In this episode of IITV, Independence Institute Research Director Dave Kopel speaks with legendary music critic, journalist, syndicated columnist, and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff. They discuss the current state of civil liberties in America and Nat explains why Obama has been the worst president of all-time when it comes to our individual freedoms.
Welcome to Jon Caldara
Jon Caldara's official blog! Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute, Colorado's free-market think tank in Denver, Colorado. Caldara also hosts a radio talk show every Sunday, from 5 to 8pm on 630 KHOW. His current affairs television program Devils Advocate, on Colorado Public Television Channel 12, airs on Fridays at 8:30 pm repeated the following Monday at 1:30pm. Be sure to follow Jon on Facebook and Twitter!
Like it or not, the Denver Post is the newspaper of record for Colorado. Which in a political season means that to a lot of voters, if it’s not chronicled in the Post, in didn’t happen. That’s a big responsibility for a struggling paper.
And I get that the Post is a shadow of what it once was, for many reasons beyond the control of the good men and women who work there. But damn it, bias in story selection is very much under their control.
They found it newsworthy that Congressman Mike Coffman had a “senior moment” and couldn’t recall the word “contraception” during a debate. Fair enough. Yet when CompleteColorado.com published the video of his opponent, Andrew Romanoff, leading a team of “dreamers” to deface private property with chalk (and then running away in his Prius when they got caught) it’s not newsworthy. Go figure.
Our governor’s memory issue is the latest non-newsworthy event. I guess since the Post months ago reported Hick’s “I never spoke with Michael Bloomberg” (“I did not have sex with that woman”) fib, there is no need to report when Hick doubles down with a brand new whopper.
In a debate over a week ago, Hickenlooper’s challenger asked him why he lied to the sheriffs of Colorado about talking to Bloomberg. Hick then admitted he DID talk to the billionaire who has poured millions into Colorado Leftist causes, BUT it was three weeks after he made the decision to sign the anti-gun bills.
Hick then put out the challenge to verify his three-week claim, “Look at the phone records. It’s all public record.” Well the Post won’t look at the public record. The Guv talked with Bloomberg on March 2 when the gun bills hadn’t even been brought to the senate floor. He signed the bills on March 20. Three weeks after that would be mid-April.
The only way this timeline works is if John Hickenlooper has a time machine. And maybe I’m wrong here, but I think a governor owning a time machine is newsworthy!
Let me put it in Denver Bronco terms: If a referee calls a player for holding, should that ref throw the flag again if he holds again? Not if the referee were the Denver Post. Even if the player insists “go ahead, check the instant replay!” The Post wouldn’t.
We’ve come to expect that politicians behave badly and make things up. But foolishly I still expect the newspaper of record to report when it happens.
So apparently Governor Hickenlooper owns a functioning time machine and the mainstream media is choosing not to report on this miracle of modern science.
Well, either he has a time machine or he is lying about talking to former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. I’ll leave it up to you fine folks to figure out which it is.
In this previous legislative session, Senate Bill 187 was passed to create a health care commission for the purpose of discovering what drives health care expenditures in Colorado. Health Care Policy Center Director Linda Gorman was appointed as the sole health economist. Tune in to discover what the commission’s stated goals are and how Linda expects to contribute.
My 15-year-old Toyota Camry just broke 200,000 miles! You’d think all the mileage, rust, and cracks in the windshield would be a turn-off to the women I try to date. Well, I can say the ladies love my car as much as they did when I first bought it. Sadly.
Oh, and other important stuff that’s going on:
The single most important task of an elected school board is negotiating the collective bargaining agreements with employee unions. Not only do the agreements cover about 85% of a district’s budget, they also determine how our children will be taught, how our teachers will be treated, and how taxpayers’ money will be spent. Unfortunately, school boards across the state hold this key process in closed-door back rooms, even though sunshine is crucial for democracy to work.
Our Proposition 104 on this fall’s ballot changes that. It does just one tiny, little thing. It says that school board work must be done in public, like other government work under the state’s open meetings law.
Who in the world could be against opening the doors to the smoky back room? Well, you know, those who are in that room – unions and school districts.
The teachers union challenged our ballot initiative as it was going through the process (all the way to the Supreme Court) and lost. But not to worry, they haven’t given up. They fear sunshine that much. Their likely next step is to take legal action to try to pull Prop 104 off the ballot. Their lawyer, skilled at costly nuisance lawsuits, will soon challenge the validity of the signatures we got to get Prop 104 on the ballot.
In the end they’ll lose that challenge, and they know it. But it will cost us large amounts of legal fees, time and energy. It’s a brilliant tactic, you’ve got to admit.
We are readying for the legal fight, but I need your help. Could you invest in our work to get sunshine on school boards and fight off the legal attacks by giving us $100 today?
We also go on the legal offense here at Independence. Partnering with our friends at the Center for Competitive Politics, we have just filed two lawsuits asserting that state and federal campaign finance disclosure laws are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. To learn more, go here.
We are asking the courts for permission to run two ads – one asking Democratic Colorado U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet to support a federal sentencing reform bill, and one asking citizens to urge Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to initiate an audit of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. Yes, we live in an age where we need to go to court to enjoy our First Amendment rights.
