Tuesday, September 25, 2018

UPDATE: City Council President Richard Skorman's ethics complaint dismissed

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 5:18 PM

City Council split on how to handle a recommendation from a citizen panel that ruled Council President, center back row, violated the city's Code of Ethics. - CITY WEBSITE
  • City website
  • City Council split on how to handle a recommendation from a citizen panel that ruled Council President, center back row, violated the city's Code of Ethics.
UPDATE:
We just received this statement from Richard Skorman:
Again, I want to apologize to the Sutherlands and to the City of Colorado Springs. My intent that day was to identify myself as easy to find and not to use my position on Council for a special privilege. I appreciate that after careful research and deliberation, my colleagues on Council rightfully dismissed this complaint so we can move forward.

————————-ORIGINAL POST 5;18 p.m. SEPT. 25, 2018———————————-


On a vote of 5-3, Colorado Springs City Council voted to dismiss an allegation against Council President Richard Skorman of violating the city's Code of Ethics.

The motion, made by Councilor Bill Murray, called for dismissal based on insufficient evidence upon which an administrative law judge was unlikely to uphold a violation, and in the interest of justice.

Voting to dismiss were Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler, Murray, and Councilors Merv Bennett, Yolanda Avila and David Geislinger. Councilors Don Knight, Tom Strand and Andy Pico opposed dismissing the matter and said they preferred to send the allegation through adjudication, which they acknowledged could be expensive and time consuming. Strand suggested it was the only way for Skorman to "clear" his name. "We are cheating him in this motion for that opportunity," Strand said.

The allegation, submitted to the city on March 27 by Barbara Sutherland, alleged that Skorman arrived at the scene of a fender bender involving a woman he knows, and told Sutherland he could vouch for her. The woman, Madalyne Mykut, didn't have a drivers license. Sutherland alleged Skorman improperly asserted he was president of Council as if he was trying to push his weight around. Skorman has told the Independent he cited his position as a way Sutherland could be assured of who he was and that he could easily be contacted.

You can read more details about the incident here in a story in the Sept. 26 edition of the Indy.

In any event, the five-member citizen Independent Ethics Commission agreed Skorman's actions were a violation of the city's ethics code, which bars officials from using their position to get special consideration, treatment or advantage.

However, councilors were deeply split on whether Skorman's actions truly rendered him with some special consideration or advantage.

Before we get to the details of councilors' positions, here's what Sutherland told the Indy about the ruling:
"I’m incredibly disappointed in the outcome and even more disappointed that City Council completely ignored the 5-0 vote by the IEC. What is the point of appointing an ethics committee when they don’t vote in their favor? I’m very disappointed in the entire outcome. As a citizen, a voter of this city, I feel like City Council completely disregarded my case. And I believe they made a decision based on politics and not on the well-being of citizens of Colorado Springs. From my perspective, they were wrong. They voted wrong. I know in my heart of hearts he was guilty. I’m not sure I’m ready to sit and be quiet."

She declined to elaborate on what action she might take next.

Here's how Council members voted and why:

No votes:
Knight: "Richard can accept the finding of the IEC [Independent Ethics Commission], and that would be the easiest way to put this to bed legally and publicly. We have five people out of five on the Independent Ethics Commission, independent, not members of of council, that we picked to be our conscience, and five of five of them are saying there was a violation. If we turn around and say we disagree with them, this is not going to die. I can see the headlines: Council protects its own."

Pico: "I've thought long and hard about it. You’ve got five members of IEC who came to the same conclusion for different reasons. It’s not a major thing to burn down the buildings over, but I cannot ignore that. I think there is grounds in there."

Strand: I couldn’t agree more with the comments Mr. Knight just made. When they’re unanimous in something and you don’t pay attention to that and now they’re going to go back to their families and wonder what contribution they’re making to this community. They did spend months on this report. Quite frankly, I think by not sending this to an administrative law judge [who has to] find clear and convincing evidence this code was violated, I don’t think [a judge is] going to make that finding. And then in public, it would clear his name. I’m not doing this to hurt him but to follow it through a process where the public thinks we treated Mr. Skorman as we would any other citizen. We are cheating him in this motion for that opportunity."
President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler presided over the discussion, with President Richard Skorman absent. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler presided over the discussion, with President Richard Skorman absent.

Yes votes:
Avila: "There have been times Planning Commission has been unanimous, but I haven’t voted in that direction, because I come from a different perspective. It’s not fair to say we’re protecting our own. I’m going with what I see and how I read things. Based on what was said, I don’t see this as a violation of the ethics code. Richard was saying, 'Here’s my identification. Here’s how to find me.' He wasn’t trying to get anything free, special favors. I think it would be unjust to see this as a violation."

Bennett: "I feel that we’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. We have a Council member who identified himself thinking that would help. It was probably a mistake. He has apologized for it. Let’s move on. We have far more important things to deal with. I feel like this is a dead issue."

Geislinger: "Richard’s official capacity had nothing to do with interjecting to say, 'I know who she is.' He was offering to say this person in an auto accident, I know who she is. That’s not, in my opinion, and there’s no evidence anywhere, of special consideration, treatment and advantage beyond what's available to anybody else."

Murray: "We just had a five-member board look at it. We’ve got a gentlemen who said, 'I’m identifying myself.' He didn’t ask for special benefit. We’re taking this particular situation of an individual identifying himself and how does it become an ethics violation? The motion is to dismiss, because the preponderance of the evidence does not suggest he used his position to get favored treatment. It’s just not there."

Gaebler: "We are jockeying over the minutiae of a couple of words here and there. In my opinion I do not believe that there was any evidence that provided proof that he did anything contrary to our Council rules and ethical rules. I don’t believe that I owe them [IEC] anything. We are the ones that have to make that final decision."

Here's a link to the IEC decision.

