When Liberty Watch decided to formally oppose the 3A Thompson School District School Tax Increase, one of the first phone calls made was to Jeff Stahla who is the City Editor for the Reporter Herald. Over the last two years Jeff and I have developed a respect for each other and I have always found him to be fair and easy to get along with.
For close to 30 days I have been working with the Reporter Herald to have my guest column opposing 3A published and the only requirement was that the column had to be submitted by an actual organization which Liberty Watch is a 501c4 non-profit and this seemed to be good enough.
Given that Liberty Watch was the only group to step forward and formally oppose 3A and that our mission is advocating for principles of Liberty, monitoring legislation and education regarding government, etc there was no reason to believe there would be an issue with our reqest and Jeff saw no problem at the time either.
On October 14th, I had a phone conversation with Jeff which is when he told me that people from the 3A issue committee and the school district were claiming that Liberty Watch was violating election law by not being an issue committee. I explained that the rules had been changed earlier in the year to a new threshold of raise or spend $5,000 (old level was $200) which we were no where near.
The call ended with Jeff stating that he would again present to the editorial board and to keep in mind that he did not have the final say on whether or not to print the column.
Last night (Oct. 19th) around 6pm I received an email from Jeff notifying me that because we did not file as an issue committe the Reporter Herald will not print my guest column. The rationale provided is that Liberty Watch has a stake in this issue and is no different than the Thompson Education Assoc. (TEA) or the Coloradoa Education Assoc. (CEA).
I strongly disagree!!
The school district, the teachers and most important the union all will benefit financially from an additional $12.8 million EVERY year being taken from citizens and redistributed to teachers, district staff and who knows what else.
The financial report filed by CCLS (3A issue committee) shows that 57% of the transactions come from Thompson District Employees or family members and equal 42% of the dollars contributed. The teachers union transactions represent 5% and contributed 20% of the total dollars raised. The balance came from board of education members (former and current), businesses and individuals.
What is apparent is that CCLS may have filed to be a legitimate issue committee but in no way legitmately represents the citizens of Loveland and the true “stakeholders” of 3A are the Thompson District Staff and teachers union.
Here is the link to the guest column I submitted and I would encourage you all to forward the column to others and also the link to this article since none of this will ever be printed with a drop of ink from the Reporter Herald.
For me it seems like a catch 22 argument as Liberty Watch has followed the rules that the Secretary of State has issued in an effort to make it easier for citizens and/or true grassroots groups to have a voice in the political process.
The Reporter Herald however, has decided that they are the final authority and will overrule the Secretary of State Scott Gessler in his decision to ensure citizens true representation and free speech.