Headlines August 17, 2021

Headlines August 17, 2021

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U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Cuts Water Draw for AZ, NV, and Mexico from Lake Mead

A declaration by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation given yesterday orders Arizona to cut the water it draws from Lake Mead by 18%, Nevada by 7%, and the nation of Mexico by 5% with the cuts beginning next year.

According to the Denver Post, as the first-ever mandatory water cuts are imposed on Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico, states higher up on the Colorado River are facing rising pressure to divert less to meet legal downriver obligations.

The Denver Post reports Colorado officials have embarked on an effort to install measuring devices across the Western Slope to precisely account for how much water farmers, ranchers, and municipalities siphon out.

Colorado is also developing a program to pay farmers, industries, and municipalities to use less of their allotted shares of river water.

Aurora PD Report Recommends Overhaul of Discipline Process and Use of Force Polices

Outside consultant investigators, which includes former police leaders and civil rights experts, issued a report yesterday recommending the Aurora Police Department implement close to 50 changes.

According to the Denver Post, one of the report’s more forceful recommendations is for the police department to overhaul and improve its disciplinary process.

The investigators found that 35 officers accounted for 40% of misconduct investigations between 2017 and 2020 with twelve of those officers responsible for nearly a quarter of the misconduct allegations.

Investigators also found that between 2017 and 2020, it took an average of 201 days or nearly seven months for a disciplinary case to close and the department’s release of information about serious misconduct has varied significantly over those three years.

The consultants also urged the department to strengthen and streamline its use-of-force policies.

Childcare Deserts a Struggle for Colorado Parents

Children across Colorado will head back to school in the coming days. But that doesn’t include children younger than kindergarten. Parents have no right to universal Pre-K nor daycare for their kids and – according to a new report from the Colorado Sun – nearly half of all Coloradans live in a daycare desert.

The shortage of licensed child care has increased as the pandemic devastated underfunded providers and forced many parents to quit their jobs to watch their kids. The Colorado Sun reports that daycare operators are struggling to hire staff and many parents feel they have no options. Critical jobs may go unfilled, deterring economic growth after a year and a half of coronavirus restrictions.

Child care is now over $27,000 a year. But with demanding regulatory requirements most child care centers struggle to hire workers. Centers that do find a qualified applicants say it can take months to hire them because a state background check system has been backlogged.

In resort towns, like Steamboat in Routt County, the situation is particularly dismal. Increased housing costs — driven by an influx of wealthy second-home buyers during the pandemic — are making it harder for families with one parent staying home with their child to make resort-town rent on a single income.

The Office of Early Childhood says that Colorado is prepared to provide, by 2023, every 4 year old at least 10 hours a week of pre-kindergarten, and as close to $600 million in federal funding is coming in to help stabilize child care. The funding will be distributed starting this fall. But for now the struggle continues.

Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commissions Split on How to Address the Location of Inmates

Colorado’s two independent redistricting commissions are split over how to count incarcerated people in their proposed maps.

On a 10-2 vote, Colorado’s Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission passed a measure last Friday that will count inmates using their last known address rather than the location where they are imprisoned.

The day before, Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission was short of the eight votes needed to make a process change and will continue using an inmate’s prison address.

According to Colorado’s Newsline, prison inmates have historically been counted by the U.S. Census Bureau in the county of where they are incarcerated.

In Colorado, prisons are typically in counties that are rural and less diverse whereas prison populations are disproportionately made up of people of color.

Reform advocates argue that counting the states’ 14,0000 plus inmates at their prison location skews a rural county’s population resulting in more political power and federal funding allocations.

The Colorado General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 requiring incarcerated individuals to be counted at their last known address but a Colorado Supreme Court opinion earlier this year said it is unconstitutional for lawmakers to dictate the redistricting process as voters removed lawmakers from the process with Amendments Y and Z.

Boulder Open Space Trails Closed Tuesday for Helicopter Work

If today’s weather is deemed suitable, Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks will operate a helicopter until 5pm to help construct and maintain some of its trails in west Boulder.

Trails in the Anemone Hill and Red Rocks area between Sunshine Canyon and Boulder Canyon will be closed although the Sunshine Canyon Trail will be open and visitors can access a detour trail around the east side of the Red Rock Trail.

In addition, the Bear Peak West Ridge and Green Bear trails will be closed during the helicopter work.

The helicopter is slated to move construction materials for the Anemone Hill trail and will do improvements and repairs for the Royal Arch and 1st and 2nd Flatiron trails.

Information on trail closure is available at OSMPTrails.org.

Suncor Launches Air Monitoring System

Suncor Energy has launched an air monitoring system online that will track the emissions from the refinery located in Commerce City.

According to the Denver Gazette, the new monitoring system is part of the company’s efforts to gain the community’s trust after a 2020 settlement with state health regulators over air pollution violations. The system’s data comes from eight collection stations around Commerce City and Suncor will soon deploy a mobile van to track emissions.

Data from the air monitoring dashboard is available to the public at ccnd-air.com.