 
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Monday, September 24, 2018

Where to get free flu shots in Colorado Springs

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 4:02 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
Last flu season, El Paso County Public Health recorded 489 influenza-related hospitalizations: a 35 percent increase from the previous year.

It's about that time again.

To stay out of the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone 6 months and older should get an influenza vaccine, which can be life-saving for kids. It's best to get one by the end of October.

"When a person receives a flu vaccine, it causes the body to create antibodies,"  a statement from Penrose-St. Francis Health Services explains. "This process takes approximately two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection from this year’s anticipated strains of the flu virus. This is why people need to get a flu shot annually — the vaccination is based on the strains that research indicates will be most common for that year."

Getting a flu shot is especially important for members of high-risk groups, including children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, nursing-home residents, and those with certain medical conditions, the statement adds. People from these groups are prone to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections.

Try vaccinefinder.org to find locations near you with the flu vaccine. If you're uninsured or don't have vaccine coverage, never fear. Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurses will stick it to you for free at the following clinics for adults and children over 4:

Saturday, Oct. 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. @ Mission Medical, 2125 E. LaSalle St.

Monday, Oct. 15 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. @ Dream Center Women’s Clinic, 4360 Montebello Dr. # 900

Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. @ Family Connections, 917 E. Moreno Ave.

Friday, Oct. 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. @ Connections 4 Life, 6436 US-85, Fountain

Friday, Oct. 19 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. @ Ecumenical Social Ministries, 201 N. Weber St.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 from 9 to 11 a.m. @ Westside CARES, 2808 Colorado Ave.

Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. @ Grace Be Unto You Outreach Church, 3195 Airport Road

Monday, Oct. 29 from 12 to 2 p.m. @ Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument

Monday, Nov. 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. @ Mercy’s Gate, 4360 Montebello Dr. #300

Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. @ Marian House Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, 14 West Bijou St.

Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. @ Iglesia Nueva Vida, 124 Delaware Dr.

Wednesday, Nov. 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Springs Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Dinner) @ Colorado Springs City Auditorium, 221 East Kiowa St.

On Sunday, Oct. 6 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., you can also attend the 9Health Fair at Mission Medical Center to get free flu shots, Pap smears, Body Mass Index tests, and foot screenings, as well as low-cost blood screenings ($20 to $40). Just make sure to register online.
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Strawberry Fields legal battle ends, Broadmoor and City prevail

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 3:13 PM

Strawberry Fields no longer is subject to a legal fight. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Strawberry Fields no longer is subject to a legal fight.
After nearly two years of court maneuvering, an effort to halt the city's land exchange of Strawberry Fields open space to The Broadmoor is over.

It ended on Sept. 24 when the Colorado Supreme Court announced it wouldn't hear an appeal from a state Court of Appeals decision that sided with the city's argument that the land swap was proper.

Save Cheyenne, which formed to oppose the swap of the 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space to The Broadmoor in 2016, could find a new cause to rally behind, however.

The Strawberry Fields land swap, introduced by the city in early 2016, was approved by City Council on May 24, 2016. Besides giving the open space to The Broadmoor, along with a parking lot at the base of the Manitou Incline, it also gave the city Broadmoor-owned wooded lands and trail easements totaling nearly 400 acres.
Public meetings drew hundreds of people, most of whom said they opposed the land swap. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Public meetings drew hundreds of people, most of whom said they opposed the land swap.

The proposal's public hearings filled school cafeterias and other venues where the city held the feedback sessions from residents. Save Cheyenne says several polls showed the deal was overwhelmingly unpopular among citizens, but it was approved anyway.

But the deal triggered a legal challenge on Aug. 2, 2016, by Save Cheyenne, which raised donations from opponents of the land swap to carry the case to the state's appellate court.

Save Cheyenne argued that because the property was acquired by the city after a vote of the people in 1885, it couldn't be disposed of without voters' permission. The suit also argued that because Strawberry Fields has a greater value than land traded to the city, the swap violates the state Constitution, which bars government gifts to corporations.
Kent Obee and others comprising the nonprofit Save Cheyenne lost their bid to overturn the city's land swap with The Broadmoor of Strawberry Fields open space. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • Kent Obee and others comprising the nonprofit Save Cheyenne lost their bid to overturn the city's land swap with The Broadmoor of Strawberry Fields open space.

After District Judge Michael McHenry ruled in the city's favor on Dec. 1, 2016, by dismissing the case, Save Cheyenne appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals. That move was followed by the intervention of the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Co., COG Land & Development Co. and The Broadmoor. All are controlled by The Broadmoor's billionaire owner Philip Anschutz.

The city and The Broadmoor contended the city's home-rule authority allowed the city to dispose of the property via a trade, and that the city got property from the resort valued at $3.6 million, versus Strawberry Fields' $1.6 million appraised value, negating the constitutional argument.

“We fought a good fight and I continue to believe that, while the court system may have deemed that the City/Broadmoor land swap was technically and legally correct, it — and the way in which it was carried out — was morally and ethically corrupt,” Obee wrote to supporters in an email.

About eight acres of prime meadow will be closed to the public under The Broadmoor's ownership, but the vast majority is to be open for public access under a conservation easement. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • About eight acres of prime meadow will be closed to the public under The Broadmoor's ownership, but the vast majority is to be open for public access under a conservation easement.
The case has some twists and turns along the way, such as a report by the Independent that the appraiser hired by the city to appraise Strawberry Fields had been hit with penalties by the Colorado Board of Real Estate Appraisers, which ruled the appraiser's report "did not contain documentation in support of the judgments made."

The Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case means The Broadmoor can proceed with building a picnic pavilion and horse stable on about eight acres of Strawberry Fields, with the remainder under a conservation easement requiring access by the public.

