The effort to recall Denver Public Schools board president Nate Easley has created some odd side dramas. One of them resulted in the outing of Linda Wagner, an Estes Park doggie day care owner and staunch Democrat who blogs on ColoradoPols under the pseudonym "Middle of the Road." Or did, until Guerin Lee Green, the publisher of the Cherry Creek News, publicly unmasked her after she wrote a piece critical of DeFENSE, a group that's trying to oust Easley.
On January 27, Wagner wrote a blog diary on ColoradoPols called, "The Great Attempt to DeFEND the Morally Indefensible." In it, she questioned who was behind the recall and pointed the finger at DeFENSE, a group whose website doesn't overtly name the names of those involved. From Wagner's diary:
So what is the ultimate goal of DeFENSE? To ensure that the current four person majority on the board that includes Nate Easley is permanently broken. There's only one way to make that happen and that is to forcibly remove one of the four.
Then, on February 14, Wagner wrote another ColoradoPols diary describing how, after her first was published online, Green contacted her and asked to interview her about DeFENSE. From Wagner's subsequent diary:
Why does Guerin want to interview me in regards to DeFENSE? Good question. I never did get a good answer. I did ask if I could interview him regarding DeFENSE. He didn't seem open to that idea. He wanted to know what my "agenda" was, who I supported in the Bennet/Romanoff primary and who I had worked for in the past, where my work had been published and what my name was. I've saved his e-mails -- they make for some interesting, albeit bizarre, reading.
The next day, Green published a story online called "The Odd Politics of Recall." He says he "sought an interview" with the blogger called "Middle of the Road," who said she supports Senator (and former DPS superintendent) Michael Bennet, he notes. Green adds that the blogger declined to speak with him. Then he goes on:
The blogger's actual name is Linda Wagner, the owner of Linda's Pet Care in Estes Park. Her identity was confirmed by two Larimer County Democratic party activists. An extensive search for any by-lined news pieces came to naught, though her business website does say she writes an occasional column on pet behavior.
Green questioned Wagner's motive in writing about the Easley recall and DeFENSE.
Why does a small pet business owner from Estes Park care so deeply about the Denver School Board, and its politics? The only rational connection is the hangover that still lingers in Democratic party politics over the Bennet-Romanoff primary. Wagner is a Bennet campaign contributor, and was a vigorous Romanoff detractor in online flame wars. Many (apparently across Colorado) are still superimposing the frame of the Democratic Senate Primary on Denver education politics.
That same day, ColoradoPols shot back. In a piece called, "Guerin Green is a Journalist Like Colorado Pols is an Apple Pie," the powers-that-be at ColoradoPols questioned why Green would go after an anonymous blogger.
What "story" was Green trying to get? The story of the true identity of a poster on a political blog? This wasn't an "investigation." This was and is harassment, and it should be treated as such.
Green doesn't think so. "There was what appeared to be a coordinated attack on a grassroots group called DeFENSE, so I started to dig into where it came from," he explains. He says it didn't take long to figure out who was behind the posts. And her identity, he says, alarmed him.
"Why does somebody in Estes Park care about some loose-knit group of activists in Denver who are fighting for their own interests and their own schools?" he asks.
Green, who says he's attended DeFENSE meetings, says he suspects Wagner's diaries are part of a larger effort to quash opposition to reform efforts within DPS. "If you've got a Sideshow Bob blogger out there," he says, "you're only seeing the tip of the iceberg of a huge coordinated effort to push a policy agenda and cover up fiscal mismanagement."
For her part, Wagner says she wrote the diary because she saw a news story about the Easley recall and was disturbed by the thought that Democrats, such as those associated with DeFENSE, could be working to recall another Democrat. Being outed by Green, she says, made her feel "violated... I feel disgusted and sick to my stomach."
But Wagner says the fact that her identity, which she says she kept anonymous because she doesn't want her politics to interfere with her business, has been revealed isn't going to stop her from blogging. "I'm not so easily intimidated," she says.
More from our Education archive: "Nate Easley recall: DPS board president fights back with fliers, robocalls, political allies."