Friday, June 23, 2017

One Colorado releases scorecard of LGBTQ issues from 2017 legislative session

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:27 AM

For those who haven’t been keeping up with state LGBTQ politics, or those who tried to keep up and found themselves distracted by the massive political upheavals happening on a national level, One Colorado has your back.

Colorado’s largest LGBTQ rights organization has just released its 2017 scorecard to let you, the informed voter, know how state lawmakers voted on issues related to the LGBTQ community.

The bills taken into account: HB-1013, a religious exemption bill that would allow businesses and individuals to refuse service to someone based on religious bias; SB-283, another such bill to allow business and individuals to claim exemption from non-discrimination laws (yes, really); HB-1122, which would have made it easier for transgender Coloradans to change their gender on their birth certificates; HB-1156, a statewide ban on conversion therapy; HB-1188, which added disability and sexual orientation to protected categories of current harassment statues; the amendment to the budget that would defund the Healthy Kids Colorado survey; and the confirmation of Heidi Hess to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.


To see how all state legislators voted on these issues, and to learn more about the issues themselves, take a look at One Colorado’s scorecard. And remember the names of those who failed to score 100 percent. The 2018 election isn’t very far away.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What the new El Paso County districts could look like soon

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 10:43 AM

El Paso County's legislative body is the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) — five elected officials who represent different parts of the county in all sorts of decisions that affect your life. The exact boundaries of their districts change every few years, according to population growth and, to a lesser degree, voter turnout. For more on the politics around an upcoming redistricting (very soon!), see here. But, if you came here to understand how the districts have changed over time and how they could change in the future, you're in the right place.

Bear with us, please — the following blog post won't be sexy but it will be informative!

First, a history lesson. This is what the county districts looked like in 2002. (Sorry the quality sucks. The internet was young then, ok.)

Then, the districts were redrawn in 2011 to look like this. Apparently the pastel color assigned to each district changed then too.

In 2015, districts were redrawn again. This is our current map, overlaid with population to show the needed changes (districts one and two have to shrink, districts three, four and five have to grow.)
Per state law, the districts need to contain roughly equal numbers of constituents. Here, because the county's population is just under 680,000, the magic number per district is about 136,000. Well, it's 136,138, to be exact. The County Clerk and Recorder, Chuck Broerman, and his staff came up with three redistricting options to reach those magic numbers, while maintaining compactness, communities of interest, and logical landmarks. Here's the PowerPoint presentation explaining each option in more detail, shown at the BOCC's May 25 meeting. Find the maps below. And if it's hard to discern what's different between them, know that's on purpose — the clerk's office tried to disrupt current districts as little as possible.

Option 1:

Option 2:

Option 3:

Not everyone is pleased with these options, as you can read more about here. Grievances focus more on process, particularly that the clerk didn't incorporate citizen and nonpartisan input before drawing the maps. Some Democrats aren't pleased with the substance, particularly that the districts may become less competitive and even more secure for Republicans. To that end, El Paso County Democratic Party chair, Electra Johnson, who lost the race for commissioner in district 3 by an unusually narrow margin in November, tried her hand at redrawing the lines herself. She didn't have access to quite the same data as the clerk's office, but found some clever workarounds, like using satellite imagery of housing developments over time. Here's what she came up with.

If you have a preference, critique or suggestion you want the commissioners to consider before amending and adopting one of these maps, send them to mattiealbert@elpasocountyco.com or call them in to 520-6226. Public comment ends June 24 and the meeting where decisions get made is June 29.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All Souls prepared to offer sanctuary, supported by new coalition

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 1:52 PM

All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church has formally declared itself a sanctuary church, meaning an undocumented immigrant could live in the building's basement bedroom to avoid deportation. The church's congregants, who are a diverse, nondenominational bunch, made the decision to prepare for such a scenario in late May by a near-unanimous vote. Their minister, Rev. Nori Rost, announced the result at a June 19 press conference. 

Rev. Nori Rost has long considered turning her church into refuge for immigrants and recently got the go-ahead from the congregation. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Rev. Nori Rost has long considered turning her church into refuge for immigrants and recently got the go-ahead from the congregation.

