Joann Ginal Wins Assembly Nomination; Clears HD-52 Primary Field

At Saturday’s Larimer County Democratic Assembly, Joann Ginal, candidate for House District 52, won a stunning 119 votes out of 132 voting delegates, or 90.15% of the vote, effectively ending a potential primary battle in her district.  

Her opponent, Tom Griggs, received 13 votes or 9.85% of the vote. Under Colorado law, a candidate who receives less than ten percent of the vote at assembly is ineligible to petition onto the primary ballot (CRS 1-4-801(4)(d)). Ginal is a new-comer candidate who defeated a longtime local Democratic fixture who had previously run for Mayor of Fort Collins and the State Board of Education.

On Saturday, Joann’s campaign sent out an announcement to supporters:

Fort Collins, CO — State House District 52 candidate Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) decisively won the HD-52 Democratic assembly today, which was held in conjunction with the Larimer County Democratic Party assembly at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins. The assembly vote determines who will be listed on the Democratic primary ballot.

“I am honored to have earned the confidence and support of my fellow Democrats,” said Ginal. “As state representative, I will always fight for good paying jobs, funding for education, and for a clean and safe environment.”

Ginal was nominated by current Rep. John Kefalas and Nancy Tellez, former President of the Poudre School District Board of Education. The results secured the Democratic nomination for Ginal, clearing the field of opposition. Out of 132 voting delegates at the HD-52 assembly, Ginal received 119 votes, or 90.15% of the vote. Under Colorado law, a candidate who receives less than ten percent of the vote at assembly is ineligible to petition onto the primary ballot (CRS 1-4-801(4)(d)).

“Joann Ginal is a true public servant who will embody the values of Fort Collins as state representative,” said Democratic Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino. “The strength of her campaign and her deep support in the community proves she will win in November and be a strong voice for Fort Collins in the State House.”

Joann Ginal has worked in the biological and medical fields for more than 20 years as a teacher, researcher and most recently as a medical science liaison in medical affairs. She earned a Ph.D. in Reproductive Endocrinology from Colorado State University in 1997. Ginal served for eight years on the city’s Human Relations Commission; and prior to that for for eight years on the Commission of the Status of Women. As a Master Naturalist for the City of Fort Collins, Joann cares deeply about preserving the special places that make Fort Collins a nationally-recognized place to retire, buy a home, start a business or receive an education. Her campaign website is

House District 52 represents the eastern half of Fort Collins. This is a district that has been in flux since 1992. According to the Colorado Statesman, it’s largely been in Republican hands until 2006.

In 2000, Democrat Bryan Jameson won the seat, and from 1992 to 2000 the district was represented for four terms by Republican Steve Tool.

Current State Representative John Kefalas, who is running for retiring Senator Bob Bacon’s seat, initially lost his first run in this district in 2004 by 500 votes to incumbent Bob McCluskey.

Kefalas came back in 2006 to narrowly win against McCluskey; he won re-election in 2008 against another rematch with McCluskey. In 2010, Kefalas ran and defeated Bob Morain, who was a last minute replacement for announced candidate Aislinn Kottwitz.

Current HD 52 Representative John Kefalas officially nominated her on Saturday. State Rep. Randy Fischer, a Democratic Representative for HD 53 in Fort Collins, has been an early supporter for Ginal since her announcement to run last November as well as a mentor to her campaign.

Her list of endorsements include local and statewide support–it reads as a veritable who’s who of Democratic activists (partial list below).

Randy Fischer

State Representative

Rhonda Fields

State Representative

John Kefalas

State Representative

Andy Kerr

State Representative

Angie Paccione

Former Representative

Sue Schafer

State Representative

Bernie Strom

Former State Representative

Gina Janett

Former Fort Collins City Mayor Pro Tem

Susan Kirkpatrick

Former Fort Collins Mayor

Barbara Liebler

Former Fort Collins and Loveland City Councilmember

Ben Manvel

Fort Collins City Councilmember

Lisa Poppaw

Fort Collins City Councilmember

Joan Shaffer

Loveland City Councilmember

Tom Balchak

Poudre School District Director

Doug Frisbie

Former Park School District Board Vice President

Ross Cunniff

Former Poudre School District Director

Cathy Kipp

Poudre School District Director

James Ross

Poudre School District Director

John Stegner

Former Member of the CSU Board of Governors

Nancy Tellez

Poudre School District Director

When I first wrote about Joann’s announcement to run back in November 2011, I noted the following:

Notably, Joann is the first LGBT candidate to run for office in this district and is now the fourth announced openly LGBT candidate running for the legislature in 2012.

…Joann has done plenty of knocking on doors for local candidates and has a good idea of the time and dime involved in running for the State House.

Considering the concerted attack from the Republican Party against women, I’m particularly pleased to see a candidate in this race with real life experience in women’s health.

CAREER: Over 20 years in the Healthcare Industry.

1. Specialized in increasing market access to contraception and estrogen replacement therapy.

2. Joann helped physicians make critical decisions about medications to save patients’ lives.

The Larimer Republican County Assembly is March 24 and Democrats are eager to run against newly announced Republican candidate Jim O’Neill.

This is a seat Democrats intend to fight hard to hold onto. With the coalescing around Ginal from Democrats from around the state, Ginal is taking nothing for granted. In four short months, she has raised over $16,000 and has over $14,000 cash on hand as of the end of January. She managed to outraise her primary opponent who announced nearly three months prior to her entering the race.

Now that the prospect of a potential primary is in her rear view mirror, Ginal can concentrate on making her case for why she is the best choice to represent HD 52.  

Turn On, Tune In, Drop In…to Your Local Caucus

Yep, it’s here. It’s Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 and it’s caucus day for the Democratic Party. Some of you have state house or state senate primaries. Some of you don’t. Half of you don’t have so much as a single primary, even on a local county commissioner level this year. And you’re thinking to yourself, so what’s the point of showing up?

Here’s the point. It’s time to get organized. It’s time to get involved. It’s time to see those folks that you only see every two or four years (they’ll be wearing name tags so don’t panic if you blank out and your social skills abandon you.)

It’s time to push back. Hard. Maybe harder than we ever have before. Push back against an agenda that is set on undoing just about every single good thing that has happened in this country in the last 45 years.

Does that sound like a dire overstatement? It isn’t. If you’re a Democrat, it’s your reality.

So get off Facebook, get off your ass, get off the phone, stop watching MSNBC, stop listening to your AM radio and get to caucus. Catch a ride, take a bus, carpool. Walk. Crawl. I don’t care how you get there. Just get there. And stand up, speak out and volunteer to get out the vote.

Trust me, you’ll be there an hour tops–plenty of time to zip back home and watch the Avalanche kick Minnesota’s butt, Part Deux.

If you don’t know where your caucus location is today, go to the Colorado Dems website, click on “Where Do I Vote” and type in your street address and zip code. If you have any difficulty finding your location, call 1-800-311-8683.

I can’t make this any easier for you. It’s your choice whether to sit on the sidelines and bitch for the next 9 months or actively participate.

I’m choosing to participate. What are you choosing to do?

Not Mormon? No Problem. You will be Once you Die…Like it or Not.

Nobel Prize winner Eli Wiesel reacted with disgust and outrage today in response to a recent article by the Huffington Post that claimed,

“according to a formerly-Mormon researcher, Helen Radkey, some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had submitted Wiesel’s name to a restricted genealogy website as “ready” for posthumous proxy baptism.”

Former Mormon researcher Radkey discovered last week that both Wiesel’s father, Chlomo Wiesel, who died during the Holocaust in Buchenwald’s crematorium, as well as Wiesel’s grandfather, had been “proposed” for a proxy baptism, as had Eli Wiesel. This practice has been carried on for nearly 100 years, since 1918 when the President of the Church had the genius idea that the entire human race should be posthumously baptized into the Mormon Church.

Nice thought on behalf of the Mormons but a couple of little problems with their latest magnanimous gesture towards Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel (a gesture they are now blatantly denying)–Wiesel isn’t dead yet and he isn’t remotely interested in himself or anyone in his family being posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith.

When asked for comment, Eli Wiesel vehemently objected,

“I think it’s scandalous. Not only objectionable, it’s scandalous.”

Worse, the ongoing practice is in direct violation of a 1995 agreement forged between the Mormon church and outraged Jewish leaders to discontinue the practice–an agreement that was promptly and conveniently ignored for another 15 years. The practice continued until 2010 when the Church finally agreed to at least cease and desist from proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims.

The Mormon Church has conducted posthumous proxy baptisms on over 650,000 Holocaust victims.


