State Gov

Monday, June 13, 2016

Addressing our high rate of suicide

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 1:23 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • SHUTTERSTOCK
Suicide is a huge problem in Colorado and the trend doesn't seem to be letting up. 

Back in February, I wrote a story about youth suicide following the deaths of four local teens. Recently, another rash of teen suicides in our county has led to more concern. If the trends tell us anything, suicide will continue to be a problem. Check out what I wrote a few months ago:
Colorado has the distinction of having the nation's seventh highest suicide rate. The statistics get a little trickier on youth suicides, though that number is also high. (We're third in the nation for youth suicides, ages 10 to 18, though Kirk Bol, interim vital records registrar for the Colorado Center for Health and Environmental Data, says statistically there is no real difference between the rates of the top 20 states.)

El Paso County isn't exactly a role model. While statistically speaking, there's no difference between the county and state suicide rates, it's reasonable to assume that El Paso County is nowhere near the low end for the state — and our rate has been going up. Between 2012 and 2014, the county recorded 24 youth suicides (ages 10 to 18) for a rate of 9.39 deaths per 100,000 youths, while the state had 140 youth suicides, for a rate of 7.41 deaths per 100,000 youths.
On the bright side, several things are being done to combat the problem locally and statewide. Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention is offering these free suicide prevention trainings to the public: Penrose Library 6/14 6-7 p.m.; Tri-Lakes YMCA 6/17 10-11 a.m.; East Library 6/27 6-7 p.m.; Tri-Lakes YMCA 6/28 6-7 p.m.; Fountain Library 7/8 6-7 p.m.; and Sand Creek Library 7/27 6:30-7:30 p.m.

On the state level, Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed a bill that will change how health providers address mental health conditions that can lead to suicide. Read on for more on the bill: 
Implementing Zero Suicide in Colorado
Hick Signs Pettersen Bill to Implement Successful National Zero Suicide Model

(June 10) – A bill by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood to implement the Zero Suicide model in order to reduce the rate of suicide in Colorado was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper this morning.

“Whether you know someone personally or know a family going through the loss of a loved one, suicide is something that has touched everyone,” said Rep. Pettersen. “This week my brother would have turned 44 years old. I often wonder if the health professionals who were in contact with him at the time had been trained in prevention if he would still be here today.”

“I’m so happy to know that the Zero Suicide model, which has been shown to decrease suicide by 80 percent, will be implemented in Colorado. Suicide is a complex problem in Colorado and demands a proven solution.”

Colorado has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation and the Zero Suicide model has been shown to decrease suicide by up to 80 percent when implemented in health systems. More than 30 percent of people who die of suicide are receiving mental health care at the time of death and 25 percent go to the Emergency Department in the month before death, demonstrating that coordinated care by professionals trained in the Zero Suicide model can have a significant impact.

SB16-147 creates the Office of Suicide Prevention which will collaborate with health agencies and private healthcare systems to foster the national Zero Suicide model. A wide variety of health and behavioral health systems (including community mental health centers, HMOs, hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, and the statewide crisis services system) will be encouraged to adopt suicide prevention best practices known as the seven tenets of Zero Suicide: leadership, training, identification and assessment, patient engagement, treatment, transition, and quality improvement. 

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Republicans bury hospital fee bill

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2016 at 4:55 PM

Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs
The Colorado Senate Finance Committee, which includes Sen. Owen Hill from Colorado Springs, defeated House Bill 1420, which would have set up a mechanism that would allow hospitals to benefit from fees they collect to help fund Medicaid.

The committee, dominated by Republicans, got accolades from the extreme right-wing Americans for Prosperity, largely funded by the Koch Brothers, but it got raspberries from the hospital industry.

The AFP's release:
DENVER — Today the State Senate Finance Committee voted against HB-1420 in a 3-2 vote. If this bill had passed, it would have undermined Coloradans' Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) by taking fees that the Colorado hospitals collect, and putting them into an "enterprise fund" instead of the general fund, where they trigger taxpayer funds.

In reaction to today's vote, AFP Colorado State Director Michael Fields released the following statement:

"We applaud the state senate for killing a convoluted scheme today in HB- 1420, that would have denied taxpayers their refunds in future years without even giving Coloradans a say. We are now hopeful that the state can get down to the business of addressing the real state budget issues that will not be fixed by enterprising the hospital provider fee. Our network of 127,000 Colorado activists will continue to stand strong for the best interest of all Coloradans."

