BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER In the days following the Nov. 5 election, questions were raised about so...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER When the numbers were all tallied, 1,484,523 Coloradans voted on the ques...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The state’s outdoor recreation office (ORC) was created by former Colorad...
BY BOB BAKERFIRE CHIEF, SOUTH METRO FIRE RESCUE It’s been roughly 10 months since South Metro Fire Rescue and...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Some residents of the South Metro Fire Rescue District will receive tax...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER At its meeting on September 3, the CHV city council began a discussion ab...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Ten members of the Arapahoe County Long Range Planning Commission joined...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a photography con...
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announ...
CONTRIBUTED BY LPS Littleton Public Schools career and technical education students represented their schools...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
In the days following the Nov. 5 election, questions were raised about some of the actions of Joan Lopez, who was elected county clerk last year in a Democratic wave in Arapahoe County.
Arapahoe County Republicans, through their chair Dorothy Gottlieb, have called on Lopez to “resign immediately” in order to “restore the faith of Arapahoe County voters in the integrity, credibility, and fairness of the election process,” as a result of issues they have with how this election was run.
.A flyer that was distributed prior to the election by the clerk’s office encouraging residents to register and vote was titled, “VOTE. Your vote is your voice.” It contained the statement, “Registered? Great! Vote early and vote often. Check the reverse side for important dates regarding upcoming elections.” The phrase, “vote early and vote often,” is a tongue-in-cheek political motto of Chicago (where I grew up). It sarcastically refers to the reputation of illegal activity in that city decades ago that supposedly allowed people to vote more than once. No one knows for sure if it ever really happened.
In response to our question about what the clerk’s office actually intended in using that turn of phrase, Winna MacLaren, the public information officer, told us that it was she who created the flyer and that she “was unaware the phrase had negative associations. The intention was to encourage voters to vote in all of the upcoming elections listed on the flyer and to do so prior to each Election Day, if possible.” Lopez has previously apologized for the error, noting that her staff was young.
On the issue of delays in counting votes, for which the clerk’s office was also criticized, MacLaren told us that of the total 163.594 ballots received in Arapahoe County, 33,738 or 21 percent were received on November 4, the day before the election, and 61,150 or 37 percent were received on election day, November 5. The ballots received on those two days constituted 58 percent of the total, which explains why preliminary vote totals available on the night of the election were subsequently revised.
When the numbers were all tallied, 1,484,523 Coloradans voted on the question, “Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges, and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend under Colorado law, with an annual independent audit to show how the retained revenues are spent?” 54 percent of those who cast a vote said no, compared to 46 percent who approved.
That is the opposite of what Magellan Strategies, a highly respected local Republican pollster, reported after conducting a scientific poll in August. Back then, they said that 54 percent of those polled planned to vote yes, 30 percent were no’s, and 15 percent were undecided. That means that all the undecideds in August voted no and one-sixth of those who planned to vote yes changed to no’s.
According to published reports, Referendum CC proponents raised $4.45 million in contributions (all private) and spent $4.12 million. Opponents reported donations of $1.75 million and expenditures of $1.68 million. One never knows what affects voters, but there was a very clever cartoon television ad by opponents of the plan, that ran frequently in the days leading up to the election. It had a dog representing “pet projects” portrayed as eating up the unrefunded extra tax money instead of using it for education and transportation, as promised.
Magellan’s David Flaherty points out that the key to the loss lies with unaffiliated voters, who are unpredictable, compared to major party members who generally follow their party’s lead. Like many issues, this one found most Democrats on one side (yes) and most Republicans on the other (no).
As of Nov. 1, active Colorado voters affiliated with the two major parties combined, comprised only 58 percent of the electorate (28 percent are Republicans, 30 percent are Democrats), while 40 percent of all active voters were unaffiliated with either of the two major parties. Historically, unaffiliated voters have been less apt to participate in off-year elections like this one. Compared to the off-year election held in 2015, fewer Republicans and fewer Democrats voted this year, while 4 percent more unaffiliated voters participated. The actual number of unaffiliated voters who made themselves heard in this year’s election was 502,011.
In Colorado, the older someone is, the more likely they are to vote, and the less likely they are to approve a tax increase. Of the nearly one-third of all the people who voted in the Nov. 5 election and were unaffiliated, nearly half of them were over age 55. It is easy to see how that contributed to the defeat of Proposition CC.
