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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 15, 20185min213

In a few short weeks, the nation will be watching closely as the U.S. Senate begins its confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been tapped by President Trump as the replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy. If confirmed to the highest court in the land, Kavanaugh would be tasked with immediately deciding what our Constitution means and how it will affect the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans and their families.


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Hal BidlackHal BidlackJuly 24, 20186min394

I stood in a very deep hole a few years ago, when I was a staffer working veterans issues for Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. I had been given my very simple marching orders – make Colorado the best state for veterans – by the boss. Which is how I ended up in that hole. It was the excavation for one of the new buildings that make up the new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital complex. It was a massive project and, as I said, a really big hole.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 20, 20182min760

Send a convict to prison, and he’ll go straight only for as long as he’s behind bars; give him an education, and there’s a far better chance he’ll stay on the straight and narrow the rest of his life. That’s seems to be the thinking behind legislation introduced in Washington last week by Colorado Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

The Restoring Education and Learning — or, REAL — Act, would restore Pell Grant eligibility for the incarcerated, says a news release from Bennet’s office, “in order to cut the cycle of recidivism, save taxpayer money, and improve safety”:

Explains the press statement:

In 1994, incarcerated individuals lost access to Pell Grant assistance, causing a significant drop in the number of education programs in prisons. …

… The national recidivism rate is 43.3 percent within three years, but higher education can have a dramatic effect on reducing that rate. A widely cited study conducted by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice found that higher education reduced recidivism to just 13.7 percent for formerly incarcerated individuals who earned an associate’s degree …

It’s also cheaper to educate than to incarcerate, the senator contends: “It has been estimated that an investment of $1 million in prison education programs prevents approximately 600 crimes, while the same amount of funding would only prevent approximately 350 crimes if invested in incarceration alone.”

Bennet is quoted:

“It’s proven that expanding access to education for people in prison is not only an investment in their futures, but also an investment in our communities.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 18, 20184min449
Indivisible Denver members gather recently for a New Year’s rally in solidarity with immigrants. (via Facebook)

… The state’s Republican first-term U.S. senator is already in favor of  it. In fact, he and fellow Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, co-sponsored legislation last fall — the DREAM Act of 2017 — to do just that after President Trump had rescinded the executive order that had been used to implement the policy under the Obama administration. The legislation would allow those brought to the U.S. as kids without documentation — they’re still subject to deportation despite growing up as Americans — to remain in the country. The bipartisan bill would reinstate the intent of former President Obama’s much-debated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or “DACA.”

And yet, the protests-are-us rabble rouser Indivisible Denver staged a rally Wednesday in support of the DREAM Act that included a march on — you’ve guessed it! — Gardner’s office. The announcement via Facebook referenced the senator’s downtown Denver digs almost as if it were the campus quad back in the day: “We will meet at Benedict Fountain Park and host a press conference at 5:30. Afterwards, we shall march around Sen. Gardner’s office to gain more public support for a clean Dream Act.”

So, what’s up with that? Could be that Gardner’s office is already such a familiar landmark to Indivisible and other all-causes-left-of-center groups that they knew no one would get lost en route. Stalking the the senator has become almost a full-time endeavor for the in-crowd of devoted Democratic-leaning demonstrators, who have a bone to pick with him over just about anything, anytime — and anywhere.

Could also be that, as we know all too well by now, every year is an election year — never mind what you learned in civics class about the six-year terms of U.S. senators. No self-respecting, left-leaning group worth its salt is going to pass up an opportunity to throw darts at a Republican if there’s a chance he can be knocked off in the next face-off. Especially in perennially purple Colorado. We get it.

So, apparently, did some of the news media that covered the rally.

Denver Channel 4’s veteran news hound Rick Sallinger noted in the web edition of his report on the rally that, “Colorado Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet have expressed sympathy and support for the demonstrators’ plight.”


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Kara MasonKara MasonNovember 29, 20173min536

The spirit of two Colorado mountaineers is a little closer to living on in the form of mountains, with this week’s House passage of H.R. 2768.

CD3 U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are working to pass a bill through Congress that would name two peaks on the border of San Miguel and Dolores Counties after Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff. Both died in 2006 during an avalanche on Genyen Peak in Tibet.

“Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff were celebrated mountaineers, but they were also known for their tireless advocacy for human rights, dedication to philanthropy, and stewardship of the environment,” Tipton said in a statement. “Through the designation of these peaks, their legacy and life’s work will live on for generations to come.”

The two peaks, located in Uncompahgre National Forest, are just more than 13,000 feet and will be called “Fowler Peak” and “Boskoff Peak,” respectively.

The duo were longtime residents of San Miguel County, according to the bill. But they loved mountaineering and traveled the world for it. Each had summited the world’s tallest mountains, including Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Fowler was an author, guide and filmmaker, according to the bill. Boskoff was one of the country’s top female alpinists.

Both were also known as advocates. They supported rights of porters and Sherpas, women’s education, gender equality and global literacy.

“The two are remembered not only as internationally acclaimed climbers, but also as mentors to school students and troubled youth,” said San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May in a statement in May. “Naming these peaks for them would serve as a perpetual reminder of the couple’s contributions to climbing, youth, and protecting the outdoors.”

With the passage of the bill, all documents, maps and records will refer to the two peaks by their new names.