The downtown church is prepared to, but not currently offering, sanctuary to one immigrant at a time. The tactic hinges on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) policy to refrain from conducting raids in “sensitive locations” including places of worship. At the press conference, Alex McShiras, a local immigration attorney with the Joseph Law Firm, reminded everyone that that's a policy, not a law, so it could change at any time. He did, however, assure that he had word from ICE's field office in Colorado that its agents intends to uphold that policy.

Surrounding Rost during the declaration were other church leaders, congregants, lawyers, academics, nonprofit leaders, immigrant organizers and their children. Candace Datz, director of youth and adult ministry at First Congregational Church, introduced them as members of the newly formed Colorado Springs Sanctuary Coalition. The purpose of the coalition is to help the host church prepare, work with immigrant organizers to set up intake procedures and coordinate financial, legal and strategic support around the whole effort. (For a more comprehensive look at the origins and goals of the sanctuary church movement, see: "Not in our house", Cover, April 19.)
Other churches in the coalition include the First United Methodist Church, the First Congregational Church, and Colorado Springs Friends Meeting. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Other churches in the coalition include the First United Methodist Church, the First Congregational Church, and Colorado Springs Friends Meeting.

The coalition first began organizing after President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to step up immigration enforcement. Since then, increased deportations around the country have immigrant communities on edge, fearful that any interaction with law enforcement could trigger removal proceedings.

Karina, the young citizen daughter of an immigrant coalition member, told reporters and other listeners that she's "always nervous to see if [her] parents will come home from work or not" and that she "doesn't understand why [her] community is being treated badly [since] we’re all the same no matter the skin color or culture."

Karina aspires to become a psychiatrist, but in the meantime, she just wants to go to school and play with friends without worrying her parents won't be there to support her. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Karina aspires to become a psychiatrist, but in the meantime, she just wants to go to school and play with friends without worrying her parents won't be there to support her.

They came here to give their children, like me, a chance at a better life," she said. "We only want to live in peace."

A slight reprieve came on June 15, when DHS Secretary John F. Kelly announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, will stay in place. Instituted by former President Barack Obama in 2012, the program grants temporary work or study permits to immigrants brought over as children, specifically those who arrived before June 15, 2007, but are under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. The announcement was a surprise — since then-candidate Trump had promised to eliminate the program — but not considered totally positive, since Kelly also announced that Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA, will not stay in place. That program, which was designed to grant similar protections for parents and older siblings of DACA recipients, had hung in legal limbo as a court challenge made its way up to a tie at the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that it's gone-for-good, we have a clearer sense of the administration's policy on immigrant families: children can stay but their parents have to go.

The coalition chose the day after Father's Day for that reason, Datz explained. "We absolutely believe in the importance of families remaining together and not being separated by unjust and immoral deportations," she said, adding, "Our faith traditions have much to say about the vital role of families in our communities, and we believe that each child deserves to have their parents present during their childhood."

Silvia H. introduced herself, through a translator, as "one of many people who came to this country wanting to get my family a better life." For 14 years now, she said, she and her husband have worked hard, paid taxes and raised their children, now teenagers, here in Colorado Springs. "I am not a criminal," she emphasized.

Though she has friends who have already lost a father to deportation, Silvia is hopeful now, in addition to fearful. "
Thank God that he put us in the way of these people who still believe in us and believe that we all have the same rights and the same opportunities," she said. "Thanks to the sanctuary coalition, we hope to keep families together."
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Paul Lundeen announces run for Colorado Senate

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 9:43 AM

Lundeed: Wants to change houses. - COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATE
  • Courtesy of the candidate
  • Lundeed: Wants to change houses.
Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, says he’ll seek the state Senate District 9 post now held by Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, who is barred by term limits from serving another term.

Lundeen has served two terms in House District 19. He touts his efforts to reduce testing in schools and combat human trafficking.

Senate District 9 covers the north portion of the county including, Gleneagle and Black Forest. Lundeen described himself in a news release as a citizen legislator who’s “mostly a father, husband and grateful child of God.”

