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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 14, 20172min316

ColoradoPolitics.com’s news team does its best to keep you up to date on the latest announced candidacies for a wide range of offices; for a helpful update and overview of all the candidates currently seeking a seat in the legislature, look no further than a report the   other day by veteran Capitol journalist Todd Engdahl.

Writing for Colorado Capitol Watch, Engdahl, a veteran of Denver Post and more recently Chalkbeat Colorado, provides a cornucopia of facts and figures — how many are running; who they are; how much money they’ve raised — for both legislative chambers.

Stuff like:

  • As of the latest state deadline for filing campaign-finance disclosures, more than $558,000 had been raised by 78 registered House candidates;
  • More than $363,000 had been raised by 26 Senate hopefuls;
  • So far, 10 primary contests appear likely in races for House seats, and eight of them are among Democrats;
  • Four potential primaries are looming Senate district races; all involve Democrats.

Engdahl goes on to detail the candidates in those races and how much some of them have raised. All in all, more than 100 legislative candidates — with well over a year to go before the 2018 general election.

There’s something for every political junkie in Engdahl’s report; he even serves up some very useful spreadsheets, like this one offering line-by-line info on candidates for statewide office. It all makes for a data-packed snapshot; you’ll be glad you read the full report. Here’s the link again.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 25, 201727min656

By one measure, state Rep. Justin Everett, a House Republican serving his third term in the Colorado General Assembly, and state Reps. Chris Hansen and Chris Kennedy, a pair of Democrats in their first terms, stand as far apart as any lawmakers at the Capitol, based on the votes they cast in the just-completed 2017 regular session. Considering all the bills that made it to final, third-reading votes in the session — 490 in the House and 459 in the Senate — between them, these three legislators cast the most ‘no’ votes and the most ‘yes’ votes, respectively, according to an analysis prepared by bill-tracking service Colorado Capitol Watch.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 12, 20171min268

For your convenience, bill-tracker Colorado Capitol Watch offered a quick-take recap earlier this week of the top issues the legislature had to grapple with, and how it resolved them. Or didn’t, as the case may be.

The review by veteran Capitol correspondent and sage Todd Engdahl covers all the basics — hospital provider fee, energy policy, school finance and more — i.e., all the buzzwords and catch phrases that by sine die you probably hoped you’d never hear again. By the same token, a lot of it went by in such a blur, as Wednesday’s deadline loomed, that you may already feel a need for a refresher if only to make sure what you thought happened really did happen.

Maybe you even found yourself wondering at some point if it all had been a dream. Rest assured, it was real; here’s the link.

 

 


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirApril 20, 20178min256
While the annual “4/20” cannabis bacchanal gets underway this morning at Denver’s Civic Center Park — in search of some cause beyond satisfying the basic human need to party — a couple of observations from Colorado’s media gallery seem especially apt. First, Denverite’s Adrian Garcia notes today how a fissure has opened up in the marijuana world — pitting, for the […]

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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanDecember 20, 20154min386

Energy-tight buildings reduce our thinking capacity unless they’re properly ventilated, according to a Harvard University and Syracuse University double-blind study conducted recently. Who knew?

After spending decades making our buildings more energy efficient, it turns out that the CO2 and volatile organic compounds trapped in these “tight” buildings can make us dumb.

The Harvard School of Public Health study placed “knowledge worker” volunteers in spaces where researchers could control the different chemicals they breathed. Researchers increased and decreased CO2 and VOCs, one at a time, to understand their cognitive impacts.

The VOCs introduced to the study spaces are common to commercial buildings, coming from paints, carpet, particleboard, cleaning products and adhesives. During the study, some days had high CO2, some days had high VOCs, and other days, the “green building” days, had amounts more closely reflecting fresh, outdoor air.

The knowledge worker volunteers did their normal jobs in these spaces. At the end of each day, volunteers took cognitive performance tests, simulations that presented practical situations requiring practical solutions.

On the high CO2 days, volunteers’ cognitive performance was halved. With VOCs, the cognitive diminishment was even greater. On enhanced green days, when buildings were ventilated to approximate fresh air levels, crisis response scores went up 131 percent, strategic thinking scores went up 288 percent, and information usage scores went up 299 percent.

According to Joseph Allen, the lead researcher and Harvard faculty member on the study, “This is a big deal. The findings are strong, the magnitude of the effect is quite large, and we weren’t testing anything exotic.”

A follow-up study about to be published indicates that the cost benefit of ventilating buildings to fresh air levels is enormous. Researcher Allen said in a Living on Earth segment on National Public Radio that the per-employee cost of an energy-tight building is $30. The per-employee cognition improvement benefit of a “fresh air” building is $6,000.

