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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 3, 20175min3770

Fans of the state’s history in flight can pay tribute to a pilot from Denver pilot who broke racial barriers, the late Marlon Green, at a banquet next month.

Green won a landmark Supreme Court case that allowed African-Americans to be airline pilots. He died in 2009 at age 80. The Colorado Aviation Historical Society will posthumously induct Green into its hall of fame Oct. 14 at Lakewood Country Club.

The society will also present a special award to a group of Coloradans who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Air Force during World War II. The organization will also recognize its Wright Brothers 50-year Master Pilots.

An Air Force veteran who lived in Denver, Green sued Continental Airlines in 1957. The airline invited him to take its flight test after he failed to note his race on the application. After he passed, the airline refused to hire him, while taking white Air Force pilots with less experience.

With the support of then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Green fought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he won a unanimous decision, in 1963.

He was still kept from becoming the nation’s first black commercial airline pilot, however. Instead, American Airlines hired David Harris, in 1964, a few months before Green was hired by Continental in 1965, eight years after he first applied. He flew for Continental Airlines until 1978.

In 2007, The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum called Green the “Jackie Robinson of Aviation.” In 2009 author Flint Whitlock published the book “Turbulence Before Takeoff: The Life & Times of Aviation Pioner Marlon Dewitt Green.”

In 2010, Continental Airlines named a 737 in Green’s honor.

Tickets are $45 each for the event from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. that Saturday. Those who would like to attend should contact banquet chairman Dave Kempa at 303-521-6761 or dave@airdenver.com.

Colorado’s rich history in flight is reflected in its museums, as well as military installations and private employers. Aviation in today supports 265,000 jobs, according to a 2015 report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

In its last session, the legislature exempted sales taxes on historical aircraft used in public displays at least 20 hours a week, partly as a tribute and partly to encourage public education and the preservation of history.

House Bill 1103 was sponsored by Reps. Dan Nordberg, R-Col0rado Springs, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, with Sens. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

The bill notes that The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located in the Lowry neighborhood of Denver has more than 50 historical aircraft on display, about half of which are on local from private owners

Legislative analysts also cited historical aircraft at the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs and the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 19, 20174min860
Charter School funding
Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a charter school equity bill into law at Rocky Mountain Prep charter school in Denver on June 2. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado League of Charter Schools)

Republicans in the Colorado legislature are expected to turn out strong Thursday for a lunchtime rally for charter schools in Colorado Springs.

A Celebration of Charter School Families begins at 12:30 p.m. at Colorado Springs Early Colleges at 4405 N. Chestnut St. The rally is sponsored by the conservative school choice organization Ready CO and the Colorado League of Charter Schools.

The speakers for the event include Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City and Sens. Bob Gardner, Owen Hill and Kent Lambert, all of Colorado Springs.

Hill is the chairman of the Senate Education Committee and advocates for options other than traditional public schools. In the last session he sponsored breakthrough legislation, working with Democrats, to equitably share tax dollars with charter schools,  House Bill 1375.

Charter schools are public schools organized by parents or leaders in a community with a charter from a local school board. Parents and principals have more autonomy on curriculum and operations. The state has 238 charter schools and more than 115,000 students.

Charter school funding was hailed as a big winner when the session ended in May so Thursday’s rally amounts to a victory lap for Senate Republicans.

Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, led the bipartisan House Bill 1340, which created a 10-member legislative committee to study school financing.

Gardner, the founder of Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy, serves on the Senate Education Committee.

The Senate Republican caucus produced a video on the subject in February starring Hill and Gardner, along with Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson.

“I have a passion for education, particularly for education choice for parents and children,” Gardner said on camera.

Some Democrats are concerned charter schools are a way of side-stepping protections and representation from teachers unions. “School choice” is viewed by opponents as a step toward school vouchers, which would allow some parents, but not all, to take their kids and money out of private schools and leave less fortunate students behind.

Editor’s note: This blog was updated with newer totals for charter schools and enrollment.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 12, 20173min950

One new Colorado law should be music to the ears of those who don’t care for calls from debt collectors, especially for money they don’t owe.

Senate Bill 216 cracks down immediately on “zombie debt,” uncollected or written-off bills the debt collection agencies buy in bulk to try to collect on.

Unfortunately for the public, sometimes those debts have little or no accompanying paperwork, could be in error or even paid off. When they buy debt in bulk, that happens.

The new law says they have to do better, with new state requirements and marching orders, as well as clarifying a two-year statute of limitations on bought debt.

The bill was sponsored by Colorado Springs Republican Sen. Bob Gardner with Democratic House Reps. KC Becker of Boulder and Susan Lontine of Denver.

