Better late than never.
Yesterday afternoon at 4:55, way past our deadline to send the paper to the printer, we received an e-mail from the city of Colorado Springs.
It was in response to a request for comment from Colorado Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher. The Indy submitted the request to Cindy Aubrey, the chief communications officer for the city, last week.
We were looking to include Melcher's point of view in a story about House Bill 1160.
Here's the gist of that story (that can be read in full here):
Is the Legislature preparing to "decriminalize" theft?
Pretty much, says Dan May, district attorney for the 4th Judicial District. May, whose office covers El Paso and Teller counties, is one of a few people speaking out against a bill that recently passed the House on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
Based on work done by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, HB 1160 essentially does two things. The first, which was the impetus for the bill, is to clean up the theft statutes in the state criminal code.
As May explains it: "consolidating them all into one section, and then sort of redefining it in an easier-to-handle method to understand all the little theft laws." He has no problem with this, he says.
What he does have problems with is how these theft statutes are redefined in terms of monetary value. Most concerning: This bill would raise the threshold at which a misdemeanor becomes a felony, from $1,000 to $2,000.
"It will decriminalize theft to some degree," says May, "because you are making a much greater population of misdemeanors."
Anyway, here's the e-mailed statement from the city:
“The City of Colorado Springs currently has jurisdiction to prosecute theft and shoplifting violations that are equivalent to the misdemeanor level, which involves amounts up to $1000. The bill, which changes the dollar amounts associated with misdemeanor and felony theft, would enable the City to prosecute violations where a value of up to $2000 is involved if City Council were to amend the City’s theft and shoplifting ordinances to give the City jurisdiction over those violations. These legislative changes could possibly increase the number of cases filed in Municipal Court. The Prosecution Division is glad to prosecute any appropriate case that is filed in Municipal Court and can be proven.”
Last week, we attended the Governor's Arts Award Luncheon at the Colorado Creative Industries Summit in Pueblo.
As you may already know, Pueblo, along with Aspen, each won the Governor's Art Award, a new and distinctive honor bestowed upon towns that have truly made a concerted effort toward funding and fostering creative development.
But more on that later. For now, the big announcement out of the luncheon is the search for graphic designers, copy writers and other creative types to help build a new, lasting Colorado brand. As it is, Colorado doesn't really have one — or maybe it does, but since no one knows what it is, it doesn't count — and, in order to become more competitive on the global market, attracting businesses, tourists and talent, we need it.
It's one of the five core goals outlined in the Colorado Blueprint, a state-wide economic development plan.
As Kennedy explained, the state had two options in building a new brand.
"We can do it the easy way, which is, hire the New York place branding agency," he said, adding he used to work for one. "The hard way to do it is, 'Made by Colorado for Colorado.' So we do it ourselves, and that’s the way we’re going to do it.”
That's where a creative team comes in. You can apply yourself, or nominate someone else for the job. Those who are chosen will work with Alex Bogusky and Dave Schiff, big names in the industry (Bogusky is the man behind Coca-Cola's polar bears and the anti-tobacco Truth campaign. Schiff launched Coke Zero in 2004. Both now work in Boulder for MadeMovement), who will oversee the project.
As the brand develops, Kennedy says that it will be vetted through the website, makingcolorado.gov, through surveys of citizens throughout the state, and other quantitative analyses both in and outside the Centennial State. Plus, an internal crew consisting of a brand advisory council and review board will review things. After all that, Kennedy will sit down with Hickenlooper and "fight it out."
They hope to launch the brand by the end of August.
“We want an engaging process that’s entertaining because we’d like to get a million people involved in this," Kennedy said, "from inside and outside Colorado.
"We want it to endure the test of time. We’re developing a brand that will hopefully not be replaced in three or four or five years. This is just really capturing the heart and soul of this place, and hopefully that won’t change much in the next 20 years.
"And we want to showcase the depth and strength of our creative community here, that’s a big part of why we’re doing it [this way.] And this concept of homegrown: Made by Colorado, for Colorado.”
Know someone? Know yourself? Sign up here.