Though the loss is hard for Save Cheyenne supporters to swallow, Obee suggests the group's work might not be done.

Obee says in a email to supporters he wants to open the door for "some preliminary discussion about where we as a group might go from here."
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Friday, September 21, 2018

Mayor John Suthers: Let us become the good ancestors to future generations

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2018 at 2:58 PM

City communications staff monitors Mayor Suthers speech at The Broadmoor on Sept. 21. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • City communications staff monitors Mayor Suthers speech at The Broadmoor on Sept. 21.
Mayor John Suthers, who will seek a second term next year, delivered a state of the city address at a luncheon on Sept. 21. His speech was packed with cited accomplishments, but also a warning that challenges remain.

Some 850 people attended, a record high for the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC event held at The Broadmoor.

Notably, affordable housing and dealing with the city's homeless population top Suthers' list of items that still require attention.

While he drew applause for the "booming local economy," he noted that such prosperity has brought rising housing costs, and that Colorado Springs hasn't kept up with demand for affordable housing.

He vowed to work with nonprofits to secure federal grants and other means to spur developers to build more housing for lower-income residents.

"I am pleased to report that 485 affordable units have recently been completed or soon will be," he said. "While this is admirable, we need to step up the pace. I would suggest we make it a community goal to build, preserve and create opportunities to purchase an average of 1,000 affordable units per year over the next five years."

Suthers recounted major accomplishments in infrastructure funding — roads and drainage; progress on the City for Champions tourism attractions, including the Olympic Museum under construction downtown and due to open next year; and impact on the local economy of healthy educational institutions and the military.

But Suthers, who's 66, obviously is taking stock of his and the city's impact on future generations.

"It’s a tribute to our predecessors that even after 147 years and a population of almost a half million people Colorado Springs is the most desirable city in America to live," he said. "Our job is to ensure it remains so far into the future. As I say repeatedly, our challenge today, as citizens of this great city, remains the same that General Palmer embraced. We must continue the task of building a city that matches our scenery, a shining city at the foot of a great mountain. Let us also embrace the challenge and let us all resolve to become the good ancestors that future generations of Colorado Springs residents need us to be, because we are writing their history. Thank you, and may God continue to bless the City of Colorado Springs."

Read his entire speech here.

Suthers honored Chuck Murphy with a special lifetime achievement award. Both met with reporters after the luncheon - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Suthers honored Chuck Murphy with a special lifetime achievement award. Both met with reporters after the luncheon
Suthers awarded the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award to Chuck Murphy, 83, owner of Murphy Constructors, with whom Suthers grew up. Both attended Pauline Chapel during their adolescent years, he noted.

Read more about Murphy's contribution to Colorado Springs, of which he is a native, here.

One of the more touching moments of the luncheon came when Suthers invited the audience to wave signs at every table as a tribute to Springs Police Officer Cem Duzel, who's recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, suffered in a shootout on Aug. 2.
The crowd was happy to send a group message to Police Officer Cem Duzel, who was injured in the line of duty and is recovering in a Denver hospital. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The crowd was happy to send a group message to Police Officer Cem Duzel, who was injured in the line of duty and is recovering in a Denver hospital.

This was one of hundreds of signs hoisted as a tribune to Officer Duzel. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • This was one of hundreds of signs hoisted as a tribune to Officer Duzel.
 
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fort Carson announces Stryker force, addition of 200 soldiers

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 5:44 PM

Soldiers maneuver their M1126 Stryker combat vehicle to rapidly deploy team members on a live-fire range during Exercise Rising Thunder 18, at Yakima Training Center, Washington, Sept. 7, 2018. - ARMY PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. FRANCES ARIELE TEJADA
  • Army photo by Staff Sgt. Frances Ariele Tejada
  • Soldiers maneuver their M1126 Stryker combat vehicle to rapidly deploy team members on a live-fire range during Exercise Rising Thunder 18, at Yakima Training Center, Washington, Sept. 7, 2018.

Fort Carson will gain 200 soldiers with the conversion of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team starting in spring 2020.

The new brigade will be organized the same as the 1st SBCT, 4th ID, which is already stationed there, Carson said in a news release.

"Today the Department of the Army announced that the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division will convert to a Stryker Brigade and will remain at Fort Carson. We are very pleased with this decision. Fort Carson provides world class training opportunities for Strykers and having another Stryker Brigade Combat team will improve 4th Infantry Division's lethality," said Maj. Gen. Randy A. George, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Commander.

No doubt, the news gave local economic development boosters a reason to sigh in relief, considering the decision could have gone against Carson, costing the Mountain Post the loss of 4,200 soldiers.

From the release:
The Army's decision to convert the brigade at Fort Carson was based on strategic and operational considerations including its long-term readiness posture, presence of SBCT enablers, existing infrastructure and sustainment facilities.

Currently the 2IBCT, 4th Inf. Div. is deployed in support of Resolute Support and Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan and Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo, but unit leadership is already looking to the future.

"We will embrace this change with the same professionalism, discipline, and commitment to excellence that the War Horse Brigade has exhibited throughout its distinguished history of outstanding service to our great Nation," said Col. David Zinn, commander, 2nd IBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Conversion to a Stryker Brigade brings increased mobility and lethality to the 4th Infantry Division and the U.S. Army." 
Rep. Doug Lamborn, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement six minutes before the Fort Carson release hit in-boxes, saying:
I am very excited about the conversion of Ft. Carson's existing Infantry Brigade Combat Team to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team. This move helps solidify Ft. Carson's important role in our national defense. A Stryker Brigade is a full spectrum combat force that combines the lethality and survivability needed to succeed in a high-end fight with the rapid mobility required to immediately respond to threats anywhere in the world.
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Monument rehab project stirs debate

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 4:09 PM

The Ramada Inn just outside Monument could be converted into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. - EL PASO COUNTY ASSESSOR'S OFFICE
  • El Paso County Assessor's Office
  • The Ramada Inn just outside Monument could be converted into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.
Residents in the Town of Monument area are revving their engines to oppose a plan to convert the Ramada Inn, 1865 Woodmoor Drive just east of Interstate 25, into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

But the land is already zoned to accommodate such a facility, county spokesman Dave Rose says. "A residential rehab facility would be an allowed use in that existing zone," he says. That means El Paso County's only authority over the project is to review the site plan, which is an administrative function, although a ruling could be appealed to the Board of County Commissioners.

