Archive for the 'Associated Press' Category

Reporters should not spread Gessler’s misinformation that 2013 election law set deadline in recall elections

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Correction: This post was corrected to state that the CO Constitution gives recall candidates until 15 days before an election to qualify for the ballot.


What led to the latest court ruling in two recall elections in southern Colorado is an apparent conflict between Colorado’s Constitution, which gives recall candidates until 15 days before the election to qualify for the election ballot, and Colorado law, which gives them 10 days after the election date is set.

But it wasn’t Colorado’s new election modernization law (HB13-1303) that set the 10-day deadline.

It was actually a 2012 law, sponsored by Republican Keith King and Democrat Nancy Todd. It set the 10-day window. Here’s the relevant portion of HB12-1293 that’s now on the books:

1-12-117. Nomination of successor. (1) FOR PARTISAN ELECTIONS, a candidate to succeed the officer sought to be recalled shall meet the qualifications of a party candidate or an unaffiliated candidate as provided in part 8 of article 4 of this title and shall be nominated by a political party petition or an unaffiliated petition as provided in part 9 of article 4 of this title. Nomination petitions MAY BE CIRCULATED BEGINNING THE FIRST DATE ON WHICH A PROTEST MAY BE FILED and affidavits of intent to run as a write-in candidate shall be filed no later than fifteen TEN CALENDAR days after the date on which the appropriate governing body convenes and DESIGNATED ELECTION OFFICIAL sets the election date AS PROVIDED IN SECTION1-12-111. 

The Denver Post got it wrong in a Spot blog post yesterday, reporting that the new election law set the 10-day limit, and the Associated Press made the same implication in a story yesterday.

If it weren’t for the 2013 election law, county clerks would have been able to choose not to run an all-mail-in-ballot recall election, because the law mandates all-mail voting. But they still would have had to rely on the 10-day deadline for permanent vote-by-mail voters and for absentee and overseas ballots, including ballots for military personnel. So the statutory conflict with the state constitution would have come up anyway.

In fact the problem would have arose had a recall election occurred anytime since Colorado started using mail ballots in the 1990’s as ColoradoPols has pointed out yesterday, citing former GOP Secretary of State Donetta Davidson.

I can’t blame reporters for being confused, however, when you have the state’s top election official, Scott Gessler, spreading false information about this topic and promoting himself in the process.

On KOA’s Mike Rosen show Aug. 13, Secretary of State Scott Gessler held up himself as  white knight who tried to fix the 10-day-deadline problem in the election modernization bill, even though the new law isn’t the cause of the problem. Listen to Gessler here @4 minutes into the recording.

Rosen: “A judge ruled that a provision of the state Constitution, that apparently only applies to a recall election, says that you only have 15 days prior to the election to turn in enough signatures to get your candidate’s name on the ballot. And the lawsuit brought by the Libertarians says instead they were given only 10 days after the Governor set the election date…It’s a little confusing, since the Constitution conflicts with election-reform legislation passed in the last session. Now it all lands back in Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s lap… I gave a brief summary. Put some more details on it. ”

Gessler: “Well, your summary is pretty accurate. We had tried to harmonize the statute and the Constitution. Ironically, I was very much opposed to the legislation that went through last year but found myself in the position where I had to defend it….”

Rosen: “How about the conflict between what the state Constitution says, that apparently applies only to recall elections, and what was in the new legislation passed this year?”

Gessler: “Well, the judge held that it was a conflict. We had tried to harmonize it, but it is what it is. So our approach is, you know, we’ve got to make this work.

Rosen should have Gessler back on his show to explain that the 2013 election-mondernization law did not lead to the latest court ruling in the recall elections, and media outlets who published misleading articles should clarify.

9News won’t refer to an individual as an “illegal immigrant”

Monday, April 15th, 2013

During the debut Sunday of its occasional political discussion program, Balance of Power, 9News announced that after  the April 2 decision by the Associated Press to stop using the term “illegal immigrant,” 9News reviewed its use of the term and decided not to use it to describe an individual.

“When referring to individuals, we’ll refer to them as people in this country illegally, or simply, people here illegally,” 9News anchor Kyle Clark announced in a Sunday newscast.

The Denver Post is also reviewing whether to change its style guideline for “illegal immigrant,” in the wake of the AP decision.

