Thursday, January 16, 2020

CSPD commander, cited for careless driving, retires

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 12:30 PM

Commander Rafael Cintron - COURTESY CSPD
  • Courtesy CSPD
  • Commander Rafael Cintron
Colorado Springs Police Department officials are downplaying an incident in which Commander Rafael Cintron, a 34-year CSPD veteran, was cited for careless driving after crashing his personal vehicle into a trash container and being observed with the smell of alcohol on his breath.

Cintron, 57, served as the staff duty officer at the time of the crash, about 6 p.m. on Dec. 15. That means he was the commander in charge of any major incident, such as an officer-involved shooting, and would be called upon to oversee the incident as well as brief the police chief and the District Attorney's Office.

Facing a March 20 hearing in El Paso County court and an internal affairs investigation, Cintron recently retired. He's still listed on the CSPD website as commander of the Metro Vice Narcotics and Intelligence Division.

CSPD spokesperson Lt. Jim Sokolik tells the Indy a DUI officer conducted a field sobriety test and found him unimpaired. But a neighbor tells the Indy that Cintron was "yelling at everyone" after the crash and proceeded to drink two gallons of water at neighbors' homes as police arrived and perused the scene. Deputy Chief Adrian Vasquez, who signed Cintron's citation, drove Cintron home that night, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fears of retaliation.

The incident has raised questions among the ranks about why Cintron was granted what they perceive as special treatment not afforded to any other cop, not to mention any member of the public.

Former CSPD officer John McFarland believes Cintron got special treatment via the ride home and for not being charged with a more serious crime. He also alleges the deputy chief helped in an attempted cover-up of the incident. Sokolik says there was no special treatment.

"I strongly believe in holding police officers, whether street cops or senior management, to the highest standards," McFarland wrote in an email to his friends that was shared with the Indy. "A cop who 'departs from the truth' (the oft-repeated euphemism for being a liar) deserves to be fired and criminally prosecuted. For this reason, I feel morally compelled to act. I cannot simply look the other way and sleep at night."

If someone detected alcohol on an officer's breath, that officer would be given a portable breath test. If it came back positive, the officer would immediately be suspended and an internal affairs investigation launched, a police source says. Motorists under suspicion of DUI aren't allowed to drink water, eat or chew gum, the source says.

Sokolik disputed that, saying officers who smell of alcohol aren't automatically suspended, because there must evidence of intoxication to impose sanctions. He also disputed that motorists under suspicion of DUI aren't allowed to drink or eat. He said if probable cause exists of a DUI, then there is a period of time called observation during which a suspect isn't allowed to eat or drink but other than that, suspects could drink water. Moreover, Sokolik took issue with the idea that drinking water would impact a person's blood alcohol level. He says it does not. "Intake of liquid has nothing to do with it," he says.

Careless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense and carries a penalty of three months to 364 days in jail, a fine of between $250 and $1,000 or both  10 to 90 days and a fine of $150 to $300 or both.

We've requested the police report of the incident, but haven't yet received it.

Sokolik tells us in an email that "somebody [is] leading you down the wrong path on this."

"Cintron was involved in a traffic crash and received a ticket, he was evaluated after a witness stated that they smelled alcohol, but he was not impaired," Sokolik writes. "It was well known that he was retiring sometime in the first half of this this year .... It is not unusual at all for someone to move that date around. I don’t believe there is any link between his retirement and the traffic accident."

Cintron, a Widefield High School grad, joined the department in 1985 and was promoted to commander in 2012. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Read more details in the Indy next week.

This blog post has been updated to reflect changes and additions made based on information provided by the Police Department.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gray wolves could make a comeback in Colorado

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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An initiative put forward by a group working to restore gray wolves to the Colorado wilderness has qualified for the state’s 2020 general election ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced Jan. 6.

If approved by a majority of Colorado voters, the Restoration of Gray Wolves initiative would allow for the reintroduction of gray wolves on designated areas west of the Continental Divide. A specific restoration plan would be developed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, a citizen board appointed by the governor, with public input.

Two days later, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced that a pack of gray wolves appeared to be traveling in northwest Colorado. Officials reached that conclusion based on eyewitness reports from a hunting party, and the discovery of a scavenged elk carcass.

