Government transparency is a popular rallying cry these days, fueled by a growing distrust of political leadership and bureaucratic smoke screens.
So it would seem a logical goal for any organization — unless you’re a member of a Colorado school board or a teachers’ union. Then it becomes an intrusion, threatening negotiating strategy and local control.
In the case of Proposition 104, transparency won the day, with the measure passing by a margin of 72%-28%, with 78% of precincts reporting, thus “opening the doors and letting the sunshine in,” a favorite phrase of the measure’s chief proponent Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute.
“I’m thrilled to win,” Caldara said after his victory tonight. “I think 104 won because, for most Coloradans, it was a no-brainer. The real shame is that we had to go the ballot to do this when the state legislature could have made this change on their own and they had four opportunities to do it over the past decade.”
“You want to know what a bad, bad night is for a liberal?” Caldara added. “When the only ballot initiative that wins in Caldara’s.”
Opponents to Proposition 104 long maintained that the type of transparency mandated by the measure would severely hamper their ability to work effectively, creating administrative logjams, unfair peeks into collective bargaining strategy and — perhaps most importantly — taking control out of the hands of local districts. They have said that local schools don’t need one more Denver-driven mandate, a common complaint of small or rural districts
Like other initiatives on the ballot this year, language means everything. Opponents called 104’s wording overly broad, maintaining that using the word “discussions” instead of “negotiations” would turn simple hallway conversations between teachers and administrators into media events requiring press releases and unnecessary meetings.