Our latest IITV episode:
Education Policy Center director Pam Benigno talks with Ben DeGrow about good news for educational freedom. The New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling limiting families’ choices by saying they could only use tax credit scholarships to help pay for a certain kind of private school. Another favorable judicial ruling in one of the 14 states with scholarship tax credit programs gives momentum to support for a similar program that could expand choice in Colorado.
In this second edition of Independence Institute Television, I sit down with host Justin Longo to discuss Proposition 104 – the new Independence Institute ballot measure that seeks to make school board meetings transparent and open to the public. Why shouldn’t these meetings, where school boards and unions flesh out their contracts, be open to the public? After all, even the teachers themselves who must live under the rules of the contract can’t see what’s going on behind closed doors.
You may or may not have known that the Independence Institute has had a podcast for years called Independent Voices (iVoices for short). Over the past 6 or so years we have amassed almost 700 podcasts ranging from transportation to education to gun rights to women’s issues. You can visit our iVoices webpage here for a full archive.
However it is now 2014 and if you hadn’t noticed yet, videos on the Internet are kind of a big deal. (Just peruse your Facebook feed for 5 seconds and you’ll come across 10 cat videos and 3 guys hitting themselves in the junk with a Wiffle ball bat).
In order to get with the times, we built a video cast studio in our building and will start doing video casts rather than podcasts – meaning you’ll be forced to both hear AND see us. That’s great news when one of our ladies is in the studio. That’s bad news when it’s yours truly in high definition.
We figured we’d announce the launching of IITV with none other than our leading constitutional scholar Rob Natelson. In this first edition of IITV, Rob introduces himself, his work, and discusses his approach to researching the Founding era.
Please check back to our YouTube channel to catch the latest from the Independence Institute… in full high definition video!
Open school board meetings are one step closer to being the law.
Yesterday I was informed by the Colorado Secretary of State that we submitted more than 110% of the valid signatures required to place our question on this fall’s ballot.
Colorado voters will get the chance to do what the State Legislature failed to do: throw sunshine on the most important work of a school board, negotiating its contract with the teachers union. Over 80% of a district’s budget is spent on this agreement, yet parents and teachers are usually shut out of these smoky back-room meetings. How our children will be taught, how they interact with the people with whom we entrust them, and how those people will be treated and paid should NOT be decided in darkness.
We will now have a chance to change that.
I can’t wait to hear the reasons those in the smoky back room will give us to vote against sunshine. How are unions going to say, “We don’t want our members to see how we are really representing them”? How will school boards say, “We don’t want parents and taxpayers to see what we really value”? How will school staff say that a little sunshine will destroy negotiations?
This proposed law would not change the ability for a district and a union to agree on any contract terms they like. Just like the state legislature arguing over the budget, they will just have to do it in public. Stay tuned.
Need a little video entertainment?
KUSA news anchor Kyle Clark joined me for a taping of Devil’s Advocate to talk news coverage. Watch it here.
Can a little person make a big case for Freedom? Justin Longo and I chat about Boulder County shutting down a carnival sideshow because it felt “icky” on this videocast of IITV.
Mark your calendar
What other think tank does firearm trainings? Learn about “The Practical Approach to Colorado Laws on Concealed Carry and the use of Deadly Force” with Dave Byassee on the evening of Wednesday, August 20. To learn more, visit our events page here.
For a list of several other gun safety classes being held at the Independence Institute offices, visit the Shooting With a Purpose page here.
And our friends at American Majority are putting on an incredible event starring Carly Fiorina (former Hewlett-Packard CEO and former U.S. Senate candidate) and radio host Hugh Hewitt on unlocking your political strength. And get this: it’s free! Saturday, August 23, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Check it out now at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/unlocking-potential-all-star-workshop-with-carly-fiorina-and-hugh-hewitt-tickets-12476117403
Last Friday, the Independence Institute took another step towards forcing more transparency in government–school districts in particular.
We delivered over 127,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office to place a citizens’ initiative on this fall’s ballot. If passed, it would require that, when school districts negotiate a teachers union contract, it be open to the public. Pretty radical, huh?!
Here’s the exact wording you’ll see on your ballot in November: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring any meeting of a board of education, or any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees, at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public?”
Imagine that. Government doing the work of the people, well, in front of the people, and not in smoke-filled back rooms. Isn’t it insane that we have to go through all the trouble and expense of a citizens’ initiative to pry open the locked doors of government?
In the last several years, Republicans in the state legislature introduced bills three times to have Colorado join the 11 other states with such a policy. And three times it was shot down by the special interests who want to continue meeting in the dark: teachers unions and school districts.
Well, since the legislature won’t get the job done, we will! It’s what we do around here.
Financially speaking, the most important function of a school board is negotiating their teachers’ contracts. It can be 80% of the district’s budget. Imagine the state legislature negotiating how to spend 80% of the state budget in a back-room meeting? No one would stand for it. And we won’t stand for it in our school districts, either.
We all have a stake in these talks, and we all should be able to keep an eye on the negotiating table. Teachers can finally observe how both sides represent pay and working conditions. They can finally see if their union and the district really have their interests at heart. Parents could see how policies affecting their children’s teachers and classroom policies are discussed and decided. It’s their children, after all.
Back in June, the Colorado Springs Gazette wrote an editorial endorsing our ballot initiative. You can read their endorsement here.
We’ll find out within 30 days if we’ve made the ballot. You can bet those who love back-room deal-making will hope we fall short of the 87,000 valid signatures needed. We won’t.