Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dear Gazette, I don't think that word means what you think it means

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 12:40 PM

They say those who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones. And hey, we all make mistakes. But the doozy on the front page of the Gazette Tuesday morning is a little too comical not to comment on.

Apparently, neither writer Chhun Sun, nor his editor, knows what the word "unnerved" means. I say this because in the first sentence of the Gazette's top story today, Sun says Mayor John Suthers was "unnerved" by road construction going on near him. (The piece was about the progress made on road projects with funding from voter approved Ballot Issue 2C.) In the very next sentence, Sun says Suthers was wearing "an ear-to-ear grin."

Just a clarification here, readers: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "unnerve" as:

Full Definition of unnerve
transitive verb
: to deprive of courage, strength, or steadiness
: to cause to become nervous : upset

So if Suthers was unnerved and also wearing an ear-to-ear grin, then, well, he was being really creepy. It appears, however that the Suthers was actually acting normally, since the Gazette has since updated the story online, replacing the word "unnerved" with "unfazed."

Here is the original:


And the new version:


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trinidad settles lawsuit stemming from bad arrests

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 12:18 PM

  • houstonDwiPhotos
The ACLU of Colorado just announced that the city of Trinidad agreed to pay $375,000 to settle a lawsuit involving two women who were arrested based on bogus information.

The case was thoroughly reported by Alan Prendergast in Westword back in 2014. Prendergast, with Westword since 1995, is a gifted writer and diligent reporter, who periodically teaches journalism at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. From Westword's website:
Prendergast reported on this issue two years ago. - COURTESY ALAN PRENDERGAST
  • Courtesy Alan Prendergast
  • Prendergast reported on this issue two years ago.
His stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, including the 2012 true-crime anthology Seven Sins, The Best American Crime Reporting 2008 and The Best American Sports Writing 2009. He has also written for Rolling Stone, Outside, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Men’s Journal and other national publications and is the author of a book about child abuse and parricide, The Poison Tree.
The ACLU's news release:
DENVER – The City of Trinidad has agreed to pay $375,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Colorado on behalf of Danika Gonzales and Felicia Valdez, two innocent women who were wrongly arrested and prosecuted for crimes they did not commit in a reckless 2013 “drug sting” where police relied on the false accusations of an untrustworthy confidential informant.

The ACLU filed suit in January 2015 alleging that Trinidad detectives incentivized a confidential informant, Crystal Bachicha, to make false, self-serving accusations. To obtain arrest warrants, the detectives deliberately concealed facts that they knew would destroy the informant’s credibility, including Bachicha’s convictions for fraud and drug crimes, her known biases against the people she claimed to have sold drugs to, and numerous documented instances in which Bachicha lied to law enforcement officers.

“Trinidad detectives allowed a devious snitch to frame our innocent clients for crimes they did not commit,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “With this settlement, our clients have been vindicated, and Trinidad detectives have received a clear message that the uncorroborated say-so of a shady snitch cannot justify destroying the careers and reputations of innocent members of the community.”

Overall, 40 individuals were arrested during Trinidad’s widely-publicized 2013 “drug sting,” on the basis of false, deficient, and misleading arrest affidavits. None of the 40 arrests resulted in a drug-related conviction.

“At the time Trinidad police tapped Bachicha to be an informant, they knew that she was a convicted felon, a liar, a drug user, and had a history of providing false information to law enforcement,” said ACLU staff attorney Rebecca Wallace. “Yet, over and over again, the police took Bachicha at her word as she falsely accused many of her enemies of selling drugs.”

Gonzales, who had been Bachicha’s probation officer, lost her job as a result of the false arrest. Valdez was fired from her job with the Trinidad School System, and she and her children were evicted from their federally-subsidized housing.

“This incident was traumatic for me emotionally and financially, and I lost my sense of normalcy and confidence. The reckless actions of the Trinidad Police Department have caused irreversible damage to my career, my family, and my trust in law enforcement,” said Gonzales. “However, I am relieved to have finally gotten to this point of closure. I am so very thankful for the continued hope and support given to me by my family, friends, and all of the outstanding attorneys with the ACLU of Colorado and Baker/Hostetler.”

The City of Trinidad has not conducted its annual drug sting since the 2013 debacle, and the two lead detectives have since retired, according to a recent report in Pueblo Chieftain.

