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Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 10, 20172min7060

The Aspen City Council on Monday passed a resolution declaring the day traditionally observed as Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Aspen Daily News reported that council members unanimously approved the resolution implementing the Indigenous Peoples Day, which supporters say would be used as an opportunity to celebrate native cultures. Although Aspen doesn’t recognize Columbus Day, local banks and courts were closed Monday in honor of the European mariner credited with supposedly leading the first expedition to the Americas in 1492.

However, over 50 cities and towns across the United States — including Denver and Boulder — have stopped recognizing the day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, out of concern that Columbus was brutal in his treatment of the natives he encountered and that his arrival ushered in centuries of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

“It concerns my people, and Native Americans across the country, that we celebrate a holiday to a person who has caused us great pain,” Roland McCook, a member of the Ute tribe told the Aspen council, at the Sept. 25 work session. “The holiday reminds us every year how we were treated in the interest of manifest destiny.”

State legislators have taken up the issue — to either rename or cancel Columbus Day as a state holiday — in each of the last two sessions, but Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, a candidate for attorney general next year, has not been able to advance the legislation. The proposition was opposed by Italian-American organizations who consider Columbus an important historical figure.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 5, 20174min1401
Boulder straw campaign
(Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

The Colorado town that charges a dime for plastic bag and a puts an extra tax on your sugary soda might have its eyes on your straws next. That’s the word Tuesday from Alex Burness of the Boulder Daily Camera.

There’s a public education campaign afoot called Suck the Straws Out of Boulder to talk to the public about how bad plastic straws are for the environment.

The campaign is led by Graham Hill, a 54-year-old Boulder resident who also leads Shared Paths Boulder, a membership group that supports cycling, walking and trails.

The idea isn’t out of left field, even for Boulder, however.

The Camera notes that Boulder-based EcoCycle is behind the Be Straw Free campaign and uses local 15-year-0ld Milo Cress as its anti-straw front man.

While it’s encouragement in Boulder, it’s a little more serious in a places farther to the left, namely California.

Two weeks ago, The San Jose Mercury News interviewed Cress about his irritation with straws. He talked about how they’re one of the most common forms of plastic that washes up on beaches and about how the slightest breeze can throw the source of pollution to the wind.

The article notes that Manhattan Beach near Los Angeles banned disposable plastics, including straws, entirely, and Berkeley is considering a ban, too. New York City, Miami, London and British Columbia are among the places weighing the issue.

How did Boulder get this far behind the curve?

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who used to own a brew pub, has even lent support to cutting down on straws. In 2013, he declared “Straw Free Day” in Colorado, noting that Americans use 500,000 plastic straws a day.

Smooth pop singer Jack Johnson is expected to plug the straws campaign during his shows at Fiddler’s Green in Greenwood Village July 13 and July 14, the Camera says.

Burness did some shoe-leather reporting to ask Boulderites whether they’d stop using straws

“I just don’t need them,” so-called infrequent straw user Steven Choi told Burness in the Boulder Safeway.

Choi noted, “It seems like people could be putting more effort into things other than straw elimination.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 15, 20172min640

…Courtesy of Colorado Peak Politics. The other day we cited Colorado Pols’ insights on which Republicans might want to vie for one of the longer shots in state politics — representing the GOP in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in the decidedly Democratic 2nd Congressional District. Citing “speculation,” Pols named state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud, and former state Rep. B.J. Nikkel, of Loveland as possible contenders for the CD 2 Republican nomination.

Peak reached out to Nikkel to confirm or deny: She more or less confirmed — that she’s seriously thinking about it:

“…I will be exploring a potential run and spending time over the next several weeks talking it over with my family, with trusted friends and seeking their advice.”

No word yet on whether Lundberg’s in.

Either would have an uphill climb of Himalayan proportion in trying to take the seat from the Democrats in the Boulder-centric district.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 11, 20174min1993

No sooner had U.S. Rep. Jared Polis announced his plans to run for Colorado governor next year than we hear that activist and businessman Ken Toltz will seek Polis’ seat in Congress from the 2nd Congressional District.

