State Gov

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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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

UPDATE: Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia stepping down

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 9:52 AM

The governor's office has provided the following statement:

Lt. Gov. Garcia to join Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

DENVER — Tuesday, Nov.10, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today announced that Lt. Gov. Garcia has accepted a position as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He will leave his dual role, which includes executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), and plans to begin with WICHE sometime before July 1, 2016.

“I want to thank Gov. Hickenlooper and the State of Colorado for the incredible opportunity to work on important policy issues for the last five years,” said Garcia. “This was a difficult decision but education has always been my passion. I look forward to carrying the message of opportunity, college completion and workforce development throughout the West.”

“Joe will be nearly impossible to replace,” said Hickenlooper. “He has been an exceptional lieutenant governor and in leading education efforts for Colorado. He has given five years selflessly to the success of this state and the future education of our children. We are grateful and wish him continued success.”

Before he was elected lieutenant governor, Garcia was president of Colorado State University - Pueblo. He also served as president of the second-largest community college in Colorado, Pikes Peak Community College and as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Representative for the Rocky Mountain States; Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies; and was named the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the law firm, Holme Roberts & Owen.

Lt. Gov. Garcia has been actively involved throughout his career as a board member for many non-profit agencies such as the YMCAs of Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver; Pikes Peak Legal Aid; the Colorado Springs and Pueblo Economic Development Agencies; The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (where he served as board president); the Pikes Peak Child Nursery Centers Inc.; the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; and numerous other civil rights, educational, and cultural organizations. He earned a business degree from the University of Colorado and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.

In the event of a vacancy, the governor nominates the lieutenant governor who takes office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses according to the Colorado constitution.

About WICHE
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and its 16 members work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Its programs – Student Exchange, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, Policy Analysis and Research, and Mental Health and several other interstate collaborations – are working to find answers to some of the most critical questions facing higher education today. WICHE’s 16 members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states (the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is the first of the group to participate).
——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 9:52 A.M. ——-

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia - BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
  • Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia


Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia has announced he will step down to accept a position as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, several news outlets are reporting.

Before becoming lieutenant governor, Garcia served as president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and, before that, Pikes Peak Community College. While lieutenant governor, he has served concurrently as executive director of the state Department of Higher Education. Back in 2013, the Independent's Ralph Routon wrote that Garcia was the "rising star" of the Pikes Peak region, and was likely to be pursued for an opening in the president's cabinet. 


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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Medicaid covers drug that saves addicts' lives

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:08 AM

PSYCHONAUGHT
  • Psychonaught

Colorado Medicaid has taken a major step toward preventing overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids, announcing that it will now cover the overdose antidote nasal spray, Naloxone.

In drug treatment circles, increasing access to Naloxone is seen as a major harm reduction strategy, akin to distributing clean needles to prevent transmission of diseases like HIV. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Chicago is experiencing a tainted heroin crisis, but that many lives are being saved due to increased access to the lifesaving drug.

Chicago isn't the only place with a problem. In a press release, Colorado Medicaid notes that opioid overdose deaths have been increasing in Colorado.

"Each year, about 300 Coloradans die from opioid overdoses and another 17,000 people die nationally," it stated. 

In 2013, The New York Times wrote a story about the effort to increase access to Naloxone in New York City, and explained the way the drug works as follows:

Opioids function in the body by attaching to specific proteins, called opioid receptors. When opioids attach, the body relaxes and breathing slows. But too much of an opioid can cause respiration to slow to a lethal level.

Naloxone acts by competing with opioids for the receptor sites, essentially pushing the opioids out of the way and reversing the effects of the drugs.
The drug isn't brand new. In fact, it's been around for many years. But it's been slow to catch on in law enforcement and public health circles, in part due to controversy. The main point of contention seems to be concern that a drug that can stop a heroin overdose death will make heroin use more attractive. (The Huffington Post ran an article about that argument a couple years ago.)

Some health care professionals may have also been hesitant to prescribe the drug due to fear of criminal or civil prosecution if there are negative outcomes with the drug. That problem was solved in Colorado during the last legislative session with the passage of Colorado Senate Bill 053, which granted immunity to licensed prescribers and dispensers of Naloxone.