This is the second year in a row that the legislature has voted down this legislation. AFP Colorado thanks Senators Hill, Holbert and Neville for standing up for taxpayers.
The hospital association said this:
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – May 10, 2016 – “The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is extremely disappointed that our legislative leaders couldn’t come to a compromise on the Hospital Provider Fee enterprise this year – despite bipartisan support and no testimony opposing the bill in its final committee hearing – and in effect, didn’t listen to their constituents or the broad organizational support through the Fix the Glitch coalition who strongly advocated for this change,” said Steven J. Summer, CHA president and CEO. “However, we are grateful to Speaker Hullinghorst and Senator Crowder for their leadership on this issue, as well as to the many others – including our member hospitals and health systems – who supported this important effort. Our hospitals recognize the critical nature of the priorities in their communities that are subject to budget constraints this year – including health care, education and transportation.

Because the legislature was unable to fix this glitch this year – even though it was within their purview to do so – CHA is committed to finding a long-term solution that supports the vital services provided by our members as well as the broader fiscal, education and infrastructure needs of Coloradans. Otherwise, we risk facing detrimental health care budget cuts – mostly on the backs of our rural hospitals – in the years to come.”

About the Colorado Hospital Association
The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is the leading voice of Colorado’s hospital and health system community. Representing more than 100 member hospitals and health systems throughout the state, CHA serves as a trusted, credible and reliable resource on health issues, hospital data and trends for its members, media, policymakers and the general public. Through CHA, Colorado’s hospitals and health systems work together in their shared commitment to improve health and health care in Colorado.
We suppose Hill and his cohorts would, if they could, follow the lead of Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who led that state's GOP-dominated legislature to not accept the expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, while at the same time giving huge tax breaks to businesses and farmers. As a result the state faces huge revenue shortfalls and severe cuts to transportation and health care.

Here's what the Colorado Springs Business Journal had to say about the hospital fee legislation and the Senate President, who we're embarrassed to say is from Colorado Springs, in a recent editorial: (Thank God for term limits.)
Colorado’s leaders have found a solution to the state’s thorny budget problem. It’s simple; it’s legal and it has the support of nearly every business group from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

The solution: Move the hospital provider fee from the general fund to its own enterprise fund. Since it has a dedicated use — to match federal Medicaid dollars on a one-to-one basis — it doesn’t belong in the general fund. Since it’s a fee, not a tax, that hospitals pay to reduce their uncompensated debt and charity care, it doesn’t belong in calculated revenue limits under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. And there are $60 million reasons why the change is vital.

There’s only one man standing in the way: Sen. Bill Cadman. Cadman, who represents a portion of Colorado Springs in the General Assembly, is the Senate president. It’s his job to make sure legislation gets a vote — but he has said he doesn’t support this change and believes it’s illegal.

His stance is in direct opposition to at least two prominent fellow Republicans. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman released a legal opinion earlier this month saying there were no legal barriers to the enterprise fee designation. Springs Mayor John Suthers, who preceded Coffman as attorney general, concurs with her opinion. Supporters say they have enough votes in the full Senate to pass the change.

Some political insiders believe Cadman has become too close to Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ conservative political action group that believes any change to TABOR is a threat to the state. When he became Senate president, Cadman credited AFP and its influence. He also made sure every senator had a copy of AFP’s legislative agenda on the first day of the session.

It’s interesting that Cadman thanked a political action group instead of voters who trusted him to act on their behalf. It shows where his loyalty lies — not with Colorado Springs.

This isn’t just legislative sleight-of-hand designed to increase spending. Without removing the provider fee, the state will have to cut $60 million from its budget because of TABOR.

It’s almost certain that there will be cuts to higher education, harming low- and middle-income families already struggling to pay high tuition and fees at state institutions.

But for Colorado Springs, Cadman’s recalcitrance has added implications.

The city is currently celebrating Gov. John Hickenlooper’s announced plan to place a National Cyber Intelligence Center here. It’s good news for Colorado Springs, already home to more than 80 cyber companies.

But without state money, it can’t happen. The Springs’ share of a $5 billion industry, its jobs, its research and development, the cyber defense the nation demands to keep networks safe — all could disappear.

By following AFP’s agenda, Cadman’s ignoring the will of local Republicans who put him in office. He’s damaging the state’s ability to educate its children, meaning that high-paying, high-tech jobs won’t be available to Colorado natives.

He’s harming the chances for the Springs — the area he represents — to bring together cybersecurity leaders, researchers, businesses and community leaders to create a national center.

The numbers are clear: Without changes to the state budget, Colorado soon will only be able to pay for Medicare and prisons.

Why is Sen. Bill Cadman standing alone? The answer: He isn’t. He’s standing with Americans for Prosperity, and against business development and higher education in Colorado Springs.


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Monday, March 28, 2016

Check it out: Colorado is getting new driver licenses

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM

Colorado driver licenses are ugly as sin. Of course, I may just think that because my own card is home to seriously the worst photo anyone has taken of me in my life

Ahem.