Radkey also discovered last month in this restricted Mormon database that church members in Utah, Arizona and Idaho had baptized the long-dead parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, whose mother was murdered in the Belzec death camp.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the practice in no uncertain terms, declaring,

“Throughout his life, Simon Wiesenthal especially revered his beloved mother who was deported and murdered at Belzec death camp in 1942. Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon Church dating back to 1995 that focused on the unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust.”

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in an interview with The Daily Beast, admitted he personally performed posthumous proxy baptisms in the past.

When asked by NEWSWEEK if he has done baptisms for the dead–in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to “open the door” to the highest heaven–he looked slightly startled and answered, “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.”

Huffington Post contacted Romney’s campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho for comment on this breaking story.

Instead of an official reply from the campaign, in a rather large oopsie moment, Gitcho accidentally sent the HuffPost’s reporter an internal email suggesting the campaign ignore the request for comment on this story.

Good thinking since ignoring an issue always makes it immediately go away, doncha know, and particularly a story with the gravitas that Eli Wiesel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center bring to the subject of the Holocaust.

Can I just go on the record now and publicly state that I do not wish to be posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith after my eventual demise? I realize, based on the evidence of the last 100 years, that my request will be completely ignored but it’s worth a shot, none the less.  

Friday Jams Fest (Special Dedication Edition)

I dedicate this Friday’s Jam Fest to Mitt Romney in a fitting tribute to his primary run thus far.

Losing Two out of Three Primary Races Ain’t Bad, Mitts. They want you. They need you. But there ain’t no way they are ever gonna love you…

ArapaGOP, this one’s for you, baby.

Cheer up, Mittsy. Look on the bright side. You won New Hampshire, you pay a lower tax rate than I do, you’re über rich, you speak French and you have great hair. Party on, my man.  

It’s All About the Kids…It Really Is.

There are programs in the state of Colorado that really are about our kids and their future. I had the rare opportunity to participate in one of them. It changed my life and I’m pretty sure it changed a kid named “Michael” (not his real name), too.  

The School to Work Alliance Program is a program run through the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. It is a collaborative initiative between the DVR and local school districts and is supported by the Colorado Department of Education.

An applicant between the ages of 16 and 25 applies to SWAP and then fills out a variety of paperwork for the SWAP coordinator to get an idea what his interests are, what level he is at education wise, and some background on his past.

Once accepted into the program, the student begins his journey. From day one, the coordinator follows the student every step of the way through the program including one on one regular interaction with the applicant, as well as communication with both the parents and the student’s teachers.

SWAP is designed to provide employment-related assistance to youth and young adults with disabilities, who are experiencing mild to moderate barriers to employment. Disabilities can take the form of physical, emotional or learning disabilities. SWAP provides assistance that not only produces a desirable employment outcome (such as a career-path job), but also teaches appropriate job seeking and job retention skills that can be utilized throughout a lifetime.  

Once enrolled in SWAP, the student has the one on one, full time, individual monitoring of somebody who is paying attention and calling him on his shit every single step of the way. SWAP coordinators monitor each student for an additional year after the student has successfully completed his program.

Once the coordinator feels the student is doing well in the program, making progress and is ready, she sets up a ghost interview for the student to sharpen his interviewing skills, with the hope of placing the student in a paying job for 90 days. The coordinator will even come to his place of employment and stay with the new employee throughout his work day if he is getting off track.

SWAP offers some pretty enticing incentives to small business owners and employers. If you hire one of their students, the program offers WOTC (work opportunity tax credit)–a federal tax credit that reduces an employer’s federal tax liability by as much as $2,400 per qualified “new hire.”  

SWAP provides workers compensation covered by the State of Colorado. All the employer is on the hook for is deducting Social Security and Medicare from the employee’s paycheck.

In addition to the tax credit, SWAP pays 75% of the employee’s first month’s wages, 50% of the second month, and 25% of the third month. In other words, they pay half of your employee’s wages for his 90 day stint.

Now, the downside–these are teens and young adults that are running out of choices and chances. There is a strong likelihood that they will fail to complete their 90 day employment mandate. In order to successfully complete a SWAP program, they must be in your employment and doing a good job for 3 months, showing up on time, not calling in sick, not slacking on the job. In other words, SWAP expects them to be a real employee who meets real life expectations.

Who are these kids? These are teenagers to young adults with a variety of strikes against them ranging from physical disabilities to learning or emotional disabilities, kids that are failing school, kids that have spent quality time in Juvy Hall and have criminal records. Some have done nothing wrong at all but simply have limited employment options, usually due to learning disabilities. They will never go to college. They will be lucky to complete their GED and have been pushed through the system, from grade to grade.

So how did I get involved? In August, I got a call from an old friend of mine that is now a SWAP coordinator at our local high school. She asked me for what seemed like a pretty easy favor–would I be willing to “ghost interview” a SWAP student? A ghost interview is for a student who has been enrolled in the SWAP program for six months; he attends a real life job interview to learn how to polish his interviewing skills in front of an actual employer.

Practice with the coordinator is over. This is the precursor to the real thing–going in front of an employer for a real job to complete the last stage of his program.

I said, “Sure, why not? I love this idea.  Let’s do it. I’d like to see what your program is about and I’ve got spare time on Friday.”

The day before the interview, my friend called and said she had a second applicant named Michael that was also ready for his first ghost interview. Could he come along? Again, sure. Why not? Good experience for both kids and a chance for me to do something community oriented for an old friend.

Both students came to the interview. They were as different as night and day. My heart said go with “Dan,” the original and first applicant, a young man in his early twenties. The coordinator had told me quite a bit about him and his major hitch in life was a physically disabling injury. I liked Dan immediately. Sweet, shy, reticent and kindhearted. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I loved his compassion.

My head said if I were actually hiring one of these two, go with “Michael,” the second applicant, a seventeen year old teenager who had been added on to the interview process at the last minute. Why? For the simple reason that unlike Dan, he would be up to the physical tasks required of the job.

After the interview, the coordinator called me and asked for feedback. I gave her my impressions of both candidates and we discussed what areas they could improve on in future interviews.

We got off topic when I mentioned that my current employee was a deadbeat and often a no show. I couldn’t wait to fire him as soon as busy season was over. I also noted that I would love to fire him sooner but simply was too busy during our tourist season to let him go.

My dear friend and SWAP coordinator then informed me that both applicants were actually looking for jobs to complete their final stage of the SWAP program. I desperately needed an employee from Labor Day until the first week of January this year. My problem was that I was heading into slow season and didn’t have the money to really keep an employee on past mid October. Estes Park is a tourist town and business comes to a screeching halt with a couple of holiday exceptions.

On the other hand, my current employee sucked and with SWAP’s incentives for employers, it was a win/win situation for a small business owner like me and I decided to go for it.

I went with my head and chose Michael. He looked like he could handle the physicality of the job. I had a gut feeling about him that I couldn’t put into words. I figured he couldn’t be any worse than the 20 something loser that was currently getting himself fired.  

Truthfully, I was unimpressed with Michael during his interview. He was twitchy, fidgety and seemed to have a fairly short attention span. He looked bored during the interview. He looked like he wished he was anywhere else in the world other than my office. Color me unimpressed. Yet, for inexplicable reasons, I chose him over Dan. Realistically, I prepared myself for the worst and hoped for the best.

My new employee “Michael” has been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, another learning disability that I couldn’t even pronounce, multiple run ins with the local police, a juvenile record, and three weeks after coming on board with me, was expelled from high school for a full year. He has third grade writing skills, has worked multiple “special education” programs and year after year, with failing grades, moved right on through the system.

How a 17 year old teenager with a third grade writing level and who cannot read anything written in cursive passed from grade to grade is probably a subject for a whole other diary. Long story short, Michael moved through the system, stealing electronics for a couple of years and failing time and again to show up for class and kept on moving up grade after grade. That is, until the school system had enough of his disruptive and delinquent behavior and decided to expel him for something that was entirely his fault–carrying marijuana paraphernalia onto a high school campus.

Michael was about to fall through the cracks for good. Jail was looking like his future career. A life of crime wasn’t even in the cards since he had a habit of getting caught every time he committed one. I’d say the list was pretty short of people who ever expected him to be anything more than a fuck up or incarcerated.

I know he has brought plenty of misery onto himself. I also know that his reputation in this town now precedes him which undercuts him at every turn. His juvenile delinquent friends aren’t helping, either.

His parents, in desperation, asked a teacher at his high school if there were any viable alternatives left that they could try. And that’s where SWAP came on board. And that’s how I met Michael.

Michael. Ah, Michael. He is brilliant, sweet, witty, charming and full of potential. He can fix virtually anything that breaks, usually by jerry rigging it. He knows how to help me use programs on my computer that I didn’t even know existed. He has a sense of humor that is off the charts. He sometimes makes me laugh so hard, it hurts to breathe. He’s wonderfully affectionate with the dogs, diligent about his work duties and my clients love him. (He made out like a bandit at Christmas–he got so many gifts, mostly cash, that his dad confronted him and asked him if he was stealing again.)