“Our investigation into this case revealed a police department whose repeated use of unreliable confidential informants had caused it to lose the trust of the community it served,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Paul Karlsgodt of BakerHostetler. “Trinidad police acted under constitutionally-deficient procedures which gave untrustworthy informants an open invitation to lie, divert buy money, skim drugs for their own use, and use their positions as informants to settle personal scores against their enemies.”

“The settlement helps to repair some, but not all, of the lasting damage caused by these practices, and we hope it has also given the department an opportunity to self-reflect and make necessary changes to ensure this never happens again,” said cooperating attorney Casie Collignon of BakerHostetler.

Gonzales and Valdez were represented by Silverstein, Wallace, and ACLU staff attorney Sara Neel, as well as a BakerHostetler team led by Karlsgodt, Collignon, and former associate Nathan Schacht.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Debate simulcast coming to a theater near you

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 11:24 AM

  • JStone / Shutterstock

Seriously, why attend a drab party-headquarters viewing, when you can catch Sunday’s presidential grudge-match live on the big screen at your local Regal Cinema?

Imagine hearing Donald Trump reprise his first debate’s locomotive-breath delivery in surround-sound audio!

Thrill to the prospect of Hillary Clinton showing off her latest Paddington Bear outfit on a three-story screen!

Trust us, this is going to be huge.

Colorado Springs politicos can catch the free simulcast Sunday at the Regal Interquest Stadium 14 & RPX, beginning at 7 p.m. MST.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Chieftain apologizes for "lapse in judgment"

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 12:26 PM

A headline in today's Pueblo Chieftain drew sharp criticism from a university professor, and it's not surprising why.

To herald the Denver Broncos' rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, here's the Chieftain's headline:

Tim McGettigan, a professor of sociology at Colorado State University in Pueblo, wrote to the Chieftain saying, "I doubt that the Denver Broncos would find any humor in your sick 'racist joke.' I demand an apology and a retraction. I also urge the Chieftain to educate its editorial staff on the finer points of racism in America."

We asked Managing Editor Steve Henson about it, and he writes via email:
“In our effort to be clever, we erred in using a phrase that is offensive. We apologize for the lapse in judgement.”

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Chalfin takes over Morning Edition set

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 4:17 PM

When you tune in to Morning Edition on NPR at KRCC, you'll now hear local news director Andrea Chalfin, according to a news release from KRCC.

Andrea Chalfin, longtime news director at 91.5 KRCC, Colorado College’s NPR-member station, is taking over as host of the station’s daily broadcast of “Morning Edition.” The show is NPR’s flagship news magazine program.
Andrea Chalfin: Taking a new step. - COURTESY KRCC
  • Courtesy KRCC
  • Andrea Chalfin: Taking a new step.
Chalfin brings more than decade of experience as a reporter and broadcaster to the role. She has helmed 91.5 KRCC's news department since 2008, overseeing the station’s coverage of the Pikes Peak region and Southern Colorado. Her reporting has been recognized by the Associated Press, the Colorado Broadcasters Association, the Radio Television and Digital News Association, and Public Radio News Directors Inc., and has been heard on NPR, BBC, and other public radio stations across the country.

“I'm looking forward to this opportunity to not only shepherd a growing news operation, but also to help shape the sound of the most important program of the day,” says Chalfin. As the host of “Morning Edition,” Chalfin will contribute top-of-the-hour live newscasts and continue to direct the station's local news coverage.

“I'm very excited to have Andrea in this new role,” says Tammy Terwelp, the station’s manager. “She brings the journalistic skills needed for us to stay competitive and serve our audience with a deeper connection.”

Chalfin replaces Shawn Rosvold, who has hosted the show since February 2014. Rosvold is retiring after 50 years in the broadcast business, but will remain connected to 91.5 KRCC, occasionally filling in as a substitute host for “Morning Edition.”

Program Director Jeff Bieri expects Chalfin’s news experience will enable 91.5 KRCC to continue to develop the local profile of the morning drive-time program. “NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ is the gold standard of national news magazines,” Bieri says, “and it will be enhanced even further by Andrea’s contribution of local news and her on air presence.”

