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Forget the corpse flower. Smell the putrid fungus.

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

The corpse plant over at the Botanic Gardens is getting viral love because it’s supposed to be so stinky. But it turns out to smell quite mild, as articulated in tweet from Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell: “Early visitors to Denver #CorpseFlower disappointed by lack of stench.”

If you want stench, you should check your yard for the stinkhorn mushroom, Plallus impudicus. While he corpse flower allegedly smells like rotten meat, this mushroom smells like something in between skunk, semen and moldy cheese. It’s the star of stink.

It’s guaranteed to small awful, and it’s common in Denver lawns, so you won’t have to wait in line like all those wanna-be sniffers at the Botanic Gardens.

As we write on our UrbanMushrooms.com website of the stinkhorn:

With their long white shafts and slimy greenish head, these penis-shaped mushrooms emerge from what looks like a smooth pinkish golf-ball.

It’s one of the few mushrooms that you often smell before you see. Noted mycologist Charles McIlvaine called the odor “aggravatingly offensive, attracting blow flies in quantities.”

Seriously, if you can find this in your yard, or a nearby park, why bother with the crowds at the Botanic Gardens. And this, you can actually eat! That is, if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat grasshoppers.

If you can’t find it, head over to the Denver Botanic Gardens Sept. 6 for the Colorado Mycological Society’s Mushroom Fair. It runs 11 am to 5 pm.

As you walk into Mitchell Hall, where the fair takes place at the Gardens, you’ll find a nice display of “City Mushrooms,” including, of course, the stinkhorn! Smell it until your craving for the foulest of odors subsides.

Also, bring along any mushrooms you find in your yard or the mountains. Expert mycologists will be on hand to identify them. And check out the huge display of wild mushrooms, as well as other mushroom exhibits for kids and adults.

Sure, the corpse flower has turned into a celebrity, but the poor Phallus mushroom is more deserving of attention as a reliable stinker.  Trust me on this.

Media not responsible for Roberts’ campaign problems

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Those of you who’ve been following the strange public downfall of State Sen. Ellen Roberts will thoroughly enjoy her interview last week on KNUS 710-AM.

If you don’t know, Roberts quickly went from being a rarity in Colorado, a Great Republican Hope to defeat Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet, to being just another common Colorado Republican implosion, in the tradition of Ken Buck, Scott McInnis, Bob Beauprez, etc, etc.

Now Roberts is saying everyone made too big a deal of her contemplation of a U.S. Senate run, especially the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, who first broke the news that Roberts was “in the process of thinking” about challenging Bennet. Roberts told KNUS radio-host Krista Kafer last week:

Roberts: I had honestly answered a question to my local hometown reporter after the session ended. He said, “You know, your name keeps getting floated out there as a possible candidate for the Republicans in the U.S. Senate race.” And he said, “So, are you going to think about it?” I said, honestly, thinking of the average person’s definition of ‘thinking’ — not a Hillary Clinton ‘no-I’m-not-thinking-about-it-while-you’re-developing-your-whole-campaign-years-ahead — actually meant I was going to go home to Durango, unpack my boxes, reintegrate with my family and my community, and think about whether that was a choice that I would make. And from there it went gangbusters, because he put it in the newspaper and the Democratic machine went – and I would say, ‘the Democratic nasty machine’.

…And apparently, just by thinking about whether I might get into the U.S. Senate race was enough to send people to the moon and back. So, yeah, it was a – it hasn’t been a pleasant experience

He put it in the newspaper! Can you believe it? A leading Colorado Republican tells Peter Marcus she’s “thinking” of running U.S. Senate, and the stupid journalist actually tells us!

God knows what trick Marcus will play on Roberts next time he interviews her.

And there’s more there, as you can see. Roberts is trying to make us believe she wasn’t serious about a Senate run, and she’s implying Marcus’ lede paragraph, stating that Roberts was “seriously considering a run for U.S. Senate,” was somehow misleading.

But all you have to do is read Roberts’ own statements in Marcus’ article to see that she was definitely serious about running, as you’d hope would be the case if she’s telling one of the state’s few remaining political reporters about it.

She told Marcus she 1) was worried about surviving a primary, 2) pointed out that she’d have to file paperwork before making an official announcement, 3) lashed out at Bennet, indicating she’d thought about the campaign’s end-game, and 4) said nothing about not being serious, such as, “Hey, Peter, I’m telling you all this but I’m not serious about it.”