Michael and I developed trust early on. He started telling me about personal stuff, both the good and the bad. We had heart to heart talks on multiple occasions, especially about messing up your life and putting it back together, an area I know a little something about.

We got into the routine of me giving him a ride home every evening since he doesn’t have a car and rode his bike or skateboarded to work every day. During the car rides, we shared a couple of truly outstanding sunsets and several near fatal misses with elk walking down the middle of the highway in the dark. We became friends.

We figured out early on that he can read pretty damn well if things are typed out, not written. With SWAP employees, you muddle through as you go along and keep finding ways that work for both you and your prodigy. And with a little luck, you make it work for both of you.

We hit plenty of bumps in the road along the way. And SWAP was there for every single bump and a couple of face to face interventions. And we made it. We made it work and then some. Michael not only made his 90 days, he stayed on an extra month with me as my paid employee. His last day was Friday.

And because he made it through SWAP successfully, he got on the short list for Job Corps in Darby, Montana. He got chosen and approved in December and is on his way to their campus tomorrow. Job Corps offers a variety of career programs for students to choose from; they can stay at Job Corp for up to 2 years. Students live in dormitories on campus and have full health insurance benefits.

Michael will be completing his GED and has settled on studying both Welding and Forestry. Instead of spending the rest of his adult life selling drugs, sitting in jail or preparing fast food, Michael has a real future with a real career ahead of him.

So yes, this is a personal tale and a simultaneous plug for SWAP, for a program that took on a kid with a dim future and gave him the chance at a brand new life.

One final and very personal note, if you are considering looking into SWAP for your business, let me share something with you. I’m not certain who got more out of this experience but I’m pretty sure it was me. I got the chance to participate in a program that focuses on the kids we are giving up on in society. I got the opportunity to actively play a role in helping a kid redeem himself with some measure of grace, watch him approach a crossroads in his life and head down a path towards a real future. And at the end of the day, I got not just an employee but a friend that I not only treasure but will miss like mad every single day.

And you know what? I think Michael is gonna make it. I don’t know for sure, but I have a good feeling about his chances.  

Bon Voyage, Tom Lucero

And in the blink of an eye, the latest Chairman of the Larimer County Republicans has left the building. To the surprise of many local party officials, Lucero abruptly resigned late last Tuesday, in a letter to the local party.

After coming on board last year to clean up the incompetent, fraudulent mess left behind by former Chair and now indicted Larry Carillo, Tom Lucero has apparently decided to move on.

In March 2011, former congressional candidate Tom Lucero was elected to lead the local county GOP out of the debt ridden morass left behind by his predecessor, two former Committee Treasurers that have since resigned and the executive committee of the Larimer County GOP.

Former Ft. Collins state legislator Steve Tool and local Tea Party activist Tom Buchanan have both been mentioned as possible candidates for Chair. Buchanan confirmed to the Loveland Reporter Herald that he is running. He added that Lucero’s abrupt resignation was an unexpected and “complete surprise.” An election to replace Lucero will be held on Thursday, January 12, by the Republican Central Committee, time and place yet to be determined.

Initial fines for continuous failure to report and file reports for at least $90,000 in campaign contributions originally ranged in the $200K range; as Lucero attempted to get his Larimer Republican house in order, the fines dropped to around $50 grand.

Those fines were reduced by the ever “forgiving” Secretary of State Scott Gessler to a measly $16,000 in August 2011.  Apparently, slashing those fines was not enough for Gessler or the local GOP, who also went on to hold a fundraiser  to “Retire the Debt.” Gessler graciously volunteered to assist the party in reducing their debt by attending a Fort Collins fundraiser where you could dunk our fair Secretary to your heart’s content.

After a media uproar over the “dunking fundraiser” at a local park, the fundraiser was moved to a private residence with a suggested contribution of $20 per person to be in the same room with our esteemed Secretary of State. All proceeds were designated towards paying off the fines.

Apparently, the fundraiser was a raging success. According to outgoing Chairman Lucero, the local Party has gone from “close to $35,000 in debt to having over $8,000 in the bank”. Sounds like an excellent time to leave on a high note.

KUNC reported last Thursday that Lucero resigned, “citing a need to focus more time on his consulting business.” At least he didn’t bail out to spend more time with the family.  

HD 52 Race a Key Component to TBTH in 2012

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Two unexpected and welcome developments occurred on Friday in local politics–Representative Don Beezley abruptly announced he would not be running for re-election in HD33, a seat he narrowly won in 2010. His win against Dianne Primavera gave the Colorado GOP a one-seat majority in the State House. It is safe to say that this race should be on your radar as it is considered a prime pick up opportunity for Colorado Democrats in their bid to take back the House.

The second development with less fanfare but equal enthusiasm occurred in Fort Collins on Friday with the announcement from Joann Ginal that she has thrown her hat into the ring to run for Representative John Kefalas’s House seat in District 52. (Kefalas is running for retiring Senator Bob Bacon’s seat.)  

HD52 is a critical House seat for Democrats–this seat is currently in Democratic hands. If it stays in their column, chances drastically improve for retaking the majority in the House. This race depends largely on having the right candidate who can consolidate support, raise money and get out the vote for races up and down the ticket.

Joann is not another recycled party insider–she has real life experience in how to make ends meet. Her dad was a WWII vet who went on to serve as a police officer for 25 years. Her stay at home mom raised 3 children in a working class environment with the family’s focus on sending their children to college where they could earn an education in order to have better lives with better opportunities.  

She worked a minimum wage assembly line job to help put herself through school, has a Masters in Zoology and earned a Ph.D. in Reproductive Endocrinology from Colorado State University.

Notably, Joann is the first LGBT candidate to run for office in this district and is now the fourth announced openly LGBT candidate running for the legislature in 2012.

She has worked for 20 years as a scientist in medical research and has been active in local community causes for two decades. She has served for eight years with the Fort Collins Human Relations Commission and also worked as a Master Naturalist. Joann has done plenty of knocking on doors for local candidates and has a good idea of the time and dime involved in running for the State House.  

Something I find particularly fascinating is her work involving environmental issues in South America and Africa. Considering the current upheaval and future uncertainty regarding the Cache la Poudre River as well as the ongoing issues of water shortages as the Front Range expands, I was particularly impressed to note her educational work in that area–some desperately needed expertise considering the state of things in my own backyard.  

Joann has led educational expeditions for several years in the Amazon River region of South America and safaris in Africa. She has witnessed first hand the biological complexity and fragility of the earth’s rivers and forests, and will work hard in the House of Representatives to protect our ecosystems in Fort Collins and Colorado for future generations.

Within less than 72 hours, she has amassed an impressive array of endorsements as well as raise nearly $2,000 on her newly activated Act Blue Page.

A few months ago, 2009 mayoral candidate Tom Griggs announced for HD-52. Griggs’ one attempt to announce an endorsement–using Rep. Judy Solano’s name–quickly led to a public apology on his part since he hadn’t gotten her permission to do so.

In light of blunders like that, it would appear from her endorsement page that local elected officials and Democratic opinion leaders are rallying around Joann as the candidate who won’t put the seat in jeopardy of a Republican takeover.

The list is a Who’s Who of activist Democrats both locally and statewide.

Her endorsement page includes:

Randy Fischer

State Representative

Rhonda Fields

State Representative

Angie Paccione

Former Representative

Sue Schafer

State Representative

Bernie Strom

Former State Representative

Gina Janett

Former Fort Collins City Mayor Pro Tem

Susan Kirkpatrick

Former Fort Collins Mayor

Ben Manvel

Fort Collins City Councilmember

Lisa Poppaw

Fort Collins City Councilmember

Joan Shaffer

Loveland City Councilmember

Tom Balchak

Poudre School District Director

Cathy Kipp

Poudre School District Director

James Ross

Poudre School District Director

Nancy Tellez

Poudre School District Director

Guendolyn Argrow

Elaine Boni

Debra Bustos

Eliza Carney

Gordon Coombes

Deb Ellingson

Nancy Fleischhacker

Susan P. Hall

Mims Harris

Carol Henderson

KC Hogan

Gerry Horak

Karen M. Langdon

Steven Lucas

Jan Martin

Julie J. McQueen

Ann Molison

Laura Nealon

Sandra K. Russell

Paul Schnaitter

Mark Shaffer

Scott Skogerboe

Dian Sparling

Cordelia Stone

Lucin Turner

Linda Wagner

Gary Wockner

Joann Ginal’s website can be found here. Her campaign seems to be up and running full steam ahead. In the interest of full disclosure, I will be volunteering heavily on this race as I and every Democrat in this state have a vested interest in taking back the House next year. With Joann Ginal, our odds just got a whole lot better.  