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

UPDATE: Anschutz in bed with anti-LGBT forces

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 1:19 PM

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs is one of many holdings of Phllip Anschutz, who reportedly donates money to anti-LGBT rights groups. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs is one of many holdings of Phllip Anschutz, who reportedly donates money to anti-LGBT rights groups.
We received this a couple of hours ago from the Anschutz Foundation:

The Anschutz Foundation is not a member of Jonathan Capehart's alleged "vast right wing conspiracy." The Anschutz Foundation donates to hundreds of worthy organizations each year, and it does not attempt to dictate to those organizations how to spend their monies. Moreover, those donations are made in accordance with our process and guidelines, and neither process or guidelines identify or reference in any way sexual orientation or gender issues.

Mr. Anschutz, and the Anschutz companies, invest in many businesses employing tens of thousands of people. In all instances, personal lifestyles are neither a requirement or limitation to employment.

Mr. Capehart's attempt to smear individuals with unfounded allegations is straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook. It is unworthy of him and of the publication by which he is employed.

This is no reason to comment further on his unfounded statements or on the individuals quoted in his article.

—-ORIGINAL POST 1:19 PM JULY 7, 2016—-

Two groups supportive of LGBT issues are calling out the owner of The Broadmoor and the Gazette as a funder of anti-LGBT efforts after The Washington Post reported who's behind legislation to overturn LGBT rights.

Philip Anschutz, the billionaire entertainment and energy mogul whom we profiled here in regard to the city's land swap with The Broadmoor, has given money to organizations that oppose LGBT rights. Here's what the Post reported about him:
Phil Anschutz is one of the richest people in America, with an estimated fortune of over $10 billion, and is listed at #42 on Forbes' U.S. Billionaires list as of May 17, 2016.

His entertainment company, AEG, is the world’s largest owner of sports teams and venues, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, the Staples Center, and O2 Arena. In addition, Anschutz owns The Weekly Standard, the Washington Examiner, and Regal Cinemas. He’s also one of the largest landowners in the country.

Anschutz Foundation gave $110,000 to Alliance Defending Freedom between 2011 and 2013.

Anschutz Foundation gave $50,000 to National Christian Foundation between 2011 and 2013.

Anschutz Foundation gave $30,000 to Family Research Council between 2010 and 2013
James Dobson, founder of Springs-based Focus on the Family, known for its opposition to LGBT people and its focus on conversion therapy over the years, also is named on the list of donors to various anti-LGBT rights organizations. Tom Minnery, also with Focus, is listed, along with the king of LGBT hatred, Gordon Klingenschmitt, who holds a Colorado House seat but was defeated in the June 28 Republican primary race for a state Senate seat.

Here's the One Colorado news release:
DENVER – One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families, and ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, released the following statement in response to a report in the Washington Post showing that Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz has funded anti-LGBTQ groups.

“Today the Washington Post revealed that while making a fortune off hardworking Coloradans – including LGBTQ Coloradans – billionaire Phil Anschutz has been giving money to organizations that have been designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” said Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado.

“Instead of investing in individuals and groups that spread misinformation and advocate violence, Phil Anschutz could invest in improving the lives of LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. LGBTQ students still face bullying and harassment in our schools, transgender Coloradans are denied access to the health care, identity documents, and basic rights they deserve, and it is still legal for to subject young people to the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.”

"Phil Anschutz's extensive influence in Colorado politics has been known for years, but the degree of his support for anti-LGBTQ groups that fund extremist hate groups like Gordon Kligenschmitt’s ‘Pray in Jesus Name’ is shocking," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii. "At a time in American history when discrimination and violence against LGBTQ citizens is on the rise, support for pro-discrimination groups puts Anschutz on the wrong side of Colorado, and on the wrong side of history."

"The Anschutz name is emblazoned on public institutions across our state," said Silverii. "Now that it has been revealed that his charity is also going to organizations that support political figures who call for gays and lesbians to be killed, it's time to ask Anschutz to take a good look at where his money is being spent. The Alliance Defending Freedom props up the same politicians who have introduced hundreds of rights-destroying bills in legislatures across the country – including right here in Colorado. Today, we’re asking Mr. Anschutz to cancel his checks to the ADF, and instead invest in Colorado-based organizations that help improve the lives of LGBTQ friends and neighbors, not try and strip their rights away."
Anschutz has been known to use his publications to showcase his investments, which was reported by Corey Hutchins for the Columbia Journalism Review, titled, "The Oklahoman runs a puff piece on its billionaire owner’s new resort property." 

