Jeffco School Board Snaps Up GOP Media Consultants

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

We talked just over a month ago about the hiring by Jefferson County Public Schools of one Lisa Pinto, a right-wing Leadership Program of the Rockies graduate and former board member of the embattled Colorado Republican independent expenditure committee, as the new Chief Communications Officer of the district. Pinto appears to have been hired due to her political affiliations, as she was apparently rejected by a number of people involved in the hiring process as unqualified–yet somehow in the end deserving of a higher salary than her more qualified predecessor. We've heard that unflattering information about the process that led to Pinto's hiring by the district may shortly be disclosed, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, Jefferson County School Board Watch reported last month that Pinto is getting some extra reinforcements on the public-relations front, having hired a usual-suspect Republican aligned communications firm Novitas Communications to…well, it seems like they were more or less hired to do Pinto's job:

a) Set measureable objectives against which Novitas and the District Communications
Department efforts can be evaluated. For example, if the mix of media coverage of the district is 50% negative and 50% positive, work toward shifting that percentage to 25% negative and 75% positive.

b) Evaluate objectives’ metrics regularly and help the District Communications Department shift strategies and tactics to keep the department on track to meeting its objectives.

c) Develop strategies to address hot-button or controversial issues to ensure that District constituencies (e.g., parents, teachers, community leaders) are engaged and empowered in District decisions, and to ensure that the District is driving the narrative on these issues.

d) With District staff, develop core messaging for the District as well as on controversial issues that will help ensure spokespersons and staff are unified in their communications to District stakeholders.

e) Develop/enhance a crisis communications plan for rapid response action, as needed…

You know, the stuff Chief Communications Officers are supposed to do!

And here's the "ah-ha" reveal: Novitas Communications is run by Michelle Balch Lyng, a longtime Republican operative and former head of the Denver Republican Party–the same urban Republican social circle as Pinto herself. Lyng's staff includes Devan Crean, the Republican "tracker" who got embarrassingly mixed up in the state GOP chairmanship election battle early last month. You'll recall what Crean said about her work then:

The organization Ellie and I both work for ONLY tracks politicians and policy makers who are left-leaning. We DO NOT track fellow Republicans…

We haven't heard if Ms. Crean still works for Revealing Politics after that little fiasco, but we assume her Republican loyalties remain firmly intact. Given Pinto's background, we expect none of this will trouble her.

The obvious question is, why does the district have a need for so many conservative PR consultants? And that's an easy answer: in addition to having repeatedly stepped into controversy over such things as the conservative school board majority's ill-fated AP history "review" proposal, negotiations with the district's teachers on a new contract are about to get underway. A preliminary meeting just last night began to set the timetable for those negotiations. Following the antics of the Republican school board majority up to this point, fears that they will not enter negotiations with teachers in anything resembling good faith are well-founded. One need only look at Douglas County to see the worst-case scenario.

If these negotiations get ugly, the district's new army of GOP media flacks is going to be very busy indeed.

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  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    That is a kick ass photo of Call and Pinto too.

    Can we please recall WNW yet?

  2. Moderatus says:

    In Colorado Pols world, Republicans should simply be blackballed.

    • bullshit! says:

      Nope. Just opposed. Vigorously.

    • Davie says:

      In GOP World, why have one non-partisan Communication Director when you've tons of taxpayer monies to hire an entire gaggle of partisan stooges?

      Hey, you should see if there is any more room at that government trough and apply for a job too!  You're just as unqualified as Pinto, so should be in great company 🙂

  3. ElliotFladen says:

    Although ColoradoPols could be focusing on a REAL story (I.e. how the Rick Palacio rigged the state den chair race by making 46 last minute voter appointments) it instead chooses to go a Joe McCarthy route and make statements about …what exactly?

    Oh- that a school board coming under partisan fire is staffing up to combat that fire.  Why that is somehow a bigger deal than a RIGGED state party should be a mystery to anybody…except those who ask where ColoradoPols' funding comes from 😉

    • bullshit! says:

      Oh look! Fladen's here to throw up chaff for his Republican consultant friends.

      Nobody saw THAT coming. 🙂

      • ElliotFladen says:

        Oh look, several days after the Dems rig their state party election, Pols has yet to devote significant attention to that and instead focuses on complaining the press office of a billion dollar school district isn't filled with leftist lackeys and instead has a mere two people hired to actually run the place.