Republican Roundup at the Reagan Corral

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

So for those of you that chose to do something other than bore yourselves to death last night, indulge me while I summarize Wednesday night’s debate.

Allow me to introduce The Players at the 4th Republican Primary Debate for the 2012 Presidential Election (or more aptly titled, “We Worship and Honor You, Ronald Reagan”).

Herman Cain–founder of bad pizza and the even worse 9-9-9 plan. Whatever the hell that is. Fun guy in a “bring your crazy uncle to Christmas ’cause he’s got no where else to go” sort of way.

Rick Santorum–Who? Odds makers in Vegas right now are ramping up and taking bets on what day he officially drops out of a race no one realizes he’s in.

Jon Huntsman–the sanest man in the room. Publicly reiterated that his Party needs to stop running away from proven science that global warming exists and join the rest of us in the 21st century or the Republican Party will lose Independent voters. Also stated Bachmann’s $2 per gallon gas plan is “unrealistic.”

Both of those statements make it official–I, Middle of the Road, now have a better chance of becoming the next President of the United States than Jon Huntsman.

Ron Paul–a retired physician who I thank my personal Jesus every single day is no longer practicing medicine. Espouses ending everything government related and I do mean everything, including the TSA and Homeland Security. Prides himself on his ballsy, “think outside the box” approach but won’t man up enough to change his party affiliation to what he really is–a Libertarian.

Newt Gingrich–One of the best political strategists living today. Like him or hate him, he knows how to stay on message (“this is about making Obama a one term President”), unlike his unruly brethren. Unfortunately, like Rick Santorum, no one is aware he’s running for office. Throw his name on the odds makers’ board.

Michelle Bachmann–Articulate, good stage presence, promises $2 gallon gas and one free unicorn per family unit if elected, thinks we should never have been involved in the overthrow of Gaddafi (bad, bad idea overthrowing a dictator who tortured people), firm believer that we need to build a fence to keep out brown people–clearly her bold plan for creating jobs.

The steam and momentum of her campaign have been completely derailed by Perry’s entrance into the race. Was asked minimal questions and had about as much stage time as Huntsman and Santorum. Appears the moderators, for a good portion of the debate, forgot she was there, too.

Mitt Romney–defended Social Security-one of the clearest differences he carved out between himself and Rick Perry, defended (badly) his state health care program which our national plan now mirrors. A big fan of fences, took some cheap shots at Perry and his hair looked awesome.

Rick Perry–took shots from just about everybody. And why was that? Because everybody in the room knows he’s the current front runner. Declared himself the human piñata of the debate, which deeply impressed the audience with his vast depth of knowledge of a foreign language word.  

Called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme”, bragged about how awesome Texas education is (the state ranks dead last for those that graduate from high school) and then blamed Mexicans for everything that’s wrong with it, bragged about Texas’s health care system where 25% of the population is uninsured (that’s one out of four for those of you that don’t do percentages), bragged about how many people Texas has offed because capital punishment is awesome. Oh, and he’s a big fan of fences. And his hair looked awesome.

On a plus note, no one seemed to be packing heat so there were no duels, which is somewhat unfortunate since it would have made the debate slightly more interesting. The whole experience was so damned boring, I actually longed for Sarah Palin.  

Who will be the Republican Primary candidate in 2012?

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Romer’s Kitchen Cabinet Advisors Resign Over Negative Campaigning

Three well known Democratic operatives serving as informal advisers for Denver Mayoral candidate Chris Romer’s campaign quit Wednesday, May 18th, citing concerns over negative campaigning.

The Players:

Chris Gates–former Colorado Democratic Party Chairman. Founder of the Colorado Institute for Leadership Training.

Paul Lhevine–Ran DeGette’s re-election campaign in 2002. Campaign Manager for John Hickenlooper in 2003. Managed Wellington Webb’s campaign for DNC Chariman in 2004. Worked for The Kenney Group. Director of Operations for 2008 Denver Convention Host Committee.  

Mark Eddy–Current owner of Mark Eddy communications. Heavy hitter whose former clients include Denver Public Schools, ProgressNow Colorado, Gill Foundation, Colorado Education Association, The Kenney Group, Colorado conservation Trust, Media Matters for America, Rothgerber, Johnson and Lyons, and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado.

All three “Kitchen Cabinet Advisers” were key players in Governor John Hickenlooper’s campaign for mayor in 2003.  

Their departure directly coincided with a rumor that Romer’s camp spent the better part of a day denying–that Governor Hickenlooper had personally phoned Romer over concerns regarding a negative tv ad that specifically referenced Hickenlooper. Romer admitted he had a conversation with Hickenlooper but denied pulling the ad as a result of the call. According to Eli Stokols article, Romer’s staff insisted that the ad “had run its course.”

The ad is no longer on air.

Romer’s campaign also denies that Gates, Lhevine and Eddy left due to the negative tone Romer’s campaign has taken since the election in May. The campaign claims that the three advisers were simply too busy with work and spending more quality time with their families and can no longer spare their time or advice.

Apparently, being an informal, non-paid adviser can be quite time consuming.  

At Least He’s Not Your State Representative…

(Don’t go there, J. Paul Brown would never pack a .22 – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican State Representative Frederick Ladd Wintle was arrested today for pulling a loaded .22 caliber handgun on a local newspaper photographer in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts in Garland, Maine.

In what is described as a series of “bizarre” events, Wintle struck up a conversation with a Morning Sentinel photographer, Michael Seamans, about an infant death at a local homeless shelter. He declared he was searching for the infant mother’s drug dealer and then accused Seamans of being the drug dealer in question and pulled a gun on him.

Wintle faces charges of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon.

A self described local historian, Wintle composes short stories and according to his written biography, “was born on opening day of deer hunting season October 21, 1952.”

In his spare time when not threatening to shoot innocent bystanders in the parking lot of the local donut shop, Fred “enjoys refurbishing antique furniture and spending time with his five children.”

Well, except for this weekend, since he couldn’t make his $3,500 bail and instead is spending some quality time at the local county jail. What a crappy way to ride out the rapture.  

Attempt to Recall Nate Easley Fails. Badly.

(Oh Lordy, that’s it? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The attempt to gather enough signatures to force a recall of Nate Easley onto the ballot for a special election has failed.

The signatures needed: 5,363.

Signatures submitted: 5,899 (Not the “over 6,300” being claimed by DeFENSE.)

Signatures validated: 3283

For you number crunchers out there, that’s a 55% validity rate.

And for the kids of DPS, that’s a savings of $100 grand for your district that won’t be wasted on a recall that was never based on anything more than a grudge and a power grab.

Ed News has a copy up of the Clerk and Recorder’s letter to Mr. McBride. 2,603 signatures were invalid; 13 were excluded.

A Recall Based on a Fabrication and Threats of Outing

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #2: Call this ‘Exhibit A’ of the kind of lowlife behavior being brought to our attention. Below is audio of a message left for another Colorado Pols reader, not the author of this diary. Personally identifying information has been removed. We believe the threat is related:

Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

Folks, we can only say again that the strength of this community lies in the ability of our users to interact freely, and without any kind of threats or retaliation for participating on our blog. We will never assist anyone in obtaining information about our users, and we will protect all of our readers and commenters to our full legal ability.

And yes, the person who recorded the above message has issues. We don’t know if the person who left the message is Guerin Green, but from what we understand about the timeline of these events, it’s more than possible.


POLS UPDATE: We take efforts to “out” another Polster very seriously here at Colorado Pols. “Middle of the Road” writes below that Guerin Lee Green, publisher of the North Denver News and the Cherry Creek News, has been on a quest of sorts to uncover her real name (we use “her” only because she uses this pronoun in her writing), and we are hearing more about this story seemingly every hour.

Many Polsters are friendly with other Polsters outside of this website, and it is through those shared friendships/acquaintances that we believe “Middle of the Road” has been partially identified. Any Polster who is found to have any connection whatsoever to attempts to uncover the real name of “Middle of the Road” or any other Polster will be immediately banned from Colorado Pols. For more information, check out our Posting Policies in the right-hand sidebar (or click here).

We appreciate the positive contributions of all of the thousands of people who have contributed to Colorado Pols over the years. For what it’s worth, we’ve got your back — all of you — and we’ll do everything we can to help.


(Original Post Follows)

The recall of DPS Board President Nate Easley is underway and according to the petition for signatures being circulated, he is specifically being recalled because of his conflict of interest as an employee of Denver Scholarship Fund while also serving as a board director of Denver Public Schools.

