Archive for February, 2011

News outlets should have reported that majority of GOP Central Committee required to elect state chair

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Now that Matt Arnold of Clear the Bench fame has entered the GOP race for GOP state party chair, media outlets should have reviewed how the position will be filled.

In 2009, the Colorado Republican Central Committee, which selects the new Dick Wadhams in a vote March 26, had about 400 delegates. This time, there will be 300 delegates.

Here’s the breakdown of who will be casting votes, as recently updated by Craig Steiner of the “Common Sense American Conservatism” website.

  • 90 GOP elected officials (state/national party officials plus CO elected Republicans)
  • 192 Republican Country Party representatives (64 counties; chair, vice-chair, and Secretary for each county)
  • 18 bonus delegates (based on votes cast for Maes, and updated from the link above in an email to me. In the email, Steiner writes that these delegates come from: Arapahoe: 2; Douglas: 2; El Paso: 8; Jefferson: 4; Larimer: 2)

If you’ve been tracking this race, you know that Harvey seems to be the favorite, in terms of endorsements.

But if you’re like me, you’re thinking, could Matt Arnold and Sen. Ted Harvey possibly, theoretically, split the grassroots GOP vote and throw the election to one of the more moderate candidates, Ryan Call of the Denver GOP, or Leondray Gholston of the State Party.

I asked Steiner what happens if a state chair candidate does not get a majority of Central Committee votes. He answered via email:

The bylaws state: “If more than two persons are nominated for an office, and after three ballots no nominee has received the required majority vote, then, unless one or more nominees have withdrawn during or following this balloting, the nominee receiving the least votes on the last of the three ballots shall be ineligible on all subsequent ballots. The nominee receiving the least votes on each ballot thereafter shall also be ineligible on subsequent ballots, unless one or more other nominees withdraw following such ballot. Balloting shall continue in this manner until a majority vote is cast for one nominee.

“So it’s not a single preliminary vote with a run-off for the two top candidates.  Rather, we start dropping the candidate who receives the fewest votes until a remaining candidate receives more than 50%.”

As a Feb. 24 candidate forum shows, it’s not easy to figure out what GOP grassroots activists, who control the majority of votes on the Central Committee, want. Do hey agree with a guy like Arnold, who, when asked what a RINO is, said:

“There are RINOs. They are not just endangered species.”

Arnold explained at the forum: “Our brand is important. And it’s not just the momentary victory of putting someone in office with an R behind their name.  It’s putting someone in office who will advance our principles and achieve policy success.  So yeah you might get a short-term victory by having guys with an R behind their names sitting in some elected office, but that ultimately undermines our potential for electoral and policy victory down the road if people don’t understand when they pop open that can of Coke, it can be Classic, Diet, different varieties, but you want Coke to be Coke.  Our brand is important.”

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

Monday, February 28th, 2011

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, the headline: “Execs Have Ideas for Hickenlooper.”

The summary of their advice wasn’t news, but there it was in a smaller headline, “Colorado must be business-friendly.”

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.

Rosen fails to ask Suthers to clarify his views

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Today’s Denver Post reported that Attorney General John Suthers didn’t have much to say about the Obama Administration’s decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

But Suthers discussed Obama’s decision for about 15 minutes on KOA’s Mike Rosen show this morning.

He told Rosen he doesn’t want Colorado to be forced to recognize gay marriages, performed in states like Massachusetts. This, he said, might require our state to give Colorado’s marriage benefits to gay married couples who move here from states like Mass. Suthers said on the radio:

“We’re going to defend Colorado’s right to say, this is what we think marriage is, and we would not like to have to recognize marriages in other states because that flows for Colorado benefits too, Mike. We’re not just talking about federal benefits. There are statuses of being married that have advantages in Colorado law too.”

Rosen failed to ask Suthers what Colorado marriage benefits he didn’t want same-sex married people to have.

So I asked Suthers’ Communications Director, Mike Saccone, which Colorado marriage benefits Suthers was referring to:

“What he was thinking of was the joint filing of taxes,” Saccone told me. “To the extent there are other benefits that mention marriage, Amendment 43 [which bans gay marriage in Colorado] could affect them too.”