A site plan includes placement of a driveway, fencing, lighting and traffic patterns.

Meantime, residents note the company proposing the project, Sunshine Behavioral Health, is one of several caught up in an investigation by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on what's commonly called "body brokering." This is the practice of disguising the financial relationship between a call center and a rehab facility, and then steering prospective patients who contact the call center to that rehab facility that shares ownership.

Here's a letter from the committee to Elite Rehab Placement, which is affiliated with Sunshine Behavioral Health.
This map, produced by N.E.S., Inc., which has filed the application on behalf of the rehab clinic, shows the location of the Ramada Inn. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY
  • Courtesy El Paso County
  • This map, produced by N.E.S., Inc., which has filed the application on behalf of the rehab clinic, shows the location of the Ramada Inn.
The Elite website can be found here.

Chad Daugherty, CEO of Elite Rehab, tells the Indy via email:
Elite Rehab was contacted by a Congressional committee and has responded to the request for information. The committee later held a hearing on the topic of marketing for treatment centers on July 24, 2018. Elite Rehab was not asked to be a part of the hearing. We are confident our business practices satisfy all legal and ethical requirements. We always act in the best interests of our clients and their families.
There might not be much county commissioners can do to stop the project, however, regardless of a congressional investigation, because the county must follow its own development rules.

Here's the development review link with all of the documents filed so far regarding the project.

If the county rejected the project based on a reason outside the scope of the site plan, it could find itself in court over alleged violations of federal fair housing laws. "There are federal fair housing laws that make it clear you can't discriminate against that use," Rose says.

That said, Rose says commissioners are apt to conduct a hearing to allow residents to vent their concerns.

No date has been set for such a hearing.

The property at issue is owned by a limited liability company, which gives an address in San Juan Capistrano, California, which purchased the property on Aug. 9 for $4 million, assessor records show.

In April 2016, the town of Monument agreed to a settlement with Colonial Management Group that paid the company $900,000 if it agreed not to try to open a facility in Monument, the Gazette reported at the time. Residents, who contended the clinic would draw drug traffic, pressured town officials to bar the clinic, and in 2015, the town revoked its business license. Most of the payment came from Monument's insurance agency, and the town paid $350,000.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Colorado Republicans mock sexual assault charges against Kavanaugh

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 1:22 PM

Three state House Republicans took to Facebook to joke about recent sexual assault charges brought against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

On Sept. 15,Rep. Patrick Neville, the House minority leader from Castle Rock, shared a satirical article from Christian satirical news site, The Babylon Bee, that mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed, groping her and trying to remove her clothing at a party in the 1980s when the two were teenagers. She also says he covered her mouth when she tried to scream, causing her to fear for her life.
screen_shot_2018-09-19_at_12.58.33_pm.png
Kavanaugh had been scheduled for a confirmation vote Sept. 20, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a delay in light of the allegations.

Ford originally said she was willing to testify, but on Sept. 19 her attorney said she wanted the FBI to investigate first — making some Republicans less willing to delay the vote past Sept. 24.

Shane Sandridge, who represents Colorado Springs' House District 14, was quick to join in on Neville's mockery, saying that Kavanaugh was also a cheater at "Duck, Duck, Goose" as a child. Sen. Chris Holbert, the Senate majority leader from Douglas County, added, "An anonymous source who may or may not have ever been associated with the Little League has allegedly stated that, at the age of nine, Kavanaugh's right foot did not touch the base when rounding second. #LifeChoices"

(Disclosure: Sandridge was appointed to the vacant House District 14 seat in 2017, beating this reporter's mother, Anita Miller.)

As of Sept. 19, the post had 22 shares and dozens of comments, many disparaging the three prominent Republicans.

"The time for believing women is now," wrote Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster), who is running for reelection. "When our House Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader jokes about sexual [harassment] and assault, it is no wonder why women do not feel safe working in the Colorado Capitol. A report from April of this year documented that 30% of folks at the Capital saw or experienced harassment, yet very few reported it."

Winter was referring to a report by outside consultant Investigations Law Group commissioned after a slew of sexual harassment allegations against state lawmakers, including former Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton), who was expelled from office in March. Winters accused Lebsock of harassing her.

Morgan Carroll, the Colorado Democratic Party chair, demanded that the representatives apologize for their comments.

"After everything that went on at the Colorado legislature this year, it is outrageous that three members of the GOP caucus — including two in leadership — thought it was appropriate to mock a credible accusation of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh," she is quoted in a Sept. 19 release. "The people of Colorado deserve an apology from these lawmakers who apparently think sexual assault is a laughing matter."

All three representatives are up for reelection in November. Neville faces Democrat Danielle Kombo, Sandridge faces Democrat Paul Haddick, and Holbert will run against Democrat Julia Varnell-Sarjeant and Steve Peterson, an independent.

Notably, on his campaign website, Sandridge touts his experience as a "clinical psychotherapist working with many teenagers and adults with major depression disorder and suicidal ideations."
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5 Questions for Ron Stallworth, the BlacKkKlansman

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 11:26 AM

COURTESY RON STALLWORTH
  • Courtesy Ron Stallworth
Indy: What was it like joining the CSPD when you were still a teenager?