According to the petition (full PDF file can be read here):

General Statement: We the qualified voters of Denver Public School District 4 demand the recall of current elected Denver Public Schools Board of Education member Dr. Nate Easley and the election of a successor to his office. Our demand is based on Mr. Easley’s activities related to conflicts of interest and allowing these to affect his representation of his District 4 constituency. Specifically, Dr. Easley’s roles as DPS Board of Education President and his job as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation make him subject to undue influence related to his votes as our representative. As a board member, Dr. Easley supervises the DPS Superintendent who is also a member of the Foundation’s leadership team, thereby having direct influence over Dr. Easley’s employment status. As Deputy Director of DSF, Dr. Easley receives a substantial salary, the threat to which compromises his ability to independently represent District 4.

There is one major problem with that claim–it isn’t true.  

Nate Easley requested a meeting with John Kechriotis, the legal counsel for Denver Public Schools, on March 31, 2009, prior to making a decision to run for the school board and 7 months prior to the election to discuss any potential conflict of interest between serving as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Fund and potentially serving on the school board.

According to an affidavit from John Kechriotis, he met with Nate and advised Easley that there was no conflict of interest that should stand in his way of running for the DPS School Board and if elected, serving.


State of Colorado )

City and County of Denver )

BEFORE ME, the undersigned Notary, Tiffany Lambalot, on this 9 th day of February, 2011, personally appeared John Kechriotis, who being by me first duly sworn, deposes and says:

My name is John Kechriotis. I am General Counsel for the Denver Public Schools and have held the position since November 2006.

On or about March 31, 2009, I met with Nate Easley, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, at the Offices of the General Counsel, Denver Public Schools, 900 Grant Street, Denver Colorado. Attached as Exhibit A to the Affidavit is the email string documenting the scheduling and purpose of the meeting with Dr .Easley.

Dr. Easley requested the meeting to discuss any potential conflict of interest between seeking and obtaining the position of School District Director for the Denver Public Schools (“Board of Education) in the November 2009 General Election with his employment and position as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation (“DSF”) …

My counsel to Dr. Easley at my meeting with him in March 2009 was that there was no inherent conflict that would preclude Dr. Easley from serving as a member of the Board of Education while continuing to be employed by the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

A full read of the affidavit is here.

To claim this recall is based on a conflict of interest is a complete fabrication. DCTA supported Nate Easley’s candidacy with their time and dime. They knew he worked for DSF before he ran for office. They saw no conflict of interest. The legal counsel for DPS saw no conflict of interest. The public and voters being asked for their signatures are signing a petition that is based on a complete falsehood. Whatever this recall is based on, it isn’t based on a conflict of interest. It’s time the public became aware of the facts and base their decision to sign a petition recall on facts, not fiction.

And now to address the intimidation tactics being used by Guerin Lee Green, a self described “journalist” and publisher of Cherry Creek News and North Denver News, who has resorted to overt attempts to out posters here who have asked questions about DeFENSE.

My advice to Guerin Lee Green: spend more time on fact based research and less time calling Larimer County Democratic Headquarters like you did last Wednesday evening, lying to the office manager that you’re my friend, in order to get my personal information.

Guerin’s conversation to the volunteer manning the phones: “Hi, this Guerin Lee Green. Do you know who [redacted first name] is? She’s a Democratic activist for Larimer County and a friend of mine. I forgot her last name and can’t seem to find her phone number? Could I get that from you? If you think of her name, here’s my number. Can you call me back?”

I guess my multiple, written replies where I did not give him my name and phone number via email on February 1st, 2011 weren’t enough of a hint that I have no desire to share who I am with Guerin or be interviewed by him.

Why does Guerin want to interview me in regards to DeFENSE? Good question. I never did get a good answer. I did ask if I could interview him regarding DeFENSE. He didn’t seem open to that idea. He wanted to know what my “agenda” was, who I supported in the Bennet/Romanoff primary and who I had worked for in the past, where my work had been published and what my name was. I’ve saved his emails–they make for some interesting, albeit bizarre, reading.

I know outing Middle of the Road will make for a must read article over at Cherry Creek News. Don’t get me wrong–I’m sure it’ll be a page turner for all ten of his readers.

Unfortunately for Guerin, outing MotR won’t hurt me. I am my own employer so his impotent efforts at attempting to out me in order to shut me up won’t work because I answer to no one but myself. I have volunteered for multiple candidates and issue campaigns, never been paid, so no astroturfing since I’ve always been up front with what or whom I support.

His efforts harm him far more than any of us that have disagreed publicly with this recall. His campaign to intimidate anyone that requests information about the organization known as DeFENSE provides adequate proof of his ethics or lack thereof. Guerin Lee Green describes himself as a journalist. Journalists don’t engage in the kind of tactics he uses to stifle anyone who disagrees with him. Nope, he’s just a guy with ulterior motives who has a serious problem with anyone that asks questions about DeFENSE.

For those of you who thought we were all barking up the wrong tree about DeFENSE, think again. There is a hidden agenda going on behind the scenes for this organization and it sure as hell doesn’t have to do with concern for the students of DPS and their education. If DeFENSE does not approve of Guerin’s machinations, I fully expect to read their complete denouncement of his activities on this thread.

If you believe bullying, intimidation, threats of outing to a poster’s employer and scare tactics have any place in this conversation, then by all means, send an email to DeFENSE and get on their contact list. Just be sure you never, ever publicly disagree with them because chances are good they’ll be coming after you next.

There are a lot of good folks on this blog that support this recall that I know, without a doubt in my heart, would NEVER support these tactics. If tactics like this make your skin crawl, speak out and speak up. Get involved because the kids are watching and I don’t think this is what most of us Democrats were hoping they would learn when we preach about “democracy in action” in Civics class.

The Great Attempt to DeFEND the Morally Indefensible

(The details are a little Denver- centric, but isn’t Greeley School Board having similar problems? .   Seems like just the start and the story is going to more contentious before it gets less.  Good questions  –  I am hoping we see some good answers.  –   – promoted by MADCO)

The recall of DPS School Board President Nate Easley is officially underway. Yes, you read that right–here we go again. Another recall attempt of yet another Denver Public School Board member. The back story surrounding who is behind this one is enough to make you pull your kids out of DPS and find a school that actually cares more about your children’s education than they do political payback.

John McBride, who ran and lost his bid for the DPS school board in 2007, filed a petition with the Denver Elections Division last week to begin the initiation of a recall. After being rejected due to multiple errors, McBride resubmitted the petition on Monday. The petition was formally approved Wednesday, January 26, 2011. The petitioners need to collect 5,363 signatures from District 4 within 60 days to get the measure on the ballot in May.

So why Nate Easley? An organization named DeFENSE (Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education) provides some interesting clues.  

Let’s look at what constitutes a mission statement from their website.


DeFENSE stands for Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education. We defend the original intent of public education in the United States: ensuring equity and excellence for ALL. We defend the rights of school communities to use collaborative, non-corporate reforms to transform themselves into sustainable learning communities. There is ample proof that this approach works. Join us!

If DeFENSE suddenly seems to be everywhere these days, it’s not a coincidence. They created a new account on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Colorado Pols to weigh in on an education diary by Michael Bennet. Also on Tuesday, at 4:40 p.m., they created a new account at Square State and by 6:45p.m., had their first diary posted and promoted by the owner of the blog to the front page, with their real agenda front and center.

If you are inclined to give DeFENSE the benefit of coincidental doubt, think again. Their coordinated plan to push back against editorials that have come out against recalling Nate Easley is posted on their website. In an email sent out by DeFENSE in response to a scathing editorial by the Denver Post, DeFENSE lays out its strategy.


We need your help in responding to the mythology that the Denver Post is hawking. Choose one or all of the following actions:

• Please go to the online version of the article and post a comment in rebuttal

* Please send a letter to the editor

* Write an article on your favorite education, community-centered or political blog

Now, according to blogger DefenseDenver who commented on Pols Tuesday evening, their organization is fighting for the little guy in the interest of preventing the “hostile takeover of our public education.” According to DefenseDenver, their goal is to prevent the “corporatized takeover” of our public schools in Denver.

Vague platitudes aside, their primary motive seems to be focused on an entirely different agenda. DeFENSE has aligned themselves with three DPS school board members–Andrea Merida, Arturo Jimenez, and Jeannie Kaplan–to remove the current board minority’s number one target, President Nate Easley.

You remember Andrea Merida, don’t you? She was the school board member that was facing a recall effort against her last fall. I wrote about the failed attempted spearheaded by Jose Silva in October and I stand by my defense of her. Recalling Merida was based on revenge and payback. She never engaged in an action that rose to the level of being forcibly removed from her elected position.