Anyway, no word on whether the state plans to hire competent photographers, but it will be changing up the design of our state IDs. You won't have to replace your old ID any time soon, but the next time you need a new one, it will probably look like this (only with a worse photo):

screen_shot_2016-03-28_at_4.58.50_pm.png

Read on for the details:

Colorado DMV to begin statewide rollout of new design for driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards

March 28, 2016 – DENVER – The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will start a two-week statewide rollout of the newly designed driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards beginning April 6, 2016.

Offices will be closed one day prior to issuing the new design to allow for the installation of new equipment and for training. Please refer to the DMV website for up-to-date closure information for specific offices. In addition, closure information will also be posted at each office.

Colorado residents can continue to use their current valid driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards through their expiration date. The current design will continue to be issued at offices until they have converted to the new equipment and software associated with the new design.

The DMV encourages customers to attempt to renew their driver license or identification cards online at www.colorado.gov/vroom. The new design will be available through online renewal beginning in mid-April.

Customers obtaining a newly-designed card in an office will receive an updated temporary paper document that will contain a removable section with an image that resembles the card. The temporary document will be valid for 30 days to allow for the physical card to be produced and mailed.

The new design features a more colorful background showcasing Mount Sneffels located between Ouray and Telluride. The State Capital is pictured on the reverse. The card also includes laser engraving of the customer’s information and primary photograph in grayscale to enhance the security and safety of the document.

The Littleton, Aurora and Frisco state driver license offices have been piloting the new design since the beginning of March.

For more information on the new card design, please visit www.colorado.gov/dmv/newlook.  

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Transgender bill dies in Senate Committee

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 11:34 AM

click image 800px-transgender_pride_flag.svg.png
A bill that would have granted more rights to transgender people who were born in Colorado has failed in a Senate committee on a party-line vote.

Republicans nixed the 2016 Birth Certificate Modernization Act (House Bill 1185), which would have allowed trans people with a Colorado birth certificate to change the gender on the document without undergoing surgery and without going through lengthy court proceedings. The document would not be marked as amended.

Current law requires that a trans person undergo some sort of sexual reassignment surgery, get a court order for a name change on their birth certificate, get a legal name change, and file forms and documents with the state before receiving a birth certificate that is marked as amended.

HB1185 had already passed the Democrat-controlled House, with five Republicans joining Democrats in supporting it. It died in the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs committee in the Republican-controlled Senate. A similar bill died in a Senate committee in the last session.

The LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado released a statement on the bill's failure from Executive Director Dave Montez that read in part:

Today the Republicans on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Senate had the chance to, yet again, do the right thing for transgender Coloradans. Despite the fact there was no testimony in opposition to the Birth Certificate Modernization Act today, the Republican members of the committee chose to play politics with our families.

"It was our hope that at least one Republican senator on the committee would side with the five Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives who voted in favor of House Bill 1185 because it upholds the Republican ideals of freedom, privacy, and limited government.

"This much-needed legislation would simply have brought Colorado law in line with existing policies at the federal level, and in doing so would have protected the privacy of transgender Coloradans and protected them from discrimination. Not only did dozens of transgender Coloradans and their families ask the committee to pass this bill today, but the Office of the State Registrar — which is the department in charge of issuing birth certificates — came out firmly in support of House Bill 1185 because of the its importance for transgender Coloradans. 

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bill would end gay conversion therapy

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 8:34 AM

Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver
  • Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver
Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, is at it again.

Last year, he sponsored a bill to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. It died in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, where Republicans have the majority. Among those voting to kill the bill was Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs. But Rosenthal has once again introduced a bill to ban the archaic practice, and it has passed a voice vote in the Democrat-controlled House.

Gay conversion therapy is exactly what it sounds like — an attempt to convert gay people, especially minors, into heterosexuals. It's been widely discredited, and is widely considered to be damaging.

Of course, that may not stop the Republican-controlled Senate from killing this bill again.

Here is what the Colorado House Democrats have to say about the bill:

House Votes to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’
Rosenthal Bill Ending Archaic Anti-LGBT Practice Second Reading


(March 14) – The House gave voice approval this morning to a bill by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” and therefore to ensure that no more Colorado teens are subjected to this harmful practice. Over the loud objections of Republican members of the House, the bill proceeds to a third reading.

“Colorado families have a right to know that a therapist will not put their child’s well-being in danger,” said Rep. Rosenthal. “So-called gay conversion therapy is an imposition of a therapist’s own view on the child. We heard in committee from several adults who still bear the scars from a therapist who tried to force them to be someone they are not. Let us protect our children from this harmful practice.”

