Posts Tagged ‘colorado’

Polis to Sign “Landmark” Colorado Police Reform Bill

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Governor Jared Polis stated, “My statement on the passage of SB20-217 Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity: I commend the sponsors and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for their efforts to pass this landmark reform bill. This is about a pattern of injustice and unfair treatment that Black Americans and communities of color have endured, not only in our criminal justice system but also in aspects of every day life. Coloradans should be proud our state is leading the way to make policing more accountable, restore trust in law enforcement, uphold an individual’s civil liberties, and lay the groundwork for future discussions of criminal and juvenile justice reform. I am honored to be here at this moment of time, alongside so many passionate Coloradans on the journey towards a more equal, more just, and more peaceful society as I sign SB20-217 when it reaches my desk.”

Ryan Severance has a tight summary: “Provisions include mandating body cameras; requiring public reporting on policing; reining in use of deadly force by officers; preventing the rehiring of bad actors; holding individual officers liable for their actions; and restricting the use of chemical agents and projectiles.” I think the liability piece is the most important.

“This is, in my estimation, the largest single advancement of individual civil rights and liberties for Coloradans in a generation,” says Qusair Mohamedbhai (as reported by Saja Hindi).

Crazy about Antifa

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Consider this Colorado headline: “Roofing company workers forced onto ground, held at gunpoint by man who thought they were Antifa.” One of the victims plays football for Colorado State. Anyone want to guess where the guy with the gun gets his news?

Alternatives for Mental Health Calls

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

One of the reforms people commonly talk about is sending in mental-health experts rather than police for certain calls. Makes sense to me. Eugene, Oregon has had such a program for decades. And there’s a new program in Denver along these lines called Support Team Assisted Response.

Less-Lethal Munitions in Colorado

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh has a good rundown on the less-lethal munitions used by Colorado law enforcement agencies at protests. Offhand, I don’t think police should be using chemical weapons. I won’t say there’s no legitimate use for things like bean-bag rounds and rubber pellets, but their use should be tightly restricted. Obviously using any of this on peaceful protesters or journalists is outrageous.

Denver Police Out of Denver Schools

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

The Denver Board of Education voted to remove Denver police officers from Denver schools. I think that’s a good thing, especially given nothing is preventing the board from hiring their own security personnel.

David Sachs reports, “Denver’s in-school officers ticketed and arrested over 4,500 students over the span of five school years between 2014 and 2019, according to the resolution. Eighty percent of the students were Black and Latinx, according to Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, a group concerned with educational equity that has led the movement against in-school policing for more than a decade.” I find it very hard to believe 4,500 students really needed to be ticketed or arrested at school. (However, Sach’s and Melanie Asmar’s claims about racially disparate treatment don’t account for possible disparate misbehavior.)

Colorado Price Controls

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Colorado Senator Mike Foot bragged, “My last bill ever in the [Colorado legislature] just passed and is on its way to the [governor of Colorado]. It adds consumer protections for Coloradans against price gouging during disaster emergencies.” I replied, “This is incredibly stupid. Price controls cause shortages, which are especially damaging in times of emergency. Don’t hurt people, [Governor]; veto this knee-jerk bill.”

Racist Covenants in Denver

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Kristin Jones writes, “At the time, it was legal for housing covenants to specifically bar non-white residents from renting or owning homes—and they did, routinely. University of Denver law professor and historian Tom I. Romero, II, JD, PhD, has collected racially restrictive covenants from Denver neighborhoods like Bonnie Brae, Clayton, Crestmoor, Regis Heights and many others, including this one established in the southwest Denver subdivision of Burns Brentwood in 1949: ‘Only persons of the Caucasian race shall own, use or occupy any dwelling erected upon said lots of tracts.'” Hat tip Tina Griego.

Incidentally, Griego covers many other interesting (distressing) facts about Colorado past and present. She points out that the school system and zoning laws disproportionately disadvantage minorities (a libertarian-friendly point). She also reminds us, via Donna Bryson, that Denver bulldozed the largely-Latino neighborhood in the 1960s to make way for the Auraria college campus.

Woke Journalism and Objectivity

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Damon Linker writes, “No newsroom is politically neutral and no editorial page ideologically unbiased. Every community, every organization, and certainly every journalistic enterprise makes decisions about what’s acceptable and what isn’t, where lines should be drawn, and what kinds of statements belong on which sides of those lines. Reporters and editors make judgments every day about what’s worth thinking about, taking seriously, and engaging with. The rebels want to move the lines and impose new standards.”

I object to the seeming equation of “biased” with “selective.” It is not an ideological “bias” to hold that slavery is evil, for example. Slavery is, objectively, evil. The fact that certain newspapers of an earlier era ran pro-slavery opinions does not change that fact. Today, Overton’s Window has moved so far away from slavery that normally we don’t even need to consider a pro-slavery perspective (if anyone dared articulate one). Of course today we debate many other issues that are not nearly as clear-cut. But this much is clear-cut: Police hurting people for no good reason is wrong.