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Nicoletta, Jaray running for Manitou mayor

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 2:20 PM

Manitou Mayor Nicole Nicoletta will seek a second term. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Manitou Mayor Nicole Nicoletta will seek a second term.

Manitou Mayor Nicole Nicoletta will seek a second  two-year term in the November 2017 city election, the Pikes Peak Bulletin reports.

The mayor, who has presided over fiscally cheery times in the west side town, says she wants to continue her work.

Nicoletta told the Bulletin:

I've succeeded in forming strong relationships with local and state leaders, including Colorado Springs Utilities and El Paso County, elected officials from surrounding municipalities, representatives from each of our military installations, and members of the Colorado Municipal League.

None of these successes could have happened without a team effort; Manitou Springs' team is rocking it right now. The city is in fantastic shape — not perfect but doing very well. Every one of us is working incredibly hard to tend to the city.
Nicoletta will be challenged by longtime resident Ken Jaray, a retired lawyer, former Manitou Springs city attorney and the founder of several community organizations in the area. Jaray told the Bulletin that he will focus on community engagement, particularly when it comes to implementing Manitou's new master plan. Jaray stressed that keeping Manitou looking good would be a top priority of his.

"It's important to always keep track of how we present to the outside world: potholes filled, streets clean, parks and commercial areas where people feel comfortable," Jaray told the Bulletin.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sessions pinned on medical marijuana before slipping through Senate hearing

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 1:02 PM

  • File photo
While a nation gripped with palace intrigue tuned in to watch another high-ranking government official deliver evasive testimony about election interference, investigation interference and mixed-messaging from the White House, medical marijuana protectionists here in Colorado scrutinized a leaked letter written in May by the man under oath, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Massroots.com, a social platform for cannabis users, obtained the letter from a staffer on the hill and broke the story that Sessions, a "tough-on-crime" and "just-say-no" kind of prosecutor, had asked Congressional leaders to undo federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana businesses.

Read his letter below.

Sessions Asks Congress To Undo Medical Marijuana Protections by tomangell on Scribd

The gist of it is he wants Congress to strike the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice, which Sessions heads, from using federal funds to prevent states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

As the Washington Post, which independently verified the document, pointed out, Sessions' citing an "historic drug epidemic" as reason to crack down on medical marijuana, still technically a Schedule I drug, of course, is highly misleading. That's because there's a growing body of research showing that opioid overdoses actually decrease in states with medical marijuana available to patients suffering from pain or other ailments. Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency with a conservative stance on weed, acknowledges that.

Rohrabacher-Farr was passed with bipartisan support in 2014 and was re-affirmed by Congress in May of this year. A whopping 94 percent of Americans favor "allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it," according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll. So, if the nation's top law enforcement official were to get his wish and start busting down doors in states like Colorado, it's no stretch to predict where the administration's already low approval ratings would head.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Jared Polis announces gubernatorial run amid the oranges

Posted By on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Rep. Jared Polis meets with well-wishers at a grocery store on Monday during a swing through Colorado Springs to announce his run for governor. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Rep. Jared Polis meets with well-wishers at a grocery store on Monday during a swing through Colorado Springs to announce his run for governor.
Jared Polis, Democratic congressman from Colorado, took a swing along the Front Range Monday to promote his candidacy for governor.

Polis stopped in Colorado Springs at the Save A Lot grocery at 3333 N. Academy Blvd. where media set up in the entry way of the store and Polis talked about the crucial role El Paso County will play in the next election.

Surrounded by produce, Polis told the Independent he is supportive of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, and wants to regulate it like alcohol.

"We should continue our leadership role with all the jobs it's created," he said.

Addressing Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Polis said he's trying to defend the ACA, because, "It's important we don't allow 20 million Americans to lose health care."

As governor, he said he would look for ways to reduce health care costs to increase access, supports a national single-payer health care system, and is open to looking at that type of proposal at the state level.

Other stops on his current trek included Pueblo, Denver and Boulder.

Polis joins a crowded field of candidates seeking to succeed Democrat John Hickenlooper, who’s barred by term limits from seeking a third term.

