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Fifty Shades of Jaxine?

Jaxine-Bubis

Oh, myyyyy! Christian conservative-supported Morse recall proponent, Jaxine Bubis, moonlights as erotica author Jaxine Daniels. Gun shop owner Paul Paradis pulled the trigger today on a breathless, hand-wringing email outing Bubis and begging fellow Republicans to deny her their support. (Incidentally, Paradis is said to be a close friend of the other candidate hoping to oppose Senate President John Morse in a recall election, Bernie Herpin.)

“Beantown Heat” by Jaxine Daniels, a.k.a. Jaxine Bubis.

Intra-party maneuvering aside, this is pretty juicy stuff for a self-described "grammy who writes erotic romance." Her erotic fiction escapades included "Beantown Heat," an "anthology of sensual romance" centered on the sexy summer activities of Boston College staff members. 

A pearl-clutching Paradis  censored the juicy bits out of an "EXPLICIT & GROSS" excerpt quoted in his email, but methinks the creativity of Polsters will serve to fill gaps:

"Now *** ******* were deep inside her. She could feel herself clamp down > on him, aching for his **** inside her. But then he leaned down and began > sucking and licking her, as his fingers moved slowing in and out. In and > out." > (Pg. 65, Beantown Heat, BY Jaxine Bubis)

My personal favorite synopsis, from 2006's "Promise to Believe," appears to be an attempt to cash in on the horror-rotica trend started by the outsized success of Twilight

 

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Sex Offender Petition Gatherers: Seriously, Bad Idea

As news broke over the weekend that paid petition gathering company Kennedy Enterprises has joined the recall effort against at least one Colorado legislator, Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs, there have been several aspects of this story worthy of attention. Yesterday, we released video footage of a training session last week at Kennedy Enterprises, outlining the money gatherers can make and the possibility of a lucrative career traveling "from city to city, state to state" collecting signatures "for basically anybody who has money."

If the presence of buy-an-election paid circulators in Morse's recall doesn't trouble you, and it indeed might not trouble the more politically cynical among us, there is another issue–the longstanding employment practices of petition gathering company Kennedy Enterprises. In 2008, Kennedy conducted the petition campaign for three GOP-backed ballot measures, including Amendment 47, the so-called "right to work" initiative. 9NEWS reported on an investigation into petition gatherers for that campaign (article no longer online):

Some people gathering signatures for ballot initiatives who approach Coloradans have criminal records, according to court record searches conducted by 9Wants to Know. [Pols emphasis] 9NEWS found signature gatherers convicted of sexual assault on a child, theft, harassment, trespassing and drug possession. Most signature gatherers are hired by private companies and paid for each signature they receive…

"It's a little frightening," said House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D-Boulder)…

Court records show signature gatherer Ferrell Griffin was sentenced in 2007 for drug possession. Police had already busted him twice before in 2002 and 1992. He's on parole and gathering signatures for ballot issues in Denver this year. Secretary of State records show John Bizzell gathered signatures in Pueblo this year too. He's a registered sex offender who is back in prison on drug charges.

John Respondek has a criminal record that dates back to 1996. He's been convicted of theft five times since 1996. His record also includes trespassing and harassment. 9Wants to Know caught up with Respondek while he was gathering signatures in Denver.

Folks, when we noted the lack of background checks for this latest drive, this is what we were getting at

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Gardner Demands Obama Protect Us from Gardner

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is only entering his second full term in Congress, but he’s already confusing himself with some other Cory Gardner.

This week Gardner and some guy named Tim Griffin (apparently a Congressman from Arkansas) sent a letter to President Obama demanding answers in Monday’s State of the Union speech. Here’s how the press release begins:

Congressmen Cory Gardner (CO-04) and Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statements after sending a letter to President Obama requesting that he be forthcoming in this State of the Union (SOTU) regarding our national debt, Medicare and Social Security:

“This President has claimed to be one of the most transparent in history, yet his healthcare overhaul was passed behind closed doors and ended up cutting $500 billion from Medicare,” Gardner said. “The American people deserve better than that. The State of the Union is President Obama’s chance to come clean and lay out an honest plan for protecting Medicare and Social Security, which is something he failed to do during his first term.”[Pols emphasis]

That’s funny! You know why it’s funny? It’s funny because Gardner was a big supporter of  the infamous “Ryan Plan” that would have gutted Medicare to the bone and slashed nearly $800 billion from Medicaid as well. It’s funny because he’s demanding that President Obama protect what Gardner himself is trying to unravel. It’s funny because “Medicare and Social Security,” has been under assault…from House Republicans like Gardner.

Or maybe that was some other Cory Gardner storming the gates of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in 2011.

We’d call this the height of hypocrisy, but this is so ridiculously absurd that even the word “hypocrisy” would want to distance itself from Gardner.

You go, Cory! Demand that our President protect America from Cory Gardner. Both of them. Either of them. Whatever.

Republican talk-radio host should explain why he thinks gays kissing on CNN was “disgusting”

(Jeff Crank of Americans for Prosperity stays classy – promoted by Colorado Pols)

KVOR talk-radio host Jeff Crank and his producer were chatting Jan. 5 about how horribly trashy CNN’s New Year’s Eve special was.

Crank was hating CNN’s Cathy Griffin, whom he called a “liberal, leftist scumbag,” and he had nothing kind to say about anchor Anderson Cooper. I don’t love them either, and it sounds like there was plenty to criticize about CNN’s silly New Year’s broadcast.

But one thing that really pissed off Crank, who lost in a vicious GOP primary to Rep. Doug Lamborn in 2008, was CNN’s first on-air kiss of 2013. Here’s what Crank had to say about it:

CRANK:  … You know what they did?  The very first thing, right at the stroke of midnight, you know, all the confetti drops, it’s, “Oh, it’s such a wonderful thing!”  And she turns around and she looks at a guy who is standing there, and I’ve got to tell you , he was a freaky-looking dude,  and she goes, “Isn’t this just wonderful? Happy New Year!” to him.  And he turns around, and his quote-unquote partner turns around, and they kiss each other!

PRODUCER: [inaudible]

CRANK:  Right there!  And [sarcastically] oh, yeah, this was just a heartwarming moment that just happened to come about.  I mean, they just try and push this stuff.  I mean, isn’t that disgusting?

PRODUCER:  That is disgusting.  But we’re in new times now.  It’s good to do that.  It’s cool to do that.  It’s okay to do that.

CRANK:  [laughing]  It’s okay, yeah, yeah, because the President thinks it’s okay.

PRODUCER:  [sarcastically] Yeah.

CRANK:  Look.  But who wants to see – I just don’t want  to see that!  And I don’t want to explain –.  You know, not that the kids are up at midnight, but they are sometimes up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  It’s maddening, that they get away with this stuff.  And it’s this constant push to change the mores of society.  And yet, somehow we’re the ones that are the social – you know [affecting a curmudgeonly voice] “We’re always pushing our social values on everybody else!”  No.  They are the ones pushing their social values on everybody else.

I tweeted Crank, who’s also a national staffer at Americans for Prosperity, to find out if he gets as upset about heteros kissing on CNN. What, specifically, is the problem with a kiss?

And what to do about it? In Tunisia, kissing in public can allegedly land you in jail for months. Who knows what would happen to gays.

Commissioner Race Headed to a Recount

With State Senator Evie Hudak narrowly clinching victory against Lang Sias in SD-19, there remains but one race left to be decided in Jefferson County, that between Democrat Casey Tighe and incumbent Republican John Odom for county commissioner.