Ron Stallworth:
It wasn’t easy. While some cops treated me fairly, many did not. Also, I was too black for many whites, and too blue for many blacks. Whites would call me boy, Nigger or worse. And many blacks thought of me as an Uncle Tom or a Pig. But I just kept my head up, for I believed then, just like I believe now, that while it is fine to 
protest from the outside, you can have a real impact if you are inside the system.

Why were you assigned to provide protection for KKK Grand Wizard David Duke when he visited the Springs? Was it to get under Duke’s skin or to piss you off?

Actually, neither. I got the assignment because I was the only intelligence officer available at that time. I did not want the assignment because I thought it might jeopardize our undercover investigation, since I already had had so many phone conversations with Duke. But he never recognized my voice.

You have refused to disclose the identity of the undercover operative who served as the “white Ron 
Stallworth.” Why?

I reached out to him when I was 
writing the book back in 2013. He said he did not want anything to do with this project. I have respected his request.

Any thoughts about the current CSPD?


Chief [Pete] Carey is a professional with a solid reputation. The CSPD has never reached out to me. But if they did, I would welcome the opportunity, for the department gave me a start to a wonderful career. I am forever grateful for that.

How has the movie changed your life?

“[There’s] no way I could plan for what has transpired. For a while last month, my book was No. 1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list. And so far, I am already booked solid with speaking events through February 2019. It’s exhilarating and exhausting, quite the roller coaster ride.”
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Trump administration proposes historically low refugee ceiling for 2019

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 1:39 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks in Washington in May. - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks in Washington in May.

The State Department will accept a maximum of 30,000 refugees next year, breaking the record for the lowest cap on admissions for the second year in a row.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the new number — 15,000 under this year's limit — during a Sept. 17 media briefing, adding that the administration also plans to process more than 280,000 asylum cases. Historically, there has been no official limit on the number of admitted asylum seekers, and Pompeo did not provide an estimate of how many would actually be granted protection.

While refugees and asylees must both prove a "well-founded fear of persecution" in their country of nationality based on race, religion, nationality or social group, refugees must have their paperwork approved before entering the United States. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, ask for protection when presenting themselves at a port of entry or submit an application from within the U.S.

Currently, about 800,000 people already in the U.S. are waiting for a judge to rule on their asylum cases, Pompeo said. That's due in large part to an influx in Central and South Americans, including teenagers and young children, crossing the border to escape violence and extreme poverty.
"In consideration of both U.S. national security interests and the urgent need to restore integrity to our overwhelmed asylum system, the United States will focus on addressing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in the country," Pompeo said. "This year's refugee ceiling also reflects our commitment to protect the most vulnerable around the world while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people, as President Trump has directed."

As of Sept. 14, with just weeks left in fiscal year 2018, the U.S. had admitted a mere 20,825 refugees, far short of the 45,000-person limit set by President Donald Trump's administration. The year before, President Barack Obama had set the cap at 110,000, but Trump cut that number in half with an executive order after Obama left office.

Normally, the total number falls no more than a few thousand short of the cap, but changes at the administrative level overseas, including a longer vetting process, have caused a shortfall unheard of since right after 9/11.

Pompeo says part of the reason the cap is lower this year is to maintain rigorous vetting: "The security checks take time, but they're critical."

Refugee program cuts have already taken a toll on Colorado's resettlement agencies, the Independent reported in June. At the time — about three-fourths of the way through the fiscal year — Lutheran Family Services in Colorado Springs had resettled only 40 refugees, compared to 110 total last year, according to volunteer coordinator Cathy Verdier.

Denver's African Community Center had resettled 134 refugees in June, though it had planned to accommodate 400 by the end of September, Managing Director Melissa Theesen said. Two years ago, ACC's total was 581.

The Department of Homeland Security unleashed another bombshell with the Sept. 22 proposal to more broadly enforce "public charge" as a criterion for temporary and permanent admission. Under it, people enrolled in programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) would have a harder time getting their immigration status changed or extended.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Colorado Springs Utilities chooses new CEO

Posted By on Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 4:43 PM

Aram Benyamin: Chosen as CEO. - COURTESY CSU
  • Courtesy CSU
  • Aram Benyamin: Chosen as CEO.
Monday, Sept. 17, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board voted to offer the energy supply general manager, Aram Benyamin, a contract as the new CEO of the $2 billion enterprise.

Benyamin would replace Jerry Forte, who retired in May after more than 12 years as CEO.

He came to Utilities in 2015 from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power after he was ousted the previous year due to his close association with the electrical workers union, according to media reports. He also had supported the challenger of Eric Garcetti, who was elected as mayor.

Benyamin tells the Independent that he will accept the offer, although details are being worked out, including the salary. Forte was paid $447,175 a year.

Benyamin will take his cues on major policy issues from the Utilities Board but does have thoughts on power supply, water rights and other issues involving the four services offered by Utilities: water, wastewater, electricity and gas.
Drake Power Plant near downtown will continue to be a hot button issue, regardless of who fills the CEO chair. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Drake Power Plant near downtown will continue to be a hot button issue, regardless of who fills the CEO chair.
He says he hopes to see more options emerge for Drake Power Plant, a downtown coal-fired plant that's been targeted for retirement in 2035. That's way too late, according to some residents who have pushed for an earlier decommissioning date.

"Along the way, we talked about transmission upgrades that will allow us to import more energy that will make it more reliable," Benyamin says. Noting the city has employees who assess power costs round-the-clock, he adds, "Because of the city’s size and the importance of having your own sustained generation, we look at opportunities on the market to bring in energy if it’s cheaper or generate our own if it’s cheaper. The problem with transmission coming in is, if there’s congestion the price goes up and its uneconomical to import."

Benyamin will have to walk a fine line between traditional fossil fuels, supported by some on the Utilities Board as the cheapest source of power, and renewables, which also have support on the board.