Then she went on to tell The Denver Post’s John Frank:

Roberts: “I’m not ready to announce yet, but I’m certainly exploring it pretty closely or I wouldn’t be talking about it.”

Then she seriously told KNUS radio’s Dan Caplis, “I’ve never called myself pro-choice as a politician.” Then ColoradoPols posted a video proving this to be false, and Roberts soon said she was no longer considering a U.S. Senate run.

Or, as she told KNUS last week, “I would say I have since stopped thinking. So, because I publicly said I’m not thinking about it anymore, all of a sudden it has magically disappeared from the Democrats.”

That’s almost as surprising as a reporter who actually takes notes when you say  you’re thinking about running for U.S. Senate.

At least Roberts is not progressive blogs for factual errors.

Roberts: Well, when I said on the radio show, as a politician, I don’t—I’ve never called myself pro-choice, I forgot that in 2011 in the heat of battle, I did said that because I was trying to drive home a point to the Democrats. Well, within twenty-four hours, the blogs had pieced together that time in 2011 and the radio show clip to say that I was wishy-washy, or flip-floppy, or whatever.  As far as I’m concerned, put me in category number three.

Whatever. That’s the category Roberts now wants to be in. That’s fine, but hopefully she won’t claim that her new”whatever” category is the radio’s or media’s fault. The media were not responsible for any of the catastrophes we witnessed during Roberts short, but serious, contemplation of a U.S. Senate run.

 

Irony watch: Stapleton calls Post article “completely misleading,” even though he refused The Post’s interview request for the article

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

If you’re a journalist, this is the kind of  irony that makes you want to jump into the raging Platte River: State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is trashing a Denver Post article as “completely misleading” even though Stapleton refused an interview request from the reporter who wrote the article that Stapleton is so upset about.

Over the weekend, The Denver Post’s John Frank reported that Stapleton caved to pressure from conservatives and withdrew his support from legislation aimed at making money for PERA, the state’s public pension system.

Frank sought Stapleton’s comments for his article, but alas, as Frank reported:

John Frank: “Michael Fortney, a spokesman for Stapleton, declined to make him available for an interview and blamed the media for spreading falsehoods about the legislation.”

So John Frank dutifully did the best he could anyway to piece together Stapleton’s best response to the substantive issues at play. But this wasn’t good enough for Stapleton, who trashed Frank’s reporting on KLZ 560-AM’s nooner show yesterday:

 Stapleton (@5:40 below): “John Frank’s reporting, which was lacking to be diplomatic, was completely misleading, never once illuminated my track record of suing the pension system, lowering the [assumed] rate of return, leading the defeat of Amendment 66, the largest tax increase in Colorado history, because the money was going to back fill obligations in the pension system. I mean, the notion that somehow I’ve become sideways, because I’m in league with the pension system–the facts don’t quite bear that out.”

That’s not what the article said at all, but Stapleton went further, telling KLZ host Ken Clark that he thinks The Post has a bias against “statewide elected Republicans,” and so he’s “really isn’t surprised” that The Post’s coverage “has been not accurate.”

Stapleton (@1:30 below): “The Denver Post, their coverage of this, has been not accurate and misrepresentative of my position from the beginning, which really isn’t surprising as a statewide elected Republican.”

You can add another layer of irony to this accusation, because one of the state’s most conservative/libertarian journalists, Vincent Carroll, wrote that Stapleton “migrated into incoherence” when Stapleton previously attacked The Post’s coverage of the PERA legislation.

In his KLZ interview, Stapleton maintained that he never favored the issuance of bonds to bolster PERA, even though he did support giving himself the authority to issue the bonds. But evidence shows he was ready to issue the bonds under specific circumstances.

On the radio, Stapleton tried to explain his position with an analogy:

Stapleton: “The police have the authority to arrest anyone anytime, but they don’t necessarily do it. The same thing with the authority to issue these bonds.”

That’s Stapleton migrating into incoherence yet again, and you would have expected Ken Clark, an anti-PERA extremist, to call him on it.

You wouldn’t give the police authority to make arrests if people did’t break laws. Why would Stapleton, who’s specified when he’d actually issue the PERA bonds, seek authority to issue bonds if he didn’t want to issue bonds?

In the end, Stapleton seemed to slam the door on any future efforts to help PERA make money. He trashed the process and The Post.

