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Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsSeptember 28, 20171min1880

Aurora theater shooter James Holmes has been transferred to a federal prison, the Colorado Department of Corrections confirmed Wednesday.

“The State sought to place the inmate in the Federal System several months ago, but placement required finding space at a facility that could provide appropriate security,” the department stated in a news release. “That space recently became available and the move to the Federal prison was secured.”

As of Wednesday night, the federal Bureau of Prisons had not announced where Holmes was transferred.

Holmes is serving a life sentence for the July 20, 2012 attack that killed 12 people and left more than 70 others injured.


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Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsAugust 4, 20174min490

SILVERTON — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt visited the Gold King Mine spill site Friday, on the eve of the second anniversary since the Las Animas River was turned yellow with contamination, vowing to reconsider damage cited by 79 claimants whose requests were rejected under his predecessor, Gina McCarthy.

“EPA should be held to the same standard as those we regulate,” Pruitt said. “The previous administration failed those who counted on them to protect the environment.”

The 3 million gallons of contaminated acid mine waste released into the Animas River and Cement Creek ultimately flowed into the San Juan River through Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The EPA took responsibility for the accidental spill, but the Navajo Nation filed suit a year ago, saying the EPA did not properly remediate the disaster or compensate the thousands of farmers seeking damages.

Pruitt said McCarthy, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden all failed to even visit the site of the spill.

Pruitt toured the mine Friday with Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner as well as Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“When I was appointed EPA administrator by President Trump, I committed to review the Gold King Mine decision made by the previous administration,” Pruitt said. “A new review is paramount to ensure that those who have, in fact, suffered losses have a fair opportunity to have their claims heard.”

After the tour, EPA appointees are holding a town hall with residents in Durango to hear from those living around the mine how the spill affected them.

“We want to listen and learn directly from the community,” said Ken Wagner, senior EPA advisor for regional and state affairs. “The local community is ground zero in environmental disasters, and we want to hear their concerns and do our best to coordinate and provide assistance.”

Last January, the previous EPA administration denied 79 claims filed by farmers, ranchers, homeowners, businesses, employees, state and local governments, as well as other individuals seeking damages.

On March 16, the new EPA administration paid more than $90,000 in additional reimbursements to five entities in Colorado and Utah for costs incurred responding to the Aug. 5, 2015, release.

Some claimants have filed legal challenges to the EPA’s denial of their claims. The State of Utah filed an administrative claim in February, seeking $1.9 billion. On Wednesday, Utah sued the mine owners and EPA contractors for cleanup compensation and unspecified damages.

The State of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation, whose administrative claims were denied, have filed motions to add their tort claims to the preexisting Gold King Mine litigation in the District of New Mexico.

The EPA has spent more than $29 million responding to the disaster, including reimbursements for response costs accrued by state, local and tribal governments, providing continued water treatment and monitoring, listing the Bonita Peak Mining District as a priority Superfund site, and researching how contaminants move through river systems.

In all, 144 claims are pending. The EPA has until the end of December to act on the claims being reconsidered.


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Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsMay 31, 20177min122

June is the month of marriages, and we’d like to announce a big, fat, happy one in the political realm.

Colorado Politics, a new digital publication launched last November, and the venerable, 118-year-old Colorado Statesman are joining forces.

“We see it as a perfect match of speed and substance, immediacy and insight,” said Vince Bzdek, a former political editor at The Washington Post who will oversee the combined website and print magazine for Clarity Media. “Together, the aim is simple: Drive the political conversation in Colorado every day, in every way. And have fun doing it.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Joey Bunch, a former Denver Post political writer and onetime CNN contributor, will be the lead correspondent for the site and magazine.

“From the start, Colorado Politics has been an exciting venture, and the reception in the political community has been tremendous,” said Bunch, who swears he is not losing his hair since helping launch the site. At all. “The Statesman’s history and resources are welcome additions and should raise people’s expectations of us as the political news source that has it first, has it right and treats both sides fairly. Our readers tend to be folks who are the most engaged in state politics. This merger helps ensure they’re the best informed.”

The websites of the two media companies will become one starting June 1, under the Colorado Politics banner. Clarity Media, which owns The Gazette newspaper and several weekly publications in Colorado Springs as well as the Washington Examiner, Weekly Standard and Red Alert Politics in Washington, D.C., will become the Statesman’s new owner.

The Statesman’s print newspaper, which has published nonstop since 1898, will continue to publish weekly under the Statesman banner until a complete redesign and relaunch planned for later in 2017. At that time, the Statesman will be rebranded Colorado Politics.

The new, combined website will feature free and exclusive subscriber-only news stories daily. Subscribers also will receive the print edition of the newspaper in the mail every week with additional subscriber-only content being provided in the future. The print edition will also be available on newsstands around Denver in the coming months.

“The Statesman brings deep roots and an unmatched understanding of Colorado’s political history to the new enterprise,” said Bzdek, who also oversees the editorial staff of The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Colorado Politics brings some of the best political journalists in the state to the partnership, and a culture and metabolism that take full advantage of the instancy of digital publishing.”

Going forward, the merging of brands will mean more substantial reporting on all things politics and policy, and the expansion of a wide roster of contributors from across the state. Readers can expect an increase in exclusive, insider scoops; the addition of invaluable special features and tools to help professionals in the field make better decisions for their businesses; and an upgraded web site and mobile site. The print edition will grow as well, with more pages, more columns, and more cartoons.

Colorado Politics and Statesmen reporters will also team up to bring more horsepower to The Hot Sheet, a daily newsletter and blog for the new site.

Clarity expects to add more staff members in the future.

“I am excited by the merger,” said Jared Wright, longtime stalwart of the Statesman who will run the business, advertising and circulation operations as general manager of the new publication. “Combining forces of the two publications just made sense. The rich 118-year history of The Colorado Statesman and the confluence of minds and resources will create some very compelling opportunities for how we cover political and public policy news in Colorado and the value we offer our readers and clients.”

Other staffers include Peter Marcus, who The Washington Post twice named as one of the nation’s top state-based political and legislative reporters; Dan Njegomir, a 25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene as an award-winning reporter, Gazette editorial page editor, legislative staffer and political consultant; Ernest Luning, longtime journalist and news editor who has written for The Statesman and The Colorado Independent; Erin Prater, a multimedia journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Upfront, The Washington Times, The Denver Post, MSNBC.com, Military.com and the Gazette; Jim Trotter, another Pulitzer winner and longtime Colorado editor, who will help edit the site in conjunction with his managing editor duties at the Gazette.

The staff will report to Ryan McKibben, CEO and president of Clarity.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is a fan of both publications. He has called Colorado Politics his “first click in the morning.”

“Overall, I wouldn’t trade a strong media in the state Capitol for anything. I think it is essential not just to the drive of good government but to the preservation of liberty, and freedom,” he said in a video testimonial for the Statesman recently.

Bzdek echoed those sentiments. “You know, the better the people creating policy know each other and trust each other, the better the government and its decisions. We believe a publication like this is truly the best way of making sure those people know each other and we citizens know who our politicians are and what they’re up to. This merger is really a vote of confidence in the power of the press to bring people together — and make lives better.”