Death of Health News Colorado shows vulnerabilities of nonprofit journalism

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.

McInnis, who’s open to another statewide run, isn’t thrilled with any of the current GOP senate candidates

November 10th, 2015

Former Congressman Scott McInnis told KNUS radio host Craig Silverman Saturday that he’s taking Spanish lessons and hasn’t ruled out a run for statewide office, despite the spectacular crash of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign after his “musings on water” articles proved to be plagiarized.

But he doesn’t see an opening for himself in the current Republican primary race to take on Democrat Michael Bennet, as he said the “alignment” isn’t right today.

But McInnis, who’s now a Mesa County Commissioner, isn’t excited about any of the current GOP Senate candidates, saying he’dlike to see Rep. Scott Tipton run. And he said failed 2008 Senate candidate Bob Schaffer would “win that race.”

McInnis gave no indication that his plagiarism scandal, which torpedoed his 2010 campaign, would hurt him in future statewide campaigns.

McInnis: As you know, following that BS, and that’s exactly what it was, I was caught totally off guard by those allegations. And to be  straight with you, before I ran for governor, we spent about $50,000 doing opposition research, and the opposition research was on me. And I wanted to know every hiccup somebody would bring up. Every vote we looked at. We looked at every possible thing. This never came up, because we never know about this. Well, after this broke, we didn’t have time to get ahead of it, Craig. ..those allegations that there was, not perjury, but–

Silverman: Plagiarism.

McInnis: Plagiarism. That shows you how much I was involved. But it worked. It was very effective. It destroyed our opportunity. …We suspected Hickenlooper would be their candidate and we ran consistently 12 points ahead of him.

He said the plagiarism accusation was based “false information,” pointing to his “complete exoneration” by the state’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. He was cleared of dishonest lawyer behavior but not slimy political behavior, including throwing his elderly research assistant under the bus. That’s what cost him.

Lundberg may try to subpoena witnesses who declined to answer questions at today’s hearing

November 9th, 2015

UPDATE: An attorney from AG Coffman’s office decided at the last minute to attend the event, letting Lundberg know 45 minutes before he arrived. He told lawmakers that the AG’s office did not have jusisdiction to investigate. The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus tweeted that the legislature’s nonpartisan legislative legal services office also declined an invitation to attend. With witnesses from across the political spectrum refusing to participate in today’s “informational hearing” on alleged sales of fetal-tissue for research purposes, Sen. Kevin Lundberg may request authority to subpoena witnesses for legislative hearings next year.


With witnesses from across the political spectrum refusing to participate in today’s “informational hearing” on alleged sales of fetal-tissue for research purposes, Sen. Kevin Lundberg may request authority to subpoena witnesses for legislative hearings next year. – See more at:

“I can go to the Senate and seek permission to have that authority for any specific issue,” said Lundberg, who’s the Senate Republican Assistant Majority Leader, on KLZ 560-AM Thursday (at  18:45 below). “And this may rise to that occasion.”

“I have never seen subpoena powers granted to a [Colorado legislative] committee, but it’s within the rules,” said Lundberg on air, citing his position as chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, which would have jurisdiction on this matter.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado State University, Planned Parenthood, and the University of Colorado have refused to attend today’s 9 a.m. hearing at the state capitol to answer  questions from Lundberg and 20 other conservative state lawmakers, Lundberg told KLZ morning host Steve Curtis.

If they refuse to testify again next year, Lundberg said, he’ll consider seeking subpoena power from his Senate colleagues, who hold a majority.

“I haven’t ruled that out at all,” he told Curtis, adding that it will depend on what information is uncovered at today’s hearing. Lundberg believes, for example, that if fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood were used in scientific research at Colorado Universities, it would violate Colorado’s ban on indirect funding of abortion. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains maintains that it has no fetal-tissue donation program.

For background on CSU and CU’s fetal-tissue programs see here and here.

Witnesses who have agreed to answer questions today, including a representative of the anti-choice Alliance Defending Freedom, appear to share the conservative leanings of Lundberg and others on the Republican Study Committee of Colorado, which is conducting the informational hearing.

The Grand Junction Sentinel described the group as “made up of 21 of the most conservative Republican representatives and senators in the Colorado Legislature.”

“This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ dollars and recourses. (Planned Parenthood) does not have a fetal tissue donation program, and the basis of the (committee’s) entire study is in sham videos that have been debunked repeatedly here and nationally,” Cathy Alderman, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told the Grand Junction Sentinel last month.