Thursday’s unofficial tally, which includes all regular ballots cast in the county as well as those of overseas and military voters, gives Tighe a 251 vote edge. Although about 7,500 provisional ballots are presently being tabulated, the .08% margin separating the two candidates is over six times smaller than the .5% margin which necessitates an official recount. Neither candidate is expected to pull enough provisional votes to move the needle decisively in their favor.

The official election results will be certified no later than Friday, November 23rd. If the commissioner race remains this tightly contested, a recount of all Jefferson County ballots is statutorily required to be completed by December 6th.

By dint of his current lead, Tighe is the odds-on favorite to ascend to the Board of County Commissioners. As Josh Liss, Jeffco’s deputy of elections, tells the Arvada Press, “[W]hat we’ve seen in recent years is that the provisional ballots seem to reflect what we see on election night.” [Emphasis Added]

Worse still for the incumbent, if Tighe maintains his advantage after provisional ballots are counted and the results are certified, there’s almost no chance that a recount will lead to an outcome in Odom’s favor, as the Arvada Press continues:

The optical vote-counting machines used by Jeffco, which Liss described as “simple and reliable,” would be checked for accuracy.

Then the recount would begin, which in the case of the Odom and Tighe contest would involve recounting every ballot in the county. The process is expected to take three to four days.

Liss said the county’s equipment is rarely wrong the first time around though. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen a recount in Jeffco where the result changes.”

When Tighe is inevitably declared the victor, he’ll become the only elected Democrat anywhere in Jefferson County government. But he probably won’t hold that distinction for long.

That the race is even this close at all, let alone the fact that Tighe will almost certainly win the seat, signals a shifting tide in Jefferson County. Jeffco voters, of course, have long been content to send Republicans to the Taj Mahal by default. Former County Commissioner Kathy Hartman was the first Democrat elected to the Board in 14 years, and even she was ignominiously dispatched by Don Rosier in 2010.

Odom’s failure to truly fight for relection can be attributed to these electoral trends. Why should he have had anything to worry about when few Republicans have ever lost their bids for second terms? Although Tighe’s triumph speaks to his counterpart’s electoral arrogance, it’s also evidence that Republicans can no longer take their cozy perch in county government for granted.

Without any campaign or infrastructure to speak of, Odom garnered just under 50% of the vote. By comparison, Tighe’s ragtag effort earned him a hair over 50%. That means that just being a Republican is no longer enough to win in Jeffco — GOP candidates at the county level will actually have to work keep their hitherto ironclad control of county government.

Tighe, with no built-in name ID, few fundraising connections, and a less-than-professional operation, was a far cry from a perfect candidate. And yet the Democrat is on course to eke out a victory. Just imagine the trouncing Odom would’ve received if he was challenged someone with a better profile.

Odom’s campaign should serve as a warning for Commissioners Don Rosier, Faye Griffin, and other Republicans in county government: You’re now accountable to voters in Jefferson County. Act accordingly.  

JEDC: Don Rosier “Elected Official of the Year”

No surprise here. Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier, who’s recently risen to become the face of the Board of Commissioners as a whole, was last week selected as the Jefferson Economic Development Corporation’s “elected official of the year.”

From the JEDC:

Jefferson County Economic Development

Corporation held its sixth Annual Luncheon Thursday at the Sheraton Denver West.

Donald Rosier, Jefferson County Commissioner was named the Elected Official of the Year, Mike Partheymuller was named Volunteer of the Year, and the Jefferson County Workforce Center was name Community Partner of the Year. “As we try to encourage job growth and capital investment in Jefferson County, it is important for us to recognize individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to Jefferson County’s economy. We were honored to present these three awards; the recipients have earned this recognition,” said Jeffco EDC’s Board Chair Buddy Douglass.

Commissioner Donald Rosier was this year’s Elected Official of the Year. He has served as Jefferson County Commissioner since 2010. He serves on the Jeffco EDC Executive  Committee and is very involved in the economic development of Jefferson County.  

Hear that? Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier is “very involved in the economic development of Jefferson County.” Apparently, doing your job is all it takes to win an award.

Congratulations are due to Rosier, of course, but this particular accomplishment comes as no surprise. Rosier, as the press release points out, serves on the JEDC board alongside Commissioners Faye Griffin and John Odom. Former Commissioner Kevin McCasky, who served briefly with Odom, controversially resigned from the Board of Commissioners to take a job as the JEDC’s chief executive. That’s four votes right there! Sure, Rosier has worked to advance Jeffco’s economic standing in line with his elected duties, but it’s not like this group would ever call someone like Max Tyler, for example, “elected official of the year.” The JEDC favors municipal leaders over state legislators, after all, and though they’ve celebrated a few Democrats in the past, the group is known to have a subtle conservative bent. Call it a “pro-business” ideology.

As a consolation prize, though, we hear that the American Mustache Institute prefers Tyler’s whiskers to Rosier’s soup strainer. Seriously, though, two politicians with prominent facial hair are two too many for one county.  

Five Commissioners in Jeffco? “We don’t have the office space,” says Board.

Adams County voters will decide at the ballot box this fall whether or not to expand their County Commission by two seats, creating a five member board in place of the current, three-commissioner composition. The proposal is a response to recent corruption in Adams County, and championed by current commissioners there as creating greater government accountability and responsiveness.

When a similar suggestion came in front of the Jefferson County Board last month, however, Commissioners John Odom, Don Rosier, and Faye Griffin scrambled to come up with any excuse to shoot the proposal down, according to a report from the Denver newspaper.

Viewed through every lens except that of a current officeholder, augmenting the Commission makes sense. Sure, it’s an “expansion of government” as Commissioner John Odom whines, but it’s not an expansion of bureaucracy. People complain about “big government” when they don’t see or can’t find the personal benefit of government services. In a county of 550,000 residents, however, a five-member commission is simply good government: additional elected officials leads to more opportunities for more constituents to have their voices heard.

Odom also notes that it isn’t practical to allow the county to elect two more commissioners in part because of “additional space requirements.” Is that really enough of a reason? Because there aren’t enough offices? Heaven forbid the commissioners share offices, or, even worse, find space in the expansive Taj Mahal to accommodate everybody. The only reasoning more foolish than the office space canard is grumbling that there aren’t enough chairs in the Commission chambers. “We don’t have enough seats,” Odom could say. “We looked into getting some folding chairs, but those aren’t really comfortable and then we would have to decide who gets the padded seats. I guess we could rotate every few months, but it’s frankly not a conversation we want to have.”

Faye Griffin’s remarks were equally absurd, worrying that overworked support staff would have to put even more hours in at the office. It’s funny how Griffin’s complaints are almost diametrically opposed to Odom’s: in a five-member commission, people would have to work harder?  Wait, but don’t we want our elected officials and their staff to work hard to earn and steward our tax dollars? Sounds like Odom’s reviled “expansion of government” may just make everybody a little more industrious, if you take his colleague’s word for it.

Don Rosier grouses that having five, district-elected commissioners would build “fiefdoms,” with each commissioner jockeying to benefit his or her own district. That’s right, Rosier believes that having commissioners catering to the specific needs of different communities across geographically and socio-economically diverse Jefferson County would somehow be a bad thing.

So, to review, Jefferson County absolutely should never, ever have five elected county commissioners because:

1) There aren’t enough offices.

2) People would have to work harder.

3) The commissioners would have to work for and respond to those living in their respective districts.

Great reasons.

These sorry excuses, however, belie the true reason guiding the commissioners’ opposition: expanding the board would dilute their personal political power. In Adams County, proponents of board expansion favor additional members because with three, after all, you only need to convince a friend to support you in order to ram public policy through the works.

