Getting Connected in Colorado
Political activism is more than waxing philosophical and eviscerating politicians on blog sites and broadcast email messages. Real political activism is hard, time-consuming, and often boring, repetitive work. It means going to city council, county supervisor, and school board meetings. It’s walking precincts, making phone calls, and attending local political meetings. It also means being informed, and joining with others in keeping your representatives accountable. All of these things are the impetus behind this blog.
Knowing where to get timely information about what’s going on in your State is a huge part of the battle, especially in these days of information overload. We all have day jobs, family responsibilities and/or friends, and hopefully other interests. It’s actually alright to not know everything that’s going on everywhere all the time. Having access to the most important information means getting connected. Networking is vital to success in political activism.
To that end, I’ve put together what I believe are the most important links to information that people in Colorado will need to be successful. If you don’t live in Colorado, well, you can just continue to be envious. WARNING: This is long and very detailed. Think of this like you would a textbook. Bookmark it. Skim it. Refer to it when you’re trying to remember the name of that group that had information on that topic in which you’re interested. I seriously doubt anyone will read this completely through the first time. This is by no means intended to be a complete list. Even if I listed everything that’s important, it would be out-of-date by tomorrow. I’ll do my best to keep updating this information, including looking through comments. This will only work if it’s a collaborative effort. A clearinghouse of networking information will only work if everyone participates. So, without further ado, here it is.
Almost every city and county in Colorado has a website. Most are accessible using a standard URL format. For a city, it’s http://www.ci.city-name.co.us/ Cities with multiple words in the name such as mine use hyphenated names, e.g. http://www.ci.fort-collins.co.us/ for Fort Collins. For those that don’t follow the URL standard, a quick search will usually find their website. The same format goes for counties, except they use “co” for county instead of “ci” for city, e.g. http://www.co.larimer.co.us/ for Larimer County. You’ll find a list of Colorado counties online here and here, and a list of Colorado cities here. A list of tax entities with levy amounts can be found here.
It is on these websites that you will find the names of our City Councilmen and County Supervisors. You will also find dates and agenda for their regular meetings. Attend the meetings, if for no other reason than to report on what goes on. Many cities broadcast their public meetings on a local cable television channel. You’ll find that information on their website if they offer it. But there’s more than just the once-per-month council meetings. There are many smaller meetings of task forces that meet and make decisions about what happens in your city and county. These meetings are also open to the public and rarely attended by anyone except the members themselves. Consider becoming a member.
The local school board meetings are another way to get involved. Don’t like what’s happening in your schools? Then go to a meeting and tell them! You can also attend and report on the decisions that are made there. If enough people don’t like what’s going on, you can get together and go to the next meeting in force. You can find everything you’re looking for at the Colorado Department Of Education website, including contacts, local school board websites, and annual CSAP test scores.
Finally, there’s the State government. I know that Governor Bill Ritter would love to hear from you. Tell him often how you think he’s doing. Then, there’s the Legislative branches. Want to know who your elected Senate and House Representatives are? Go here. You’ll find listings by map, zip code, etc. You’ll also find out what bills they’re currently considering. Don’t like what they’re considering, or maybe you do? Contact them and tell them what you think.
Speaking of being informed about what’s going on in the Legislature, how about following your Colorado GOP Senators on Twitter in real time. When something happens and they need us to know, you’ll be among the first to get it. That way when they need us to take action, we’ll be ready. Wouldn’t it be great to call your local mainstream media source and give them the story from a conservative perspective before they’re even aware of it?
I wouldn’t want to leave out our Federal Representatives. These people represent our state in Washington, D.C. There are currently seven U.S. House Districts in Colorado.
A district map can be found here if you’re unsure in which district you reside. Our two U.S. Senators are both new to the job. Mark Udall (D-CO) was just elected to the seat vacated by Wayne Allard. Mike Bennet (D-CO) was just selected to replace Ken Salazar who was chosen by President Barack Obama as our new Secretary of the Interior. Since they’re both learning on the job, I’m sure they’d welcome all of your suggestions on issues important to Coloradans.
Bottom line for all of your representatives, whether they be city, county, state or federal: they and their staff should recognize your name when you call. If they don’t, you haven’t contacted them often enough.
