How Badly Did The “Charterizers” Want JeffCo Schools?

New Jeffco school board members-elect Danielle Varda, Mary Parker, and Paula Reed.

One of the bright spots for liberals in last Tuesday’s elections in Colorado was another sweeping victory by a teacher-supported slate of school board candidates in bellwether suburban Jefferson County–a win that firms up a trend toward progressive control of this major school district that made headlines a few years ago with the recall of an aberrant right-wing majority.

Although all three leftward-leaning school board candidates in JeffCo won handily, that certainly doesn’t mean that conservatives went down without a fight. In addition to the big money spent on the three losing candidates, an email we were forwarded that was reportedly sent from a board member to every staff member at a Jefferson County charter school suggests that more than the average amount of electioneering pressure was being applied down through the charter school food chain:

Sent: Monday, November 1, 2021
To: [A JEFFCO CHARTER SCHOOL] – All <xxx@xxx.xxx>

Subject: Our Kids Need Your Vote!

All,

Reminder to vet your candidates and vote this week. The Jeffco School Board is [THIS CHARTER SCHOOL’S] authorizing agent and sadly politics do play heavily into decisions that should simply be made more at a level regarding what is good for the child.

Having charter friendly Jeffco school board members is beneficial for all choice education options and charter schools in Jeffco. Please vote! More information below on candidates from your local Jeffco Charter School Consortium.

Small bits of info to share (PLEASE do your own research and VOTE your own way):

Jeff Wilhite volunteers and runs the Jeffco Charter School Consortium
Theresa Shelton choices her kids into a choice school to meet their education needs.
Kathy Miks choiced her HS students into a different school to meet their education needs.

Translation: we’re not telling you how to vote, but here’s a reminder of who signs your checks and how they’d like you to vote! The email tells school staff to “do your own research,” but then only lists the three pro-charter school candidates to research. It’s electioneering in every respect short of the utterance of the “magic words” to vote for or against this or that candidate, and certainly doesn’t cast the author in a favorable light now that their favored slate of candidates lost the election.

But don’t worry, unlike Donald Trump, victorious progressive school board candidates don’t tend to hold grudges. For good measure we anonymized everything we could in this email in hope that it will prove more of a cautionary tale than a liability for the school in question, whose staff is guilty only (so far as we know) of getting the strong arm.

Also, if you’re trying to swing a mail ballot election in Colorado, never wait until the Sunday before.

Vote the Jeffco Kids Slate!

Three Jeffco Slate candidates

Danielle Varda, Mary Parker, and Paula Reed – the “Jeffco Kids Slate” School Board candidates

On November 2, Jefferson County voters will elect three School Board Directors to fill vacancies for Districts 1, 2, and 5. I ask you to vote for Danielle Varda, Paula Reed, and Mary Parker. They are running together as the “Jeffco Kids Slate” of candidates with similar agendas and complementary skillsets, who will be able to work cooperatively to move Jefferson County Schools forward.

Contending with Conspiracists

This year, Jefferson School Board meetings have already been disrupted with activists pushing the conspiracy theories that masks, vaccinations, and testing for unvaccinated students are unnecessary and oppressive to students. These activists are also upset about “critical race theory” (CRT) , which is not taught in K-12 schools, including Jeffco schools. The critique of critical race theory is aimed at shutting down multicultural teaching. A curriculum that includes diverse writers and history from multiple points of view is somehow designed to make white people feel bad, in the view of anti-CRT conspiracists.

At the last September 2, 2021 meeting, rowdy anti-mask activists hijacked the board’s agenda in order to protest Jeffco Schools’ compliance with CDC’s Public Health Order, including mask mandates and testing of unvaccinated secondary students. Public comment starts at 3:30 in the video stream.

Board Director Schooley testified (at 1:49 in the video) that she had received threatening letters at her home; one included her child’s picture taken at her home. This was clearly done to intimidate Schooley and make her resign or back down from implementing the mask mandate. Schooley, while visibly “shook” in the video, shows no sign of doing either.

This bullying  is not limited to Jefferson County. School board meetings across Colorado (Cherry Creek, Denver, Douglas County) and across the country have also been disrupted. Well-funded right wing groups have trained activists to disrupt school board meetings, and to intimidate board members, around the issues of mask-wearing and “anti-CRT” polemics.

According to former Trump campaign manager, fraudulent fundraiser and conservative commentator Steve Bannon: ““The path to save the nation is very simple — it’s going to go through the school boards.” Electing extremist candidates in moderate urban districts is unlikely. So disruption and intimidation are the go-to tactics, in order to flex right wing political muscle, to intimidate the moderate opposition, and to provide grist for the all-important fundraising.

Our Jefferson County School Board must be able to stand up to these bullies, complying with current science and public health orders to keep students and staff safe, and continuing with Jeffco Schools mission to treat all students with equity. Let’s meet the three women that are volunteering for this mission.

The candidates

I met the candidates at the Slate kickoff meeting at the Lakewood Links on August 22, and asked them to choose from five possible interview questions. Here are their responses:

Dr. Danielle Varda https://daniellevardaforjeffcoschools.com/

Dr. Danielle Varda

What are some of the best practices to keep Jefferson county staff and students safe and healthy?

Our most important priority is the health and safety of our kids, teachers, and staff in schools. Safety is a concerning topic for many parents, as instances of violence have continued to occur and rise among schools. As a parent, I am deeply saddened that our children, teachers, and staff must experience constant drills and training on dealing with the possibility of a school shooting. Jeffco Schools are doing a great job keeping our kids safe, including securing access to buildings, providing training and resources for teachers and staff to prepare our kids, and staffing personnel whose job it is to keep kids safe. We need to continue to invest in the staff and infrastructure to maintain safety for kids, including bringing new partnerships and innovation into the schools on this topic. For example, attention to conflict resolution may serve as a mitigating factor leading to school violence.

What unique strengths would you bring to a seat on the Jefferson County school board?

I have a breadth of experience working across sectors. As a tenured professor at the University of CO in the School of Public Affairs, I have experience thinking about teachers from their perspective, the needs of students, and how to create pipelines to successful careers and higher education opportunities. I can bring this expertise to the Board. I am also a small business owner. I started a health technology startup three year ago and have successfully scaled the company to 20 employees, and growing. At Visible Network Labs, we focus on strengthening supportive connections so that kids and parents can thrive. I believe I can bring that research, technology, and innovation with me to address the problem of social isolation, loneliness, and connectedness within our student, teacher, and family population. And finally, as a mother to three girls in Jeffco schools, the Chair of the Weber Elementary School Accountablity Committee, and a regular volunteer in the classroom (pre-COVID), I have a lens and understanding of the schools that I will be able to bring.

What are some of the weaknesses and strengths of Jeffco schools now?