Rosen fails to clear up legal issues around re-using old material

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

UPDATE: Rosen just replied to me via email: “I get hundreds of e-mails a day and don’t have time for these kinds of distractions. I don’t have a contract with the Post and Dan Haley has already answered you on this. You’ve become a nuisance which is, no doubt, your purpose. We’re done.”

——————-

“As I’ve said before-.”

That’s your cue to stop reading Denver Post columnist Mike Rosen if you don’t want to re-read exact duplications of what he’s used in previous columns.

Rosen told his KOA radio audience Monday that he’s worked hard during 30 years of column-writing to perfect his arguments on certain topics (like always vote Republican!), and these perfect arguments need not be re-written or expressed in fresh ways. When he re-uses material, he said, he’ll write something like, as I’ve said before….

As to the legal issues involved, which I raised last week, Rosen said on the radio Monday that he didn’t sell the Rocky Mountain News “exclusive rights” to his columns. He said he sold “first-use” rights, but he didn’t quote from his contract.

“While writing for the Rocky, my column also ran in the Colorado Springs Gazette and Pueblo Chieftain with the Rocky’s knowledge,” Rosen emailed me.  “And my manuscript was marked Copyright Mike Rosen.”

Okay, so the question is this: What does Rosen’s Post contract say? Is he selling “first-use” rights to The Post? That’s probably the case, and if it is, he’s violating his Post contract by selling it previously published material.

In any case, at a time when The Post is rightfully up in arms about bloggers ripping off its material, it should be sure that it’s not violating copyright law on its own op-ed page.

Fact check shows Rep. Conti’s claim in Biz Journal not fully supported

Friday, February 18th, 2011

State Rep. Kathleen Conti (R-Littleton) said last week that multiple businesses laid off workers after the Legislature rescinded tax breaks they had enjoyed for many years, according to the Denver Business Journal.

But Conti didn’t specify which businesses she was talking about, and neither did the Business Journal’s article, which stated:

“When the Legislature suspended or eliminated 12 tax exemptions worth $140 million in 2010, businesses that Conti knows laid some workers off, she said. The state no longer received income tax revenue from them, and it had to increase the services it offered to them …- but that link was not discussed, she said.”

I called Conti and asked her to tell me which specific businesses she was talking about.

She cordially referred me to someone named Lou Langdon, who owns G & S Vending in Arvada.

“He knows a couple companies,” she said.

Langdon quickly returned my phone call, but he was not able to get me the names of the businesses in question.

“I don’t want to go into giving the actual names,” Langdon told me. “I don’t want to bring attention to them. ”

But he told me that not only did some vending companies lay off workers after the law was passed, but others were forced to close completely.

“The owners couldn’t do it anymore,” he said, but again, no specific names could be given.

Langdon did say, however, that his own company laid off two employees recently, and the law lifting the tax break for soft drinks “had a lot to do with it.”

“Since we’ve been forced to raise prices, we’ve lost a lot of business,” he told me, adding that he lost money because the price for his products went up but his fixed contracts did not allow him to pass on the price increase. He said it’s “a really hard time” for his business and the “government is beating us up.”

Nothing Langdon said fully supported Conti’s statement in the Business Journal, that multiple companies laid off workers due to last year’s law.

In journalism world,  just because you attribute a fact to someone doesn’t mean a reporter absolves himself of the obligation to make sure the fact is correct. A fair-minded journalist who reporterd that a legislator said something that might be completely inaccurate would want to set the record straight, or look into the matter. 

 So I emailed Ed Sealover, who wrote the article that sent me on the dead-end chase first to Conti and then to Langdon.

Sealover promptly emailed me back:

“I am juggling a lot of balls at the moment. So, I will put onto my pile of things to look at the issue of companies and job cuts based on exemptions but can not promise any particular follow-up in any particular time frame. ”

A more than fair response. Obviously, my point isn’t hugely important in the big picture, and reporters are paid to help us distinguish the small stuff from the big stuff. But, still, Conti’s assertion amounts to some dust floating in the Legislature that may cloud someone’s vision down there if it’s not cleaned up by a legitimate outfit like the Business Journal.

