Denver Direct: Hatchett Axes Videotaping at Candidate’s Public Forum

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hatchett Axes Videotaping at Candidate’s Public Forum

I’ve noticed that Denver’s City Council Election, slated to occur on May 1, 2007, hasn’t been getting much coverage in the press. Blogger Dave Burrell at Denver Politics complains:

I despair over the lack of issues-oriented discussion in the May 2007 election. Though I look each day for news articles highlighting the differences between candidates, I rarely find them. It’s not just the media’s fault. With a few notable exceptions, the candidates also eschew definitive position statements on their websites, preferring instead to offer lofty phrases and commonsense platitudes that alienate no one.

It seems that the nature of this race is to play not to lose, instead of igniting real passion or driving controversial points into the public debate. I can’t say I blame them, because the voters don’t demand it and the media doesn’t cover it. So you seek financial contributions, gather ye endorsements while ye may, show up wherever you can, and hope it turns out well.

Well, hey, I’ve got the time and the inclination to get involved, so upon reading this:

Join us at the Colorado Black Women for Political Action candidates’ Forum at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library at 2401 Welton Street in Denver. The forum is open to the public.

I decided to videotape the Public Forums and put them on this blog. I’ve been videotaping and filming for many, many years and I figured this would be a good chance to get the candidates on video stating their positions. I would then put the video up on YouTube and notify the local bloggers that they could link to it to and expand the dialog.

But I didn’t count on Karon (with an o) Hatchett. In fact I didn’t know who she was until I was stopped from entering the hall in the Denver Public Library. (I didn’t have my camera out but I think the tripod gave me away.)

Ms. Hatchett asked me to wait while she went into the auditorium. When she came back she informed me that I could not videotape. Dispite my protestations that it was a public meeting being held in a public library, she trotted out various reasons why she wouldn’t allow it.

Other reasons given off camera included; CBWPA in a private 501(c)3 organization, the event was not a public event, Channel 8 has the exclusive rights to videotape, and releases would have to be obtained from the individual candidates.
So what is the CBWPA? Couldn’t find a website but did find:

The CBWPA is a non-partisan organization that was incorporated in 1977 by thirteen black female community activists. The founders envisioned the CBWPA as a vehicle to effect meaningful participation in the political process for all Colorado blacks, particularly black women. Moreover, it involves black women on boards and commissions, builds coalitions with similar organizations, provides job information, and brings about political awareness in Colorado.

And who is Karon Hatchett? Oh I remember, she was the head of the Denver Election Commission who “misplaced” 150,000 voter records and hired her friend from church to be the Commission’s IT person, who in turned screwed up the last election, and then resigned.

Denver Election Chief’s Exit Sought
© 2005 by Karen E. Crummy,

June 14, 2005 —The Denver Election Commission is attempting to negotiate a deal for the resignation of its embattled director, Karen Hatchett, sources said Monday.

The three-member commission and election manager Karen Hatchett — all of whom have been criticized as mismanaging elections — are trying to find an agreeable way for her to leave her $69,000-a-year position.

Hatchett, who can only be fired for just cause, refused to comment. she said. Commissioners Sandy Adams, Susan Rogers, and Wayne Vaden also declined to comment.

“A lawyer always tells his clients to say no comment,” Adams said. “But (Hatchett) does know I’m extremely unhappy about her performance.”

News of the negotiations comes as two election staffers were fired by Hatchett and the commission Saturday after being put on administrative leave last week. One employee, Fred Sandoval, has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the commission, alleging he was retaliated against for saying the city tried to suppress voter turnout to help pass a $378 million jail and justice center in May.

It also coincides with a move by City Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez and Colorado Common Cause to possibly eliminate the three-member commission through a city charter change.

Hatchett and the commission have come under fire for a series of perceived missteps and blunders. In the November 2004 general election, nearly 40 percent of reported voting problems in Colorado occurred in Denver, a Denver Post analysis found. Additionally, the commission was late in mailing some 13,000 absentee ballots in that presidential election.

In the May municipal election, voting centers were used for the first time, with mixed success. Some, such as Common Cause, have complained the switch in voting methods confused the public.

Hatchett, however, noted that a number of counties encountered voting problems in recent elections, including November 2004.

“We have been a lightning rod for more attention than other counties
because we are Denver,” she said. “But I’m tired of sitting back in silence and suffering these hits.”

Well, the Election Commission was eliminated in another flawed election, and we’ll have an elected Clerk and Recorder. This won’t solve any problems, but at least the politicians will be able to say they did something. And Karon is back to suppression again.