Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

The Story Behind The Denver Post’s “Orange Flush”

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Of all the strange and excessive news coverage of the Denver Broncos, my own favorite article appeared in The Denver Post about three weeks ago, revealing that near halftime during Bronco games, so many fans take potty breaks that it appears to those who monitor Denver’s water as if a water main has busted.

Normally, in response to such extreme drops in water pressure, officials might dispatch emergency repair crews. But they’re used to it.

“You can’t react to them, because it’s going to be back in five minutes,” Denver Water’s Dario Diaz told The Post’s Kevin Simpson of the pressure drops. “The Red Screen of Death, that’s what we call it. If you see that any other day than a Broncos Sunday, you better get somebody on the phone.

“On Broncos Sunday, you chalk it up to the game.”

To me the anecdote, along with the beautiful Post headline for the story, “Orange Flush: How life in Denver–from traffic to toilets–revolves around the Broncos,” perfectly encapsulates the absurdity, humanity, banality, and all-encompassing nature of the Bronco spectacle.

How did Simpson get this story, and who came up with “Orange Flush?”

“The backstory is fairly straightforward,” Simpson told me via email. “We wanted to do a piece on how Broncos game days are different, how they change the usual dynamics of our (mostly) Sundays. My editor and I informally brainstormed some areas that might be affected. We all knew about the grocery store rush but we also started thinking about things like infrastructure. I started making calls. Some came up empty (no big change on the energy grid), others produced some semi-interesting tidbits (CDOT recalibrating lane closures). But we got really lucky with Denver Water. Turned out they track usage in real time. And they had noticed the surges in use at various points in Broncos games, particularly the halftime bathroom break.

I asked them to pull some of the data and they came through big-time. They also put me in touch with Dario Diaz, who was able to explain the whole halftime flushing phenomenon but also pinned usage to individual events — like the Seattle kickoff return for a touchdown at the start of the second half of SB48 that pretty much doomed the Broncos.

Denver Water also provided data for a non-Broncos Sunday that we could use as a baseline for a chart put together by our graphic artist Michelle Doe, who enabled our readers to visualize what Diaz was talking about. Credit for the “Orange Flush” hammer hed goes to Linda Shapley, our director of newsroom operations who has a long and illustrious history in page makeup and has always had a singular talent for these things. She heard about the story and almost instantly came up with the perfect option.

In the end, the process of poking around and asking questions revealed something really off-beat on which to build the story. I got the impression that Denver Water was getting as much of a kick out of this as we did. And our readers seemed to enjoy it. People were retweeting the link to the story a week after it originally appeared.

Not exactly big-J Journalism, but it was kind of fun.

True, not big-J Journalism, but pretty impressive and great nonetheless–and it makes you appreciate what reporters and editors do, even to give us the small stuff that makes life more interesting.

Colorado Republicans are not irrelevant! Close GOP prez primary puts spotlight on Colorado

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The irrelevancy of the Colorado Republican Party on the GOP presidential nomination process has apparently been exaggerated.

It’s been previously reported that after state Republicans eliminated their caucus straw poll last year, Colorado delegates could not pledge support to specific candidates prior to the Republican National Convention. In other words, Colorado GOP delegates would have to attend unbound to a candidate.

But this apparently isn’t true.

Republicans in Colorado can still pledge support for a Republican presidential candidate, if they state their intention to do so on a form that’s required to run for one of the 34 elected national-delegate spots. (Three additional Colorado delegates are determined by the Republican National Committee.)

The form, titled “National Delegate Intent to Run Form” must be submitted 13 days prior to the April 9 Republican State Convention or the April 8 Congressional District Convention, where delegates are selected for the national Republican Convention.

The form states:

I intend to stand for election as a candidate for National Delegate at the following convention(s):

□ Congressional District Convention – Congressional District #_

□ State Convention…

Full Name (please print): ___________________________

□ Pledged to Support Presidential Candidate: _____________

□ Unpledged.

