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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 18, 20171min420

The the African Leadership Group is offering free flu shots in Rocky Mountain Welcome Center in Aurora Saturday, its first of what’s planned to be an annual event.

The clicks from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan is expected to show up around 1 p.m. to show his support, organizers said.

“This is going to be an opportunity for many in our community, who don’t have access to healthcare either due to their immigration status or lack of insurance to get access to medical services,” organizers said in a statement. “Immunization rates are low in the African community due to lack of education and Mayor Hogan is coming by to draw attention to the need for people across Aurora to get flu shots.”

The Welcome Center is located at 10700 E. Evans Avenue in Aurora.

“The African Leadership Group is a civic organization dedicated to the empowerment and integration of the growing African immigrant community in Colorado,” the group said. “They advocate for the entire African immigrant community – across national origin, religion, tribes and language – to ensure continuous improvement to the community’s quality of life.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 17, 20173min680
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. (Colorado Statesman file photo)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took to the national airwaves this week, boasting about the speed and efficiency of his city government and talking up the city’s bid for Amazon HQ2.

The Mile High City’s chief executive was featured on “CBS This Morning’s American Voices” series, which examines how national issues are playing out at a local level.

The five-minute segment focused on Hancock’s Denver Peak Academy, which trains employees to improve how government runs and boasts saving the city roughly $22.5 million. It also touched on the city’s affordable housing efforts including a $150 million housing fund, which through developer fees and increased property taxes will support new or preserve existing affordable housing, and renter eviction assistance. The “CBS This Morning” crew was most impressed by the 20-minute wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles, down from 80 minutes.

A smiling Hancock also talked Denver traffic, growing up in a large family with nine siblings and overcoming adversity.

“There’s a line in one of Will Smith’s movies, simply, ‘When you want something, go after and get it, period,’” Hancock said. “I don’t know where that resiliency came from within me. Maybe it was watching my mother try to raise 10 children as a single parent, going through the difficulty that she went through that really gave it to me to say, ‘We’re going to fight. I don’t want to come back here, and I want to make her proud.’”

On Amazon, Hancock said, “We’re going to put our best foot forward. At the end of the day, we’re going to continue to be Denver regardless of what happens.”

Watch Hancock’s full interview here.


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Kara MasonKara MasonNovember 17, 20173min900

It’s been nearly two months since the Aurora City Council first took on a resolution supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. Now after a round of revisions in a committee, the governing body is back to where it started.

But it’ll likely be a more conservative council that gets the final decision on the resolution.

Councilman Charlie Richardson first submitted the resolution. It was in support of legislatively extending DACA and Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman’s BRIDGE Act. Richardson said voting for the resolution, which would have been a symbolic measure of support for the protections of young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally, was simple and shouldn’t require so much back-and-forth from council.

But some council members, including Sally Mounier who represents a significantly diverse portion of the city, thought the resolution should encompass immigration issues as a whole.

The Aurora Sentinel has been following the story:

After Councilwoman Sally Mounier requested the first resolution be sent back to a committee, two more resolutions were drafted by the city attorney’s office. One was a revised “short” version, which mostly focused on DACA. The other was dubbed the longer version and was intended to support immigration reform as a whole.

“I totally support a path to citizenship for the DACA kids. What I also support, though, is a total and complete immigration reform… It is time to tell Congress that we have multiple issues with immigration,” the Sentinel reported Mounier saying during the first meeting at which Richardson’s resolution was presented to the council.

Mounier lost her seat last week to upstart candidate Crystal Murillo who ran a campaign largely on the premise she could better represent the district because she is a young Latina.

This week, the council reviewed the two versions. But neither satisfied the council. Both failed to make it to the regular meeting.

Richardson said he had another resolution ready to submit. He called it the “clean” version. This time it made no mention of Coffman’s BRIDGE ACT or the Trump administration. Just support for DACA.

That’s slated to be in front of council at next week’s meeting. Four new council members — three of which are slated to be more progressive than the rest of council — will join council on Dec. 4.