Democrats include Rep. Ed Perlmutter, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and businessman Noel Ginsburg.

Republicans include Mitt Romney’s nephew Doug Robinson, George Brauchler, the prosecutor in the Aurora theater shooting case, and former state legislator Victor Mitchell.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Local lawmakers split over Comey testimony

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 12:59 PM

Lamborn: It's all "political theatrics." - FILE PHOTOS
  • File photos
  • Lamborn: It's all "political theatrics."
Two federal lawmakers from Colorado have very different points of view on former FBI director James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

While Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, says it's time to move on, Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, says issues involving possible obstruction of justice by President Trump should be examined further.

First, Lamborn's statement on Thursday:
Today, in a Senate hearing, former FBI Director James Comey had the opportunity to comment on many facets of his professional relationship with President Trump. He also weighed-in with his thoughts on Russian meddling in American political computer networks during the timeframe surrounding the 2016 election. The former Director refused, under multiple avenues of questioning, to state that the President impeded or obstructed any investigations. I hope that we can now move on from the political theatrics of this hearing and return the focus to the important policy work being done to improve the lives of the American people.

Here's Bennet's statement:
Bennet: More examination needed.
  • Bennet: More examination needed.
Today’s hearing underscored that this investigation, in combination with the special counsel, must lead us to the whole truth and a resolution for the American people.

“The legal case for obstruction of justice is a critical question that the special counsel must examine further. We must also keep our eye on the larger issue: Russian interference in our elections. Former Director Comey’s testimony makes clear that the President is more concerned about his own self-interest than holding the Russians accountable and safeguarding our democracy.
For highlights of Comey's testimony, go to this CNN site.
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

UPDATE: Holly Williams files for El Paso County commission seat

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 10:23 AM

Holly Williams gears up for the commissioner election in 2018. - COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATE
  • Courtesy of the candidate
  • Holly Williams gears up for the commissioner election in 2018.
Holly Williams provided this comment via email:
In response to concerns expressed by the auditor and the Board of County Commissioners, I hired temporary staff and worked with county officials to create a system that tracked the financials for the office. From 2003 until 2007, the company hired by El Paso County to complete audits did not have to address any further issues with the Public Trustee office. In 2003, we processed over 100,000 releases of deeds of trust and during my time as Public Trustee, the Public Trustee office quadrupled net revenues returned to the County from $281,000 in 1999 to more than $1.2 million in later years.

My experience as a public trustee only adds to my qualifications to run for commissioner. It was a challenging time and a life lesson. I worked with others to provide a more transparent office and an office with BOCC oversight, something that other public trustees in large county offices had not done.

———————-ORIGINAL POST 3:15 P.M. MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2007———————-

Holly Williams, wife of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, has filed as a candidate to succeed Darryl Glenn as El Paso County commissioner of District 1.

She filed paperwork on Feb. 16 declaring her candidacy in the district once held by her husband.

Holly Williams, a Republican, served as public trustee in El Paso County some years ago, appointed in 1999 by then-Gov. Bill Owens.

In a story during her trustee tenure, ("A matter of trust," News, Oct. 16, 2003), the Independent reported that things in the public trustee's office were just shy of chaotic.

As Cara DeGette wrote in her column Public Eye that same issue:
The audit is not good; among other things it indicates that under Williams' watch, the office has been an open invitation for embezzlement and theft of funds.

Williams insists that steps have been taken to correct the problems, but when you consider all of the players in the drama, the problems run far deeper than an office audit.

As the public trustee, Williams oversees a 16-person office that processes nearly $2 million in fees related to foreclosures and property purchased in El Paso County.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens appointed Williams, a Republican operative, close supporter and former piano teacher who has no formal accounting training, to the $48,500 job in 1999.
The Indy also reported at that time that Williams had hired her husband, Wayne, to do legal work and paid him $1,000 in 2001. This was before Wayne Williams was elected to the Board of County Commissioners. The couple co-chaired the Owens for governor re-election efforts in 2002.

In early 2007, Holly Williams took a job working for Rep. Doug Lamborn in his Colorado Springs office.

