Rocky article claimed Ritter order "infuriated the business community," despite reporting saying otherwise


A November 29 Rocky Mountain News article noted Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter's "71 percent approval rating" in a September poll, then reported, "That was before Ritter infuriated the business community and Republicans" with his executive order authorizing state employee partnerships. But the article did not provide any comments from "infuriated" members of the business community, and another publication has reported that business reaction to the order was "[m]ixed" and "lack[ing] the bitter outrage expressed by Republican politicians."

After noting in a November 29 article Gov. Bill Ritter's (D) "71 percent approval rating when [Colorado pollster Floyd] Ciruli polled in September," the Rocky Mountain News reported, "That was before Ritter infuriated the business community and Republicans by signing an executive order that requires state government to give greater recognition to employee unions." The News did not include comments from any "infuriated" members of the business community, and in contrast to the News' reporting, a November 9 online article in the Denver Business Journal (which appeared November 12 in the print edition) reported that the business community's reaction to Ritter's executive order, "Authorizing Partnership Agreements with State Employees," was "[m]ixed" and "lack[ing] the bitter outrage expressed by Republican politicians."

The News article by Lynn Bartels reported on the Republican Lincoln Club of Colorado's November 28 luncheon, at which Republican political consultant Katy Atkinson and Ciruli spoke. According to the News, "[T]hey talked about voting trends statewide, next year's election and Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, who has spent much of his first 11 months in office touting energy alternatives." The article further reported:

Coloradans gave Ritter a 71 percent approval rating when Ciruli polled in September. That was before Ritter infuriated the business community and Republicans by signing an executive order that requires state government to give greater recognition to employee unions.

In contrast to the News article, the Business Journal reported, "Business leaders described themselves as 'surprised' by Gov. Bill Ritter's executive order giving unions a place at the table in labor negotiations with state employees. But they lack the bitter outrage expressed by Republican politicians who claim the action will stifle the state's economy and hurt businesses." The article, headlined "Mixed reaction to union order," further reported:

"I can't tell you ethically that the business community is mad as hell and won't take it anymore," said John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. "Is this a major boost of energy for the unions? No doubt. But I've tried really hard to think about how this directly affects business and came up with nothing."

As of Nov. 5, Brackney said he hadn't received a single email from the chamber's 1,600 member businesses about the order.

Republican lawmakers claim they've heard from "a number" of concerned businesspeople about the matter.

But House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said on Nov. 6 that no business leaders had contacted him about the issue.

Moreover, the article reported that "although some business leaders expressed dismay that the order was issued by Ritter -- who ran and won last year as a moderate, pro-business Democrat -- many question how the order would hurt the bottom line." The article further reported:

"This sounds like political payback to me," said Jim Howell of Denver-based Howell Construction, alluding to House Bill 1072, which would have made it easier for workers to approve unions in the private sector.

Ritter's veto of HB 1072 earlier this year angered many union leaders who supported the Democrat's gubernatorial campaign in 2006.

But while Howell said the order could cause government to "operate less efficiently," he didn't think it would affect his business, hurt public-private partnerships or discourage businesses from backing campaign initiatives like Referendum C.

Additionally, the Business Journal reported that "Donnah Moody, vice president of governmental affairs for CACI [the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry], said some members have stated they are 'philosophically opposed' to the order -- even if it has no bearing on their operation." However, she added, "From my perspective, if someone asked me how it hurts the private sector, I couldn't make a case. ... The only issue I could see is if critical infrastructure services were disrupted by a strike."

Regarding criticism of Ritter's order, the article did report that "[o]ne of the sharpest criticisms of the governor's move came from Tony Gagliardi, Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business advocacy organization":

"The governor's move is sure to create a larger division between labor and business, a division that cannot be good for the citizens of this state and our economy," Gagliardi said in a statement that followed Ritter's order on Nov. 2.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.