What Protect Colorado's Future wanted Channel 12 viewers to hear during empty chair debates

An image from the Protect Colorado's Future website.

The details behind two empty-chair debates aired by Channel 12 about amendments 47 and 49 are laid out in this More Messages blog -- and as the piece notes, Protect Colorado's Future, an organization that opposes the measures, put together a statement to explain why executive director Jess Knox decided against participating in the programs. However, the document didn't make it on the air.

Why not? Channel 12's Dominic Dezzutti says it arrived after the first of two tapings got underway on September 19 -- and for the second, host Eric Sondermann only delivered the paragraph that specifically explains PCF's reasoning. The statement appears in its entirety below. -- Michael Roberts


Coloradans are facing three ballot measures this November that have the potential to set our state down a dangerous path. Amendments 47, 49 and 54 would hurt our firefighters, police officers, teachers and nurses ability to effectively serve our communities by silencing their voices and making their jobs harder. Now, when we can least afford it, these out-of-state special interests are pushing a reckless political agenda to combat non-existent problems.

We have chosen not to participate in today's debate because we believe that you cannot discuss one amendment without including the others. To do so would shortchange voters by not giving them the opportunity to learn how Amendments 47, 49 and 54 work together to take away the rights of workers, limit their choices and jeopardize their ability to advocate for the tools and resources they need to do their jobs and serve their communities. Amendments 47, 49 and 54 are inextricably linked in their impact on employees and will jointly affect the relationships between employees and their employers.

Take for instance firefighter Joel Heinemann. Joel needed longer-lasting oxygen tanks to have more time inside burning buildings. Joel and his fellow firefighters couldn't afford to just go out and hire a lobbyist on their salary. They pooled resources with other firefighters and they advocated together and got 45-minute capacity tanks. The extra 15 minutes of time help them to save lives.

Without this ability to pool resources, our firefighters, nurses, teachers and police officers will be silenced in speaking up for smaller class sizes, improved equipment, and appropriate staffing levels. But, these out-of-state special interests won't be limited at all. They can afford to spend millions on lobbyists whenever they need a tax break or industry incentive. The only way regular workers can even try to compete against that is by joining forces, and Amendments 47, 49 and 54 take away their ability to do that.

Our firefighters, teachers, nurses and police officers should be able to decide for themselves how they want to spend their hard earned paychecks. These hard working professionals and their families should not be punished for the professions they choose.

You'll hear the backers of Amendments 47, 49 and 54 make all sorts of claims throughout this campaign that are intended to mislead Colorado voters on what these initiatives will do. What they don't tell you is that Amendments 47, 49 and 54 contain huge loopholes that create one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everyone else. These amendments take away the choice of employers and employees to create the best work environment, the way they spend their hard-earned paychecks and their voice in the political process.

Amendments 47, 49 and 54 make up an extreme and reckless agenda that silences workers voice and will be devastating for Colorado's economy. We ask that you join us voting "NO" against the out-of-state special interests on November 4th, by voting "NO" on amendments 47, 49 and 54.

Thank you.