About 200 disability rights activists and supporters rallied outside Senator Cory Gardner’s Denver office today in protest of the proposed new healthcare bill. Kelley Pasmanick, with Atlantis Inc., a disability rights group, told KGNU’s Elena Klaver that she was at the protest to because cuts to Medicaid mean life or death for people with disabilities.
State Senator Irene Aguilar, who backed an unsuccessful universal health care ballot measure last year, told the crowd that they needed to keep raising their voices in opposition to the GOP proposal.
She was joined by fellow democrat and state representative Joe Salazar who denounced the arrests last week of a group of disability rights activists who had staged a multi-day sit in at Gardner’s office.
Senator Gardner’s office was reportedly locked during the rally and he made no contact with the protesters.
Gardner has yet to meet with any of the protestors and did not schedule any town-hall meetings while he was home for the July 4 recess.
A new proposal to relocate 200+ prairie dogs from Longmont to the Rocky Flats site is raising alarm for some. Groups already suing to prevent construction of trails and a visitor center on the site fear the animals could bring danger.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Randall Weiner expressed concern in a letter to the lawyer defending federal agencies who want to open Rocky Flats to the public. He explained that prairie dogs can burrow as deep as 18 feet underground. Radioactive elements of old Rocky Flats buildings were buried 8 feet underground, well within the depth prairie dogs can reach.
Weiner continued to say that prairie dogs create mounds of dirt at the entrance of tunnels with soil brought from underground, potentially digging up plutonium or radioactive soil as well. There is nothing to stop the prairie dogs from migrating elsewhere after being exposed to plutonium at Rocky Flats, which could lead to contamination of other sites.
Deanna Meyer, the Executive Director of Prairie Protection Colorado, a non profit that works with local communities to help find relocation opportunities and to advocate for the prairie dogs, says the city of Longmont is fast tracking the development of the site at 3rd Ave and Ken Pratt by the old Great Western sugar mill, and that has left them with few options.
“Every one of these prairie dogs will be dead in the next month if they don’t have a place to go, Rocky Flats is offering them this opportunity.”
Rocky Flats manufactured plutonium components for US nuclear weapons. The plant was shut down in 1989 after the FBI raided it for alleged environmental law violations. It never reopened and parts of Rocky Flats are included on the Superfund list of the country’s most polluted sites.