Archive for the 'Fox 31 Denver' Category

How should a raped woman get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Eli Stokols reports that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is defending his co-sponsorship of a 2007 bill that would have banned doctors from performing an abortion for rape and incest.

Stokols reports:

When he was a state lawmaker, Gardner signed onto Senate Bill 143 as a co-sponsor — he did not carry the bill himself, his campaign points out.

The measure would have outlawed all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”

Gardner’s campaign pushes back: “the bill only prohibited the performing of an abortion (with an exception for life of the mother). It specifically exempted women from prosecution: ‘A pregnant mother upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted shall not be guilty of violating this section’.”

Stokols did not tell us how Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Garnder’s push back is correct. His bill did not make it a felony for women to get back-alley abortions. But a doctor would face felony charges.

So Stokols or another reporter should find out where Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion–and from whom?

Would a more tightly-worded personhood amendment be ok with Coffman? And other questions left hanging after Coffman’s personhood shift

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Media outlets are reporting that Rep. Mike Coffman has joined  Rep. Cory Gardner in withdrawing his support of the personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, but, strangely, reporters aren’t asking Coffman (or Gardner) the logical follow-up question: What is your position on abortion?

Does Coffman still oppose abortion, even in the case of rape and incest? If he still believes life begins at conception, does he still think the government should somehow protect human “life” from fertilized-egg onwards? Does he think women should be given the power to make this choice for themselves, if they are pregnant? Does he oppose still Roe V. Wade? Does he believe a woman has the right to make all decisions about her own body?

Coffman himself has yet to make a statement about his alleged reversal on personhood, leaving the dirty work to his spokesperson, but Coffman’s record, even if you exclude his support for personhood, clearly reflects a true believer’s opposition to abortion

For example, Coffman once wrote the following letter to then KHOW radio-host Dan Caplis, to clear up any possible confusion about his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest:

Dan,

First of all, thanks so much for your help with my campaign and for inviting me on your show. During the debate, Craig Silverman was questioning me on the issue of abortion. My response was focused on arguing that Roe v Wade was bad law. During that exchange, Craig asked me about the issue of rape and incest. Apparently, my answer came across as supporting abortions under a rape and incest exception. I absolutely do not believe in that.

Dan, I would deeply appreciate it if, during your show, you could state that I wanted to make sure that my position was clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest. I believe that all life is equally sacred irregardless of how it came into being.

Thanks again,

Mike Coffman

Asked about this later, Caplis emailed me he wasn’t surprised that Coffman went out of his way to be clear that he was against abortion in the case of rape and incest. “Mike has always been such a champion of the pro-life cause that I think the issue was quickly resolved,” Caplis wrote.

In a statement after the last election, Personhood USA celebrated Coffman’s “100%” anti-choice stand, and the organization held him up as proof that a politician can hold be stridently anti-abortion and still win close elections. A local personhood leader called Coffman a “statesman.”

With this kind of paper trail hanging over your shoulder, it’s no surprise that Coffman’s spokesman has offered different explanations to The Denver Post and Denver’s Fox 31 for Coffman’s personhood shift, telling The Post Coffman wouldn’t support the personhood amendment this year and offering this to Denver’s Fox 31:

“There’s a reason Democratic Senator Michael Bennet called Speaker Romanoff’s attacks sleazy in 2010 – Romanoff is the Czar of sleaze,” said Tyler Sandberg, Coffman’s campaign manager. “‘Supported it at every turn?’ Mike didn’t in 2012. And he doesn’t in 2014.

“The voters have spoken twice, and the question is settled.  The initiative is over-broad and full of unintended consequences, sort of like Obamacare, which let’s be honest, all of this sleaze from Romanoff is meant to be a distraction from.”

You read this and you think again, what does Coffman really think, and what’s the explanation?

Maybe Coffman would like a more tightly-worded personhood amendment, and he’d be ok with it? That’s another question reporters should put to him.