Getting involved in your local and State political party organization is essential to promoting the conservative cause. If there’s one thing that we need more conservatives in the Republican Party. That begins with me and you. The local GOP is organized by county, not district. Following is a complete list of Colorado counties, with links to the web pages for those that have them:
Adams County, Alamosa County, Arapahoe County, Archuleta County, Baca County, Bent County, Boulder County, Broomfield County, Chaffee County, Cheyenne County, Clear Creek County, Conejos County, Costilla County, Crowley County, Custer County, Delta County, Denver County, Dolores County, Douglas County, Eagle County*, El Paso County, Elbert County, Fremont County, Garfield County, Gilpin County, Grand County, Gunnison County, Hinsdale County, Huerfano County, Jackson County, Jefferson County, Kiowa County, Kit Carson County, La Plata County, Lake County, Larimer County, Las Animas County, Lincoln County, Logan County, Mesa County, Mineral County, Moffat County, Montezuma County, Montrose County, Morgan County, Otero County, Ouray County, Park County, Phillips County, Pitkin County, Prowers County, Pueblo County, Rio Blanco County, Rio Grande County, Routt County, Saguache County, San Juan County, San Miguel County, Sedgwick County, Summit County, Teller County, Washington County, Weld County, Yuma County
* Eagle County Republican Women
If you’re in one of the counties that doesn’t have a website, contact your officials via the Colorado State GOP website and find out why not. I mean really, how hard is it to put up a simple website with some contact information? And speaking of the Colorado State GOP website, go and sign up and volunteer. While you’re there, register and create a blog. Oh, and by the way, Coloradans were Number 1 in the nation in doors knocked and fifth in calls made during the last election cycle. We know how to put actions behind our rhetoric.
I gathered links for the websites for other political parties that are active in Colorado. It’s always a good thing to see what they other guy is doing. You’ll get a general sense of that on these websites.
I didn’t gather county links for these. You can search them out for yourself if you like. If you’re involved with the American Constitution or Libertarian party, I’d like to suggest that you still consider working with the Republican party in national races where third-party candidates are little more than conscience votes. We have much in common and will need to coalition together if we’re going to root out the liberals among us.
Online Colorado Conservative Organizations
There are several excellent organizations online in Colorado. There’s none better than the Independence Institute. Jon Caldera is the president of Colorado’s Free Market Think Tank. You could spend months going through all the great information at this site. They also hold training seminars, including the Free People, Free Markets: The Foundations of Liberty course that begins Saturday, January 24th for five consecutive Saturdays. Colorado conservative thought and action begins and ends with the Independence Institute. For a good chuckle, everyone should check out the Colorado Spend-O-Meter in the upper right-hand corner of main website page.
Consider some other projects by the Independence Institute, such as the Property Rights Project. If you care about your property rights in Colorado, you need to be reading this regularly. Other Policy Centers and Projects include, Ethical Standards, School Choice for Kids, Education Policy Center, Health Care Policy Center, Second Amendment Project, Campus Accountability Project, Center for the American Dream, Fiscal Policy Center, Justice Policy Initiative, and the Liberty Project.
One last project for the Independence Institute that I wanted to highlight separately, is Colorado Spending Transparency. Colorado will soon embark on a project to make spending available online, in large part due to the hard work done by the people you’ll find here. Until it’s readily available, you’ll find what you need here to make an Open Records request to find out which school employee(s) used your tax dollars to pay for a Carnival Cruise.
The Independence Institute is funded completely by donations. If you’d care to contribute to their incredible work, go here. There’s some cool merchandise here too. Have I mentioned that these guys know how to party? One more thing about the Independence Institute. They were offered an obscene amount of money during the last election cycle to withdraw their opposition to several anti-business ballot initiatives. It was enough that I know they were tempted, but refused to compromise their principles for money. This is rare enough in today’s world, let alone in a political organization.
Jim Pfaff heads up the Colorado Office of Americans for Prosperity. There’s a plethora of fiscal information at this site that covers State as well as federal issues. I used to work with Jim, so I know him personally. He’s a great guy, and a solid fiscal and social conservative. You can find out about AFP’s Mission here. It’s all about taxes and expenditures by your government. If you don’t like what’s going on now, here’s a group you can get with and work for change.
Face The State is THE conservative source in Colorado for investigative reporting. Also known as “Colorado’s Front Page”, this begins with daily Staff Reports. Other features include, Opinion, The Buzz, Humor, Radio, The Blog Wrangler (selected articles from Colorado bloggers), and the Reading Room. While you’re there, create an account and get regular email updates.
The Complete Colorado is a Drudge Report-like news consolidation site. It’s a great place to go for what’s happening right now, in an easy-to-read and familiar format.
Liberty On The Rocks was started by Amanda Teresi after the primary season ended. Wanting to continue meeting with like-minded free-market, small-government supporters, she came up with the idea of meeting twice a month with others at a local tavern. The Denver chapter meets at the Tavern Uptown near the Capitol building in Denver on the first and third Wednesday nights of the month.
On special occasions they’ve been known to break out in song. If you want to know what Liberty On the Rocks is really all about, you should watch this promotional video. Additional chapters are starting up in Colorado Springs, the Bay Area, and Washington D.C.