As the University of Georgia’s Josh Putnam writes on his blog about the presidential nominating process:

That pledge is much more important than is being discussed.

Colorado has been talked about as a state that will send an unbound delegation to the national convention. That would only be the case if all the delegate candidates who file intent to run forms opted to remain unaffiliated with any presidential campaign. If those delegate candidates pledge to a presidential candidate and are ultimately elected to one of the 34 delegate slots (not counting the party/automatic delegates), then they are functionally locked in with that candidate if that candidate is still in the race for the Republican nomination.

They would be bound to those candidates at the national convention because the Colorado Republican Party bylaws instruct the party chair to cast the delegation’s votes at the national convention “in accordance with the pledge of support made by each National Delegate on their notice of intent to run”. Anywhere from 0 to 34 delegates could end up bound from the Colorado delegation to the Republican National Convention.

That is a real wildcard in the delegate count in Colorado and nationally.

So, the pledge option on the “intent-to-run” form for delegates opens the door for a showdown among Republicans who have bound themselves to different candidates.

It also opens the door for fierce competition among the presidential candidates to push supporters to the caucuses, where they will vote for State-Convention delegates or Congressional-District-Convention delegates who are committed to pledging their support to a specific presidential candidate. (Ron Paul supporters managed to do this in 2012.)

The intent-to-run form also presents a public-relations opportunity for presidental candidates whose supporters are selected as county assembly delegates on caucus night–and then quickly announce en masse that they’ve decided to bind themselves voluntarily to a particular candidate.

Putnam writes on his blog that the March 1 Republican caucuses put a “premium on organizing — turning out as many supporters as possible for the precinct caucuses and then getting those supporters through to the county assemblies. It is only that group of county assembly participants who are eligible to be national convention delegates…. if a campaign is able to corner the market and move through to the next step a bunch of its supporters, that candidate will have a decided advantage in the delegate allocation process. They would dominate the pool of potential candidates and maximize the number of delegates the campaign eventually wins.”

Putnam writes:

Rather than being a state with no preference vote that no one pays attention to, Colorado becomes a real delegate prize for the campaigns who are able to organize there. Those that gain an organizational advantage — and that is much more likely in a low turnout election without the incentive of a presidential preference vote — have a real opportunity to get something out of the Centennial state. It will not necessarily entail candidates coming into the state over the course March and into April (because forcing delegate candidates through to the county assembly level is the true mark of winning there), but it may make the media outlets pay continued attention to Colorado as the process there resolves itself. And since there is no preference vote guiding the delegate allocation process from step to step, a candidate could dominate in Colorado and come out on April 9 with a significant majority of delegates.

…In the conventional sense, candidates will not necessarily come to Colorado to drive up support for a March 1 vote that will not happen. That is doubly true in light of the fact that Colorado shares its precinct caucuses date with primaries and caucuses in 13 other states. Functionally though, with delegates potentially on the line, Colorado is certainly not a non-event.

Colorado Republican Chair Steve House apparently affirmed this process here.

So, bottom line, Colorado could see a major fight among the Republican presidential candidates to influence the vote for 34 National-Republican-Convention delegates, who will be selected at the April 9 GOP state convention and April 8 GOP congressional district convention.

Republican sources tell me that only Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are showing any sign of a ground game here in Colorado. But this may change in the coming weeks.

Bartels’ blog: Smart PR? A partisan problem? A new kind of journalism?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

When political reporter Lynn Bartels left The Denver Post last year for a communications job at the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, it appeared she’d left journalism.

But it turns out, maybe not completely—depending on your definition of journalism.

As the communications director for Colorado Republican SOS Wayne Williams, Bartels is writing a blog with some of the same types of stories that you saw her write at The Post and, before that, at the Rocky Mountain News.