Interestingly enough, many of the same folks including Andrea’s own family that banded together to fight her recall and decry the outrageous expense this would cost the Denver School District, are now working overtime to do the exact same thing to Nate Easley.

So what is the ultimate goal of DeFENSE? To ensure that the current four person majority on the board that includes Nate Easley is permanently broken. There’s only one way to make that happen and that is to forcibly remove one of the four. If Easley is successfully recalled and a DeFENSE backed candidate wins election, the current minority will now be running the show.  

DeFENSE asserts multiple claims to support their reason for recalling Easley, including having the audacity to vote against campaign contributors and failure to vote with Merida, Jimenez and Kaplan the way it was assumed he would vote when he was elected to the Board.  

But what Easley really did is commit the unpardonable sin–he voted against the wishes of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), an organization that he readily acknowledges spent quite a bit of DCTA time and dime to get him elected. DCTA also donated to Andrea Merida and endorsed her over her opponent Ismael Garcia, a founding member of the West Denver Prep Charter School, and a public supporter of turnaround plans. (The DCTA, if you will recall, was at the center of the controversy surrounding their opposition to the reform of Bruce Randolph School, the Denver school that Obama mentioned on Tuesday night in his State of the Union speech.)  

So what motivated him to vote his conscience? Easley knows from firsthand experience how high the odds are stacked against a minority student attending high school in Denver. Nate Easley was a kid who grew up poor, one of five children, raised by a single mother, and a graduate of Montbello High School. When he enrolled at CSU, he got an ugly wakeup call about the quality of his education to date. His math skills were so poor, he was required to take a remedial algebra class. Currently, only six out of 100 students that graduate from Montbello go to college without being required to take remedial courses.

For Easley, the vote for the controversial Montbello turnaround plan was as personal as it gets. And it was filled with controversy from the get go. The plan included the possibility of hiring entirely new staffs of teachers, including a provision that required current staff to reapply for their jobs with no guarantee of being rehired.

The second part of the turnaround plan was the replacement of the six schools with charter schools. After seven hours of hearing from the public and local teachers, in packed rooms where emotions ran high, the board voted 4-3 in favor of the plan. Theresa Pena, Nate Easley, Bruce Hoyt and Mary Seawell voted yes. Andrea Merida, Arturo Jimenez and Jeannie Kaplan voted against the plan.

The writing of Easley’s demise was officially on the wall.

Easley had fair warning that some powerful organizations were targeting him if he voted the wrong way. None other than Andrea Merida’s own father threatened Easley that he’d be on his way out if he didn’t vote against the Montbello plan.

Easley told me this morning in a phone interview that Jorge Merida, John McBride and Chuck Crowley asked to meet with Easley for lunch, prior to the upcoming vote in November for the turnaround plan. Easley invited along the Superintendent’s Chief of Staff to the meeting. What Easley thought they were going to talk about turned instead into a discussion over Jorge Merida and friends “disappointment” in the way Easley had been voting and basically turned into a meeting to threaten him.

They told him, “We don’t like the way you’ve been voting. And if you vote for the Montbello turnaround plan, we’re gonna recall you.”

Easley told them, “Well, you do what you need to do and I’ll vote the way I need to vote.”

The Chief of Staff who was also at the lunch confirmed the conversation.

Nate shared some sobering and disturbing statistics regarding high school drop outs–they are eight times more likely to end up in prison and they face a 40% unemployment rate if they go into the workforce without a high school diploma.

Nate said, “No matter what happens here, I will continue to be focused on student achievement and please know–there is hope. There are schools in our district including Beach Court and West Denver Prep School that are doing great, an outstanding job and having some incredible results. My concern is with the schools that aren’t because every parent has the same dream–that their child will do better in life than they did. Every parent has a common goal–they want what is best for their kids.”

Let’s take another look at the organization behind the recall effort. Who is involved in DeFENSE? Good question. And good luck finding an answer on their website. After searching through their website as well as the Secretary of State’s for what type of an organization they are (527, PAC, corporation, political or issue committee, 501(c)(4), etc.) or if they had registered with the State, I came up empty handed. Do they even need to register? Simple questions that the organization has yet to provide simple answers to.

They offer a vague reference to their fundraising in a brief paragraph that links you to a Zazzle sales page that retails teachers and union related buttons and t-shirts. There are no contact numbers listed, no basic information which a reputable organization normally provides. They solicit for donations but donations for what exactly? What efforts would my money be funding? A recall effort? Educational research? And who is the money going to?

Because DeFENSE is not propped up by private foundation funding, we depend on donations from regular people like you and on the sale of items on this page.  Know that proceeds from your purchase go to furthering the DeFENSE mission, which is to equalize the discussion of what neighborhood schools need to be successful.

Who’s authoring all of the articles on the website? Currently, I see no attribution. I think these are reasonable questions that most concerned parents and citizens would like answers to before donating their hard earned dollars to an unknown.

Welcome to Pols, DeFENSE. I look forward to your organization providing answers to some basic questions about who you are, how you are funded, whether or not you have a board for oversight of the organization, who your treasurer is, what type of an organization you are and who your contributing members are.

Philosophical differences and opposing votes on a school board do not rise to the level of recall. Why was a recall of Andrea Merida four months ago a horrible, malicious, vengeful idea that would do nothing more than take the focus off the children of DPS? Why is the same vengeful tactic okay when it comes to her fellow school board member Nate Easley? There is an agenda here and it isn’t just about Nate Easley.

Frankly, I’m not sure what I find more revolting about this–Andrea Merida’s sudden and uncustomary silence about the fervent support of the same sort of recall action that she was decrying 4 months ago or the sheer hypocrisy of her cronies so blatantly trying to maneuver and remove, by hook or by crook, an ideological opponent whose greatest sin appears to be disagreeing with his campaign contributors and three fellow board members who hold conflicting views on how to promote education in Denver schools.  

A power grab is not democratic; it’s a coup d’état.

More to Recalling Merida than Meets the Eye

(A very well-researched effort by MOTR.  I lean toward supporting the recall of Merida, but this diary is definitely food for thought. – promoted by Voyageur)

Let me start off stating the obvious–I’m no fan of Andrea Merida and have been vocal about some of her decisions, particularly her lack of disclosure regarding her paid work with the Romanoff campaign during the primary. For those of you that want to assume this piece is to prop up her School Board directorship, think again. My past comments on this blog regarding that subject speak for themselves.

This is about the larger issue of using a recall effort as a means to an end because of a personal vendetta and the man behind that effort–Jose Silva, former Democratic candidate for House District 5.

According to Denver Westword, Silva has spearheaded a petition recall to remove her from office with a special election which will cost DPS taxpayers a small fortune that their school district can ill afford.

On September 7, community activist Jose Silva dropped off a petition at the Denver Elections Division to initiate the process of recalling Merida from the board. As grounds, it cited “unethical conduct,” “unbecoming behavior” and “failure to perform duties.” Merida’s main offense, according to the petition, was failing to disclose that she was a paid Romanoff staffer while serving on the board.

So why is a man who doesn’t even live in Merida’s district so concerned with her performance on the Board? Why so eager to lead up the effort to force her out, with a special election recall that will cost DPS taxpayers anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million?

Let’s play connect the dots for a minute–Andrea Merida’s district is HD2. Jose Silva lives in HD5, where he ran for the State House and lost to Crisanta Duran in the primary. Duran was endorsed by Andrea Merida and defended Duran against accusations that Silva alleged on his Facebook page during his primary against Duran.

Silva has been gunning for Merida ever since. On March 13, 2010, Silva dropped a comment in a diary, a diary originally posted on December 1, 2009. Why it took Silva 3 and 1/2 months to get around posting a comment on a dead diary is anyone’s guess.

What is clear is that Silva’s issues with Merida predate his stated concern with her activities during the Senate primary. This isn’t about the Romanoff/Bennet primary. It’s about his failed primary bid for the State House and his subsequent quest for payback.

At Least She’s Not Your School Board Member…Oh, Crap

Andrea Merida is a CROCK!!

She is a crock she thinks she can pick and choose whom she answers to. This chick is trying to brain wash the latina’s and bring division in the latino community. She is all about herself and not the community, She will not win re-election oh wait she is in training for her House District seat, lets not let this happen.

What a CROCK!!!  


by: Denver Jose @ Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 19:08:55 PM CST

Who is Jose Silva, besides a self proclaimed community organizer and candidate for HD5? Yes, he lost in the primary but he still introduces himself as a man running for the State House. Apparently, he’s running for 2012 since he already lost in the primary this spring. Guess he’s getting a head start.

In addition to claiming to be a candidate for a political office he isn’t currently running for, Jose seems to be a man plagued by huge ethics problems of his own.

