Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 10, 20171min538

If there’s one thing kids can’t get enough of, it’s state Senate President Kevin Grantham.

Perhaps that’s why the local lawmaker led off a middle school assembly in Canon City Monday about the importance of online safety.

“The Online Safety Roadshow: How to Be Internet Awesome” stopped at Harrison Middle School with Grantham as its headliner. The program was created by Google.

Grantham was flanked by a couple of Google employees who talked about things such as password safety, scams and being kind to others online.

“With students having greater access to the Internet through cell phones and other devices, it is important that they learn to use these tools responsibly,” Amber Tillman, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement. “The Online Safety Roadshow: How to Be Internet Awesome teaches students how to be smart and safe online through a fun and interactive assembly.”

Google offers its tips online, in case Grantham’s Google show isn’t coming to a town near you.


Kara MasonKara MasonAugust 18, 20173min486

Will there be more inmates headed for the state’s prison capital? Since May, people have been saying it’s possible under a Trump administration that’s vowing to get tougher on crime.

This week in the print edition of the Economist, Cañon City councilman Frank Jaquez said area prisons, a mix of federal and state, aren’t filled to the brim and he’s glad it’s that way.

As pointed out in the article, the number of people in Fremont County’s prisons has been on the decline:

 The state-prison population in Colorado declined by 7.2% between 2010 and 2015. In 2012, the state closed a prison it had opened in Cañon City only two years before, due to a dearth of inmates. Since its peak in 2013, the federal-prison population has also fallen.

There are 13 prisons in Fremont County. They range from housing the worst of the worst at ADX, where some are in lockdown 23 hours per day, to low-security prisons that feature a plethora of work programs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year ordered federal prosecutors to seek stricter punishment for drug offenses. It’s a reversal from the Obama administration, which sought to reduce the number of people serving long prison sentences for low-level drug crimes.

With more low-level drug offenses landing people in prison, there may be a spike in the prison population in Fremont County.

The Economist asked local lawmakers if the recent orders would be good for business. But none of the city council members in Cañon City or the commissioners in Fremont County would admit the policy would make a fiscal difference, the article said.

“…local officials doubt it will have too big an impact on the area, mainly because state prisons are a more important source of employment—and, even then, the jobs are not directly tied to prisoner numbers. Cañon City also shows how even if federal policies on crime are going backwards, the politics has not necessarily followed.”

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 25, 20173min353

To the New York Times, the abrupt decision this week by art legend Christo to call off his decades-long, legally contested effort to erect his proposed “Over the River” project along a stretch of the Arkansas near Cañon City is yet another manifestation of “the culture world’s war against Donald J. Trump.”

Indeed, most of the Times’s account of the development is devoted to reactions from that same “culture world” about the demise of the 81-year-old artist’s plan to hang six miles of fabric panels over the river for two weeks. Those reactions amounted to a mix of mourning over the project’s premature end and approval at Christo’s professed reason for pulling out: to lodge a protest against the newly elected landlord in chief of the federal property on which the exhibit was to be mounted.

Absent from much of the story was any input from the Coloradans who actually would have hosted the spectacle. Tucked away near the very bottom of the report in today’s Times, however, was this:

On Wednesday, Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for ROAR, said it was “ecstatic” to hear of the decision, no matter what the artist’s reasons. “This means local people will now be protected,” she said, “as well as wildlife, birds and fish.”

ROAR stands for Rags Over the Arkansas River, which as The Times noted, had fought the project. ROAR had contended that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, in approving the project, failed to sufficiently account for its impact on bighorn sheep and impact on traffic on U.S. Hwy. 50 along the river. The project had in fact been held up for years by court challenges.

“Over the River” did hold the promise of tourism dollars for locals in a part of southern Colorado long tied to the tourist economy. Yet, even one of those locals who did support the project for its economic-development potential — Colorado state Senate President Kevin Grantham, whom we contacted this afternoon for comment — seemed philosophical rather than grief-stricken.

“It’s unfortunate that we won’t be seeing the potential economic benefits of this project in future years, but it’s also a relief to have the issue behind us,” the Cañon City Republican said. “I wish Christo well in his other endeavors.”

In Colorado, at least, life will go on.

Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 30, 20164min273
Coming Sunday on ColoradoPolitics.com and in the Colorado Springs Gazette, we take a look at the statehouse odd couple, new Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City and House Speaker Crisanta Duran of Denver. As leaders of the majority in their chambers, the relationship they have determines what gets done in the four-month legislative session […]

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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinNovember 2, 20164min1064

For the two and a half days at the end of October, officials and staff of the Colorado Department of Corrections met with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service to share information and tour a state prison. “It is an honor that they picked the Colorado Department of Corrections to visit and hopefully they learn as much from us as we have learned from them,” said executive director Rick Raemisch in a news release. The Swedish delegation met with Raemisch and corrections department staff to learn more about Colorado’s policies and procedures in the correctional field.