The recent availability of Naloxone as a nasal mist, rather than a traditional injection, has likely also helped increase its popularity.

Colorado Medicaid notes that the state isn't expecting Naloxone to solve the drug problem. Gov. John Hickenlooper launched a new public awareness campaign earlier this year aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse called "Take Meds Seriously." (Anecdotally, it's common for heroin users to say that they became addicted to pain medications that were prescribed to them and moved on to heroin to feed their cravings.) 

"This benefit supports the Governor's initiative to reduce opioid overdose deaths in Colorado," Susan E. Birch, MBA, BSN, RN, and executive director for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, stated in the Medicaid press release. "We are hoping to save lives and encourage other health plans to follow this lead."

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Colorado + $100 million = Biking state

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Bikes are bigger business than you might think. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • Bikes are bigger business than you might think.

As a cyclist, I might have done a little dance this morning when this landed in my inbox: Gov. John Hickenlooper will spend $100 million over the next four years on bicycling infrastructure in an effort to make Colorado the No. 1 state for biking.

Say it with me: "We're No. 1!"

Now, I know some of you may be eyeballing this announcement with some cynicism. I mean, $100 million is a lot of dough. But bicycling infrastructure has been found to pay off big time for local economies. And, it can be a big plus for locals and tourists. I actually wrote a story not that long ago about the strides our city is taking to try to improve bicycling infrastructure. One would hope such a large statewide initiative will help Colorado Springs meet it's goals more quickly.

The announcement was just made, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. But here's all the information that's been released from the governor's office:

Gov. Hickenlooper announces $100 million commitment to Colorado’s biking infrastructure

DENVER — Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced the state’s commitment of more than $100 million over the next four years to enhance Colorado’s ability to become the best state to ride a bike.

“Our goal is to make Colorado the best state for biking in the country,” said Hickenlooper. “These investments will help fuel our economic growth and tourism industry, move us toward a cleaner environment and advance our goal of being the healthiest state in the nation.”

Colorado is often ranked the fittest state, and was recently ranked the most physically active state in the country. Even with these stats, Colorado has an obesity rate of more than 21 percent, up from 16 percent in 2004. In addition, a nationwide study found that kids are only spending 4-7 minutes outside in unstructured play every day, but are spending 7-10 hours a day staring at screens. Biking is one of the ways Colorado is aiming to change these stats.

The four year plan and $100 million budget will allow Colorado to add bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, better understand and market the cycling industry and support awareness and education efforts to promote safety.

“We want to encourage riders of all shapes, sizes and abilities and make biking as safe and accessible as possible statewide,” said Ken Gart, Colorado’s bike czar. “With more than 5,000 miles of biking trails throughout the state, and events like Pedal The Plains and the USA Pro Challenge, Colorado is poised to take this lead.”

The Colorado Pedals Project, Bicycle Colorado, Great Outdoors Colorado, and many more are working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Office of Economic Development, Colorado Tourism Office, and other state agencies, to develop the overall strategy, distribute money, and accomplish shared goals.

CDOT is committed to spend at least 2.5 percent of its construction budget on bike and pedestrian programs including infrastructure.

“Coloradans have put a high priority on providing choice in how they get from A to B, whether for commuting or for recreation, and cycling for many is a key alternative," said Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “At CDOT we believe that including cycling plans into road planning and construction will help us reduce congestion and contribute to solving the transportation challenges facing the Colorado."

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests Lottery proceeds in Colorado's rivers, parks, open space, wildlife, and trails and has been the state's single largest funding source for trails.

“GOCO is excited to be a part of this new initiative and any opportunity to leverage funding to provide places for people to get outside from the backyard to the backcountry," said Lise Aangeenbrug, GOCO executive director.

Bicycle Colorado, one of the first statewide bicycle advocacy groups in the nation, and now the largest, encourages and promotes bicycling, increased safety, improved conditions and provides a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado.

“Bicycle Colorado is excited that more children, families and new cyclists will ride thanks to the improvements this funding will provide,” said Dan Grunig, Bicycle Colorado executive director. “Improved health and a stronger economy are other perks to come from this investment in better bicycling.”

