Jeffco School Board Media Flacks Doth Protest Too Much

Michelle Balch Lyng, Lisa Pinto.

Michelle Balch Lyng, Lisa Pinto.

We talked last month about a GOP-aligned media relations shop, Novitas Communications, that was hired by the Jefferson County Board of Education’s new communications director Lisa Pinto–herself a longtime Republican political operative. Novitas’ contract to “shift” coverage of the controversial board majority to positive from the more or less unbroken string of disastrous press the district’s conservative majority has earned since taking office is a tall order, but we’ve been watching since this announcement for signs of Novitas and their conservative usual suspect friends swinging into action.

This week, we began to see the conservative media counterstrategy on behalf of the Jeffco school board take shape. Conservative blog Complete Colorado teamed up with the Independence Institute to hit back against the army of critics of the Jeffco school board majority on social media:

Parents, students, and teachers upset with the Jefferson County Public School District Board of Education majority members and select district staff continue to use social media to get their frustrations out.

However, some of those targeted by anonymous Twitter handles call their messages rude, intimidating, unflattering, and just plain mean at times.

And it appears the @notlisapinto, @notjohnnewkirk, @notdanmcminimee, @notkenwitt and @notjuliejeffco accounts are being operated with the blessing of the Colorado teachers union top official and the two top officials for the Jefferson County Parent Teacher Association – despite those organizations touting their goals as student-based and continually denouncing bullying through the #standup4kids Twitter hash tag.

Lisa Pinto, chief communications officer for Jeffco, said the Tweets about her are hurtful and judgmental. Because Pinto is not an elected official, those posting to her site could be held liable for the remarks…

#jeffcoschoolboardhistory

#jeffcoschoolboardhistory

First of all, there’s no question that Twitter has not been very good for the conservative Jefferson County school board majority. Last fall, the board’s proposal to “review” the district’s AP history curriculum to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, and respect for authority” became a worldwide news story largely because of the Twitter hashtag #jeffcoschoolboardhistory–which went viral with literally thousands of satirical Tweets lampooning Julie Williams and the proposal generally. Another Twitter hashtag, #standup4kids, is a major communications hub for opponents attending Jeffco board meetings.

So yeah, the Jeffco school board majority probably aren’t big fans of Twitter.

Hoping to garner sympathy for the board majority and discredit intense criticism on Twitter, the Independence Institute put up a low-quality website aggregating Tweets from some of these pseudonymous accounts. In the Complete Colorado post, there are allegations of racially charged Tweets against Pinto, who is Hispanic, but we haven’t seen that proven–or even clearly alleged which of the many Twitter accounts involved in discussion of the Jeffco school board might be responsible. The examples of “mean Tweets” posted to the Independence Institute’s Mean Girlz site aren’t anything close to that level of offense, and we assume if bonafide examples of racial harassment existed they would be front and center. Certainly anonymous Tweets can be meanspirited, but attempting to discredit real people simply because they “Re-Tweeted” something is asinine. And as for the notion that these accounts are operating “with the blessing” of the PTA or anyone else? Based on the Complete Colorado blog post, that appears to be totally baseless conjecture at best, and possibly downright libelous.

Bottom line: whining about treatment on social media doesn’t make the conservative Jeffco school board majority or their army of paid media flacks look good. Twitter is just one venue in which damaging information about the board majority’s actions flows freely to the public, and overwhelmingly, the content speaks for itself. If the board’s media flacks want to respond, the way to do that is factually–not by complaining about meanie anonymous Twitter trolls and playing silly guilt-by-association games.

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34 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    If you don’t want to be accused of being a purely partisan Board… don’t be one. If you want to be purely partisan, as every action they take proclaims, be proud of it. Is that so hard?

  2. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    There’s a ton of these. Not a new meme.

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    Haven’t heard much of late out of the Independence Institute . . . 

    . . . kind of nice to see they’re still screwing the pooch!

    Signed,

    Dick from the Internet*

    (h/t this week’s Dilbert strips)

  4. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Jeffco School Board majority needs to admit that they’ve already lost the war. They’ve lost credibility, lost the faith of the parents and students and teachers of the district that they have anything like their best interests at heart.

    They need to stop, regroup, and understand that Independence Institute and Complete Colorado can not win that faith and confidence back.

    Without it, they have no hope of governing. Teachers will teach, students will learn, good people will do what they need to do all over Jeffco… but it will be in spite of, not because of, this ludicrous and petty “public relations” effort.

  5. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    I was going to read the post but I stopped when I saw the picture you chose to use of Michelle.  Sorry but that was a completely asshole move on your part. 

  6. Pikes PiquedPikes Piqued says:

    So, bigotry and racism are a-ok with Fladen (so long as it’s coming from a Republican), but nosepicking is where he finds his moral outrage?  

    • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

      Let’s get a few things straight: I am not ok with bigotry/racism.  I think that should have been clear by now with multiple posts I have had (including out Nate Marshall as a stormfront sympathizer).  In any event, this isn’t a post about bigotry/racism. It’s a post where the author of ColoradoPols chose to act like an immature kindergartner by posting an embarrassing picture about a private person for no substantive reason whatsoever.  

      I’ll be blunt about this: this post is an embarrassment to the author and any funder of the author. I’ve alerted quite a few of my contacts on the left about it, and they all so far have agreed with me.

      And that is all I am going to speak about this topic on this page today.  

      • exlurker19 says:

        Good.  Oh, and good-bye.

      • Awen says:

        In public relations, no such thing as private, especially is she’s doing it in a public place and/or public meeting. She is NOT a private person by any stretch of the imagination; she’s a contractor for a public body and that makes her public, too.

      • bullshit!bullshit! says:

        Oh for Christ’s sake, Elliot, she’s A PAID PR HACK. This is like you demanding sympathy for those poor political mailer consultants who had no idea Photoshopping black people out of a mailer would be controversial. Which you did!

        Your faux outrage faltered here years ago, clown.

      • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

        Just because Elliot can be wrong, it doesn’t mean he can’t be right.  The use of the photo is churlish and, frankly, beneath the dignity of the folks who run this house.

        Chaps is crazy, and so I’m fine with the orgasmic jazz hands photo we use of him that underscores that.  Regardless of this woman’s motives or affiliations, brutalizing her with a photo of her caught in all her humanity is nothing short of bullying and not to be tolerated.  I hope to god nobody ever gets a shot of me when I’m vulnerable and uses it to define me.  If I start acting crazy, though, try to capture an image where I’m using jazz hands.

        • bullshit!bullshit! says:

          And…they took it down. I personally think that’s a mistake, Pols, don’t be bullied by Elliot Fladen. But whatever, it’s not worth arguing about I guess.

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          Pcat, thanks for this. I agree. I admit that I laughed at the nosepicking photo, but it doesn’t advance the Jeffco schools conversation at all, merely polarizes it further.

          When (not if) I’m acting crazy, try to get me on a “good hair” day. Monday before 7 am usually works.

          We have to have a few standards of privacy around here. I’ve known everything about Mrs. Klingenschmitt except her blood type for a couple of weeks now, for example, but I’m not going to publish it, because she doesn’t deserve to have her privacy invaded.

        • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

          I’m with you, PCat. I thought it was tacky. Judge her on the stupid things she does professionally. She’s bad enough without that photo. 

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          Right on all counts Pcat.

      • dustpuppydustpuppy says:

        Do let the door hit you on your ass on the way out.

  7. Pikes PiquedPikes Piqued says:

    I don’t know whether you’re one of those lawyerly types who gets off on intellectual dishonesty as indulging his bad boy side, or just a straight-up hypocrite. 

    As for your “contacts” on the left, any of them who take your “No, really, I’m an Independent” blather seriously are quite generous indeed. Or seriously impaired. 

  8. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

    Sorry, Pols, if you took it down because of Flaken, then I feel sorry for you, and put it up for all of its glory.

  9. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Re: the photo: much ado about nothing. GOP operatives do not enjoy special protections when photographed at a public event.

    It always amazes me how well-intentioned Democrats can drag a discussion off message by attacking each other over irrelevant crap. You’ve played right into Jon Caldara’s hands.

    That’s all I’ve got to say, Happy Easter everybody.

    • Pikes PiquedPikes Piqued says:

      Taking advantage of people’s good intentions is how (and why) Elliot has “contacts on the left” in the first place. They serve a purpose. 

      • exlurker19 says:

        Yep.  Thumbs up.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        PP, you don’t know anything about me, so please don’t speak for me. I’m neither a fool nor a dupe, but I suppose that I am one of Elliot’s “contacts on the left”.

        And he’s one of my “contacts on the right”.

        FYI, it’s OK to communicate like a grown-up with people you don’t necessarily agree with. Considering alternative points of view keeps the brain from atrophying.

        Someone earlier opined that this makes me “play into Caldara’s hands.”

        You know what plays into Caldara’s hands, and the entire right wing media propaganda machine’s hands? Treating people whose opinions differ as “the enemy”.

        You know what weakens that machine? Treating each other with common humanity and decency.

        Plus, sniping and name calling is so goddam boring, and will lose readership for whatever is worthwhile on the site.

        The photo? Not worth a piece of dried snot. I’m with the cook – let’s see some substance about what Jeffco school board is doing, and challenge the policies and proposals.

        • Pikes PiquedPikes Piqued says:

          Hey, whatever floats your boat. I have plenty of respect for alternative points of view, even ones I’m completely opposed to. I just don’t feel the need to brag about it.  But I seem to be lacking in superior finger-wagging, clucking with disapproval, and “More Open-Minded Than Thou” pontificating.

          This is one of the reasons people think leftists are silly.  We actually fight over who’s more well-intentioned.

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