“The sighting marks the first time in recent history CPW has received a report of multiple wolves traveling together,” CPW Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke said in a statement.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the initiative would require 55 percent voter approval. In fact, the initiative constitutes a statute change, which requires only a simple majority.
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Sheriff’s office says it will comply with red-flag law

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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Despite Sheriff Bill Elder’s past opposition to the “red-flag law” that took effect Jan. 1, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office now says it will comply. 

The red-flag law allows an individual to petition the court to remove firearms from a family or household member they feel could endanger themselves or others. Law enforcement can also petition the court for an order. A judge must hold a hearing that day, or the following day, to determine whether to issue the protection order.

Officials from more than half the state’s counties, including El Paso, issued resolutions opposing the law last year, claiming it violates Second Amendment rights and constitutional due process.

But in its January statement, the sheriff’s office says it is “committed to safeguarding the community from the potential risk of imminent harm created by significantly mentally ill people who have access to firearms and have exhibited behaviors that create a public safety concern,” and will enforce court orders.

“A member of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will not petition for [a protection order] unless exigent circumstances exist, and probable cause can be established … that a crime is being or has been committed,” the statement says.

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Lamborn to seek re-election

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 1:00 AM

Rep. Doug Lamborn
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, announced Jan. 9 he’ll seek an eighth term in the 5th Congressional District. Lamborn has won re-election handily in the past in a gerrymandered district where Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly two to one; 181,688 active voters are unaffiliated, but many usually vote red.

Lamborn has $219,075 in campaign money on-hand and raised $159,075 of that from January through September, campaign finance reports show; 75 percent came from political action committees. Lamborn’s only Democratic opponent to file a campaign finance report so far, Jillian Freeland, raised $6,689.

Lamborn also announced he hired Josh Hosler as district director in Colorado Springs. An Ohio native, Hosler chaired the El Paso County Republican Party from 2017-2019.

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Maverick Observer eyes start date

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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A new online news source is slated to launch on leap day, Feb 29, when the Maverick Observer goes live. Owned by Tim Hoiles, a former owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Observer will offer aggregated news from other outlets as well as it’s own content, including news, food, drink and entertainment, Hoiles tells the Indy.

Hoiles sold his interest in the Gazette about 15 years ago. The Observer, or MO, as Hoiles says the site will be dubbed, will tackle issues such as development fees and incentives, special districts and other local government topics.

The Observer will operate as a not-for-profit and won’t have a pay wall, though some links will steer readers to pages with pay walls, Hoiles says.

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7 stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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On Jan. 9, the Trump Administration announced that it would weaken the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by ignoring the climate impacts of fossil fuel development, and watering down the review process of projects that impact the environment. The move triggered sharp criticism from environmental groups, including the Center for Western Priorities, which said in a release, “Weakening our nation’s bedrock environmental law will only help drilling and mining corporations at the expense of local communities, clean water, and wildlife.”

The GEO Corporation, a private prison company, has given the Colorado Department of Corrections notice that it plans to close the Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center in Colorado Springs on March 7, 2020. The center houses 650 male inmates.

West Middle School won, at the statewide level, the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. The school gets $15,000 in technology and a Samsung kit for students to create a video about their contest entry: a proposal addressing the financial impact of hail damage.

Six community organizations across the country petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to list dozens of man-made per- and polyfluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, as hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Superfund Act, which would provide funding for clean-up.

Starting Jan. 27, Colorado will join 26 other states in the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ State-to-State program, which allows participating states to verify whether an individual holds another driver’s license or ID in another state. Unexpired credentials can be used for identity theft.

In 2019, the Give! Campaign raised more than $1.6 million via more than 10,000 individual donations for 100 local nonprofits.

COURTESY KIRKPATRICK FAMILY FUND
  • Courtesy Kirkpatrick Family Fund

The Oklahoma-based Kirkpatrick Family Fund, a charitable organization with ties to the Pikes Peak region, announced more than $1 million in grants would be awarded to Colorado Springs organizations like the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, which rescues animals like Curly, above.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

COS Councilor given "Climate Meltdown Award"

Posted By on Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 2:10 PM

Amy Gray holds an award for Councilor Andy Pico for his belief that climate change is not a crisis. - CITY COUNCIL MEETING
  • City Council meeting
  • Amy Gray holds an award for Councilor Andy Pico for his belief that climate change is not a crisis.
Colorado Springs Councilor Andy Pico was awarded a "'Climate Meltdown Award" on Jan. 14 by 350 Colorado, an environmental watchdog group, for his position that climate change hasn't been proven to be human caused and does not pose a crisis.

