2010 Colorado elections: Ed Quillen tries to piece together the facts around the state Attorney Regulation Council’s ruling about Scott McInnis’ plagiarized articles

May 29, 2011

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Click through and read the whole column from Ed Quillen writing for the The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

McInnis blamed his researcher, retired water engineer Rolly Fischer of Glenwood Springs, and even faxed a confessional letter for Fischer to sign, which Fischer didn’t. Now the state Attorney Regulation Council has decided McInnis can keep his law license because at some point he advised the Hasan Foundation that he was getting some help from Fischer, even though he was supposed to be doing the work himself. You’d think he could have pointed that out in the summer of 2010, when it might have mattered.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.


2010 Colorado Elections: The state Attorney Regulation and Disciplinary Council finds the Scott McInnis’ water articles plagiarism was not an ethics violation

May 23, 2011

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Last summer Scott McInnis’s campaign imploded from the news that some of the work he had done for the Hasan Family Foundation was plagiarized. Journalist Jason Salzman (Bigmedia.org) stayed with his investigation into the candidate’s writings and the rest is Colorado political history. It’s too late for Mr. McInnis to challenge Governor Hickenlooper but he probably welcomes today’s news. Here’s a report from Sara Burnett writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Regulation Counsel John Gleason said new evidence and follow-up interviews with witnesses revealed no “clear and convincing evidence” that McInnis, an attorney, violated disciplinary rules…

Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the ARDC, which investigates attorneys for violations of court rules and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct…

[McInnis researcher Rollie Fischer] told the ARDC that he alone copied Hobbs’ work without crediting him, that he didn’t tell McInnis he had done so, and that he expected McInnis to publish the work as his own.

More coverage from John Tomasic writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

“We’re satisfied that [the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel] did a very thorough investigation of the matter,” Colorado Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro told the Colorado Independent. “They took their time to look closely at the material and deposed two witnesses. We’re glad that they put a period on this story. The public gains in transparency for its having done the investigation.”

More coverage from Gary Harmon writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

The attorney regulation counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court declined to pursue disciplinary action against McInnis, documents obtained by The Daily Sentinel said. Copies of the same documents also were posted on the http://www.scribd.com

Letters signed by John S. Gleason, who heads the office of attorney regulation, said the incident that shattered McInnis’ attempt for the Republican nomination for governor, was the result of a series of forgotten conversations and emails among the principals, including officials of the Hasan Foundation, which demanded that McInnis repay $300,000 he had been paid for the articles…

While Fischer and the foundation provided contradictory accounts at the time the issue was raised, “a more thorough review of their archived materials demonstrates that both had forgotten several specific communications with Mr. McInnis that had occurred several years before,” Gleason wrote.

More coverage from Gene Davis writing for Law Week Colorado. Here’s an excerpt:

The regulatory counsel interviewed several key witnesses in the incident, including water expert Rolly Fischer, who McInnis says he hired to help research the issue. McInnis blames the plagiarism on research provided to him by Fischer. McInnis and the Hasan Foundation last summer reached a settlement agreement to repay the organization, though McInnis maintained that his only error was trusting Fischer. As part of the attorney regulatory counsel’s investigation, an investigator scoured through handwritten notes and personal e-mails, as well as interviews with witnesses. According to the counsel’s findings, Fischer was responsible for the plagiarism, not McInnis. “Mr. Fischer alone chose to import large sections of text previously written by the Honorable Justice Gregory Hobbs into one of the articles drafted for Mr. McInnis, without credit citation,” states the results of the investigation.

Fischer apparently argued that the use was not plagiarism because he believes the article is part of the “public domain,” according to the investigation, compiled from interviews with Fischer. Fischer had never disclosed to McInnis that he had taken Hobbs’ work, according to the report.

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

McInnis blamed the plagiarism on Rolly Fischer, whom he had enlisted as an assistant for his water writings. Fischer claimed he believed Hobbs’ writings were in the public domain. A review of correspondence between McInnis and Fischer conducted by the Attorney Regulation Counsel found that in 2005 “McInnis had instructed Mr. Fischer not to plagiarize any work in the articles he drafted,” according to the counsel’s letter of findings. It also noted that: Fischer “alone chose large sections of text” from Hobbs’ writings and passed them along to McInnis for publication without attributing it to Hobbs. Fischer did not inform McInnis that he had imported Hobbs’ work for the articles. Fischer expected McInnis to treat the articles as his own without providing any credit to Fischer.