Linker is more concerned with that which is not so clear-cut: “No one [among the revolutionary journalists] acknowledges the difficulty of achieving moral clarity. No one notes that there are precious few ‘clear moral calls’ in life. No one demonstrates awareness that ‘the truth,’ like justice, is something our country is deeply divided about.” Linker recommends “a little humility and willingness to suspend judgment for a time.” Linker worries that the new brand of activist journalism will lead to demonization and to the sacrifice of facts and context on the altar of (perceived) “justice.” He also worries that the new trends will exacerbate “the hollowing out of the nation’s public life, as individuals and institutions burrow ever-deeper into ideological enclaves.” He fears a trend toward “narrowness and dogmatism, . . . unearned certainty and facile simplifications.” It’s a warning we should take seriously.

Corey Hutchins is a Colorado journalist who has been covering the debate over “objectivity” in newsrooms. He readily lumps objectivity in with “both-sides-ism” and ” a view-from-nowhere approach,” even though genuine objectivity has nothing to do with those other things. (An objective person does consider different relevant points of view but does not presume that all “sides” deserve equal attention.)

Hutchins quotes an article by Ben Smith, which I also discuss. Hutchins quotes a line from New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger, “We don’t pretend to be objective about things like human rights and racism.” That indicates a complete misunderstanding of objectivity. Objectively, people’s rights should be respected and protected; objectively, racism is morally wrong. So to be objective about human rights and racism is to recognize those moral truths (and to be non-objective is to fail to recognize those truths). So what Sulzberger seems to mean here is that we should care about human rights and racism. Of course. Objectivity does not imply being uncaring or detached from values or morality.

Hutchins also quotes from a letter from Colorado Public Radio president Stewart Vanderwilt: “Implicit bias is everywhere. . . . [W]e are committing to equity, access and social justice as a pillar of coverage by CPR News and all our services.” I believe it is factually false that “implicit bias is everywhere,” so that’s an issue. And what does “social justice” mean here? Does it mean equality under the law, or does it mean Progressive leftist egalitarianism (which I regard as profoundly unjust)?

Hutchins also quotes from Amy Gillentine Sweet, publisher of the Colorado Springs Indy, which has always been a self-consciously ideological publication. She writes, “We know it’s time to stand up and speak out. When we see racism in action, we will call for justice. If we uncover biased courts, we will hold judges accountable in print. If we see neighbors abused by the authorities, we will demand action. Silence is not an option; it never was. Our job is to seek truth—and report it. We’re going to do that job.” I like this approach because of its focus on reporting the truth, an implicit guard against subverting facts to an ideological agenda.

Another: Hutchings quotes Tim Russo, station manager of KGNU community radio, who writes, “For centuries the media has cloaked the genocidal and racist foundations of the country by villainizing, demonizing, dehumanizing, demeaning, and disenfranchising Black people and non-whites.” As I would put it, the problem has been that (elements of) “the media” were non-objective in that respect. But his claim about “the media” is silly for the same reason that most claims about “the media” are silly: “The media” are an aggregate of many different publications and writers. The Abolitionists wrote pamphlets that were “media.” Ida B. Wells worked in “the media” to reveal the horrors of lynchings. A red flag: Russo says his station will work against “patriarchy” and “privilege”—whatever that means. My fear is that Russo has bought wholesale into “identity politics,” the neo-Marxist doctrine that views all aspects of human society in terms of power dynamics. So again this looks to me like journalists promoting hard-left political views under a facade of moral righteousness.

And another: The ever-prolific Hutchins quotes a CBS4 piece on the views of journalists there. I was struck by a comment of Gabrielle Cox: “America has a race issue. As journalists, we cannot be objective about racism. There’s a right and there’s a wrong.” Here again is the (false) assumption that objective means detached or disinterested.

Moving away from Hutchins’s piece: Vic Vela, a CPR journalist, writes, “Calling out racism is not biased journalism. In fact, it’s the duty of journalism to inform your audience of the expressed views of people in your communities.” I agree it’s not biased to point out that racism is racism.

Colorado Abortion Measure Makes Ballot

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Colorado voters will be asked in November to ban abortions at 22 weeks of pregnancy,” except “if a woman’s life is endangered.” I have not yet read the language.

Massive Medicaid Expansion

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

The chickens have come home to roost in a huge way with the federal government pushing health insurance into an employer-paid model. “Colorado is preparing for a breathtaking spike in people enrolling in Medicaid, about half of a million people.”

Colorado Dems Seek to Tax and Regulate Businesses More

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Mark Hillman criticizes a Colorado bill to alter business tax deductions.