According to Tracer’s website, courtesy of Colorado’s Secretary of State, Jose Silva earns spot number eight on the Top 10 List of committees/candidates in Outstanding Penalties with a whopping $27,700 in penalties and late fees.

Top 10 Committees in Outstanding Penalties in the Current Election Cycle

Select Jurisdiction:   Click here to view information on all Outstanding Penalties

Committee Name Candidate Name Amount





OLDS2008 OLDS, BRIAN $40,600.00






The latest delinquency letter was posted today, notifying Silva that he has not filed his current Report of Contributions and Expenditures. Then again, he hasn’t filed one since he formed his campaign committee on July 8, 2009.

Considering he posted a press release on the Denver Dems website on December 10, 2009, announcing his campaign kickoff and fundraiser, one must assume he has contributions that need to be reported. Yet, according to Tracer, he has not filed or reported a single campaign contribution. Not one. Not once.

Campaign Kickoff and Birthday Fundraiser for HD5 Candidate Jose Silva

Thursday, December 10, 2009 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm


Rosa Linda’s Mexican Cafe, 2005 W 33rd Avenue, Denver CO 80211

Please join hosts Esther Silva, Tiffany Segura, Tim Bernard, Quincy Mitchell, Lennon Garcia, Crystal DeHerrera, Mike Obley and Donna Banuelos at a birthday fundraiser to support Jose Silva’s campaign for State House District 5.  Suggested donation is $50 but other contributions are welcome…

Where did the contributions go? Where are his reports for the last 14 months? Why hasn’t he responded to any of the delinquency letters? Why hasn’t he made any attempt for restitution for his accruing fines?

Surely racking up nearly $30,000 in penalties and fines ($50 per day for each day he misses his filing report deadline) gives one pause before making this man the leader of…well, anything… let alone supporting him for a State House seat that he still claims to be running for. Or worse, a recall movement he admits to pursuing for months in the name of the people of District 2.  

Fortunately, he appears as inept at leading a recall effort as he is at handling his finances. The Denver Elections Commission has twice rejected his petition based on massive typos and legal errors, which should come as no surprise when looking at Silva’s chronic issues with filing reports.

Recalls are a slippery slope and should be guided by legitimate grievances based on something more than a personal vendetta by someone with huge ethical issues of his own.

Follow this man at your own peril, folks and don’t say you weren’t warned.  

Is There Something in the Water?

(Maybe not plagiarism, but somebody didn’t bother to tell somebody else that they should perhaps re-write the Op-Ed a little bit. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Because plagiarism and water issues seem to go hand in hand these days.

Case in point, take a look at HD49 State Representative BJ Nikkel’s editorial last Friday in the Berthoud Recorder. Her editorial addresses her support for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and the proposed water reservoirs of Glade and Galeton.

Problem is, entire paragraphs of BJ’s editorial are the same, word for word, as a guest commentary at the Denver Post by Weld County Commissioner, Sean Conway on Sunday, July 11th.  


In the 1930’s, W.D. Farr and other visionaries led the effort to build the Big Thompson Water Project. Today, this tremendous project provides an invaluable supply of water to our ranchers and farmers, and families living in our Northern Colorado communities.


In the 1930s, visionaries such as W.D. Farr and others led the effort to build the Big Thompson Water Project. This project today provides an invaluable supply of water to our farmers, ranchers and northern Colorado communities.

Coincidence? How about word for word?


After more than two decades of detailed planning and ongoing discussions, the time has come for us to support a new water project – the Northern Integrated Supply Project (known as NISP).

Several communities in Weld and Larimer County are currently seeking a permit from the Army Corp of Engineers to construct NISP. The project will include two new water reservoirs:  Glade and Galeton.


After more than two decades of planning and discussions, the time has to support a new water project, the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).

Several communities in Weld and Larimer counties are currently seeking a permit from the Army Corp of Engineers to construct NISP. The project will include two new water reservoirs: Glade and Galeton.

Gary Wasmley at the Berthoud Recorder makes the connection. He compares each paragraph from both editorials and there is no doubt that somebody “borrowed” someone else’s homework for this project.

The obvious question is this–who stole what from whom? A third, unusually similar editorial by Weld County Commissioner, Chairman Doug Rademacher has cropped up. Rademacher’s piece appeared in the Greeley Tribune on July 9th, the same day as Nikkel’s piece made the Berthoud Recorder’s Friday edition.

Three pieces all applauding NISP, three pieces nearly word for word and no attribution or sourcing in any of them. Who really wrote this pro NISP piece?

Which County Commission or State House Representative will be the first to admit they acted as a shill for NISP by reprinting, virtually word for word in some parts, an editorial piece they printed under their names, with every indication and insinuation that they were the authors?

Or is it all Rolly’s fault?  

Friday Jams Fest

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Admiral Radley is coming out with their collaborative CD on I Heart California, July 13. All 11 tracks are currently available for your listening pleasure until the CD’s release.  

Grandaddy and Earlimart are two beautifully mopey bands that secretly just want to have fun. After years of releasing (usually) melancholy, inwardly looking albums, members of both groups recently decided to get together and record a whole new batch of songs that are surprisingly playful and full of hope. Sure, there are still moments of wistful heartache. But the new tracks … are relatively breezy with a healthy sense of humor.

There are several standout songs on this album. The Thread is one of them–a sweet, lovely little tune.

And for something completely different there’s I’m All F**ked on Beer. What more can you say when you see a title like that featured on NPR?

Friday Jams Fest

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

These guys got a fantastic review on the BBC, of all places. Hot little band out of Austin, TX with an interesting blend of punk, R&B and country.

Happy July 4th weekend!

Rove’s 527 Falls Short of Fundraising Expectations

Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie’s group, American Crossroads, fell just a tad shy of its publicly announced expectations of raising $52 million to take back Congress. According to Politico, the 527 has

…raised only $200 last month, according to a report it filed Monday with the Internal Revenue Service, bringing its total raised since launching in March to a little more than $1.25 million. It spent $76,000 in May, primarily on legal fees and salaries, bringing its total spending to $140,000.

It appears to be having a more positive effect on the DSSC, who is using the group’s potential as a scare tactic tool in its latest fundraising email.

“Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group just announced on Friday that it is turning the full force of its fundraising machine against no fewer than eleven Democratic candidates,” warned a Sunday fundraising email from J.B. Poersch, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “The DSCC is counting on every one of our grassroots supporters to defeat Republicans and defend President Obama in November. We can’t win without your help.”

Don’t count American Crossroads out just yet. With the open disenchantment over Steele’s leadership as Chair of the Republican National Committee, disgruntled wealthy Republican donors are looking for alternative groups to sink their influence into. With Gillespie’s background as former Chair of the RNC, former White House counselor for Bush and former lobbyist for groups such as Enron, the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce, as well as Rove’s resume, this adorable twosome has the potential to become a major player, provided they can raise more than $200 a month.

Colorado’s Senate race makes their announced list of 11 targeted Senate seats. Very good news for Buck in particular if he wins the primary, since his fundraising efforts up until now have been anemic. In addition to purchasing an ad buy in Nevada taking aim at Harry Reid, American Crossroads’s list of the Lucky Eleven include the following:

Also last week, American Crossroads announced 10 other Senate races in which it planned to air ads criticizing the Democratic candidate or boosting the Republican, including Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

Friday Jams Fest

I like very few women vocalists–Nina is and always will be the exception to that rule. Great live version with no video. I would have given about anything to see her in concert.

Bring it on. Pols needs their next installment of the Soros grant.

The Six Month Moratorium Myth

Reading through the text of Obama’s Oval Office address Tuesday evening, I searched specifically for concrete ideas on how the Gulf’s economy is being addressed long term due to the six month moratorium. Putting aside the jaw dropping loss in the fishing and tourism industry for a minute, how does this affect oil riggers? Oil and gas exploration are two of the main industries in the Gulf and a primary source of income for the four state region–where does this leave tens of thousands of employees looking to make their monthly mortgages?

In the middle of the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, is a six-month moratorium long enough? Is it too long for the thousands of oil workers and their families? How many jobs are being affected by the moratorium?

Senator Landrieu predicts the moratorium could have devastating, long term results on a region that is only now starting to show signs of recovery after the disastrous effects of Katrina.

Landrieu said a halt in these drilling activities for six months will “wreak economic havoc on the region.” She said as many as 330,000 jobs could be affected in Louisiana alone and cited complaints she has received from a number of companies that support the drilling on shore and on the rigs themselves.

Legitimate concerns raised in regards to President Obama’s six month moratorium for off shore drilling deserve a second look. And while the average rigger might be totally screwed, if you are an oil company, the good news is you are going to be a-okay. Hurray!

