Scrubbing Jeffco Schools Clean of Partisan Turd-Shiners

millerAs the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday, two of the more controversial expenditures approved by the outgoing right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board are swiftly going the way of the dodo following this month’s blowout recall election:

Brad Miller, the attorney hired by the conservative majority that was ousted in this month’s recall election, resigned this morning.

Miller was hired by the Jeffco board just a month after the November, 2013 election, a hiring that some have claimed violated the state’s open meetings law.

In his resignation email to board liaison Helen Neal, Miller cited the incoming school board’s desire to use the district’s legal counsel and statements by new board members that they would not need a private attorney…

As our readers will recall, the hiring of attorney Brad Miller by Jeffco Schools was hotly controversial, both due to his shady, very possibly illegal approval process, and his known-quantity status as an insider advocate for charter schools. According to the Denver Post’s report today, Miller’s contract stipulated $7,500 monthly for “services not to exceed 30 hours per month.” Nice work if you can get it!

Novitas' Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

Novitas’ Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

As Goodland continues at the Independent, Miller isn’t the only line-item from the old board’s tenure being shown the door:

Saturday, the school district posted a job opening for a chief communications officer. Those duties have been handled lately by Novitas Communications and Michelle Balch Lyng.

Novitas, a public-relations firm, was brought in last February, under a $50,000 five-month contract, to handle “supplemental communications duties.”

Novitas was hired by Lisa Pinto, who served as communications chief for less than six months. Pinto, an attorney with no background in public education communications, was deemed unqualified by the district search committee. Hired by Superintendent Dan McMinimee, she was frequently criticized for unprofessional behavior. After Pinto resigned, Lyng became the district’s chief spokesperson…

In retrospect, Novitas Communications’ service to Jefferson County Public Schools was an unqualified disaster. A solidly GOP-aligned public relations outfit staffed by local Republican usual suspects, Novitas was brought in to “supplement” the work of another longtime Republican Party communications flack, Lisa Pinto. Pinto’s lack of qualifications and by-all-accounts horrible interpersonal skills necessitated Novitas’ “help”–which ironically even more pointedly demonstrated Pinto’s uselessness, and hastened her departure a short while later under a considerable cloud.

But in the end, as is now a matter of history, Novitas couldn’t save the board majority that hired them.

Observers expect that the new Jeffco school board majority will work toward re-establishing the status quo ante in the district’s public relations office, using qualified district employees instead of high-priced contractors. Likewise with the board’s need for legal counsel. We haven’t heard if that future will include ex-Novitas GOP media operative Devan Crean, but we could certainly see how it might not.

The moral of the story: when your agenda for your organization is constructive instead of malicious, there’s less need for all that, you know, “outside help.”

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    Buh bye! Miller is out of the equivalent role at Thompson schools too. To hell with these patronage fucks and party hacks.

  2. Socialisticat says:

    I, for one, really hope that Randy, Julie Williams' special needs son, will consider applying for the communications position.  If anyone has shown leadership in difficult times and the ability to communicate positively about Jeffco schools, it was him.  Taking his own stance, defying his mother's, and leading that parade were critical to the recall's success.

  3. BlueCat says:

    OK modster. You can go ahead and complain about this one as long you acknowledge it's the first time anybody used Julie's son in the context of a mocking joke. Thanks for nothing SCat.

    • Moderatus says:

      It was not the first time. The entire post and every comment about Randy Williams was hurtful.

      • BlueCat says:

        Bull. Up until this comment not one of us posted anything mocking Randy Williams in any way. Show us the posts you claim did so prior to this or shut up and go away. For good. 

        • Socialisticat says:

          The false assumption is that the post mocks the child at all.

          It mocks the recall opponents, using exactly the language used by their manufactured outrage machine.  As though the fact that the kid has some level of impairment makes it worse if he were bullied into "leading a parade" against his mom.  Bullying the kid would have been awful regardless of his capabilities.  Of course, none of that happened.

          But on the right, to gin up outrage about how a kid is treated, you have to suggest he is somehow vulnerable, or your fellows will think he just needs to "sack up."

      • BlueCat says:

        Show us the comments or shut up and go away.

    • Socialisticat says:

      Oh, I've done it many times.

  4. JeffcoDemo says:

    My, I wish I was on the new school board thought of the day.

    "Mr. MinniMac, yes, could you tell the board whether you were ordered by the former board majority to hire Ms. Pinto against the advice of the search committee or is the type of hiring decision we should expect  from you?"

    if he gives up the board, it would be just another example of the disregard for the public process by the old board.

    If he takes the fall, he looks like an idiot and I would make a motion that the board review all direct hires by this stooge.

    And of course I would have to add something like this:"we understand you were hired against the advice of a search committee and you may think that is good way to hire someone, but we need you to understand, that is actually a bad way to make hiring decisions."

    And thus shows why I won't get elected to anything anytime real soon.

  5. mamajama55 says:

    Here's something to smile about:

    The old, recalled school board and retiring members are “played out” by the sweet sounds of a Jeffco student orchestra


    and the new board is sworn in and seated, to the sounds of thunderous applause.




    Photos Courtesy of Lesley Dahlkemper, via Brenda Bronson, new grandma and formidable fighter for Jeffco.


  6. Duke Cox says:

    Congratulations to one and all! Democracy lives in Jefferson County, Colorado!

  7. mamajama55 says:

    Thank you Jeffco recall activists…..This woman no longer makes decisions about education of your "cild" in Jeffco.

    Spelling and wording – all hers.

    Julie Williams via Stop Common Core Colorado

    The US Senate will vote for the reauthorization of No Cild Left Behind this Tuesday, December 8th.
    **If it passes the "Progressive Nationalist" will pretty much own our schools and they will be close to having control over the hearts and minds of our children. We must stop this from happening!
    **Please call Washington now!

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