The measure had been passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature with some Republican support. The continuing struggle to pay for education and transportation is shared by state legislators of both parties. Colorado’s strong economy is inconsistent with its low ranking for state spending on education, especially higher education, and the $9 billion backlog of road projects.
In the aftermath of the election loss, coupled with the losses in 2018 of two competing ballot issues to fund roads and transportation, the legislature is going to have to take a fresh look at how these needs can be addressed. Who knows? Maybe the Democrats and the Republicans will even look together.
The state’s outdoor recreation office (ORC) was created by former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. It falls under the office of economic development and international trade. Its purpose is to support business and make sure that business supports the outdoors and the environment. So said Samantha Albert, ORC deputy director, to a gathering of 50 leaders of business and government in a South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce (SMDC) economic development program held at the offices of AAA Colorado, Inc. at 6061 S. Willow Drive in Greenwood Village on Oct. 11.
Albert told the attendees from the fields of banking, finance, insurance, energy, and government that 92 percent of Colorado residents participate in outdoor recreation every year. She further explained that the outdoor recreation economy in Colorado annually accounts for $28 billion in consumer spending, ten percent of the state’s gross domestic product, involves 19 percent of its labor force, has a $62 billion total economic impact, and supports 511,000 direct jobs. Six Colorado colleges and universities, including the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, now offer degrees and certificates directly related to the outdoor recreation industry.
Chris Castillian, executive director of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), told the SMDC economic development group that in its 27 years of existence, GOCO has invested $1.2 billion into projects that built 900 miles of trails, added over 47,000 acres to the state park system, helped support 43 endangered or threatened species of wildlife, protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers, and employed 9.400 young people through the Colorado Youth Corps Association.
Created in 1992 and funded solely by the Colorado Lottery to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces, GOCO’s 17-member independent board, appointed by the governor, awards competitive grants to serve its stated goals. Our state constitution requires that GOCO splits its grant awards equally between 1) outdoor recreation, 2) wildlife, 3) open space, and 4) local government projects.
One of GOCO’s current goals is to connect bicycle trails throughout the state so that riders will one day be able to ride from Denver International Airport to Grand Junction on their bikes.
GOCO is currently focused on the Generation Wild movement, a $30 million statewide campaign to get children and their families in underserved communities all over Colorado outside to reconnect youth to nature.
Castillian told the SMDC economic development group that Fishers Peak Ranch in Trinidad has just been announced as the future home of Colorado’s 42nd state park, which will be comprised of 20,000 acres.
BY BOB BAKERFIRE CHIEF, SOUTH METRO FIRE RESCUE
It’s been roughly 10 months since South Metro Fire Rescue and Littleton Fire Rescue consolidated. We want to thank our citizens for their continued support and the healthy dialogue that we have throughout our newly-expanded district.
Following the consolidation with Littleton, SMFR’s permits and fees took effect and now apply to all events that are within our District. We’d like to take this opportunity to help answer some questions regarding our event review and inspection process, fee structure, as well as how we are governed as a special district.
South Metro serves three counties (Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson), 12 municipalities and 540,000 residents within our roughly 300 square miles of the southern metropolitan area of Denver. We are classified as a Special District, which is governed by Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. We have a board of directors who are elected by our constituents throughout our district and who oversee the overall operations of South Metro – including our annual budget, fee schedules, spending, strategic growth, and more.
The SMFR Board adopts the overall permit fee schedule, which includes special event permit fees, effective across all partners and municipalities throughout the district. The SMFR Board thoroughly vets this process and works with the Fire Chief, as well as the SMFR Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer, to analyze the information and then determine if the fee structure and associated process will be adopted. To see the latest SMFR fee schedule, please click here.
Throughout the past 10 months after consolidation, we do recognize and understand that the fees, event permit submittal process, and procedures associated with events in the legacy Littleton Fire Rescue (LFR) District vary from what was done in the past within LFR. Because South Metro is a Special District and not a municipal fire department, our fee structure is different than LFR’s and the fees are applied to recover costs associated with those permits.
Specifically, South Metro permit fees are based on the Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) administrative processing, plan review, pre-event inspections, and if necessary, inspection oversight during the event. For pyrotechnic displays, the permit also includes oversight during the display, suppression unit standby, and post-event inspection the morning following the display. South Metro does not issue permits to make a profit, but rather we go through this process to ensure events are compliant with the adopted International Fire Code (IFC), and most importantly, that these events are safe for our citizens to enjoy.