More coverage from Fox31.com (Eli Stokols):

On Monday, McInnis’s defenders viewed the findings as an exoneration and an opportunity to question the journalism of the Denver Post, which broke the story of how McInnis, in 2005, was paid $300,000 by the Hasan Foundation to write a series of articles on water, a job he pawned off on a researcher, Rollie Fischer, who plagiarized portions of the articles from 1983 essays by current Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs…

The Post’s publisher, Dean Singleton, defended the paper’s reporting in a radio interview Monday afternoon and even insinuated that the emails used to clear McInnis’s name might have been forged by McInnis himself. “He didn’t produce them [earlier] because they probably didn’t exist,” Singleton said in an interview on the Caplis and Silverman show.”

More coverage from Jason Salzman writing for Huffpost Denver. From the article:

It turns out that an attorney connected to the Colorado Supreme Court conducted an investigation, at the behest of Colorado Ethics Watch, on whether McInnis’ behavior meets the lawyerly snuff test. His investigation, indeed, cleans up McInnis a bit, but it doesn’t clear his name, unless you believe throwing people under buses is a good idea…

So Gleason clears McInnis of dishonest lawyerly conduct. But does it clear him of slimy, squeezy, mean politican conduct? Does it make his conduct look, ah, gubernatorial, if I can use that word there?[...]

If so, if McInnis thought this would Shyne up his image, McInnis still doesn’t get it. His mistake was throwing his research assistant under the bus. He could have survived the plagiarism, probably. But his handling of it sunk his campaign. He can’t clear his name of those mistakes. That was his problem then, and that’s what he’s going to have to live with.

More coverage from the Colorado Statesman (Ernest Luning). From the article:

In letters sent last week to McInnis’ attorneys and to Colorado Ethics Watch — the liberal watchdog group that filed a complaint over the matter last summer — regulation counsel John S. Gleason said his office’s investigation revealed that “there is no clear and convincing evidence Mr. McInnis knowingly engaged in dishonest conduct.”

The report arrived 10 months after revelations in a Denver Post story threw the state Republican Party into turmoil. In the months that followed, McInnis, a former six-term congressman, lost the Republican nomination for governor to a rookie politician named Dan Maes, but only after another former Republican congressman, Tom Tancredo, tried to force both from the race. When that failed, Tancredo bolted the party and ran under the banner of the previously obscure American Constitution Party, finishing in second place behind Democrat John Hickenlooper…

Gleason also concluded that, “based on our interview with Ms. Hasan and our review of the documents she provided to us, including contemporaneous emails between her and Mr. McInnis, it is also clear Mr. McInnis notified her of his retention of Mr. Fischer as a research assistant.” Not so fast, said the woman who heads the foundation that paid McInnis $300,000 to spread the word on water – and then got a full refund when the plagiarized passages came to light last year. Hasan disputed Gleason’s characterization of the documents she said the foundation provided to investigators. It’s true a previously undisclosed document came to light, said Seeme Hasan, the foundation’s president, in an interview with The Statesman this week. But it wasn’t an email and it didn’t describe Fischer as a “research assistant.”

What the foundation’s attorneys turned over to the OARC was a fax cover sheet that had been buried in boxes of foundation documents for years, she said. It accompanied an article McInnis submitted in June 2005 and included the handwritten note, “I feel very good about the articles and the goal of serving the public interest. On a regular basis I have been assisted by Rolly Fischer, and his confidence that we are reaching our goal is high as well.” Hasan said that was the only mention McInnis made of Fischer in any of their correspondence and hardly qualifies as the kind of disclosure the OARC claims it is. “As far as I’m concerned, it did not say research assistant, it did not say co-author, it did not say he would help me write, it just said assistant,” Hasan said. “That could mean the assistant who faxes his papers.”[...]

After learning of the OARC’s decision, Hasan said she was ready to lay the matter to rest, even though she disagreed with the counsel’s finding. “Our conclusion is unchanged, because we were told that this was all original, and then last summer he acknowledged himself it was not all original,” she said…

“He has paid the foundation back, what’s been done has been done,” Hasan said. “But in my mind, it doesn’t take away what happened. I’m not sitting in his mind — I don’t know what he was thinking — but I am confident that some of the articles he sent to me, he had never even read them, he had never even looked at them. If he had looked at them, he would have been appalled.”[...]

