Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 16, 20174min570

Scott Franz of the Steamboat Pilot has a tale of raised voices, a hypothetical billionaire and which taxpayers should pony up the impact of traffic.

The Steamboat Springs County has a discussion featuring “some raised voices” on fees charged to developers to offset the impact traffic from new homes or rentals would have on the city system.

The fees are based on the cost to the public, through local and state taxes and grants, Franz said. But a couple of council members, Heather Sloop and Scott Ford, didn’t think the city should be collecting money from developers to offset what state taxpayers put in.

Sloop called it double-dipping.  Fort called it extreme to intercede on behalf of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Reported Franz:

He asked whether it would be fair if the city charged a developer an impact fee for an intersection improvement, but then Bill Gates decided to open his checkbook and pay for the improvement himself.

“Would we still think collecting this money (from the developer) was fair?” Ford asked.

Yeah, but CDOT ain’t Bill Gates and Colorado taxpayers ain’t Microsoft, especially to the benefit ski-town developers. And Gates doesn’t have the state Supreme Court and Colorado legislature behind him.

The Pilot story doesn’t mention it, but impact fees are written into state law by the legislature in Senate Bill 15 in 2001. The law gave local governments the authority to set reasonable fees, and gave the developer the right to challenge the fees in court.

The City Council re-examined the $24,500 impact fee it billed the developer of the Captain Jack subdivision on the northwest side of town for an intersection improvement nearby, which the development needed. CDOT paid $3.6 million and the city chipped in $877,000 improvement project at the intersection at at Lincoln Avenue and Elk River Road, Franz said.

The developer asked for a refund of about a three-quarters of his assessment, because the city put in only about a quarter of what the state paid. The developer wants to pay only a share of the city’s cost.

The city denied the request in June.

Councilman Jason Lacy told the Pilot that that doesn’t tell the whole story of traffic cost to the city.

“If you looked at these projects as a whole, developers have probably had a break,” Lacy said in Franz’s story.

The request to cut future developers a break hit a brick wall and died.

Read the tale of traffic, money and local politics here.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 30, 20177min65333

Protesters at congressional offices have become old hat, but the disability rights group  Denver ADAPT rewrote the script with a 58-hour sit-in that ended Thursday night as police removed about 10 people, some in wheelchairs, from Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s downtown Denver office.

As Denver officers moved them out of the office lobby, protesters chanted, “Rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid,” according to a video posted on Facebook by protest leader Carrie Ann Lucas. The Denver-based National ADAPT reported on social media that Lucas’ wheelchair was damaged as she was removed.

In a video, officers ask for her help with the wheelchair to remove her from the small lobby at about 7 p.m. She told them it was a $35,000 chair but officers would have to find someone who could push it or operate it, because she would not help them.

“You can Google, you can call someone, I’m not resisting but I’m not cooperating,” she told officers before she was formally arrested. Lucas then resumed chanting, “Rather go to jail than to die without Medicaid.”

Within two hours, the video had nearly 10,000 views.

Lucas called the protest “Camp Gardner.”

Lucas is a lawyer and executive director of nonprofit Disabled Parents Rights.

Like other protests across the country ahead of the Senate vote on the American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Denver ADAPT wants Gardner not to support the plan, and specifically oppose the proposed $834 billion in cuts to future Medicaid appropriations.

The disabled say they will be disproportionately affected by the cuts, especially by caps with fixed amounts per Medicaid recipient. People with expensive dire care have a lot to fear, said Josh Winkler, a 36-year-old quadriplegic from Aurora who participated in the protest on Tuesday but was not one of those removed by police Thursday night.

“We’ve been trying to meet with Sen. Gardner for months on all these health reforms they’re talking about, which is really just health care repeal,” Winkler told Colorado Politics.

Called a “die-in” by supporters, the protest started Tuesday morning.

Gardner’s office said ADAPT leaders have met in-person or by phone with his healthcare policy adviser  16 times — and once with Gardner personally — since January, and as recently as last week.

“The top priority throughout this protest has been allowing these individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights in a safe environment,” according to a statement released Thursday night. “In order to allow this, staff have slept in the office for two nights and assisted and aided these individuals with several matters to ensure they were comfortable and safe. At the request of the building, Denver police were forced to remove them earlier this evening due to several factors, including serious concerns for their health and safety.”

Denver police said a member of Gardner’s staff signed the complaint to have the protesters removed, but Gardner’s office said other tenants were demanding and end to the around-the-clock presence in the 25-story office tower at 17th and Lawrence streets.

Gardner is a member of the working group that drafted the Senate health care legislation. His spokesman told Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning this week that the delayed vote announced by Majority Mitch McConnell Tuesday offers an opportunity to fine-tune the Obamacare replacement.

“The organization currently in the office has spoken to Senator Gardner several times and are in constant contact with his healthcare policy staff regarding requested reforms to our healthcare system,” Gardner’s office said in a statement released Wednesday, the second day of the protest. “Senator Gardner wants the constituents that are in his office to have quality healthcare. He has concerns that our current system is imploding and won’t be able to provide quality care if nothing is done to fix it.”

Protesters staged a different kind of die-in at Gardner’s Colorado Springs office.