Kelly Sloan also discusses that bill. He also discusses bills to expand workers compensation and sick leave (related to COVID-19) and to “eliminate a landlord’s ability to collect rent or evict non-payers for 120 days.”

26 business groups implore Colorado lawmakers to hit brakes on bills that could bring ‘eye-popping costs’ to employers.”

COVID-19 Trouble in Arizona

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

COVID-19 hospitalizations are going down in Colorado. Arizona, on the other hand, seems to be having trouble. Reported cases are up. More tellingly: “Hospitalizations have steadily risen. Statewide hospitalizations as of Sunday were at 1,266 inpatients in Arizona with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, which was the second highest number, behind Friday, since the state began reporting the data on April 9. The past eight days have seen inpatient hospitalizations statewide for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 eclipse 1,000. The percentage of positive tests per week increased from 5% a month ago to 6% three weeks ago to 9% two weeks ago, and 12% last week.” That’s really bad. By contrast, the positivity numbers in Colorado are under 3%, and new reported cases are somewhat down.

Cases in Utah also are on the rise. Texas, Florida, and California also are having trouble.

Colorado Bill against “Gay Panic” Defense Revived

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

With all the chaos, the Colorado legislature dropped a bill that would formally eliminate the “gay panic” defense. I review the bill in my column today for Complete Colorado.

Representative Brianna Titone sent me the following statement on June 6:

“I was well aware that many bills were going to be killed because of budget and time, but bills that were free, bipartisan, and in the opposite Chamber, I didn’t think would all be killed. One of those bills was HB20-1307. I wasn’t aware of what bills were destined to die and which ones were to be kept, but this one struck me hard to learn it was killed. I was especially surprised of the dissatisfaction of the Republican members of the committee who didn’t go along with PI’ing the bill. This doesn’t normal happen. The “fast, free, and covid19 related” criteria is 2/3. I feel that this bill is relevant to what’s happening outside the Capitol which adds to the bill’s importance.

“Black trans women are murdered at an alarmingly disproportionate rate compared to any other group. It was this group I was thinking about when I thought about this bill. Black trans women have very little representation in elected office. I can count on one hand the folks I’m aware of. Two represent Minneapolis, MN, VP of Council Andrea Jenkins and Councilperson Phillipe Cunningham. At the state level, there are only 4 out trans legislators, all of which are white. Black trans women need us to lift up their voices. For decades this hasn’t been happening. Now that they at least have trans representation, we can focus on the needs of the trans community.

“You may also recall during the protests in Minnesota, a black trans woman, Iyanna Dior, was violently assaulted as most people just watched. This is an example of the kind of violence this group experiences. While the law in question would protect all LGBTQ people, like as in the Matthew Shepherd case, the relevance to the BLM movement is really on black trans women.

“At this time there hasn’t been a commitment to revive the bill. House leadership is aware of the request and the sentiment among members to bring it back, but it has not been acted on.”

This morning, One Colorado issued a media release saying the bill was revived last evening as SB20-221.

Colorado Police Reform

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

An important Colorado police reform bill, SB20-217, just passed the Senate unanimously. It went through so fast I haven’t been able to track the amendments. This is real reform, though, not just fancy wrapping. Update: Alex Burness reports the bill passed 32–1.

Denver Police Blind Bystander

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Shameful: “Denver protest bystander blind in one eye after being hit by police with ‘less lethal’ projectile. The 21-year-old said he was walking to his car and not participating in protest.” In other news, at this moment the Colorado Senate is passing a police reform bill. The officer or officers who blinded this man should be prosecuted.

Crazy Colorado Politics

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Colorado politics has been a little nuts lately. Consider some recent tidbits.

Kyle Clark reported, “District Attorney George Brauchler says there is no evidence to support GOP Rep Mark Baisley’s claim that Colorado’s public health leaders altered COVID-19 death certificates. Rep. Baisley had called for criminal charges against the head of” the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.” As I replied, “I imagine George said a few other things under his breath over this one.” There was never any basis for the allegation. What CDPHE did do, with the support of the governor, is separate out deaths related to COVID-19 from deaths “due to” the disease, which was a good idea.

Then there was a bizarre Twitter spat between Progressive Ian Silverii and conservative Jeff Hunt. Basically, Silverii half-seriously suggested that Hunt is a Nazi, and Hunt wildly overreacted by saying that Silverii threatened him.

One more: Rep. Dave Williams posted an obviously faked flyer calling for Democrats to kill Republicans. I have no idea who made the flyer, but obviously the creator was a provocateur who did not try to hide that fact. Update: Not everyone got the memo that the flyer is a fake.