“We’re pleased that there was an investigation that brought out these facts on this issue of public concern,” said Ethics Watch director Luis Toro. “We think that they exercised their discretion and we’re not going to challenge it based on a full investigation.”

More Scott McInnis coverage here. More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.


Colorado Ag Water Alliance: Governor Hickenlooper touts the importance of agriculture to Colorado’s economy

May 14, 2011

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“My job is to see that we hold water up front and center to those in urban areas, so they realize how dependent we are on agriculture and the rural areas,” Hickenlooper told the Colorado Ag Water Alliance Friday. The alliance, which represents major statewide agricultural groups, in March asked Hickenlooper to increase planning, funding and permitting of water projects; continue funding for research of alternative transfer methods that don’t dry up farmland; add a representative from the Republican River basin to the Interbasin Compact Committee; and place more emphasis on the sustainable use of groundwater. In response, Hickenlooper brought the state’s top water officials to the alliance meeting Friday and pledged to do all he could to expedite water projects. He also supports ongoing state efforts to find new ways to share water…

For the last two years, Colorado agriculture revenues have been $7 billion, while the industry employs 110,000 people. But the benefits go beyond that in protecting rural economies and enhancing the environment, Hickenlooper said…

The governor said his arm-twisting skills may not be sufficient to convince cities to accept alternative ag transfer proposals rather than secure their own supplies, but said everyone in the state needs to work together to find mutually acceptable projects…

Hickenlooper said he is trying to find common ground with the governors of Nebraska and Kansas to see how water can be used cooperatively among the states within the boundaries of interstate compacts that place limits on what can be done. He also encouraged state agencies to work with federal regulators — the Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, Interior and Agriculture — to remove red tape that can hold up projects for years.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

As DNR director, [Jim Martin current Region 8 director for the EPA] asked Jennifer Gimbel, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, to testify in Congress about the state’s preference to store more water in Chatfield Reservoir rather than accept the no-action alternative: drying up more agricultural land to satisfy urban demand. “The federal regulatory agencies have stopped saying ‘no,’ and are now saying ‘no, because,’ ” Gimbel said. “We are making progress (toward) ‘yes, if. . .’ ’’

Gimbel said the federal agencies say they do not want to influence state water rights, but that by blocking storage of more water in existing reservoirs like Chatfield in order to protect wetlands, the agencies are unwittingly setting the stage for more ag dry-up.

Meanwhile, Colorado State University has named a new head of Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Here’s the release from CSU (Jim Beers):

Gregory Perry, an expert in agricultural finance and taxation who has extensively studied water-management issues, will join Colorado State University July 15 as new head of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
Perry, a professor at Oregon State University at Corvallis, served for about three years as an interim department head there. His additional leadership posts at OSU focused on programs for graduate and undergraduate students, and he also started an international studies program in Chile.

“Dr. Perry has outstanding leadership experience and a highly recognized reputation in teaching and research that fits very well within the mission of our college at CSU,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “He is an important addition to our leadership team as the College of Agricultural Sciences addresses complex, local and global issues in agriculture and resource economics. We are delighted that Dr. Perry will be part of our College and serve in this very important role.”

Beyrouty noted that Perry’s research into water issues – especially his study of the interface between water management and agricultural finance – fits well with a key focus area for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Perry will replace Stephen Davies as leader of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, a department with about 20 faculty members and about 325 undergraduate and graduate students.

Davies, department chair for six years, will return to a full-time focus on teaching and research. Davies teaches classes including agricultural marketing and international agricultural trade.

His ongoing “Future of Colorado Agriculture” project gathers critical information from agricultural stakeholders and provides these insights along with economic analysis to statewide policymakers. Davies also leads water-modeling research in Colorado and internationally.

Perry, who was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to teach in Chile, said he hopes to continue advancing CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics to benefit students and the agricultural industry.

“Economics is the driving force in a lot of ways that agricultural activities occur in the state, determining what commodities are grown, when and how,” Perry said. “Economics becomes the prism through which all agribusiness production decisions are seen.”

He added: “Fundamentally, our job is to educate – to discover new knowledge and to disseminate that knowledge. So if we can do our jobs well, people involved in agriculture have the best economic science available to them to make the best decisions for their own well-being and for improved well-being in the state, nation and even the world.”