The award, presented by 350 Colorado volunteer coordinator Amy Gray, opened a can of worms at the City Council meeting, with several councilors defending Pico's right to embrace a different viewpoint without being chastised for it.

It's worth noting the award grew from Pico's admonishment to students campaigning for effective countermeasures to combat climate change. When a student invited Pico to participate in the Climate Strike event on Dec. 6, he wrote back:

screen_shot_2020-01-14_at_1.04.24_pm.png

At the Jan. 14 meeting, Gray told Council the signs of climate change are "irrefutable" and accused climate change deniers of "sit[ting] on their high horse while the planet burns" and ignoring their constituents' "fight for a better future."

Besides the "Climate Meltdown Award" certificate, Gray presented Pico and Councilor Don Knight with lumps of coal.

Other residents also spoke, expressing concern over the city's plan to keep running the downtown coal-burning Drake Power Plant until 2035. One woman who lives in southwest Colorado Springs noted a marked decline in birds who visit her heated bird bath and the appearance of "a chemical film" on the bath's water, which she said "has to be coming from Drake."

Scott Anderson told Council the city should do more to invest in renewable energy. "When I go for a walk, I get tired of smelling it," he said of Drake's emissions.

One speaker accused climate change deniers of sacrificing the health of the planet and its residents to greed.

Stephany Rose Spaulding, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Congressman Doug Lamborn two years ago, termed climate change "the justice issue of our time."

"It will not resist attacking any one of us," she says. She urged Council to formulate a sustainability plan, especially in light of predictions the local population will balloon to 1 million in a few years. "We do not have the infrastructure for this many people... . We have to be serious about the work of the environment. We can’t afford an apology later."
A Springs Utilities solar array at Clear Springs Ranch south of Colorado Springs is one way the city is moving toward renewables, although the downtown coal-fired Drake Power Plant isn't slated for retirement until 2035. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • A Springs Utilities solar array at Clear Springs Ranch south of Colorado Springs is one way the city is moving toward renewables, although the downtown coal-fired Drake Power Plant isn't slated for retirement until 2035.

Councilor Bill Murray chimed in noting that Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world's largest money manager overseeing $7 trillion in assets, said in his annual letter to CEOs published Jan. 14 that "Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects. … But awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

After about an hour of commentary, Pico finally weighed in, saying that "comments about denialism really are insulting."

He produced several graphic slides based on NASA research that he said defies climate change hysteria. "This is coming from a data source that you all are using to say we have an emergency," he said. "You need to have an open mind. If you hear about a consensus, there's no such thing as consensus in science."

He attributed many of fires in Australia to arson, not climate change, adding he has no "secret motivation."

"I'm looking at this from reality," he added.

Councilor Knight jumped in to defend Pico, saying Australia's fires have more to do with failure to mitigate for years than global warming, and scolded citizens for criticizing Pico, saying it's unfair for them to "attack a Council member just because they don't agree with that Council member." He described Pico as honorable without "vicious motives."

Councilor Wayne Williams noted the state is curtailing highway money to the region based on air quality, meaning air quality has improved, with the implication being that it's OK to keep Drake cranking for years. Drake, he noted, produces electricity cheaper than renewable sources do.

Council President Richard Skorman said he disagreed with Pico on climate change but agreed "we should have a respectful conversation."

Councilor Yolanda Avila said she's in the corner of environmentalists, and challenged Williams' point about air quality, saying, "One can argue whether those [regulations] are stringent enough."

But she, too, went to bat for Pico, characterizing him as a "man of integrity."
 
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Monday, January 13, 2020

Space Force leaders will swear oath on a Bible

Posted By on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 3:09 PM

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Commanders of the nation's newest branch of the military, the U.S. Space Force, will swear to God when taking their oath, which a watchdog agency says violates the U.S. Constitution.

According to Military.com, religious leaders at the Washington National Cathedral blessed the Bible for use by the Space Force in swearing in leaders, though it's not clear whether all personnel will swear by the Bible when taking the oath as service members.

The new military branch was created by redesignating Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs as the U.S. Space Force.