Stapleton (Below @4:15): The mistake that I made was thinking I could go into negotiations with the pension system, even though I’d been at their throat for the last four years, and that they wouldn’t put out fictitious numbers behind my back that had nothing to do with the legislation, which caused the reporting of this to be completely misrepresented in The Denver Post.

Lesson for reporters from all this: Next time Stapleton goes into hiding and refuses to talk to The Post or some other reporter, track him down and don’t take “I’m-not-talking-to-you” as a response. And bring along a camera. Stapleton has asked for this treatment, but why not apply it to others like him, too?

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/walker-stapleton-clears-the-air-over-his-reported-support-of-pera-fix-bill

Media omission: Personhood leader shows how Gardner stabbed him in the back

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Here’s my favorite Halloween costume. I only wish I’d actually seen it.

Keith1Mason's avatarKeith Mason @Keith1Mason
@BigMediaBlog what do you think? My costume this year is a knife in my back with a “cg” on the side….

We all know senatorial candidate Cory Gardner stabbed the personhood movement in the back, but who would think Keith Mason, the co-founder of Personhood USA, would illustrate the point so brilliantly by inserting a Cory-Gardner monographed knife in his own back?

I offered to buy Mason a beer if he’d send me a photo of his costume. Then I realized he’d probably want harder stuff, so I said I’d buy him shots in exchange for the pic. No response yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he sent me the photo.

Mason hasn’t held back expressing his feelings about Gardner, telling Cosmo a few months ago, for example, that “[Cory Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood. I think he’s just listening to some bad advice, and he’s playing politics.”

Or, put another way, Gardner stabbed Mason and his hard-working personhood colleagues in the back, after they stood with Gardner throughout his political career.

Reader: Jeffco parents and students have an obvious interest in school board AP review

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

In response to my recent post about KLZ talk-radio host Kris Cook calling Jeffco students “pawns” of the teachers’ union, I received the email below from an Arvada parent of two teenagers in JeffCo schools, one who took APUSH class and passed the exam with a 4, and the other teen who is on track to take it in coming years. The writer asked to remain anonymous due to fear of possible repercussions.

Dear BigMedia:

To support her contention that students are “pawns” Kris Cook asks and answers herself: “who has something to gain by mobilizing the students to protest a censorship that hasn’t even been proposed? The only answer that makes any sense is the union” since “students have nothing to gain from this” and “the parents have nothing to gain.” Based on these perceptions — and nothing else — she concludes the students are acting as pawns of the teachers union.

From her self-Q&A, it appears likely that Cook did not take AP classes, has any children who took these classes and the associated AP exams, or has children who might be eligible for these classes. Now, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that, as AP classes are not for every student and plenty of students who don’t take/pass AP classes/exams go on to be quite successful and vice versa. Because if Cook had some experience with the AP subject matter, she would see the flaw in the assumptions upon which her conclusion is based.

Parents and students have a direct financial interest in whether a school offers AP classes, and whether an individual student learns enough in an AP class to then pass the AP exam. If a student passes an AP exam, he or she may receive full credit at their undergraduate college. This reduces the tuition cost for that semester by a substantial percentage and depending upon the college, that may be thousands of dollars. In cases where a college does not apply an AP exam as full course credit for tuition and graduation requirement purposes, that college may still allow a student to skip an intro level class, which frees him or her up to take more advanced classes while receiving their undergraduate degree. Finally some colleges may factor in passage of AP exams into admission and/or scholarship offers.

In response to Julie Williams’ initial proposal and subsequent statements to the press/TV, the College Board that oversees AP certification put Jefferson County School District on notice that too much tinkering with the AP curriculum could affect its certification, and thus the availability of APUSH to students in the district. The Williams-College Board dust-up put in play the financial benefits of APUSH for students and parents throughout Jefferson County.

From that moment on, students and their parents had compelling rationales and powerful motivations to oppose the JeffCo majority, independent from the interests of the teachers unions (who might be concerned with salaries and job security, etc). Unfortunately for Williams, Newkirk, and Witt, and their supporters, the interests of students, parents, and teachers are now aligned. For better or worse, the very students who are eligible and take AP classes, and their parents, skew towards the more affluent and educated. These demographics define some of the most potent of political adversaries, at least at the citizen-level. While it is true that teachers and student/parents may have different reasons and incentives for scrutinizing and opposing the actions of the JeffCo majority, the alignment of their respective incentives makes it natural that the efforts of one might leverage and amplify the political message of the other. For achieving each group’s political objectives, there is little downside for doing so, only upside: bigger crowds, reinforced messaging, and a broader range of individuals to represent multiple faces of opposition. This seems like Politics 101, right?