Titles of recent Bartels posts, for example, include: “Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser,” “Back by popular demand! Sarah Moss’ State of the Union bingo!,” “More babies! Colorado politicos celebrate!,” “OnSight Public Affairs’ holiday card is outta site,” “Wayne Williams: Colorado secretary of state and good Samaritan,” “Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlines agency’s goals, achievements at SMART act hearing,” and “Sen. Cory Gardner, ‘our environmentalist,’ addresses CACI.”

Some of this is good PR for Williams and his office. Some of it is human-interest journalism. Some of it is soft political reporting.

Regardless, it’s quickly become part of Denver’s journalism mix, in the era of disappearing reporters and starved political junkies.

And Bartels’ blog comes with a caveat that most other blogging flaks in the world can only dream of, “The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not of the office.”

When she started her new job, Bartels explains, she told her boss, “The Post and the Rocky used to have people assigned to the Secretary of State’s office. And they don’t have that anymore. It’s just part of generic government. Some of this stuff you’re just not going to get promoted, if you don’t promote it yourself.” He signed off on the concept.

But why all the posts that have nothing to do with the SOS office?

“When I started, someone from the Secretary of State’s office said, ‘This is going to be solely about the Secretary of State’s office, isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘No, who would read it?’ And Wayne burst out laughing and said the same thing.”

So for those of you who might hate the idea of Bartels doing Christmas-card stories on the taxpayer dime, she makes a good PR case for it, I’d say. And hey, her blog is featured number one on the list of “costumer favorites” on the Colorado SOS home page.

Bartels blog could possibly be a model for how PR at a state agency could compensate, in an itsy bitsy way, for diminished journalism.

But you run into trouble when a state-sponsored blog is used for partisan purposes. Or even if it’s perceived that way. That’s yuck bad.

Bartels acknowledged the problem with, “If the secretary of state were Scott Gessler, people would be blowing a rod.”

As it is, Bartels says one of her posts was used by a Democratic candidate for fundraising (without Bartels approval or knowledge, she says). A handful mention candidates, giving them a de facto PR boost.

Bartels wrote a partisan-looking post Jan. 12 titled, Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser. This post is basically a GOP fluff piece, going out of its way to name Republican candidates and saying “at times” Senate President Bill Cadman is “pretty close” to being as funny as Bill Murray.

But if you look at her blog, it’s clear Bartels, who says she’s a Republican herself, isn’t blatantly pushing Republicans over Dems (outside of her boss). She’s written favorable posts about Democrats Sen. Kerry Donovan and former Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, for example. Still, I think Bartels should stay away from mentioning candidates, potential candidates, and highly partisan stuff.

As for breaking news, one of Bartels’ tweets broke a story about a GOP candidate entering the governor’s race. One blog post broke news about the death of a well-liked Republican consultant.

“If I wanted to break political news on that blog, I could break it a lot. It’s not my goal,” she says, adding she’s too busy anyway. “I could have broken the Jon Keyser story, but I didn’t.”

“I’ve used the blog to promote our office, to promote county clerks, to promote things that we’re doing,” Bartels says, adding that the blogging results in long hours for her. “The county clerks love it.”

“If groups invite Wayne to speak, I’ll write something,” she said. (But I’m guessing fewer Democrats than Republicans will want to hear Williams.)

It makes you wonder, are PR folk pitching stories to Bartels, like they did when she was at The Post?

Not really, she tells me, sounding a little vague.

“Hey, I’ve got to take this call,” Bartels said, ending our conversation. Some things never change.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that a Republican used Bartels’ blog post for fundraising purposes. It was actually a Democrat, according to Bartels. 

Cadman: “Liberal” Denver Post wants to “divide Republicans”

Monday, January 11th, 2016

In a fundraising email yesterday, Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman hisses at The Denver Post, writing:

Cadman: “You see, liberal newspapers like the Denver Post want to use this in an attempt to divide Republicans. They can’t comprehend individual thinking.”