Having five members, then, would lead to commissioners having to debate, consider, defend, and win votes for their proposals. Which, of course, would limit the commissioners’ ability to have their way with county government.

And why have “personal fiefdoms” when the entire county can be your domain?

Don Rosier’s Surprising Political Rise

Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier was last month selected as president of the Front Range District of Colorado Counties, an advocacy group which advises county governments across the Front Range. It’s a plum appointment for the first-term commissioner, who only took office last year after defeating incumbent Commissioner Kathy Hartman in 2010.

From the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners:

Jefferson County Commissioner Donald Rosier has been elected president of the Front Range District of Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI), a group that represents boards of county commissioners from more than 60 Colorado counties.

The CCI Front Range District includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties and the City & County of Denver and City & County of Broomfield. It brings together commissioners from those counties who face similar challenges such as increasing urbanization, declining revenues and accelerating demands for services for citizens. By joining together, the commissioners share knowledge and experience, have a bigger voice on legislative matters, and work together on issues that cross county lines.

Rosier, who chairs the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners, was sworn in as a Jeffco commissioner in 2011, and was named CCI’s Freshman Commissioner of the Year during his first year in office.

CCI is a non-profit, membership association that provides information and education to county officials, and helps counties work together.  Rosier was elected to head the Front Range group because of his work with other counties on critical issues such as transportation and economic development.

Rosier also serves on the National Association of Counties (NACo) Community and Economic Development Committee, which develops NACo policies and represents counties across the U.S. before Congress on matters related to community development and redevelopment, housing programs, building and housing codes, subdivision regulations, public works and economic development.  Recently he was chosen as one of only 23 leaders in county government from across the U.S. to participate in a national leadership institute developed by NACo and the Cambridge Leadership Associates.

Locally, Rosier represents Jefferson County on several boards including the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the Jefferson Economic Development Corporation and the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority.

Rosier has quickly become the face of the Board, leading the controversial charge to complete the Denver-metropolitan beltway while still finding time to scare little kids.

He’s risen to the top of county government, however, less because of any inherent ambition or talent and more because of the power vacuum left in the wake of the Kings’ of Corruption abdications. Commissioners Jim Congrove and Kevin McCasky were so masterfully able to define — and desecrate — the Board of Commissioners because, working in tandem, they could ramrod through their policies with no questions asked. You could call it leadership, even if it was unquestionably corrupt — and occasionally bizarre.

Indeed, Rosier’s political profile has stumbled into the spotlight in part because the current Board isn’t really composed of strong personalities. Commissioner Faye Griffin, while popular, lacks the legislative chops to be anything more than a yes-woman. After decades in county government, she’s proven to be a better bureaucrat than policymaker. And while Commissioner John Odom has made some of the same mistakes as his predecessors, he’s too green — commissioner is too big for the guy who’s never successfully been elected to public office before.

And so Rosier, rocking facial hair which would make Colonel Sanders shudder, has alone been able to wield power in Jeffco. The Rosier era is doubtless an improvement over the reign of McCasky, Congrove, & company: there’s been no major corruption scandals, yet.

Still, you’ve got to wonder: is this the best we can do? Should one man really set the direction of the county as a whole? And what has Rosier accomplished, anyway?

The Taj Mahal is no longer a font of shame and outrage for Jefferson County residents. But the county government isn’t really anything to be proud of, either.

Don Rosier, then, is the rebound girlfriend of local politics: necessary to move on from past mistakes, but ultimately forgettable in the long run.  

Jeffco Line Updated

We’ve updated the Jeffco Line to reflect the results from last month’s primary election.

County Commissioner Faye Griffin faces no general election opponent this year, nor does Republican DA candidate Pete Weir. We’ve consequently removed their names from the Line.

There’s been a lot of movement in this iteration of the Jeffco Line, so we suspect, as always, that there’ll be some griping.

Have at it, then: sound off in the comments below to tell us where you think we got it wrong. You can also view the old line here.  

Poll: Who Will Win the District 2 Commissioner Seat?

Faye Griffin is set to breeze through election year. Democrats failed (or were unable) to draft a candidate to run against her, so she’s a lock for re-election. Given that Griffin’s the only sitting commissioner displaying any modicum of common sense, perhaps that’s for the best.

District 2 Commissioner John Odom, however, is left alone to defend his seat from Democratic attorney Casey Tighe. Make no mistake: it’s an uphill battle for Tighe. Odom’s incumbency will lengthen his fundraising lists, and as a Democrat, Tighe’s already starting out behind in a county which favors the GOP for countywide offices. It doesn’t help that Odom, unlike his predecessors, is more or less untouched by scandal. At least, scandal that we know of.

Still, Odom’s never won an election before. He was appointed to his current position in the wake of Kevin McCasky’s now-controversial resignation last year. His only electoral qualification, in fact, is his failed bid against Cheri Jahn in 2010.

We want to know: who do you think will be the next Jefferson County commissioner from District 2, John Odom or Casey Tighe? Remember, vote for the candidate you think will win, not the candidate you’d like to win.    

Who Will Win the District 2 Commissioner Seat?

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Jeffco Line: Countywide Races

Despite Jeffco electoral gains in both houses of the General Assembly, representation at the county level is one nut Jefferson County Democrats have yet to crack.

Commissioner Kathy Hartman was the lone Democratic voice in elected government at the county level until her loss last cycle. In fact, Hartman was the first Democrat elected to the Board of Commissioners in 14 years. With Hartman’s 2010 loss to Republican Don Rosier, however, the Democrats lost their last connection to the Taj Mahal.

As things stand today, it’s unlikely the Democrats will be able to reverse that trend in 2012.

Commissioner Faye Griffin, elected in 2008, seems set to ascend to a second term. Griffin, of course, is the only sitting commissioner to have signed off on the now-infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” linking the Southwest Plaza and Bowles Crossing shopping centers. That’s a definite weakness which the right challenger could use in mail pieces to link Griffin with both wasteful spending and government corruption, two talking points that even conservatives in South Jeffco could get behind. Even with that veritable Achilles heel, however, the Jeffco Dems have yet to draft a candidate for the District 1 seat.

That’s no surprise. Longtime State Senator Sue Windels lost to Griffin in 2008, taking only 42% of the vote. If Windels, who from a decade of service in state government was popular in north Jeffco, couldn’t defeat Griffin for an open seat, it’s unlikely that there’s a candidate out there who could beat the former treasurer in a re-election fight.

Instead, it seems, the county Democrats have focused their efforts on District 2 Commissioner John Odom. Odom, a failed candidate for the State Senate, was appointed to fill the remainder of Kevin McCasky’s term after the latter took a now controversial post at the Jefferson Economic Council. Odom’s previous electoral difficulties and lack of resounding name ID throughout the candidate led attorney Casey Tighe to jump into the race.

Tighe is by no means a bad candidate. He’s served in senior positions at the Colorado Department of Transportation for a quarter-century and also chaired the Jefferson County Audit Committee. In short, Tighe’s got a great resume to make the case that he’s qualified to root corruption out of county government, once and for all.

Absent on Tighe’s CV, however, is previous elected service. Without it, the attorney is going to struggle to make voters remember his name. He’ll also have problems convincing donors to give him the amounts of money he’s going to need to take on an incumbent Republican in right-leaning Jefferson County. Tighe would be an incredible candidate for a competitive State House or State Senate seat – if he shows that he can put together the semblance of an effective campaign, he’ll set the stage for a future run. For county commissioner, we just don’t see him pulling off a surprise win against Odom.