As we reported today, Senate President John Morse is one of a number of state representatives who are being targeted for recall due largely to their support of the new gun laws.
Morse, a Democrat, represents the central part of Colorado Springs, as well as Manitou Springs. And the recall effort is being led locally by the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee, an issue committee registered with the Secretary of State's Office.
The Democrats are putting up a fight.
On Sunday, at 2 p.m., supporters of Morse's will be gathering at Pikes Peak Library District's Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.
You may be aware that a recall effort against has been mounted against our Senator Morse. The reasons behind this effort is primarily because of his votes on the recent gun control measures. They are now targeting him for his support civil unions and the Asset bill. Recalls are supposed to be used against elected officials who have violated the law not because of their voting record.
Before the start of the current session of the state General Assembly, we wondered whether the Democrats were going to charge head-long with a progressive agenda, or whether they were going to moderate their goals and play to the right.
When we spoke with Senate President John Morse last November, he stated that the Democrats were going to through consensus and "grand bargains":
But the Colorado Springs-area legislator says the Capitol won't be a Democratic playground under his watch. Instead, he says, his party will focus on identifying long-term solutions to issues related to education, environment, health care, civil rights, and jobs and financial security.
"We are going to try to figure out big solutions instead of small bills," he says, adding that the question will be: "Are there grand bargains that we can put together now?"
Republican House Minority Leader Mark Waller, a fellow Colorado Springs legislator, was skeptical. In fact, in November he warned his Democratic colleagues not to over-reach, or else face the wrath of the voters — a sentiment that has been repeated ad nauseum over the past month.
Waller points out that the last time the Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature, they enacted what Republicans coined the "Dirty Dozen," bills that increased state revenues.
"And just like we had a five-seat swing this time, we had a six-seat swing last time," he says. "I certainly don't think that they have a mandate moving forward, by any stretch."
Considering this electoral reality, and the mythic ability of Democratic politicians to instantly abandon progressive goals once elected, many Democratic voters were worried that the 2013 session was going to be a lukewarm, hand-wringing appeasement fest.
As it turns out, it was an unfounded worry.
Here are just some of the highlights:
Nick Andrasik has confirmed that he is indeed the proud gun owner in the photos below.
——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, 7:53 P.M. ——-
The Basic Freedom Defense Fund was formed specifically to lead recall efforts of gun-control-minded Colorado Democrats, such Colorado Springs' Sen. John Morse and his Westminster-based colleague, Sen. Evie Hudak.
The spokesman for the grassroots organization is Nick Andrasik. And this seems to be the way Andrasik presents himself online, at least on ar15.com:
When we reached him by phone this afternoon, we described the above photo to Andrasik. Though he couldn't be certain that it was one of his photos without actually seeing it, he said it was "probably me." Further, the avatar that Andrasik uses on his ar15.com profile is the same image that shows up on his Facebook page. (We've since sent him the photo via email for confirmation, but haven't yet heard back.)
And while this image (and the one below) might be unsettling to some supporters of the recent gun laws that has so enraged Andrasik and his compatriots in the BFDF, Andrasik himself doesn't see the big deal.
"I would find it weird if I was in this group and I didn't own firearms," he says. "What's the criticism? The fact that I have legally owned firearms? That's why I am fighting for this because I have them, and I believe in this. ... What's wrong with expressing your rights?"
Assuming this indeed is Andrasik's photo, it's part of a profile that includes some very pointed commentary. (Be aware that some of the following comments are likely to offend.)
During the legislative debates surrounding high-capacity magazines, he had this to say about Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora: "Fields back up, being a vacuous cunt as usual."
On Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood: "Rep Pettersen asking about more limitations - she's a stunning cunt."
On Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton: "Salazar is a fucking retard."
Colorado's state tree is the Blue Spruce.
The state animal is the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
The state fossil comes from the Stegosaurus.
And while John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" might be one of the state's songs, it is second to that classic "Where the Columbines Grow."