        Great sense of priorities!

        • ElliotFladen says:

          In other words, I could get MAYBE giving this a sentence or two if there was nothing else going on. Something along lines of "former employees ousted of school district possibly complaining about new employees through self-serving/agenda-drive  broadcasts of info?"

          But here is the thing: it isn't a slow news week.  You just had your party chair RIG YOUR ELECTION and I don't see a peep about it on this page.  Which makes one wonder: for a page devoted to politics, even leftist politics, why is the screwing of the progressive candidate (Sabados) getting ZERO attention but this is?

          Follow the money!

          • bullshit! says:

            Wow, all caps! That really gets my attention.

            There's a post a few posts down the page about the Dem chair election. Go bitch there, okay? Here you are just throwing up chaff and it's obvious as shit.

            • ElliotFladen says:

              There is a single story I saw announcing the results.  No story about the margin being only 28 votes when 46 were self-servingly appointed.  Why?

              • OrangeFree says:

                Considering Palacio:

                1) Didn't do anything against the rules with his appointments, even if the optics were a bit sleazy; and

                2) Still would have won absent the appointments

                That's hardly what I call rigged. So what's your issue again?

                • ElliotFladen says:

                  When was the last time that rule was enforced in the week prior to an election?

                  It was rigged.  And plenty of people on your side are saying same thing privately.

                  • Gilpin Guy says:

                    Hey Elliot

                    How did rigging the primary election to dispose of Tom Tancredo so that Bob Beauprez could win the nomination work out for Republicans?  Compared to that Palacio getting re-elected is small potatoes.  Really really small potatoes.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      The GOP Governor primary election in 2014 wasn't rigged.  Unless you have evidence that the GOP manufactured the margin of Beauprez's victory in fake/duplicate ballots. 

                  • BlueCat says:

                    Plenty here are saying it sure looks like an obvious maneuver to guarantee the results desired by Palacio even though no rules were broken. Once again you're engaged in a combo apples and oranges/Johnny does it too comparison.

                    Jeffco school board is obviously a completely partisan operation. That's all that's being posited here.The facts used to back up that proposition are solid. Simple.

                    For once in your life, try considering a proposition on its own merits. If you can't come up with anything to say about it on its own merits, but only by reaching for a comparison to something else not directly related, then we are free to assume that you have nothing concrete with which to refute. Once again, simple.

                • Gilpin Guy says:

                  His issue Orange is to try and distract from the current article by hyperventilating about something that was discussed in detail here last week.  It's the old "Look at the Birdy" ploy so that he doesn't have to address why this government funded organization is hiring political partisan cronies as fast as it can.  No doubt if it was Democrats engaging in such questionable hiring, he would be on it like a fly on shit.  What a shallow and funny man like creature.

                  • ElliotFladen says:

                    No, my point is broader than that.  It is that this is a non-story and that there are real stories Pols could be – and is refusing to – follow up on.  

                    The basics of this story is that JeffCo is hiring conservative people – who were ALLEGEDLY hired because they agreed with the school board's mission – to advocate for that mission.  Now, as an initial matter, the evidence that these people aren't qualified in their own right is scant at best and from hardly unbiased sources. 

                    But, for argument sake, let's assume (despite there being no evidence for it) that these people were hired for their ideology.  Even in that case, how this is a story WOULD STILL BE really unclear.  Organizations all the time hire people who agree with their mission and fire people who are insubordinate or are not willing to fully get on board with carrying out their mission.  Would the AFL-CIO hire a person who repeatedly advocates against an increased minimum wage and further "restrictions" on collective bargaining to work for it?  Would Greenpeace allow a person who believes in fracking to serve as its environmental comm's director?  Would the Obama administration have a press secretary who was openly anti-union, anti-choice in abortion, and in favor of phasing out social security?  The short answer is no, no, no. 

                    So what that leaves us is that a billion dollar school district is paying too much for this help.  Given the outsized salary to Cynthia Stevenson that I cannot seem to recall Pols complaining about, this isn't a convincing explanation.  