Wayne Williams served two terms as county commissioner and one term as county clerk and recorder before being elected as Colorado secretary of state.

So the Williamses could qualify as the first family of politics from the El Paso County GOP.

We've reached out to Holly Williams and will update if and when we hear from her.

And then there's the question of Darryl Glenn.

The two-term Republican county commissioner captured the GOP nomination last year for U.S. Senate, coming out of nowhere to defeat a wide field of candidates. He wasn't able to knock off the Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet, however.

While rumors are circulating that Glenn has his eye on the Colorado Springs mayor's office, he laughs when asked about that. "I'm not ruling anything out," he says.

A run for mayor against incumbent John Suthers, who's highly regarded and seemingly very popular — both ballot measures involving taxes he's promoted for the city ballot passed — might be pretty difficult.

Glenn concedes he's not interested in running for a state House or Senate slot; nor will he challenge Lamborn for the nomination for U.S. House. He also ruled out a run for governor, noting if he had designs on that job, he'd already be in the race. (Some politicos gave Glenn credit for his good run for Senate by announcing more than a year ahead of time.)

So where does that leave him? He's not willing to say.
"I might enjoy going into the private sector," he says, adding anything can happen in his future. "It's wide open right now."

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Birth control bill signed into law, allows Colorado women a one-year supply

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 8:23 AM

  • Courtesy PPRM

Colorado women no longer need to worry about making that tedious monthly trip to the pharmacist in order to prevent pregnancy. Thanks to a bi-partisan bill sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D), Senator Kerry Donovan (D), Rep. Lois Landgraf (R) and Sen. Don Coram (R), which Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law on Monday, Colorado citizens can now stock up on a year’s supply of birth control (after a three-month trial, which isn’t a bad deal).

This should lead to fewer unintended pregnancies, especially for those in rural areas who have limited options for nearby pharmacies.

As we reported in April, this very bill failed to pass through the house and senate last year, so its success comes as a pleasant surprise for Coloradans who utilize birth control.

HB 17-1186 was widely supported by advocates of reproductive healthcare, including Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. See the organization’s full press release below:

DENVER, CO—Women in Colorado will now be able to fill birth control prescriptions for a one-year supply, after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB 17-1186 into law today, amidst dozens of supporters dressed in pink at the Colorado State Capitol.

“This law is a great example of how we can work across the aisle to bring meaningful changes to people’s lives,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This is an important step in supporting women across Colorado, especially those in rural areas.”

“This is a big celebration for a big change in women’s lives. It means fewer trips to the pharmacy, fewer unintended pregnancies and healthier outcomes for Colorado women. This legislation will empower women and their families across Colorado,” said Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

A 2011 study by the National Institutes of Health indicates that access to a 12-month supply of hormonal birth control can reduce unintended pregnancies by one-third. Until now, insurers have only allowed women to receive one- to three-month supplies of contraception at a time.

The bill (HB 17-1186) was sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Gunnison), Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain) and Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose) and had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

“This is a great new law, a simple change that comes with big results. At a time when women’s rights are at risk nationally and in other states, Colorado has shown it is moving forward, not backward,” said Rep. Pettersen.

“Women in rural Colorado will see great benefits from this bill. They will be able to access the birth control they rely on, exactly when they need it. This means more time left in their busy days and less likelihood of unintended pregnancies,” said Sen. Donovan.

Rep. Landgraf and Sen. Coram cited common sense reasoning and a goal of reducing unintended pregnancies in their support of this bill.

“Nine out of ten women in this country use birth control at some point in their lives. This bill breaks down a barrier to care that will have an incredible impact on women’s lives,” said Sarah Taylor-Nanista, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado. 

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

One Colorado hosts healthcare advocacy workshop for Springs residents

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 1:50 PM

  • Shutterstock
Given the current political climate, a certain amount of anxiety surrounding the state of healthcare is expected. Moreover, LGBTQ Americans in particular face unique challenges and needs that seem to consistently fall to the lowest rung of the priority ladder when it comes to healthcare policy.