9News explained.

The Associated Press recently announced it would confine the use of the word illegal to actions, rather than individuals. 9NEWS decided the AP’s guidelines make sense. Our goal to use language accurately, precisely and fairly.

We’ll continue to use the term illegal immigration to describe the larger issue. When referring to individuals, we’ll refer to them as people in this country illegally, or simply, people here illegally.

We’ll take care to note, when speaking about specific individuals, whether their legal status has been adjudicated by the government. That mirrors our policy of specifying whether someone accused of breaking any criminal or civil law has been found guilty or is simply accused.

“It’s more accurate,” 9News concluded. “And that’s our goal.”

9News did the right thing by putting manipulative banner in context

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

You’re feeling pretty good right now if you were one of the gun-rights activists who paid for the biplane that flew over the Colorado Capitol Monday carrying a banner: “Hick: Do Not Take our Guns.”

Local reporters ate up the banner, and a Google search turns up about 2,000 hits.

One problem: The banner is totally misleading, in the context of what is actually happening below the plane on the ground at the Capitol.

If you own a gun, you won’t lose it under the proposed legislation. And if you’re a law-abiding citizen, the bills won’t affect your ability to buy a gun.

As such, you’d think reporters who cited the banner would have pointed out, hey, its message doesn’t connect with reality in Colorado.

But just one story bothered to say that the banner was a sky-high form of manipulation.

As far as I can tell, only 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman did the right thing and put the banner in context:

A constant drone of honking car horns could be heard from inside the governor’s office, part of a demonstration against the gun control measures. A hired airplane flew over the Capital for hours towing a banner that read, “HICK: DO NOT TAKE OUR GUNS.”

“There’s a plane flying around that’s saying, ‘Hick, don’t take our guns.’ Well, here’s the answer: we’re not taking any guns,” said the governor.

While nobody would have to give up a gun they currently own under the proposals, the protestors still see them as overly restrictive of the second amendment. [bigmedia emphasis]

Other reporters let the banner speak for itself.

Associated Press reporters Ivan Moreno and Kristen Wyatt’s piece, which was picked up widely, including by the Washington Post, described some of the gun bills under consideration, but didn’t refute the implication of the banner:

A biplane flying above the Capitol Monday warned the governor, “HICK: DO NOT TAKE OUR GUNS!” Hickenlooper backs expanded background checks and has said he’s considering a bill to limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. He hasn’t indicated where he stands on other measures, including whether he supports a proposal that would hold sellers and owners of assault weapons liable for shootings by such firearms.

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee reported:

The biplane flying over the Capitol carried a not-so-subtle message to the Democratic governor: “Hick, don’t take our guns.”

(To be fair, Post coverage described the gun bills in separate articles, but still.)

Television stories by Fox 31’s Kim Posey and 7News Anica Padilla reported the banner and provided no context.

If you’ve made it to this point in this blog post, you might be thinking that this isn’t such a big deal. A manipulative banner. What else is new?

But the response by reporters to the banner is emblematic of how gun-rights activists have managed to push their accusation of a gun-grab into the debate at the Capitol without being called out on it.

The don’t-take-my-gun banner isn’t an outright lie that can be corrected, but reporters should try harder to defend readers from the you’re-going-to-lose-your-gun spin that’s being pushed at the Capitol.

Politico incorrectly reports that Coffman now backs “pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children”

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

On Feb. 10, at a public forum in Aurora, Rep. Mike Coffman told the crowd (See video here.):

“I haven’t resolved the question about a pathway to citizenship for (adults) who’ve overstayed their visa or crossed the border illegally,” Coffman said.

Coffman also said that 1) he supports granting undocumented children, brought to America by their parents, a pathway to citizenship (through military service) and also that 2) he supports granting “legal status” (not necessarily citizenship) to undocumented adults.

Since then, a number of news outlets reported Coffman’s new positions on immigration, and they speculated that he’s modifying his views because he’s now vulnerable (or desperate) in his new district with a large Hispanic population.

But some journalists and bloggers are creating the false impression, or actually misreporting, that Coffman supports a path to citizenship for undocumented adults, when as far as I know, he does not.

