Headlines September 9, 2020
No School Sports for Fall Due to COVID-19
High school sports won’t go forward this fall despite Governor Polis saying yesterday that the state was willing to bring football back this autumn.
The Denver Post reports that the Colorado High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted Tuesday night not to reconsider changes to the athletic calendar that moved football and other sports to the spring.
The CHSAA had been under pressure to change their position ahead of last night’s vote. A Change.org petition to “Let Them Play” has more than 13,800 signatures as of this afternoon.
Organizers of the petition say football aids in keeping kids in school, teaches them life lessons and teamwork. The petition language says that “many of our upperclassman athletes are dependent upon this season for scholarships, competing with other athletes across the country.”
In a statement last night the CHSAA board of directors listed several reasons for not changing its plans including student safety and well-being and potential Title IX issues.
Fallen Trees Lead to Power Outages Around Front Range
There have been some power outages around the Front Range today as a result of the snow storm. Xcel energy says Boulder was the hardest hit by outages. Parts of Boulder got more than 5 inches of snow overnight and this morning more than 6,500 homes had lost power.
Arborists say homeowners should be careful when assessing damage done to trees.
Snow Helps Firefighters Battling Cameron Peak Fire
The area around the Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins got about 14 inches of snow, helping firefighters in their efforts to contain the fire that is burning more than 102,000 acres and is 4% contained. Officials caution that while the moisture has helped the fire is still smoldering underneath the powder.
The reward for tips leading to an arrest for the fire that killed five people in Green Valley Ranch last month has been increased from $14,000 to $40,000.
The Denverite reports that police believe the fire was intentionally set.
The five people who died were Senegalese immigrants, members of the same family and included two infants.
Police have released a photo showing three people wearing masks and hoods, who they believe ignited the deadly blaze.
The family’s attorney called it one of the worst crimes in Denver history.
Boulder City Council Discusses 2021 Budget Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
Yesterday, Boulder City Council members discussed the proposed 2021 budget with city staff to begin the process of approving a budget devastated by the economic impacts of the virus.
The Daily Camera reports that the council study session focused on a budget almost 8 percent lower from the 2020 budget.
City staffers estimate a more than 10 percent drop in sales and use tax revenue. The proposed budget includes cuts to programs, services and jobs, along with furloughs and no merit increases for most employees.
Members of the Boulder Police Officer’s Association will be the only employees to get a raise, as their contract with the city stipulates an increase.
Overall, the proposed budget for Boulder would eliminate more than 50 positions, most of which are vacant.
Aurora Faces Tough Budget Cuts
In Aurora, last night the city manager submitted a budget proposal that would carry the city through 2021, and the council will have to make some tough decisions about cuts.
The Aurora Sentinel reports that despite widespread calls to “defund the police,” the proposed cuts don’t touch the fire or police departments.
The city will fund the Police Department with almost 130 million dollars up slightly from this year.
Activists nationwide and in Aurora have demanded that the Aurora Police Department be “defunded,” or recalibrated, after the death of Elijah McClain, a black massage therapist, days after an encounter with police and paramedics last year.
Other departments have already taken cuts or will likely see them next year.
COVID-19 and business restrictions slammed Aurora in the spring. In 2020, the city’s general fund faced a shortfall; however, planners coped with the gap by instituting a hiring freeze and capital spending reductions.
But the main principle underlying the city’s budge challenges amid the pandemic crisis is uncertainty of what’s going to happen.
RTD Workers Face Layoffs
The Regional Transportation District is also dealing with the crisis. Yesterday the district said that more than 600 union and salaried workers may face layoffs–as the agency faces a projected shortfall of more than 160 million dollars.
However, the Denver Post reports that the union that represents bus and train operators and the operational support staff questioned the reliability of the agency’s financial projections and accused officials of “fear-mongering.” In a release, the union said that so many layoffs would harm RTD for years to come.
Denver’s Camping Ban Upheld in Court
A judge in Denver has upheld the city’s camping ban.
The decision overturns a lower court ruling that the measure was unconstitutional and the city appealed.
The Denverite reports the case dates back to April. Jerry Burton was experiencing homelessness when he was ticketed under the camping ban. Now, under the new decision, Burton must go to trial on those charges. However, he plans to appeal the recent decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Burton’s attorney, Andy McNulty, said he hoped the state Supreme Court would agree to consider the case. He added that the prospect of more people losing their homes because of the economic slowdown made the issue urgent.
The advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud, of which Burton is a member, asked voters to repeal the camping ban last year, arguing that it created stressful and potentially dangerous encounters with police for people already suffering because the cost of housing has increased much faster than wages. However, Denver voters overwhelmingly decided to keep the ban.
Concerns Remain About Cameron Peak Fire Despite Snow
Firefighters battling the Cameron Peak Fire west of Fort Collins got help from the snowstorm yesterday. However, KDVR reports that concerns remain.
Overnight, several inches of snow fell on the fire but, Cory Mottice, an incident meteorologist said that the snow is only affecting the outer edge. He added that there can be embers inside that stay warm through the snow before it melts off and starts evaporating, getting fire going again.