Rosen may be ok with re-using his own columns, but he may not have legal right to do so

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Denver Post columnist Mike Rosen told his editor yesterday that he will continue to use his writing from old columns in new ones.

In an email to Post Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley, which Rosen forwarded to me, Rosen wrote: “As for using the same wording, if I’ve perfected the explanation, there’s no need to paraphrase it. This is fresh information to new readers.”

Trouble is, Rosen’s writing from his days as a freelance columnist at the Rocky Mountain News may not be his to give away. (Yesterday, Michael Robersts in Westword and ColoradoPols revealed that portions of a 2008 column by Rosen published in the Rocky Mountain News were used verbatim in a 2010 Denver Post column by Rosen.)

I was a freelance columnist for Scripps, which owned the Rocky, just like Rosen was, until Scripps viciously killed the newspaper.

My 2004 Scripps contract stated:

“Contributor grants to the Company and any other company, including Scripps Howard News Service, under common control with the Company the exclusive right to publish or broadcast the materials in any media form in Colorado and a non-exclusive right to publish or broadcast the Materials in any media form in any other part of the world.”

Maybe Rosen had a different contract, but I doubt it.

So, as I see it, and maybe I’m wrong, he’s providing The Post with material that’s not his to give away, if his use of his own writing goes beyond “fair use” guidelines.

I asked Westword editor Patricia Calhoun, who’s seen a feelance-writing contract or two, if the “exclusive rights” language could mean that Rosen doesn’t own his old Rocky Columns.

“I had to call [Westword uber blogger] Michael Robertrs and tell him not to bust me,” she said. “I certainly plagiarize myself all the damn time.”

But she agreed with me that Rosen’s contractual language with Scripps might technically preclude him from being allowed to plagiarize himself. It depends on the language in the contract and who owns the Scripps archives, Calhoun said.

In an email to bloggers today, Haley addresssed the Rosen issue:  “We expect all columns published in our section to be original work and I recently told Mike this. While it’s true that you can’t plagiarize yourself, and it’s easy to simply lift paragraphs from your previous work as a way to provide background or supporting information, I expect writers to let readers know when they’re doing that.”

But to clear up the legal issues, even if plagiarism in the usual sense isn’t involved, Rosen needs to produce his contract with Scripps that shows he’s on sound legal footing.

What kind of “real conservative” will be the next Dick Wadhams?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Last week, KHOW’s Dan Caplis asked State Sen. Ted Harvey, who’s one of the people vying to be the next Dick Wadhams, “Do you believe if someone supported Ref C , it shows they are not a real conservative?”

 ”I believe that Ref C was a poor initiative to put forward for Republicans and that those who supported it obviously are going to have to defend their positions on why they supported it. It is an issue, and we can’t deny it,” Harvey replied, adding that “I’m not going to be saying which issues are off limits and which issues are on limits.”

Ref. C allowed the CO state government to keep for five years tax dollars that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers under TABOR rules.  Critics, including the Independence Institute, celebrated the end of Ref. C in July.

Caplis told Harvey earlier in the interview, which aired Feb. 8, that the Ref C “hatchet needs to be buried” because it’s causing us to “eat our own” and “costing us elections.” On his radio show, Caplis frequently whines that Jane Norton would have easily beaten Sen. Michael Bennet last fall.

One “particularly destructive” attack against Norton, Caplis said to Harvey, was that because Norton supported Ref C, she “wasn’t a real conservative.”

Harvey replied, “I don’t believe the Ref C issue is what lost the election for Jane Norton, nor do I believe that Ken Buck beating Jane Norton is what lost us the election to Michael Bennett. ”

The next day on his radio show, Caplis was asking similar questions of Ryan Call, another candidate for the job of Colorado State Republican Chair.