Yesterday, for example Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reported, in an article with the misleading headline of “Mike Coffman Does a 180 on Immigration:

“[Coffman] came out in favor of establishing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children.”

I’ve requested a correction from Isenstadt, but he didn’t immediately respond.

In a blog post last week, I spotlighted a misleading headline atop a blog post by Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard. It read, “Four Reasons why Rep. Mike Coffman, (R-Aurora), Saw the Light on the Dream Act.”

In fact, Coffman supports one of the DREAM Act’s two paths to citizenship (military enrollment) not the other path (high school or college graduation). So, he hasn’t seen much light on the DREAM Act. As of today, he’d vote against it, as he did in 2010.

I have to say that in a previous blog post, I also overstated Coffman’s new position on the Dream Act, and I tweeted that he flipped when he hadn’t. Long ago, I guess, I convinced my own self that he was sure to flip at some point, and when it looked like he did a 180, I rushed to my keyboard. But actually, he just modified his position, as explained above.

I corrected my blog post. I hope the bigger, badder journalists out there correct their stories or stop misleading us about, as AP put it, Coffman’s “change of heart” on immigration.

Reporters covering the ASSET bill introduction at the State Capitol

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

I’m launching a project this year called “Still Standing: Journalists at Work.”

I’ll be tweeting and blogging photos of CO journos on the job.

To  start, some photos of reporters covering the ASSET news conference today at the State Capitol.

From left, AP's Ivan Moreno and The Denver Post's Tim Hoover cover the introduction of the ASSET bill

AP’s Ivan Moreno (left, front) and The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover (center, front) and other reporters cover the introduction of the ASSET bill

Fox 31's Eli Stokols conducts an interview after ASSET news conference.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols conducts an interview after ASSET news conference.

Reporters should question Coffman on abortion for rape and incest like they did Ken Buck

Friday, October 26th, 2012

In a good story today, Associated Press reporter Ivan Moreno, discusses how the personhood amendment isn’t on the Colorado ballot but it’s nonetheless a big part of this year’s election debate. The Associated Press reported:

An anti-abortion proposal to ban the procedure in all circumstances isn’t on Colorado ballots this year — but the divisive measure is still playing a big role in the state’s political campaigns.

The article goes on to report the details, which I’ll get into below, but readers would have benefited from some background on how GOP candidates in Colorado talked about their ties to personhood in 2010. And compared that to what’s happening today.

Two years ago, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck decided to un-endorse personhood, but stuck to his position opposing abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. Other top-line personhood supporters in 2010, like Rep. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, did not back off their positions.

This time, as AP reports, GOP congressional candidate Joe Coors has apparently un-endorsed personhood, and he’s definitely flipped on his position opposing abortion in the case of rape and incest.

But Mike Coffman is following Ken Buck’s path on personhood, distancing himself from the measure itself, but standing firm with key elements of personhood, including opposition to embryonic stem cell research and abortion for rape and incest.

He told The Denver Post in August, with no elaboration, that he’s against all abortion, except to save the mother’s life.

Today’s AP article points out that Coffman is trying to skirt personhood-related questions by saying he’s not focused on abortion rights.

That’s exactly what Buck tried to do, but reporters and other media types, like KHOW’s Craig Silverman, rightfully wouldn’t let him get away with continuing the dodge. They pressed Buck on the issue, forcing him to explain his thinking fully and openly.

And they were right to do so, as women’s issues are of obvious importance to voters.

Recall this exchange with Buck on KHOW’s defunct Caplis and Silverman radio show:

Craig: Let’s say, god forbid, that a 13-year-old boy impregnates his 14-year-old sister and does it by forced rape. You’re saying that the 14-year-old and anybody involved in the abortion should be prosecuted, if they choose to terminate the pregnancy, either through surgical abortion or a morning after pill?

Buck: I think it is wrong, Craig. I think it is morally wrong. And you are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one but an extremely rare occurrence.

Craig: Incest happens. I’m sure your office prosecutes it. And we know rape and sexual assault happen all the time, and your office prosecutes it. So it’s not completely rare. I agree that most abortions have nothing to do with that. I don’t know if I’d go with rare.

And during a televised debate on CBS4, Gloria Neal asked Buck, “Will you really make a raped woman carry a child to full term?”