We are doing a great job at keeping our kids in school, safely for uninterrupted learning right now. We have an energetic staff across the district that love our kids and are working hard to meet all their needs. We have great programming in arts, science, technology, and sports. However, one of the most critical priorities in the district is the teacher and staff shortages. Teachers are leaving for other districts, and also leaving the district altogether. We often cannot find substitutes for our classrooms. These are indicators that we must pay attention to better support and pay for teachers. We need to find ways to be competitive with other districts and ways to incentive employees, from teachers to bus drivers to staff to cafeteria employees. We also need to agree to our values and policies to address equity issues our kids and families face, and make a commitment to how we are going to get all our kids to reading levels and graduation rates that we are proud of.

 

Paula Reed

Paula Reed https://www.paulareedforjeffcoschools.com/about-paula

Paula Reed

Paula Reed is a Jeffco graduate and the mother of two Jeffco graduates. She taught at Columbine High School for 30 years where she coached speech and debate and taught in an at-risk intervention program. She now works in her husband’s small business. 

What are some of the best practices to keep Jefferson county staff and students safe and healthy?

The most important thing we can do is to listen to our county public health experts. Not only do they have the training and experience to deal with public health crises, they have the most current data regarding our county, and that is the data that matters. Jeffco Public Health specializes in just that, the health of the general public. Of course, the school board’s job is not just to look after the health of our community, but the education of our children.

I want our kids in school, in-person, without interruption, as safely as possible. I believe we can attain this if we work closely with Jeffco Public Health every step of the way.

What are some of the most pressing financial needs in the district, and how do these (lack of funds) affect student outcomes? Compensation remains an issue. This year’s budget has improved pay, but those efforts have brought our salaries to the point of simply being minimally adequate. I’m not sure we want to be attracting and retaining minimally adequate employees. We have been riding on the loyalty of our educators and support professionals for a long time, and the structures of pay across the state have kept many mid- and late-career educators with us despite pay issues. What we are creating is a system where our most effective educators are reaching retirement age, and too many young teachers are not applying to Jeffco, leaving Jeffco for greener pastures, or leaving teaching altogether! These are the people who most affect student outcomes. High turnover and recruitment issues affect the outcomes in any industry. Education is no exception.

What unique strengths would you bring to a seat on the Jefferson County school board? I am a retired teacher with 30 years of school-based experience, including high school and elementary. I have taught in programs that drew some of the most driven students and some the most challenged, as well as everything in between. I spent time as a dean of students and gained perspective as an administrator. It is critical that a school board understand the impacts of its decisions on schools–the educators and students who make our mission possible. I am now working in private industry, and this has given me a different perspective on how other industries manage finances, employees, and company outcomes. I can combine these experiences as a school board director.

Mary Parker https://www.maryparkerforjeffcoschools.com/

Mary Parker

We all know that Jeffco schools don’t actually teach “critical race theory”.  How and why should inclusive history and literature be taught, in your opinion?

I hadn’t even heard of “critical race theory” until a few months ago but just from the name I expected it was something significant and divisive.  After researching it, I discovered that it is an academic theory examining the intersection between race and law.  It is more than 30 years old and was taught in universities, most often at the graduate level.  So why are people up in arms and demanding that Jeffco schools stop teaching something that they have never taught?  After speaking with some of my conservative friends, I found that they are concerned about how we teach history and social studies in K-12.  Specifically, they don’t want our children to be taught that white children are privileged and that black children are oppressed.  They don’t want white children to feel responsible for things that happened in the past or to feel guilty for things that are still happening today.  Furthermore, they feel that black children will feel like victims and will resent white children.  My rebuttal to these concerns is that all history and literature should be taught accurately and comprehensively, without any cherry-picking of facts to bias the presentation in any direction.  Teachers should never teach any subject in a way that would shame or humiliate any student.  This is the very heart of training on diversity and equity that our educators receive.

What unique strengths would you bring to a seat on the Jefferson County school board?

I have 2 daughters who are teachers in Jeffco schools, and 4 grandchildren who have graduated from or are currently attending Jeffco schools.  I taught parenting classes for 20 years, teaching helicopter parents, soccer moms, and parents who were court ordered to attend.  For the past 14 years I have been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working with neglected and abused children.  I worked as a Systems Engineer at Hewlett-Packard where I taught classes in Problem Solving and Decision Making. In addition, my husband and I own a Human Resources Consulting business specializing in Compensation, Compliance, and Pricing.  I have strong, relevant business experience combined with volunteer activities in support of children and families, which I am eager to use as a member of the Jeffco School Board.

What about the other candidates?

I will try to interview some of the other candidates running for the Board, for a later diary.

Jeffrey Wilhite is an ardent supporter of charter schools, and former Vice President of the Colorado Charter School Association. He is running against Danielle Varda in District 1.

Theresa Shelton and David Johnson are running against Paula Reed for the District 2 spot. David Johnson was the chair of the District Accountability Committee. His priority seems to be staying within budget constraints, and running the school district like a business.

Kathy Miks is running against Mary Parker for the District 5 position. On her website, Miks refers to “the right of parents to direct their children’s education”, which I interpret as a veiled reference to either an anti-sex education agenda, or a swipe at “critical race theory”. I’ll ask her about it, if I get the chance. Miks also advocates running the school district along a business results-oriented model.

Stick with the Slate for the win

However, the “Jeffco Kids Slate” candidates profiled in this diary, I believe, will give Jeffco school stakeholders (families, students, staff, community) the best value if we elect them as a team. We need all of their expertise: Dr. Varda’s higher education and health industry background, Mary Parker’s empathy , advocacy for abused children, and parent education experience, Paula Reed’s thirty years as a classroom teacher at all levels, and her experience of surviving the Columbine shooting.

These women won’t waste time on conspiracy theories, Facebook  “science” or quibbling about curricular details, although they’ll certainly listen and respond appropriately to the concerns of their constituents about health and safety practices. Seasoned teachers and advocates for children, they will bring compassion and competence to the job.  These three women can support each other and stand strongly for shared beliefs, creating conditions for Jefferson County Schools to achieve its mission: providing a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future.

Support them! Donate to and volunteer for all or any of the candidates at the Jeffco Kids Slate website: https://www.forjeffcokids.com/

Enter the Money Badger: Green Mountain Water District Recall

(Where there’s a recall, there’s a Gessler — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s a basic maxim of plumbers that “Shit flows downhill.” An epic battle over whose shit will flow downhill from the foothills of western Jefferson County, through the scenic Rooney Valley area, to the Denver Water Treatment plant, and where and when said shit will flow, has been raging in western Lakewood since 2018. This battle over sewer rights in Rooney Valley development has been fought, not in the Lakewood City Council chambers, where the Rooney Valley Commission meets, but in the halls of the Green Mountain Water and Sewer District., which plans where and how the shit flows…..and who pays for it to flow. At a recent, unpublicized Green Mountain Water District (GMWD) meeting, three board members who are facing a recall election fired existing counsel, and hired Scott Gessler at much greater expense, to represent GMWD against a developer lawsuit to keep a sweet sewer deal going.