“This bill is about therapy that provides acceptance, understanding, coping and support—not trying to change someone into someone else,” said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

“Conversion therapy” is a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or suppressing a person’s gender identity. The practice has been rejected by every mainstream mental health professional association. HB16-1210 prohibits physicians specializing in psychiatry and licensed or registered mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with patients under 18 years of age. Studies have shown that minors being subjected to this practice are at a higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide.

During the bill’s hearing before the House Public Health Care &Human Services Committee, several individuals testified about the negative impacts of having survived “conversion therapy.” Republican members of the Committee compared being LGBT to drug use or alcohol addiction multiple times.

The approval sends the bill to the House floor for a third reading. 

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Disclosure laws for police body cams

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 3:44 PM

screen_shot_2016-03-10_at_3.20.36_pm.png

There's a nifty website where you can find out how each state stacks up on laws regarding police body cams, and other related laws.

Find that website here.

It shows that in most states, police public records are exempt from public disclosure, and that's true in many respects here in Colorado. Hence, the Independent has been unable to obtain various Colorado Springs Police Department records, including those of past internal affairs investigations of Officer Nicholas Ryland, who reportedly has a past record of use of force, as alleged by the attorney in the case of an Alzheimer's patient who was bullied by police. See our report on that here.

Specifically, Colorado's law governing criminal justice records allows police agencies to withhold records the release of which would be contrary to the public interest, and the agencies themselves are authorized to make that call.

Some time ago, the CSPD asked the public for input for its body camera program, which gets under way in full steam later this year. That final survey report isn't done yet, but according to a preliminary report below, the department hasn't yet made a decision on when the footage from body cams will be released or whether the CSPD will inform someone who's caught on the footage that it will be released prior to doing so.

In addition, 94 percent of respondents to the survey "think the cameras will show CSPD officers usually handle the public appropriately."

Read the report here:
Scanned_from_a_Xerox_multifunction_device.pdf


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Monday, February 29, 2016

GoCode Colorado Roadshow here Wednesday

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 1:19 PM

Get your geek on! The GoCode Colorado Roadshow will be coming to Colorado Springs on Wednesday, March 2.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will be joining local techies to talk about this year’s GoCode challenge at Episouthcentral, located at 1604 S Cascade Ave., from 6 to 8 p.m. Drinks and food will be provided at the free event, where questions will be answered about this year’s challenge.

For the unfamiliar, GoCode is an award-winning, statewide business app challenge, in which teams from cities across the state compete to develop apps that solve real business problems. Hosted through the Secretary of State’s office, the challenge brings together teams of developers and entrepreneurs.

Judges whittle the field of teams, and the two best teams from each location are sent to a mentor weekend (this year’s is in Boulder), where they meet with some of the state’s top entrepreneurs, lawyers, and others. Finally, the three top teams are selected, and each are awarded a $25,000 prize to keep their app and business idea going.
Registration is open for the challenge, which begins on the weekend of April 1-3, at http://gocode.colorado.gov/.

Still want to know more? Check out their commercial:


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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rep. Priola targeted by ProgressNow

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 12:34 PM

Rep. Kevin Priola
  • Rep. Kevin Priola
Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Brighton, is the target of a negative campaign by progressive organization ProgressNow Colorado

The organization says it is targeting Priola due is his "hypocrisy." Here's what they're referring to: Priola asked for a delay on a legislative vote so he could take his child to the doctor. When he returned, he voted no on the bill. The bill in question provided parental leave for workers who need to attend school activities for their kids. 

Here's what the organization has to say about their campaign:

Campaign Launched To Hold Kevin Priola Accountable for Parental Leave Hypocrisy

DENVER: After the narrow passage of legislation reauthorizing Colorado’s parental leave law for school activities in the state House of Representatives, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, launched a voter education campaign highlighting the vote by Rep. Kevin Priola of Adams County against this important bill—a vote taken after Priola hypocritically requested leave from the legislature to take his child to a doctor’s appointment.

“Kevin Priola’s vote to take away the parental leave rights Colorado families had for years proves he is not looking out for the best interests of the citizens he represents,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “It’s critical for me as the father of a Colorado public school student that I be there for my son’s educational needs. Parental leave for children’s academic needs was the law in Colorado for years, and it didn’t hurt the economy. How can Kevin Priola look Colorado parents in the eye after voting to take away their right to be there for their kids?”