Buck said that “we need to stay focused on the issues that voters in this state care about, and those are spending and jobs.”

Neal responded:

“Social issues are important to the voters in this state. I am one of them. So I need you to answer that question, because in addition to votes and jobs and all of that abortion is very important, and when you start talking about rape and incest, that is important to the voters. So, please, answer that question.”

Buck then said:

“I am pro-life, and I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape and incest.”

This is the kind of questioning we need from reporters when Mike Coffman tries to dodge questions about personhood/rape because these issues allegedly aren’t his current focus, though obviously they have been in the past.

A list of the best political journalism in Colorado so far this election cycle

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Compared to the 2010 election in Colorado, this one has been mostly a snoozer, journalistically.

But the 2010 election wasn’t really an election. It was a dramatic comedy show, with so many stories to tell and scandals to uncover that journalists almost couldn’t help but be stars.

Still, reporters have turned out some excellent work this time around, and I’ve listed my favorite reporting below. I’m hoping to see more great work in the next few weeks, but this list is inspiring.

9News Kyle Clark: “Coffman won’t explain Obama ‘not an American’ comments” Rather than let Coffman hide, Clark went out and found him.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols:FOX31 Denver goes one-on-one with Paul Ryan” Stokols shows how an informed journalist can challenge a candidate’s spin.

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and Tim Hoover: “Anarchy, chaos behind Colorado civil unions bill may have long-lasting effects” They dug deep to show, among other things, how the upcoming election influenced the legislative debate on civil unions.

The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover: “Noncitizen ID’d fraction of those first alleged by Gessler” No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, to understand Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s behavior and priorities, you have to understand the blizzard of numbers Gessler tosses around. Hoover did a great job clarifying Gessler’s figures in this piece.

Associated Press’ Ivan Moreno: “Voter Purges Turn Up Little Evidence Of Fraud Despite Republican Insistence” Like Hoover, Moreno gets to the heart of the voter “fraud” issue by looking at the details.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols: “Colo. girl registering ‘only Romney’ voters tied to firm dumped by RNC over fraud” Stokols quickly connected the dots from Colorado to a scandal that was developing nationally.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd: “Romney Loses Cool When Questioned About Marijuana, Gay Marriage” Boyd keeps her cool and sticks to her questions even as Romney flips out.

KBNO radio host Fernando Sergio’s interview with President Obama, which makes the list because Sergio almost certainly got the first interview with a sitting president on Spanish language radio in Colorado.

Colorado Statesman’s Judy Hope Strogoff: “Perry campaigns with friends in Colorado” I love this scoop, with the photos. An illuminating and fun piece.

The Denver Post’s John Ingold: “GOP’s VP candidate, Paul Ryan, emphasizes contrast with Obama’s vision” I like how Ingold gets at the candidates’ underlying view of government, as he reports on a campaign stop.

Local TV news fact checkers Shaun Boyd (CBS4), Matt Flener (9News), Brandon Rittiman (9News), and (sometimes) Marshall Zellinger (7News). I don’t always agree with them, but what they do is really important, especially on local TV.

You can’t blame media reports for confusion over Ramirez’s stance on Asset bill

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Sometimes one media outlet says one thing, another says something else, and you’re left saying, WTF.

That’s what happened last week when we heard different news about whether Rep. Robert Ramirez would back legislation this year reducing college tuition for some children of illegal immigrants. The bill is often referred to as a Colorado version of the Dream Act.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Ramirez might support the bill, as long as no tax money goes to students.  Ramirez was working with Democrats and  even writing amendments to try to pass the bill, according to the AP.

Then, on Thursday, three days later, Channel 8 in Grand Junction, delivered a different picture of Ramirez’s thinking. The “actual bill” would “give the right of a citizen to a noncitizen,” Ramirez was quoted as saying, and he opposes this.

Channel 8 mentioned nothing about Ramirez working on amendments, and the piece left you with the impression that Ramirez would definitely vote against the legislation, as he did last year.

He told Channel 8: “I have not seen the new bill, I just have heard what the changes are but they’re so minimal that I don’t think they’ll make a difference.”

So I called Ramirez to find out if he’d soured on the bill during the week, of if the media got something wrong.

He told me both AP and Channel 8 were accurate. How could that possibly be?