“This law creates a new system of transparency and accountability for consumers,” Becker, the House majority leader, said in a statement. “It makes sure that consumers are protected against predatory debt buyers, especially when they have fully paid that debt off, yet it continues to haunt them with high interest and penalties.”

Added Lontine: “This truly bipartisan bill created stronger rules so that the debt collection industry runs better and consumers are protected from ‘zombie debt’ — debt that never dies, a true nightmare.”

Rich Jones, policy director of the progressive-leaning Bell Policy Center in Denver, was the legislation’s chief proponent.

“The business of buying and selling consumer debts written off by the original collector with the aim of collecting what is owed has expanded considerably in recent years,” Jones told the Senate Judiciary Committee in April. “Debt buyers purchase the original debt for cents on the dollar and attempt to collect the full amount. In many cases, they purchase spreadsheets that contain limited information on the name of the creditor, the amount of the debt and the person’s last known address.”

Jones’ full testimony is available here.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 5, 20175min1962
USS Colorado
The USS Colorado under construction in Connecticut. (Photo courtesy of the USS Colorado Christening Committee.)

 

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Monday afternoon that spends $100,000 from the state budget to support a new Navy submarine called the USS Colorado.

Lawmakers threw heavy support behind Senate Bill 183 to chip in on the cost of last December’s christening ceremony, to promote the fact Colorado has a submarine named after it within the state and to do stuff for the 134-member crew.

The 370-foot fast-attack submarine was christened in Connecticut with champagne from a Denver vintner chilled in water from the Colorado River.

You can watch the christening here.

Work began in 2012 to build the $2.7 billion vessel, called Virginia-class for its design and nuclear power. It’s alternatively designated SSN 788.

Senate Bill 283 was sponsored by two Colorado Springs lawmakers, Sen. Bob Gardner, a Republican, and Rep. Pete Lee, a Democrat. The legislation passed the House 55-10 and the Senate 29-6.

“It’s imperative we as a state support and celebrate the officers and crew of the USS Colorado,” Gardner told the Senate committee he introduced his bill to in February. “It’s a big deal to have a Navy submarine named after your state and carry that name forever.”

Gardner and Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, attended the christening ceremony.

Ret. Capt. John Mackin of Lafayette chairs the state’s USS Colorado Christening Committee. He served in the Navy for 26 years, including as a nuclear submarine officer. He’s lived 22 years in Colorado since he retired, he said.

“I’m extremely excited and proud to have a submarine named Colorado,” Mackin said. “It is indeed a great honor to the state and all the citizens of Colorado to have such a great ship with the name of our state.”

The money has helped bring 25 sailors from the Colorado to Colorado on seven trips, a few at a time, so far. They have made appearances at 10 schools, visited the capitol and several towns, as well as visiting most of Denver’s professional teams.

“We want the sailors of SSN 788 to understand what a great state the represent,” Mackin said. “But more than that we want Coloradans to meet these young sailors. It’s great to see the interaction between them.”

The committee held a contest to design the sub’s crest. There were more than 140 entries in 2015. Mackin said he was at first disappointed to see the winner was from New York and not Colorado, but then delighted to find out winner Michael Nielson was a Navy ensign from Arvada training in New York. Today Nielson is assigned to the USS Colorado.

This is the Navy’s fourth USS Colorado.

The first was named for the Colorado River, a three-masted frigate commissioned in 1858 that served in the blockade of the Confederacy in the Civil War, Mackin said.

The second was an armored cruiser commissioned in 1905. It  supported troop expeditions in Nicaragua and patrolled off Mexico. She was renamed the USS Pueblo in 1915 as the Navy began work on a battleship named for the state.

That ship battleship was commissioned in 1923 and was an all-star in World War II, earning seven battle stars, enduring two Kamikaze attacks and other Japanese assaults. She had 77 casualties and and 388 wounded. When Japan handed over documents of surrender aboard the USS Missouri, the USS Colorado was tied along side her.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 25, 201727min1331

By one measure, state Rep. Justin Everett, a House Republican serving his third term in the Colorado General Assembly, and state Reps. Chris Hansen and Chris Kennedy, a pair of Democrats in their first terms, stand as far apart as any lawmakers at the Capitol, based on the votes they cast in the just-completed 2017 regular session. Considering all the bills that made it to final, third-reading votes in the session — 490 in the House and 459 in the Senate — between them, these three legislators cast the most ‘no’ votes and the most ‘yes’ votes, respectively, according to an analysis prepared by bill-tracking service Colorado Capitol Watch.


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Mary MacCarthyApril 13, 20173min55
Have you ever received a medical bill — even though you hadn’t been to the doctor or a hospital in a year? Or opened a letter from a collection agency regarding a debt you had paid off months earlier? If that’s happened to you, you’re not alone. A new report by the Colorado Public Interest Research […]

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