As for the district attorney’s race? We doubt Republican Pete Weir will face any serious opposition. The former district judge served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety in the Ritter administration, a bipartisan resume bullet that even Democrats can get behind. He’s a good fit for the post, and barring any major campaign trail revelations, should cruise to the DA’s office. If anything, district attorney is too small for Weir: we could see him pivoting from the 1st Judicial District onto the short list for attorney general when John Suthers is termed out in 2014.  

Casey Tighe to Take on John Odom

Jefferson County Democrats have been struggling to field candidates in the two countywide commissioner races this cycle.

Commissioner Faye Griffin is vying for a second term in 2012, and Commissioner John Odom, who filled the vacancy created after Kevin McCasky’s controversial move to the Jefferson County Economic Council, is seeking a full term. No Democrats had announced to take on either Griffin or Odom until attorney Casey Tighe filed papers late last month for Odom’s District 2 seat.

From the Columbine Courier:

Democrat Casey Tighe has the lofty goal of unseating Jeffco Commissioner John Odom in November, and the Colorado Department of Transportation audit director is ending his 24-year career to focus completely on his campaign.

Tighe, a longtime Golden resident who filed his candidate affidavit on Jan. 27, said he does not foresee a highly charged, partisan race for the District 2 seat, which in recent years has been dominated by Republicans.

A Republican vacancy committee appointed Odom to fill the seat vacated by former commissioner Kevin McCasky a year ago, when McCasky accepted a job as head of the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp.

“I don’t know that this will be a real partisan race,” Tighe said. “You’re looking for someone who will run an effective government.”

The last Democrat to fill an elected office in Jefferson County was former commissioner Kathy Hartman, who in 2010 was defeated by District 3 Commissioner Don Rosier, a Republican. Hartman was also the first Democrat elected to the seat in 14 years when she won the office in 2006.

But despite the local electorate’s historically conservative leanings, Tighe, 52, said his auditing expertise will make him a competitive candidate.

“I can provide a fresh set of eyes and perspective as a county commissioner,” said Tighe, who was serving on the county audit committee last year when the current Board of Commissioners dissolved it. “I try to make my decisions based on the facts … and not purely on ideology. There’s a lot of talk right now about cutting government … but you need to make the right decisions about where can you cut and where you focus the government’s efforts.”

Further, county residents are interested in a business-friendly atmosphere, he said, an insight that does not appear lost on the current board.

“I know Jefferson County. I know what the people are looking for. … People are interested in business development. They want to see businesses grow,” Tighe said, adding that county services should be streamlined and helpful. “The government should be elegant in that the customer has a positive experience. … It should be an efficient process. You shouldn’t have to go back again to get service.”

That political newcomer Tighe is the only Democratic candidate set to take on Odom in District 2 shows just how intimidating the commissioner’s races are for Democrats. Odom, who lost his first ever political bid against Cheri Jahn for the SD-20 seat in 2010, is arguably much more vulnerable in his re-election bid than Griffin – he lost his last campaign for a much smaller office and never before has been on the ballot countywide. Even with that inherent vulnerability, however, no big-name Democrats were willing to challenge him for the District 2 seat, leaving the race open to the relatively unknown Tighe.

Can Tighe win? He’s got an interesting pedigree, at the very least. The longtime CDOT audit director also served as the chairman of the Jefferson County Audit Committee, qualifications which will enable Tighe to campaign on government transparency and accountability. Those talking points may resonate in light of Jeffco’s own “Bridge to Nowhere” scandal if Tighe can make the case that he’s better qualified than Odom to root out county corruption.

With no contribution limits in county races, however, Tighe’s talking points won’t be relevant unless he can raise enough to televise them. Tighe may have some contacts with the Colorado Trial Lawyer’s Association, but he doesn’t have a record as an elected official. Without it or any other indicator of previous success, Tighe will struggle with convincing donors that he can win the election against Odom. There’s just no way that Tighe’s fundraising list, as a political newcomer, will be long enough to really give incumbent Odom a run for his money.

The commissioner’s race is an important challenge for Democrats – a strong presence at the countywide level will boost turnout for State House and Senate Candidates, especially given that there are no statewide offices up this year with the exception of CU regent at-large.

Tighe may prove a worthy adversary for Odom, but the numbers aren’t on his side. There are more residents in Jefferson County than in the entire state of Wyoming, and unless Democratic challengers can raise the kind of money characteristic of a congressional race, incumbent Republicans will continue to dominate county level politics. Without previous elected service and with a low name-ID, it’s unlikely that Tighe will be able to pull in enough cash to be viable.  

Still no word on who, if anybody, will take on Faye Griffin.  

The Tea Party Just Doesn’t Get It

In another strange episode in the bizarre saga of Jeffco’s so-called “Bridge to Nowhere,” it seems like the Tea Party is seizing the bridge as a prime example of wasteful government spending.

From 9News:

JEFFERSON COUNTY – Critics have found a use for Jefferson County’s so-called “Pedestrian Bridge to Nowhere.”

Protesters used it as a stage near Southwest Plaza Mall on Friday.

They posted letters that spelled out: “$3 million bridge to nowhere – for crying out loud – vote conservative.”

9Wants to know recently exposed that while Jeffco officials backed the bridge project publicly, the point-man on the project admitted behind the scenes it was expensive and unnecessary.

County leaders aren’t even trying to defend the $3 million-bridge as a good use of taxpayer money.

Some of those taxpayers, who identified themselves as part of the Tea Party, were part of the protest Friday.

The bridge was an incredibly wasteful – and potentially corrupt – use of taxpayer money; nobody is taking issue with that. What the Tea Party protestors don’t seem to understand, as they use the bridge to convince commuters to “vote conservative,” is that the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners was under conservative Republican control when the bridge was voted on. Kevin McCasky voted for it, and he’s no liberal. Faye Griffin voted for it, and she’s as conservative as they come.

This wasn’t a project that Democrats pushed forward; Dems haven’t had control of the Board for decades, so there is no possible way any reasonable person could think to frame this as a Democratic mistake. Don’t tell that to the Tea Party, though: in the minds of those protesting on the bridge, it must’ve been the result of liberal waste in government.

If anything, this just demonstrates something that everybody knew about the Tea Party all along: the movement prefers talking points over facts. The organizers didn’t think to check who voted on the bridge before they had a protest? Of course not. That would be sensible.

While we’re at it, what about 9News? A story like this, which they have covered at length, needs some context included. At the very least, 9News should have pointed out the logical problems with this protest.

Ray LaHood Responds to Jeffco’s “Bridge to Nowhere”

Like many, we’ve been keeping a keen eye on Kyle Clark’s reporting on Jeffco’s so-called “Bridge to Nowhere,” a rarely used pedestrian bridge at Wadsworth Boulevard and Bowles Avenue in south Jeffco.

It’s a story with legs, so to speak. In fact, taxpayers (aided by Clark and 9News) have raised such a stir that even Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has had to defend the use of federal funds on the project.

From 9News:

9Wants to Know asked U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood about the project during a recent interview opportunity provided by White House officials.

LaHood bristled at the suggestion that federal funds were being spent on expensive and unnecessary projects.

“These are hard earned tax dollars and we take serious our responsibility to make sure that the money that we allocate is spent correctly on projects that people want in their communities,” LaHood said.

LaHood’s staff subsequently reached out to 9Wants to Know for more information on the pedestrian bridge project but then did not respond to multiple phone calls offering additional information and seeking comment on federal involvement in the project

The real story here – given Jeffco’s rather unique history of commissioner corruption – isn’t that the commissioners wasted millions of tax dollars on a useless bridge. It’s who convinced them to make that decision.