Using a Bible in this way runs contrary to Air Force Instruction 1-1, which states that military leaders "must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief."

The act of designating the Bible as the official tool for swearing ceremonies naturally incensed Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who issued this scathing statement in response:
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism which occurred at yesterday’s ‘blessing’, at the Washington National Cathedral, of a sectarian Christian bible which will apparently 'be used to swear in all commanders of America’s newest military branch (ie. The United States Space Force)." MRFF noted with additional disgust and disdain the willing and all-too visible participation of a senior USAF officer, in formal uniform, during the travesty of this sectarian ceremony which tragically validates the villainy of unadulterated Christian privilege at DoD and its subordinate military branches. For the record, military commanders are NOT ever “sworn in” to their positions let alone with the usage of a Christian bible or other book of faith. And especially not in 2020!!
Mikey Weinstein - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • Mikey Weinstein
MRFF is currently receiving a multitude of new complaints from outraged DoD military and even civilian DoD personnel, as well as veterans, regarding this unmitigated, unconstitutional horror. MRFF will be lodging a formal complaint to Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense. Further, MRFF will be assiduously assisting its clients to also expeditiously make formal Inspector General (IG) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints to the DoD chain of command hierarchy to stop this train-wreck disaster in its stinking tracks from ever even leaving the station.

If MRFF’s fervent attempts to exhaust all DoD administrative remedies to eliminate this fundamentalist Christian tyranny and oppression fail, MRFF will plan to stop this matter in Federal court in Northern Virginia. The utilization of a Christian bible to ’swear in’ commanders of the new Space Force or any other DoD branch at ANY level is completely violative of the bedrock Separation of Church and State mandate of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and also violates Clause 3, Article 6’s total prohibition of No Religious Test for any Federal Gov’t position. Additionally such blatantly scurrilous activity violates a slew of critical DoD directives, instructions and regulations.
We asked Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, who's been an ardent supporter of the Space Force concept, stood up recently by President Trump, for a comment on the controversy emerging from using the Bible in military swearing ceremonies.

Crickets.

If we hear back, we'll update.
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UCCS to host Grain School one last time

Posted By on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 9:05 AM

Grain School students can take part in baking workshops. - COURTESY OF NANNA MEYER
  • Courtesy of Nanna Meyer
  • Grain School students can take part in baking workshops.

For the past three years, scholars, farmers, millers, sellers and lovers of grain have come together at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to forge connections and hone their expertise.

They'll do so one more time this Jan. 17-19.

It's the last Grain School ever, but it may just be the start of something even bigger.

In its traditional format, Grain School features lectures and workshops on the best way to plant, grow, harvest, mill, cook and brew heritage grains to improve society's health and our relationship with the environment.

Through Grain School, Nanna Meyer and her colleagues aim to change the way Coloradans think about grain and help people who make up different parts of the "Grain Chain" — from farmer, to miller, to brewer or chef — connect with others who share the same goals.

Now, they want to translate the three-day class into action.

"We are launching into the field with Grain School in the Field, bringing even more hands-on, experiential learning to students," explains Meyer, Grain School organizer and health sciences associate professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Meyer says Grain School in the Field will be organized as summer internships and on weekends during the growing and harvest season. The first one will take place in October of 2020, when students will learn about harvesting and processing corn.

After this year, Grain School will also become available as a paid online course open to students and community members, Meyer adds.

The final Grain School (in the traditional format) takes place Jan. 17 through Jan. 19 at UCCS. Registration for the entire three-day event costs $550, with discounts available for students, farmers and those wishing to attend only part of the weekend.

The event also features a forum the evening of Jan. 18 that's free and open to the public. At 5 p.m. in Berger Hall, you can stop by a happy hour with local beer and spirits, and enjoy country/blues/folk/Americana tunes from the River Arkansas band.

The free evening also includes a preview of the film Grain Changers by Andrew Calabrese of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a keynote speech at 7 p.m. by Fred Kirschenmann of Iowa State University. He'll speak on "The Staff of Life" (ancient corn and wheat) and "The Ethics of Eating."

Several UCCS students will also speak about their personal journeys with grain, and Montana farmer Bob Quinn will read an excerpt from his book Grain by Grain.

"The beautiful piece of the experiential learning is always that nobody feels that everything is in dire straits," Meyer says, "because it's so beautiful and fun to be in the kitchen to bake, and, you know, work with your hands and be out in the field.