Hickenlooper made the announcement at the Interbike Conference, the largest bicycle trade event in North America, bringing together manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of cycling. He is the first governor to ever speak at the conference.

###

About GOCO
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. For more information, visit goco.org.


About Bicycle Colorado
The mission of Bicycle Colorado, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is to encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for bicyclists in Colorado. Incorporated in 1992, Bicycle Colorado has a sustained and successful history of protecting and improving access for bicyclists on Colorado roads, paths and trails. For more information, and to become a member, please visit bicyclecolorado.org


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Williams changes election rules

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 1:22 PM

Wayne Williams
  • Wayne Williams
Secretary of State Wayne Williams is setting new ground rules for Colorado elections.

“We are making careful preparations for the 2016 election cycle in order to ensure Colorado sets the standard for access and integrity,” Williams stated in a press release.

The changes include the establishment of a Bipartisan Election Advisory Committee that will work to ensure that elections are accessible and fair. The new rules also aim to up security for third-party personal delivery of ballots and clarify the appointment of election watchers.

Military members and civilians who are overseas have been allowed to turn in ballots electronically if the area they are in has unreliable mail service. Under the new rules, electronic voting will only be allowed if there is no other feasible way to get a ballot in on time, and the electronic voter will need to sign an affirmation stating that they understand that rule.

“We cannot possibly know all the situations faced by service members who are deployed overseas,” Williams stated. “Sometimes it is not possible for them to successfully return a ballot through the mail, so we will do the hard work necessary to guarantee that they have the ability to participate.”

Williams also announced that he has certified four voting systems that will be considered for the state’s uniform voting system. Williams wants a single company to provide all the state’s ballot marking devices (both touchscreen and paper), ballot tabulators and count machines. He is piloting systems in different counties across the state. The qualifying systems for November 2015 are Clear Ballot Group, Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems & Software, and Hart InterCivic. 
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Drown the gay scoutmasters, says Dr. Chaps

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Gordon Klingenschmitt, the Republican House District 15 representative from El Paso County, now says it's better to drown gay scoutmasters than allow them to participate in Boy Scouts of America, triggering condemnation from several quarters.

Once again, the El Paso County Republican stirs the waters. - BRIAN SCANNELL
  • Brian Scannell
  • Once again, the El Paso County Republican stirs the waters.
Klingenschmitt, who fashions himself a pastor and formerly served as a Navy chaplain, runs the "Pray in Jesus Name" TV show and has made headlines with hate speech against LGBT folks.

Here's an account of his most recent provocative statements.

One Colorado, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans and their families, wasted no time in releasing a statement from Executive Director Dave Montez.

After making numerous comments over the past year attacking lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, Representative Klingenschmitt just can’t seem to get enough. He recently called on the Boy Scouts of America to drown all gay leaders in its organization. Gay adults are involved in scouting for the same reasons everyone else is; to serve youth, and to help them grow into good, strong citizens. These comments are reprehensible – and he should be ashamed of himself for making them.

One Colorado calls on the leaders of the Colorado Republican Party, and Republican leadership in the State House, to condemn Representative Klingenschmitt’s comments and affirm that no one should be targeted for violence just because of who they are, or who they love.

While experience tells us we shouldn’t hold our breath for an apology from Mr. Klingenschmitt, an apology is exactly what is owed – not just to gay scouts and leaders across the state, but to the countless friends and family members who are tired of seeing their loved ones attacked just for being who they are. Simply put, Representative Klingenschmitt – the fair-minded people of Colorado deserve better.
Soon thereafter, Progress Colorado issued this statement:

After national news outlets publicized new statements from Republican Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs that appear to advocate for the murder of gay members of the Boy Scouts of America, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, once again called for Klingenschmitt to resign—and questioned Republican legislative leaders who restored his committee postings after a previous incident.