Satellite view of Rooney Valley Area

Aerial satellite view of Rooney Valley area

The IGA and lawsuit

The battle of the sewer pipes for planned development in Rooney Valley has been fought by stealth and subterfuge, with secret meetings, shouting matches, shifting alliances, dramatic turnarounds, slander and betrayal of allies. Financial reports were not filed, minutes of meetings were not published, lawyers were hired and fired in secret, and the Green Mountain water customers in general did not know what would be happening with their water bill monies and whose poop would be flowing down what sewer lines….and who would pay for it. The prior board of directors made an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with a consortium of developers. The IGA expanded the GMWD sewer area,  but did not specify who would pay for the infrastructure costs. When these costs are undefined, rate payers pick up the bill. That is why voters in the district voted out the prior board of directors in 2018.

However, the new “reform” board of directors refused to honor the IGA and terminated that agreement, leaving the district open to a $150 million lawsuit from the developers who now wouldn’t get the freebie poop pipes in their brand new “special district” added on to the existing Green Mountain Water District area. The lawsuit was dismissed when the water district’s counsel, Jo Timmons, made a winning argument based on TABOR- the district’s ratepayers had never had the opportunity to vote yes or no on the special district, increased infrastructure costs,  and the sweet deal for developers. The court dismissed the developer’s lawsuit on May 6, 2021.

 

(more…)

Jeffrey Sabols, Jeffco insurrectionist, in newly released, brutal January 6 video

(“These were peaceful people, these were great people” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Video of Indian Hills resident Jeffrey Sabol dragging an officer down the Capitol steps on January 6 has been released by the Justice Department on Friday, and has been featured on multiple news outlets since ( WUSA9 is here.) MSNBC‘s is here.. The bodycam video is disturbing to watch; an officer is dragged out of the line of his fellows, and down the steps, where he is beaten with flags, hockey sticks, fists, and feet. Sabol, in his distinctive #orangeandteal outfit, can be seen in the melee about halfway through.

Here is a tweet from Blossom Culp, featuring Parler video clip showing Sabol charging up the steps on January 6.

Until he became infamous for assaulting a Capitol police officer, Sabol  had lived a quiet life in Indian Hills, Colorado. He had no big social media footprint. Like many other insurrectionists, he had a history of domestic violence, leading to abuse charges, divorce and estrangement from his teenage son.  Local journalist Melanie Warren interviewed Sabol’s friend,  John Shepard, in an in-depth piece on Politico. An accurate photo of Sabol’s face is featured; Twitter had various posts incorrectly identifying Sabol.

Sabols was arrested on January 11 in Boston, trying to flee to Switzerland. He has been held in a psychiatric hospital until recently. His lawyer had petitioned for his release, which was denied by Judge Sullivan because Sabol is still considered dangerous, and, obviously, a flight risk. Sabol himself has claimed that he was trying to “protect” the officer, when he held the officer’s baton above his neck. He’s also blaming Trump in the now-common ” I was only following the President’s orders” defense.

UPDATE: Judge Sullivan again denied Sabol’s lawyer’s request that Sabol be allowed to go home on house arrest, rather than remain in detention. Defense is still denying wrongdoing, even though Sabol came prepared with zip ties in his backpack, like every “tourist” attending a “peaceful rally” does.

Nine other Colorado insurrectionists have been arrested in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It’s worth noting that at least two of them had direct contact with Lauren Boebert – Gieswein, who took a photograph in front of Boebert’s Shooter’s Grille business, and Croy, who responded to Boebert’s tweet urging people to show up to the Capitol for Trump on January 6.

Jeffco GOP Jumps On, Falls Off Election Fraud Bandwagon

Denver7’s Adi Guajardo reports on the latest attempt by the increasingly unhinged Jefferson County, Colorado Republican Party to join in the distraction so many Republicans are enjoying today, consoling themselves over Donald Trump’s defeat–and in Jeffco, another ballotwide shellacking of Republican candidates–by asserting that elections in Colorado’s foremost bellwether suburban county were “tainted”–by the dead, the moved, and the otherwise ineligible to vote.

Denise Mund, the JeffCo Republican Party Chair, says they used a subscription-based system that helped them scour thousands of records.

“One hundred twenty-eight records were showing up as deceased. We also had a number that were voting from prison facilities, and we also had about 2,500 that had filed a national change of address, and yet they voted here in Colorado,” Mund said.

There’s nothing more stereotypically terror-inducing in the discussion of election fraud than the suggestion of votes being cast from the literal grave. But in the era of all-mail ballots, the opportunity certainly exists for ballots in some limited number of cases to be cast by perfectly healthy living voters who then die in the weeks between casting their ballot and the election. However, when Denver7 started ringing up the “dead people” Jeffco Republicans claimed had voted, they discovered something more basic was amiss.

A lot of these “dead voters” are not dead.

“I was terribly surprised because I’m alive and well,” [Long time Republican Barbara] Pietrafeso said. “I haven’t even been hospitalized.”

She mailed in her ballot and added that she’s been voting since she can remember.

Marilyn VanWagenen was also on the dead voter list. Denver7 drove to her home in Lakewood, checked her ID, and verified her address. She’s lived in her home for 50 years.

“I’m not deceased,” she said. “I think they better have someone — a volunteer, anybody — double-check those lists because it’s obviously incorrect.” [Pols emphasis]

Now first of all, the Jeffco GOP’s press release headline blares “3,000 potentially fraudulent voter records,” but upon closer examination it’s revealed that 2,500 of that 3,000 were flagged due to change-of-address cards filed with the U.S. Postal Service. It’s called a “National Change of Address” card, but it’s reasonable to assume that many of these requests were local area moves or mailing address changes that did not involve a change in residency for voting purposes. Using NCOA records as the basis of fraud claims has already been discredited in a Georgia post-election case due to high error rates and false positives.

As for “a number” who “were voting from prison facilities,” it’s possible that the Jeffco GOP is simply unaware that in Colorado it is perfectly legal for pretrial detainees and misdemeanor convicts to vote from jail. We also don’t disenfranchise felons once they’re out of trouble, which would no doubt annoy the Jeffco GOP if they knew the law. But it seems the Jeffco GOP is under the misconception that they are in Jefferson County Kentucky where disenfranchisement is still a thing.

In a county where the presidential election was won by Joe Biden by almost 70,000 votes, and by John Hickenlooper over GOP Sen. Cory Gardner by over 52,000 votes, none of these claims from Jeffco Republicans come anywhere near changing the results even if taken at unquestioning face value. From there, all it takes is a little kicking of the tires to see that the shrill warnings of fraud in Jefferson County are every bit as meritless as all the other baseless claims since Election Day that have come and gone, and in too many cases live on in disinformed infamy. Jeffco Republicans would be better off sticking to Jenna Ellis’ much grander delusions about Dominion Voting System.