With a $1.5 million contract awarded to build the bridge, we’re pretty sure Muller Engineering knows the answer. Somebody within the Jefferson County government needs to provide a (real) answer as well.

Clark agrees:

Bauer said an engineering study was done to determine projected usage of the bridge. In emails to concerned taxpayers, Bauer cited the study’s projection of 100 pedestrians/bicyclists per day, not mentioning that the figure was for the year 2030.

The study was conducted by Muller Engineering of Lakewood. In one internal email, Jeffco Transportation and Engineering Director Kevin French says Muller “milked” the project for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

County records indicate that Muller was awarded about $1.6 million in contracts for the entire Wadsworth-Bowles intersection improvement project that, including the pedestrian bridge, totaled $8 to $9 million.

Additionally, two Muller employees are listed on the membership roster of a steering committee that recommended building the bridge. Muller president Robert Carlson denied that his employees were on the steering committee but could not explain why the names of two Muller engineers appear on a steering committee list provided by the county.

In a written statement, Carlson denied “milking” the project for money, as suggested by French.

“Muller Engineering’s involvement in the pedestrian bridge project on Wadsworth Boulevard north of Bowles Avenue came as a result of Jefferson County contracting Muller to provide a feasibility study for the bridge,” Carlson said. “At no time was it Muller’s position to be an advocate for the bridge.”

The final paragraph of the Muller study used to justify the building of the bridge reads in part that the bridge “will provide a viable and desirable transportation enhancement.”

Reached via telephone and asked whether that summary constituted advocacy for the bridge, Carlson hung up the phone

Jeffco’s Transportation and Engineering Director Kevin French best encapsulates the whole situation in noting that that Muller was “milking” the project.

But who helped Muller “milk” the county, and why? Two Muller employees sitting on the committee that ultimately recommended the bridge certainly raises questions about conflicts-of-interest. But considering the historic relationship county commissioners have had with interested third parties when it comes time to divvy out county funds, we’re sure Clark and his team at 9News will start focusing on the conversations Muller had with the Board of Commissioners at the time the bridge was approved.

With former Commissioner Kevin McCasky already having to answer uncomfortable questions about the Jefferson Economic Council and Faye Griffin facing re-election next year, neither could be thrilled that this story is starting to turn heads nationally.

The thing is, though, taxpayers really hate when their money gets wasted. Somebody’s going to have to explain why Muller was awarded such a lucrative contract despite the county’s financial woes. When that explanation is unearthed, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just the latest scandal to rock county politics here in Jeffco.

It’s a shocking story, but it’s not surprising. Welcome to Jefferson County.  

Paging Ted Stevens: Jeffco’s Bridge to Nowhere

We highly recommend you check out 9News’ Kyle Clark’s two pieces on Jeffco’s “Bridge to Nowhere” for examples of truly great investigative reporting.

Clark centers his story on the pedestrian bridge located at Wadsworth Boulevard and Bowles Avenue in South Jeffco, which links Southwest Plaza and Bowles Crossing shopping centers. We’ve seen that bridge before, but we’ve never seen anybody actually use it. Neither mall is really vibrant, and we have a creeping suspicion that the bridge will remain standing much longer than the shipping centers it links.

The most bizarre aspect of this story, though, is that Jefferson County can’t even justify the $3 million they spent on the bridge. At least, they can’t justify it privately.

From 9News:

As Jefferson County publicly defended a $3 million pedestrian bridge at Wadsworth Boulevard and Bowles Avenue as a “lasting asset,” the county’s engineer on the project privately acknowledged it was expensive and unnecessary, 9Wants to Know has learned.

Internal emails obtained by 9Wants to Know using Colorado Open Records Act show county officials struggling to justify the pedestrian bridge, completed in the spring of 2011 using a combination of federal and local tax dollars.

The bridge spanning Wadsworth just north of Bowles, connects two aging shopping malls, Southwest Plaza and Bowles Crossing. Some citizens, including resident Gary Michelson, have dubbed it: “The Bridge To, And From, Nowhere.”

When Michelson wrote to county leaders calling the bridge a “terrible waste of funds,” he received a stock answer from project engineer Brad Bauer that was similar to the two-page defense of the project sent to other concerned citizens. In one such response, Bauer writes the bridge will be a “lasting asset” that will “significantly improve the pedestrian safety at the intersection.”

That is not what the county’s point-man on the project was saying behind the scenes.

After an email exchange with Michelson, Bauer emailed his supervisor on June 22 saying he was “having a hard time coming up with any good response,” adding that he could agree with Michelson’s points about “the bridge being an expensive unnecessary expense.”

Just to make it clear: the liaison for the project is unable to respond to constituent complaints about the bridge, because he agrees with them.

Clark interviews Kevin French, with Jeffco’s Transportation and Engineering Department, and French is about as eloquent as Rick Perry in his most recent debate performance. You really have to watch the interview to get the full effect, but French doesn’t really answer any of Clark’s questions. When asked how French’s department can justify, well, their justification of the bridge to concerned taxpayers, French responds “it’s the best we have.” That’s the answer he finally comes to, at least, after first responding that he “wasn’t sure he had a good answer to that.” If you’re a big fan of deer caught in headlights, it’s a must watch.

This is one of the most asinine government decisions we’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something for Jefferson County. $3 million for a bridge? The August 2009 resolution which Clark discusses is even worse: then Commissioners Kevin McCasky and Kathy Hartman voted for it, as did current Commissioner Faye Griffin.  They approved an “expenditure of an amount not to exceed $376,600.00 to Muller Engineering Company, Inc. for final design, and additional services as needed.”

Nearly $400,000 for the “final design,” huh? 400 grand for a couple of drawings of a bridge? We assume the “additional services as needed” are in case Muller Engineering ran out of graph paper or erasers.

This is an important story for champions of good, transparent government, of course. But it also carries with it political implications. The folks in south Jeffco – those who see this bridge during their daily commutes – historically support the election of Republicans to the Board of Commissioners. But this same bridge, this “monument of government waste,” was approved with the votes of Republicans Kevin McCasky and Faye Griffin. If the vote on this bridge was before 2008’s election, we’re not sure if McCasky could’ve recovered.

McCasky’s long gone now, of course, but Griffin is still serving, and she’ll have to answer for her vote. Provide the Democrats can field a strong candidate in 2012, this story is going to look incredibly bad on mail pieces. Especially down near Wadsworth and Bowles, where Republican constituents may end up voting for the Democrat just because Faye Griffin wasted $3 million dollars in the middle of a recession.

Commissioners Don Rosier and John Odom weren’t on the board when the bridge was voted on, and they may luck out because of it. Yet in a county famous for its corrupt and misguided political officials, we think Rosier and Odom might have to answer why the county still hasn’t gotten its act together even after their election and appointment, respectively.

The only real winner out of this whole ordeal? Muller Engineering. Given McCasky’s previous ethical missteps, we wouldn’t be surprised if the real story here is who – and how – Muller lobbied to get this bridge built.  