"Just how far is too far?" said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "After Rep. Klingenschmitt claimed that a sitting member of Congress from our state wants to 'behead Christians,' and that the tragic attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont last March was 'the curse of God,' ProgressNow Colorado called for him to resign. Instead, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso restored Klingenschmitt to his committee assignments as soon as the media stopped paying attention, and swept the matter under the rug. That was a huge mistake, and today Republicans are paying the price as Klingenschmitt once again brings shame upon the entire state of Colorado."

In a new video posted to Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt's Youtube channel this past week, Klingenschmitt claims that allowing gay scoutmasters to serve in the Boy Scouts "will lead to sexual abuse." Klingenschmitt invokes a Bible verse that says for those who cause "little ones to sin," "it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Klingenschmitt then says it would be "better" for "child molesters" like the scoutmasters he previously described to be drowned.

"It would be easy to dismiss Klingenschmitt's statements as the ravings of a deranged lunatic, except for the fact that he is an elected Republican legislator in the state of Colorado," said Runyon-Harms. "By not acting to distance themselves from Rep. Klingenschmitt, Colorado Republicans are validating what he says. Every day that goes by with Klingenschmitt continuing to serve as a Republican legislator, his hatred speaks for them. It has to stop, and the only ones who can stop it are Klingenschmitt's Republican legislative leaders."

"It is months past time for Colorado Republicans to ask Rep. Klingenschmitt to resign," said Runyon-Harms.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Merrifield, Lee to host town hall

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Sen. Michael Merrifield
  • Sen. Michael Merrifield
Rep. Pete Lee
  • Rep. Pete Lee



























State Sen. Michael Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs) and State Rep. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) are co-hosting a town hall this Saturday, July 18 at 10 a.m.

The meeting will take place at Penrose Library,  at 20 N. Cascade Ave. The public is welcome to attend the free event. Lee and Merrifield will be giving an overview of the past legislative session and answering questions from public. 
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Ugh. Another closure on the Midland Trail.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 12:42 PM

If you get around by bike or foot, chances are you've run into some problems as of late. Here's one to add to your list: The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to close the Midland Trail underpass at I-25 on July 20.

The Midland Trail already has a storm-related closure between 25th and 28th Streets, so this will be a second obstacle for cyclists and walkers. While CDOT plans to make trail improvements that should ultimately benefit non-motorized travelers, the timing is pretty bad. 

For one thing, trail closures aren't isolated to the popular Midland Trail. The Pikes Peak Greenway/Santa Fe Trail is the city's main artery if you happen to travel by foot or bike. Parts of it are closed due to storm damage as well.

Midland Trail underpass at I-25 to close July 20

Temporary Trail Detour in Place During Construction of New Trail


Beginning the morning of Monday, July 20, crews on the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Interstate-25/Cimarron Interchange Design-Build Project will close the Midland Trail I-25 underpass into America the Beautiful Park as they begin a series of trail improvements. The access to the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail off Colorado Avenue will remain open; and signed, clearly marked Midland Trail detour routes will be in place for users to navigate around the closure. The new trail configuration that opens in summer of 2017 will create a better experience for trail users.


Midland Trail Detour: Eastbound trail users will take S. Chestnut Street north to W. Cucharras Street, continue as it becomes S. Walnut Street and connects to Colorado Avenue, then take Colorado Avenue east under I-25 to the Greenway Trail or continue on Colorado Avenue to Cimino Drive to access America the Beautiful Park and connect back to the Midland Trail.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Seniors, those with disabilities, welcomed to tour Bustang

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 2:10 PM

While many people of all walks of life are excited about the unveiling of the new Bustang interregional transit service, those who  lack other ways to get around the state may be the most delighted.

The bus, which is run by the state, will begin service on July 13. It will provide service between Colorado Springs and Denver, as well as to other cities, like Fort Collins and Glenwood Springs. Fare and ticket information is available here.  

Seniors and people with disabilities are invited to a presentation, Q&A, tour of the bus, and a short ride on the bus. The event will take place at the Independence Center, at 729 S. Tejon Street, on July 9 at both 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

Questions and concerns can be submitted at michele.martinson@state.co.us or csstone@theindependencecenter.org.


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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hick vetoes red-light camera bills

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 9:09 AM

Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper
No surprise: Gov. John Hickenlooper has vetoed two bills aimed at nixing red-light cameras.