Ramirez says the phrase “in-state tuition” means, by definition, that government funds are included. So that’s why he told reporters only citizens should receive in-state tuition.

Ramirez favors tuition breaks for illegal-immigrant students, he told me, but he doesn’t want to call it “in-state tuition.”

“Charge them the actual expense,” he told me. “You don’t have to charge them the exorbitant out of state expense.”

But no matter how you define “in-state tuition,” illegal-immigrant students won’t get any tax money as part of their tuition reduction, under SB-15, which is this year’s version of the “Colorado Asset” bill. “Previous concepts” of this legislation did not remove all tax dollars from the tuition rate that would be offered to illegal immigrants, according a website promoting the bill. This year’s bill does this.

But Ramirez told me that his decision on whether to support Colorado Asset does not hinge solely on the issue of tax dollars. He said there are “other things,” but he didn’t specify what they are. He says he has not seen the bill yet.

Ramirez’s position on the Colorado Asset bill is under scrutiny not only because he could cast a critical vote on the State House education committee, as he did last year, but also because he’s Latino.

Ramirez says his Latino heritage is irrelevant to how he’ll vote on the legislation. He told me he’s American and doesn’t want to “re-segregate” as a Hispanic.

He drives the point home by joking that he didn’t know he was “Latino” until he “started running for office.”

“Prior to that, I was just Bobby Ramirez,” he said on Art Carlson’s online radio program last May 14.

“All of a sudden, it’s a big deal that I’m Hispanic,” he told me. “But I consider myself an American.”

Perhaps it’s this perception of himself that makes him unconcerned about some racial slurs toward Hispanics.

Asked about a story he told on the radio about being called a “wetback” when he was a child, he said:

“I don’t care if someone calls me [a wetback].  I don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s a slur. But I’m not offended by it. It doesn’t bother me. To me that shows your ignorance.”

Ramirez says he’s “very proud to be Hispanic,” as he told the AP in the article Monday.

Not that he thinks Hispanic culture is perfect. He told Carlson in May that some in Mexico are the “nicest people in the world.” But he also said:

“But god forbid [when you are in Mexico] you talk to somebody from Puerto Rico, because they are just horrible people, and they [Mexicans] won’t have anything to do with them. So they are the most divisive group of people. We still fight each other. It’s amazing.”

“Depending on how much money you make, and what part of Mexico you are from, and your bloodline, [Mexicans] are vile to each other,” he said.

Ramirez, whose father is a Mexican immigrant, told Carlson that illegal immigrants are lazy.

“I don’t blame them for trying to come here,” he said. “What I do blame them for is when they get here, they’ve gotten here illegally and expect everything for free. They don’t want to work for it.”

Still, Ramirez understands why companies want to hire Mexicans at a lower wage, and he wants to help them employ Mexicans to work legally in the U.S. by setting up an employment office in Mexico. Responding to a caller on Carlson’s, Ramirez said:

“Or let’s just open up an employment office on the other side of the border. You know? For any of these companies that want to hire people at the lower wage, they go through this employment company who makes sure all the paperwork is processed correctly in the United States, before somebody comes in here. There’s a lot of things we can do that will make enough little changes than can fix our problems. It’s just that nobody is willing to step up and say it or do it.”

Carlson, a conservative, didn’t respond to Ramirez with the how-dare-you-propose-draining-American-jobs line that you might expect from a conservative. Maybe that’s because Ramirez told Carlson stuff like, “Our laws and lawmakers, and the people of this country, are trying to make it easy for everyone in this country but Americans.”

Still, if I were Carlson, I’d want to know how that sentiment squares with what Ramirez told the New York Times back in October:

“We can’t pretend the Latino vote doesn’t exist. It’s time we became the party of inclusion.”

Asked about this, Ramirez said, “I think some kind of compromise  [on Colorado’s Asset legislation] is part of making the GOP the party of inclusion.”

Reporters should ask Palin and Boykin during their visit to Colorado today: Can a good Muslim be a good American?

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

A wire service article in the print edition of today’s Denver Post informs us that Sarah Palin, in a speech yesterday, slammed the endangered-species act and called for more domestic oil drilling, but there was nothing more about her appearance tonight with Gen. William Boykin (U.S. Army, ret.).