Shocker: Jeffco Commissioners Oppose Prop 103

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners is as predictable as it is timely:

Commissioner Odom moved that the following Resolution be adopted:

BEFORE THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

OF THE COUNTY OF JEFFERSON

STATE OF COLORADO

RESOLUTION NO.  CC11-401

RE: BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS – RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO PROPOSITION 103

WHEREAS, Proposition 103 would raise the state income tax level from 4.63 percent to 5 percent and the state sales and use tax from 2.9 to 3 percent for five years, and

WHEREAS, Proposition 103 requires the state legislature to spend the increased revenue, estimated at approximately $2.9 billion over five years, on education, and

WHEREAS, Jefferson County is dedicated to promoting economic development and economic opportunity for its residents and businesses, and

WHEREAS, Jefferson County attends to the needs of individuals in need, and

WHEREAS, the tax increase comes at a time when even modest hikes could damage many businesses and individuals whose financial situation is precarious,

WHEREAS, the Campaign Reform Act, Section 1-45-117(1)(b)(III)(A) C.R.S., allows the Board to pass a resolution and to take a position of advocacy on any issue.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of County Commissioners of Jefferson County opposes Proposition 103 and urges the electors to vote against it to protect businesses and individuals during these difficult economic times.

Commissioner Rosier seconded the adoption of the foregoing Resolution. The roll having been called, the vote was as follows:

Commissioner John Odom Aye

Commissioner Donald Rosier Aye

Commissioner Faye Griffin, Chairman Aye

The Resolution was adopted by unanimous vote of the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Jefferson, State of Colorado.

Does this really come as a surprise to anyone?  Of course Commissioners Odom, Rosier, and Griffin would oppose Prop 103. The thing is, though, when you do the thing that everybody expects you to do, it isn’t really newsworthy. In that way, Commissioner Odom’s resolution may have the inverse impact of its intent: nobody in the county thought that Odom and company would support 103, but by explicitly coming out against the ballot measure, the Board may make more enemies than they placate friends.

In passing this resolution, the Board has directly come out against increased funding for education. That’s gonna make all three a target for education activists in Jeffco, and that’s going to make for some uncomfortable canvassing at teachers’ doorsteps when all three run for re-election. Or, for that matter, parents’ doorsteps.

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners isn’t tasked with deciding education policy. In fact, when you step into education policy at all, you run the risk of alienating at least one segment of your constituency. That begs the question, then: why meddle in something so contentious when it neither concerns you nor has that much intrinsic political benefit?

Scott Tipton Getting Nervous?

As reported by Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent yesterday:

Reps. Chip Cravaack, Michele Bachmann and John Kline lent their names to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday arguing that the Supreme Court should rule the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional.

The brief was filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian legal outfit founded by televangelist Pat Robertson…

The ACLJ was created by Robertson as a response to the American Civil Liberties Union which Robertson said is “hostile to traditional American values.”

The group has been at the heart of many controversial cases including a successful effort in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District to drive a transgender teacher out of her job. Though the group maintains that it defends religious liberties, the organization has also assisted local communities in attempting to stop the construction of Muslim mosques…

Bachmann, Kline and Cravaack are signers of the court document along with 102 other Republicans. Rep. Erik Paulsen was the only Republican member of Minnesota’s delegation to decline to sign on.

Here’s the full list:

Paul Broun, Robert Aderholt, Todd Akin, Rodney Alexander, Steve Austria, Michele Bachmann, Spencer Bachus, Joe Barton, Rob Bishop, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Larry Bucshon, Michael Burgess, Dan Burton, Francisco “Quico” Canseco, Eric Cantor, Steve Chabot, Howard Coble, Mike Coffman [Pols emphasis], Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Chip Cravaack, Geoff Davis, Scott DesJarlais, Jeff Duncan, Blake Farenthold, Stephen Fincher, Chuck Fleischmann, John Fleming, Bill Flores, Randy Forbes, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Cory Gardner [Pols emphasis], Scott Garrett, Bob Gibbs, Phil Gingrey, Louie Gohmert, Bob Goodlatte, Tom Graves, Tim Griffin, Michael Grimm, Ralph Hall, Gregg Harper, Andy Harris, Vicky Hartzler, Jeb Hensarling, Wally Herger, Tim Huelskamp, Bill Huizenga, Randy Hultgren, Lynn Jenkins, Bill Johnson, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Adam Kinzinger, John Kline, Doug Lamborn [Pols emphasis], Jeff Landry, James Lankford, Robert Latta, Billy Long, Cynthia Lummis, Connie Mack, Donald Manzullo, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Michael McCaul, Tom McClintock, Thaddeus McCotter, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Gary Miller, Jeff Miller, Randy Neugebauer, Alan Nunnelee, Pete Olson, Ron Paul, Steve Pearce, Mike Pence, Joe Pitts, Ted Poe, Mike Pompeo, Bill Posey, Tom Price, Ben Quayle, Reid Ribble, Scott Rigell, Phil Roe, Todd Rokita, Dennis Ross, Ed Royce, Steve Scalise, Jean Schmidt, Adrian Smith, Lamar Smith, Marlin Stutzman, Lee Terry, Tim Walberg, Joe Walsh, Daniel Webster, Lynn Westmoreland, Joe Wilson, and Don Young.

Uh, folks, what happened to the fourth Republican member of Colorado’s House delegation, Rep. Scott Tipton? Tipton has joined in on “Obamacare” repeal grandstands on the House floor, and has never spoken in favor of the Affordable Care Act once that we’re aware of. Rep. Cory Gardner, Colorado’s other freshman, signed this letter, as did Rep. Mike Coffman–who may or may not face a stout challenge in a significantly reshaped 6th district.

So either there’s something about this letter (or perhaps its authors) Tipton objected to, in which case he should really explain what that is so his colleagues who did sign are aware…or Tipton is losing his zeal for partisan throw-downs. And as one of the top swing-district targets for Democrats in 2012, well, that would make sense, wouldn’t it?

Is milquetoast Tipton a better bet in 2012 than “cut the government in half” Tipton? We would say the answer is probably yes, but it’ll take one hell of a reinvention to get there.

New GOP School Board Strategy: Vote for the Dads?

A few readers have e-mailed us this image of the yard sign for Jeffco School Board Candidates Preston Branaugh and Jim Powers.

We’ve been keeping a running catalogue of the best and worst yard signs over at Colorado Pols, but we think the sign for the GOP’s dynamic duo in the school board race warrants special comment.

We wouldn’t say it’s a bad sign. It doesn’t look great, but it tells you who’s running and for what. Jeffco School Board is noted big enough there at the bottom, and there isn’t a ton of wasted space. Both names are on the sign as much as you can fit “Preston Branaugh” anywhere, and while we think they could’ve made this sign look a lot better by not including first names, it kind of works for the whole XY chromosomes thing going on here.

That brings us to the “Vote for the Dads” part of the sign. Those who have e-mailed us have mentioned that they thought it both sexist and a clear indicator that both candidates are backed by the same group of people. We’re not sure if that matters. The GOP has made it no secret that they’re running Branaugh and Powers as a slate of sorts. They have no reason to hide that fact; the whole strategy behind pushing these candidates as Republicans is the hope that Republicans across JeffCo will realize that, even though it’s a “nonpartisan” race, there are still two good ol’ boys you can vote for.

The slogan-of-sorts at the top there actually strikes us as kind of clever. It’s hard to communicate to voters that they can vote for two separate candidates in this race. Sue Windels, in her 2008 run for commissioner, was always fond of saying “you can vote for one boy and one girl” during her campaign against Faye Griffin and Jason Bane’s campaign against Kevin McCasky. Saying “Vote for the Dads” is a quick and easy way to remind people who only glimpse at the sign to vote for both male names on the ballot. If we were Branaugh or Powers, we’d be using that talking point in every speech and in every elevator, so to speak. It’s pithy. It’s memorable.  

Still, we think it’s disingenuous for Jim Powers to be calling himself a “dad” in the context of Jefferson County Schools. Sure, he’s a dad by way of his skills as a progenitor, but his kids aren’t even in Jefferson County Public Schools. Powers has “made the personal decision to home school his children,” according to campaign literature, so he’s certainly not a dad in the PTA sense.