So one might ask, what agenda on Anschutz's behalf is being carried out by the Gazette? We've sent an email to Gazette publisher Dan Steever about this and will report back if and when we hear from him. The newspaper's newsroom is overseen by newly hired editor Vince Bzdek, a former editor at The Washington Post.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Gazette fails to make disclosure in land-swap editorial

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 10:03 AM

Who's behind the editorial? Always good policy to unmask conflicting connections. - WILLIAM CLIFFORD
  • William Clifford
  • Who's behind the editorial? Always good policy to unmask conflicting connections.
In the news business, it's crucial that readers be informed of any conflicts of interest that exist between a news organization and the subject of the reporting.

The reason is obvious: Readers deserve to know whether there are forces at work that aren't readily apparent.

As the city's proposed land swap with The Broadmoor has unfolded, the Gazette, which is owned by an entity that's owned by Broadmoor owner Philip Anschutz, has inconsistently disclosed that connection. Some news stories have carried the disclosure; some haven't.

In an April editorial supporting the trade, the Gazette added this footnote at the bottom: "EDITOR'S NOTE: The Broadmoor is owned by The Gazette's parent company and operated under separate and independent management."

(Let's digress for one second to challenge that statement. Under separate and independent management? Christian Anschutz is a member of the newspaper's editorial board. He's Philip Anschutz's son. That doesn't sound very much like independent management.)

In any event, in another editorial that appeared in the Sunday, May 22 edition, openly supporting the land swap, the Gazette makes no disclosure of its connection to The Broadmoor.

And readers weren't fooled.

From comments on the newspaper's site:

"Who wrote this article, Anschutz himself? ... Ya'll are so pathetic you hide behind the name
"The Gazette editorial board". I can see why b/c nobody likes you and you would be black-listed in this town. Terrible cronysim-journalism."

"The Gazette should be embarrassed that it did not disclose that the Broadmoor and the Gazette are both owned by Philip Anschutz." "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Even a land swap supporter was nonplussed.
"I support this swap. With that being said the Gazette should absolutely express that their ownership is the same as the Broadmoor ownership so readers can understand there might be a conflict of interest with this editorial. That is simply good journalism and the omission suggests there is a hidden agenda as opposed to transparency and that absolutely hurts the credibility of the article as a whole."

(Editor's note: It's also worth mentioning here that the Denver Post published a lengthy piece in its Sunday issue on the land swap controversy, including numerous links to other stories and online sources on both sides. All of the links to media coverage aside from the Post were to stories in the Gazette, and none to the Independent or any other medium.)
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Why did the Gazette hold a landslide story?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 1:40 PM


When is a news article not a news article? When it's a test article, apparently.

There are things we don't know yet, but would note that over the weekend, The Denver Post published this fine piece of work by Ryan Maye Handy, formerly of the Gazette, who delved into the consequences of the city and developers not heeding warnings from geological experts.

The result was a story titled, "Warnings did not stop development in Colorado Springs' landslide zone."

Here's a portion of the story, which has generated more than 200 reader comments so far:
City officials have known about the problem since at least the mid-1990s, when they passed an ordinance designed to restrict development, but the measure has not been enforced and new homes have gone up almost unabated.

In other parts of the state where similar problems have occurred — including Boulder and Jefferson counties — landuse code prohibits building on known landslide areas.

Insurance will not cover the losses. At least 70 homeowners in southwest Colorado Springs are seeking federal grants to help buy out their destroyed or imperiled houses — the third round of such funding for the city. Nineteen of those properties are located in neighborhoods surrounding a Broadmoor Hotel golf course where a landslide has been an issue for years.

"In my mind, the process threw caution to the wind," said Jon White, a geologist with the Colorado Geological Survey. "Many knew the risks. Everybody should have been more cautious and the risks should have been disclosed to the potential homebuyers." 

In a letter to Colorado Springs officials last week, state geologists urged the city to take more aggressive action than they have to monitor and assess the risk the Broadmoor golf course slide poses to homes, infrastructure and residents of the area.
We've highlighted the references to The Broadmoor, because evidence suggests the Gazette had an opportunity to run some version of this story more than a month ago and apparently chose not to.