Cadman was mad about Post reporter John Frank’s article Sunday exposing an “ideological divide” among Republicans in the state legislature that reflects the division we see on stage at GOP presidential debates. Drawing on GOP voting records, Frank’s piece outlines a pattern of Republican opposition, particularly by eight GOP state senators, to legislation that Cadman and other state Republicans supported.

Cadman’s email didn’t cite any data to support his view that The Denver Post is “liberal,” and a call to his press officer was not returned. But everyone knows The Post isn’t out to get the Republicans. There’s no basis for the accusation.

But that doesn’t stop Cadman from trying to raise money by trashing the newspaper and, by extension, the profession of journalism. How statesmanlike of him.

Over the years, I’ve chronicled these cheap attacks in Colorado (e.g, from Sen. Cory Gardner and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.).

In this case, you have Cadman asserting that The Post can’t comprehend individual thinking, even though Cadman himself blamed his Republican opponents for not trying hard enough to iron out their individual differences.

Cadman told Frank that “Republicans who opposed the bills ‘maybe should have exerted a little more influence before they got to the floor.’”

Plus,  how could The Denver Post, even if it wanted to, divide the Republicans any better than the Republicans divide themselves? Seriously.

I’m waiting for someone like Cadman or Gardner to have the guts take their accusations against The Denver Post out of shadowy fundraising emails and talk radio and have a real debate about it. Maybe one of them would like to challenge The Post’s John Frank or Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett to a debate. Or Post Editor Greg Moore. That would be fun to see.

Post reporter pens biography of Denver Developer

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

I haven’t read former Denver Post reporter Mike McPhee’s biography of Denver developer and historic preservationist Dana Crawford, but I like how Post reviewer Dana Coffield, in describing what’s in the book, tells the story of  Crawford’s discovery of Larimer Square, which Crawford later turned into one of Denver’s first historic Denver attractions.

Coffield wrote a couple weeks ago:

As it is told by Mike McPhee in “Dana Crawford: 50 Years Saving the Soul of a City,” the renaissance began on a sizzling summer day in 1963, when a group of winos came to Crawford’s rescue after her puke-green Ford convertible died on Larimer Street.

“Vapor lock,” one of them rasped from the doorway of a building on Denver’s skid row.

She found what she was looking for in the 1400 block of Larimer, near where the band of drunks, rewarded for their trouble only with a big smile and twinkling blue eyes, solved her engine problem with a dirty rag and a little water.

McPhee conducted extensive interviews with Crawford and folks who know her. I’m going to buy it for myself for holiday reading.

Denver Post editorial board still wants to hear from you

Monday, December 14th, 2015

At newspapers like The Denver Post, editorials technically represent the views of the “editorial board,” but in practice the full editorial board only weighs in on crucial editorial, like endorsements, while a subset of the board decides most run-of-the-mill editorial positions.

With the recent departure of editorial writer Alicia Caldwell and the re-assignment of others, the staff of The Post’s opinion page has dwindled to editorial page editor Vincent Carroll, editorial writer Jeremy Meyer, and opinion editor Cohen Peart. (Those three sit on the Post’s editorial board, along with chairman William Dean Singleton and president and publisher Mac Tully.)

With fewer opinion writers on staff to hit the ever-present deadlines, I wondered if editorial writers have time to meet with the public at all–outside of the muckety mucks who stop by.

So I asked Peart how he and other staff decide who gets to meet with editorial writers these days–and if there were broad guidelines that I could share with the three readers of my blog.

“The editorial board still meets with folks who request visits, though we’re able to accommodate fewer of them nowadays. As with the rest of the paper, the focus has become more local,” replied Peart via email. “Local groups and officials still have ample access to The Post’s editorial board, but we find ourselves having to say ‘no’ to a lot more national interests.”

So don’t let no stinkin staff cuts stop you from trying to reach The Post’s editorial writers.