                    Which means that the "hey – squirrel!" excuse you say I am engaging in is really what this ENTIRE STORY IS.  Instead of focusing on the scandal of your state party elections you are seeking to change the subject – and possibly because the financial backers of Pols want to see the subject to changed away from Palacio. 

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Your point, as usual, is to be an apologist and you're not very good at it.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      Except you can't even show this is/should be a story.  As usual.  

                    • Gilpin Guy says:

                      The only scandal around here Elliot is the load in your pants.  You also forgot to get your usual quota of Benghazi into your predictably over-the-top with the Republican conspiracy de jour of the day.

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Of course the fact that the Jeffco public school system's board is a completely partisan operation is something of public interest. Much more so than the inside operation of a political party that isn't in charge of any government function paid for with our tax dollars. And that was a story too, much as you you want to claim it wasn't. It was in all the papes. It was featured and discussed here. You're full of it, as usual.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      My usual load of Benghazi?  When have I obsessed over the Benghazi incident? 

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      Bluecat, if you want to open the discussion of which manner school systems are run by partisans, I would be happy to ask where Teacher Union dues go to politically.  

                      Are you sure this is a discussion you wish to have? 😉

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Blue Cat here, Elliot. You are the one who wants to open a discussion on a subject other than the Jeffco school board because that is clearly a discussion on which you have nothing. So, no I don't care to open a discussion on teachers' unions, Benghazi, the state of contemporary art or the price of fish, all equally irrelevant to the subject we were discussing, at this juncture.

                      The fact that you can't discuss the Jeffco school board by discussing the ….ummm… Jeffco school board is your problem. Don't try to make it mine while you weasel out a direct response. As usual. Really, it's quite tiresome, Elliot. 

                  • Davie says:

                    Yep, when the Jeffco Board GOTP Elephant plans to drop a heavy load of shit, they need a lot of extra help to shovel it out the door.  Novitas is smart enough to charge for their efforts.  Guess Elliot is willing to shovel for free 😉

                     

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      I don't mind helping people out for free when I think they are being wronged.  You guys are wronging the named people here. 

                    • ajb says:

                      Elliot, isn't the crucial difference here that all the organizations you cite are privately funded, while the Jeffco school board is publicly funded? Somehow, I don't expect we'll see such a full-throated defensen of make-work patronage when the shoe is on the other foot.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      I don't think that distintion is relevant here.  Comm work for a public entity is real work.  Now maybe Novitas is getting paid more than they are worth for this gig.  Maybe less.  Point is that you guys weren't complaining about Stevenson's salary when she was making $200K a year in this district so your complaints on this now seem utterly cynical. 

                    • Progressicat says:

                      What does how much the superintendent made have to do with how much the PR folks are making?

                      Also, it seems like her $205k was a bargain considering the $280k ($220k base, $40k in performance, and $20k retirement offset) her less accomplished replacement will likely be bringing in.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      It is relevant because it shows that over the long haul ColoradoPols was perfectly happy paying school district employees hundreds of thousands of dollars so long as they were part of the Pols-approved ideological group.

                      As for paying the successor more, if you have to make an emergency hire due to your prior employee quitting on you, you might have to pay a significant premium. 

                    • Progressicat says:

                      It's interesting to me.  You can actually make some really interestesting, well-thought-out arguments.  I really enjoy these, even though I likely disagree.  At other times, particularly when challenged, you can trot out such weak and utter tripe that I wonder if someone else is writing the post.

                      Pols' stance doesn't demonstrate anything of the kind absent more information.  There is no indication that the former superintendent was incompetent or unqualified, which is exactly the argument that Pols is making with the flacks.  If the flacks were indisputably qualified and other flacks made similar salaries, what you said would be true.  Those facts aren't in evidence here.

                      Your second point is either profound ignorance or a lie.  There was no emergency hire.  Ms. Stevenson asked to be released early, but offered to stay for more than a month longer than the board chose to keep her.  There was a national search for her replacement that resulted in a dozen candidates, although it is true that the board chose only to consider one finalist.  That "emergency search" lasted for three months, apparently without the district collapsing.  He was paid more because they chose to pay him more– not because he was the lone person willing to take on the job.

  4. Look – stereotyped consultants! Hire one and soon you have a whole fleet of them sucking up your money.

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