Be aware that the newspaper is owned by Clarity Media Group, which is controlled by Philip Anschutz, who also owns The Broadmoor.

As you can see above, the Gazette began to mount the story on its website on March 7. The "in progress" posting could be found as recently as just before noon Monday, when the article portion was removed — though the byline and March 7 date remain — about 50 minutes after we sent an email to Gazette Publisher Dan Steever and Editor Vince Bzdek. We provided them the screen shot and asked why the story was never published.

So far, no response from either of them, but now the page looks like this:


We discovered the "test article" last month and wrote a story about The Broadmoor's and a neighbor's claim against the city, which appeared in our March 23 issue.

A week or so after the planned March 7 publication of the Gazette story, Handy abruptly resigned from the newspaper. We haven't been able to find out more details as of yet, but will revisit this blog if and when we learn more.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunger, the Onion, Seth MacFarlane, and one surprised local woman

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 5:22 PM


The woman in this Onion  screenshot is Jenny Bealis-Schell, the co-owner of Design Rangers, a local Colorado Springs mom, and, apparently, something of a sudden celebrity.

In the last month, Jenny, who says she generally dodges cameras, has been featured in a web commercial seeking to raise money for hungry people and been featured in the aforementioned satirical article on the Onion, a story that was retweeted by Seth MacFarlane (the television producer, filmmaker, actor and singer who created Family Guy). She's also been the subject of many a commenter, including one who has insulted her "acting" and another who called her "annoying."

To say this has been surprising for Jenny is an understatement.

The genesis of this brush with fame began in the late 1970s. Jenny was 4 years old when her parents divorced. She says her dad didn't pay child support, and her mom, who worked as a waitress, often had little money. Mother and daughter moved to a piece of property that her mom got in the divorce, which was located in a ghost town just outside Victor, Colorado.

The cabin home had an outhouse, and no electricity or running water. For five years, mother and daughter scraped by, living in many ways as though it were the 1800s. Because money was scarce, Jenny was sometimes hungry. She fondly remembers neighbors who invited her to their homes for holiday meals, and a store that once gave her a bag of Christmas presents.

Her friend's family, she says, often watched her in the mornings before school when her mother worked early shifts. She remembers her friend's father making sourdough pancakes every morning. The food was a gift, as was the relief from her rugged circumstances.

“We didn’t have a TV and we had like kerosene lanterns," she recalls, "so just to walk into a house with electricity was a big deal.”

Because of her upbringing, Jenny has been eager to help the local food bank, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. Last year, she was the keynote speaker at Care and Share's fundraising luncheon and she says she was thrilled that the nonprofit was able to surpass its goal. Afterward, she said people would sometimes come up to her at random and tell her they heard her speech and were touched by it.

So when Care and Share called her again early this year, saying they wanted to submit her story for a commercial, she was excited. Every year, Walmart does a fundraising campaign with Care and Share's parent organization, Feeding America. Walmart stores send a portion of the proceeds from certain products, as well as donations made at cash registers, to Feeding America, which uses the money to buy food. The campaign is called  "Fight Hunger, Spark Change."  

This year, Walmart wanted to film profiles of people who volunteered with a Feeding America food bank and run them as ads on the web. After a national search, Walmart selected two stories from Colorado Springs, including Jenny's. A director from London and a film crew from New York came to the Springs to film the spots.

They even took Jenny back to her old hometown for part of the shoot.

“Having the film crew with me was so surreal and emotional,” she says.

In late March, the web ads started popping up. Then, on April 18, friends alerted Jenny to the Onion article.  Despite the less-than-generous headline, Jenny says she was thrilled. She and her husband love the Onion, as does her college-age son. And she was also excited about being in a MacFarlane tweet.

“It still think it’s like pretty cool," she says of the Onion article.

Adding, “Finally I’m going to get cool mom points.”

As for the negative comments, Jenny says she isn't really hurt. 

 “I'm not an actress," she says. "So I don’t care if [a commenter] calls me a shitty actress, because I’m not an actress.”
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Judge resists unsealing Dear affidavits

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Dear: A psychological evaluation is pending.
  • Dear: A psychological evaluation is pending.

