Remember that big federal lawsuit in which thousands of people experiencing homelessness are suing Denver, alleging that their constitutional rights are being violated during sweeps of their encampments? We caught up with the representing attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, to find out the latest.
But first, a quick primer:
The saga began back in August 2016, when Flores-Williams sued the city as well as Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Police Chief Robert White in federal court, alleging that the constitutional rights of the homeless were being violated when the city conducted large-scale sweep operations. Flores-Williams alleged that Denver violated the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments (protection against unlawful searches and seizures and the equal-protection clause, respectively) when it was confiscating and in some instances trashing the belongings of people experiencing homelessness.
In April 2017, the case became a big deal when U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez made the rare step of granting class certification, making every person experiencing homelessness in Denver (over 3,000 people) a plaintiff in the case against the city. Flores-Williams called the ruling historic at the time, and the suit soon gained additional firepower when civil-rights attorney David Lane jumped on board as Flores-Williamss co-counsel.
The two attorneys gathered evidence through depositions of city officials and by requesting city emails, and were so confident in the strength of the evidence they obtained that they filed a motion for summary judgment in August meaning they asked the federal court to rule without a full trial. In response, the city also made its own motion for summary judgment.
Read more: http://www.westword.com/news/denvers-homeless-class-action-lawsuit-could-end-in-trial-10035815
A rally calling for Mayor Michael Hancocks resignation using the hashtag #TimesUPHancock is being planned for next Wednesday, March 7, on the front steps of the City and County Building at 9:30 a.m.
The rally is part of the fallout after Hancock issued an apology for sending inappropriate text messages including discussions of pole dancing to a female member of his security detail, Detective Leslie Branch-Wise, six years ago.
In an interview with Denver7, which broke the story on February 27, Hancock said that he did not sexually harass Branch-Wise but apologized for blurring the line between being a friend and a boss.
That apology does not sit well with a group of women, including Lisa Calderón of the Colorado Latino Forum, who are organizing next weeks rally. We were really disturbed because of the fact that he did not take full accountability for his actions, says Calderón. For him to say that it wasn't sexual harassment because he didn't touch her means that he doesn't know the meaning of sexual harassment."
Read more: http://www.westword.com/news/rally-will-call-for-denver-mayor-michael-hancock-to-resign-10045623
Late last summer, an employee with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless was driving by a vacant lot near Union Boulevard and Sixth Avenue in Lakewood and noticed a large sign that declared For Sale: Transit-Oriented Development.
This was a shock, since the federal government, which owns the lot in question, near the Denver Federal Center, had already declared it hazardous and unsuitable for use by service providers for the homeless; CCH had actually looked into acquiring the property under a provision known as the McKinney-Vento Act that awards surplus federal land to states, local governments or nonprofits to assist people experiencing homelessness. This was the same provision that the nonprofit used in 1994 to obtain parcels of land in Lowry when the Lowry Air Force Base closed. But Housing and Urban Development had put its foot down regarding the Lakewood property when it determined it was unsafe, the explanation being that the lot had previously been used as a landfill and there were toxic chemicals in the soil.
So our thought was: How can this be sold as market-rate, mixed-use development and not be suitable for the homeless?" recalls John Parvensky, president and CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
After going through an appeals process and still being told no by the feds, CCH had its own experts debunk the toxic-chemical claims, then decided to go to court.
Read more: http://www.westword.com/news/colorado-coalition-for-the-homelesss-lakewood-complex-could-house-homeless-10040918
There is life after death for Colorados forests.
But to get there, the people who manage them must solve an economic quandary.
Colorados 834 million dead trees can start anew as your favorite rocking chair, the mulch in your garden, heat for Front Range cities you name it. The problem is: The cost of removing and transporting them can dwarf the worth of their wood.
Dead standing trees make up about 1 in 15 standing trees on Colorados 24.4 million forested acres, according to 2016 data from the Colorado State Forest Service. And in 2017, invasive pests like the spruce beetle continued to whittle away the states forests. The spruce beetle infested 206,000 acres last year, bringing the pests toll to 1.78 million acres since 1996.
You cant remove dead tree material at this scale, said Seth Davis, an assistant professor of forest and rangeland stewardship at Colorado State University, referring to trees killed by the spruce beetle. It gets to be such a significant event that theres really no way for management agencies to deal with this material.