The bison is gone from the upland,
The deer from the canyon has fled,
The home of the wolf is deserted,
The antelope moans for his dead,
The war whoop re-echoes no longer,
The Indian's only a name,
And the nymphs of the grove in their loneliness rove,
But the columbine blooms just the same.
Lonely, roving nymphs, pretty sure we still got those. At least, one would hope.
Anyway, if a bill proposed by Lakewood Democrat Andy Kerr, the state will be adding to its roster of symbols a state pet.
From his legislation:
DOGS (CANIS LUPUS FAMILIARIS) AND CATS (FELIS CATUS) THAT ARE ADOPTED FROM COLORADO ANIMAL SHELTERS AND RESCUES ARE HEREBY MADE AND DECLARED TO BE THE STATE PETS OF THE STATE OF COLORADO
So, what does this mean in practical terms? According to the fiscal note attached to the legislation, the state will set aside a few hundred bucks to commission a portrait of the new state pet.
The painting will serve as the basis for the image to be included in the state symbols and emblems brochure and will be installed with the other paintings honoring state symbols and emblems in the exhibition area of Mr. Brown's Attic. The cost of the painting is estimated at $350. Once the existing supply of state symbols and emblems brochures is exhausted, Legislative Council staff will work with Integrated Document Solutions, Division of Central Services, in the Department of Personnel and Administration to redesign the brochure to include the newly designated state pets. Brochure design costs are estimated at $300. Expenditures will be paid with cash funds collected from the sale of souvenirs at the Capitol gift shop.
Well, this is a big day for Colorado. Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed the civil unions bill into law.
From a press release from the Majority Office of the Colorado State Senate:
Today is a historic day in Colorado! It is the day that we, as a state, afforded all Colorado families basic rights. Starting in May, all loving partners, regardless of gender, can commit to one another through a civil union.
“We’ve come a long way from the dark days of 1992, when voters added a discriminatory provision to the Colorado Constitution that excluded gays and lesbians from equal protection under state law. Looking back on this chapter of our history puts today’s victory in perspective. To say I am proud is an understatement. Yes, the road to equality is long and rocky, but I worked alongside the best of the best.” said Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver).
The state is the source of a case that produced a landmark decision for LGBT equality from the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1996 justices ruled 6-3 in a case called Romer v. Evans to strike down Colorado's voter-approved Amendment 2 as unconstitutional. The amendment barred the state or any governmental unit within it from enacting laws prohibiting sexual orientation—based discrimination.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who activists are now counting on as a swing vote when the high court considers marriage equality starting next week, wrote the majority opinion. As a result, since 2007, Colorado has outlawed discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Meanwhile, in 2006, Coloradans voted to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage by limiting marriage to "only between one man and one woman." Voters also made it clear they wouldn't recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Following the news that Tom Clements, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was shot and killed, the Colorado ACLU released a statement lauding the director's brief tenure with DOC.
Clements was killed last night at his Monument home, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
On March 19, 2013, at approximately 8:47 p.m., the El Paso County Sheriff's Office received a 9-1-1 call from a resident in the 17400 block of Colonial Park Drive reporting a shooting at the residence. Deputies arrived at the residence to find an adult male deceased; the male was identified as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom Clements.
There is no suspect identified in this case, but a vehicle of interest has been identified. The vehicle was seen by a local resident near the Clements' home approximately 15 minutes prior to the first 9-1-1 call. The vehicle was running but unoccupied. The vehicle was gone a few minutes later but was observed a short time later traveling west on Higby Road, turning south on Jackson Creek Parkway.
The vehicle of interest is described as a late model 2-door, "boxy" style, similar to a 90's model Lincoln. It's shiny and black or dark in color.
Later, the sheriff's office updated this press release, to include details of the possible driver: "We believe there was a white female, 35-50 years of age, who may have been speed-walking last night along Colonial Park Drive at 8:30 p.m. She was wearing light pants, a dark wind breaker and a hat. "
If you have any information you think can be useful, the sheriff's office urges you to call 390-5555.
As this case unfolds, it's worth noting that Clements was seen as an innovative prison director, winning the respect of the Colorado ACLU. From executive director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley:
The ACLU of Colorado is profoundly saddened to learn of the death of Tom Clements, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. We send our deepest sympathies to Mr. Clements’ family.
