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Youth riot again, GMO battle lopsided, another city severance deal 

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New incident at teen site

Three unruly teens led an incident in Zebulon Pike Detention Center, at 1427 W. Rio Grande Ave., on Oct. 2, which police say injured two staff members.

According to the police report, four youths "attempted to cause a riot" by refusing staff orders and yelling "gang slang and racial slurs." One obeyed staff and went to his room, but the other three continued to refuse, saying, "Lets [sic] get up and do this," and, "You guys in your rooms better be down for us otherwise your [sic] next" before staff subdued and handcuffed them. One threatened to "fucking kill" someone and thrashed against staff before he was placed in a restraint jacket.

The police report says the disturbance appeared to be planned. The four youth were taken to the Police Operations Center to be fingerprinted and photographed, then were returned to the detention center.

Staffer Ivory Rounds was knocked in the head during the scuffle, and another staffer, Frank Zeleznikar, suffered a back strain for which he sought treatment at Penrose Hospital. Four male youths face various charges, including second-degree assault and disobedience of public safety orders under riot conditions.

Zeb Pike's assistant director told police he had contacted the four juveniles' parents, but the police report said: "None of the parents responded to the detention facility."

Department of Human Services spokesman Dan Drayer downplayed the incident, saying it lasted only three minutes. "Staff had it under control immediately. It was not a riot," he says. "The youth in these facilities are coming to us with violent backgrounds and histories. Incidents will happen. We work to protect their safety and the staff's safety."

Seven youths were arrested and charged following an Aug. 7 riot at Spring Creek Youth Services Center, at 3190 E. Las Vegas St. — PZ

Another severance deal

The city's newly hired public works director, Travis Easton, has been promised the possibility of six months' severance pay, or $75,000, if he leaves the city "involuntarily," according to his employment agreement.

Mayor Steve Bach has paid 86 departing city workers, many of whom retired, $1.66 million in severance pay in the last three years. The most recent was former city attorney Chris Melcher ("Another expensive exit," News, Oct. 1), who resigned last year and left in January with six months' pay, $91,868; he was paid another $16,430 in consulting fees through Aug. 1.

If Easton, former mayor of Monument, is terminated without cause, he'll be given 30 days' pay, his six-page Aug. 13 agreement states. In the case of his "involuntary" separation — which isn't defined in the agreement — "the City may, at the sole discretion of the Chief of Staff, pay Mr. Easton an amount up to six (6) months' salary." Severance pay would be conditioned upon Easton agreeing not to make "disparaging comments" about the city, among other terms.

The city notes in a statement that Easton's severance eligibility is the same as all senior at-will managers under city policies.

Newly hired chief information officer Carl Nehls, who's paid $150,000 a year, has no provision for severance pay in his Oct. 3 agreement. The city says in the statement that Nehls was hired as an hourly worker "to allow time to determine if Mr. Nehls' skills and expertise are the right match for the critical business requirements of this position." — PZ

GMO battle looks lopsided

It's not yet known how Coloradans feel about Proposition 105, which would require labeling genetically modified foods, better known as GMOs, but it's very clear where big food and agricultural companies stand.

The issue committee against labeling, the No on 105 Coalition, has raised over $9.7 million as of its last report on Sept. 29. The issue committee supporting the labeling, Right to Know Colorado GMO, raised over $320,000 in the same time.

Among the "No" donors are the Monsanto Company (more than $4.7 million), PepsiCo (more than $1.1 million), Kraft Foods (over $1 million) and General Mills ($820,000). The "No" committee spent almost exactly the amount of the Monsanto contributions on advertising with California-based Target Media.

Proposition 105 asks voters to require labeling of GMO foods, with some notable exceptions. GMOs refer to plants or animals whose DNA has been altered through gene splicing, often in an effort to yield more product. It's estimated that around 70 percent of processed foods use GMO ingredients. — JAS

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