Read more: https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2018/03/01/colorados-challenges-quest-tackle-dangerously-unhealthy-forests/381403002/
Denver Mayor's 'inappropriate' texts to female cop: 'You look sexy', ever taken 'pole dancing' classDenver Mayors inappropriate texts to female cop: You look sexy, ever taken pole dancing classes?
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock sent suggestive text messages to a police officer on his security detail during his first year in office, behavior he now acknowledges as inappropriate six years later after the detective alleged in a new interview that she suffered sexual harassment.
In several text messages from 2012 that the Denver police officer provided and which Hancock did not dispute the mayor told her that she made it hard for him to concentrate at work. After spotting her on TV at a Denver Nuggets game, he texted: You look sexy in all that black. Another time, he complimented her haircut and said: You make it hard on a brotha to keep it correct every day.
Another text asked her about pole-dancing classes: So I just watched this story on women taking pole dancing classes. Have you ever taken one? Why do women take the course? If not have you ever considered taking one and why? Your thoughts? When she didnt respond, the officer said, she received a followup text from Hancock: Be careful, Im curious. LOL!
Detective Leslie Branch-Wise spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday night in an exclusive interview aired by Denver7, the television partner of The Denver Post.
Read more: https://www.denverpost.com/2018/02/27/denver-mayor-michael-hancock-text-messages/
Following the slaughter of 17 people at a Florida high school, Democrats running for governor in Colorado are making gun laws an issue in a race where policy divisions among the wide field of candidates are few.
One gubernatorial hopeful already changing course is Congressman Jared Polis, who in 2013 dismissed a proposed federal law that would have banned more than 100 different assault-style weapons, saying doing so would make it harder for Colorado families to defend themselves and also interfere with the recreational use of guns by law-abiding Coloradans.
Five years and more mass shootings later, Polis this week became an original sponsor of a new bill in Congress to ban assault-style weapons that include AR-15s, AK-47s, and shotguns with pistol grips or revolving cylinders, among many others.
As our communities have experienced more and more mass shootings, we cannot ignore the fact that assault weapons are a common theme in almost all of them, Polis said in a statement to The Colorado Independent.
Read more: http://www.coloradoindependent.com/168873/colorado-democrats-governor-guns-weapons
Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico's education secretary, stood in front of a school library full of high school students and asked them to do something students in Puerto Rico's public schools aren't often asked.
"Take out your phones," she said. "Look up the definition of charter school."
A girl's hand shot up.
"A charter school," the girl read, "is a school that receives government funding but operates independently of the established state school system in which it is located."
Keleher repeated after the girl, putting emphasis on "government funding" and "independently."
Read more: http://kanw.com/post/puerto-rico-and-its-teachers-unions-clash-over-proposed-charter-schools
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Sam Donaldson is scheduled to moderate a debate for candidates in seek of the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat in central New Mexico.
The former ABC News White House Correspondent is slated Saturday to ask questions to the seven congressional hopefuls seeking to replace Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Grisham is not seeking re-election and is running for New Mexico governor.
The El Paso, Texas, resident Donaldson has close ties to New Mexico.
HOBBS -- Manna Outreach, a Christian ministry which for almost 30 years has been aimed at helping people temporarily down on their luck, now finds itself in a similar situation.
Following the announcement that co-directors Javonica and Michael Wallace are leaving their post because Michael started a new job, the non-profit organization may temporarily suspend some functions, including its shelter, until new managers are found.
Marilyn Coady, president of the board, confirmed Wednesday that Manna Outreach will be unable to provide housing or meals at the center until qualified and dedicated managers become available.
We are suspending admissions, Coady said. The warehouse will remain open and we will still be distributing food baskets.
Read more: http://www.hobbsnews.com/2018/03/02/manna-outreach-facing-temporary-closure/
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) Newly signed legislation will increase scrutiny of an off-the-books fund used by future New Mexico governors for social obligations.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill Thursday that will allow the so-called contingency fund to be audited and automatically return unused money each year to the state general fund. The new rules take effect after Martinez leaves office at the end of the year.
Republican Sen. Sander Rue of Albuquerque sponsored the bill and said taxpayers have a right to know more about how the money is spent. Future governors will have to submit an itemized list of expenditures each month to a legislative committee and the Department of Finance Administration.
Martinez has published spending summaries without specific expenditures. She says that's more information than required by law.
Read more: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-mexico/articles/2018-03-01/new-mexico-increases-scrutiny-of-social-spending-by-governor
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