United Technologies, a leader in the building technology industry, sponsored the first study. John Mandyck, UT’s chief sustainability officer, calls the study is a “game changer.”

“With optimized indoor environmental quality,” Mandyk said, “test scores over nine cognitive domains doubled. That really means better thinking in better buildings, and I think what’s most important here is that productivity often comes with a learning curve. In this case, all people have to do is breathe because the intelligence is in the air with readily achievable conditions that Harvard and its study partners found in this research.”

Study results have implications for Colorado’s Capitol, which has undergone renovation in recent years to restore its original beauty and make it energy-efficient. Coloradans will surely tolerate some leaking from the Capitol’s spacious 19th century windows if the fresh air keeps everyone in the building sharp as tacks.

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanNovember 17, 20155min285

Colorado’s Independence Institute and the local branch of Americans for Prosperity didn’t get anything for the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on school board elections in Jeffco and Dougco. The winners in Jeffco fought off the conservative PACs with their own hundreds of thousands of dollars, including PAC money from unions.

But the Dougco winners didn’t take any union money. Their victory is perhaps more remarkable, given the conservative voting bias in the county. The new board members defeated three incumbents, including the board president, with close to 60 percent of the vote.

The real winners in the two districts turn out to be the words “neighborhood” and “public” as adjectives in front of the word “school.”

The new Dougco school board members will try to dump the voucher initiative. Just as important, they can push against the district’s market-based compensation system in which high school math teachers are in a higher pay category than high school English teachers. Picture English teachers grinding their teeth every weekend as they’re reading all those essays.

The Independence Institute still has a toehold in Dougco, as the three new members don’t hold the majority on the seven-member board. The Institute will have to do its influencing without Ben DeGrow, its principal education policy guru, however. He’s moving to Michigan to push his theories at the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

As a school board candidate myself in the Jeffco election, I didn’t know if the recall case against the conservatives was strong enough to carry the day. But voters turned hard against the conservative majority for their perceived anti-public school, anti-teacher policies.

The question in Jeffco is whether the new majority will follow the voters’ will.

Three contested issues are already settled: Brad Miller, the attorney hired by the conservative majority, will lose his contract. (He stepped aside this week.) Charter school equalization is a done deal. The board will not immediately terminate its contract with superintendent Dan McMinimee.

The new directors will need guidance. Two likely counselors are Lesley Dahlkemper, who will leave the board when the new members are sworn in, and Cindy Stevenson, former Jeffco superintendent when Dahlkemper was board president and I was first vice president. Stevenson is now a consultant with the Public Education and Business Coalition.

Dahlkemper was vice president for strategic engagement and communications at the Colorado Education Initiative. PEBC is CEI’s ally. Dahlkemper’s husband, lawyer and former state legislator Mike Feeley, is the registered agent for the Colorado DFERs’ political committee.

CEI, PEBC and DFERs support Common Core, the PARCC tests, charters with in- and out-of-state management, teacher evaluation based on standardized testing, school accountability and comparisons based on testing, pay-for-performance compensation and intensive data mining of student records.

Immediately, the new Jeffco board will have to address its recently negotiated competition-based pay model, its test-based teacher evaluation system and a new contract negotiation. Student data privacy remains an ongoing problem.

Parents and teachers in Jeffco and Dougco walked neighborhoods and knocked on doors to win more time for teaching over testing. They voted for emphasizing collaboration over competition. They voted to strengthen and invest in their neighborhood public schools. If board members don’t act on these commitments, they know what will happen — they’ll get the boot.

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform. A former member of the Jefferson County Board of Education, she ran unsuccessfully for a seat in this month’s election.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanOctober 28, 20154min255
Heads up, teachers and citizens of Colorado! You may get the results of the state’s standardized CMAS/PARCC tests, the annual tests taken in winter and spring of last school year, as soon as early ski season of this school year. PARCC, the standardized testing consortium to which Colorado belongs, didn’t even set its “cut scores” […]

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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanOctober 14, 20154min334
Surveillance is the business model of the Internet, according to computer security analyst Bruce Schneier in a recent New York Times article on European data privacy. Surveillance is also, apparently, the business model of our own Colorado Department of Education. CDE prefers to call its work “longitudinal analysis.” It started when the state decided to […]

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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanOctober 2, 20154min302
I’ve been chumped. English has many words and phrases to describe taking it in the shorts: dupe, cheat, deceive, betray, fool, fleece, hustle, sting, swindle, mislead, gull, scam, defraud, trick, hoodwink, hoax, double-cross, bamboozle, rip off, shaft, pull a fast one, screw, sucker, snooker, stiff, among others. For my situation, I pick “chump,” originally an […]

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