“If we don’t answers at the hearing on Monday down at the Capitol, I’ll turn this information over the appropriate legislative committees of reference and see if they can sort it out,” Lundberg told KLZ.

Radio host still upset that GOP elitism was big reason Republicans made themselves irrelevent in the presidential nomination process

November 5th, 2015

It’s been a couple months since Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House appeared on Craig Silverman’s radio show and said, in part, that it would be too unweildly to for Republicans to vote on the GOP presidential candidates at Colorado’s caucuses.

Silverman is still talking about House’s comment, arguing just yesterday on air that it would not be difficult to hold a straw poll at the caucuses. Silverman rightly maintains that without the presidential straw poll, which was nixed by an executive committee of state Republicans, Colorado is irrelevant in the national Republican nomination process.

Just because Silverman is saying the same thing repeatedly doesn’t really make me want to pay attention to it. He repeated himself for years about JonBenet Ramsey, and few cared. But in this case, I thought I’d head to the podcast archive and listen to what House actually factually told Silverman, whose show airs Saturday mornings on KNUS 710-AM.

It turns out that House said that holding a straw poll “inflates the number people who come [to the caucuses] by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.”

To be fair, House also argued that new GOP rules would bind Colorado Republicans to their straw poll selection, even if their preferred presidential candidate dropped out by the time the convention rolled around. And House didn’t want to risk that Colorado delegates to the convention would not be able to cast a vote.

But House said the logistics of running the caucuses with an increased number of participants was “one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.”

Silverman called that an “elitist game,” and he hasn’t let go of it, to his credit.

Here’s what House said on air Aug. 29:

House: When you go to caucus – and I have run a county before — you go to caucus and instead of having 50 people show up you have 500 people show up because they want to vote in the straw poll, you’re trying to get the caucus process executed properly, which is very important because we have state politics that depend on that experience.  And what goes on in selecting delgates — and ultimately, candidates –it’s very, very important for us to do that. When you add in the straw poll, during that experience, it inflates the number people who come by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.  And I think that is part of the reason why the county chairs, on executive committee especially, were very opposed to doing it this way because they believed it will disrupt the overall process and it won’t gain us that much.  So, I think that’s part of the – that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.

And here is the full discussion on the topic:

HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN:  Well, I appreciate you coming on my show. The talk of the Colorado right now is, why don’t we get to participate in this exciting GOP presidential primary?

COLORADO GOP CHAIR, STEVE HOUSE: Well, we are going to participate.  I mean, if you were sitting in that executive committee meeting when we had that discussion, I mean – the executive committee is made up mostly of large and small county chairs, and a lot of liberty activist folks are on the committee, and people believe that by picking the right delegates and giving them the authority to represent Colorado at the convention, we’re still participating.  I don’t believe for a minute the Presidential candidates are not going to come out here and try to have impact on who those delegates are, and what they vote for.   I think if the rules hadn’t changed, I don’t think – well, there would still be a question, Craig. Because there’s a fair number of counties that deal with preference polls at caucus, and I think that’s the other thing that a lot of people don’t understand.  When you go to caucus – and I have run a county before — you go to caucus and instead of having 50 people show up you have 500 people show up because they want to vote in the straw poll, you’re trying to get the caucus process executed properly, which is very important because we have state politics that depend on that experience.  And what goes on in selecting delgates — and ultimately, candidates –it’s very, very important for us to do that. When you add in the straw poll, during that experience, it inflates the number people who come by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.  And I think that is part of the reason why the county chairs, on executive committee especially, were very opposed to doing it this way because they believed it will disrupt the overall process and it won’t gain us that much.  So, I think that’s part of the – that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.

SILVERMAN:  But it seems like such an elitist game.  You talk about “the right delegates” being selected.  How do people in the public know who the right delegates are? It seems like it’s all going to be Republican insiders.

HOUSE:  You know, it’s not really the people in the public.  If you are willing to go to caucus, and you’re still willing to go to caucus, and you work through the process, ultimately it comes down to picking 37 –acutally, 34 delegates – three are already designated, but picking 34 delegates and 34 alternates at the state assembly –  that processes hasn’t changed at all.  So, if you go participate, and you start to figure out, you know, which delegates are to going to represent your interests, they in many cases will talk about who they represent from a presidential perspective that, in the end, the people who go there are very invested, very committed Republicans who want to see the right thing happen to the state, and for the nation, as opposed to – you know, what if you did a preference poll where you said, “Look, instead of doing it in a caucus, you did a preference poll across the entire state to decide who our delegates are.   Now you’re getting into the primary territory, and that’s where a lot of people are very passionate about caucus want those delegates to have the ability to pick the presidential candidate they want, and not be based on a straw poll in March, if they many things change between March and July, as they probably will.