For those following the increasingly protracted effort to gain access to search warrant and arrest warrant affidavits in the case of Robert Lewis Dear Jr., the accused Planned Parenthood shooter, it doesn't look like the public will learn very much very soon.

A coalition of media, including the Independent and the Gazette, is trying to advance transparency in the case. For details of this argument, check this out:
District Judge Gilbert Martinez filed a 43-page argument recently for why he's right to withhold these documents from the public, along with 73 additional pages of transcripts form the Dear hearings.

Read his arguments here:
To read the Public Defender's Office's pleading in the case, representing Dear, click on this:

The following was filed by the District Attorney's Office:

Lastly, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition executive director reports that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has an opinion about it also:
By Jeffrey A. Roberts
CFOIC Executive Director

The judge in the Planned Parenthood shooting case defended his sealing of court records, arguing Tuesday that news organizations did not have a First Amendment or Colorado constitutional right to inspect the records while the police investigation was ongoing.

Answering a Jan. 27 order from the Colorado Supreme Court, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman outlined reasons why El Paso County District Court Judge Gilbert Martinez was right to seal affidavits of probable cause in the case against Robert Lewis Dear. Coffman’s office represents the Colorado Judicial Branch on legal matters.

Accepting a media consortium’s arguments for unsealing the records would be “unprecedented in Colorado” and “contrary to the great weight of the case law,” Coffman wrote. Doing so, she added, would undermine the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, the Supreme Court’s rules on access to court records and “the important supervisory powers of the trial courts to protect ongoing criminal investigations and the privacy rights of victims and witnesses.”

Dear, 57, is accused of killing three people and wounding nine others during a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Nov. 27.

The media consortium argued that Martinez’ order could keep the affidavits secret for more than a year, which would “deprive the public of knowing the most basic facts of what prompted government authorities to arrest Dear, to search his residence, and to file (a) 179-count criminal complaint.”

The media organizations urged the Supreme Court to clarify that under both the federal and state constitutions, “the public enjoys a presumed right of access to documents on file in Colorado criminal cases after the defendant has been formally charged…”

But Coffman, on Martinez’ behalf, presented arguments that neither constitution guarantees that right.

Her filing acknowledges, however, that three months into the case, the criminal investigation is likely over, “significantly diminishing the trial court’s concern that public disclosure would harm the process.” And because Dear has made statements proclaiming his guilt, “information that might have been previously sealed or redacted is now in the public domain.”

“Although the majority of the shooting victims’ names have not been released and would be appropriately redacted, these changed circumstances may render it appropriate to release the affidavits of probable cause in redacted form,” Coffman wrote.

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition also signed the media consortium's Supreme Court petition as did the Colorado Press Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Follow the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on Twitter @CoFOIC. Like CFOIC’s Facebook page.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

What do Coloradans Google more than other states?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Ok. So this is interesting.

A real estate website called did a little research about what types of things each state Googles more than other states this year.

In Colorado the topics were:

• Syrian civil war
• Water on Mars
• Mass shootings
• Keystone Pipeline

Not surprising, really, considering we just went through the tragic Nov. 27 multiple fatality shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic on Centennial Boulevard that killed three people.

As for water on mars, could it be that Coloradans are more space savvy, or are we just tuned in to the intrinsic value of water, considering rivers that begin here provide life to at least eight states and Mexico.

Keystone Pipeline? That's on a lot of people's radar who rely on oil and gas production in the northeast portion of the state.

What's interesting is what other states are most interested in. Take my home state of Kansas. Its residents' top issue was the World Series. No surprise. The Royals won. Arizona? Gun rights. Here's a map:


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Friday, October 2, 2015

Meditation, suicide, and mental health

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 9:26 AM

  • Courtesy AspenPointe
  • Dan Harris

Hundreds showed up to laugh and cry at AspenPointe's Heroes of Mental Health Luncheon on Thursday at the Broadmoor Hotel.

Keynote speaker Dan Harris, the co-anchor and Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America on ABC News, gave the keynote address, sharing a personal story of his own struggle with panic attacks and drug use. Harris, who had the audience laughing throughout his speech, started off by showing an on-air panic attack that he had on Good Morning America about 10 years ago. 

