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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 25, 20172min80

You read that right, marijuana. Well, at least that’s what a new study by Consumer Research Around Cannabis says of opinions about pot among adults in Denver and Colorado Springs.

As BizWest reported last week, the survey found Colorado Springs’ perspective on marijuana — the Springs being, arguably, among the most conservative cities in the country — aligned fairly closely with reliably liberal Denver.

Take it from BizWest’s Jensen Werley:

While Colorado Springs identifies as more conservative — 39 percent, with 20 percent identifying as liberal and 41 percent as independent — people there have usage opinions very similar to the more liberal Denver, where 30 percent of residents identify as liberal, 31 percent conservative and 39 percent independent.

Predictably, slightly more adults approve of marijuana in Denver than Colorado Springs, 58 to 52 percent. But, when analyzed under the scope of political affiliation, the numbers are very similar between the two cities.

  • About 75 percent of liberals in Denver approve of legalized marijuana and 72 percent of liberals in Colorado Springs approved.
  • About 37 percent of conservatives in Denver approved, compared to 34 percent of conservatives in Colorado Springs.
  • And 61 percent of independents in Denver approved, with 59 percent of independents in Colorado Springs approving.

Additionally, the reasons for marijuana usage were also comparable, with one of the top reasons for using pot being sleep — 23 percent in Denver to 17.5 percent in Colorado Springs. Insomnia be damned.

Despite the similarities in the survey, glaring differences persist in policy between the two cities, including the fact Colorado Springs has yet to allow retail marijuana dispensaries in city limits five years after legalization. Denver leads the state in dispensaries.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 25, 20172min100

Denver recently made a complex conversion to a new payroll system, and while it was largely successful, a lack of controls resulted in some errors, according to an audit.

In one instance, an employee’s annual salary was set at the biweekly rate, and an incorrect payment was made, Auditor Timothy O’Brien’s office said in a press statement. The error was remedied after the employee reported it.

Other mistakes found during the system change included incorrect vacation accruals, a terminated employee receiving paychecks for months after leaving and over and underpayments.

The number of errors is not out of the ordinary for such a large-scale change, O’Brien’s office said, but they cropped up due to a lack of controls.

In the audit report, O’Brien’s office recommends the city’s Controller’s Office, the department responsible for accounting and payroll, develop procedures and training for finding errors and solving them.

Some city departments have had recurring issues with supervisor timesheet approvals, the auditor’s office said. There are no procedures for missing timesheet approvals, with 11 percent of employee timesheets going unapproved while checks were still being issued by payroll.

“This creates a risk of someone being paid for no work,” O’Brien’s office said. “There was no direct evidence of payroll fraud identified in this audit report.”

Denver also does not appear to have a reliable timecard approval report for all public safety employees, since January 2017, according to O’Brien’s office.

“This could mean overtime, vacation time or other exceptions to regular hours worked could go unreported and unreviewed,” the statement said.

The Controller’s Office has agreed to implement the audit report’s 19 recommendations before or by December 2017.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 22, 20173min2950

Much of the school-choice agenda — charter schools, in particular — has evolved over the past few decades from a once-obscure Republican cause to a bipartisan initiative to a nonpartisan and, by and large, non-political given. Even presidents of both parties have championed charters; after all, parents of every political stripe, and of none, love having the option if they can get their kids into one.

Republicans nonetheless have a special attachment to the topic of school choice and remain some of its most ardent advocates. And it just so happens that the state GOP is hosting a forum on on the subject Sept. 30, a Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the public library in Parker. Interested? Republican or otherwise, you could find it enlightening. Here’s more from a Republican press release:

Join our forum featuring Representative Clarice Navarro as keynote speaker, among an informative panel of school choice proponents who advocate for school choice in our communities and at the Colorado State Capitol. Members of the panel will include Ross Izard from the Independence Institute, Adam Johnson, Colorado State Director of the Republican National Committee, and local legislators still TBA!