For those of you hoping this 6 month break would turn into a permanent cessation of offshore oil drilling, I have bad news. To my great (not really) surprise, I discovered that while existing rigs are currently out of commission, the Department of the Interior approved the sale of more than 400 tracts off the Gulf for leasing to oil and gas companies–specifically the development of Lease 213.  

What is Lease 213? It’s a 36 million acre area that was created by the Bush administration for new leasing of oil and gas. And in November 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar gave the thumbs up for the sale of 6,800 tracts of Lease 213 off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. In all fairness, the bidding which took place at New Orleans Superdome and attracted $1.3 billion in bids took place a month prior to the oil spill on April 20th. But the reality here is that the Federal Government is not going to reimburse $1.3 billion and cancel the sale of these leases. Biggest environmental disaster in US history or not, we’re drilling, baby. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

…the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) has approved the sale of 448 of those tracts, 198 of them in deepwater, which is defined as more than 656 feet below the sea. BP is the proud new leaser of 13 of those tracts.

Here’s where things get messy. As always, if you’re looking for the fox, check the henhouse first.  

The lease sale is the first step in the oil drilling process. Companies must first obtain the right to drill the tracts before they can devise exploration plans, which must be approved by MMS [Minerals Management Service].

And that’s where the problem lies. MMS has been notorious for rubber-stamping the oil industry’s plans. The lease for the well that’s spewing oil into the Gulf, the Macondo, was sold in March 2008. The exploration plan for that well was granted a “categorical exclusion” from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in April 2009, paving the way for drilling to begin.

In 2007, the MMS completed a 900+ page Environmental Impact Statement for 2007 which was basically quoted verbatim in 2009 and used as the basis for giving the go ahead on Lease 213.

According to Mother Jones, Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) are both bringing suit against MMS as a result of the disaster in the Gulf and are specifically targeting the approval of the 448 tracts in light of the environmental assessment used by the MMS.

The biggest that once these leases are sold, it’s unlikely the government will reverse course on drilling. Once the oil companies pay for the rights, the government can’t cancel the contract unless it pays back the lessee either the fair market value of that lease or the amount spent to obtain the bid, plus costs and interest.

“It becomes a financial issue for the government to cancel a lease once it’s issued,” says Derb Carter, senior attorney and director of the Carolinas office of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “They should have immediately halted the leasing and gone back and evaluated the potential environmental impact of drilling in light of the BP disaster

If Obama is serious about a moratorium and moreover about regulation and splitting out agencies that for decades have been in cahoots, he picked the right one to start with.

Now, one place we’ve already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service.

Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility, a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.

At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

And when Ken Salazar became my secretary of the interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper and the pace of reform was just too slow.

The impetus for setting up a $20 billion dividend account for workers being affected by this moratorium seems a whole lot fairer when you compare it to what the oils companies are going to reap in the long run, no?

And for those of you that think “regulation” is a four letter word? I have a few choice, four letter words for you, too.  

I See Your True Colors Shining Through

On May 3, a rather obscure online magazine, The Denver Baptist Examiner, ran a cover piece on HD49 Republican Representative BJ Nikkel, appointed to replace and serve out Kevin Lundberg’s term when he moved to the State Senate.

“The Capital Faith of B.J. Nikkel” seemed to go mostly unnoticed except by the faithful choir. Nikkel’s observations were fairly run-of-the-mill comments that are practically a requirement if you are a Republican officeholder these days.  

“As Christians in leadership positions we must be constantly vigilant and guard ourselves and look to Christ to be our source and strength to prevent us from compromising our values. People can compromise their values in any walk of life – state politics is no worse than the business world or other professions for opportunities to compromise.”

According to the article’s author, Tim St John, we all serve an uncompromising God.

Any other influence is apparently a tool of Satan.

Standing up for what is right! Isn’t that a marvelous concept? We all serve an uncompromising God. Why should He expect anything less of us? In politics, one can easily get caught up in compromise when voters, lobbyists or constituents are exerting their influence. It’s encouraging to know elected officials like B.J. Nikkel. She’s so grounded in her Christian faith, knows the difference between doing what’s right versus what’s popular – and isn’t afraid to follow through by putting it into practice as a Colorado law maker.

Again, nothing new here–standard boilerplate/juicy red meat to the faithful to reassure them that Christ is still Number One in House District 49.

And Nikkel’s had some reassuring to do considering the write up she received on The Spot when she attended a gay rights luncheon in March of this year.

One Colorado Education Fund is a statewide nonprofit that says it is continuing the discussion about issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The luncheon was held near the Capitol.

“Why shouldn’t I be here?” Nikkel said, after greeting several gays who came up to talk to her. “They’re all Coloradans, and I think it’s important to understand their issues.”

Talk about a huge step in the right direction, right? A former Marilyn Musgrave district director meeting with gay constituents. Refusing to pander to the extremists within your party–big step forward and mission accomplished, particularly if your resume includes the fact that you worked for 3 years for the former US House Rep that will forever be known primarily for sponsorship of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Ooops. Giant step backwards.

Fast forward to Nikkel’s remarks at the State Assembly regarding the super awesomeness of the Tea Party movement.

Delegates to the 2010 Colorado Republican Assembly packed the center, with nary a no-show in what GOP regulars said was one of the most boisterous state assemblies in memory.

Thank, partly, Colorado tea party and 912 Project organizers, many of whom were first-time delegates to the convention and whose choice to dress in red bathed the arena in crimson.

“It’s a great movement,” state Rep. BJ Nikkel, R-Loveland, said during an interview on the event center concourse. “There are a lot of them, and they’re new, and they’re doing what I’ve been doing for 20 years.

Well now I’m just confused. What is it Nikkel is embracing for the last 20 years? Surely it’s not for being an extremist conservative activist for politicians such as Marilyn Musgrave?

A delicate tightrope Nikkel’s is attempting to walk here–is she the type of representative that is reaching out to constituents from all walks of life, a likable gal that reaches across the aisle and has croissants and orange juice with gay folks?

Or is she, like the vast majority of her fellow Republicans, merely acknowledging what many of us have assumed for some time–that she is a hard core conservative with an eye on higher office and believes she cannot get there without pandering to the religious extremists and Tea Partiers that are now running the show?  

“I’m a Mainstream Republican.”

So says the same guy who once said this:

“I’m not saying this (homosexuality) is the only sin that’s out there,” said Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley. “We have murder. We have all sorts of sin. We have adultery. And we don’t make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal.”

And this:

“Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter should have called out the National Guard to “take away everybody out there’s medical marijuana card that had a card.”

And this:

“”Homosexuality is seen as a violation of this natural creative order, and it is an offense to God,” Renfroe said. ” When we create laws that go against what biblically we are supposed to stand for, I think we are allowing to go forward a sin that should not be treated by government as something that is legal. We are taking sins and making them legally OK.”

But again, according to Renfroe, he’s just your average guy who reflects and faithfully serves Greeley and Weld County.

His Republican primary opponent, Ken Storck begs to differ. In fact, he thinks Renfroe might be a tad out of touch with 21st century voters and with his own party.

Storck said his message is gaining traction with voters.

“People, I think are recognizing that I’m a moderate and that perhaps some of Mr. Renfroe’s views are a bit extreme,” he said.

Storck’s current fundraising appears to be lending some credence to his theory.

Less than $300 currently separates the political newcomer from State Senator Scott Renfroe in the primary race for Senate District 13.

From April 26 to May 26, Storck raised $865 and has $9,537.13 on hand. In the same time period, Renfroe raised $950 and had $9,824.32 on hand at the end of the period.

According to Storck’s website, Storck is the longest serving deputy district attorney in the history of Weld County. His local ties run deep. A graduate of UNC, Storck returned  to Colorado to serve as a Weld County prosecutor, while heavily investing his time and energy into local community service.

Currently, Ken is teaching for Greeley/Evans School District Six. His primary place of teaching is at the Platte Valley Youth Services Center where he has had direct contact with students involved in gang issues. Ken has concluded from his experiences that early education and family involvement is the key to the prevention of lifestyles of crime.

Ken has served on the KUNC Advisory Board and has participated in Partners Superstars. He has also been involved with community theater and the Kiwanis Club. Internationally, Ken has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building homes in Guatemala, and for Global Volunteers at The Glencree Center for Peace and Reconciliation in County Wicklow, Ireland. Ken had the opportunity to observe the reconciliation process between Catholics and Protestants, and former combatants and victims. He learned that even the toughest of issues can be resolved by people reaching out and talking to one another.

Which is the mainstream Republican and which is the whack job? Do you really need a poll to figure that one out? And is it the wrong year and the wrong environment to be a sane Republican in the Party of Hell No?

UPDATE: Let’s keep this short and sweet–I’m an idiot. Storck is a Democrat. Well, go donate to him. I still hate Renfroe.