Five seats were up for election. Marsha Berzins won her seat in Ward III.

 


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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 17, 20172min7550

My Insights column in the Colorado Politics magazine this week (online and in the Colorado Springs Gazette next week) examines the unexplained positions and curious start to Cynthia Coffman’s campaign. But Thursday, it got only more curious.

Clinton Soffer had been identified in political circles as her campaign manager suddenly wasn’t.

When Coffman officially announced her candidacy for governor on Nov. 8, the Denver Post reported, “To run her campaign, Coffman hired Clinton Soffer, the former regional political director for the National Republican Senate Committee, where he worked for Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, whom he helped elect in 2014.”

After I got a well-sourced tip Thursday that Soffer was no longer running the campaign, I reached out to Coffman’s campaign fundraiser Caroline Wren, who also is fielding calls to Coffman from the media this week.

“Clinton Soffer is a part of Team Cynthia, but he is not campaign manager and was never announced by our campaign as such,” said Wren.

I quickly responded and asked what his role is, then, whether the Denver Post had it wrong and whether the campaign had asked for a correction. And especially: Who is running the campaign, then?

Wren didn’t reply.

Earlier Thursday Wren asked me in a text message to submit all future questions to Coffman in writing via e-mail, after Wren said she thought she was speaking “on background” for a story posted Thursday about why Coffman missed the Republican Women of Weld gubernatorial forum Monday night in Fort Lupton. (She was flying back from a Republican Attorneys General Association meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.)

She told Corey Hutchins from the Colorado Independent that she would only take written questions from him, as well.

Soffer did not return a call asking for a comment.


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Marianne GoodlandNovember 17, 20173min4600

Alabama Senate candidate and “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore had some controversy-seasoned Colorado support Thursday during a press conference with religious leaders intended to refute the latest allegations of sexual misconduct. Prominent at his side during the presser: controversy lightning rod, former Colorado lawmaker and TV pastor Gordon Klingenschmitt, aka Dr. Chaps.

Klingenschmitt, who served one term in the Colorado General Assembly, was a featured speaker, telling those in attendance that Moore is a man “who does not lie, compared to some of his accusers.”

Klingenschmitt said he met Moore a decade ago when the former judge came to his defense when the government ordered him not to mention Jesus in his official duties. “I followed his example,” Klingenschmitt said.

“This man stood with me. The American people stand with him,” the former lawmaker said.

Moore reportedly was a defense witness for Dr. Chaps in September 2006, when Klingenschmitt was court-martialed for “disobeying an order not to wear his uniform for media appearance.” Klingenschmitt wore his Navy uniform in a protest of Navy regulations that required chaplains to offer “nondenominational prayers except during religious services.”

As a Colorado legislator for two years, he continued to court controversy pushing religious liberty bills he could never get past the Democratic House majority. He made national headlines in 2015 after a pregnant Longmont woman was attacked and had her baby cut from her womb.

“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb,” Klingenschmitt said on his TV show, “Pray in Jesus Name.”

He compared President Obama to a demon and accused U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder of wanting to join Islamic terrorists and behead Christians.

Klingenschmitt ran for state Senate last year and lost in the GOP primary.

Last month, Klingenschmitt devoted one of his weekly YouTube broadcasts to Moore and his campaign.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 17, 20173min1280

With lots on Denver’s public infrastructure plate, the new executive director of Department of Public Works, appointed this week by Mayor Michael Hancock, will likely prove to be a key member of city government.

Eulois Cleckley will take the helm Dec. 11, overseeing a robust city department which manages services involving public infrastructure and facilities.

He’ll also aid the city in launching dozens of public infrastructure projects associated with $937 million in recently-approved general obligation bonds and facilitating the reorganization of his new department to spur the creation of a city department of transportation and mobility.

“Many of the services that Denver residents count on during their day are delivered by our Public Works team, and in Eulois we found a leader who will bring a renewed vision and energy to support our residents as they go about their daily lives,” Hancock said in a statement.