We will also hear directly from parents willing to provide personal accounts of their experience with charter schools & school choice and why this issue is of importance to the community. Whether you are a concerned parent, uncertain regarding school choice, or interested in getting involved, we welcome your participation.

That’s at the Parker Library – Event Hall A, 20105 Main Street, Parker, CO 80138. RSVP by clicking here or contact Cierra Bayers at (303) 944-5683 or cierra@cologop.org for more information.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 22, 20173min2320

…You cancel it, of course. And that’s just what metro Denver’s Cherry Creek School District as well as Littleton Public Schools have done. So has tiny Peetz Plateau School District RE-5, near the Nebraska border in Logan County. Reports The Villager newspaper, which covers the southern reaches of the metro area:

The boards of education for both Cherry Creek Schools and Littleton Public Schools voted last week to cancel their November ballots and declare the candidates — mostly incumbents — as winners by acclamation, saving more than $100,000 in taxpayer money.

Colorado law only allows such action when the number of candidates is equal to the number of available positions.

And in Peetz (population 227), there are actually fewer candidates than openings, reports the Sterling Journal-Advocate:

… only two candidates turned in nomination petitions for two of the three open seats.

Board President Brad Segelke will keep his seat on the board for another four years and Greg Nienhuser, who was appointed to the board earlier this year, will retain his seat for a four-year term.

With no nomination petitions turned in for the seat held by Jeff Long, the district is now seeking letters of interest from individuals who would like to fill the seat for a two-year term starting in November.

Kudos to those boards for their cost-consciousness, but you have to wonder why there’s not enough interest in those districts to stir at least some competition. Granted, there’s going to be a limited pool of prospective candidates for any public office in a community as small as Peetz. Well, what about the sprawling, suburban Cherry Creek and Littleton districts — among the state’s largest? No takers?

 


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 21, 20173min2790

Even with cuts to service, Aurora’s light-rail R line would be sustainable.

That’s the pushback from Regional Transportation District spokesperson Nate Currey in an interview with 9news’ Kyle Clark after Aurora characterized proposed cuts to the rail line as premature and said the district hasn’t done enough to market the route.

RTD’s proposed cuts to the rail line due to poor ridership irked Aurora city officials last week. They said the route is just six months old, and the proposal was premature. Cuts to the line that runs along I-225 would reduce weekday service and cease weekend routes.

This week, Currey told Clark the line would remain viable even with cuts, and should ridership pick up, RTD could restore service. Currey also said he was surprised by the response from Aurora and Mayor Steve Hogan.

It’s unfortunate he feels this way about us. I think we’ve been very good partners. We’ve been transparent with Aurora with that. And our process is, our staff makes a recommendation, we go out to the public for feedback, they make a final recommendation, and then our elected board votes on that. So they take all that into consideration.

Responding to Hogan’s comment on the lack of marketing on RTD’s part, Currey said communities often expect the district to go it alone, but it should be a partnership.

“If they want the success of the R Line just as much as we do, they need to be out there promoting it with us,” Currey told Clark, in part.

RTD starts public hearings Thursday on the proposed cuts in Aurora.

Watch Currey’s full interview with Clark here


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 21, 20173min2020

One of the most active and effective organizations for young voters is launching a campaign Thursday to crowd-fund $4,000 for research and advocacy around tax reform.

The Denver-based Millennial Policy Center think tank hopes to do the same kind of work it did, from a conservative point of view, on the healthcare debate last spring, publishing and publicizing an in-depth policy paper on the subject as Republicans were ramping up their attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The center, which defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1998, is urging those who want to support its work to learn more and donate on its website.

Donations to the nonprofit think thank are tax-deductible. The goal is to fund not only research, but social media, videos and other means of publicizing its findings. Besides healthcare, the policy center did laudable and even-handed work on college affordability this year, as well.