House Bill 1098 would have banned the cameras, which are used by police to dole out tickets, while Senate Bill 276 would have required voter approval for the cameras.

Hickenlooper had previously said that he supported the cameras as a way to keep roads safe. In the release below, he says he would support a reduction in the use of the cameras, but not a ban.
Gov. Hickenlooper vetoes “red light” and “photo radar” bills

DENVER — Wednesday, June 3, 2014 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today vetoed SB 15-276 “Concerning the Elimination of the Use of Automated Vehicle Identification Systems for Traffic Law Enforcement” and HB 15-1098 “Concerning the Elimination of the Use of Automated Surveillance Camera Vehicle Identification Systems for Traffic Enforcement.”

“Speeding and disregard for traffic signals are a danger for all drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. These actions have very real, at times fatal, consequences,” said Hickenlooper. “While not always popular, when used correctly, radar and red light cameras make roads safer. Unfortunately, these bills go too far.”

“To that end, we encourage the General Assembly to enact legislation in 2016 that limits photo radar and red light cameras to only the following locations: (1) school zones; (2) construction and roadway work zones; and (3) areas with disproportionately high traffic and pedestrian accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Secondly, legislation should require that fine revenue be used solely for traffic safety improvements and enforcement, rather than general operating funds or non-transportation purposes.”

The governor also directed the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to study the use of automated traffic enforcement systems.

“Together, we can create legislation that continues to allow cities and towns to decide what is best for themselves, while also protecting the safety of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.”

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

All aboard for Amtrak through Pueblo

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 2:25 PM

If Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico are successful, Amtrak will reroute the Southwest Chief through Pueblo, meaning you'd be able to take the train all the way to Los Angeles from Pueblo. Now you'd have to board in La Junta or outside Santa Fe, N.M. - LOCO STEVE
  • Loco Steve
  • If Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico are successful, Amtrak will reroute the Southwest Chief through Pueblo, meaning you'd be able to take the train all the way to Los Angeles from Pueblo. Now you'd have to board in La Junta or outside Santa Fe, N.M.

Plans to reroute Amtrak's Southwest Chief through Pueblo got a boost today when the Colorado Department of Transportation Commission approved spending $1 million toward a grant application that backers hope will fund the track repairs necessary to accommodate the change.

You can read more about the plan here.

Taking the lead on the multi-state issue is Garden City, Kans. In Colorado, La Junta is in the lead.

Here's a release just issued:
This morning the CDOT Transportation Commission approved $1,000,000 toward the Southwest Chief TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant application. This is the first time the State of Colorado has approved funding for the SW Chief. Last year, 12 Southeastern Colorado communities provided local matches to secure the successful TIGER Grant submitted by Garden City, KS. This year the City of La Junta is the lead applicant for the TIGER Grant. Colorado now joins Kansas, and several communities in both New Mexico and Colorado in providing funds toward the grant application.

Several residents from Southeastern Colorado made the trip to testify at the Transportation Commission, including La Junta City Manager Rick Klein, Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace and Senator Larry Crowder. Commission Member Bill Thiebaut made a motion to use contingency fund dollars towards the grant. The motion likely saved the funding resolution, as bus advocates argued against funding the grant from transit funds.

In a statement, Sal Pace said:

"This was a huge victory today for the Southwest Chief and all of Southern Colorado. This is the first time Colorado has put money toward this important project. We owe a lot of gratitude to Commissioner Thiebaut, whose savvy was key to today's success, and to La Junta City Manager Rick Klein, who has taken on the tireless task as the lead applicant for this TIGER Grant application. Finally, the Governor's Administration and CDOT promised to help and they did! Now, we move forward with our Grant application, which is even stronger than the one submitted last year that successfully received $12 Million from the USDOT."

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Irv Halter makes a comeback

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Irv Halter - KIN SCOTT
  • Kin Scott
  • Irv Halter
Editor's note: This post was updated on April 29 to reflect that Halter's military rank is major general, not major. We regret the error.

Last year, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, a conservative Democrat, tried to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn — something many qualified Republicans in this red county have failed to do for years.