He went on to explain that his star had risen quickly when he was still quite young. Early in his career, he took trip after trip to war zones in the Middle East following 9/11 without ever considering the effect it had on his mental health. He ended up turning to ecstasy and cocaine to ease his anxiety, only to have panic attacks.

After the on-air episode, he decided it was time to see "a shrink." The therapist explained that the drugs were only flooding Harris' brain with adrenaline, causing the panic attacks. He ended up quitting drugs and continuing therapy, and at the urging of Peter Jennings, he begrudgingly agreed to do regular coverage on spirituality.

Harris said he didn't really connect with any of it, having never been religious. ("I went to my bar mitzvah," he cracked, "but only for the money.") But then he ran across the Oprah-endorsed author Eckhart Tolle. Initially, he was turned off by Tolle's rather far-out, self-help approach. But Harris realized he connected with Tolle's contention that the major problem humans have is the inability to shut off the voice in our head that tells us to do things without really considering them — hence we find ourselves eating junk food, or doing drugs.

Later, Harris said he realized that Tolle's concept was rooted in the Buddhist concept of "the monkey brain." Buddhists believe that the trick to turning it off, or at least having some consciousness of it, is meditation. Harris was, again, skeptical — envisioning every hippie stereotype. But he decided to try it. In short, it worked.

"You're breaking a lifetime habit of walking around in a fog," he said.

And Harris found out that there's plenty of research to back up the claims that meditation is good for the mind and body. Harris has since authored the book 10% Happier, documenting his experiences with meditation, and the improvements it brought to his life.

"Meditation," he said, "is the next public health revolution." 

Guy and Jane Bennett - COURTESY ASPEN POINTE
  • Courtesy Aspen Pointe
  • Guy and Jane Bennett

Later in the program, AspenPointe honored Guy and Jane Bennett with its 2015 Heroes of Mental Health Award. The Bennetts lost their only child, 17-year-old Matthew, to suicide in 2002. Instead of crawling into a hole of grief, the couple decided to try to prevent other suicides and help other survivors. They have been instrumental in training the community about preventing suicide. Their involvement spans many groups and programs, including Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention Partnership, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills, Colorado Coalition of Suicide Prevention, and HEARTBEAT. 

On a similar note, AspenPointe was asking for donations to support its free eight-hour program, Youth Mental Health First Aid. The class helps people identify warning signs for self harm in adolescents. Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 has been training all its staff in the program in an effort to help kids who often are under stress due to being in military families that relocate frequently.

In 2014, seven adolescents died by suicide in El Paso County. Between May and June of 2015, however, there were five such fatalities.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Man not attacked by bear

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:20 PM

click image It wasn't me. - JITZE COUPERUS
  • Jitze Couperus
  • It wasn't me.

There's an old saying in journalism that goes something like this: A dog biting a man isn't a story, but a man biting a dog is.

Well, what about a bear not biting a man?  Colorado Parks and Wildlife has concluded that a Grand Junction hunter in his 60s was not attacked by a bear, as he claimed. The man crashed his ATV after he says a bear attacked him. But the CPW says that there is "conclusive evidence that a bear did not attack this individual."

The CPW isn't releasing the hunter's name, and it clarifies that the man may have seen something that startled him. Just not a bear.


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Wildlife officers from the Grand Junction area have completed their investigation of the reported bear attack and mauling on the Grand Mesa Saturday evening, concluding that the injuries to the individual were not caused by a bear.

The man, a hunter in his late 60s, was parked on his ATV on Forest Service Road 105, above Powderhorn Ski Resort, when he says a bear approached and attacked, causing him to drive over a small cliff into large rocks below. The crash resulted in extensive but non-life threatening injuries.

"We investigated this incident thoroughly over the last three days, including the use of specially trained dogs from the USDA's Wildlife Services, examination of the injuries, and forensic crime scene examination and we found conclusive evidence that a bear did not attack this individual," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager JT Romatzke. "This individual is certain that he saw a bear. We are not discounting that he saw something that caused him to react."

Romatzke adds that some of the initial media reports that a bear had attacked and mauled the individual, based on law enforcement scanner traffic, proved to be premature.