SILVERMAN:  Right.   But why doesn’t Colorado have a primary? I think back to 1992, and my old Colorado College professor, Bob Loevy –  who is going to be a guest next week on my show — he decries the way that political parties select nominees.  It seems like a fixed process.  Now we’re learning the Democrats, with their superdelegates, Hillary Clinton kind of the has it in the bag, if she can stay out of jail.  But back in ’92, I remember when Paul Tsongas, Bill Clinton, Tom Harkin — they debated in Denver, Colorado. And even back then with the Republicans there was incumbent George Herbert Walker Bush being challenged by Pat Buchanan and people in Colorado got to vote on those things. Coloradans like to vote. They like elections.  How come you’re not giving it to them?

HOUSE:  Well, look, you talking about a primary process that did occur back in ’92, and I think, that’s a legislative issue.  I mean, that’s something where you’ve  got to get to the legislators and decide how you want to handle that.  Um, we really think that what will happen here is, the process is not any different than it was four years ago, now.  If we don’t do a binding straw poll,  it’s no different than it was four years ago. The delegates are selected the same way.  They go to the convention unbound, exactly like they were four years ago.   And there has been many, many people who defend that process very, very passionately.  In fact, I’ll tell you that all the feedback I’ve got – besides, you know, Chuck Todd and his stoner comment, and as far as I’m concerned, we’d be stoned if we were going to listen to Chuck Todd to begin with.  Um, you know, that whole thing – that whole process–

SILVERMAN:  You mean, sleepy-eyed Chuck Todd? That’s what Donald Trump calls him.  And, just to bypass the rest of this stuff, doesn’t this come down to Donald Trump?  Isn’t it true that the Republican establishment really disdains Donald Trump and is going to design every role to pose an obstacle to him becoming the Republican nominee?

HOUSE:  I haven’t heard Republican National Committee people say that, Craig, but, you know, look.  When you go back—

SILVERMAN:  But they feel it.

HOUSE:  They may very well feel it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very interested in hearing from Donald Trump as much as I am anybody else.  And I believe they will actively come to Colorado, not only for the debate on October 20, but throughout the process to try to get Colorado delegates and people who support those delegates, to go their way.  I think if the guy standing is there with 25% of the vote, you’ve got to take him seriously.  He’s got a double-digit lead.  I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t take every single candidate seriously.  I had somebody ask me the other day, “Are you doing this to prevent fringe candidates from getting delegates?” And I said, “I don’t consider any of our people to be fringe candidates, I don’t know where you come up with that process.”  So, the overwhelming response I’ve got has been that it’s better the way it is.  If the preference poll were not binding and our delegates could ultimately go and make decisions based on what was current at the time – and especially if the potential exists for a brokered convention, although it doesn’t happen often –   this is a very unique year. We will be in a lot more powerful position to influence what happens, and who the eventual nominee is, this way, than we would if we were bound to a preference poll five months before the convention

SILVERMAN:  Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado GOP, good enough to join us.

Why do Colorado Senate Republicans think it’s a good idea to attack Jeffco voters?

November 4th, 2015

Control of the Colorado Senate swings in the balance next year, with the Democrats hoping to pick up one itsy bitsy state Senate seat and the Republicans clinging to a majority of one itsy bitsy Senate seat. And that seat is most likely in Jefferson County.

With this in mind, after last night’s uprising against conservatives in said Jefferson Country, you’d think the Republicans’ official Senate Facebook page would speak in a humble tone, with an eye on the not-so-far-away-longer-term.

Instead, the Colorado Senate GOP lashed out at the Jeffco electorate, which, did I mention, will be voting again in just 12 months (or, about 364 days).

Here’s what the Colorado Senate GOP Facebook page had to say, in a statement that deserved wide coverage:

Parents not willing to support school reform get what they vote for — reform-resistant status quo schools run according to union shop rules. If that’s good enough for their kids, so be it. It’s the students, not the parents, who will live with the consequences.

Do Colorado Senate Republicans hope to hold their Jeffco swing districts with this attack line? Do they think attacking the Jeffco parents is a winning strategy for 2016?  It’s a legitimate question for reporters to put to Senate Republicans, given what they said this morning on Facebook.

If my anonymous conservative critics “have something to say, just say it,” says conservative operative

October 30th, 2015

Advancing Colorado’s Jonathan Lockwood has this to say to conservatives who trashed him anonymously in a Oct. 26 Colorado Indpendent article:  “If you have something to say, just say it.”