Regardless of President Donald Trump's push to remove pollution requirements from coal to prop up the coal business, Benyamin says those policies haven't affected the direction Utilities is moving, which is toward more renewables.

Utilities has been slower than some to embrace solar and wind, because of the price point, but Benyamin says prices are going down. "Every time we put out an RFP [request for proposals] the prices are less," he says, adding that renewables will play a key role in replacing Drake's generation capacity, which at present provides a quarter to a third of the city's power.

While sources are studied, he says the city is moving ahead with "rewiring the system" to prepare for shutting down the plant. But he predicted a new source of generation will be necessary.
This outlet is part of the Southern Delivery System water pipeline that increases the city's water supply via Pueblo Reservoir. Benyamin says he's open to sharing water outside the city, but city needs should come first. - COURTESY CSU
  • Courtesy CSU
  • This outlet is part of the Southern Delivery System water pipeline that increases the city's water supply via Pueblo Reservoir. Benyamin says he's open to sharing water outside the city, but city needs should come first.
Though he acknowledged he's not fully versed in Utilities' water issues, he says it's his goal to "serve the city first."

"Any resources we have we need to prioritize them to the need of the city today and the future growth and then decide what level of support we can give to anybody else," he says.

The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee earlier this year called for lowering the cost of water and wastewater service for outsiders — notably bedroom communities outside the city limits which are running lower on water or face water contamination issues.

Benyamin also says he's open to further studying reuse of water. "Any chance we have to recycle water or use gray water for irrigation or any other use that would take pressure off our supplies, that’s always a great idea to look into," he says.

Asked for his take on policies that reduce development costs at the expense of residential customers, Benyamin repeats his unfamiliarity with some policies but adds, "My approach to economic development has to be put in the context of overall benefit to the city. I look at it from a broader perspective. What you call a subsidy I might call a development opportunity."
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Friday, September 14, 2018

County's Dave Rose retires after 40+ years in the information business

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 4:10 PM

Rose: Heading for retirement. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF EL PASO COUNTY
  • Photos courtesy of El Paso County
  • Rose: Heading for retirement.
This isn't an obituary or anything, but on the momentous occasion of the retirement of Dave Rose, it's worth taking note of his long service to the community in more ways than one.

I first became aware of who Dave Rose was in the mid-1990s when I was working for the daily newspaper and had just produced a story raising questions about Colorado Springs Utilities' payments to his boss, former Colorado Springs mayor Harry Hoth, who owned KRDO TV where Rose worked as news director.

Rose was in my face demanding answers to questions about why I had suggested anything untoward in the Utilities deal, which would pay Hoth $500,000 for right-of-way to accommodate a water project.

Which is to say, Rose can be passionate about what he does, whether in the journalism world, or as public information officer for El Paso County, a position he held for 10 years and from which he soon will step down.

Lots of journalists transition from news to public relations, and Rose did so flawlessly. For journalists, it's somewhat of an advantage to deal with former journalists in the PR world. One hopes they recall their own days trying to squeeze information from public agencies.

Parsell: Picking up where Rose left off.
  • Parsell: Picking up where Rose left off.
That said, Rose was always fiercely loyal to his employer. He's adeptly kept the heat off commissioners at times, while providing information to reporters when they ask. He's become a skilled spin doctor, in other words, without sacrificing credibility.

It wasn't an easy gig. Rose has had to be anywhere and everywhere, such as coordinating information during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 (he helped set up and oversee the Disaster Recovery Center) and the Black Forest Fire in 2013. He was also there early on snowy mornings advising about road conditions, traveling with commissioners to various conferences, and other meetings, and explaining or defending commissioners' actions.  He served in ancillary roles too, such as on the board of the El Paso-Teller 911 Authority, and was a board member of the National Association of Broadcasters and National Association of County Information Officers.

Anyway, Rose's days as the county's spokesperson will end on Oct. 19 when he relinquishes the reins to Ryan Parsell, who worked as PIO for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office from 2013 to 2017, after which he served as deputy state treasurer. His salary will be $110,000.

Rose himself issued the news release, in which County Administrator Henry Yankowski is quoted as saying, "Ryan brings a broad range of experience in public communications, legislative and policy development and organizational management in private, public and non-profit sectors.”

So after more than 30 years in radio and television news, and another 10 with the county, Rose is calling is quits. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but I, for one, am really going to miss Dave. 
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Three ways to help women beat ovarian cancer

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 2:06 PM

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One woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day in Colorado. And every 40 hours, the disease kills a Colorado woman, according to the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society.

The Southern Colorado nonprofit works to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, and helps the women fighting it pay for medical expenses, prescriptions, household expenses and health insurance deductibles.

Since there's no test for ovarian cancer (it's not covered in a Pap test), women's best defense against the disease is being able to recognize its symptoms, the Ovarian Cancer Society says. Those can include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain or pressure, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urgent or frequent urination. Women experiencing these symptoms for more than two weeks may have early-stage ovarian cancer, and should see a gynecologist for further testing.

If the disease is diagnosed early, a woman's chance of survival is 93% — more than double her chances when the diagnosis is late-stage cancer.

Here's how you can show your support for the women fighting this disease for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and into the future.

1. Get a tattoo

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  • Shutterstock.com
Between Sept. 11 and Sept. 15, Fallen Heroes Tattoo is donating $40 for every $60 tattoo to the Ovarian Cancer Society. On Saturday, the business will host an all-day party with lunch from Bird Dog BBQ, vendors and more to conclude its five-day Tattooathon event.

If you haven't scheduled an appointment, owner Brenda Brown says there's still a few times available through the 15th. "We are willing to stay as late as people are willing to come," she promises.

This is Fallen Heroes Tattoo's third year supporting the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society. Brown says the goal is to raise $15,000 — nearly double the $8,000 raised last year.