As to whether “censorship” is an accurate, much less fair, way to characterize the initial Williams proposal, that ship has sailed. There was enough ambiguity and ideological phrasing in the original language to make this a plausible-enough interference, at least from a messaging perspective. Without those elements, a cry of censorship would have fallen flat, but among Williams owns words there was enough fodder to attract media coverage from the angle of that most un-American of values — censorship. While “indoctrination” or “nationalism” might be more accurate one-word substitutes, those are a bit more abstract and don’t resonate in the same universal way, across the full political spectrum. This is why there is such an effort to explain why this is -not- censorship. Which of course only serves to keep that word on-the-air, or in-print…only helping to continuing to cast doubt on the motivations of the School Board majority, in a vicious or virtuous circle, depending on your position. In either case, this was a gift served up on a silver platter by Williams herself, and students/parents (and yes, teachers too) cannot be faulted for gratefully putting her gift to use.

Which finally leads to a less flattering chessboard analogy: Julie Williams’ clumsy introduction of the curriculum design committee proposal in the midst of the Board’s ambitious effort to revamp teacher compensation, was like her agreeing to add an extra rook and bishop to the side of the teachers, while announcing to the world that at least a few pieces on the Board/supporters’ side are checkers.

Panel of reporters to discuss highs and lows of 2014 election coverage

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Here’s a chance for activists on both sides of the partisan divide to beat up on journalists (or praise them) at the same time, in the same venue.

Panel Discussion: Colorado Journalism and the 2014 Election

Tuesday November 11, from 7:30-9 a.m.
1380 Lawrence Street, Terrace Room.

A panel discussion with:

Shaun Boyd, Political Specialist, CBS4
Peter Marcus, Denver Correspondent, Durango Herald
Chuck Plunkett, Politics Editor, The Denver Post
Nicholas Riccardi, Western Political Reporter, Associated Press
Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, Fox 31 Denver

The panel will discuss: Did Denver news outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2014 election? What were the journalistic highs and lows during the election season?

Introductory Remarks:

Paul Teske, Dean, University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs

Moderators:

Kelly Maher, Director, Compass Colorado
Jason Salzman, Blogger, BigMedia.org

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. for a light breakfast with coffee

Panel discussion, including questions from the audience: 7:45 – 9 a.m.

University of Colorado Denver, Terrence Street Center
1380 Lawrence, Terrace Room, Second Floor

Free and open to the public. Please share with anyone who’d be interested.

Come with questions for the journalists. You can also submit questions in advance to Kelly Maher at okmaher@gmail.com or Jason Salzman at jason@bigmedia.org.

Sponsors: BigMedia.org, Compass Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs

Please RSVP to jason@bigmedia.org. But if you don’t RSVP, just show up anyway.

The panel will discuss: Did Denver news outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2014 election? What were the journalistic highs and lows during the election season?

Questions: jason@bigmedia.org.

In teaser for Sunday show, Stokols presses Gardner for explanation of personhood hypocrisy

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Fox 31 Denver is teasing interview with Cory Gardner to be broadcast 9 a.m. Sunday on reporter Eli Stokols’ “#COPolitics from the Source.”

Here’s the clip.

Judging from the short exchange between Gardner and Stokols broadcast by Fox 31 last night, it appears Stokols pressed Gardner for a factual explanation from Gardner about why he withdrew his endorsement from personhood amendments at the state level but continues to support federal personhood legislation, which would abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

Stokols: You don’t support the personhood amendment at the state level anymore. Why keep your name on that Life At Conception Act at the federal level?

Gardner: There is no such thing as the federal personhood bill.

Stokols: Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say–Personhood USA says–that that is what the Life at Conception Act is.

Gardner: When I announced for the Senate, that’s when this outcry started from the Senate campaign of Senator Udall.  That’s what they are tyring to do. This is all politics. It’s unfortunate that they can’t focus on–

Stokols: But the facts are —

Gardner: No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill.

I’m looking forward to seeing the entire interview, which will air on Fox 31 Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

 

 

Debate question: How far should a governor go in blocking the feds?

Monday, June 16th, 2014

On KVOR’s Jeff Crank show last week, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo announced his plan, if elected, to form a “10th Amendment Governor’s Caucus,” comprised of “like-minded governors” who would stand Tanc-like and “confront the federal government.”