Reduced Staff of Political Reporters at Denver Post Reflects Decline in Colorado Journalism

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

You hear complaints about The Denver Post’s reduced coverage of politics, but the newspaper still has more political reporters than any other news outlet in Colorado. And it’s still the state’s leading source of political news.

So, to show what’s happened to political journalism in Colorado recently, I thought I’d compare the number of Post reporters covering elections and the legislature today to the numbers in recent decades.

The most shocking comparison is the Post’s staffing today versus 2010, when Colorado had senatorial and gubernatorial elections, like we do this year. This November, like 2010, Colorado also has state-wide races for state treasurer and secretary of state, plus state legislative elections and one of the most competitive congressional races in the country.

Just four years ago, The Post had double the number political reporters dedicated to elections and the state legislative session (four versus eight). The newspaper had about eleven in 1960s, 1970s, and mid-1980s.

“I would like to have more resources at my disposal when it comes to covering politics in swing state Colorado in an election year while the legislature is in session,” Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett told me via email. “Presently I’m asking Kurtis [Lee] and Lynn [Bartels] to do double duty. Lynn’s tracking the governor’s race while Kurtis tracks the Senate race. For the much-anticipated 6th DC contest, Carlos Illescas, recently assigned to focus on Aurora, is following Coffman and Joey Bunch is following Romanoff. Joey also does a mix of other stories. Obviously, on the national races we lean on Allison Sherry to help out from Washington. [Note: Since I corresponded with Plunkett, Sherry has announced her departure.]

“This is our present configuration. As the races heat up, that configuration could change. Change, of course, has never been a stranger to newsrooms. Being adaptable is what we’ve always been about.”

Curtis Hubbard, who was The Post’s Politics editor in 2010, described the political reporting staff he oversaw.

“Best guess is that, at a similar moment in time [in 2010], I had at least 8 reporters available to cover the statehouse and state and federal elections (though that number increased the closer we got to Election Day),” Hubbard emailed.

“During the primary phase, Karen Crummy covered the governor’s race; Michael Booth and Allison Sherry were pulled from other jobs in the newsroom to cover the U.S. Senate race; Michael Riley covered the delegation and congressional races from our D.C. bureau; Lynn Bartels, Tim Hoover and Jessica Fender covered statehouse races, the state treasurer’s race and congressional races; and John Ingold covered the Attorney General’s race, the Secretary of State’s race and general issues pertaining to elections and turnout.

“In my time there, The Post’s leadership team always understood the important role the publication played in informing voters on the issues and never shied away from adding reporters to the politics team as warranted. Additionally, The Post continually sought out ways to help bring understanding of the issues to voters, whether that was through launching online Voter Guides, which proved to be among the most popular online offerings each election season, or on-camera interviews with candidates.

“Despite the ongoing ‘right-sizing’ that has depleted the ranks of reporters and editors at The Post in recent years, the organization continues to dedicate more people to politics than any other news outlet in the state.“

During the 1960s and 1970s, when former Denver Post reporter Fred Brown started covering the Colorado Legislature, the newspaper assigned six reporters to election campaigns, plus five to the legislature, according to Brown. Brown wrote that the numbers were slightly reduced in the mid-1980s, when he returned to the beat.

The Denver Post used to assign about half a dozen reporters, or more, to election campaigns,” Brown told me via email. “Senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns had a total of four: One for each major party’s candidate. The congressional candidates usually were covered by suburban or regional reporters. Sometimes suburban reporters covered more than one congressional district, but they always covered both major-party candidates. Other state offices, and the legislative races, typically were covered by the chief political writer (me or others who had that role before and after).

“The dwindling staffing of election coverage reflects what happened to legislative coverage. The first dozen or so years I was part of the legislative team, there were five reporters and one photographer regularly assigned to the session. Leonard Larsen, Tom Gavin and Charles Roos joined me (the regular statehouse reporter) and one other general assignment reporter (assigned ad hoc) on the legislative team during the session. Duane Howell’s full-time assignment as a photographer was to cover the legislature when it was in session.”