It’s a great time just to hang out with an adult beverage and discuss your favorite political topic. Ryan Frazier, City Councilman from Aurora stopped by and gave a short talk and encouraged everyone to come to the Capitol in support of a School Choice bill that was being considered. Rumor has it that Frazier may be considering a run for Mike Bennet’s U.S. Senate seat in 2010.
So there you have it. Great discussion, connecting with a local politician, and political activism, all in one evening. I’ll be starting a new chapter in the Fort Collins area within the next month. As much as I really enjoyed the company of my friends in Denver, the drive is a bit much, even twice a month. Besides, the whole idea behind Liberty On The Rocks is to branch out and get this going everywhere.
Colorado Bloggers & Alliances
There are a number of excellent bloggers in Colorado, many of them members of the Rocky Mountain Alliance v2.0. Links to all of the members’ websites are below, including mine. RMA also hosts a Blogtalk Radio Show weekly at 7:00pm MST. The show is hosted by Joshua Sharf, with additional co-hosts Ben Degrow, El Presidente, Michael Alcorn, and myself on a rotating, as available basis. We also work together to encourage activism, such as promoting and attending the Anti-Terror Rally to Support Israel’s Right of Self-Defense. I’m sure there will be many more opportunities in the months and years ahead.
The People’s Press Collective are radicals for freedom united by a passion for honest and open journalism.. Bloggage and Original News Coverage From Colorado and Around the Country. You can sign up for an RSS feed here. Some of the best original reporting in Colorado and the Nation is found right here. From the PPC Manifesto:
The press has failed us. We’re going to show the American voters and the world what the mainstream media won’t. Dissent, spirited debate, and passionately defending your opinions are all-American. But sneering, angry intolerance for anyone who disagrees with you isn’t. Denver played host to a sea of hate groups during the DNC who invoke the First Amendment to spread vitriol and malice and then try to shout down any opposition.
Finally, here’s my blogroll.
Backbone America, Best Destiny, Bob’s Blog, Colorado Charter Schools, Colorado Union of Taxpayers, Combs Spouts Off, Conservative Libertarian Outpost, Constructively Reasonable, Drunkablog, Exvigilare, Geezerville USA, FreeColorado.com, Joe Schmo, MarkHillman.com, Mount Virtus, Night Twister, NoCoPolitics.com, PolitickerCO, Right Wing Popcorn, Rocky Mountain Right, Rossputin, Slapstick Politics, The Colorado Confederatarian, The Colorado Index, The Daily Blogster, The DRUM and CANNON, The New Conservative, The Thoma$ Report, Thinking Right, View From a Height
Conservative online reporting and activism is alive and well in Colorado.
Conservative Colorado Radio
No one has done more for the conservative cause in Colorado than Jon Caldera. You’ll find him at The Caulron by Jon Caldera. Also, as I previously mentioned, he’s the President of the Colorado think tank Independence Institute. Caldara also hosts a 3 hour a day a radio talk show on the 50,000-watt blowtorch News Radio 850 KOA. His current affairs television program Independent Thinking, on Denver’s KBDI Channel 12, airs on Fridays at 8:30 pm repeated the following Tuesday at 5 pm.
Caldera is definitely not one to be trifled with. He will debate any and all comers, including an empty chair when his opponents are too afraid to show up, and explain difficult amendment initiatives with the use of sock puppets. Personally, I think Jeff Dunham’s job is safe for now.
Conservative radio host Mike Rosen can be heard on Radio 850 KOA weekdays from 9:00am to noon. You can read about what Mike’s talking about lately here, including his latest initiative, Will You Wear Blue?.
You can hear Amy Oliver on Radio 1310 KFKA weekdays from 9:00am to 11:00am. KFKA is a local, family-owned radio station. Oliver is the Director of Operations at the Independence Institute. She is also the executive producer of the public affairs Independent Thinking on KBDI Channel 12. You can follow Amy on Twitter.
Amy is a First Amendment loving, Second Amendment practicing, raging capitalist, working Mom with as many jobs as kids. She hates shopping and loves sports. She not afraid to tell you her opinion on everything from politics to pop culture.
John Andrews, Chairman of Backbone America Citizens Alliance, hosts a weekly radio show every Sunday from 5 to 8pm on 710 KNUS in Denver, and on 1460 KZNT in Colorado Springs. You can also subscribe to the Backbone Radio podcast. Former guests include, Bill Owens, Tom Tancredo, Dick Armey, Bob Beauprez, Bill Ritter, Grover Norquist, Bob Schaffer, Wayne Allard, and Mark Hillman. Backbone America is also an alliance of bloggers. You can join their group on Facebook.
We broadcast for liberty from the rooftop of North America, high atop the continental divide. We’re the most principled, most patriotic, most faith-based, most Colorado-proud spot on your weekend radio dial. We bring you America without apologies, America with steel in her spine.