During his short, two-year tenure, Mr. Clements took significant strides to protect the civil rights and human dignity of prisoners. Not only did he close Colorado State Penitentiary II — a supermax facility designed to deny prisoners human contact — but he dramatically reduced the population of prisoners held in solitary conditions. In the last several months, he worked cooperatively with the ACLU of Colorado to reduce the significant numbers of seriously mentally ill prisoners held in long-term solitary confinement.
Mr. Clements was an intelligent, kind and humane leader who was open and receptive to the ACLU’s work. He will be deeply missed.
With the historic passage of Senate Bill 11, which will authorize civil unions in Colorado, local LGBT activists and their supporters will be popping the champagne cork tonight.
According to a press release from Colorado Springs Pride:
Civil Unions has passed in Colorado and history has been made!
Come join the celebration Tonight, Tuesday, March 12th, 5pm at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media!
There will be guest speakers, music, wine, beer, food and fun. All to celebrate the passage and legalization of Civil Unions in Colorado!
Invite your friends, family, and co-workers! All are invited to come and celebrate with us!
The public is welcome to come out and celebrate Colorado's joining league on this issue (once Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the bill) with states such as Vermont and Hawaii.
The lead sponsor on Senate Bill 13-196 is Senate President John Morse, the Colorado Springs Democrat. The Denver Post first reported on the likely introduction of this bill earlier this month, interviewing horrified Republicans and an incredulous Democrat.
Senate President John Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, announced he was working on a bill that would hold manufacturers and sellers of assault-style weapons legally liable for damage inflicted with such firearms.
Even some Democrats shook their heads.
"That's crazy. That's absolutely nuts," said Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, predicted the liability bill will help his party pick up "three-plus" Senate seats in the next election.
"He's out of his mind," was Morse's response.
"The country is clamoring for solutions and new ideas. Politically, this is more helpful than it is hurtful. We need to figure out how to make sure we don't have 6-year-olds being killed by military-style assault weapons."
Below is the Bill Summary:
The bill concerns liability for the discharge of an assault weapon.
It defines an assault weapon as any firearm except:
• Shotguns; and
• Bolt-action rifles.
The bill establishes strict liability against a person who discharges an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge. It creates an exception for damages occurring within a dwelling if the assault weapon was used to defend the person or others from another person who was about to use physical force against the person or another person within the dwelling. The bill establishes certain exceptions to liability for an owner of an assault weapon.
The bill establishes liability for a person who owns, obtains, or possesses an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third person if the person was negligent in storing the assault weapon or allowing a third party to come into possession of the assault weapon.
The bill establishes liability for a seller and transferor of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person:
• Negligently entrusted the assault weapon to a third party whom the person knew or reasonably should have known might use the weapon to cause bodily injury to the third party or others; or
• Sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.
The bill establishes liability for a seller, distributor, or manufacturer of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.
The bill requires sellers, distributors, and manufacturers to:
• Use the highest degree of care in selling, transferring, distributing, and storing assault weapons; and
• To receive information to have reasonable grounds to believe that the weapon will not be possessed by a person who may use it dangerously or unlawfully.
The bill specifies that failure to do so constitutes a violation of state law.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is going to sue any municipality that bans fracking. That's what the governor told CBS4 in Denver.
CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd sat down with the governor, who was blunt. He told Boyd the state will sue any local government that bans hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling technique that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to extract natural gas.
As the report notes, the state first sued Longmont after it passed a fracking ban. Longmont-based activist Sam Schabacker told us that the citizens of Longmont sought the ban to prevent wells from being placed "next to homes, a middle school and a reservoir."
Fort Collins is mulling over a ban of its own, with a vote slated for March 5. According to this Coloradoan article, the mayor of Fort Collins, Karen Weitkunat, is reportedly feeling the pressure following Hickenlooper's statement:
“I personally don’t like the idea of getting sued,” she said. “My responsibility as a public official is to protect the city as well. ... I have back-and-forth feelings on that, but I don’t want to have the wrath of the governor by any means.”