Although they’re a useful measure and symbol of the decline of Colorado journalism, The Post’s staffing numbers don’t tell the whole story, which is obviously much more complicated.

So-called “computer-assisted reporting” allows reporters to be more efficient in many ways than they used to be.

And the experience and skill of individual reporters can make a huge difference. One good political reporter, whether at The Post or a regional newspaper, radio station, or other competitor (some of which have good political journalists on staff), can do the work of many lesser journalists.

Also, the long competition between the Rocky Mountain News and The Post affected staff levels at the newspapers and the quality of Colorado political journalism until the Rocky closed in 2009. In an email, former Rocky Editor John Temple described, in broad terms, the Rocky’s approach to coverage in the early/mid 2000s:

“Typically, as I recall, we had a reporter for the House and a reporter for the Senate,” Temple wrote. “I also liked to have a free-floating reporter, but I can’t tell you with any confidence that we did that every session. In addition, Peter Blake spent most of his time at the Capitol. We then would send in beat reporters as required. In other words, we wanted the higher ed reporter to cover education issues and take them out of the Capitol and provide perspective, or the environment reporter. As for political races, typically it is difficult to cover them during the session. But what we did was assign reporters to the different races. So each race or group of races would have someone responsible for it. Typically one of our legislative reporters would be responsible for legislative races, as I recall. Burt Hubbard would cover money and help other reporters with that type of data journalism. Every reporter would be responsible for money in his or her race/races.”

Political reporting on local TV is not filling The Post’s gap. As has been the case for decades, we’re lucky if a Denver TV station has one dedicated political reporter, even though, for example, the stations earned a combined total of $67 million in political advertising dollars in 2012. Only Fox 31’s Eli Stokols offers day-to-day political coverage, like a newspaper reporter, but 9News and CBS4 both have political reporters and contribute quality political journalism.

And new technology allows for the contribution of progressive and conservative journalists. (See the Colorado Independent and the Colorado Observer.) Bloggers and trackers and everyday people with cameras are also part of “journalism” in the state.

I’m not saying that The Post’s staffing levels are the definitive measure of political journalism in Colorado, but they’re a serious indicator of the state’s journalistic health. And so it’s hard to be anything but depressed about the current situation.

Herpin thanks Boyles for being “fair and balanced,” and then Boyles calls Stokols a “Butt Boy”

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Minutes after State Sen. Bernie Herpin thanked KNUS talk-radio host Peter Boyles for being “fair and balanced,” Boyles called Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols a “Butt Boy.”

Herpin and Boyles were angry over Fox 31 Denver coverage of Herpin’s statement that it was “maybe a good thing” that the Aurora m0vie-theater shooter had a 100-round magazine.

Asked by Boyles’ about Stokols’ coverage, Herpin said this morning, “As a media person you know it’s their job to sensationalize the news to attract readers and viewers and followers on their blogs.”

“Fortunately, we have people like you that stand up for us, that provide both sides of the story in a fair-and-balanced way,” Herpin told Boyles. “And I thank you for that.”

“Well, you’re kind,” responded Boyles, who really truly expressed his “love” Herpin earlier in the interview.

Listen to Herpin says Boyles is fair and balanced 02-13-14

After I tweeted Boyles’ conversation with Herpin, “Missing Pundit” responded with “Live from Kenya,” referring to Boyles’ birther obsessions.

Herpin stopped short of apologizing for his comment about the 100-round magazine, telling Boyles, “I certainly meant no disrespect to people.”

Boyles’ substantive criticism of Stokols’ reporting was that Stokols didn’t include the full context of Herpin’s quote until the lower portion of Stokols’ post. There, Stokols wrote: “Herpin was trying to say that larger magazines are less reliable, more prone to jamming up.” And then he provided Herpin’s full comment with video.