In Colorado alone, the agricultural industry annually generates $20 billion in economic activity, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

“This impact points to the importance of understanding agribusiness, finance and economics in food production,” Beyrouty said. “We also seek to understand and teach students about the intersection of agricultural economics with environmental issues, land and water management.”

Perry said he hopes to lead the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in efforts including recruitment and ultimate career placement for talented graduate students, a focus on improving the quality of undergraduate instruction and student learning, support for young faculty members, creation of an endowed chair to advance high-impact research and teaching, and creation of endowed scholarships to support undergraduate education.

Perry earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Utah State University and his doctorate in agricultural economics at Texas A&M University.

And here’s the Final Report – Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Grant Program from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Here’s the summary:

Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Grant Program Summary

As Colorado’s population continues to grow in the coming decades, it is likely that increased transfers of agricultural water rights will occur in order to satisfy increased municipal and industrial (M&I) water demands. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), and the Colorado Water Congress have indicated their support of alternatives to traditional transfers resulting in permanent dry‐up in order to minimize the negative socioeconomic impacts to rural communities that so often result from such transfers.

One of the outcomes of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) 2 study was the recognition that the State of Colorado might be able to provide incentives for M&I providers to consider alternative methods for their water supply options. In response, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 07‐122, which authorized the CWCB to develop a grant program to facilitate the development and implementation of alternative agricultural water transfer methods (ATMs).

Since its inception in 2007, the CWCB’s Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Grant Program has awarded $1.5 million to various water providers, ditch companies, and university groups for the funding of six unique projects; five of which have been underway during 2009– 2010. As illustrated in SWSI 2, rotational fallowing, Interruptible Service Agreements (ISAs), water banks, purchase and leasebacks, deficit irrigation, and changing crop type are the kinds of options that are available as alternatives to permanent agricultural transfers.

With the exception of purchase and leasebacks and some limited occurrences of short‐term leasing, these ATMs are just beginning to be explored as viable options for meeting M&I water demands in Colorado. While promising, there are technical, legal and institutional, financial, and other issues associated with ATMs. Through the ATM Grant Program, CWCB and others are currently exploring ways to address these issues utilizing incentives to gain greater awareness, interest, and participation from agricultural water users and municipalities with alternative agricultural water transfers.

The objectives of this memorandum are to further the understanding of the feasibility of implementing ATMs in Colorado by:

1. Providing an overview of ATM concepts;

2. Providing a summary of the ATM projects funded by grants awarded by CWCB;

3. Providing an overview of the current state of agricultural transfers in the South Platte Basin and the Arkansas Basin and assessing the viability of future transfers in various regions of those basins; and

4. Identifying and summarizing barriers to successful implementation of ATMs and summarizing the ways in which grant‐funded ATM projects have made progress toward finding solutions to the identified barriers to implementation.

More Colorado water coverage here.


2010 Colorado gubernatorial election transition: Interview with Colorado commissioner of agriculture John Salazar

February 15, 2011

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The Fence Post is running a interview with Mr. Salazar that lays out his vision for the department and agriculture under a Hickenlooper administration. The interview is from The Greeley Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

Tribune — Water has to be among your priorities.

Salazar — I’ve been involved with water all my life. I served on the Rio Grande Water Conservation District when AWDI (American Water Development Inc.) was trying to take San Luis Valley water out of the valley. We need to find ways to protect water for agriculture production. There’s a lot of new technology coming … but right now most of that is very expensive. However, as long as cities don’t use water to consumption, we can recycle it and use it again and again.

Tribune — The governor has indicated he may be in favor of the Northern Integrated Supply Project in northern Colorado. Where do you stand?

Salazar — I’ve come out in favor of it, but I want to see if it protects water for agriculture. I will support it as long as it doesn’t dry up agriculture. I live and breathe agriculture.

More 2010 Colorado election coverage here.


2010 Colorado gubernatorial election transition: The importance of agriculture

February 8, 2011

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Pablo Carlos Mora):

“There’s not that many people who understand agriculture,” John Salazar [newly confirmed Director of the State Agriculture Department] said in a meeting Monday with The Pueblo Chieftain’s editorial board. “They think food comes from the grocery store.”[...]