Call (719) 635-7431 to schedule an appointment with Fallen Heroes Tattoo, located at 524 W. Colorado Ave.

2. Get your exercise

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  • Shutterstock.com
The Ovarian Cancer Society's 10th Annual Be Ovary Aware 5K Run 3K Walk is Sunday, Sept. 16 at America the Beautiful Park. Registration is $35 for adults and $25 for youth 16 and under ($40 and $30 if you wait till the day of).

There are cash prizes for the first, second and third place 5K winners in each category. Whether or not you beat out the competition, you'll get an event shirt, a runners' bag, a door prize ticket and post-race snacks from Wooglin's Deli.

The event will also feature a pre-run yoga stretch, door prize drawings and a memorial balloon release.

3. Rock out

Double Your Trouble will donate a portion of proceeds from its Oct. 20 concert at Stargazers Theatre to the Ovarian Cancer Society. - JOHN ODEN
  • John Oden
  • Double Your Trouble will donate a portion of proceeds from its Oct. 20 concert at Stargazers Theatre to the Ovarian Cancer Society.
Clear your calendar Oct. 20 for Double Your Trouble's Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute concert at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center.

Double Your Trouble consists of Randy Stephens on guitar and vocals, Bill Taylor on bass and Kevin McBride on drums.

Tickets are $15 to $20 plus fees, and a portion of the proceeds will support the Ovarian Cancer Society. Stephens says Double Your Trouble will also give away a Stevie Ray Vaughan replica guitar at the event.

The show starts at 8 p.m., and doors open at 7. Stargazers Theatre is located at 10 S. Parkside Dr.
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

FDA cracks down on teen e-cigarette use

Posted By on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 9:46 AM

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on e-cigarette retailers, including a handful in Colorado Springs.

After a "nationwide, undercover blitz" of retailers around the country this summer, the FDA issued 1,300 warning letters and fines to businesses that illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarette products to minors, according to a Sept. 12 announcement. The statement called teen e-cigarette use a problem of "epidemic proportions," citing data that showed more than two million teens used the products in 2017.

Six businesses in Colorado Springs got warning letters, and one, Extreme Vape Pens, was issued a fine. (About 50 retailers earned warning letters or fines statewide.)


Colorado has the highest rate of teen e-cigarette use in the country, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than one in every four Colorado teens, or 26.2 percent, use e-cigarettes or products such as e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pipes, vaping pens, e-hookahs, and hookah pens. That's nearly twice the national average of 14.3 percent.

On the other hand, just 7 percent of Colorado teens use cigarettes, compared to 8.2 percent of teens nationwide.

FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb addressed the increased use of e-cigarette products among teens in strong terms, vowing to make business difficult for manufacturers that didn't work to solve the problem.

"In enabling a path for e-cigarettes to offer a potentially lower risk alternative for adult smokers, we won’t allow the current trends in youth access and use to continue, even if it means putting limits in place that reduce adult uptake of these products,” he is quoted in the FDA's statement.

The FDA issued letters to the top five manufacturers of e-cigarette products (JUUL, Vuse, MarkTen XL, blu e-cigs, and Logic), demanding within 60 days plans "describing how they will address the widespread youth access and use of their products."

If the plans aren't sufficient, the FDA says it might require manufacturers to take flavored products — which it claims are particularly appealing to teens — off the market. The agency is also reexamining its timeline for manufacturers to comply with strict new federal guidelines announced last year. 
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

ACLU thinks prison population can be cut in half by 2025 in Colorado

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 11:23 AM

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Colorado can and should cut its prison population in half by 2025, according to a Sept. 5 report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.

The report is one of 50 Blueprints for Smart Justice from the ACLU that identify problems with mass incarceration on a state-by-state basis. The point is to open discussion about each state’s unique situation and find solutions that work.

Here are the main takeaways from Colorado’s Blueprint.

How we stack up:

Colorado’s prison population is 20,136 as of June, down from 23,274 at its peak in 2008. The state ranked 16th in the nation for the number of people incarcerated, or under community supervision like parole or probation, on a per-capita basis: 2,830 per 100,000 adult residents in 2015.

Colorado had the ninth highest incarceration rate for black people, and the fourth highest for Latino people, as of 2014.

Of those incarcerated, 18 percent were in private prisons, compared to 7 percent of the state prison population across the U.S. The number of people in Colorado’s private prisons increased 83 percent between 2000 and 2018.

Colorado ranked 11th in the number of people serving life sentences as of 2016.

The problems:

The ACLU’s report argues that harsh sentence enhancement laws, such as those for habitual offenders, and mandatory minimum sentences are driving mass incarceration in Colorado.

Although Senate Bill 13-250 helped reduce prison sentences for drug possession (14 percent of people convicted of possession were sent to prison after the bill’s 2013 passage, compared to 19 percent before), drug sentences still account for one in seven admissions.

Racial disparity is staggering. While black people made up 4 percent of Colorado’s adult population in 2017, they constituted 18 percent of the prison population. Latino people made up 19 percent of the adult population and 32 percent of the prison population. And American Indians made up less than 1 percent of the adult state population, but they represented 3 percent of the prison population.

The number of imprisoned women increased 58 percent between 2000 and 2018 — more than twice the rate for men.

Almost three-fourths of prisoners had issues with substance abuse as of June. While 37 percent of prisoners were considered to have mental health needs, only 5 percent were enrolled in mental health programs.

The solutions:

Colorado should start looking at addiction not as a crime, but as a public health problem, the ACLU’s report says. That means looking into alternatives to incarceration such as diversion programs and community-based treatment.

The ACLU recommends creating legislation that will reduce overcharging and disincentivize plea bargaining, and remove mandatory minimums or indeterminate sentences in some cases.