Newspapers jumped too quickly in supporting a proposal to reform redistricting process

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Editorial boards at The Denver Post and Durango Herald, which are known to be deliberative bodies when it comes to policy, jumped out of the gate way too soon in backing a new process for determining election districts, writing supportive editorials even before all the facts are on the table about the vague initiative–and key questions are completely unanswered.

You wonder how these newspapers could possibly have given an initial “thumbs up” to the proposal in light of its immediate red-flag language that would gut minority voting power. The language expressly prohibits the commission from augmenting minority voting – splitting their voting blocs at a time when Hispanic voters are growing.

This major problem in the language is compounded by the creation of a flawed pecking order of factors the commission can consider in drawing new lines. Dead last on the list is “communities of interest,” making them the least important. Communities of interest include minority communities, but also areas that share common bonds like mountain communities, college towns or agricultural towns.

Another of the most glaring omissions in the proposed initiative, which would appear on the November ballot, is the lack of public process so grassroots organizations and average voters could offer input on the creation of new electoral districts. It’s hard to understand why newspapers, which stand for transparency and public input into government decisions, would put their stamp of approval on cutting out the public.

Equally incongruous with a newspaper’s values is the way the proposal potentially removes “independent” commission members  from the decision-making process on new electoral districts. The proposed initiative assigns legislative researchers to produce maps, and if a supermajority of commission members fails to approve the maps drawn by legislative staff, then the commission would be leapfrogged and the first map (ignoring any improved subsequent maps) would go directly to the Colorado Supreme Court—potentially without approval from any of the commission members.

In other words, there’s no guarantee that the 12-member commission, equally split among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, would have any real power.

Neither newspaper addressed the minority-representation problem, the lack of community input, and the limited power of the commission itself—as well as other problems and questions, including one that you’d think would be near and dear to the heart of a newspaper: Who’s bankrolling this effort?

Yet, The Post inexplicably touted the initiative with the naïve comment of “goodbye gerrymandering.” Wow.

At least the Durango Herald had the good sense to acknowledge that much is unknown about the proposed initiative, concluding its editorial with, “Much will depend on the final language of the measure….” And even backers of the amendment are saying nothing has been finalized.

Key Denver Post reporting on Quinnipieac poll cut from print version of story

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I was sorry to see that key paragraphs of Denver Post reporter John Frank’s intelligent reporting on the latest Quinnipieac poll were cut from the version of the article that appeared in newspaper’s print edition. Here is the disappeared info:

Moreover, the survey results are likely to face scrutiny given the pollster’s mixed reputation in Colorado. A 2014 Quinnipiac poll put Gov. John Hickenlooper down 10 points to his Republican rival weeks before voting began even though others showed him with a narrow 2 percentage point edge. Hickenlooper won by 3 points.

The survey under-represented Democratic and unaffiliated voters, compared to state registration figures — which may help explain Clinton’s below-average performance in the poll.

To my way of thinking, those two paragraphs, which were in the online article, provided essential context on the poll’s absurd rusults, which showed, in part, Donald Trump thumping Hillary Clinton by an 11-point margin!

At least the print edition included this paragraph:

The poll — a year before the general election — represents a snapshot in time, rather than a reliable indicator of how Colorado will vote in November 2016.

Death of Health News Colorado shows vulnerabilities of nonprofit journalism

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

After failing to find enough foundation money to save her nonprofit news organization, Health News Colorado, Diane Carman concluded that if she’d switched directions and begun practicing advocacy journalism, instead of continuing the independent reporting her project prided itself on, she could likely have raised enough money to keep going.

Instead, Health News Colorado folded last month, after  five years of taking shots from both the left and right. But it was praised by the Columbia Journalism Review and others for its detailed reporting, often covering major health-policy developments that were completely overlooked by other Colorado news outlets.