Tancredo: Right now, there is a leaked memo from the Interior Department, in which they identify millions of acres around the country that they intend, essentially, to take over. To do what Clinton did, if you remember the Escalante. Three hundred and sixty thousand of those acres are here in Colorado.

Well, I’ll tell ya, if I were governor, and if they attempt that, and they are going to have to try enforce it, and they are going to meet opposition in doing so. That is a huge issue.

Listen to Tancredo on on KVOR’s Jeff Crank Show 6-7-14

This is the guy who wanted civility among competing Republicans? Do taunts count as civil? In any case, Tanc’s comment points to a good topic for the gubernatorial debates, which will appear on media outlets: Just how far should a governor go to block the federal government? If court challenges fail, on an issue like the one Tancredo describes above, should a governor take up arms? Sit down in the streets? Or what?

 

 

Cheer up, Dan Caplis. Gardner is ignoring other radio hosts, too.

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Dear Dan Caplis:

In case you missed it last week, after you said that Rep. Cory Gardner’s “handlers” are keeping him away from you, Mike Littwin tweeted, “Dan, it’s him, not you.”

But you still sound hurt. And that’s sad, because you’re usually so perky.

On your radio show today, you repeated your feelings that Gardner’s advisors are keeping him from you. He won’t jump on your show every time you’re in the mood for him, like he did in the old days (before he announced his senatorial run against Democrat Mark Udall).

But, if you won’t believe Littwin, here’s another reason not to take it personally that Gardner is ignoring you.

This morning, on far-away KFTM radio in Ft. Morgan, radio host Jon Waters told his listeners:

“We were scheduled to have Congressman Cory Gardner with us this morning. He is not able to join us at this time.”

So there you go, Dan. It’s not just you.

Cheer up!

Jason

Talk-radio host should remind State GOP Chair what he told Fox 31 about recall elections

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Three weeks ago, KDVR’s Eli Stokols reported that Ryan Call, Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, had some harsh words to say about the recall election of Democratic State Senator Evie Hudak:

Call: “This recall election would undermine our efforts in the governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race and to win a senate majority if voters perceive that Republicans are trying to win a majority through recalls.”

“The job of the Republican Party is to get Republicans elected when there are regular elections,” said Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call. “And there are already a lot of things competing for our time, attention and resources. [BigMedia emphasis]

In a different media environment Thursday, on conservative talk radio, Call reiterated that the State Party won’t back the petition-gathering effort to recall Hudak, but he said the State Party would be “all in” if  a recall election takes place, “just like we were in the recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.”

Call: “The principled purpose and objective of the Republican Party is to support Republicans in elections. So, as soon as there was an election, and as soon as there is a Republican candidate [in Colorado Springs and Pueblo recall elections], the State Party was all in to help support that effort, and we would do the same if enough citizens, again, Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated voters, sign recall petitions [for Hudak recall election]. We want to honor and respect the will of the citizens…. We’ll be all in just like we were in the recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.”

Call’s tone on KNUS’ Kelley and Company Oct. 24 had changed dramatically from three weeks ago when he was saying that the Hudak recall election would “undermine” (as in kill, destroy, stop, lose, end, flatten) Republican hopes for next year.  What happened to his view that it’s his job to support Republicans in “regular” elections?

Host Steve Kelley should have Call back on the show to find out what’s changed in the past three weeks or whether Call has one set of talking points for talk radio and another for news outlets where professional journalists live and work.

Partial Transcript of appearance of Ryan Call on KNUS Oct. 24:

Call: The State Party directed over $120,000 in support of those two Republican candidates in recalls in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Kelley: You were not behind that effort  personally either were you?

Call: That’s the point. The principled purpose and objective of the Republican Party is to support Republicans in elections. So, as soon as there was an election, and as soon as is a Republican candidate, the State Party was all in to help support that effort, and we would do the same if enough citizens, again, Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated voters sign recall petitions. We want to honor and respect the will of the citizens.

Kelley: Why wouldn’t you then offer financial support to the folks on the front end?

Call: Once a recall is ordered, once there is a demonstrated desire on the part of the citizens to have an election, the State Party will step in. That’s our role. Other outside groups can push for recall elections. We won’t stand in their way. What we need to be prepared, with resources and organizational help and support, to help elect a Republican candidate as a successor if a recall election is ordered. We’ll be all in just like we were in the recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.