Call told Caplis:It was interesting; you obviously had one of my principle opponents in the race on yesterday. When you asked him if he would stand up as party chairman and encourage Colorado Republicans to bury the hatchet on Ref. C, which is what I think you referenced, and other divisive issues, he kind of dodged that question.”

I asked Call to explain in more detail why he thought Harvey dodged Caplis.

“You can still support Referendum C and be a good Republican,” he told me, adding that he personally voted against Ref. C and is pro-life. “You can support referring matters to voters on TABOR and still be a good Republican. You can vote in favor of civil unions and still be a good Republican, as long as you share, by and large, those core principles. You can be a good Republican and be in favor of banning gay marriage and cutting the size of government down pea stamp, if that’s what you want to do. ”

“That’s what I was going for,” he said, “and I think it was a fair criticism with respect to, when asked from multiple angles and in questions on the show, whether Sen. Harvey would be a unifying force for Republicans, or would he take sides on who is a true conservative?… Despite the recent news reports that claim that I’m friends with Democrats, I hope I can be their worst enemy. I want to put them in the minority for good.”

The dispute between Harvey and Call reminds me of paragraph from Dick Wadhams’ good-bye letter to Republicans, in which he said he’s tired of GOP activists who see “conspiracies around every corner” while simultaneously “saying  …uniting conservatives’ is all that’s needed to win tight races” in Colorado.

To me, and apparently to Dan Caplis and others, Ref. C. gets to the heart of the matter. No one will say it’s a litmus test. But which candidate sounds like they’re having it, ahh, Both Ways?

In addition to Harvey and Call, Bart Baron r and Leondray Gholston are in the race for Wadhams’ job. Others are considering entering the race, according to the Colorado Statesman.

As to who will win, Wadhams recently told The Post that, “If Harvey thinks he has the votes now to be elected, he is delusional.”

You might think Wadhams was posturing, given that he would have faced Harvey if Wadhams hadn’t resigned and  because the Tea Party seems to have control of the Colorado GOP, at the grassroots level anyway. (See Maes, Buck.)

But as Patricia Calhoun explains nicely in Westword, it looks like the grassroots wing of the GOP will be sending fewer “bonus delegates” to sit on the Republican State Central Committee, which will meet March 26 to select the new chair, than in the past.

In 2009, the GOP central committee had about 400 delegates. This time, it will be closer to 300, because so few Republican votes were cast in 2010. As Calhoun reports, the group of 300 will include 90 GOP elected officials, 192 Republican Country Party representatives, plus state GOP officials, like Wadhams, and other bonus delegates.

So the campaign to be the next Dick Wadhams could be as intense an insider brawl as the Colorado GOP has seen in years, and we all know its insider brawls have been monumental of late.

This presents reporters, and media types like Dan Caplis, with the chance to pin down the candidates on the key issues. Would Harvey, for example, vote for a candidate who supported Ref. C, if another GOP candidate in the same race did not? That’s the kind of question that might bring some of the Both-Ways candidates out of the closet.

Post, please, relieve my mind of McInnis puzzler

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Now it’s been almost three months since Scott McInnis told The Denver Post he’d clear his name within a couple of months. And we’ve heard nothing.

I’m sorry to harp on this, but I’m desperate to find out how he’s going to do it. It’s a puzzle in my brain that I can’t shake, even though it doesn’t matter, I know. But how is he going to clear his name?

Will Rolly Fischer be involved? Ali Hasan? Craig Silverman? Dick Wadhams? David Lane? Dan Maes?

An upstanding newspaper like The Post shouldn’t drop puzzlers like this into their readers brains (like mine) and leave us dangling and awake at night thinking about it. (Pathetic, I know, but the editors over there might not realize the impact they have on people.)

Post biz columnist Penny Parker, who wrote about McInnis’ promise to get the truth out there, emailed me last month, in response to my questions, that she thought McInnis’ plan was very much a story, not ancient history. This was a big relief to me.

Then she wrote, “Not sure if that story will go to me or to the political reporters at this point.”