“You step on everybody’s toes when you are an objective journalism organization,” said Carman, who was editor and founder of Health News Colorado. “Everybody got burned a little bit at some point, because we took the role of watchdog seriously. So, when you do that, it makes it really easy for people to say, ‘I’m not so sure we have the money for that this year.’ I never got the impression we were being censored. There was never an impression of that. But I do feel that if we had been willing to cross over into the advocacy world, that we would still be alive.”

The beginning of the end for Health News Colorado came about a year and a half ago, when the Colorado Health Foundation, which covered 50 percent of Health News’ operating budget, told Carman to expect to be cut loose in September of 2015, according to Carman.

Initially, it looked like things might work out, because Kaiser Health News, a national organization that funds local reporting on health issues, appeared serious about absorbing Colorado Health News, if it could show community commitment by securing two years of local funding in advance of Kaiser taking over.

Carman jumped into fundraising.

“We got support in small amounts from a whole lot of new funders, but two of our biggest funders, the Piton Foundation and the Colorado Health Foundation, said they wouldn’t continue to support us. They both were moving in new directions and nonprofit journalism was not on their priority list anymore.”

So Carman started looking for corporate donations, and believe it or not, after a summer of knocking on doors, she’d secured close to two years’ worth of funding, she said.

But then a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who’d at first supported the corporate approach, delivered the crushing news that his board of directors was not comfortable with corporate funding for Health News Colorado. Only nonprofit foundations and donations were good enough. (This, from a foundation named Kaiser?)

“After really pouring it on for four months this summer, I just couldn’t come up with the dough,” said Carman. “So we shut it down.”

“It was a disappointment, because after five years, we had a solid readership,” said Carman, best known for 18 years as an editor and columnist at The Denver Post. “We had one story in July that got over a half million hits. We were routinely getting 20,000 or 25,000 hits on stories. We’d finally crossed into that area that nonprofit journalism wants to be in, where you have a strong following and people know where you are. It was kind of pathetic that when we were beginning to get some real traction, we couldn’t get the money to continue.”

If you follow health care coverage in Colorado, you can’t help but wonder whether Health News Colorado’s reporting, including its stories highlighting problems with Colorado’s health exchange, might have pissed off the Colorado Health Foundation and moved it to dump the nonprofit news outfit from its portfolio.

Carman has nothing but good things to say about the Colorado Health Foundation’s multi-year support, and she believes they just moved in a different direction, as foundations are known to do. A few calls I made confirm this.

Laura Frank, President and General Manager of News for Rocky Mountain PBS, told me that a three-year Colorado Health Foundation grant her PBS nonprofit journalism project expired in July and was not renewed, due to the foundation’s changed priorities.

“Foundations have what I call FADD, Foundation Attention Deficit Disorder,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of EdNews Colorado and Chalkbeat, two nonprofit news sites. “Foundations are constantly changing their strategic priorities. It’s a never-ending process.”

Gottlieb argues that nonprofit journalism entities, like Chalkbeat, should receive sustained funding and be seen as a “cultural benefit” like a museum. “But foundations don’t see it that way and move on,” says Gottlieb.

Locally, both the Piton Foundation and Daniels Fund have recently stopped funding journalism, he says.

“To sustain local journalism, we have to continually find new funders,” he says. “We need to have many funders instead of relying on just one.”

Frank, who’s on the board of the Institute for Nonprofit News, agrees. And she shares Carman’s view that advocacy journalism is easier to fund.

“In general, finding funding for fact-based, independent journalism is more difficult than for advocacy journalism,” says Frank. “But our [Institute for Nonprofit News] members don’t do advocacy journalism. They’re more likely to get funding from smaller donors, people who give $100 to $200 a year, and that takes time to grow. And it’s difficult for a small organization.”

Frank’s I-News is associated with Rocky Mountain PBS, so it’s easier for her “backfill” the loss of grants  with membership funding, she says.

But that’s not a luxury Health News Colorado had.

Carman, who’s looking for an organization to house Health News Colorado’s regularly-searched archives, has a few ideas on how her news site might have survived, had things been structured differently.