Cleckley will join Denver by way of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, where he oversaw the Metropolitan Planning Organization as deputy director. He’s previously served as chief of statewide and regional planning, and later acting chief of the Field Operations Division, for Washington, D.C.’s District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

“Denver is a growing city, and I am committed to ensure the department delivers projects and services in an efficient manner that addresses the needs of communities across Denver,” Cleckley said in a statement.

Denver plans to use the voter-approved GO bonds to fund 69 projects ranging from $13 million in upgrades to the 16th Street Mall to $35.5 million for Denver Art Museum improvements and Denver Central Library renovations totaling $38 million. Find a full list here.

Denver voters overwhelmingly supported the GO bond measures, with support ranging from 67 to 75 percent on the seven bond packages on the ballot.

The city wants to split the Department of Public Works into two cabinet-level divisions focusing on mobility and infrastructure.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 16, 20172min1600

Denver International Airport will grow to address surging passenger traffic after city officials approved a $1.5 billion gate-expansion project earlier this week.

The Denver City Council OK’d a series of design and construction contracts associated with the project Monday night. The 39-gate expansion across the airport’s three concourses is expected to be complete by 2021.

“I think people should know that Denver is growing and that means that their airport has to grow at the same time,” DIA spokesperson Heath Montgomery told Denver7.

DIA officials say the airport must expand to meet climbing passenger traffic. When the airport first opened more than two decades ago, it was designed to accommodate 50 million passengers a year. But DIA passenger traffic has perpetually swelled, exceeding airport capacity last year. The airport set a passenger traffic record last year with 58.3 million traveling through its gates last year.

The new gate expansion is akin to another project recently approved by the city. The $1.8 billion Great Hall Project will overhaul security screening checkpoints and concessions and boost the Jeppesen terminal’s capacity to 80 million passengers a year. Through a 34-year, private-public partnership with Spanish transportation infrastructure behemoth Ferrovial, the project was controversial, in part, because of the City Council’s loss of oversight of new concessions.

DIA’s concourses were initially designed to allow for growth and additional gates, according to the airport. In 2014, five new gates were completed on DIA’s C concourse in a $46 million expansion project to bring the airport’s current gate count to 107.


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Kara MasonKara MasonNovember 16, 20172min1030

The Fremont Clerk and Recorder has reappeared, according to reports from the Cañon City Daily Record.

Katie Barr was absent about a month after both the Fremont County commissioners and Cañon City Police Department announced the clerk was under investigation. It was also reported there were financial discrepancies coming from her office. Though, to what extent is still largely unknown.

The newspaper’s Sarah Matott reports:

The commissioners, according to a news release, reached out to the CPPD on Sept. 29 to investigate what appeared to be “irregular financial activity” stemming from Barr’s office.

According to the county’s news release about the investigation, Barr at that time “voluntarily removed herself from the operations of the Office of the Clerk and Recorder.” In accordance with Colorado law, Chief Deputy Clerk Dotty Gardunio stepped in to fulfill the duties of the elected office.

It’s so far unclear what those financial discrepancies are or how widespread they might be, but the Daily Record was able to confirm the police department reached out to the FBI for help on the case.

As for who else may be involved in the investigation and why Barr was gone for a month is under wraps. But county commissioners said they were adopting “additional financial safeguards.”

Elsewhere in Fremont County, citizens in Rockvale are gearing up for perhaps an entire recall of the city government. There, citizens say the town clerk was wrongly terminated after raising concerns about the bookkeeping on a truck-mudding event.

The recall election is slated for January, according to the Daily Record.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 16, 20173min3770

A lot of the workaday tax credits and deductions that businesses routinely use to trim Uncle Sam’s take are still off-limits to Colorado’s legal marijuana enterprises. That would change under legislation Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner signed onto this week as a co-sponsor.

As noted in a press release from Gardner’s office, the legislation, introduced by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, would “ensure marijuana businesses legally operating in Colorado and other states that have legalized the sale of marijuana are able to utilize common business tax deductions and credits, such as those for normal business expenses or for hiring veterans.”