As part of ProgressNow Colorado’s accountability campaign, voter education phone calls were launched throughout Adams County calling attention to Priola’s vote and hypocrisy yesterday afternoon. Click here to listen to the recorded message, as delivered to thousands of voters in Adams County:

Hi, this is Alan Franklin, calling with an important update from the Colorado legislature. Representative Kevin Priola wants to take away parental leave rights for parents to attend school activities, even though parental leave was the law in Colorado for years. But that’s not the worst part. Priola actually requested to delay the vote on parental leave to take his child to a doctor’s appointment. Then he voted against parental leave for your kids. Call Representative Priola at 303-866-2912 and tell him enough is enough. Stop the hypocrisy. Paid for by ProgressNow Colorado.

“By requesting a delay in the vote on parental leave to attend to his own child’s needs, then voting against parental leave for everyone else, Kevin Priola has become a poster child for right-wing hypocrisy,” said Franklin. “The ‘party of family values’ is showing their true colors by fighting to take away parental leave rights Colorado families have enjoyed for years. As Kevin Priola seeks higher office, voters in Adams County need to understand whose side he is on—and it’s not the side of middle class families.”

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tourism is on the rise

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 2:06 PM

Cathy Ritter is excited to sell Colorado. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Cathy Ritter is excited to sell Colorado.
Colorado State Tourism Office Director Cathy Ritter offered encouraging news at a breakfast this morning at Springs Orleans.

Ritter is new to her position and is currently touring the state. She previously worked in private industry and was the State Tourism Director of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism from 1999 to 2003. She moved to Colorado in July from Washington D.C.

Ritter noted that Colorado rates 5th or 6th in states that people would most like to visit, but is the 17th most visited state. She aims to close that gap. A recent national ad campaign called "come to life" has been a part of that effort. It features beautiful photos, inspiring phrases, and poetic writing. Normally, she says, the state advertises in target markets, but additional funding from the state legislature enabled a larger reach this past year. 

Apparently, it worked. Ritter noted that the state saw a 64 percent increase trips that were influenced by marketing (an additional 2.5 million trips).

That follows a general uptick in visits to Colorado. While 2015 numbers are not yet available, Ritter says that in 2014, Colorado saw a record 71.3 million visitors.  El Paso County visitors alone spent $1.2 billion.

Aside from major campaigns, Ritter says the state: offers local tourism offices matching grants; has volunteer-driven welcome centers along the borders; is No. 1 in spending on agrotourism promotion and marketing; does innovative social media marketing; and pursues press coverage about Colorado travel. Press coverage of the state is thought to have been worth $42 million in fiscal year 2015. It generated 1.4 billion impressions.

Ritter says she will be working with communities to develop a blueprint for generating tourism across the state. She put together a similar plan for Illinois during her time there, focusing heavily on community meetings. She says the approach worked.

"Everybody got it, and it was everybody's plan," she says. 

Ritter is spending a few days in the area touring some of our top destinations. She said she's been impressed by Pikes Peak, the Air Force Academy and the United States Olympics facilities, among other attractions. She also expressed excitement about Gov. John Hickenlooper's recent "16 in 2016" announcement, that he'll be working to complete or build 16 top trail projects this year. Among the 16 is the long-unfinished Ring the Peak trail that circles Pikes Peak.
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cybersecurity sets up camp in COS

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 3:58 PM

Cyber is the new hot thing. - EGUIDRY
  • eGuidry
  • Cyber is the new hot thing.
It's unclear exactly what this means, but Gov. John Hickenlooper announced during his state of the state address today that Colorado Springs will host the National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center.

A news release issued by the city follows, but it doesn't really explain what this center is, and whether it's sanctioned by anyone other than locals who are cooking up a label to hype to business and academic interests.

We also don't know if it's tied to the Pentagon, National Security Agency, CIA and FBI, or if it's only ginned up by local folks with hopes of achieving national prominence.

Nor does the news release say anything about the number of jobs the center will bring and where, exactly, it will be located, though it seems apparent it will be housed by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs will be the home of a National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center, a planned national resource which will be “the country’s foremost authority on cybersecurity research and development, training and education,” Governor Hickenlooper announced today. The vision for the Center will be advanced through collaboration between federal, state and city government, the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs and the regional technology community.

Under the proposal, the Center would be housed in Colorado Springs, on UCCS property. The city was chosen as the location because of its “impressive concentration of assets, private sector interest and connection to the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs’ cybersecurity program,” said Hickenlooper, who also recognized the region’s “highly qualified workforce already plugged into this burgeoning industry.”

Hickenlooper recognized both Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and UCCS Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak for their collaboration in advancing plans for the Center.

“I have said often that Colorado Springs has what it takes to become the cybersecurity capital of the nation,” said Suthers. “With our concentration of technological experts, both military and civilian, our outstanding educational institutions in UCCS and the Air Force Academy and our available workforce, we are ready to embrace this opportunity and look forward to the positive impact that such a designation will have on our City’s economic vitality.”