Oh wait sorry, they’re doing that too.

With all of this in mind, we have to ask the question: will Republicans ever be able to have an honest conversation about how they lost Colorado? Not just in 2020, but 2018, 2016, 2012, 2008–years of self-destructive strategy and backward messaging that left Republicans hopelessly alienated from the majority of Colorado voters?

Based on the hell-bent denial of one bellwether county’s Republican Party, it doesn’t look like it.

Szabo vs TKT: The Bellwether County Commish Race In Colorado

Libby Szabo (right) poses with actor Scott Baio during the 2016 Republican National Convention.

With so much attention focused at the top of the ticket in this highest-stakes-ever presidential election year, the situation down the ballot is as always somewhat less clear than the emerging consensus in polling locking down the big races. It’s generally expected that voters in Colorado will be engaging in much less “ticket splitting” in 2020 than was the case in previous election cycles, owing heavily to the declining Republican brand and a strong sense among voters that Republicans at all levels have enabled the President they’re turning out in droves to vote out.

In one particular race in Colorado’s bellwether Jefferson County, the Jeffco District 1 commissioner’s race, there’s a change quietly unfolding that packs more political importance than meets the eye at casual glance. Outgoing Democratic Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, termed out of the swing HD-29 seat she ably defended for Democrats for eight years, is running against former HD-27 Republican Rep. Libby Szabo. Szabo was appointed to the Jeffco board of commissioners in 2015 to replace “serial job jumper” Faye Griffin, another peculiarity of Jeffco politics we’ve discussed at length in this space.

Readers will recall that Libby Szabo’s term in the Colorado House was marked by distasteful wedge-issue crusades that made her a brief Fox News Channel celebrity and GOP convention speaker after she claimed that Colorado’s first LGBT House speaker was “protecting” pedophiles. Szabo’s base of support in HD-27 was (and still is, presumably) the notorious evangelical megachurch Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, where her husband Denes Szabo taught a Bible study class on the ways Barack Obama fits the description of the Antichrist.

In a county that has served for decades as a leading indicator of Colorado’s political trends, Szabo’s re-election bid in 2020 after narrowly holding the seat in 2016 is definitely one to watch as an indicator of how far down the ballot Jeffco is trending blue. In previous years, swing voters disaffected with Republican choices at the top of the ballot would look elsewhere to “compensate” and retain their self-image as a voter unbeholden to either party. In 2018, the sweep of the statewide offices of AG, Secretary of State, and Treasurer in Colorado led a rout down the ticket that signaled the end of this psychological need on the part of voters to balance out their votes in the big races.

That’s bad news for Libby Szabo–and for Jeffco voters who do the homework, they’ll find that Szabo embodies every problem they have with Republicans writ large.

Grassroots Action at a Lakewood Intersection near you

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As usual, I heard many car horns honking as I pulled up to the intersection of Alameda and Wadsworth last Saturday, October 17, 2020. But it wasn’t an accident,  sports fans, or a wedding parade – it was the usual coterie of local Lakewood activists that have been demonstrating at various intersections each week since last spring.  I tapped out a quick “Shave and a haircut” on the horn and hurried to park and join about 70 of  my friends and comrades in peaceful protest.

Since spring of 2020, Lakewood Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) has been organizing “pop-up” protests during rush hour at  high-traffic intersections in Lakewood. The group’s founders, Christopher Arlen,  Zenat Shariff Belkin, and others  had felt compelled to do something when George Floyd was publicly murdered by police last May, and cities were convulsed with protests and brutal reaction. They wondered if people would come out for quick one hour protests to create a visible nonviolent presence in Lakewood. They recruited their friends,  neighbors, families, church members, and Democratic colleagues to stand during rush hours on Tuesdays for 16 weeks. For months, “Black Lives Matter” was the focus of the signs and of the one hour  vigils. Protesters generally avoided partisan messages, focusing on the issues of racism and violence in policing.

But in October, with the election underway, and a Republican court-packing maneuver in progress, many of the protesters were the same, but the subjects of the signs were different. Signs praising the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, signs affirming women’s right to abortion and reproductive freedom, a Trump puppet figure, and plenty of American flags and Biden / Harris 2020 signs were on view from 2-3 pm. Brenda Bronson organized the Lakewood action as one of hundreds around the nation in solidarity with the Washington Women’s March 2020.

Protesters 10 17 20

(more…)

Most Denver school districts to close buildings, begin “remote learning” to slow coronavirus spread

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Coronavirus By CDC

Coronavirus, from the Center for Disease Control. Image Free to use or share

Most Denver area school districts will close buildings for “in-person” education, starting next week on Monday, March 16, in order  to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Jeffco, Aurora, and Cherry Creek public schools will effectively start spring break a week early, from March 16 until March 27, 2020. Denver Public Schools, which has at least two students diagnosed with coronavirus, will be closed March 16 to  April 6.

(more…)

Sorry Lakewood, But She’s Your Mayoral Candidate

Tyler Durden, fictional tough guy who doesn’t know a thing about climate change.

Our friend Jason Salzman has done a great job over the years holding politicians accountable for spreading fake news stories to their followers on social media–a practice that has become intensely controversial in the era of “post-truth” Donald Trump politics.

This time, though, 9NEWS’ Steve Staeger does the honors, lighting up Republican perennial candidate now running for Mayor of Lakewood Ramey Johnson after she shared fake climate change denier “news” with fellow Lakewood City Council members while debating the city’s new sustainability plan:

Ramey Johnson, a candidate for Lakewood mayor and current city councilwoman, is facing some criticism for sharing an article about climate change from a blog authored by someone posing as a fictional character from the movie “Fight Club.”

The article, from the blog Zero Hedge, was authored by someone posing as Tyler Durden, Brad Pitt’s character in the movie. It claims that a “bombshell” scientific study from Finland shows evidence that climate change is not necessarily man-made.

The study referenced was published on a website called arXiv, where scientists post unpublished manuscripts. The fact-checking website Climate Feedback rated the study as “incorrect”, pointing the Finland study was never published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Johnson, a Republican who has run for office relentlessly and generally not successfully in steadily bluing suburban Jefferson County for most of the 21st Century so far, has come under fire before for questioning the overwhelming scientific consensus that human caused climate change is real. She claims in this latest story that she doesn’t necessarily agree that climate change is a hoax, but:

Johnson said years ago she tried to convene a study session of the city council to look at all perspectives on climate change and “got crucified”. [Pols emphasis]

“The reality is we should be looking at everything, Steve, and we can make up our own mind on whether its accurate or not,” Johnson told Next reporter Steve Staeger.

To be clear, and in the era of Trumpian fake news it’s necessary to be restate again and again, critical thinking is not about “looking at everything.” We have peer review, and credibility standards for information sources, for good reasons. If this is not obvious to you, do the world a favor and don’t share anything on social media. You’re just making it worse.