That doesn’t sound like reporting from a Butt Boy, whatever that means.

Media omission: Magpul hasn’t always been silent about Sandy Hook, like it is now

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

After news broke Tuesday that the mass murderer at Sandy Hook used a 30-round magazine manufactured by Magpul, a (still) Colorado company, local reporters naturally tried to reach Magpul executives for a reaction.

But Magpul didn’t return calls yesterday from the Boulder Daily Camera, Fox 31 Denver, or The Denver Post.

Rather than simply report Magpul’s silence, reporters should have informed us of previous comments by Magpul executives about the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Asked in March, during an appearance on KOA radio, how he’d feel if one of his company’s 30-round magazines was used by the killer at Sandy Hook, Magpul Industries executive Duane Liptak said:

Liptak: “Address the individual behavior and the criminal, not the instrument.”

In a m4carbine.net online discussion forum about Newtown in March, Liptak wrote: “It’s unfortunate that the 363 days last year that did not include a high-profile mass shooting by an insane individual received less attention than the 2 days that did.”

In another m4carbine.net online discussion in March about whether video games are the cause of violence, Liptak wrote:

Liptak: “That’s the issue.  Instill a moral code, responsibility, and respect for others…and viola…your young man doesn’t grow up to be a doucherocket.”

Liptak promised readers of the online forum in Jan. that he (presumably through Magpul)would take action in the 2014 election in response to the Colorado Legislature’s gun-safety legislation, which was arguably at least partially a response to Sandy Hook:  “We’re working on our ‘Free Colorado’ campaign right now, but we may not have it launched in time to stop this [gun legislation].  At the very least, we’ll continue to push it through the 2014 elections. :-)

Liptak’s comments about Sandy Hook on the radio and in the online forums contrasted with a more empathetic statement issued by Magpul Dec. 18, 2012 shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting:

We at Magpul are deeply saddened by the acts of violence in our nation, and our hearts and condolences go out to the families who have suffered such tragic losses. These acts of pure evil, committed by deranged individuals with no morals, nor respect for life, are enough to shake one’s faith in human nature. Still, amidst these criminal atrocities, things are brought back into perspective by the actions of those like the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook, who, unarmed and untrained, put themselves in the path of this violence in courageous attempts to protect those in their charge. Actions like this, those by the passengers of United Flight 93 on 9/11, and the daily sacrifices of our service members and their families bolster our belief in the power of personal responsibility and humble us in our gratitude that such courageous and unselfish individuals vastly outnumber the villains in our midst.

 

Peter Boyles Critiques Local Coverage of the Hudak Recall Effort, as only Peter Boyles can

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

by Michael Lund

 

In the heated battle and drama surrounding the efforts to recall Colorado State Senator Evie Hudak, accusations of malfeasance and misrepesentation have been thrown back and forth, a gubernatorial candidate has proffered obscene gestures, and local news outlets have entered the fray to parse out the truth and report on the contentious issues raised by the two sides.

Never the wallflower, KNUS radio talk show host, Peter Boyles, has become the media point man for the Recall organization, hosting the organizers Mike McAlpine and Laura Waters in daily appearances  for updates and rallying cries.   As you might guess, the tone of the show these days is combative and loud.

When KDVR Fox 31′s reporter Eli Stokols and KCNC CBS4 Denver’s Shaun Boyd ventured into Arvada and Westminster to report on the Recall and efforts to thwart it, they were not spared from Mr. Boyles cutting criticism and confrontation.