Contrary to the image “PTA meeting” conjures, there are quite a few dads who are heavily involved with their schools and the education of their children in Jefferson County. Jim Powers isn’t one of them; he’s running to make education decisions that wouldn’t even affect his own children. We get that being a “dad” may earn Powers some votes, but the only PTA meeting that he’s ever had to attend and the only bake sale he’s had to supervise have been in the comfort of his own home.

We don’t have anything against homeschooling: that’s a personal decision incumbent upon a child’s parents. We do, however, take issue with Powers calling himself a “dad” in the public education sense. That’s a title you can only earn after getting leg cramps from trying to fit in those tiny desks at parent night. He’s a father of children, but he’s not a father of children in Jefferson County Public Schools.  

“Tipton’s Got To Go”

House Majority PAC is up with a fresh TV spot attacking vulnerable Colorado freshman Rep. Scott TiptonPolitico:

House Majority PAC, a so-called Super PAC that can take unlimited contributions, has made a six-figure ad buy across three far-flung House districts. The group is targeting freshmen Republican Reps. Scott Tipton of Colorado, Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Chip Cravaack of Minnesota.

“The American people are disgusted with House Republicans’ misguided priorities and votes to throw middle-class families under the bus,” House Majority PAC executive director Alixandria Lapp will say in a statement set to be released later Friday. “Whether it’s ethics problems or voting for tax loopholes to keep corporate profits sky high, protecting profits for companies that ship jobs to China, or ending Medicare as we know it, House Republicans have plenty to answer for back home this August recess.”

The new ad airing against Tipton features a clip of the Colorado Republican saying on the House floor that “once you come to this place … it seems to kind of cloud your vision,” juxtaposed with reports that his House office spent money on companies tied his nephew.

“You don’t say?” a narrator intones…

Tipton had some success getting conservative AM talk-radio stations to yank House Majority PAC’s last ad against him–in our opinion ridiculously, hinging on a semantic quibble over whether the company owned by Tipton’s nephew (and where his daughter works) was “hired” by his office or “just a contractor.” Either way, in this latest ad Tipton is simply “channeling” those funds to his family’s business, neatly eliminating the quibble.

Post runs advice for Hick from biz execs; agrees to try to get labor perspective

The front of Friday’s Denver & The West section (in The Denver Post) had a photo of Gov. Hickenlooper, looking serious, even though he had no tie on.

Next to Hick, a headline announced that biz execs have advice for Hick.

The summary of their advice, that Colorado needs to be friendly to biz, was included in a smaller headline.

Inside, covering a full page in the business section and including another photo of Hick (with tie on), eight businesspeople each offered a few hundred words of advice, like slash taxes and cut spending and regulations. One guy said the state should improve the quality of K-12 education and higher ed. A couple execs suggested campaigns to buy local. Another wrote that Colorado shouldn’t forget “quality of life” issues.

I finished the article wondering what labor leaders would tell Hick, and so I emailed one of the article’s authors, Post reporter Aldo Svaldi, and asked if something with labor leaders’ advice was in the works.

He replied:

I spoke to my editor Steve McMillan and he likes your idea. We have struggled in the past to get labor leaders to share their views, but Greg Griffin, who covers labor and employment issues, is working to open up the channels of communication. Steve agrees that we should do a story along the lines you suggest, and it is a timely topic given what is happening in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

That’s about as fair as you could hope for. Let’s hope labor leaders play along.

And, of course, others who think of Colorado’s economic health in a different way than “the business community,” like environmental leaders, would no doubt have advice for Hick as well.

McCasky Lobbied Jeffco to Give More Money to His New Boss

Former Jefferson County Commissioner Kevin McCasky was never one to worry much about ethics, and as The Columbine Courier reports, he made sure to help out his new job as head of the Jefferson Economic Council before resigning from the Board of Commmissioners:

Jeffco Commissioner Kevin McCasky proposed an increase of $20,000 in the county’s contribution to the Jefferson Economic Council last year while he was a candidate for the private economic development organization’s top job, the Columbine Courier has learned.

McCasky’s application for the high-paying JEC position was under consideration in November when the county’s 2011 budget was revised to increase JEC funding from $380,000 to $400,000 – as McCasky urged his fellow commissioners to boost Jeffco’s contribution while the county itself was facing significant budget cuts.

McCasky, who was named in January to succeed Preston Gibson after Gibson resigned as JEC president last year, says he sees no conflict of interest in his actions. The commissioner, leaving office this week to begin his job at the JEC, says funding the economic council has been a consistent practice in each year of his tenure as a commissioner.

“It is clearly a conflict of interest when a person in government rolls a vote on a budget for an organization for (which) he is seeking employment,” said Colorado Common Cause executive director Jenny Flanagan. Despite any history of previous advocacy for the organization’s budget, an interest in employment with the organization is problematic, she said.

“That’s all fine up until he participates in the application for employment,” Flanagan said…

… The JEC – which typically receives the majority of its funding from Jeffco’s general fund and gets more than twice as many dollars from Jeffco as any other organization – submits a proposed budget annually to the county. The proposed budget for 2011 was $380,000.

Former county commissioner Kathy Hartman, who was defeated by Don Rosier in the November election, said the JEC approached the commissioners about a funding increase but confirmed that McCasky actively lobbied her and Commissioner Faye Griffin for the boost.

 

Loan? What Loan? Don’t Worry About It

Troubling story last week from The High Timber Times:

Jefferson County on Tuesday granted a decade-long grace period on a loan of more than $6.4 million to an undeveloped metropolitan district for construction of the C-470 and Alameda interchange.

Green Tree Metropolitan District, which is governed by at least one developer who has contributed substantially to Jeffco Republican campaigns, borrowed the money in 2007 from the county to help construct the $17 million interchange.

Under the loan’s original terms in an intergovernmental agreement, Green Tree was to begin repayment at the end of 2011 with an installment of more than $2 million. The remaining principal and interest were to be repaid at the end of 2013.

But the district cites the economy for a lack of development that would allow it to begin repaying the debt.

“Our agreement anticipated development that would allow for repayment starting late this year. With current conditions we are many years away from any development necessary to begin to repay the cost of this interchange,” Green Tree board member John Mullins wrote in an e-mail to Jefferson County. “We are suggesting 2021 as a better date.”

Did campaign contributions help grease the wheels for this loan forgiveness? Reporter Emile Hallez Williams thought it worth questioning:

McCasky, who has received at least $9,000 in campaign contributions from three members of Green Tree’s board, said the donations played no factor in his decision to approve the loan.

And despite the fact that McCasky received $3,500 from the board members less than two months before the agreement was approved, he said he had no idea who sat on the district’s board.

“This isn’t about Green Tree…I don’t even know who Green Tree is. They’re just the metropolitan district managing the property,” McCasky said. “It’s immaterial who the board members are.” [Jeffco Pols emphasis]

On Aug. 7, 2007, McCasky received $500 from John Mullins, $500 from Bill Jenkins and $2,500 from Greg Stevinson – all Green Tree board members. The original intergovernmental agreement was approved on Oct. 2, 2007.

Additionally, Commissioner Faye Griffin has received $9,000 to date from Stevinson in her runs for county treasurer and commissioner, though she was not in her current office when the agreement was drafted. She also received $250 from Mullins and $250 from Jenkins in 2008.

The idea that former County Commissioner Kevin McCasky, who recently resigned to head up the Jefferson Economic Council, has no idea who is involved with Green Tree is laughable at best. Williams notes $3,500 in campaign contributions that occurred prior to the 2007 vote, but over the years McCasky has received much more — tens of thousands of dollars, in fact — in campaign contributions from people affiliated with Green Tree.