The Independent’s Kyle Harris reported that “few conservatives are willing to go on record about Lockwood — he’s either too powerful, or too irrelevant, or too volatile, depending on who’s talking.” Some conservatives, Harris wrote, see Lockwood “as a ‘sideshow,’ drawing attention to himself rather than the issues he’s hired to spin.”

In response, on Facebook, Lockwood wrote:

Apparently there are conservatives who are more like burglers, wearing ski-masks hiding their identity, and won’t come out and say what they want to say on the record. If you have something to say, just say it.

These political burglers who squander their donors’ money on buyig urls and losing campaigns, apparently share their opinion of me with people like Laura Chapin and Alan Franklin, people who want to see the free market burn and the Constitution trashed, which should be telling. Every single effort I’ve worked on, won.

These people want to impose their version of ‘what people are supposed to say,’ don’t follow their own rules and I think what I have learned is that if you are making a difference and making an impact and changing lives for the better, fighting for freedom, free markets and a freer society, people will trash you, make fun of you for everything from your appearance to your history and background, and make campaign jobs ending and new opportunities presenting themselves, rapidly working from a press secretary to an executive diretor, a ‘bad thing.’

“No one can figure out who those anonymous people would be,” Lookwood told me, adding that he’s gotten an “overwhelmingly encouraging response” to his Facebook post. “Nobody really believes that conservatives would say those things.”

“What I’ve been able to do is bring together people from all over the political spectrum,” he said. And that includes Republicans of all stripes, he said.

The original post did not contain Lockwood’s response.

GOP chair hinted that he’d assign lousy green rooms to his least favorite candidates

October 29th, 2015

Prior to last night’s Republican debate, Politico reported that some of the candidates were less than thrilled with their “green-room” assignments. These are rooms where the presidential aspirants waited prior to and after their appearances on the debate stage in Boulder.

New Jersey Govenor Chris Christie’s space was “dominated by a toilet,” while Trump’s room had “plush chairs and a flat-screen TV,” according to Politico.

The unequal room assignments could possibly have been the intentional work of Colorado State Republican Chair Steve House.

On the Colorado GOP Watch Facebook page yesterday, anti-House activist Marilyn Marks posted audio of House hinting that he’d assign shoddy green rooms to candidates he doesn’t like and vice versa:

On May 19, House said the following at a Lakewood, CO, Tea Party meeting (audio here).

House: “I cannot support a candidate before general election. There are certain presidential candidate that I like and those I don’t like. ….
I have a debate in October at CU. I will be dealing with green rooms for 20 or 30 candidates, and some I am going to like, who want red M&M’s, and some I’m gonna say ‘are fools and shouldn’t be there,’ and some will get assigned to showers in the locker room and others to restrooms, because that is just the way the lottery of it. But I can’t FORMALLY pick a candidate in the process until there is general election.”

House has actually dissed Trump in the past, so his giving Trump plush chairs doesn’t quite square with what we know of House’s candidate preferences. But, on her Facebook page, Marks speculates that House may have been trying to “make amends” for his prior public statement about Trump.

In any case, here’s what Politico reported:

During a tense 30-minute meeting at the Coors Event Center, which was described by three sources present, several lower-polling campaigns lashed out at the RNC. They accused the committee of allotting them less-than-hospitable greenroom spaces while unfairly giving lavish ones to higher-polling candidates, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

The drama began Tuesday afternoon as RNC officials led campaigns on a walk-through of the debate site. After touring the stage, candidates got a peek at what their green rooms looked like.

Trump was granted a spacious room, complete with plush chairs and a flat-screen TV. Marco Rubio got a theatre-type room, packed with leather seats for him and his team of aides. Carly Fiorina’s room had a Jacuzzi.

Then there was Chris Christie, whose small space was dominated by a toilet. So was Rand Paul’s.



Witt says teachers “bring students” (pawn-like) into Jeffco recall fight

October 29th, 2015

On KNUS 710-AM’s Weekend Wakeup with Chuck Bonniwell and July Hayden Saturday, embattled Jeffco School Board Chair Ken Witt continued his attack on Jeffco teachers and students, saying that students are essentially pawns, “brought into this kind of thing” to advance the agenda of teachers and unions.

Questioned by Hayden, Witt said:

Witt: It’s absolutely the case that passions run high in education. And it’s unfortunate when our educators get involved in the passion, and bring students into it, instead of keeping it outside and the dialogue outside the school grounds… The unfortunate fact is that as these kinds of dialogues happen about education, particularly the union, brings those who are actually delivering the education into the fray, if you will. Unfortunately, there is some spillover into the classrooms. And of course it’s never appropriate for our students to be brought into this kind of a thing.