Toltz has been a player in Colorado politics for awhile, but he’s perhaps best known as the founder of Safe Campus Colorado, a citizens group opposed to concealed weapons on college campuses. He was one of the founding board members of the well-known Colorado Ceasefire, a gun prevention group.

Toltz was the 2000 Democratic nominee in the 6th Congressional District, when he lost to Tom Tancredo, 54 percent to 42. The leftward tilt to the Boulder County-centric 2nd Congressional District should be a more favorable to a Democrat such as Toltz.

A native of southeast Denver and a third-generation Coloradan, Toltz has lived in Boulder since 2013.

He was a board member for Colorado Conservation Voters, known today as the environmental titan Conservation Colorado, as well as a former board member of the Front Range Economic Strategy Center, which supports a politically left-learning approach to economic development. He also has logged service on the Denver Chamber of Commerce’s Labor Task Force-Metro Denver Network and the chamber’s Public Affairs Committee.

He goes back a ways in Democratic campaign politics. In 1984 Toltz was the deputy national finance director for Colorado Sen. Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, and he’s worked on congressional campaigns for Democratic candidates over the years.

Toltz also worked in the legislative department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., then was director of the Washington PAC. He is a founding Colorado member of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition, and remains active with AIPAC and J Street, both of which support closer ties between and U.S. and Israel.

Toltz has served on the boards of the Denver-Boulder Better Business Bureau, the Anti-Defamation League and the Corporate Alliance for Better Air,  as well as on the Citizens Advisory Panel for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

His business resume is nearly as extensive as his political activism. Toltz is formerly the president of Dependable Southwest Inc., which owned and operated a chain of Dependable Cleaners stores in southwest Denver, Lakewood, Littleton and Evergreen.

He’s also has been in management roles with United Banks of Colorado and Brothers Gourmet Coffees, he said.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 30, 20174min1201

…And the conclusion of the recent, city-commissioned survey on the subject is: … not for everyone — despite the college town’s reputation as a center of free thinking, social engagement and open minds.

Particularly, “… those outside the Boulder majority — that is, affluent, liberal, heterosexual white people — feel less welcome on average in the city,” the Boulder Daily Camera reported last week in summarizing the survey findings. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency, which conducted the survey for the city, found, “… among those who reported feeling unwelcome, there were a few common reasons reported: political views, socioeconomic and housing status, age, race and sex or gender identity.”

Some background, from the Camera’s report:

Boulder budgeted $167,000 for administration of the survey and production of a  subsequent report. The preceding police survey, which was done by a different consultant, cost the city about $94,000.

Explaining the need for this latest, more expensive probe, City Manager Jane Brautigam told the City Council last year, “We wanted to go farther and not just focus on the police department, but on our community as a whole.  Are we truly safe and welcoming?”

About 85 percent of the roughly 1,800 locals who were polled aid they felt somewhat or very welcome. Most said they felt safe, as well. But then there was also this:

Some respondents reported experiencing a very different Boulder, however.

“The invisibility of privilege is really intense — more intense than any place I’ve ever been,” said one person quoted anonymously in the report. “There’s this lie that everyone is included.”

And this:

More than a third of people who felt unwelcome cited their politics as the primary reason. And while the survey doesn’t explicitly spell out that many within that group are conservative, the comments included in the report made that point clear.

Conservative opinions are “looked down upon,” the report said.

OK, but can any city be said to make everyone feel welcome? Denver? Fort Collins? Pueblo? Colorado Springs?

Or, is the city onto something in trying to divine its own true nature as well as the limitations to its appeal?

Meanwhile, is it worth spending $167,000 out of the public till to figure it all out? (And are Boulder’s conservatives too timid to speak up and ask that question?)

Read the full story, and decide for yourself; here’s the link again.