old days when all it took was a little misdirection to evil unions and fictional welfare queens to get us back under control. 

      They really thought it would never stop working.  Not even if,  while actually BEING in control, they let everything go to hell for everybody outside a tiny elite circle. Their attempt to distract us from the failures of their whole unregulated greed is good philosophy by getting us to turn on a perfectly good, responsible governor grows more pathetic by the day. Put a fork in it already.

    2. The Whip’s statement to the effect that the most profound statement in the Singleton editorial was that Ritter was “on track to become a one-term Governor” is laughable.  Take a good look at this guy and then try to imagine him in 15 years with white hair, still  pontificating about the good ol’ days of Reagan and Owens and defending the rights of businesses to effectively form “unions” while the rights of the individual continue to be trampled. These guys have run the train so far off the tracks I’m not sure an efficient, non-union workforce can put it back together again anytime in the near future. 

      In the meantime, our Governor and the Dem-controlled legislature will continue to solve problems and bring prosperity to this state and all of it’s citizens.  That, my friend, is what really scares the hell out of these (soon to be old white)guys.

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