“I am proud of UCCS cybersecurity programs and the university’s outstanding faculty. UCCS students are excellent and will build the workforce of the future,” said Shockley-Zalabak. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Mayor Suthers and other public officials as we advance this exciting initiative.”

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New education commissioner has interesting past

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 1:26 PM

Richard Crandall
  • Richard Crandall
The Colorado State Board of Education has unanimously appointed a new Commissioner of Education, Richard Crandall.

Interestingly, Crandall was previously the Director of the Wyoming Department of Education before he was booted out of office by the Wyoming Supreme Court. Crandall was appointed in summer of 2013, following state legislation that took oversight of the education department from an elected superintendent (Cindy Hill) and gave it to an appointed director (Crandall).

But when she found herself stripped of her powers, Hill sued and won. Hill got her job back and Crandall was sent packing in summer 2014.

Crandall, a moderate Republican, also served as an Arizona state legislator from 2007-2013, where he was the education chairman in both the state Senate and House. Chalkbeat Colorado notes that Crandall "played a key role in ushering in major changes to education policy in Arizona, including backing the state’s adoption of the Common Core state standards and crafting a teacher evaluation law."

Chalkbeat also noted that Crandall is very aware of the challenges in Colorado, particularly around standardized testing. That challenge will only be greater because the nation's most important education law was recently rewritten to shift more power and responsibilities to states from the federal government. Chalkbeat notes:

Crandall signaled an openness to move Colorado away from the Common Core and its membership in PARCC, the multi-state testing effort. At the same time, he praised the importance of high academic standards and the value of comparing test results from several states.
The 48-year-old Crandall has also served a school board member and the president of Mesa Public Schools.

A press release also notes that:

[Crandall] is currently the president and founder of CN Resource, which provides oversight and audit services of USDA child nutrition programs for state education agencies. He is also the chief financial officer and partner of Crandall Corporate Dietitians, the nation’s largest provider of consulting dietitian services to long-term care and assisted living facilities. Crandall, age 48, is studying for a doctorate in education from Northern Arizona University and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Brigham Young University. He is a licensed school nutrition specialist and a certified public accountant. 
Crandall has seven children and six step-children. He replaces Robert Hammond, who retired last summer.


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Friday, December 11, 2015

Remembering the war dead

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 10:49 AM

This year's tree before it was cut down. - COLORADO STATE FOREST SERVICE
  • Colorado State Forest Service
  • This year's tree before it was cut down.
The state of Colorado will light the state tree late Friday and in doing so will commemorate those who lost their lives in the ongoing war on terror.

The tree comes from State Trust Land in north Larimer County.

The news release:
DENVER – This year’s State Capitol Holiday Tree, themed the "Gold Star Tree of Honor," pays tribute to the more than 350 Colorado military service members lost in the global war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.

At 4 p.m. today, Gov. John Hickenlooper will dedicate the tree at a formal lighting ceremony in the Capitol’s North Foyer in honor of Gold Star families – the survivors of service members who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations.

“Given that 2015 marks the 14th anniversary of our nation at war, Colorado remains committed to honoring those who have made such a great sacrifice, be they soldiers or their families,” said Janelle Darnell, chief of protocol for the Office of The Adjutant General, Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Colorado has not and will not forget their sacrifice and service on behalf of our community, state and nation.”
Last year's tree in its glory. - COLORADO STATE FOREST SERVICE
  • Colorado State Forest Service
  • Last year's tree in its glory.
The Capitol’s holiday tree was provided for the fifth year in a row by the Colorado State Forest Service Fort Collins District. The approximately 50-year-old, 25-foot subalpine fir was harvested on State Trust Land in northern Larimer County.

Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the tree, and boughs trimmed off of it will be used by the DMVA to craft wreaths for Gold Star families in attendance.
Each year, CSFS foresters selectively cut the State Capitol Holiday Tree and smaller trees destined for the Colorado State University campus as part of ongoing management efforts to improve forest health. This year, the CSFS also harvested a small number of trees for the families of deployed military personnel.

“It is a true honor to be allowed to provide this special tree for our State Capitol,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS, who is himself from a Gold Star family. “To many of us, it is a symbol of much more than the holiday season.” 

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

UCCS to mark its 50th anniversary

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 3:09 PM

TOM KIMMELL
  • Tom Kimmell
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has long been preparing to mark its 50th anniversary Thursday night.

Governor John Hickenlooper and Mayor John Suthers will be among the attendees at tonight's celebration. Sadly, it won't be quite as jovial as was originally hoped. The celebration comes just one day before the funeral service for UCCS Police Officer Garrett Swasey, one of three people killed at the Nov. 27 Planned Parenthood shooting and the first UCCS police officer to die in the line of duty.

