OP/ED: Veto Brings Up Doubts, Disappointment

There can be many guesses as to why Governor Ritter chose to veto HB-1072 on a late Friday afternoon, arguably one of the best times to release bad news without garnering a lot of media attention.

For one thing, he broke a campaign promise with the veto. In his press release he admitted that he had told two labor organizations that he would support an amendment to the Colorado Labor Peace act to eliminate the unfair and inefficient second election that is required for unions to be able to fully negotiate.

Ambiguous reasoning was also compounded with the action. He agreed with the “substance” of the bill, but wanted an open dialogue between opponents and proponents. Never mind the fact that business leaders completely dominated the debate from the beginning, in the media and committee hearings.

He acknowledged the plight of “working families,” but also noted concern over the economic impact of the bill.  Never mind the fact that with the thousands of businesses operating in Colorado, there have only been 17 union elections since 2003.

But if there’s one thing this veto symbolizes, it’s the aura of uncertainly surrounding Ritter. The Democratic trifecta was supposed to be a well-oiled and finely-tuned political machine. And yet, on Friday it was easily thwarted by the political maneuvering of the GOP and a powerful business lobby.

It was all on political tactics and messaging. Facts didn’t matter and the legislation didn’t matter. This move was about power retention and future elections.

If Ritter can’t handle the flack from a simple labor bill, should we expect him to support any measure that is mildly controversial?

Will he veto Sen. Betty Boyd’s emergency contraception bill for sexual assault survivors? Will he fail to support a measure to protect employees with different sexual orientations from workplace discrimination?

Ritter had his chance to pick between what was the right thing to do, and what was the politically expedient thing to do, and he made his choice. The powerful can sleep well at night, knowing they have nothing to worry about.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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