Saturday, August 7, 2010

Keep the kids out of it

Call me an odd blogger, but what struck me most jarringly in the coverage of Sen. Michael Bennet's defense of himself over the Denver Public Schools pension refinancing, was his bringing kids into the political battle.

The Denver Post quoted Bennet as accusing the Andrew Romanoff campaign of "repeatedly trying to score points at the expense of kids...."

Bennet ought to be careful about such a kid-centered accusation while his own campaign is blatantly using his own children to win support for the appointed senator, their Dad.

A Bennet ad currently running on television has each of his three beautiful daughters saying something nice about their Dad's cleaning up of messes created by other politicians.

The mess their Dad has gotten himself into with a high-finance bond scheme meant to reduce DPS debt but which has been turned around on the district during the collapse of the nation's credit markets is a fine mess for sure, Ollie.

Bennet, who gained a business reputation as an inovative financial turnaround artist, used some fancy footwork to conceivably get his district out of a crippling pension burden, but was treated to a little bait-and-switch by the very markets he was so adept at playing.

The deal so far has cost DPS more money than anticipated and now has it entangled in expensive "wind-down" penalties if it decides to back track on the action. The figures being thrown around here range from $25 million to $400 million to $750 million, perhaps small change to Bennet's mentor, Phil Anschutz, but nothing to sneeze at for an inner-city school district.

Bennet also said the New York Times, which reported on the collapse of the DPS deal while Democratic voters are still filling out ballots that will decide whether Bennet gets to stay a U.S. senator, "got it wrong." Yet when you read the story, its details are pretty convincing that "wrong" was the word Bennet should have considered more carefully when the deal was cut back in high-flying 2008.

The Times sometimes gets things wrong, but their authority is a hard wall to breach. Romanoff is right in calling this one a "bet gone bad." Time to close the casino to Wall Street playing with public money. Kids, even bright-eyed neat ones, have no recourse.

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