No surprise: He wasn't successful.

But the public hasn't heard the last of Halter. It's just been announced that he'll now be leading the Department of Local Affairs for the state. That's the department that works with local governments on diverse issues, from homelessness to emergency management.

Read on for more:
Gov. Hickenlooper names Irv Halter as Executive Director of Department of Local Affairs

DENVER — Tuesday, April 28, 2015— Gov. John Hickenlooper announced today Irving “Irv” Halter, Jr., will be the executive director of the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) effective May 1, 2015.

“Irv Halter has a distinguished career in the public and private sector. His vast experience and passion for good government will greatly benefit the State of Colorado,” said Hickenlooper. “We are thrilled he will be leading the agency and joining our team.”

Halter, a retired major general in the U.S. Air Force, joins the state after a distinguished military career with more than 32 years as an Air Force Officer. Halter served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, leading more than 35,000 airmen and managing assets valued in the billions. As vice director of operations, Halter also advised the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his duties as principal military advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the President.

From 2009-2013, he was vice president of Computer Sciences Corporation for Air and Space, where he was responsible for leading key programs valued at over $750 million annually for the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the Missile Defense Agency.

“I am honored to join Governor Hickenlooper’s team and look forward to working with the Department of Local Affairs professionals to strengthen and support Colorado communities,” Halter said.

He replaces Reeves Brown who resigned in March, having served since 2011, and Kevin Patterson, chief administrative officer, who filled the interim role.

Halter grew up on a family farm in rural southern New Jersey. He graduated with a degree in history from the United States Air Force Academy, and a masters degree in international affairs from Troy State University. He and his wife Judy, a graduate of the University of Denver, have lived in Colorado Springs for the past six years. He is a member of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, and a former vice Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. He ran for Congress in Colorado’s District 5 in 2014.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Need a court record? Good luck with that.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 3:05 PM

The message is clear at the Terry Harris Judicial Complex records room. The public can pound sand. The one and only public access terminal is down and nobody seems to know when it will be fixed. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The message is clear at the Terry Harris Judicial Complex records room. The public can pound sand. The one and only public access terminal is down and nobody seems to know when it will be fixed.

Don't think for a minute that the court system in El Paso County welcomes citizens who need to access court records.

In fact, Clerk of the Court Lynette Cornelius declares that those records aren't the public's records at all.

"It's my record, because I am the keeper of the court's record," she says in an interview. More from her later.

Up until a few weeks ago, you could go to the basement level of the Terry Harris Judicial Complex, plop down in front of a public terminal and search through cases, read various pleadings as you wished and then print them out. (Note, however, that the terminal was exceedingly slow, ridiculously slow, in fact.) There was a 30-minute limit, but as long as nobody was waiting, you could sign on again and resume your research.

Well, forget that. The terminal went out of commission for an unexplained reason about two weeks ago and won't be operable again until god knows when, according to Pam Lauren, a supervisor in the records department. She tells us the problem has been reported to the courthouse tech staff, but nothing has happened to get it running again.

So meantime, you have to stand in front of a clerk, without the advantage of seeing her computer screen, and have her read the list of pleadings in a case to you. Then you have to decide whether to get a copy of it or not, at 75 cents per page, without the advantage of reading it first. It's a crapshoot.

Of course, attorneys have no such problem, because they, and anyone else who wants to pay the subscription fee, subscribe to an online service that provides access.

Which raises the question, why can't the state of Colorado get its act together and provide such online access to the public?

That's a question raised by Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Council Coalition, who is planning to look deeper into the accessibility of court records in this and other states.

"Why, in 2015, can't we from our computer or laptop have access to real documents? Why do we have to go to some courthouse, and rely on a terminal working or not?" he says in an interview. "It's very frustrating."

Court clerks also cited a newly amended access rule that bars the public's access to certain cases unless they're a party to them, and also requires a member of the public to present a photo ID in order to gain access.

Here's the rule. We can't find a reference in it to a citizen having to present a photo ID for access.
05-01amended9-4-14.pdf
Cornelius says she has no idea when the terminal will be up and running again. She invited us to use a public terminal at 1600 Broadway — in Denver.