Let’s hope it goes somewhere, and fast. My mind is boggled, and I need to move on.

Boyles calls reporters at his company’s radio stations “alleged newspeople”

Monday, February 14th, 2011

There are plenty of reasons to dislike KHOW’s Peter Boyles, but you’ve got to admire the guts he has to smack down, however mindlessly, journalists who work for the same company he works for, Clear Channel.

KOA radio, which is one of the last radio stations in Denver that operates a news department with real reporters covering the events of the day, has an office on the same floor as Boyles’ KHOW and other Denver radio stations owned by Clear Channel.

This morning during the 5 a.m. hour, Boyles referred to news reporters at fellow Clear Channel stations in Denver, including KOA, as “alleged newspeople” because they don’t provide enough coverage of the birther folks, led by, ahh, Boyles, who believe Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

Boyles said:

They won’t because, number one, political correctness, number two, they don’t want to be in the lead on this story. There’s a great fear factor amongst these people…I’m telling you, this is such a hot-button issue that, like I say, I work on a floor full of alleged newspeople. They don’t talk about this. I’ve been in debates, sitting there, and they go, it’s not an issue…I can give you the reasons why it is an issue. They can’t give you any reasons why it is not an issue. I think the reason is, I’ve been on this story three years, these guys have never even looked at it.

You rarely see media types in town attacking others who work at the same company. At The Denver Post, for example, you don’t find too many columnists criticizing reporters in The Post’s newsroom. Ditto at 9Newsk. The Post’s Susanne Green waited until she resigned to open fire on The Denver Post, and she did it in the Huffington Post.

I’d like The Post to criticize itself or other MediaNews newspapers more often, but you don’t see it much.

Of course, Boyles’ sweeping and snotty comment about KOA news reporters, calling them “alleged newspeople,” is lousy media criticism, because he’s basically condemning them as professionals simply because he disagrees about their coverage of one issue. So Boyles would be better to drop the insults. His equally nonsensical attacks against The Post, which are part of his staple routine, should also be dropped.

But he gets credit for not being scared to level his criticism at co-workers so close to him, in fact, across the hall.

On Radio, Brophy says it’s almost political suicide to vote against “touchy-feely mandates”

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

A month ago, on KNUS Backbone radio, State Sen. Greg Brophy said that when it comes to health care legislation, it’s “almost committing political suicide to vote against any of these touchy-feely mandates.”

He was referring to a bill that directed Colorado insurance companies to provide coverage for maternity care, for having babies. That’s about as touchy feely as it gets, in a good and bad way.

Brophy, a Republican from Wray, went on to call it “gutter politics” when Democrats bring up mean GOP votes against maternity care during the election cycle.

Does Brophy think his steely votes, against the  touchiest and feeliest stuff, should be off the table come election time?

We don’t know what Brophy thinks, because host Ross Kaminsky didn’t get into it, though Kaminsky’s show isn’t one of those I-love-the-tea-party-and-the-tea-party-loves-me affairs, like you find on other radio stations. Unlike the core Tea Party nuts (not my term), Kaminsky isn’t a social conservative.

But we know from the radio show, that Brophy thinks health-care politics is “really ugly,” not because of the financial influence of insurance companies, for example, but because of the compassion people feel toward people with infant babies or breast cancer.

If only that really were the ugly part of the health care debate, right?

But not all of Brophy’s allies in his battle against touchy-feely health-care mandates are as plain spoken as Brophy.

A new effort to repeal Colorado’s law requiring insurance companies to offer maternity care was launched recently. It’s going by the decidedly un-touchy-feely name of, “Repeal 10-1021.”

And if that isn’t un-touchy-feely enough for you, its tag line is, “The health care bill that will make you sick.” (Don’t tell that to pregnant women, especially poor ones.)

Nothing about political suicide or touchy-feeliness anywhere on the new site, though a tweet says State Sen. Mark Scheffel is “on board.” Lots of talk about “choice” and “cost.”

I guess the politics of health care are so ugly that you have to listen to conservative talk radio to get the full story.