“Keith Olbermann SUSPENDED From MSNBC Indefinitely Without Pay “

This is a wierd one. My first reaction was BS but the truth is that MSNBC has tread a bit of fine line between commentator (my view on Olberman) and News Anchor.  A lot of yelling about that issue from the right after Olberman, Matthews, et all hosted MSNBC election night coverage.  I bet this will pass he is their biggest name.

Crap already forgot how to that box thing

____________________________________

MSNBC has suspended star anchor Keith Olbermann following the news that he had donated to three Democratic candidates this election cycle.

“I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement.

Politico reported Friday that Olbermann had donated $2,400 each to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, and to Kentucky Senate contender Jack Conway. While NBC News policy does not prohibit employees from donating to political candidates, it requires them to obtain prior approval from NBC News executives before doing so.

In a statement earlier Friday, Olbermann defended his donation, saying, “I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.”

Griffin’s statement underscores that it was Olbermann’s failure to obtain approval, and not the actual political donations, that prompted the suspension.

The move is doubly significant in that it represents a major development in the relationship between Griffin and Olbermann, who once told the New Yorker, “Phil thinks he’s my boss.”

“Keith doesn’t run the show,” Griffin told New York Magazine recently. “I do a lot of things he doesn’t like. I do a lot of things he does.”

Colorado Democratic Party Labor Initiative

I’ve recently joined the Colorado Democratic Party Labor Initiative. It’s the place where the action is when it comes to Colorado Labor. Mike Cerbo  (executive director of Colorado AFL-CIO) frequents the meetings.  It meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 6pm. I get off work at 6pm on Wednesdays so I arrive late. Tonight’s meeting was well attended as noted by the presence of State Representative Sara Gagliardi and State Senator Morgan Carroll. I took a seat between Tim Allport, the Chair of the Initiative, and an executive of the Denver Area Labor Federation.

I sat down to find State Senator Morgan Carroll describing her recent hearings involving Pinnacol: a hybrid semi-private company that overseas this state’s workmen’s compensation claims and insurance. It was clear in her eloquent discourse that getting people to testify about practices at Pinnacol met resistance. As is so true in labor organizing, the fear of retaliation kept Doctors from going on the record about questionable practices. I assume that the Doctors fear  being cutoff from being able to do business with Pinnacol. Injured workers were also reluctant to testify for fear of reprisal from their employers. While whistle blowing protections may exist in the law, in practice management has ways of making people fear for their jobs, or of riding people to the point where many choose to quit. Nevertheless, recordings of numerous testimonies exist which involve truly tragic situations. One member suggested that these recording be publicized through You Tube. It’s a good suggestion. Publicizing human suffering to the public about our nation’s current health care system demands attention. It reinforces my belief that we need health care reform now.

After Sen. Carroll spoke, University of Colorado at Denver Professor Jim Walsh spoke about Labor history and the Romero Troupe’s “Which Side Are You On?” Prof. Walsh teaches with drama. His students create art, and in this case a play that I had the pleasure of seeing at the Oriental Theatre about 2 years ago. It tells the story of the Labor Movement in America. It’s very difficult to find curricula on labor from Labor’s perspective in the schools. Prof. Walsh also informed the audience that the Colorado National Guard has been called out 12 times in the history of Colorado to quell labor members from striking. There has been more than just the Ludlow Massacre. His play discusses the  National Labor Relations Act of 1935, or the Wagner Act,  which created the National Labor Relations Board and provided for collective bargaining, and the Taft-Hartley bill of 1947, which stripped Labor of many of the tools which would help its cause. Examples of this include restrictions on boycotts and restrictions on general strikes. It forbade closed shops. It stopped unions from donating to election campaigns.  Although many  tried to repeal the act, it stayed in effect until 1959 when the Landrum-Griffin Act amended some of its  worst aspects. A large portion of it’s statutes still stand.

The most damaging legacy of this legislation for Labor has been the establishment of Right to Work Laws, which basically disallows non unionized labor any defense against firing without merit. Prof. Walsh’s production educates. Mother Jones, and Martin Luther King Jr. come up in the play. Many people don’t realize that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis supporting the garbage collectors union.

Tim Allport then opened the floor for questions. I asked Sen. Carroll what she thought of the prospects of new legislation backed by labor being brought forth in the new state legislative session.  I believe that if  bills such as the Labor Peace ACT were introduced in the middle of the session, that the prospect for the Governor to sign it were good. This resulted in some surprise, but I insisted that the Governor needs labor to win re election. The vast majority in the room concluded that they would back the Governor’s bid for another term. A few individuals honestly stated that many in the ranks of labor will not support the Governor. Nevertheless, Sen. Carroll recommended that Ed Knox (President of the Electrical Workers’ Union local 68) and other notable institutions such as the Denver Area Labor Federation, should work on bills to present that they felt were most important.

I personally believe that Labor cannot risk the election of a Republican Governor.  Rep. Sara Gagliardi agreed.  She added that the she will host a fundraiser next month with Governor Ritter in attendance. Nor can we sit idly by and hope that Gov. Ritter signs bills in a 2nd term that may or may not come to pass. Hopefully I lit a fire that will grow into the Democratic Party base consolidating and reaching accords which heal any rifts. We must unite and find a way to win this election next year without sacrificing our desire for equitable labor law.

We all stand together with our brothers and sisters of local 7 UFCW.

The Colorado Democratic Party Labor Initiative meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 6pm at the following location.

Sheet Metal Workers Local 9

7510 Lakewood, CO W Mississippi, 1st Floor

Lakewood, Colorado

Commissioners Want to Limit Bicycle Access

Apparently not content until they alienate every interest group outside of developers, Jefferson County Commissioners are seeking to restrict bicycle traffic. As The Columbine Courier reports:

Amid the controversy over a proposed charity bicycle event on Deer Creek Canyon Road, the Jeffco commissioners will propose state legislation that would give them more authority to bar cyclists from some county roads altogether.

Conflict between motorists and cyclists is nothing new on the canyon roads west of South Jeffco in the foothills. But a recent battle over using a portion of Deer Creek Canyon Road for a September fund-raising event has spurred the commissioners to seek broader authority in making some roads off limits to cyclists. The county attorney’s office will draft the legislation soon, and the county will try to get a legislator to sponsor it in the 2010 legislative session.

“This morning the board recognized that we have severe issues in Deer Creek Canyon and in other areas,” Commissioner Kevin McCasky said June 30 at a hearing on whether the September cycling event would receive a special-use permit.

McCasky was the only commissioner who voted to approve the event, saying that denying the event was penalizing it “for the sins” of earlier cyclist-motorist squabbles. He said that the county would seek powers to “regulate authority over the behavior of cyclists and motorists (on county roadways) all year.”

Commissioner Faye Griffin said after the hearing that the plan is in the idea stage, and nothing formal has occurred. But the debate over cycling on some roads showed the commissioners that they need more power, she said.

“We need to look at (laws) that make certain roads in the county (unusable) by bike traffic,” Griffin said. “We’re saying to our lobbyist to look at the possibility of having some discretion on what roads can have bike traffic and which cannot. Right now there’s clearness for cities, but we can’t find that the county can say that.”

County Attorney Ellen Wakeman said state law gives cities and incorporated towns authority to regulate cycling on roads, but the law is unclear when it comes to counties. Legislation her office will craft in the coming weeks would add counties to the list of governments that can regulate cyclists and their road use.