The IFC is a comprehensive fire code adopted throughout the U.S., which establishes minimum regulations for fire prevention and fire protection systems and is designed to meet these safeguards through model code regulations to protect the public health and safety in all communities, large and small. We are obligated to enforce the fire code as adopted by each of our geo-political entities.
It’s extremely important to South Metro, your Fire Chief, and the elected SMFR Board that we adhere to fire codes that are designed to reduce the risk while keeping our citizens safe. There are provisions in the adopted fire code that are specific to regulation of special events, which is what our FMO adheres to while reviewing and inspecting such events.
It is also our goal to work very closely with the event’s organizers to ensure that the permit process is smooth. Over the past 10 months, we have received constructive feedback on our processes, and we will continue to make improvements to ensure our customer experience is as smooth and helpful as possible.
South Metro is dedicated to being good stewards in our community. We remain committed to partnering with our citizens, businesses and municipalities to ensure all events are safe as well as successful. And, we expect the 2020 special event season to be better than ever.
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Some residents of the South Metro Fire Rescue District will receive tax cuts in the coming year, according to a report made to the Centennial City Council by Jerry Rhodes, Assistant Chief of that district, at a council meeting earlier this week.
Rhodes said that the recent unification of the Cunningham Fire Protection District and Littleton Fire Rescue with South Metro will result in a decrease in the property taxes.
The newly created district has grown to serving about 540,000 residents within about 285 square miles, according to Rhodes. The three district merged beginning at the beginning of 2019.
As of the end of this year, plus any time needed to obtain an order from the District Court, Cunningham Fire District will no longer exist, Rhodes said. He also predicted that the mill levy of 9.25 will be in effect for five to ten years. Additionally, Rhodes said there had been three unions prior to the unification. There is now only one union. There will be a seven-member board running the district, he said.
Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko said she is “impressed” with the merger and called it “beneficial” to residents of the district.
At its meeting on September 3, the CHV city council began a discussion about how it will gather information for its citywide master plan, last fully updated in 2008. Said Chris Cramer, director of community development, “The master plan is a vision, a roadmap of how we’re going to move forward. Sometimes that means change and sometimes that does not mean change.” Cramer explained that the master plan informs future city council decisions about budgets, ordinances, and specific development plans that require findings of master plan concurrence. He pointed out that it is important “because it really is led by public input.” Cramer said that the proposed structure he provided to city council for how the master plan will move throughout the process “really puts public input in the front seat.”
Cramer described a plan to use a consultant to manage the process of obtaining input from the overall CHV community on the topics of:
• Confirming the continued importance of the preservation of the community’s character.
• Exploring more multi-modal opportunities (vehicular, cycle, pedestrian, equestrian, etc.).
• Exploring transportation strategies that improve mobility for Cherry Hills Village residents, with minimal effect on cut-through traffic.
• Considering more energy efficient and sustainable policies and standards.
• Exploring policies related to an aging population.
One aspect of the needs of an aging population that the city council touched on very gingerly during its study session was the subject of CHV citizens who want to downsize and stay in CHV as they age. Council member Dan Sheldon said, “This might be a type of lifestyle that this city is missing.” Mayor Pro Tem Katy Brown said, “This would be a monumental shift for the people of CHV.” She proposed that the idea be explored only if it is generated by a grass roots initiative from the community, not city council. Everyone agreed, making it clear that it the city council does not want to get ahead of the residents on any significant policy change. Council members Al Blum and Mike Gallagher saw the master plan process as a way to garner public sentiment on the subject, but very definitely not taking any steps toward adopting a policy or plan that would potentially change the feel of CHV. Council member Randy Weil was even more cautious, warning fellow council members against a “solution without a well-defined problem.” In the end, the city council agreed on the importance of only going where its citizens lead, not the opposite.
Cramer expects to begin the process of seeking an outside consultant to begin shortly.
In nearby Greenwood Village, the city’s laws historically identified the residents, represented by the appointed planning and zoning commission, as the people who were charged with initiating changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, GV’s equivalent of the CHV master plan. That changed in the months following the November 2017 city council election when the newly elected GV city council revised its laws. Instead of starting the process with public input and ending it with city council approval, the council passed a new law that said that they could initiate changes themselves, then send them to the planning and zoning commission. Later that year the city council did just that, putting the planning and zoning commissioners in the awkward position of having to “recommend” the changes to the comprehensive plan that the elected officials had already written and informally approved.