Salazar talks knowledgably about the importance of water to the ag economy, the rising tide of attacks against the livestock industry and the nuances of raising organic products, both on the hoof and from seed. “I will be attending the Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference and Trade Fair this week in Monte Vista,” Salazar said. “A burning issue there is the battle over establishing subdistricts governing the rights of surface water and well water users. “The potato industry is a multimillion dollar part of the valley’s economy,” he said. The outcome of the struggle “could kill the potato industry.”

Salazar backs efforts to let people know the effects of diverting water from Southern Colorado’s ag community to support urban growth. “We should explain the impact drying up one acre of agricultural land has on the economy,” he said. “No comprehensive study has been done to clearly demonstrate the devastating effects of drying up land.”

More coverage from the Associated Press via The Denver Post. From the article:

Salazar told the Pueblo Chieftain on Monday that too many people think their food comes from a grocery store, not from the people who really grow it. John Salazar says key issues facing Colorado’s agricultural industry include water, pressure from animal rights groups and food-borne illnesses.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.


2010 Colorado gubernatorial election transition: Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry luncheon recap

January 21, 2011

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From The Denver Post (Tim Hoover):

“There’s no appetite for anybody in terms of raising taxes,” [Hickenlooper] said. “We have to become more pro-business.” Part of doing that is cutting government red tape, he said. Hundreds of business leaders applauded when he said he wanted to cut permitting times for oil-and-gas operations.

But, Hickenlooper said, it will have to be done carefully, without endangering air and water quality. “We’ll be efficient, but we’re going to hold them (businesses) to the highest standards,” he said.

Pam Kiely, director of Environment Colorado, said environmentalists aren’t automatically opposed to speeding up permits. “What’s important is that we manage the development of our natural resources in a way that keeps our water clean, our air clear, and best protects the health of our local communities,” Kiely said.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.


2010 Colorado gubernatorial election transition: Commissioner of Agriculture Salazar meets with General Assembly Ag committees

January 21, 2011

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Marianne Goodland):

“My goals with the administration, and the governor has made it clear, to ensure that rural Colorado is heard,” Salazar said. Noting that farm income and exports have been up in the last two years, Salazar said “we have a window of opportunity to promote agricultural products. There is nothing more beautiful than rural Colorado,” he said…

Based on USDA data, agriculture generates $28 billion in economic activity and supports 110,000 jobs. That includes 37,000 farms and ranches throughout the state. But about 54 percent of those farms and ranches generate less than $10,000 per year in sales, Lipetzky said; and 15 percent generate more than $100,000 per year in sales. Livestock sales make up the largest share of cash receipts, with 58 percent, or $3.3 billion in sales; crops generate another $2.3 billion annually.

The state is a national leader in barley, cantaloupe, lettuce, potatoes, sweet corn and winter wheat, and is the nation`s top producer of millet, Lipetzky said. It also is a leader in the number of cattle and lambs fed, meat processing technology and animal welfare, and Colorado is the number one state for beer brewing.

Exports topped $1.6 billion last year, going to customers in 99 countries; with beef as the top ag export for the state at $550 million and in 2011 estimated to rise to $600 million. That`s due to increased demand through trade agreements with Korea, and new and expanded access in Japan and China.

A growing market in Colorado is agritourism, Lipetzky reported. Nearly 700 farms in Colorado offer agritourism and related recreational activities, which generated $30 million in sales, and the state`s wine industry brought in another $50 million.

As to the jobs that come from ag, Lipetzky said that in more than half of Colorado`s counties, one in 10 jobs come from ag. In 13 of the state`s counties, it`s one in three. The two top counties for ag-related jobs, with more than 50 percent of the jobs in ag, are Washington and Kiowa counties, in Eastern Colorado.

Last year, the department surveyed industry leaders on challenges and opportunities in ag. The top challenge, cited by 37 percent of respondents, is water, which included concerns about multi-state compacts and diversion for non-ag uses…

As to water issues, Salazar said he will be a strong proponent of keeping water on agricultural land and protecting the state`s water rights, although water issues fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources. He also noted that Gov. John Hickenlooper had tapped former ag commissioner John Stulp to be the state`s water czar. “If people have a better understanding” of what makes rural and urban communities work, “there can be greater understanding of working together” on water, Salazar said. “We can`t destroy one area of the state to build another.”

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.


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