"So there's a joy around it, a celebration around it, despite the fact that we're all aware of what we need to do and how dire our food system is, and how sick we are as a nation, and all those things — but I think the dream is to bring more people into this grain space and get them excited about good food."

To learn more about Meyer's grain philosophy, check out our interview with her from 2019. 
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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Air Force Academy to city: Don't foist your stormwater problems on the Academy

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 4:27 PM

Stormwater work on Monument Branch in the Northgate area — Voyager north of Middle Creek Parkway. This project was listed under the Intergovernmental Agreement with Pueblo County, which is designed to significantly reduce the amount of sediment entering Monument Creek and involves some work to address runoff concerns at the Air Force Academy. Phase 1 of this project was completed in April, 2017. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Stormwater work on Monument Branch in the Northgate area — Voyager north of Middle Creek Parkway. This project was listed under the Intergovernmental Agreement with Pueblo County, which is designed to significantly reduce the amount of sediment entering Monument Creek and involves some work to address runoff concerns at the Air Force Academy. Phase 1 of this project was completed in April, 2017.

Development within the city's northern reaches has caused "costly infrastructure damage" to the Air Force Academy's drainage ways — a cost that "should not be borne solely by the Academy," according to a recent letter from the Academy to the city's stormwater manager Richard Mulledy.

The letter comes on the heels of several similar letters in response to development proposals in which Academy officials bemoaned the city's lack of stormwater controls, which have caused stormwater to overflow onto Academy property. The city has either approved those projects or they remain under review.

But the Academy's concerns coalesced in its December 23, 2019, letter from Air Force Col. Brian Hartless to Mulledy, in which Hartless noted:
...the cumulative effect of all new and proposed development will be a significant alteration of the volume, duration, and frequency of stormwater events conveyed across the Academy's eastern boundary. Furthermore, this situation is being replicated in virtually all of our other eastern drainage ways.... 
The letter goes on to note the city's Drainage Criteria Manual requires developers to release stormwater at "historic rates" and that downstream drainage ways undergo stabilization as necessary.

In other words, the problems being caused by the city's continual approval of development in areas within the city limits, which border the Academy, should be dealt with by the city, not the Academy.

"Unfortunately, the Academy's experience is that little to none of this is being implemented or enforced along our property boundary," the Academy's letter says.

Mulledy tells the Indy in an interview that problems stem from development that occurred prior to adoption of the manual in 2014, the first update since 1991.

"What's happened to the academy, things have been developed over decades and we didn't have full spectrum detention," he says. (Full spectrum detention is that which holds back water from drainage ways and releases it gradually, so as not to overwhelmed channels.) "That wasn't a requirement until 2014. Since 2014, we've always made them [developers] do it. Even though you have detention [requirements] back in the older criteria, you still ended up with impacts. Those impacts may be miles away and don't show up that day and may show up 10 years later."

He adds, "What we've always required developers to do is build and implement detention on their site and do channelization to city limits. But the city doesn't believe it can require a property owner to do work on federal property."

Mulledy says the city has worked with the Academy to construct stormwater projects. He also plans to meet with Academy officials soon to "continue to develop that relationship," though he says he hasn't yet responded to the Dec. 23 letter.

Noting the runoff that empties onto the east side of the Academy ultimately flows into the city, Mulledy says, "Of course we want to mitigate that. It's in our best interest to make it right."

One example of the city's efforts is on display via the Monument branch, part of a larger project that Mulledy says is about half-complete.

"We're not turning a blind eye to it," he says, "trust me."

It's worth noting the city is entangled in a lawsuit filed by water quality regulators, including the EPA, in 2016, alleging the city failed to provide adequate stormwater controls and granted waivers to developers giving them a pass from installing such controls. Mulledy says the issues raised by the Academy don't involve any such waivers and that developers in that area have always met city-imposed criteria.
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New year, new laws

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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The start of the new year comes with new laws in the areas of health care, marijuana, gender rights and more.

Perhaps the most contentious is the red flag law, which allows family members, friends and law enforcement to acquire court orders to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Another Colorado bill going into effect this year allows for home delivery of medical marijuana. Permitted medical marijuana delivery became legal Jan 2. Recreational marijuana delivery will be permitted next year.