Ten members of the Arapahoe County Long Range Planning Commission joined Jeff Baker, Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Chair, Tyler Brown, Arapahoe County Sheriff, Brian Arnold of Bridge House Ready to Work, and a dozen uniformed sheriff’s deputies gathered on the lawn between the Arapahoe County Jail and the Arapahoe County Justice Center at 7325 S. Potomac Street in Centennial to support the kickoff of the campaign to support referred ballot measure 1A in Arapahoe County. Called “Safer Arapahoe County,” it is privately funded.
Spokesman Sean Walsh spoke first. “We are asking voters to approve this $5.66 a month property tax to improve conditions to reduce recidivism. There is wide agreement that something needs to change.” Jeff Baker said, “The new facility will create better facilities for the inmates, including medical and spiritual care.”
Sheriff Tyler Brown explained, “This infrastructure was designed for 386 inmates. We have 1,100 today. We want to give them the programs that will help ensure that they return in good shape to our communities.”
Brian Arnold, program director at Bridge House Ready to Work said, “(A new facility) will provide programming for people who come out of incarceration. I’m not for new prisons or increasing prison population. Pointing to the current jail, he said, “This is not a safe or humane environment. Programming that will reduce recidivism is not available. After 30 years of wear and tear and overcrowding, it is not safe or humane. The jail isn’t going anywhere. Let’s make it a place where people can get the get (the help and the services they need.)”
Supporters of the ballot measure held signs up that said “Vote for a Safer Arapahoe County — Yes on 1A.” Protesters from the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition held up signs behind the supporters that said, “No on 1A.” When we asked them why they were against the measure, Becca Curry, criminal justice research & policy counsel of the Colorado office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posed the question, “Why aren’t there more community-based treatment options?” Others said that the jail population could be reduced by shorter sentences and designation more crimes are not requiring cash bonds.
The Arapahoe County Justice Coordinating Committee, which includes two of the five BOCC commissioners, the county sheriff, the sheriff’s office bureau chief who runs the Arapahoe County jail, the district attorney, the head public defender, and the chief probation officer of the 18th judicial district, along with a local mayor and police chief, has been addressing those issues for several years. They believe it is one of the chief reasons why the number of daily incarcerations has been declining steadily since 2011, according to public records (https://recordsfinder.com/inmate-search/co/arapahoe), while the county’s population has increased by 14 percent.
Juston Cooper, deputy director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, said he objected to the new facility because it will have more beds. Said Cooper, “If you build it, you’ve got to fill it.” In the information presented to members of the Long Range Planning Committee over three months, it was explained that the current jail population of 1,100 includes cells where inmates are required to triple-bunk and there is no ability to separate those inmates with behavioral or mental health issues from the general population. The plan for the new jail is to add three new housing pods so that inmates with behavioral or mental difficulties can be housed separately. The total number of beds is proposed to be 1,612 in order to prevent overcrowded cells. Eleven new multipurpose classrooms are hoped to provide the type of education and assistance that will ultimately reduce the jail population.
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a photography contest to benefit prostate and breast cancer victims, according to a report given recently to the Centennial City Council by Sheriff Tyler Brown and Chief Glenn B. Thompson, who is in charge of the Public Safety Bureau.
The Pink and Blue Patch Project gives participants an opportunity to purchase clip badges, patches that may be sewn onto clothing, coins, hats and other merchandise. The photos should include one of the products being sold.
Prizes include a choice of an exclusive tour of the Office of the Arapahoe Sheriff for the winner and her or his family, a life K-9 Unit demonstration, or a live SWAT Team demonstration and a BearCat ride.
All of the proceeds will pay for diagnostics and treatments for underserved patients at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Deadline for submitting photographs is September 25, 2019. The winner(s) will be chosen on September 26, 2019. More information may be found at bluebacksthepink.com.
In other news from the Office of the Arapahoe County Sheriff, the Centennial City Council was informed that Steven Roland has been appointed to be a Captain and to be in charge of the Arapahoe County Detention Center.
Roland was graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and was a critical care nurse for ten years, prior to joining the Sheriff’s Office.
Roland replaces Greg Palmer, who has retired.
The Arapahoe County Detention Center, for which the Sheriff’s Office is responsible, is asking a mill levy increase to replace the current jail, which has become extremely overcrowded. The facility was built for 386 prisoners and often has more than 1,100 incarcerated in the jail. The issue is on the ballot for the November 5, 2019 election.
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