Headlines August 30, 2021
Two Boulder County Officers Convicted of Manslaughter
Two Boulder Sheriff’s Deputies were convicted of manslaughter by a jury this past Friday. Deputies James O’Brien and Adam Lunn were found guilty of manslaughter in the 2018 death of Demetrius Shankling. The Longmont Times-Call reports the 6-foot-tall, 23-year-old Shankling died after deputies stuffed him on his stomach, into a detox van’s 5-foot compartment and then squeezed the door shut.
Shankling died after 27 days in a coma. Toxicology reports indicated that alcohol and amphetamines contributed to his suffocation, but ultimately the officers were deemed to have used improper protocol in which the court found them guilty of manslaughter
Colorado Second in Nation for Wealth Disparity
Colorado ranks second in wealth inequality across the United States according to a wealth distribution study by the Economic Innovation Group or EIG. The study looked at asset income which, unlike wages or government payments, counts dividends, interest, rents and royalties. According to the report, “The overall economy is booming and asset prices are soaring, but many American communities are left out with little direct stake in the wealth created on financial markets.”
Especially in the Mountain West, the report says, “There are a number of extremely affluent enclaves” full of second homes for the wealthy. Over the past two economic cycles, asset prices have ballooned. This has driven the wealth divide “especially in the most favored second home destinations of the most affluent classes.”
Pandemic Benefits End This Week
100,000 Coloradans will stop receiving unemployment checks Saturday when the pandemic’s unemployment benefits end.
Currently, there are more job openings than unemployed citizens. Many of those available jobs are in the low-paying service sector which often requires high contact with the general public. Fluctuating wages and uncertainty with the new Delta variant continue to create an uneasy atmosphere for job-seekers.
BVSD Update Dress Code for First Time in 20 Years
Boulder Valley School District updated its dress code last week. They altered the previous dress code to allow students freedom of self-expression within the confines of not allowing nudity or content that evokes violence or messages of hate. What the policy doesn’t include is subjective language about a student’s dress being “distracting” or “disruptive,” which, the daily camera reported, the committee said can “create disparities, reinforce stereotypes and increase marginalization.”
The previous dress code which passed in 2001, prohibited clothing “that causes or is likely to cause disruption of the educational process in the classroom environment, or to the maintenance of a safe and orderly school.”
MLK Equal Voting Rights Demonstration in Boulder
About 100 people gathered in downtown Boulder and Longmont Saturday to protest state-level voter suppression laws and to call on Congress to take action at the federal level to protect voting rights.
Similar protests occurred across the country on what was the 58th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington. The protesters are calling for the passage of the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which would create a nationwide standard for ballot access and enforcement methods to prevent the institution of measures “historically used to discriminate against voters.”
Colorado has an electoral system often regarded as a gold standard with automatic voter registration upon receipt of a driver’s license, the option of mail-in ballots for all registered voters and same-day voter registration.
Business Mogul Phil Anschutz Appeals for $8 Million Tax Refund
A Denver District Court Judge has dismissed an appeal from Colorado billionaires Phil and Nancy Anshutz. The appeal asked the Department of Revenue for an $8 million dollar tax refund.
Earlier this month, Phil and Nancy Anschutz argued that federal changes from the CARES Act and the Pandemic Relief Bill from 2020 have changed tax law, which entitles them to an adjustment to their 2018 tax refund. Judge Eric Elliff determined that Anschutz’s case needs more evidence to grant the request. He was quoted saying, “Plaintiffs are asking for a check, and that money has to come from somewhere.”
Although the $8 million refund is just a fraction of the Anschutzs’ estimated wealth, Elliff concluded that the total cost to the state for issuing refund checks for prior tax years could cause fiscal trouble. Phil Anschutz owns The Broadmoor hotel and resort in Colorado Springs, as well as several media outlets, including The Gazette, based in Colorado Springs, and Colorado Politics.
Black Mountain Wildfire Blows Smoke Across Colorado
Moderate to heavy concentrations of smoke from the Black Mountain wildfire will affect portions of Grand County on Monday. The heaviest impacts are expected during the overnight and early morning hours in areas immediately below the fire, including locations along the Troublesome Creek, upper Colorado River drainages and along Highway 40 between Kremmling and Parshall. There is an air quality alert for Kremmling, Parshall, Hot Sulphur Springs, Granby, and Grand Lake.