On health care: One law caps insulin co-payments at $100 for insured patients with coverage that includes the medication. Another sought to end surprise medical billing by creating consumer protections and transparency regulations. 

It’s also easier for transgender Coloradans to change the gender on their birth certificate, after a law was passed removing the requirement for a court order, and directing the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue new driver’s licenses reflecting the change.

Nationally, in late December, President Donald Trump signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, raising the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

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City touts changes for public safety

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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The Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Springs Fire Department and other city emergency responders are now using FirstNet, a wireless platform that’s designed to help improve communication across agencies.

“Whether it’s communicating patient information to a local hospital after a car accident or sending critical information back to the command post during a major event, having a dedicated and highly secure communication platform is extremely important for the best patient care and command decisions,” Colorado Springs Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim De Leon said in a statement announcing the change.

According to the statement, FirstNet provides a reliable connection and a highly secure network, and can be used on smartphones. The system was built through a public-private partnership between AT&T and Boulder-based First Responder Network Authority.

The city recently noted in a separate statement that it’s allocating $4.4 million to add 20 sworn police officers and eight full-time fire personnel this year.

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7 stories making headlines this week

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith

In December, Downtown Colorado Springs was recertified as a Creative District of the State of Colorado by Colorado Creative Industries. It remains one of 26 recognized creative districts in the state. Above, a First Friday celebration and fundraiser for the Foundation for Successful Living at Art 111, a downtown gallery and art supply store.

CenturyLink has agreed to pay nearly $8.5 million in settlement fees to customers and the state of Colorado for allegedly charging deceptive hidden fees, falsely guaranteeing locked prices and failing to provide discounts and refunds it promised to Colorado consumers who signed up for internet, television and telephone services.

Colorado Springs residents may now only water their lawns three days per week, and not between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., after new water restrictions went into effect Jan. 1.

A formerly free service now costs $5: Pay that fee to dump yard waste for recycling into mulch at Rocky Top Resources, located at 1755 E. Las Vegas St., on Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The program, sponsored by El Paso County, still accepts donations to Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado on top of the $5 fee.

The Defense Department opened commissaries, Military Service Exchanges, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers to veterans with service-connected disabilities, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and the primary family caregivers of eligible veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

Denver filed an appeal against a Dec. 27 county court ruling against its ban on urban camping. In his decision, County Court Judge Johnny C. Barajas cited an appeals court ruling that struck down a similar ban in Boise, Idaho, The Denver Post reports.

COURTESY PIKES PEAK REGIONAL BUILDING DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy Pikes Peak Regional Building Department

Home-building permits increase 18%. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department issued more than 3,900 permits for single-family homes in 2019, an 18 percent increase over the five-year average. It issued permits for around 1,400 multi-family housing units and apartments.

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No charges in officer-involved shooting in Monument

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office determined not to file charges in the Sept. 29 deputy-involved shooting in Monument that killed 20-year-old David Page. 

On Sept. 29, the Monument Police Department received reports that Page “was firing what was believed to be an air assault rifle at people and vehicles passing by the front of his apartment.”

When the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office SWAT unit responded, Page retreated into his apartment and returned with what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol and, according to the statement, pointed it directly at law enforcement.

Two members of the SWAT unit fired five shots total at Page, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement says.

Likewise, the district attorney’s office on Dec. 20 determined not to file charges against Colorado Springs Police Department officers who shot and killed 38-year-old Joshua Vigil on July 23. 

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Unidentified drones puzzle authorities

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2020 at 12:10 PM

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Mysterious drones flying over parts of Colorado and Nebraska have befuddled authorities. 

The drones — sometimes in groups as large as 30, according to NBC News — have been spotted in Lincoln, Washington, Sedgwick, Phillips and Yuma counties, and authorities — including the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating — have yet to provide an explanation.

The drones have mostly been spotted at nighttime and by some accounts, have wingspans of 6 feet or more. No private or government agency has yet claimed responsibility for or knowledge of the drones.

In a Dec. 31 Facebook post on the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office’s official page, Sheriff Todd Combs said it appears the drones have been flying in federal government airspace and have been complying with federal drone guidelines.

Officials had a closed-door meeting Jan. 6, after which the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook none of the agencies involved in the meeting could confirm the drones’ intent. The post states authorities are searching for “a closed box trailer with antennas or a large van that does not belong in the area.” 

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