One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ rights organization, wants to make sure that LGBTQ Coloradans, at least, know what healthcare options they have, what policies and laws are in place, and the ins and outs of access and advocacy. That’s why the organization will host a “Know Your Health, Know Your Rights” workshop on June 8, 5-6:30 p.m. at Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church.

This free event is meant to help LGBTQ Coloradans really understand the healthcare landscape of our state, and provide tools to make accessing healthcare easier. It feeds into One Colorado’s 2017 needs assessment, which identified equal access to healthcare as one of the LGBTQ community’s priorities.

Registration is required, and can be done online. Contact policy manager Cara Cheevers at carac@one-colorado.org for more information.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Colorado GOP announces new flack

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 3:50 PM

Cole: State GOP's communications director - COURTESY OF DANIEL COLE
  • Courtesy of Daniel Cole
  • Cole: State GOP's communications director
It seems that El Paso County is sort of taking over the state Republican Party, which probably is fitting considering the county is ruled by Republicans.

The latest announcement comes via email from Daniel Cole, a campaign consultant, who's just been hired to handle the state party's communications via a contract.

Cole handled the City Council campaign of Keith King, for example, and served as the county party's executive director for a time before branching out on his own.

The state party chair is Jeff Hays, former El Paso County GOP chair, and its vice chair is El Paso County resident Sherrie Gibson.

Now Cole joins the team.

"It's true we're the largest Republican county in the state, so you would expect a larger percentage of the state party's representation to come from here than from any other one county," he says.

Cole moved from the Washington, D.C., area as a child and later attended Kansas University on a full-ride scholarship. That's a fact he notes in his mini-bio provided below in his letter to Colorado media outlets.

But he omits his short-lived pursuit of a law degree at Columbia University, because, he says he didn't consider it one of the most interesting facts about himself. "And still don't," he says.

"I went through the first year [of law school], and I performed pretty well," he says. "I was in the top third of my class. But I decided I didn't want to be a lawyer, and that growing realization combined with how tight the legal market was at that time convinced me to get out while my head was still above water."

Here's his missive to media:
I’m writing this introductory letter instead of a press release in the traditional format because a letter (personal, efficient, informal) better reflects the spirit in which I’ll approach my new position as communications director of the Colorado Republican Committee.

I’m hugely excited for this opportunity to work, once again, with Jeff Hays, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Committee elected April 1. Jeff is a brilliant guy, personable and expansive yet analytical and acute. If you’re like everyone else, you’ll enjoy getting to know him.

Jeff was the chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party from February 2013 – February 2017. I served as the county party’s executive director during the first three years of Jeff’s tenure, then, in June 2016, left as an employee to start my own company, Cole Communications. I have been running communications systems for various clients since then, and I will continue to service other contracts alongside my 1099 contract with the state party.

Before I started working for the El Paso County Republican Party in 2013, my gigs included a weekly op-ed for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, a couple of years teaching high school English and journalism at Colorado Springs Early Colleges, and work as a translator: I reviewed French books for Zaccheus Press and translated from Italian the biography of a woman since declared venerable by the Vatican, The Spiritual Experience of Itala Mela. I also managed local issue and candidate campaigns.

In 2006, I graduated with a degree in English from the University of Kansas, which I attended as a National Merit Scholar.

The field of communications is constantly in flux. (Under Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II, the minister of communications was responsible for the supervision of railroads.) But my approach to media relations won't change. Especially because I want the state party to play a larger part in the public discourse, I will always be happy to receive your calls. Be in touch when you’d like a comment from the party, an interview with the chairman, a recommendation as to whom you should approach on a given topic, or anything else I could conceivably provide.

It will be my honor to work alongside Adam Johnson, the state party's new political director. Adam is a fourth-generation Coloradan and currently lives in Centennial. He has been assisting Republican candidates in Colorado for 15 years, having first worked on Governor Bill Owens's re-election campaign in 2002. Since then, Adam has helped with nearly a dozen candidate and issue campaigns. Adam agreed to serve as political director in order to ensure the Colorado GOP has a robust ground game headed into the 2018 election cycle.

Adam and I started with the state party on May 15. I will write with information about other staff appointments before long. 