Bonniwell: Well, the children are pawns…

Witt: Yeah. It is unfortunate.

Listen to Witt here.

The accusation that students and others in Jeffco are pawns of the teachers’ unions, or somehow brought into the debate agains their will, is demonstrably false, as everyone knows after seeing the spontaneous protests against Witt, Williams, and Newkirk’s policies.

Why Witt keeps saying it, particuarly as he’s fighting to save his seat on the Jeffco Board is beyond me, because it damages him. It insults the intelligence of the students and community has no zero chance of helping him stay in office.

Listen to the entire interview here:

Reporter allows Republican to imply that CNBC is responsible for keeping students out of the debate

October 28th, 2015

Republicans continue to blame CNBC outright, or imply that CNBC is responsible for severely limiting the number of seats available for today’s GOP presidential debate, when, in fact, all signs point to the Republicans as the ones who made the decision to fill only about 1,000 of the 11,000-seat arena at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“The way it was explained to us was, the event was meant for a TV audience, not so much live audience,”  the Colorado Republican Committee’s Brian Lynch told Colorado Public Radio’s Rachel Estabrook, for a piece that aired nationally last night.

Explained to us? By whom?

Lynch doesn’t say, and there’s no indication Estabrook asked him.

We know from a university spokesman that CNBC set the number of seats that could be filled for the event, and the Republicans were in charge of distributing tickets.

What we still don’t know is, how many seats Republicans had to give away. CNBC “did not respond to interview requests” from Estabrook.

But logic says, CNBC would subtract the number of seats needed for its equipment and personnel—and let the GOP have the remainder of the tickets. Why not? I mean, Republicans rented the Coors Events Center.

But, in any case, what’s crazy is, journalists are letting Republicans deflect criticism that Republicans should let more students in—without clarifying who’s, in fact, responsible.

If you listen to NPR’s story last night, you’re left thinking CNBC is responsible, especially becuase it’s not commenting.

The question remains, how many tickets did CNBC make available to Republicans for distribution? And why is CNBC mum as Republicans to blame it?

Pregnancy-prevention program reduces teen abortions by 50 percent–and it’s still controversial

October 27th, 2015

Last week, the Colorado Department of Health and Ennvironment (CDPHE) blasted a news release to reporters crediting a pregnancy-prevention program for reducing teen abortion and pregnancy rates by 50 percent in Colorado, an increase of over 10 points from a year ago.

The program provides free or reduced-cost intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) to teenagers and low-income women.

But  as I reported for RH Reality Check today, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt says the program, called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, is “killing children” and health officials are “science deniers.”

“Although CDPHE’s science-deniers try to spin this increase in early-term abortions as a decline in late-term surgical abortions, they are killing children nonetheless, just sooner, and with your money,” Klingenschmitt said in an email, echoing the belief of other Colorado Republicans.

“Setting aside the injustice of making all Colorado taxpayers fund these so-called ‘free’ contraceptives for teens with or without their parents’ authorization, the LARC program is clearly a taxpayer-funded abortifacient, which violates our state Constitution’s prohibition on direct or indirect taxpayer funding of abortions,” wrote Klingenschmitt, pointing to a footnote in an Obama Administration legal brief stating that LARC implants may prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterine wall. “These unethical methods increase abortions substantially, by preventing conceived and living embryo babies (with unique human DNA) from implanting in their mother’s uterus, often without telling the mother she is doing so.”

Reflecting mainstream scientific thinking on the subject, Larry Wolk, Colorado’s chief medical officer, has pointed out that it’s “not medically correct” to say that LARC implants cause abortions.

Under the widely accepted scientific definition, pregnancy occurs after a zygote (fertilized egg) implants in the uterine wall, and because these methods of contraception work prior to implantation, they do not cause abortions….

“This initiative continues to prove its effectiveness,” Wolk said in a news release with the latest statistics about the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, referring to data showing adouble-digit decrease in the teen pregnancy and abortion rate over last year’s composite data. “Thousands of low-income Colorado women now are able to pursue their dreams of higher education and a good career and choose when and whether to start a family.”

Colorado Republican lawmakers, during the 2015 legislative session, blocked funding for CDPHE’s Family Planning Initiative, which was grant-funded from 2009 to June of this year. Wolk subsequently procured more private funding to run a scaled-back program for another year.