We’ve provided some audio clips from The Peter Boyles Show for you to hear exactly what Peter Boyles thinks of their journalistic efforts:

1. Peter and Joe Neville, lobbyist for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, respond to Eli Stokol’s report identifying paid signature gatherers for the Hudak recall effort as having criminal records, which supports claims purported in door hangers and robo-calls by Hudak supporters.  The root of Mr. Boyles’ complaints seem to lie mostly with the organizations defending Hudak against the recall, whose methods to investigate recall works Boyles refers to as “underhanded”, “Brownshirt technique” “gestapo-esque” and “very, very KGB”.  Misters Boyles and Neville accuse the Democracy Defense Fund as ‘gift-handing’ information to Stokol’s for his report.  Further criticism from Neville and Boyles refers to Stokols’ reporting that DDF “fundraised” $30,000 to fund their efforts when it appears the money was donated in large amounts by few donors.  Finally, Boyles charges Stokols for not forwarding information concerning the potential crime of threatening phone calls from someone associated with the Hudak recall.

2.  Boyles calls Stokols’ piece “bad journalism”, claiming that DDF gave Stokols information critically important to the report, while refusing to return Boyles’ phone calls requesting answers to his questions.  Further criticism from Boyles falls to Shaun Boyd’s report on the recall in which she interviews Hudak.  Boyles mocks Hudak’s appearance in the piece a, saying that “Evie is now part of ‘Shaun’s people’”.

3.  Boyles facetiously adopts the song “Eli’s Coming” to mock Stokol’s supposed failures in his report.  Also in this segment, Boyles lays out his case against Shaun Boyd’s report, which reported that Hudak claimed that she had nothing to do with the organized opposition to the recall.  Peter calls “BS” on that claim, but doesn’t back up his assertion.

4.  This clip includes audio from Shaun Boyd’s interview with Evie Hudak, complete with Peters peanut gallery commentary and editorializing.

For our sake, journalists should fight each other more often

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Journalists like to think of themselves as good critics, so why are they so timid about criticizing fellow journalists?

“I’d like to see more media criticism in general,” 9News Anchor Kyle Clark emailed me. “I think it can only make journalism more accurate and useful. I think journalists are often in a unique position to offer competing perspectives on the work of other journalists. As long as that criticism is provided in the spirit of getting accurate and complete reporting to the public, I see no issue with it.”

Fox 31 Denver Political reporter Eli Stokols told me via email:

Stokols: “Denver is increasingly a media desert. The only remaining big daily newspaper is hemorrhaging staff. Television stations are going younger and cheaper with each passing contract. As a result, there are more and more mistakes and omissions in stories, less depth and analysis, less stories getting covered on the whole — and there’s hardly anyone out there in a public role doing criticism, keeping score. So, when there’s an important journalistic distinction to be drawn, it often falls on journalists themselves to draw it. And in some cases, I’m willing to do so.”

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett also supports journalists criticizing each other, writing that it’s “responsible” for reporters to be media critics.

So why don’t we see more media criticism by Denver journalists?

Criticism Should Not Be Reserved for Egregious Cases

Stokols wrote that he’d criticize journalists more often if he had more time, but only in “extreme circumstances.”

Time constraints I understand, but why just extreme circumstances? The media is a player in politics, and so it’s obviously part of the basic job description of a political journalists to criticize other journalists, as often as possible, even if the criticism isn’t major.

Thumping the Journalistic Chest Is Good

Clark favors more criticism generally, but worries that “trolling the work of fellow journalists purely for mean-spirited or competitive purposes doesn’t do any good.”

Journalists don’t need to be mean-spirited, I agree, but competitive? Why not? Doesn’t fact-based, professional competition (scoops, investigative reporting, etc.) among journalists benefit everyone?

As Eli Stokols wrote:

“As someone at a station with a brand that doesn’t carry the same heft as ‘The Denver Post’, it’s a bit more important to remind readers/viewers when they’re getting certain stories, or more stories, from FOX31 News at 9 or kdvr.com. We’re not the number one station. We’ve only been on the air 13 years. So we have to fight a little bit harder to build and enhance our unique brand. If I break a story and, two hours later, it starts getting traction after it appears in the Post, I’m not doing my job getting my story into the news pipeline and making sure that readers and other sites linking to it understand who broke it and when. All journalists want to serve the public, but we also want to get credit for our work. This is a business. Our brands are important. It’s not enough to report and write and then post or air a story; now, you’ve got to sell it too.”

