It’s clear which school candidates 
have received most local support

Much will be said between now and Nov. 5 about the $5,000 contributions from Front Range billionaire Edward McVaney, one of the “reformers” in Douglas County, to the campaigns of local school board candidates Mike Lowenstein, John Sluder and Pat Kanda.

But here’s a point that hasn’t been emphasized as warring sides trade barbs about outside contributions, including $2,500 from the political arm of the Colorado Education Association and $8,431 in cash and services from the Mesa Valley Education Association in support of candidates Greg Mikolai and Tom Parrish. John Williams accepted money from the CEA group, but not the MVEA.

While the CEA-sourced funding is a fair comparison to McVaney’s oversized contributions, money from the MVEA is truly different. It’s not “outside” money. It comes from organized teachers who just happen to be local residents and taxpayers and, in some cases, parents of District 51 students, and well as neighbors and workers contributing to their hometown economy. 

That’s a pretty distinct difference, hardly a fair comparison to $15,000 in total contributions to candidates like Kanda, who says he’s never met the donor who’s given all but $269 of his entire campaign treasury, all but $933 of Sluder’s war chest and all but $1,813 of Lowenstein’s total.

The real story is not the outside money. It’s the depth of local support for individual candidates. It’s here that local conservatives anxious to overturn “the last bastion of liberalism” in local governing boards appear to epitomize the “big hat, no cattle” characterization often used to describe those pretending to be movers and shakers.

From recently-filed financial reports, we find that $8 of every $10 raised by Kanda, Lowenstein and Sluder ($15,000 of $18,015) comes from McVaney. Contrast that with $9 of every $10 contributed to Williams, Parrish and Mikolai coming from locals. Also worth noting is that MIkolai, Parrish and Williams have raised $11,000 more than Sluder, Lowenstein and Kanda, even when McVaney’s big checks are included.

It’s easy to see which candidates have broad local support.

■ ■ ■

Also worth comment are the protestations of Mesa County’s two top law enforcement officials as county commissioners narrow down budget choices in the face of declining revenues.

If hyperbole translates into effective closing arguments, it’s easy to see why District Attorney Pete Hautzinger has a good reputation as a prosecutor. 

Really, Pete? “On the floor and bleeding out” because attorneys who choose public-sector employment aren’t getting paid enough to keep them from migrating to private practice? A fair number local bar association members has made that switch at some time in the past. 

And here’s a suggestion for Sheriff Stan Hilkey. Instead of threats to close one of the most efficient and effective alternatives to expensive jail time, thereby increasing costs, why not ground your two drones, the Falcon and Dragonflyer? From what I read in Sunday’s Denver Post, only one other law enforcement agency in the county is playing around with these things.

While publicity in National Geographic and Time magazine is heady stuff, seems to me this is a better target to help deal with a 1.5 percent cut than the alternative sentencing program.

With their proposed budget hits already less than many county agencies, it certainly must be a morale booster in other Mesa County departments to hear Hilkey and Hautzinger making the case their programs are more important.

I also wonder, with a 5.7 decline forecast in revenue for the next budget year, how far those gratuitous tax cuts the previous board approved would go toward helping Hilkey and Hautzinger.

■ ■ ■

One thing in Gary Harmon’s thorough reporting from the annual oil shale conference at the Colorado School of Mines deserves comment.

Conference organizer and oil shale cheerleader Jerry Boak, reacting to Shell’s decision to shutter its test in Rio Blanco County, noted production of 35,000 barrels of oil from shale in a recent year as proof the industry was beyond “infancy” and instead in “rambunctious adolescence.”

Check your nearest timepiece. An hour from now, if recent averages hold, more oil than that will have been produced from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. At a much lower cost.

Sounds more like an infant than an adolescent.

Jim Spehar’s now emptied his “pending’” file.  Your thoughts are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Any comparison between MVEA money and McVaney’s is a false equivalence.  The MVEA money came from the Association’s small donor committee.  It represents voluntary contributions of $50 or less from more than 100 individual teachers.

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