The University will acknowledge Swasey in the ceremony, which takes place at 5:30 p.m in Berger Hall.
COLORADO SPRINGS – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and a former chancellor who advised U.S. President Bill Clinton will be honored guests at a Dec. 3 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of UCCS.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 in Berger Hall, UCCS faculty, staff and community leaders including Hickenlooper, Suthers and members of the Colorado legislative delegation, will gather to officially end a yearlong celebration dedicated to the 50th anniversary of UCCS. Throughout the fall semester, UCCS celebrated its 1965 founding with a series of events including speakers, time capsule openings, alumni events, parades and a fundraising gala. The program was changed to include recognition for UCCS Police Officer Garrett Swasey, the first UCCS police officer to die in the line of duty. Swasey was killed Nov. 27. His funeral service is scheduled for Dec. 4.

“We are humbled to have served the educational needs of southern Colorado for 50 years,” Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said. “And we are honored that current leaders of our state, city and campus will join us in recognizing this milestone and remind us of the value of higher education to the future of our state.”

Hickenlooper will deliver a proclamation declaring Dec. 3 as “UCCS 50th Day” and offer brief remarks. Suthers, a former instructor of criminal justice at UCCS, is also expected to offer brief remarks about the social and economic impact of UCCS on Colorado Springs. They will be joined by Neal Lane, Houston, who served as assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001.

Lane was UCCS chancellor from 1984 to 1985, leaving to serve as provost at Rice University, Houston. He now serves as a physics and public policy lecturer at Rice and serves on the board of advisers of Scientists and Engineers for America. In 2009, Lane received the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

On June 15, 1964, then Colorado Governor John Love signed legislation that allowed the University of Colorado to assume custody of the defunct 80-acre Cragmor Sanatorium property. On Oct. 13, 1964, the $1 sale of the Cragmor property was announced and the Colorado General Assembly appropriated funds that allowed campus operations to open in Jan. 1965.

From its original 80 acres, UCCS has expanded to control more than 400 acres between North Nevada Avenue and Union Boulevard in northeast Colorado Springs. The campus now boasts six colleges, is ranked among the top Western regional public universities, and enrolls more than 11,000 students in on-campus programs and another 2,000 students in online programs.

To see a timeline of UCCS growth and details of other 50th anniversary events, visit http://www.uccs.edu/50th.

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in Colorado. The university offers 39 bachelor’s degrees, 20 master’s and five doctoral degrees. UCCS enrolls about 11,300 students on campus annually and another 2,000 in online programs. For more information, visit www.uccs.edu.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Hickenlooper to help Syrian refugees

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 4:23 PM

KEITH TYLER
  • Keith Tyler
Gov. John Hickenlooper says he's willing to help relocate refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria to Colorado, but officials in Colorado have mixed opinions about that. Read Hickenlooper's statements in the Denver Post.

ProgressNow praised his statements in a news release:
Following a statement from Gov. John Hickenlooper that Colorado will continue to work with the federal government to relocate refugees fleeing sectarian civil war in Syria following the terror attacks in Paris, France, last Friday, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, praised Hickenlooper's courage and compassion and called on other states to follow Colorado's example.

"With so many politicians cowering in fear today, Gov. Hickenlooper's courage and humanity is an example for all of the nation to follow," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "It is imperative that we not allow fear to stop us from showing compassion to refugees from the war-torn Middle East who desperately need assistance. The threats to our security we face can never be so great that we forsake our most basic humanitarian obligations. If we let that happen, then and only then have the terrorists truly won."

"Over seventy years ago, another Colorado Governor spoke out against hate and xenophobia, at that time carried out against Japanese-Americans being relocated to our state from the West Coast," said Runyon-Harms. "Gov. Ralph Carr's compassionate legacy lives on today in the words of Gov. Hickenlooper: 'we can protect our security, and provide a place where the world's most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.' Colorado stands ready to do our part."

"We are grateful to Gov. Hickenlooper for showing the world that Colorado is a haven from the horrors of civil war and sectarian violence around the world," said Runyon-Harms. "Our values are part of the solution, not the problem."
But U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, Colorado Republican, opposes allowing refugees to pour into this country. His statement:
Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) released a statement underscoring the serious national security risks posed by the President’s unilateral plans to accept tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States. Tipton called for an immediate stop to the admission of Syrian refugees into the U.S. given security risks.