Criticize Even If You Think It Might Be Petty

Plunkett worried that “if the criticism became overly personal — one writer picking on a writer for a clunky sentence. for example — my concern is that it would make us look petty.”

I agree with Plunkett — and so did Clark and Stokols. But journalists are too thin-skinned generally, so they should compensate for their natural tendency to think a criticsm is petty or personal when it probably isn’t. In other words, they should err on the side of launching the criticism, even in they think it’s dumb.

Journalists Shouldn’t Let Fear of Making Mistakes Stop Them from Criticizing Others

Stokols wrote: “I try to remember to temper my criticism a bit, knowing that I myself and my newsroom get beat on plenty of stories and make our share of mistakes.”

If a journalist sees an opportunity for criticism, and it’s in the public interest to point it out, she should. It’s irrelevant that she might make the same mistake some day. If the criticism is deserved, and there’s time to articulate it, it should be delivered.

Journalists Should Side with Factual Commenters

This is big frustration of mine, as a progressive. Why don’t more journalists intervene, as in take sides, when another journalist is fighting a reader/advocate/partisan about whether a story is accurate? (See Twitter)

If a journalist is debating a reader about a fact, let’s hear from other journalists. If that’s not in the public interest, what is? Not just on Twitter, but also in comment boards.

Plunkett said journalists should side with fellow journalists or reasonable commenters, adding:

“I try to respond to credible criticism that strikes me as offered in good faith, whether the post comes from a transparent or opaque account. Doing so should build accountability and good will within the politics community. If the poster is a known belligerent or appears destined to become one, I tend to avoid response.”

Media Criticism by Journalists Can Make A Difference

Clark wrote: “Constructive media criticism via Twitter is hugely useful because it allows us to identify weak spots or errors in stories, often before they go out via our largest distribution platforms. Accuracy is the goal and constructive media criticism is essential to getting the story right.”

This makes sense to me, especially with the rise of Twitter, because what better way to stop the messengers from spreading bad information than calling the messengers out while it’s still gestating on Twitter?

Stokols is less optimistic: “When there are no consequences for ripping off other people’s work without citation, no consequences for failing to cover a major story or doing so poorly, lackluster journalism is likely to persist — especially when outlets with stronger “brands” seem to maintain some bottom-line dominance regardless of what they’re putting in print, online or on the air. And unfortunately, a sharp-tongued tweet or blog post probably isn’t going to do much to reverse that trend or wake people up. Put another way, it’s unlikely that sort of criticism will ever reach the critical mass where it has any serious impact.”

I think public criticism by respected journalists can make a difference, and even more so as social media expands.

If more reporters saw media criticism as part of their daily beat, and more seem to, it might make a difference.

Plus, it makes for good reading — which is another reason journos should do it. They’ll build their audiences.

Don’t miss Fox 31 Denver’s series on Obamacare

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Proving again why he’s become the face of political journalism on local TV in Colorado, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols has produced, with Thomas Hendrick, a week-long series, called “Prescription for Change,” that beautifully illuminates the myths, pitfalls and benefits of Obamacare–as well as the details of how the new health care law affects you.

I can’t guarantee it, but I’ll give you my kids’ cat if you can find better local TV news coverage of Obamacare anywhere in the country.

Find the series, along with other Obamacare coverage, on Fox31 Denver’s website here.

Many local TV news reporters would love to be given the opportunity to actually practice journalism like Fox 31 allows Stokols to do.

But the management at most TV stations around the country wouldn’t dare touch this type of in-depth, informative reporting on a policy issue like Obamacare, because they think it’s boring on the tube. Stokols proves them wrong again in this series, and, thank you, Fox 31 managers and Stokols for doing it.

Scandals, investigations, and consumer reports, yes, you see that on local TV. And that’s good. But beat coverage of politics and policy issues? Fox 31 Denver continues to air coverage that you rarely see on TV.