Johnson’s most recent act of “sustainability” was her support for the recently-passed and hotly controversial housing cap in the city of Lakewood, which saw bipartisan opposition and is now forecast to severely hamper economic growth in one of the Denver metro area’s anchor suburbs while worsening the state’s already historic shortage of affordable housing. If there was anybody still imagining that such draconian remedies are the result of a scientific approach to Lakewood’s problems…here’s solid evidence to the contrary.

Housing Growth Cap (Q200) wins in Lakewood special election

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Final update until July 11, when military, overseas, and “cured” ballots will be counted (but  probably not change results much) : Question 200, the Lakewood Growth Cap, won by 52.60% to 47.40%. Turnout was high for a municipal election: about 35%.

What this means: Growth in Lakewood will be held to 1%, and housing projects of over 40 units will have to go through citizen review.

From the Jeffco Clerk’s website:

Lakewood Special Election Results  – City of Lakewood Ballot Question 200

Shall the City of Lakewood limit residential growth to no more than one (1) percent per year by implementing a permit allocation system for new dwelling units, and by requiring City Council approval of allocations for projects of forty (40) or more units?
Yes (FOR THE ORDINANCE): 18,771  (52.60%)
No (AGAINST THE ORDINANCE): 16,913 (47.40%)
Total Votes Cast: 35,684 (35.81% of Lakewood’s 99,638 eligible voters)

A special election was held in Lakewood, Colorado on July 2, 2019. The all-mail-ballot election allowed voters to decide whether Lakewood will have a housing growth cap, which would limit density for new housing. It also mandates a more active role for community and local governments; units of over 40 apartments have to be approved by citizen and Council panels.

(more…)

South Jeffco Tea Party Removes FB Post Saying Stapleton’s Advisors Should be Drawn & Quartered

Drawn & Quartered

It’s been a busy week both online and in real life for the South Jeffco Tea Party. On Tuesday one of its members called out the Republican establishment in no uncertain terms and tonight the group is hosting a VIP Meet & Greet followed by a public forum for state GOP party official candidates.

Embracing its anti-establishment spirit, the South JeffCo Tea Party account posted a poll on Facebook earlier this week, asking its followers which they “hold in higher regard: ‘Chlamydia’ or the ‘RNC National Committee.’

A commenter asked “Is this same RNC that ran Walker Stapleton? I’ll have to think about that.”

While one might expect a Tea Party group to pile on the criticism of an establishment candidate like Stapleton, the SJCTP instead celebrated the democratic process, saying “We Coloradans picked Walker Stapleton and there was nothing wrong with that, he’s a fair enough candidate…”

But then things got dark:

(more…)

The 2018 Election Ain’t Over Yet

SATURDAY UPDATE: Democrat George Stern has defeated Republican job-hopper Faye Griffin in the race for Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder.

—–

Jefferson County Democrat George Stern has moved ahead of Faye Griffin in the race for Jeffco Clerk and Recorder.

The 2018 Election was very good for Democrats, and it may yet get gooder.

In Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has moved ahead of Republican Martha McSally in a nail-biter of a U.S. Senate race. In Florida, we could be looking at a recount in the state’s top two races, for U.S. Senate and Governor, while there may be some legal battles over an oddly-designed ballot in one Florida county. And in Georgia, the outcome of the race for Governor is still uncertain (though Republican Brian Kemp has declared victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams).

Here in Colorado there are a number of races that appear to be trending blue but are still uncertain. We wrote Thursday about three Democrats who moved ahead of their Republican opponents as late ballots were counted (HD-27, HD-47, and HD-50). As the Greeley Tribune reports, Democrat Rochelle Galindo now looks to be the winner in HD-50.

Elsewhere:

♦  In HD-47, Democrat Bri Buentello appears to have defeated “Deadbeat” Don Bendell, though a recount seems likely.

♦ In Arvada’s HD-27, Democrat Brianna Titone is closer to being the state’s first transgender lawmaker. The race between Titone and Republican Vicki Pyne may be headed to a recount.

♦ Arapahoe County is still working on a couple of important totals. In House District 38, Democrat Chris Kolker and Republican Susan Beckman are only separated by about 500 votes.

♦ In the race for Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder, Democrat Joan Lopez has moved ahead of Republican incumbent Matt Crane and is the likely winner.

♦ In the Clerk and Recorder race in Jefferson County, Democrat George Stern has taken the lead over serial job-hopper Faye Griffin. Several thousand ballots still need to be counted, though most of them look to be from last-minute voters; as we’ve seen in other races this cycle, these late voters tend to favor Democrats.

 

December 4 is the deadline for candidates to request recounts in qualifying races.

Hopefully They Kept Their Receipts

UPDATE (3:49 pm): That didn’t take long. Here’s what happens now when you go to the URL below:

—–

We were recently alerted to digital ad that has been running in the last week in Jefferson County promoting the seven Republican candidates on the ballot for county government races. It is…not good.

This digital ad cycles through seven similar images that all point to the same website. The ads are promoting JeffersonCountyUnited.com, which doesn’t actually work as a standalone link but does work if you include a slash and a candidate’s name at the end, like so:

jeffersoncountyunited.com/tina-francone/

Now, the problem with this ad — aside from its grade-school production value and the silly qualifications listed for the candidates — is that it misidentifies 5 of the 7 people it is meant to promote.

Faye Griffin is running for re-election as Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder, but is identified as a candidate for Jefferson County Commissioner (this error is easier to forgive, since it is hard to keep track of which office Griffin is seeking in a given year).

Jeff Shrader is running for re-election as Sheriff — which should be obvious from the SHERIFF’S UNIFORM he is wearing — but is identified as a second candidate seeking the office of Jefferson County Assessor. Brian Cassidy appears earlier as a candidate for Assessor.

*Also, Bob Hennessy apparently has both “Public Sector Experience” and “Private Sector Experience.” This is a less egregious error but hilarious nevertheless. 

We looked up the domain name registration for JeffersonCountyUnited.com. The site is owned by Rearden Strategic, the consulting firm founded by Joe Neville (son of State Sen. Tim Neville and brother of House Minority Leader Pat Neville).

It isn’t common for political strategy firms to offer refunds to their clients, but in this case, that might be a good idea.

George Washington Could Not Be Reached for Comment

Readers of Colorado Pols are probably familiar with Faye Griffin, the longtime elected official in Jefferson County who changes jobs like most people change socks.

Griffin is running for re-election as Jeffco’s Clerk and Recorder — because she’ll never not run for some kind of office in Jefferson County government — and you can tell a lot about her from the three endorsements listed on her campaign website. Actually, you don’t even need to read further than the first endorsement:

 

Tom Jefferson

Someone is quite clearly playing a joke here. Griffin’s website includes a link to submit your own endorsement, and this is one of only three recommendations that Griffin could wrangle. Beggars can’t be choosers, we suppose.