As for requiring a photo ID, she says the reason for that is, "because if it's not your record [court case], we have to protect the people's records whose it is. If it's not your record, we're not going to hand it over."

Only those who are involved in the case have the right to access a record, she told us.

Calling all Brown Shirts.

We look forward to Roberts and others taking up the cause of transparency in our court system, as well as other branches of government, so that records that are supposed to belong to the public are accessible by their owners.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Klingenschmitt manages to anger his own party

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Rep. Klingenschmitt
  • Rep. Klingenschmitt
They say that no press is bad press, but Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, may beg to differ.

When Klingenschmitt, who likes to call himself "Dr. Chaps," is not legislating, he's preaching on his online ministry, Pray in Jesus Name. The show's deeply offensive content about LGBT people and women (among other people and topics) has long been noted — like that one time he called a 6-year-old transgender child a demon — but apparently, didn't prevent Klingenschmitt from being welcomed into the Republican fold at the State House. (It did, however, get his ministry added to the Southern Poverty Law Center's anti-LGBT hate list in 2014.)

Anyway, Klingenschmitt recently crossed a line even most State House Republicans couldn't ignore when he claimed that an attack on a pregnant woman, in which her nearly full-term baby was ripped from her womb, was a "curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.”

This didn't sit well with the woman in question, Michelle Wilkins, who lost her baby. She returned Klingenschmitt's $1,000 donation to her family. Apparently, it also didn't sit well with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, who removed Klingenschmitt from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee as punishment. Others were also upset. Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, drafted a letter stating that he believed Klingenschmitt's interpretation of the Bible was in error. Even Klingenschmitt has apologized for his statement and taken a six-week sabbatical from Pray in Jesus Name in order to focus on his work in the legislature.

Klingenschmitt has a few defenders who say he shouldn't be punished for speaking his mind on his own time — something Klingenschmitt also maintains. But others say the legislator hasn't been punished enough and that he should resign his seat. Not surprisingly, progressive group ProgressNow Colorado is in the latter camp.

ProgressNow Colorado Calls For Gordon Klingenschmitt’s Resignation

DENVER: After nearly a week since video surfaced of Colorado Springs Representative Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s outrageous remarks on the horrific assault on a pregnant woman in Longmont, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Republican leadership to call on Dr. Chaps to resign.

“Enough is enough,” said said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Republican leaders in the House and Senate have had almost a week to hold Klingenschmitt accountable, and there he is, still representing Colorado’s 15th House District despite his offensive behavior.”

On Monday, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso removed Klingenschmitt from one of his two committee assignments, saying it was one of the “few tools” he had for discipline [Denver Post, 3/30/15], prompting fellow Republican Justin Everett to call the move a gesture to “save face” on the House floor today.

State Sen. Owen Hill, another Republican from El Paso County, took the additional step on Monday to send an email calling for Klingenschmitt’s resignation.

Yet silent on the whole matter is Senate President Bill Cadman, a fellow Colorado Springs Republican, who represents Klingenschmitt’s district in the state Senate.

“There is more the legislative leadership could do if they just had the courage to do it,” added Runyon-Harms. “Every day that Klingenschmitt is in office is an insult to the people of Colorado.”

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So much for that idea: Springs loses out on aviation center

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 3:41 PM

You won't see these state fire recon planes in these environs unless there's a wildland fire raging.
  • You won't see these state fire recon planes in these environs unless there's a wildland fire raging.

UPDATE: The Regional Business Alliance issued a statement, including this comment from Andy Merritt, who headed up the Springs' effort to land the center:

Attempting to achieve the host community designation represented a community effort. I want to personally thank all of the individuals and organizations who supported the development of the strategy and the creation of the package that was submitted to the State of Colorado Department of Public Safety's Division of Fire Prevention and Control. We all feel a sense of disappointment, but also of pride in how the region came together on this project.
————————————ORIGINAL POST WED., MARCH 18, 2015, 3:41 P.M.————————————————-

The state has awarded a Center of Excellence in aerial firefighting research to Rifle, dashing the hopes of Colorado Springs to be home to a prospective new industry.