"People get very concerned about wildlife conflicts, and it is not helpful to cause unneeded alarm," said Romatzke. "Just like a typical crime scene, all possible conflicts with wildlife require extensive investigation to come to accurate, factual conclusions. It's important for the public to get the right information, especially when it comes to issues that potentially affect their safety."

The hunter's name is not being released.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

UPDATE: City Council limits communication with media

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 11:48 AM

Council President Merv Bennett is among councilors who are limiting how reporters can contact them. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Council President Merv Bennett is among councilors who are limiting how reporters can contact them.
This just in from Council Administrator Eileen Gonzalez:

"saw your blog post from earlier today, just wanted to set the records straight - City Council is not trying to limit communication with the media. By asking the media to contact Councilmembers through their work email address or work phone—cell or office—we’re trying to make sure they’re not using private email for City-related business, which you referenced in your April 2015 article “Got the message?” Since they have access to mobile technology now, they’re often more available on mobile devices via City accounts now than they were in the past."

———ORIGINAL POST 11:48 A.M. FRI., JULY 17, 2015——-

Having been in the news business for nearly 38 years, I've found that elected officials are often more easily reached on their private emails and telephones rather than their official emails and phones.

That's especially true if the elected officials are considered part-time. Try reaching someone by office phone who's in the office only once or twice a week, or less.

So many times over the past years, I've contacted Colorado Springs City Council members on their private emails with good response.

But now, Council is cutting off that type of contact, according to the following message I received from Council's communications officer Vicki Gomes, who writes in an email this morning:

Hi, Pam, when corresponding with City Council, please use their city email address or city office phone. Council will not respond to a media request sent to their personal email address.

Merv Bennett
President, At-large
(719) 385-5469

Jill Gaebler
President Pro-tem, Dist. 5
(719) 385-5483

Don Knight
Dist. 1
(719) 385-5487

Larry Bagley
Dist. 2
(719) 385-5493

Keith King
Dist. 3
(719) 385-5470

Helen Collins
Dist. 4
(719) 385-5492

Andy Pico
Dist. 6
(719) 385-5491

Bill Murray
(719) 385-5485

Tom Strand
(719) 385-5486
It's worth noting that this message comes after we asked Councilors to comment on our story, "Full force," which examines the Colorado Springs Police Department's use of force on citizens.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sen. Bennet knocks Gazette advertisement

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 2:09 PM

On Sunday, the Gazette ran an advertisement from the Friendship Assembly of God Church titled "DON'T CATER TO THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA."

"It's time for common sense Americans to stand up and speak out against the Homosexual Agenda," the advertisement begins. "The recent events in Indiana, Utah, and Arizona have caused most Americans to be in great fear for their personal, academic and religious freedoms."

Because newspapers have discretion in the advertising they accept and run, the Gazette's been getting hammered by commenters on its Facebook page. It's a continuation of its regression from a Pulitzer Prize-winning source of news to a confused uncle shouting in the corner. 

(Check out today's screed against climate change, to go with one from a few days ago, something about how people who smoke cannabis don't have jobs or something. Oof. Ten bucks says the next one is a warning against the evils of dancing to the radio.)

Reader Jim McFarland wrote this to the Gazette: "Between 'Clearing the Haze' and now allowing bigoted hate to be printed as ads in the paper, it is getting harder to justify keeping my print subscription. ... Allowing hate as ads and continuing to give Wayne Laugeson [sic] an outlet to spread his right wing nonsense is something I don't want to support."

Another reader, Clay A. Nash, told the newspaper, "You should be ashamed of yourselves! Allowing blatant hate to circulate throughout this community? get with the times, Gazette!"

The paper responded to all with this statement from publisher Dan Steever: "Gazette managers discussed the option of rejecting this ad, which did not violate basic guidelines. We decided doing so would set a dangerous precedent. ..."

The ad even drew the attention of Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who yesterday wrote: "A recent ad in the Colorado Springs Gazette used hurtful, venomous words to urge people to stand up against a so-called 'Homosexual Agenda.' Instead, we want to urge you to stand up against this hate speech and end discrimination. ..."

As usual, this led to a whole thread of people talking about what a backwards place Colorado Springs is. Between Rep. K-Schmitt and the smelly stuff being deposited on people's driveways when the newspaper's dropped off, we're getting downright medieval in these parts. Anyone for a little Catholic Inquisition?

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