It is at once hilarious and terrifying that the person in charge of overseeing elections in one of Colorado’s most important counties apparently has no idea that “Tom Jefferson” isn’t a real endorsement.

Just for grins, we checked Colorado’s voter registration records and found no listing of a “Thomas Jefferson” in Jefferson County.

Griffin is getting up there in years — she’ll be 79-years-old soon — but she’s not quite old enough to have shared a classroom with America’s third President.

Do Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin

FRIDAY UPDATE: They fixed it.

—–

Are you a Jefferson County voter planning to cast your ballot before Election Day on November 6, 2018?

Then you might want to let Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin in on a little secret: It’s not 2019.

Readers of this site and one of our local spinoffs, Jeffco Pols, are probably familiar with Faye Griffin, who never met an elected position she wasn’t willing to abandon if it meant extending her time on the public dime. Griffin jumps from job to job in Jefferson County Government about as often as Donald Trump tells a lie. In fact, her job-hopping has become so notorious that the editorial board of the Denver Post agreed with our sentiment in 2014 when we documented another potential backroom office change.

We first discussed Griffin’s job-hopping in 2013 in a post titled, “Finish Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin.” That headline inspired the title of the post you are reading now, “Do Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin,” because this is what you’ll find on the website of the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder:

Screenshot from www.jeffco.us/elections on Thursday afternoon.

Election Day is, in fact, on November 6. But not in 2019.

Obviously this is a relatively-harmless mistake. Nevertheless, the optics are terrible given that the long, long, longtime elected official in charge of the department is running for another re-election on the eve of her 79th birthday.

Griffin is being challenged by Democrat George Stern.

Christine Jensen Wants to Repeal/Replace Obamacare Because…Um…

(Asked to clarify, Jensen…could not — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Christine Jensen

At a campaign stop last month in Wheat Ridge, Colorado State Senate candidate Christine Jensen said “abuses abound” in Colorado’s health insurance program for the poor, which, she said, is a significant cause of Colorado’s budget woes.

“There are some that would much rather drive a nicer car than pay for the health care for their own family,” said Jensen, a Republican, in a Facebook video of the event.

Asked yesterday to clarify how many such people are in the Medicaid program, Jensen said she didn’t know the specifics but it “needs to be investigated.”

The Colorado Times Recorder was unable to identify records that illuminate how many Medicaid recipients are doing this, and how much money could be saved from taking away their health insurance.

Jensen also said that the state has a “moral obligation” to provide health insurance for poor people who “truly need it,” but she said in the video that there are “not nearly enough” efforts to crack down on Medicaid abuses.

 

(more…)

Rep. Tim Leonard Compares Women’s Rights Marchers to Nazis

Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) shown here wearing jailhouse orange.

As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) is again making an ass of himself:

Republican state Rep. Tim Leonard of Evergreen is under fire for a Facebook post in which he compared women marchers to Hitler’s brownshirts, the Nazi militia members who began the campaigns of violence against Jews in pre-World War II Germany.

Leonard has two Facebook pages, one for his personal life and another for his political office and campaign. The Facebook page generating controversy is on the page that he uses to communicate with House constituents and supporters.

The post refers to a Washington Times article that poked fun at the Women’s March, which sent out a press release after President Donald Trump announced his pick for the latest U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. The press release said “Women’s March opposes XX,” leaving out the name of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Screenshot from Tim Leonard’s Facebook page.

Here’s what Leonard wrote, word-for-word:

I usually like to avoid national politics, but the insanity and incoherency of the “Women’s March” radicals has to be pitied. They are so angry, they cannot even think straight. They could care less who the Supreme Court nominee is, they resist everything everywhere all the time from this President. Who can even take them seriously? They have nothing to offer to any logical discussion of ideas. They are in the political arena just to cause chaos — like Hitler’s Brownshirts. [Pols emphasis]

Of course, the guy comparing women’s rights activists to Hitler’s Brownshirts is notorious for wearing his own unique colors. Leonard holds the distinction of being the only sitting lawmaker in at least 40 years in Colorado to serve time in jail while holding elected office.

Democrat Lisa Cutter is running against Leonard in HD-25.

Another Jeffco Republican Won’t Finish Elected Term

Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier

Walking out of an elected office before the end of your term has become something of a perverse tradition among Republicans serving in Jefferson County government. Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin is the poster child for Republicans gaming the system for partisan benefit, but the problem is deeply-rooted in Jeffco…and it’s happening once again.

Earlier this week, a press release from Jefferson County announced that Commissioner Donald Rosier would be resigning his post in January 2018 in order to take a top job with an expensive new mixed-use development in Douglas County called Sterling Ranch. If Rosier’s name sounds somewhat familiar, you may recall that he was briefly (and laughably) a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Rosier was term-limited next year, but his early departure will allow a Republican vacancy committee to appoint a new County Commissioner. The early favorite for the vacancy appointment is Tina Francone, who was already running for Rosier’s seat but will likely now get to campaign as a semi-incumbent against Democrat Lesley Dahlkemper. Former legislator Libby Szabo got the same head start in 2015 — appointed Commissioner just two months after being re-elected to the legislature — which came a few years after Republican John Odom won the vacancy lottery in 2011 (Odom didn’t even bother to finish his partial term after losing to Democrat Casey Tighe in 2012).

Jefferson County has three County Commissioners who can each serve two four-year terms (if elected). The last time a Republican County Commissioner in Jefferson County completed a full two terms? That was back in 2005, when both Michelle Lawrence and Patricia Holloway were term-limited out of office.

Who’s Afraid of Big Bad Teacher’s Unions?

Evidently Kyle Clark didn’t like his school teachers very much.

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, that’s who!

School board candidates backed and financed by teachers unions [Pols emphasis] are in positions for convincing wins in Jefferson County and Douglas County, with strong leads on Wednesday morning.

In Douglas County, where eight candidates are running for four seats, the union-backed slate [Pols emphasis] needs to flip only one race to gain control of the school board. If that happens, the new school board majority would likely abandon its defense of a controversial voucher program instituted by conservative school reformers. A legal challenge to that program is working its way toward the Supreme Court…

The union-backed [Pols emphasis] candidates for the DougCo school board maintained double-digit leads over the so-called education reform slate into Wednesday.

…In Jefferson County, three of five Board of Education seats were up for grabs. Two of the races were contested by conservative candidates looking to unseat union-supported [Pols emphasis] board members.

Kyle Clark’s full story on the school board elections in Douglas County and Jefferson County is eleven sentences long. Four of those eleven sentences–in addition to the title of the story–contain the words “unions,” “union-backed,” or “union-supported.” Now, we’re not disputing that the Colorado Education Association and their subsidiary organizations in Jefferson and Douglas Counties played a role in these elections–certainly they did, just as they did in the historic recall elections two years ago that swept a controversial far-right school board majority in Jefferson County from power.