Reporters should look for meat behind accusations of a war on rural Colorado, after Hick signs renewable energy bill

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This afternoon Hick will sign a bill setting a state standard for the amount of electricity rural electricity associations must produce from renewable sources, like wind and solar, according to Fox 31′s Eli Stokols.

Judging from past coverage, Republican opponents of the bill will try to cast it as an attack on rural Colorado.

When Rep. Jared Wright tried to do this back in April, the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby pointed out that the Rural Electricity Association in his area supported the renewable-standard bill (SB 252).

So reporters should check for meat behind accusations of an Democratic attack on the ranchers and others in rural counties, if those accusations start flying again today.

Evidence of meatlessness and manipulation by those claiming “war on rural Colorado” can be found in an article about SB 252 in the news letter of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s May “Legis Letter.” The bill was vehemently opposed by a large electricity association called Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Here’s an excerpt from the May RMFU newsletter:

Tri-State and the rural electric family chose to draw a line in the sand, and now we are stuck with goals that may be a challenge to achieve. By refusing to listen to RMFU and other rural and agricultural groups looking for a reasonable compromise, Tri-State only managed one achievement: driving a new wedge between rural and urban Coloradoans.

In the run up to the vote on SB 252, industry “pundits” were predicting the end of civilization: Unemployment in rural communities will double! Rural utility customers will be bankrupted! Urban Colorado declares war on rural Colorado!

Ag groups were caught in the middle, trying to get both sides to listen rather than shout slogans. On the one hand, we don’t want to see rural communities hurt by utility costs; on the other, the sky was not, in spite of what was being shouted, falling. Urban Colorado is working toward a much higher portfolio standard than rural Colorado. They don’t see why that’s fair, and the answer is more complicated than most people understand. But that’s not warfare; it’s a time to talk over our differences. [BigMedia emphasis]

The newsletter quoted Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Kent Peppler, who criticized the uncompromising opposition to SB252. RMFU was neutral on the bill, even though its Renewable Energy Chair sits on the Tri-State Board.

Here’s Peppler’s quote in the RMFU newsletter:

“The lesson in this legislative setback,” said RMFU President Kent Peppler, “is that ‘My way or the highway’ only works if you have the votes. The REAs didn’t have the votes, and ignoring their agricultural constituents and potential allies didn’t help that problem. Going down in flames may be noble, but it doesn’t get the job done. Now the real work has to begin. The last thing we should let this do is poison our commitment to renewables. Homegrown power is coming of age for communities, individuals, and facilities. The demand for renewables means new opportunities for rural communities, new jobs for rural communities, and new businesses keeping our rural communities alive.” [BigMedia emphasis]

What’s up with label-loving Coffman joining a “No Labels” group?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Rep. Mike Coffman announced last week that he’s joining “No Labels’ Problem Solvers — a group of 56 Democrats and Republicans committed to meeting regularly across the aisle to build trust and talk about solving problems.”

Some labels, like the label of “citizen” for Obama, have bugged Coffman in the past.

But mostly he’s been as label-friendly as a politician gets in Colorado, labeling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” trying to add the label “forcible” to rape, labeling the flat tax as something that has “tremendous value,” labeling the expansion of Medicare under Obamacare as “very radical,” wanting to put the label of “president” of the United States on Gov. Rick Perry. (Conversely, Personhood USA labeled Coffman a “statesman” for standing firm against abortion for rape and for any other reason.)

All this heavy-duty labeling makes you wonder why Coffman would want to join a group called the “No Labels’ Problem Solvers.” Much less be able to get away with it, under scrutiny from the media.

I wondered if a journalist had challenged Coffman on it, and I found that almost nothing had been written about Coffman’s apparent decision to throw his sharp labeling skills out the window.

Some reporter has to call him on this. Coffman has built a reputation in Colorado for saying controversial stuff, often with serious partisan labels attached. What’s up?