Meanwhile, back in the Springs, our City Council seems poised to allow for drilling, by scheduling the second reading of the oil and gas ordinance on March 12.
Legislation that will provide in-state tuition to Colorado high school graduates, regardless of their residency status, passed out of the state Senate Monday on a 23-12 vote.
Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs was one of three Republicans to vote in favor.
We reported on Hill's supportive vote in the Senate Education Committee, which signaled that he would be breaking with many of his Republican colleagues over SB 13-033.
At that time, Hill shared an op-ed he had written explaining the free-market reasoning behind his vote.
It is time for liberty-loving individuals everywhere to champion the solutions free markets have to bring. To date, they have led to the creation of trillions of dollars of real wealth, released billions from poverty, and spawned millions of innovative businesses and ideas. However, the success of free markets is not complete. We must champion free-market based immigration reform that includes workers as well as goods, and if we are successful, we will continue the trend of wealth creation, equal opportunity, and the success of the American experiment.
ASSET, as SB 13-033 is known, would “classify a student as an in-state student for tuition purposes if the student attends a public or private high school in Colorado for at least 3 years immediately preceding graduation.”
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed ASSET last session, as well, only to see it die in the Republican-controlled House. This session, however, the Democrats hold a strong majority in the House, making it likely the bill will make it to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.
Read Hill's full op-ed after the jump.
Is it possible that state Rep. Joe Salazar knew the size of shitstorm he was about to cause
Monday Friday when he launched into his impolitic diatribe over House Bill 1226, banning guns on college campuses? Probably not.
Here's what he said:
Maybe he has never heard of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, ’cause why the Thorton Democrat decided to frame his vote in favor of the bill using the mythical response of women to rape is anyone's guess.
But he did. And now Twitter is punishing the rest of us with an onslaught of "jokes" based on the various ways liberals might suggest women avoid being raped.
If you've ever wondered if the majority of Twitterers are funny or insightful, just visit #LiberalTips2AvoidRape for confirmation. They're not. Far from it.
Do you support collective bargaining for Colorado firefighters?
According to a survey conducted by Meyers Research, if you don't, you — and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach — are in the minority of Coloradans.
From the press release:
Results from a statewide survey released today by Myers Research reveals strong voter support (86%) for ensuring collective bargaining rights for Colorado fire fighters. (See attached memo.) The timely results of this survey are arriving just as a firefighter collective bargaining bill, Senate Bill 13-025, passed the Senate on Tuesday, February 6, 2013, and moves to the House.
The survey of over 600 voters in Colorado in late January has a margin of error of +/- 4.0. (See attached memo.) Respondents were asked the question:
And as it relates to firefighters in Colorado, do you favor or oppose allowing firefighters to negotiate with local governments over issues like better safety equipment, ensuring safe staffing levels, and health care and survivorship benefits if they are killed in the line of duty?
State Rep. Pete Lee tried to get his economic gardening bill through the Republican-controlled state House last year to no avail.
This session, with his colleagues in the Democratic Party in charge of the Legislature, the Springs Democrat appears to be having better luck. Yesterday, the bill passed out of the House Business, Labor & Economic & Workforce Development Committee and it's way to the Appropriations Committee.
The bill would create
an economic gardening pilot project in the Colorado office of economic development (office). Through the pilot project, staff members of the office and small business development centers (SBDCs) who have been trained and certified in economic gardening principles and practices provide 12 months of strategic assistance to at least 20 Colorado-headquartered second-stage companies and SBDC clients selected by the state director of SBDCs in the office. The state director reports annually on the results of the pilot project to the general assembly, and the pilot project terminates in 2016.
According to the bill, this pilot project would assist business owners of "companies that are beyond the start-up stage but have not yet fully matured, with innovative products or services that satisfy market needs" by providing them with "specialized business assistance to refine core strategies and from access to in-depth market research, competitor analyses, geographic information systems, search engine optimization, and other strategic information, as well as from relationships with mentors and advisers."