An October 3 Denver Post editorial headlined "11th Hour Deal Puts Colorado First" praises a coalition of business and labor leaders for reaching a bizarre agreement to pull four initiatives -- Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 -- from the November ballot. But there's no shortage of vitriol directed at Colorado governor Bill Ritter. Moreover, the language used to bash him closely mirrors the verbiage in "A Colorado Promise Broken," a highly unusual November 2007 front-page editorial that de facto Post owner Dean Singleton admitted to co-authoring in a subsequent Message column.
Here's how the November 2007 editorial began:
When Coloradans elected Bill Ritter as governor, they thought they were getting a modern-day version of Roy Romer, a pro-business Democrat. Instead, they got Jimmy Hoffa.
Ritter campaigned under the guise of a moderate "new Democrat," but now we know he’s simply a toady to labor bosses and the old vestiges of his party — a bagman for unions and special interests.
And here's an excerpt from the latest slam job:
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While there's plenty of blame to go round, this whole ordeal can be traced back to Gov. Bill Ritter and his reckless Friday afternoon executive order last fall granting collective bargaining rights to state workers.
With one flick of his pen, Ritter opened Pandora's Box and, try as he might, he has been unable to contain the troubles it released. His actions so angered the business community that the right-to-work initiative quickly found its way onto this year's ballot.
Labor responded by going nuclear, pushing a four-way assault on the Colorado economy onto the ballot.
And in his weakened state, Ritter was powerless to stop it. He couldn't get his labor friends, who came to a knife fight with nuclear warheads, to holster their weapons without a costly payout. A ransom of sorts.
Such thuggish imagery isn't directed at the backers of Amendments 47, 49 and 54, a trio of measures that remain on the ballot. And although part of the new deal calls for business leaders to pony up $3 million to help defeat the initiatives, all three of them are likely to pass, and the Post editorialists don't seem all that upset about it, for at least one obvious reason. While they recommend that voters reject 54 (and they haven't weighed in yet on 47), they've already endorsed 49.
A comment affixed to today's Post editorial is on-point: "Interesting how both papers are applauding removing ALL the pro-labor amendments from the ballots while ALL the pro-business ones remain. So much for the highly vaunted 'liberal media bias.'" Indeed, the November 2007 editorial that Singleton placed on the front page displays enormous animus toward labor, as well as to Ritter for his supposed capitulation to such interests. Post editorial page editor Dan Haley told Westword he agreed with Singleton's sentiments on the topic -- and a lucky thing, too, since he thought Big Dean might have fired him if he'd argued in favor of another viewpoint. When it comes to the latest effort, either Haley or someone else at the Post has got the boss' lingo down pat or Singleton offered a little more editorial assistance. -- Michael Roberts