The legislation underscores the continued rift over legal marijuana between the Trump administration and states like Colorado, and it highlights once again the irony of conservative Republicans like Gardner moving to shore up states’ rights on the matter in the face of opposition from conservative Republican U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Despite the administration push-back, Gardner, quoted in the announcement by his office, comes across as an unflinching champion of free-market marijuana who might as well be saying, “Jeff who?”

“Our current tax code puts thousands of legal marijuana businesses throughout Colorado at a disadvantage by treating them differently than other businesses across the state … Coloradans made their voices heard in 2012 when they legalized marijuana and it’s time for the federal government to allow Colorado businesses to compete. This commonsense, bipartisan bill will allow small businesses in Colorado and other states that have legal marijuana businesses to grow their operations, create jobs, and boost the economy.”

The press release also notes bipartisan accolades for Gardner’s embrace of the legislation:

“I commend Senator Gardner for fighting for Colorado’s small businesses,” said Sal Pace, former Democratic Leader in the Colorado State House and sitting Pueblo County Commissioner. “By sponsoring S.777, Senator Gardner is saying that he wants to put millions of dollars back into Colorado’s economy. This is a watershed moment. We don’t hear of a lot of bipartisanship these days. But, this Democrat wants to publicly thank Senator Gardner for his leadership.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 16, 20174min6170

Well, here’s a new idea courtesy of Colorado gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell: If you’re elected official and you’re running for higher office, get off the government payroll.

“You have to show up to your job to get paid, shouldn’t your elected officials have to do the same before asking for a promotion?” asks the 55-second ad called “Resign to Run”

Let’s see who the entrepreneur from Castle Rock might be talking about in the governor’s race: state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, possibly Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter, and the ex gubernatorial candidate turned attorney general hopeful George Brauchler … but not Cary Kennedy; she stepped down from her job as Denver’s chief financial officer last year, presumably to ready for the race. Mike Johnston was term-limited out of the state Senate last year, so he caught a break, and Greg Lopez hasn’t been the mayor of Parker since the early 1990s.

Of course, the flaw in this, unless Victor gets in other changes, would be that the governor, usually a Democrat, would be able to appoint the replacement attorney general and treasurer, offices usually won by Republicans in Colorado. That’s how Democrat Bernie Buescher became secretary of state in 2009, when Republican Mike Coffman was elected to Congress; Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter appointed him.

The bill is a work in progress, Mitchell’s campaign indicated Thursday.

“We are exploring details, but (as with term limits) we don’t think congressional candidates or federal officeholders could be under this, legally. But we’re exploring,” said David Hill, an adviser to Mitchell’s campaign who is a former Texas A&M professor who was director of the Public Policy Resources Laboratory and founding director of The Texas Poll.

“… There are a lot of moving parts here and we are exploring judiciously. But we believe the policy is sound. Several other states already have this, so the policy is not without precedent.”

He added, “This is how good policy is made. We advance a broad outline of a proposal and then get feedback, both from legal and political sources. Then we move to finalizing the proposal, based on the input received. That is how Victor Mitchell operates.”

Mitchell served one term in the state House before leaving to focus on the business for a few years.

He’s proposing a law to force those who have been elected to full-time state or local offices to resign before seeking a higher office.

“Taxpayers should not be forced to continue to pay the salaries of officeholders who are seeking promotion to a higher office,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Campaigning is almost a full-time job these days and we can’t expect an officeholder to run for a different office without neglecting their current office responsibilities.

“This law would not prevent anyone from seeking any office they choose. It would merely prevent neglect of duty and taxpayer subsidies of campaigners. I don’t like corporate welfare, and I don’t like welfare for politicians, either.”

Mitchell linked his proposal to term Limits, which he said cuts down career politicians, and the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “promoted financial accountability.

“Resign-To-Run will help keep the political insiders accountable to the people that elect them,” contends Mitchell. “Don’t expect the establishment to embrace this new idea, but I am already seeing that the people of Colorado believe it’s a welcome check on political ambition.”