You never know what you’re going to get when a politician calls a press conference. They can be brutally boring. Often as not a candidate reads a statement that he or she could just as easily email.
Today, though, a press conference called by 7th CD Congressman Ed Perlmutter was notable primarily for the fact that his challenger in the race, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, sent 20 or so people to the press conference to heckle Perlmutter.
Perlmutter had called the press conference to draw attention to Frazier’s record of accepting stimulus money — both for the City of Aurora and for the charter school he co-founded — even though he has said repeatedly that the stimulus bill was a failure.
“Ryan Frazier needs to be honest. He says ‘integrity matters,’ yet he’s being hypocritical about the stimulus bill, calling it a failure and yet benefiting from it,” stated Pat Waak, Colorado Democratic Party Chair, in an email. “We shouldn’t be surprised. Frazier has been a no-show to his taxpayer funded part-time job, why would we expect him to show up to his voluntary charter school board meeting budget votes. Voters in the 7th deserve more than slick sound bites — they deserve to know the truth about Ryan Frazier and his record.”
Public records show Frazier misses or is late to nearly half the meetings of the Aurora City Council, as well as the school board he serves on.
The charter school, High Point Academy, has received more than $100,000 in Recovery Act grants to employ teachers and paraprofessionals. The City of Aurora has received nearly $20 million in direct stimulus funding. Aurora is also benefiting from the construction of the new interchange at I-225 and Colfax, a major transportation project that has received funding from the Recovery Act.
“Throughout the campaign, Ryan Frazier has complained about what he calls the failed stimulus or the failed Recovery Act, but he stopped complaining about it a few days ago when I mentioned during a debate that his own charter school of which he is a board member and a vice president has received Recovery Act money,” said Perlmutter.
“Ed Perlmutter must go. Ed Perlmutter must go,” chanted the chorus of Frazier backers.
“Now he has backpedaled and said some of the recovery money is good but some of it is not. So we have people here today from small business, from law enforcement, firefighters, teachers to talk about how the Recovery Act affected them and affected jobs throughout the 7th district. The question I have for Ryan is which of these jobs is good and which of the jobs funded by the Recovery Act is not good, which ones are worthy and which ones are not worthy?”
“Hey ho, hey ho, Ed Perlmutter’s got to go,” sang the sign-wavers.
A private wind energy contractor talked about how stimulus funding helped his company begin manufacturing taller wind towers (because the wind is often stronger higher), and how that helped his company attract private investors and helped him and his subcontractors hire more people.
Two teachers, a firefighter, and a policeman also spoke.
“I’m Colleen Heinz and I’m a teacher. We have benefited directly from the Recovery Act, to keep smaller class sizes,” she said. She said stimulus funds have also been instrumental in schools being able to keep bus drivers and custodial workers.
“I would ask Ryan Frazier which jobs are good, and which jobs he would like to cut,” Perlmutter said.
“This election is very clearly about jobs,” Perlmutter added after the press conference.
Asked whether it really mattered that Frazier accepts stimulus money when it benefits the City of Aurora or his school while condemning the program, Perlmutter was adamant that it did.
“Yes, it does, because it shows hypocrisy. He didn’t even know they (High Point Academy) were taking it.
“So that shows that he wasn’t doing his job or he didn’t read a 10-page budget very closely. Either he didn’t read it or he didn’t understand it and that goes to his ability.”
Asked about the hecklers, he said, “It just shows to me that they are pretty desperate. This is a campaign where if people have good information they will make good decisions.”