The Face The State Radio Minute is aired on stations around Colorado every weekday, where you’ll hear the latest news from FaceTheState.com and reports on the issues facing the state’s communities and people. The Radio Minute is hosted by FTS managing editor Brad Jones. Click on the link to find the radio stations and times. You can also subscribe to the podcast there.
Face The State also presents a one-hour weekend radio program called The Face The State Weekend Edition, featuring a look at the week in Colorado news, interviews with newsmakers and conversations with FTS staff writers. Radio stations, times, and podcast subscription information are all at the link provided.
The term “Web 2.0″ describes the changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aim to enhance creativity, communications, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web culture communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.
Social networking is going to be more and more important in the coming months and years. I’m by no means an expert on any of them. For social networking, Facebook is the most popular among adults. You’ll find mostly teens at My Space, although I have an account there because my kids do. Twitter is becoming extremely popular, and you’ll find a surprising number of conservative politicans here. I’m currently following Bobby Jindal (and surprisingly he’s following me back).
Bookmarking and recommending are getting a lot of notice right now. Sites like Digg, r-igg, reddit, Delicous, and Stumble Upon are used extensively by liberals to promote the visibility of their blogs. Even more importantly, there are liberals whose sole purpose on these sites is to bury good conservative work. Unless we get involved here, some of our best work in the conservative online community will go unnoticed.
Here are my social networking links, in case you’re interested in connecting and/or following:
Colorado Mainstream Media
I left the mainstream, or traditional media for last. Bloggers and activists still get the majority of their work from these sources. I found an extensive list of links for them here. I didn’t go through every one to make sure they were active (traditional media is taking a well-deserved beating these days), but you should find plenty of material from which to work here.
Online National Groups
I got my start in blogging at RedState, even before I had my own personal blog. I’ve been online since 1995, mostly in chat and email discussion groups, which is probably what drew me to RS, mostly because of its interactive nature. RedState is trying to enhance its State focus, and I’m doing my part to help with that endeavor. Colorado is one of the busiest State sites there.
Almost a year ago, I was contacted by someone from the Sam Adams Alliance and encouraged to start my own blog. Not long after, I attended a blogger conference called SamSphere which helps people get started with their own blog and encourages those that already have one. It was from contacts I made here that I was eventually invited to join the Rocky Mountain Alliance. The Sam Adams Alliance has been very supportive, and I’d recommend them to anyone.
I was given my first opportunity to become a frontpage contributor at The Minority Report. Primarily focused on national issues, TMR has some great contributors. You’ll also find a couple of good Blogtalk Radio shows there, including Aftermath Radio and Italian Tomatoes.
I became the Larimer County Editor at Red County late last year. It’s one of the better blogsites focused on local issues. Joshua Sharf of RMA is the Denver County Editor. I’ll be contributing a lot more work here in the coming months, and hope to find other center-right bloggers in the area to join me.
A relatively new and exciting group is the #dontgo Movement led by Eric Odom. This unaffiliated group is encouraging grassroots activism and is on the leading edge of conservative technology. One of their projects that’s just beginning to take off is the State-focused News Platoon. You can see an example of one here at that Tennessee News Platoon. A Colorado version will likely be making an appearance in the not-too-distant future.
The political climate in Colorado is extremely complex and dynamic right now. The liberal left poured an obscene amount of money and resources into Colorado over the past couple of years to shove the State to the left, and they were very successful. A whole lot of things came together at the right time for them, including a tainted Republican brand and a lot of limited government types unwilling to support moderate Republican candidates, and even a few very good conservative ones. It doesn’t have to remain this way though. We have a solid base from which to work and rebuild the brand, an opportunity to work together with like-minded independents and libertarians, and some very good young conservatives that are just now gaining recognition.
For both of you that are still reading at this point, I wanted to explain why this is so important to me. Those of you that have been reading my stuff for any length of time know that I have a passion for State and local issues. The primary reason for this is, what happens in my city, county & state, and local schools has a much greater impact on my life than what happens in Washington. I have six children and four grandchildren. What better legacy can I leave for them but freedom?
What this means is, with my active involvement I can affect change in my community where it makes the biggest difference. This is not to say that national issues are not important; they most certainly are. The thing is, we can only make real changes there every 2 to 6 years. I can make a difference in my community every single day.
It is my hope that the information I’ve collected here will benefit those of you in Colorado that want to take an active role in shaping your government. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. If you want change, then it’s up to you to get out there and change it. I spent quite a number of hours putting this together, but it was a labor of love for family, State and Country. Here’s hoping that I run into you along the way so we can share our joys and sorrows, our successes and setbacks. Either way, it’ll be one hell of a ride.
The picture at the top was taken at sunrise with my cell phone camera, looking West from my son’s Junior High School.