“The risks posed to our national security by admitting tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region that is currently the global hotbed for terrorist activity are very real. The President is unilaterally admitting tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into the country without ways to sufficiently verify who they are. As my colleague Rep. Peter King, (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, pointed out over the weekend, there are no government records or databases in Syria to confirm the identities of the refugees who are being admitted, meaning that they cannot be sufficiently vetted. While most of these people are innocent and victims themselves, all it takes is one ISIS terrorist posing as an asylum seeker to come to the United States and inflict harm.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

UPDATE: I-25 closure coming Saturday night

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 10:52 AM

Oh look, even more reasons to avoid I-25 this weekend:

Lane closures on I-25 for Highway 85 Bridge Work

FOUNTAIN — On Thursday, Nov. 12 and Sunday, Nov. 15, northbound and southbound Interstate 25 will be reduced to one lane between the South Academy Boulevard exit and Lake Avenue/Circle Drive exit for repairs on the U.S. 85 overpass.

Work hours are 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Drivers should anticipate slower speeds and watch for flaggers directing traffic through the construction zone.
For project updates, please email elpasocountyproject@gmail.com or call the project hotline at 719.239.5562.

Traffic information about this or other CDOT projects also is available at cotrip.org, by calling 511 or via subscription e-mail or text. To subscribe, please visit www.codot.gov and click on the small letter icon at the bottom of the page. The link takes you to a list of items you can subscribe to, including Southeast Colorado (Everything East of I-25 and South of I-70). 


——- ORIGINAL POST, TUESDAY, 3:28 P.M. ——-

A while back, I had the distinct displeasure of getting stuck on I-225 when it was partially closed for construction.

Along with what I can only presume was every other motorist in the Denver Metro Area, I was detoured onto back streets with really confusing signage (get in this lane to get on I-25 South, just kidding, get in this lane). I'm easily lost, so I ended up on the phone with my mom, trying to figure out the best route through the mess. That's when I was pulled over by a police officer — in the pouring rain, no less — for a broken tail light. Once I explained that I was lost, that I had been stuck in traffic for over an hour, that the stupid tail light bulb had just been changed a week ago, and that this was my wedding anniversary, the cop actually felt bad for me. I ended up following him until he led me back to I-25.

Sorry about the detour, allow me get to the point: Getting stuck on a closed Interstate is THE WORST. That's why I want to save you from this awful fate. This Saturday, starting at 9 p.m. lanes will begin closing on I-25 between the U.S. 24/Cimarron Street and Nevada Avenue/Tejon Street exits. The stretch will be completely closed by 11 p.m. and will stay that way until 6 a.m. Sunday. Do yourself a favor and avoid it.


I-25 Overnight Full Closure Scheduled for I-25/Cimarron Project this weekend

Colorado Springs – Northbound and southbound Interstate 25 will be closed between the U.S. 24/Cimarron and south Nevada Avenue/south Tejon Street interchanges from 11 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14 until 6 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 15. Lane closures begin at 9 p.m., Saturday. This closure is necessary to allow Colorado Springs Utilities to relocate overhead power lines as part of the project work. Motorists will be directed to exit at Nevada Avenue and Cimarron Street during the closure. Officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department and Colorado State Patrol will be present at detour locations to help direct traffic.

TRAFFIC DETOURS:

· Southbound I-25: drivers will take Exit 141 (Cimarron St./U.S. 24), and go east on Cimarron St. to Nevada Ave., and south on Nevada Ave. to I-25.

· Northbound I-25: drivers will take Exit 140 (Nevada Ave./Tejon St.), and go north on Nevada Ave. to Cimarron St., and west on Cimarron St. to I-25.


Motorists are advised to follow the clearly marked detour signs. I-25 will reopen to traffic by 6 a.m., Sun., Nov. 15. Work is weather dependent and subject to change.

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PROJECT INFORMATION: The $113 million I-25/Cimarron Interchange Design-Build Project involves rebuilding the I-25 interchange between Colorado Avenue on the north and South Nevada Avenue to the south, 8th Street on the west and the Cimarron Street bridge over Fountain Creek on the east. Improvements are intended to provide enhanced operations, correct existing safety and design deficiencies, and to serve the anticipated short- and long-term travel demands in this area. When complete, this will be a high-functioning interchange that safely handles more vehicles and enhances multi-modal travel for those using I-25, US 24/Cimarron Street and the trail system along Monument and Fountain creeks. Substantial completion is planned for fall 2017.

For updated project information, visit http://www.codot.gov/projects/i25cimarronDB, call 719-302-6781 or email dot_i25cimarron@state.co.us.

To receive real-time updates about road conditions in your area, visit www.codot.gov and click on the green cell phone icon in the upper right hand corner of the page. Information about weekly lane closures will be available at www.codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html. Live road conditions are available at www.cotrip.org, downloading the CDOT Mobile app or by calling 511 from anywhere in the state. Updates are also available via Twitter @coloradodot and be sure to “Like” our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coloradodot

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