“The Millennial Generation is naturally attuned to opportunity and prosperity – the very goals of broad-based tax reform. Millennials are innovative, creative, and inherently inclined to freedom,” Jimmy Sengenberger, the Millennial Policy Center’s president and CEO, told Colorado Politics. “Just think about the unprecedented amount of choices and opportunities that we have before us – Uber and Lyft, and apps and plentiful smartphone options. Innovations like these only come through individual initiative and achievement, which stems directly from being free to think, free to act and free to choose.

“So much of our potential is stifled by government red tape and a complex tax code. If we want to unleash the unlimited potential of each and every individual, we need to cut the red tape and; perhaps more importantly, simplify the code! This is our once-in-a-generation chance to do it, and it’s time for millennials to step up to the challenge and embrace the future.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 20, 20174min6630

Don’t expect the Colorado Union of Taxpayers to sugar-coat its contempt for Senate Bill 267, the omnibus, revenue-raising sleeper of a bill that passed in the final hours of the 2017 legislature last spring — and drew an outcry from many conservatives.

Sure, it may have shored up rural hospitals and schools and boosted highway funding, among other things, but to the folks at CUT  (and others, including many dissenting GOP lawmakers), the legislation amounted to an unconstitutional tax hike. They contend it should have been put to a vote of the people in accordance with Colorado’s constitutional taxing and spending limits.

So, when Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper announced earlier this month he would call a special session of the legislature Oct. 2 to fix an error discovered belatedly in the bill — it came as insult to injury for the decades-old advocacy group. And CUT’s Marty Neilson made clear in a press release Tuesday that she and her comrades have no interest in helping the governor clean up what they see as his mess:

If SB 267 wasn’t already enough of an affront to Colorado taxpayers, paying for a special legislative session to fix what our esteemed legislators and Governor failed to notice in the unconstitutional SB267 makes me “mad as hell” and “I don’t want to take it anymore!” Special sessions are expensive!   SB 267 starts off as unconstitutional (multiple subjects) piece of legislation; and, is an egregious violation of Taxpayers Bill of Rights (no vote by the people) for the tax and debt increases.   Mess ups like this do not constitute an immediate problem which must be addressed by immediate corrective legislation….

The press release concludes by, “Calling on all Colorado taxpayers to go to the Capitol and demand ‘Let Us Vote!'”

The error in 267 — it evidently went unnoticed until after Hickenlooper signed it into law in May — inadvertently cut the state’s many special taxation districts out of their share of tax revenue from recreational marijuana.

The governor insists the special session’s mission will be narrowly drawn to address that concern and nothing else. Yet, as Colorado Politics reported the other day, at least one lawmaker already is saying he wants to expand the session’s mandate to address transportation — or else he’ll vote against the fix. We’ll stay tuned.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 20, 20173min2390

Tort-reforming Colorado Civil Justice League has announced a lengthy list of state lawmakers who will be feted at a league luncheon Oct. 20 for their efforts in the statehouse to curb excessive litigation. A press release from the league Tuesday said the legislators will receive the “Common Sense in the Courtroom Award,” along with a satisfying meal, at the annual luncheon at the Denver Four Seasons downtown. (Tickets are available at www.CCJL.org.)

Here’s more from the announcement:

“Common Sense in the Courtroom requires justice for those who have been wronged, balanced by fairness for those who may be wrongfully accused,” said CCJL executive director Mark Hillman.
A highlight of the 2017 legislative session was the passage of House Bill 1279 which addressed construction litigation by ensuring that homeowners are fully informed of costs and risks of litigation and given a formal voice in determining whether to initiate a lawsuit to resolve alleged defective construction.
“The most encouraging development this year is the growing coalition of legislators who value economic growth for all Coloradans above the narrow interests of personal injury lawyers and a handful of plaintiffs,” Hillman added.
The league notes it’s the “only organization in Colorado exclusively dedicated to stopping lawsuit abuse while preserving a system of civil justice that fairly compensates legitimate victims.”
For a full list of the lawmakers who’ll receive the award, check out the full press release; here’s the link again.