Police Reform Bill Advances in Colorado Senate

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Alex Burness reports, “John Cooke is a law-and-order former sheriff from a GOP stronghold that recently flirted with seceding from Colorado. And he’s supporting the police accountability bill.” Marshall Zelinger shares the video. Cooke mentions some amendments that were passed; I haven’t had a chance to look those over. Senator Bob Gardner, another Republican, also “stood up in support of the passage” of the bill, reports Representative Leslie Herod. This is not too surprising to me. Conservatives in Colorado have always had a libertarian streak. (Indeed, Cooke is married to a woman who long worked at the conservative-libertarian Independence Institute.) Years ago, some of us participated in the bipartisan effort to reform Colorado’s asset forfeiture laws.

Stop Protecting Bad Cops

Monday, June 8th, 2020

A police officer who uses the National Crime Information Center database to look “up the new boyfriend of a friend’s ex-wife” should be immediately fired. A police officer who drives drunk should immediately be fired. A Denver police officer who committed both offenses “will serve a 10-day suspension and give up two days of pay for the two offenses,” reports Elise Schmelzer. This is absurd and outrageous.

Qualified Immunity Has Got to Go

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Remarkable: Today, as the Colorado legislature takes up a bill to limit police liability from lawsuits, protesters chant outside, “Hey hey, ho ho, [qualified] immunity has got to go.” Sometimes it seems like it takes forever to build up support for some reform, and then, sometimes, all of a sudden it gets political traction.

Denver Police Bar Chokeholds

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Alayna Alvarez reports, “Denver Police will ban use of all chokeholds, with no exceptions. Denver PD will also require SWAT officers wear body cameras during tactical operations, and for use-of-force reports be filed when an officer points a firearm at someone.”

Colorado Anti-Vax Rally

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

The correct approach, as I’ve written, is to strongly advocate vaccinations while taking a soft legal approach. Unfortunately, most other people seem to think either that vaccines are good and should be strongly legally promoted or else that they are bad.

I was disappointed to read Saja Hindi’s report on a rally against a vaccine bill. She shows a photo of a sizable crowd and reports, “So far, I’ve only seen one person (aside from myself) wearing a mask and it wasn’t on her face. Attendees will be required to wear them inside the Capitol hearing.” One speaker exhorted attendees, “Don’t ever put on those masks of shame.” To me, this signals that these people are taking a dangerously anti-science attitude with respect to the current global pandemic.

Further, one of the signs shown in the photo says, “CDC admits increase of ADHD, TICS, autism, sleep disorder, speech delay” from vaccines. There’s simply no science behind that.

All that said, to me it’s rather nuts that COVID-19 is driving debate over this bill, given a) there is no COVID-19 vaccine at this time and b) although some children get very sick from the disease, most children barely notice it. I fully intend to get my entire family vaccinated against the disease if we are able, but if a few kooks choose not to get the vaccine, that affects me to a degree statistically approaching zero.

Emergency Powers in Colorado

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Although I’m no expert on emergency-powers law, I’m (tentatively) of the view that it needs to be reined in, in Colorado and elsewhere.

Joshua Sharf worries that Colorado Governor Jared Polis overreached in exercising emergency powers in three main ways: “First, he forbade evictions for non-payment of rent, despite previously having said he lacked such power. Then, he announced the suspension of election laws relating to signature-gathering for initiatives. And most recently (one fears to say, finally), Gov. Polis unilaterally allocated $1.6 billion of federal CARES Act money.”

David French reviews the general background of emergency-power laws in the U.S.

Scott Weiser reviews Colorado law: “Polis’ broad emergency power to close businesses, quarantine grounded in law, steeped in history.”

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson wrote a series of critical articles on Colorado lockdowns:
Denver’s lockdown order probably unconstitutional”
Polis lock-down order adds chaos to unconstitutionality”
How state lockdowns are destroying lives, creating national conflict”
Unelected officials shouldn’t have such power; a proposal for reform”
Ruling exposes rights violations in state’s lockdown orders”
States’ emergency powers still subject to the Constitution”
Latest COVID orders layer chaos over confusion, add to risk”

In his piece on reform, Natelson suggests that, rather than issue orders themselves, health authorities should recommend policy and solicit public comment, while elected officials should actually issue all relevant emergency orders. That’s not what happened in Colorado. Instead, Polis issued orders that basically told health authorities to issue orders.

Conspiracy Theories about George Floyd’s Death

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Jason Salzman, who monitors Republican and conservative social media and radio, wrote, “Mesa County, Colo, Republicans Remove Facebook Post Speculating That George Floyd’s Death Was Faked.”

Insult to Injury for Property Renters

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Colorado reports, “HB20-1405 Would Force Landlords to Pay an Eviction Fee to Fund the Eviction Legal Defense Fund.” This is really unfair policy.

Denver Police Officer Pulls Gun on Black Man and His Daughters

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

On May 7, someone alleged there was a “Black young male with a white hoodie” carrying a gun near a Colorado Safeway. A Denver police officer responded by pulling a gun on a 44-year-old black man and his two daughters. Westword also has a report.