Colorado should decriminalize nonviolent conduct and reclassify nonviolent felony offenses to misdemeanors, the report says.

The report also stresses the necessity of implementing racial justice strategies, such as ending overpolicing in communities of color, eliminating bias in charging and plea-bargaining practices, eliminating wealth-based incarceration.

The ACLU proposes reducing the prison population by 9,086 people, which would save the state more than $675 million.

That’s no easy task, but here’s what it suggests:

1. Institute alternatives that end all admissions for drug possession.
2. Institute alternatives that reduce admissions by 60 percent for public order offenses.
3. Institute alternatives that reduce admissions by 50 percent for drug distribution, theft, other property offenses and fraud.
4. Institute alternatives that reduce admissions by 40 percent for assault, burglary and robbery.
5. Reduce the average time served by 60 percent for public order offenses, assault, burglary, robbery, drug distribution, theft, other property offenses, fraud, motor vehicle theft and weapons offenses.

Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, has made criminal justice reform one of his top priorities while in office, sponsoring a long list of bills that include revamping the Division of Youth Services and expanding restorative justice programs. Lee called the ACLU's Blueprint for Smart Justice "very well-written" and said it "proposed some practical, though difficult to implement remedies."

Lee, along with Republican Sen. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs, recently sponsored a bill to expand the use of community corrections as an alternative to prison — one of the ACLU's suggestions for cutting down the prison population.
The community corrections system in Colorado provides services to convicted adults who are “halfway in” or “halfway out” of prison. Community corrections, which includes housing and supervision, is either a “last chance” before being sent to prison, or a way for those leaving the criminal justice system to transition back into the community.

Lee's bill, which Gov. Hickenlooper signed in May, requires the Colorado State Board of Parole to submit a list of offenders for community corrections transition placement referrals to the state Department of Corrections, who will choose whether or not to make a referral. Community corrections boards, which then decide whether to accept or reject an offender, must do so through a “structured, research-based decision-making process that combines professional judgment and actuarial risk and needs assessment tools,” according to the bill.
Rep. Pete Lee, flanked by Rep. Tony Exum. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Rep. Pete Lee, flanked by Rep. Tony Exum.
Before the bill's passage, Lee says the state's community corrections program was often bogged down by a lack of communication. There were problems with the system that had "common-sense" solutions, he says.

For example, if a local community corrections board didn't want to accept a certain offender, it could just reject someone, sending the person back to the Department of Corrections and contributing to overcrowding, Lee says. The bill, he adds, helps ensure decisions are more "rationally based" by requiring a response about why someone was rejected, and keeping the door open for that person to be accepted in the future after meeting further requirements. Perhaps a local board would want an offender to get a GED so they could work in the community, for example.

But community corrections is just one piece of the puzzle. Lee believes another imperative is changing the bail system to reduce wealth-based discrimination, which can disproportionately affect minority communities. He says bail should be based on whether someone is a danger to the community, and whether they're a flight risk.

"Poor people don’t have bail, so they stay in jail, and the decision as to whether or not they should stay in jail is based on not having money," Lee says. "We have the local sheriff’s department asking for a tax increase to get more bed space in the jail because we’re reaching capacity. Well, we wouldn’t reach capacity if we had a better bail system, or non-monetary bail if we did a risk-based release system."

Is the ACLU's ambitious proposal doable? Lee says it will take bipartisan support, especially on issues such as reducing sentences. "A lot of the ideas that are recommended in that ACLU report have been proposed in the Colorado legislature," he says.

Democrats and Republicans have in the past found common ground on criminal justice reform. Gardner and Lee, for example, recently joined forces to lead a comprehensive review of Colorado's juvenile justice system, in partnership with the Council of State Governments Justice Center. They'll introduce proposed changes at next year's legislative session.

"The fundamental principle I operate from is that we ought to reserve the most expensive option, prison, for people who really constitute a risk to public safety," Lee says.

Lee is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in the House this fall, but is running for the state Senate District 11 seat, left vacant by departing Sen. Michael Merrifield. Gardner's term ends in 2021.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Michael Bennet will vote "no" on Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 3:55 PM

Sen. Michael Bennet won't support Trump nominee. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sen. Michael Bennet won't support Trump nominee.
Not that it really matters at this point, but today, Sept. 11, Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, announced he would oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice.

With each passing day, it seems there's nothing that can stop Kavanaugh from rising to the nation's highest court, as Vanity Fair reports here.

But as they say, ya never know. Bennet's statement, issued about 9:30 a.m.:
After reviewing his writings, opinions, and testimony, I have concluded that Judge Kavanaugh will create a new Supreme Court majority that will threaten women’s reproductive rights, roll back essential environmental regulations, and favor large corporations over workers. In addition, his view that sitting presidents may be immune from criminal investigations and subpoenas is particularly troublesome at this moment. For these reasons, I will oppose his nomination.

As I have said many times, I am deeply discouraged by the Senate’s descent into rank partisanship. Regrettably, the Majority’s accession to the administration’s refusal to disclose Judge Kavanaugh’s full record—including nearly 90% of the documents from his time in the Bush White House—represents a further abdication of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to advise and consent. The hearing was a sham. The American people would be better served by a transparent, deliberate, and bipartisan confirmation process.

Sen. Corey Gardner, a Colorado Republican, released a statement in late July giving Kavanaugh his endorsement:
Today I was able to meet with Judge Kavanaugh – clearly he is a well-qualified judge who has incredible experience in the federal courts. We had a long conversation about the role of precedent and how a judge should perform on the bench. It’s not about personal opinion, it’s not about personal biases or policy preferences, it’s about looking at the law and ruling on the law and where the law takes you. We had a good conversation about how he would be on the Supreme Court. It was a very good meeting and I think he will make an incredible Supreme Court Justice.
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