Here's the lengthy news release announcing the selection:
The Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) today presented its recommendations and selection of Rifle-Garfield County Airport to Gov. John Hickenlooper as host community for the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting.
"We were fortunate to have a number of outstanding candidates to consider for the Center of Excellence and it was a difficult decision with both urban and rural applicants, but Rifle and Garfield County stood out as the best choice," said Hickenlooper.

"As home to the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Facility and with its proximity to the Colorado Army National Guard High Altitude Aviation training site, we know the Center will be better positioned for success in Rifle which will benefit all of Colorado. This decision will serve as the best way forward to meet our shared goal of protecting lives, property and our natural environment from devastating wildfires,” Hickenlooper said.

The Center of Excellence was created in Senate Bill 14-164, which also authorized the State Fire Division to purchase or contract for aerial firefighting assets. During the legislative session, proponents of the Center explained that there is currently no mechanism for determining the efficacy of aerial firefighting, and the need exists for an innovative, science- and data-focused research entity. For this reason, the Center was held up as an integral part of ensuring the successful implementation of Colorado's own aerial firefighting fleet.

“In short, the Center of Excellence will research, test, and evaluate existing and new technologies that support sustainable, effective, and efficient aerial firefighting techniques,” said State Fire Director Paul Cooke.

Because several jurisdictions in Colorado expressed interest in hosting the Center of Excellence, a means to gather information from interested jurisdictions had to be established. The Division elected to go through a formal Request for Information (RFI) process as a way to collect information about the various benefits of interested jurisdictions in a non-binding fashion.

The Division received six responses to the RFI from the following jurisdictions:
• Centennial
• Clear Creek County
• Colorado Springs
• Fort Collins-Loveland Airport
• Montrose County
• City of Rifle/Garfield County
• Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport/Jefferson County

“Each of the seven communities that were vying for the Center has something unique to offer”, Cooke said. "In the end, it really comes down to which location offers the most significant and mutual benefit to the state and the host community."

The City of Rifle is located on the Western Slope along I-70, less than one hour from Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.

The reasons the Division selected Rifle to host the Center include:
• The location offers proximity to open lands and uncontrolled airspace with a variety of
terrain, close proximity to high-risk wildfire areas, high altitude locations, and nearby
watersheds that source much of the drinking water for nearby states.
• The area is where Colorado sees the majority of its wildland fires.
• Local understanding of the needs and risks for firefighting personnel and operations.
• Small town affordability.
• Nearby Higher Education institutions willing to tailor programs to graduate students with skills to staff the Center in the future.
• The area is host to the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management facility, which
houses BLM, USFS, Colorado River Fire Rescue, and DFPC resources.
• Close proximity to the Grand Junction Air Center which provides tactical aircraft resources (air tankers, smokejumpers, lead planes, and air attack) for initial attack and large incident support.
• Close proximity to the Colorado Army National Guard High-Altitude Aviation Training Site (HAATS).
• Free, readily available, suitable office space for three years.
• Grant writing assistance from the city.
• Potential economic development benefits to the area.

Rifle/Garfield County also touted the willingness of its higher education institutions, government partners, and business organizations to embrace the activities of the Center of Excellence and build on their existing expertise in workforce training, curriculum development, firefighting experience, and related mutual interests to support the success of the Center of Excellence. Further, this jurisdiction has garnered region-wide support for hosting the Center, with support from more than 21 different public and private entities throughout Colorado.

Cooke says, "The Rifle/Garfield County location offers DFPC the ability to pair its currently existing resources (Fire Management Officer and Engine Crew) with the Center of Excellence staff.” He added, “The location could easily become the Western Slope hub for DFPC programs.”

Oddly, Colorado Springs' proposal was accompanied by only a handful of endorsements from local agencies. It was endorsed by Fremont, Teller and Elbert counties, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and by Colorado Springs Utilities. There were no formal endorsements from Mayor Steve Bach, City Council or the Board of El Paso County Commissioners, or any local higher-ed institutions.

Andy Merritt, who headed up the application on behalf of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, didn't respond to a request for a comment.

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