But here’s the thing: over 120,000 Jefferson County voters participated in the school board elections that concluded yesterday. No doubt the teacher’s union’s support was helpful to the candidates who prevailed, but it’s Jefferson County voters who made the final decision–not the teacher’s union–and the winning candidates won by a landslide. And that means to obsess over the role of the union to the absolutely ridiculous extent Kyle Clark did in this story makes what he did here something other than journalism. This is a story written by someone so steeped in the demonization pushed by conservatives of organized labor that he completely lost sight of the larger reality–which is not “the unions,” but the fact that 120,000 voters who threw far-right radicals out of power in Jefferson County two years ago reaffirmed their choice by a similarly overwhelming margin.

Much like the Denver Post’s just-plain-sad endorsements that the voters ignored, this is a local TV newsman demonstrating only one thing: that he listens to the wrong people.

Lakewood City Council Race Takes Turn For The Nasty

The western Denver suburb of Lakewood is playing host to a number of tight city council races, with the Ward One race between incumbent longtime Republican political fixture Ramey Johnson and challenger Kyra DeGruy attracting significant attention. Johnson is a former GOP state representative who narrowly lost the mayoral election to Adam Paul in 2015, and has a long, checkered history in Jefferson County politics.

Yesterday morning, Johnson hosted a regularly-scheduled monthly ward meeting, which are supposed to be nonpartisan town hall-type sessions with residents. Instead, by all accounts Johnson launched into a full-throated pitch for her own re-election.

And then things got a little, well…worse:

This is from a handout that Ramey Johnson distributed to attendees at this city-sponsored event “describing” various donors to Kyra DeGruy’s city council campaign. The descriptions provided by Johnson of these donors appear to be lifted from various sources, but are obviously editorial in nature. And, you know, not exactly flattering.

In the case of Johnson’s description of former Lakewood City Councillor Karen Kellen:

A little searching reveals that this context-free blurb was taken without attribution from a 2011 Denver Post story by reporter Monte Whaley–ironically enough titled “Colorado gay officials seeing more-tolerant attitudes.” The story wasn’t about Kellen’s work after leaving the Lakewood city council, but from right after Kellen’s re-election to a second term, when Kellen went on to help represent LGBT local officials at the National League of Cities:

Over the weekend, Kellen was elected as an at-large member to the board of directors of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials, a constituency group within the National League of Cities.

To summarize, Lakewood City Councillor Ramey Johnson lifted a six-year-old blurb about former Councillor Karen Kellen, and used it out of context in campaign literature improperly distributed at a city-sponsored event–with the obvious purpose of smearing Johnson’s opponent in the Ward One council race, Kyra DeGruy, by implicitly casting DeGruy’s donors as out of the mainstream.

Folks, this is beneath everybody involved. Lakewood is not some kind of culture-war backwater where cheap whisper campaigns should be politically rewarded. It’s a throwback to the ugly politics of the early 2000s–not coincidentally when Johnson was at the peak of her own political career–when this kind of thing would fly in Jefferson County politics.

In 2017, it should not.

Erica Shields and the “Freedom Blanket”

Instagram post by Jeffco School Board candidate Erica Shields (Nov. 2015)

This photo of a “Freedom Blanket” was posted in November 2015 on the Instagram account of Erica Shields, a Republican running for Jefferson County School Board in District 2 against incumbent Democrat Susan Harmon.

Erica Shields

You’re not seeing things — this is an actual social media post by an actual Republican candidate for school board in Jefferson County, which is where the Columbine school massacre took place in 1999. We obscured the face of the boy in the photo because it’s not his fault that his mom thought that this would be a good thing to put out on the Internet tubes.

Shields posts on Instagram and Twitter under the handle “mrscoam2016,” a reference to the fact that she was the 2016 “Mrs. Colorado America,” which is apparently a thing. As of September 2017, she also started posting under the handle “@EricaforKids.”

As the Lakewood Sentinel reported in mid-September, Shields fancies herself as a “public health educator.” Judging by her social media accounts, this is a fancy way of saying that she is a personal trainer/yoga instructor:

Shields, a Jeffco mom, describes her work as being a “public health educator,” who advocates for childhood causes including fitness, resiliency, pediatric cancer, child abuse and neglect, and education.

“Over the last year, I have spent a significant amount of time volunteering in schools which serve high populations of students from families living below poverty,” Shields said. “I have seen the incredible needs in these schools. I have learned not every student in Jeffco has the same opportunities despite the billion dollars we spend each year. I am running to be sure we focus on improving opportunities for all students so that they can be better prepared for college or career.”

According to the Sentinel, Shields opposes closing schools, opposes the idea of moving sixth-graders to middle school, and wants to “attract and retain great teachers and staff.” It’s fun to come out against cuts of any kind when you don’t have to actually worry about a budget.

Mail ballots drop in Jefferson County on October 16.

Strange Case in Lakewood City Council Race

Michael Bieda

We haven’t talked much about local municipal races this year, in part because there hasn’t been a lot of terribly interesting news to discuss. Most city council races are fairly quiet affairs that don’t generate much enthusiasm — or many voters, for that matter.

But there’s a city council battle in Lakewood that is worth watching because of the unusual circumstances surrounding one of the candidates seeking to fill an open seat in Ward 3, (East Lakewood). Michael Bieda is a former State District Court Judge who lost his job in the 1994 election when voters elected NOT to retain him for another term.

If you’re not familiar with the process of retaining judges, let’s just put it this way: You’d have a better chance of finding someone to buy your solar eclipse glasses than you would of being ousted as a judge. Check out these statistics from the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation:

Colorado voters elected to retain 1,312 of the 1,323 (99.2%) judicial officers standing for retention since 1990. [Pols emphasis] As shown in Table B, Colorado voters retained 99.7% of the judges receiving retain recommendations, 65% of those receiving do not retain recommendations, and retained all judicial officers where commissions offered no opinion.

Those are staggering numbers. Only 11 sitting judges have been kicked off the bench by voters in the last 27 years. Bieda is among those ignominious 11, and it didn’t take long for people to sour on him; Bieda was appointed to a District Judgeship in 1992 and was off the bench two years later. Bieda lost his job by 1,870 votes out of 126,216 votes cast in 1994.

Bieda served as a District Judge in the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe County), where he took part in several notable cases, including the trial of Nathan Dunlap (the Chuck E. Cheese murderer). Bieda made enough waves behind the bench that he received a “Do Not Retain” recommendation from the Office of Judicial Performance prior to the 1994 election. Here’s what they said:

The Commission reviewed surveys and personally interviewed representatives from the criminal justice system. Most responses indicated that Judge Bieda has a poor courtroom demeanor, is arrogant, and has angry outbursts toward lawyers and parties. Judge Bieda received low ratings in his sensitivity toward witnesses and jurors. There are also responses that indicate that Judge Bieda is “unfair” in his treatment of women in his courtroom. The Commission is concerned that Judge Bieda’s hostile courtroom behavior has not improved over time nor has it changed with his transfer from the Domestic Division to the Criminal Division. Responses indicate that Judge Bieda has demonstrated an unwillingness to become proficient in his management of his criminal docket, and the handling of criminal cases. An additional concern to the Commission is the number of complaints alleging that Judge Bieda appears unprepared in his handling of criminal matters.

