CASTLE ROCK – The crusade to elect pro-union candidates and seize control of the Douglas County School Board featured a double-header Friday – a demonstration outside of the administration building followed by a viewing of a controversial documentary, “The Reformers,” at ThunderRidge High School.
“You are invited to see THE REFORMERS at our Gen Membership Meeting, bring colleagues to join DCF at the mtg,” said the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), the AFL-CIO affiliated union seeking to oust the reform-minded board, in a text message.
The school district alienated the Douglas County Federation of Teachers when it refused to use taxpayers’ money to fund the union earlier this year. The union is fighting back – and seems to have a host of allies including the Colorado Community Media and “parent led” Strong Schools Coalition.
The Strong Schools Coalition posts media reports and news briefs under “DCSD in the News” – most are published by Our Colorado News, the website moniker of Colorado Community Media (CCM) which controls more than 20 small newspapers in the metro Denver and the tri-lakes area.
CCM is owned by Macari-Healey Publishing, the two members of the board of directors are listed as Gerard “Jerry” Healey and his wife, Ann Macari Healey, a journalism teacher at Castle View High School.
Of 27 news stories highlighted on the SSC website last month, 20 were published by CCM – the majority slammed the school district. The other articles originated from The Denver Post and EdNews Colorado, described by some as the public relations arm of the state teachers’ union.
SCC claims to have no ties to the union, but there is evidence to the contrary.
According to investigative report by Media Trackers, a Douglas County Federation of Teachers employee was spotted passing out SSC flyers in a school parking lot.
Susan Meek, an unsuccessful pro-union school board candidate in 2011, is vice president of SSC. Her campaign spent $1,186 on ads placed in CCM.
In fact, CCM appears to be a preferred publication and online site for pro-union, liberal and Democrat candidate and left-leaning issue campaigns, according to finance records filed with the Colorado Secretary of State.
Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) paid $3,626 to CCM for campaign ads last year – her Republican challenger Lang Sias didn’t run any ads in the publication.
Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada) spent $1,952 on CCM ads – considerably more than $550 shelled out by her Republican opponent former Rep. Robert Ramirez of Westminster.
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler invested $1,770 in CCM advertising, a pittance compared to $7,372 in ads to elect Democrat candidate Ethan Feldman who lost the race last year. The majority of Feldman’s ad buys was placed by 527 committee Citizens for Honest and Impartial Politics.
CCM has also benefitted from ad sales for issue campaigns. The FASTRACK YES! Campaign spent nearly $8,000 on ads in 2004, and Accountability4Kids, a 527 committee funded by the teachers union, spent roughly $5,500 for advertising in 2009.
Those amounts pale compared CCM’s biggest benefactor – the Douglas County Democratic Party which has paid $33,972 to Macari-Healey Publishing’s CCM over four years, from 2006 – 2010.
“(CCM) is well positioned to capitalize on the hyper interests residents have about the communities in which they live,” said Jerry Healey in his bio.