Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 5, 20182min600

She’s a community activist and a loud critic of the Denver mayor and sheriff. And earlier this week, she became the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against city leaders.

Late last month, we told you about Lisa Calderón — leader of transitional services organization Community Re-entry Project (CRP) —  crying foul when the organization’s contract in Denver’s jail system was allowed to expire and city officials looked to award a pact to a new provider.

Calderón turned to the U.S. District Court in Denver to air the grievance, filing a suit against Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Sheriff Patrick Firman; Jess Vigil, the deputy director of the city’s Department of Safety; and Andrew Albo, the chief of staff at the Denver Sheriff Department, 9news reports.

The suit obtained by 9news claims those Denver officials denied Calderón “her rights under the First Amendment by failing to renew and/or award her City contract in retaliation for her speaking out about matters of public concern.”

Calderón co-chairs a ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official, as opposed to an official appointed by the mayor.

It was her comments on “discrimination against African Americans in the sheriff department and the reorganization of the agency to exclude African Americans and Latinos from executive leadership” that prompted officials to deny the contract as retaliation, Calderón claims.

The suit also alleges Albo solicited other bidders for the contract and spread a rumor about an affair between Calderón and a demoted chief at the Denver Sheriff Department.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningMarch 18, 20189min598

TREASURER HUNT ... There are six Republicans running for state treasurer, and if current trends continue, primary voters could have nearly that many to choose from in June. Two of the candidates — Denver businessman Brian Watson and state Rep. Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park — have turned in petitions, which are awaiting verification but were both gathered with the assistance of top-notch firms, so chances are decent they'll both make the ballot.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyFebruary 26, 20182min2155

Since 2010, the Community Reentry Project (CRP) has offered transitional services within Denver’s jail system under a city contract.

Recently, that contract was allowed to expire and Denver officials considered awarding that pact to a new provider.

But CRP’s leader is crying foul.

CRP Executive Director Lisa Calderon claims Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s office denied her organization the contract because she has been a “vocal critic” of the mayor, FOX31 reports. Calderon alleged a secret June memo produced by top city officials pushed to deny CPR the contract because of her comments on jail reform.

Calderon, who made the comments during a public hearing last week, co-chairs a ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official, as opposed to an official appointed by the mayor.

Hancock has denied the assertions that his office pushed to deny CRP the contract as retaliation, arguing rather it was the result of a competitive bid process.

Some Denver City Council members like Stacie Gilmore expressed concerns about the allegations, calling it “very troubling,” according to FOX31. GIlmore was part of a city committee slated to consider a $550,000 contract with La Raza Services. But after hearing Calderon’s grievance, the committee voted 5-1 to delay the proposal.

According to city documents, La Raza would have assumed responsibility for the Transition from Jail-to-Community (TJC) program within the Denver jail system, which promotes access to services, resources and supportive relationships in an effort to reduce recidivism.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 16, 20183min4656

Despite reforms, the Denver Sheriff’s Department’s management of the city jail system remains a “quagmire,” an activist group says. That’s why Denver County taxpayers should have the power to elect their sheriff.

Denver is one of only two Colorado counties that doesn’t elect its sheriff; the mayor makes the pick.

Over the weekend, the Colorado Latino Forum launched a May 2019 municipal election ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official. It says it has the support of business leaders, jail reform advocates, neighborhood organizers, faith leaders and others.

“The Denver Sheriff Department, the largest jailing system in the region, is a quagmire of rising assaults, inadequate inmate services, low staff morale and failed leadership,” campaign Co-Chair Lisa Calderon said in a statement. “Despite a three-year reform effort and tens of millions of dollars paid out for consultants, settlements, and skyrocketing overtime pay, Denver taxpayers have had enough of local politicians using the general fund as a blank check without a return on investment.”

The sheriff’s department has been dogged by controversies in recent years. In the fall of 2015, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Patrick Firman to the helm at the Denver Sheriff’s Department to reform the city’s jail. The appointment came on the heels of a consultant’s review of the department that found deep excessive force and mismanagement problems. Most recently, critics have pointed to news that overtime spending has cost the department millions, signaling continued struggles. The department has completed about 70 percent of the recommendations from the consultant review.

The Colorado Latino Forum said an elected sheriff would be more accountable, operating independently of political influence, much like the city auditor and clerk and recorder. The group argues as a political appointee, the sheriff is only accountable to the mayor, operating without transparency.

Voters “deserve real reform by electing an independent leader with the power to make sweeping changes to improve public safety, reduce costs, expand inmate services, increase staff morale and build public trust,” Calderon said.