Bieda does address this issue on his campaign website, which you can read in full here. He says that he was targeted by attorneys who were upset that he didn’t let them charge more for their services, or something:

While sitting as judge, I created a pilot project to make the divorce forms with instructions easily available to those who did not want to hire a lawyer. This had never been done before. This project was so successful that the State Judicial Department adopted it and expanded it into the forms available today statewide through the state court system.

As you might expect, I was not popular with everyone, especially the domestic bar association. Because I helped people with the forms project, and because I insisted that the lawyers be prepared and efficient in their presentations, they were not able to charge their clients the outrageous fees they had been used to. Some of them organized a campaign against me when I came up for the election.

Because city council races are usually low-information, low-turnout affairs, it’s hard to gauge how much Bieda’s past will hurt his chances against opponent Michael Gifford. But getting kicked off the bench seems like a pretty tough negative for anyone to overcome.

Ex-Jeffco school board member sounds the alarm on “Spiritual Warfare”

(At least she’s not your school board member…anymore! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Back in 2015, before conservatives were removed from the Jeffco School Board, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel, a conservative, made the memorable observation that school board member Julie Williams got the “rest of the board into trouble with a lot of  foolish, barely thought-out ideas she has expressed inappropriately.”

She’s still saying such things, as evidenced by a Facebook post last week, obtained by a source.

Williams posted an article headlined, “Something Wicked Is Creeping Into U.S. Homes,” which stated, “The U.S. entertainment industry is entrenched with devil worshipers who are actively working to promote and normalize satanism in American culture.”

Williams commented, “Spiritual Warfare is getting stronger…Lord be with us.”

Recall Williams incited protests when she proposed sanitizing American history courses in Jeffco schools.

It’s not known if she would have wanted to put more emphasis on the alleged threat posed by lurking devil worshipers who might want to normalize satanism in Jeffco.

Good News! June 23-30, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about healthcare and the resistance to the BCRA Wealthcare bill.  We’ve come too far to give up now. Keep our eyes on the prize:  A public healthcare system like every other industrialized country has.

Healthcare, the ACA, and the Senate Wealthcare bill

The Senate Democrats fought hard to keep the BCRA, aka Trump’s Wealthcare bill, from being voted on without hearings or public input. It was good to see some Senate backbone on display.

Hawaii’s Maisie Hirono led  filibustering on the Senate floor.

Our own Senator Bennet spoke at length,  outlining what’s at stake in this health care bill.

But – we don’t know what Cory Gardner really thinks about the Senate healthcare bill he supposedly helped to draft. Right now, he looks to be in the “Yes on BCRA” camp, because he pretends that insurance costs will go down with the Senate bill.  However, Cowardly Cory will not give his constituents the courtesy of in-person meetings or town halls to discuss his position. Even when said constituents try really, really hard.

To keep the heat on, keep contacting

Senator Bennet: Contact Us

Senator Gardner: Contact Cory*

More good news about healthcare in Colorado: we get to keep all of our insurance brokers next year, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. No Colorado counties will be without an insurance provider, according to the Summit Daily News.

(more…)

Finish Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin (Again)

Jeffco Republican Faye Griffin is (politically) immortal.

Faye Griffin will still be serving as an elected official in Jefferson County long after your children’s children have come and gone — even if Jeffco Republicans have to get her cryogenically frozen in order to make it happen.

It looks like we need to update a long-running saga involving Griffin’s political history in Jefferson County. Current Jeffco Commissioner Libby Szabo is rumored to be considering leaving the Commissioner’s office in order to focus her energy full-time on the open Congressional seat in CD-7. If Szabo does resign early from the Commissioner’s office, we hear that current Jeffco Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin may be in line to replace Szabo. If this is indeed true, it would mean that the 78-year-old Griffin was leaving the Clerk and Recorder’s office in the middle of her third (non-consecutive) term in order to complete her third term as a County Commissioner. This is absolutely ridiculous, and it needs to stop.

We’ve talked about Griffin’s serial seat-hopping in the past, as well as the fact that her constant movement allows Jeffco Republicans to essentially subvert the will of voters. In the last 10 years or so, numerous Republican candidates have “run” for office for the first time with the power of an unearned-incumbency behind them. The Denver Post has also waded into this story and condemned the political malpractice. Take a look at what the Post wrote in October 2014:

When voters support a candidate, they should expect that person will serve the full term of office. It’s not too much to ask…

…Make no mistake, this isn’t about Griffin’s political affiliation. This is about a vacancy system that empowers party honchos instead of requiring special elections for vacancies, and Griffin’s willingness to abandon a commitment in order to continue in public office.

One of the more amazing parts of that editorial comes from an interview with Griffin herself:

We asked Griffin why she would leave the commission two years early, and she was candid in saying it was due to term limits.

Griffin is in the middle of her second term, and if she stayed in the position, she couldn’t run for the commission again — and there would be no other palatable options for her, in her mind.

“In two years, there’s no county office that is open,” Griffin said. So, she is seeking the office she held for eight years, starting in 1998.

Ahead of the 2018 election, there’s good reason for Jeffco Republicans to continue convincing Griffin to keep moving offices. Democrats appear to have a strong candidate for Clerk and Recorder in George Stern, so it is in the best interests of the GOP to try to place a new Clerk and Recorder now in order to give that person enough time to build up their name ID before 2018. And by moving Griffin back to County Commissioner in the meantime, she wouldn’t need to run again until 2020.

After the 2014 election, Griffin was quoted by the Golden Transcript with this comment about her future plans: “I am going to retire sometime, I just don’t know when.” We’re not saying that Griffin should retire — she just needs to finish her damn job for once.

 

Faye Griffin’s Seat-Hopping History
♦ 1998-2006: Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder (2 terms).
♦ 2006: Elected as County Treasurer (4-year term).
♦ 2008: Elected as County Commissioner after ditching Treasurer’s office mid-term. Republican-controlled Commissioners appoint Republican Tim Kauffman to fill remainder of Griffin’s term as Treasurer.
♦ 2012: Elected to second term as Jefferson County Commissioner
♦ 2013: Griffin announces that she will run for Jeffco Clerk and Recorder again in 2014. For the second time in 5 years, Griffin leaves elected office well before end of term.
♦ 2014: Elected as Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder for third time (1998, 2002). Libby Szabo later appointed to rest of Griffin’s term as Commissioner; Szabo elected to full term in 2016.
♦ 2017: Szabo rumored to consider resigning as County Commissioner in order to run full-time for Congress in CD-7. Szabo’s rumored replacement? Faye Griffin, of course.