First, Colorado Health News was part of the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs, which was a key player in helping launch the project. But there were problems with this situation.

“As an employee of the University, I couldn’t just go out and raise money anywhere I could find it within the foundation world,” said Carman. “You don’t want someone who’s raising money for Health News Colorado to get the only grant from some big foundation and be getting a $50,ooo grant for a year and that precludes the university from getting a $2 million grant for the medical school. So you have to go through the process to decide who’s going to get what money in which cycle. And we were such a small operation that we really couldn’t wait two years.”

Carman describes this as a “very reasonable and logical University policy,” but it didn’t help her sustain the news organization.

She said news sites can maintain their editorial independence, as hers did, and “survive and thrive” as part of universities, but some do training programs for journalism students or play other roles that give them an ongoing base of financial support from the university—which Colorado Health News never got from CU Denver, outside of some office space, administrative support, and liability insurance. But no operating funds.

The association with the School of Public Affairs limited fundraising in other ways. “For all the obvious and good reasons, the university has strict policies about how you bring in money for projects,” said Carman. “So we were never in a position to solicit sponsorships like public radio does.”  Even the development of a job board wouldn’t fly, she said.

Carman points out that journalism entities similar to Health News Colorado more often than not “live on the edge.” So it’s hard to say in hindsight what would have worked for sure.

It’s easier to see what will be lost.

Carman says, and it makes total sense given the state of Colorado journalism, that Health News Colorado reporter Katie Kerwin McCrimmon was the only reporter to cover virtually every meeting of Connect for Colorado, the Colorado healthcare exchange.

“She studied that stuff,” Carman said of McCrimmon, who’s now doing public relations work. “It’s complex. She spent lot of time on it. You can’t pick it up by dropping in on every couple of months.”

It’s safe to say, in the coming years with Colorado Health News gone and funds flowing to advocacy journalism, you’ll find a progressive journalist like me (or worse, a conservative one) at those obscure meetings–instead of a real journalist like Kerwin. If there’s any journalist there at all. And I can assure you, we won’t be better off.

Coffman opposes dual pathways to citizenship specified in the Dream Act

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

UPDATE: Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg tweeted me that Coffman does support a pathway to citizenship through education — a position that can be learned by using the “Google button.”  I have even reported instances in which Coffman has uttered a sentence to this effect in media appearances (See for example here.), and I should have included this in my blog post. But this issue is an example of the problem reporters have in covering Coffman. Does a sentence buried in the middle of a TV interview actually represent Coffman’s position, when that policy can be contradicted by another vote on the record or lost in the conversation around military enlistment, which is the only bill Coffman’s put forward?

When Coffman took to the Denver Post opinion pages in 2013 to endorse “comprehensive immigration reform,” any number of his supposed policy commitments were left vague enough to give him room to escape supporting the bipartisan Senate bill that actually passed. And by the next year, he had reversed himself on whether “comprehensive” reform needed to be done all at once or in a step-by-step approach. Additionally, all of these back and forth statements on legislative procedure is omitting Coffman voting against President Obama’s deferred deportations for children before reversing and voting for them.

Still, I should have referenced Coffman’s media statements in support of a path to citizenship through education.

———–

Back in 2013, as Rep. Mike Coffman was testifying in favor of allowing undocumented children to gain citizenship through military service, he said:

Coffman: “The first question that we ought to ask ourselves here today is whether or not we believe that the young people, who were brought to this country illegally as children by their relatives, who grew up here, and who went to school here, who probably know of no other county, ought to have a pathway to citizenship and I believe that the answer to that question is yes.”

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

So, The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews should have specified the type of path Coffman supports when Matthews wrote over the weekend:

Coffman added that he supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrant children but not adults, although he wanted to create some arrangement for parents, such as “guest worker status.”

Coffman supports a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants through military service. It’s a distinction that means a lot to the young immigrants involved and to those who’ve been pushing for immigration reform for so long now.