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dennis Hisey files for Colorado state Senate seat

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 12:47 PM

Former El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey has filed as a candidate for State Senate District 2, a seat now held by Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican, who is barred by term limits from seeking another term.

The election will be in 2018, so the Fountain Republican is getting a head start.

He appeared in the Cañon City Music and Blossom Festival parade on May 6, as seen here on his Facebook page:
At the Cañon City parade.
  • At the Cañon City parade.

Hisey then followed up by filing his candidate affidavit with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office on May 15.

So far, he's the only one who's filed for the seat, which represents an area that includes Fremont, Teller, Park and Clear Creek counties and the rural parts of El Paso County, wrapping around Colorado Springs to form a horseshoe.

Hisey served three, four-year terms as county commissioner, leaving office in January only to return to the public payroll in February as interim director of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.

That gig was to last three months, and it might already have ended.

His campaign website can be found at www.dennishisey.com where his background is outlined and those who endorse him are listed, among them 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May and Terrance McWilliams, El Pomar Foundation's director of military and veteran affairs.

We've reached out to Hisey and will update when we hear back from him.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

UPDATE: John Suthers on short list to replace Comey as FBI director

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 10:55 AM

Suthers: The next FBI director? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Suthers: The next FBI director?
This just in from Suthers:
While I am honored to be listed as a possibility among some tremendous law enforcement professionals, at this point it would be premature to comment any further.


Fox News is reporting that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is on the short list for those under consideration to replace fired FBI director James Comey.

Here's the list as reported by Fox:
According to the White House official, the candidates include:

Ray Kelly, the former and longest-serving New York City police commissioner
Mike Rogers, former House Intelligence Committee chairman and former FBI agent
Former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas
Paul Abbate, executive assistant director for the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch
Associate Judge of New York Court of Appeals Mike Garcia
Mayor of Colorado Springs John Suthers
Former federal appellate court Judge Michael Luttig, now executive vice president of Boeing
Larry Thompson, former deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe
The Denver Post also reported the list and also that Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, "confirmed in a Tweet that he recommended the longtime public official."

Gardner wrote: “Colorado’s John Suthers would be an excellent choice to lead the FBI. I recommended him to the WH & am excited to see his name on this list.”

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Indy joins newsrooms nationwide to report on hate with your help

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 1:58 PM

  • Designed by Dustin Glatz

This week's cover story was a potent reminder that hate is not history yet. Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which advocates and litigates against groups like the Ku Klux Klan, spoke with the Independent's J. Adrian Stanley about the proliferation and emboldening of racism, sexism and Islamophobia in America. "Hate crimes just shot up after Trump got elected," he said, though measuring that is not-so-easy without good, hard data.

That's why ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization doing investigative journalism in the public interest, launched the Documenting Hate project. They describe it like this:

The 2016 election left many in America afraid — of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for trustworthy facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent.

At this point, there is simply no reliable national data on hate crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Documenting and understanding all of these incidents — from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling — requires new, more creative approaches.

That's why we have marshaled a national coalition of news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies intent on creating a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents.

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In addition to us, the project's growing list of partners include The Google News Lab, Univision News, the New York Times Opinion Section, WNYC, BuzzFeed News, First Draft, Meedan, New America Media, The Root, Latino USA, The Advocate, and Ushahidi. We're also working with civil-rights groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and schools such as the University of Miami School of Communication.

We will for the first time be able to take a rigorous look at hate crimes in America — combining data analysis, social media newsgathering, and ambitious investigative storytelling.

You can follow along with the project on Facebook and Twitter. We'll use these to share good journalism about hate crimes, and to let you know what the partners in our project learn along the way. 
The database this coalition seeks to amass is built on verified stories submitted by victims and witnesses. So, as a local partner, the Indy asks you to let us know if you, or someone you know, has experienced bias, hate or any crime thereby motivated. That way we, and media across the country, can better report on the trends as they really are — not as fear or speculation would lead us to believe.

You can use the form below to tell us about incidents we should look into. Filling out this form will not notify police, and is in no way connected to law enforcement. And here's a list of resources, should you need them.

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