An Associated Press story on The Post’s website, however, lets us know that, while in the Army, Boykin “disparaged” Islam but apologized later. The AP story was picked up by a handful of Colorado media outlets. AP reported:

Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin said that America’s enemy was Satan and that one Muslim Somali warlord was an idol-worshipper. Boykin later apologized and said he did not mean to insult Islam. He retired in 2007.

It’s good to see that a drip of Boykin’s attacks on Islam have entered the vein of the Denver media, on the day Palin is scheduled to speak here. But there’s a river of hatred waiting to be aired, including Boykin’s condemnation of Islam and those who practice it. He writes that segments of Islam should not receive 1st Amendment protections like other religions, but his narrow and sweeping condemnations of the Koran and Islamic beliefs make his distinctions between one form of Islam and another meaningless.

At Palin’s event tonight, neither Palin nor Boykin is going to discuss Islam, according to the event’s organizer John Andrews. Reporters need to find the courage to ask Boykin and Palin about their views toward Islam anyway. 

Boykin’s disparagement of Islam is not ancient history, and he’s not apologizing for it now.

And Boykin will be sharing a stage with a former vice presidential candidate who could possibly be the next president of the United States. The fact that these two people are standing together is significant to everyone who cares about tolerance in America.

She and Boykin should be asked the question that the organizer of tonight’s event posed but refused to answer, “Can a good Muslim be a good American?”

If you study Boykin, you’d think he’d answer that question with a no.

And Palin? Well, she’s ok with sharing a podium with Boykin. So it’s reasonable to ask what she thinks.

In fact, journalists wouldn’t be doing their job if they don’t question Palin about Islam. As for Boykin, I’m not saying journalists should condemn him. I can do that. Just tell us what he’s stood for in the past and what he thinks about Islam today. And note that Palin agreed to appear with him at the same event.

Independence Institute spokesman says Associated Press got only a part of his point

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

If you were falling asleep while reading an Associated Press article Sunday about Colorado’s unions, this paragraph should have startled you into full consciousness:

“Ben DeGrow, an education analyst who studies teachers’ unions for the right-leaning Independence Institute in Golden, insists there is no organized movement to cripple unions in Colorado.”

Now hold on a minute, you’re thinking, DeGrow’s own organization has been leading an organized effort to cripple unions for years, especially by trying to cripple unions by stopping them from being able to automatically collect dues directly from state payrolls. (Recall Amendment 49 and similar potentially crippling efforts.)

Asked about this via email, DeGrow wrote:

“I don’t recall the AP reporter or anyone asking me about the existence of …an organized movement to cripple unions in Colorado.’ I told her that unions in general, and public employee unions in particular, are neither as strong nor as pervasive here in Colorado as they are in Wisconsin, and that for various reasons we’re not going to see the same kind of law as SB 11 proposed in Wisconsin (a bill that impacts a large share of public employee unions, and has nothing to do with private employee unions).”

I asked DeGrow if the AP misquoted him. He wrote:

“I’m not sure if it can be considered a misquote since there are no quotation marks, but as written it certainly misses the point of our discussion as I see it. The reporter and I primarily discussed public employee unions, a distinction I was careful to make, one that I elaborated on in a blog post last week for Ed News Colorado.

DeGrow told me that another sentence in the AP story, which was widely distributed, “captured a part” of his point. That sentence was:

“DeGrow pointed out that Colorado employees already contribute to their pension funds, a major area of contention in Wisconsin, and that Colorado’s 42 teachers’ unions bargain locally, not on a state level.”

As to whether the Independence Institute is an organized movement, trying to cripple unions, DeGrow wrote me:

“First, I don’t know who would consider the Independence Institute …an organized movement.’ Second, the I.I. has researched, written and advocated for greater accountability from public employee unions. Third, the I.I. always has upheld employees’ rights of free association and free speech, by attempting to protect people from having their money taken involuntarily and then used to support causes which they do not personally support. What would the implications be of equating that view with …crippling unions’?

Amendment 49 and related initiatives promoted by the I.I. were designed to create a level playing field by preventing any group, including public employee unions, from using government payroll systems as a means of dues collection. Nothing in these proposals would end the ability of a union or any other group to collect dues freely from supporting members.”