Headlines January 22, 2021
CU Revokes Duties for Embroiled Professor
The University of Colorado Boulder has stripped John Eastman of his remaining public functions. CU’s visiting conservative scholar spoke at former President Donald Trump’s rally to overturn the results of November’s presidential election. Eastman had spoken at the rally prior to the storming of the U.S. Capitol by the then-president’s supporters.
The Denver Post reports that CU officials had canceled Eastman’s spring courses due to low enrollment, and said Thursday that they took away his outreach and speaking duties at the Boulder campus.
Andrew Sorensen, a CU Boulder spokesman, said that the university concluded that it would likely be disruptive and damage the interests of the campus if Eastman continued these duties. Eastman may stay on to perform research and related activities through May 7th. He will also be paid the remainder of his $185,000 salary.
Eastman said that he will be exploring all options for what he feels as retaliation against his constitutionally protected First Amendment activities.
Chancellor Phil DiStefano also used the First Amendment in explaining why he wouldn’t fire Eastman. Distefano also said that it is against the university’s policies to bar the censorship of a faculty member’s political speech.
COVID-19 On Decline in Most Colorado Counties
In the past two weeks, fifty counties including Boulder County have seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases. According to state data, the overall COVID-19 positivity rate is slightly more than 5%. The highest positivity rate in the state is for Jackson County, in the northern part of the state – which is has had a 21% percent positivity over the past two weeks.
Boulder County Applies for 5-Star Certification
Boulder County has submitted its application for 5-Star certification with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The business-variance program allows participating businesses to operate one level above Boulder County’s position on the statewide COVID-19 dial, provided that they demonstrate compliance with enhanced public-health guidelines and safety precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Locally, Broomfield and Larimer counties already have authorization for 5-Star programs.
Boulder County submitted its program application to the state Wednesday. Meanwhile, Boulder has extended its Business Recovery Program through at least October 31. It was created by the city in response to the pandemic and allows businesses to expand outside to help offset capacity limits put in place under the state’s infection rate Dashboard. The program waives minimum parking requirements citywide, allows designated curbside drop-off and pickup locations, permits modified alcohol licenses, allows street closures on Pearl Street and University Hill, and reroutes the HOP bus.
Experts Support Biden’s Extended Eviction Moratorium
Civil-rights advocates say President Joe Biden’s executive order extending the moratorium on evictions is a good start, but Congress could do more to protect tenants who have fallen behind on rent because of the pandemic. The moratorium was set to expire at the end of this month, on evictions from federally assisted or financed properties and on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages, but the executive order extends it through the end of March.
Ian Thompson with the A-C-L-U says it needs to be expanded to cover all tenants, and for the duration of the COVID pandemic.
“We also need requirements put in place on landlords to make sure they are not violating these important protections,” said Thompson.
He adds that Congress needs to have emergency rental assistance in place before the moratorium is lifted. Some landlords have already challenged the constitutionality of the federal moratorium in court. Thompson points out that, each passing month, millions of tenants nationwide are falling further behind on their rent.
“Unless there is emergency rental assistance funding in place, all we are doing is kicking the can down the road for when this mass eviction crisis is going to hit.”
Thompson thinks the federal government also should provide funding to help cities and states give renters facing eviction the right to be represented by legal counsel in court. Thompson says cities including New York City, San Francisco and Boulder show that instituting a right to legal counsel for tenants helps keep people in their homes.
“In all of these jurisdictions, these programs have been shown to reduce the number of evictions that actually occur.”
Boulder County Joins Amicus Brief Over SAFE Vehicles Rule
Boulder County joined 14 other city and county governments from across the country Thursday in signing an amicus brief criticizing the “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule” or SAFE – implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation. The local governments argue the rule has failed to reduce dangerous air pollution and address climate change and instead increased health and safety risks for Americans.
The court brief coincides with President Biden’s first set of environmental and climate executive orders, coming just one day after a directive for the Biden-Harris administration’s incoming EPA Administrator to revoke the SAFE rule and reinstate and strengthen ambitious fuel economy standards that will spur cleaner cars throughout the US auto market.
A press release from Boulder County said networks speaking out on the dangers of the SAFE rule represent two-thirds of the U.S. population. The SAFE Vehicles rule was the Trump administration’s rollback of the Obama-era changes that required fuel efficiency improvements for new cars and light-duty trucks.