Headlines September 16, 2021

Headlines September 16, 2021

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Colorado AG Releases Probe into Aurora Police Department and Seeks Consent Decree Addressing Misconduct

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced yesterday the completion of a 14-month investigation into the “patterns and practices” of the Aurora Police Department. Amongst the findings in the 112 page report, the Attorney General’s office concluded the Aurora Police Department has shown a consistent pattern of racially biased policing and excessive use of force. The investigation also found officers failed to document legally required information.

The attorney general’s office began the investigation amid local and national outcry over the death of 23 year old, unarmed Elijah McClain. The authority to conduct an investigation into the Aurora Police Department’s patterns and practices comes from SB 217, a police accountability law passed by the 2020 Colorado legislature. Representative Leslie Herod, sponsor of SB 217, said yesterday that the Attorney General’s findings show the law is working as intended.

The attorney general’s office is seeking to develop a consent decree with the Aurora Police Department which will require specific changes and ongoing independent oversight.

Investigation into DPS Board Member Finds Unsubstantiated Sexual Assult Claims but Flirtatious Behavior 

Independent investigators couldn’t back up sexual assault claims against Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson.

After a six-month investigation of Mr. Anderson into the allegations of sexual assault investigators said they could not substantiate the claims. The Colorado Sun reports that Denver Public Schools Board of Education will meet Friday to consider a censure of Director Anderson because his behavior for conduct unbecoming of a school board member.

School Board appointed Investigations Law Group found that Anderson engaged in flirtatious social media contact with a 16-year-old DPS student after he was elected a board member.

Evidence collected showed that Anderson, 23, stopped communicating with the 16-year-old DPS student after learning her age.

Anderson graduated from Manual High School in 2017 and was elected to the DPS board in 2019.

Investigators found that in 2018, before Anderson was a board member “it was more likely than not”, he made unwelcome sexual comments and advances toward members and associates of the board of directors of Never Again Colorado, a student organization at the University of Denver.

In another incident, investigators could not find evidence that he sexually assaulted 62 DPS students, as alleged by a district parent in testimony to state lawmakers in May.

The report raised questions about the credibility of the parent.

Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission Releases 2nd Proposed Map with Significant Changes

A second proposed congressional map prepared by staff for the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission was released yesterday. The latest map has a sweeping L-shaped 3rd Congressional District covering most of the western slope and southern Colorado. The proposed 2nd Congressional District has the counties of Larimer and Boulder grouped with the north-central counties of Routt, Jackson, Eagle, Summit and Grand.

Under the latest draft, current U.S. House members Lauren Boebert and Joe Neguse will not reside in the same district. The proposed 7th District is now centered in the north and west metro area, including much of Jefferson County and stretching to South Park in the central mountains. The Colorado Sun reports commissioners voted last week to base a new map on a proposal drawn by Commissioner Martha Coleman, a geographer and a Democrat from Ft. Collins.

According to nonpartisan staff, the latest map creates three safe districts for Democrats, three safe districts for Republicans, and two so-called competitive districts. The Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission will hold a meeting tonight at 6pm to discuss the latest map. The public may still submit comments online. The commission is under a September 28th deadline to adopt and submit a map to the Colorado Supreme Court by October 1st.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser Joins Coalition of AGs in Support of the Justice Department’s Lawsuit Against Texas Abortion Ban

Attorney General Phil Weiser announced yesterday he has joined a coalition of 24 other attorney generals in filing a court brief supporting the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the Texas law banning abortions.  According to the Attorney General’s press statement, the brief by the coalition argues the Texas law violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability and the law’s delegation of enforcement by individuals instead of government does not shield the law from judicial review.

Governor Polis Marries Longtime Partner Marlon Reis

Yesterday, Governor Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay elected governor, married his longtime partner, Marlon Reis, at a small outdoor Jewish ceremony in Boulder. According to the Denver Post, the governor proposed to Reis, a writer and animal rights activist, last December before Reis was hospitalized with COVID-19. The couple has two small children.

Longmont City Council Approves Healthy Drinks in Children’s Meals Ordinance

Earlier this week, Longmont City Council approved an ordinance requiring that healthy beverages such as water and milk be promoted on kids’ restaurant menus.  The ordinance promoting healthier drinks will not restrict parents or adults from ordering any drink they choose for a child. The ordinance was advocated by a coalition called Healthy Longmont which includes individuals, businesses, and organizations committed to promoting children’s health and addressing the impacts of sugary drinks on the health of children and adults alike. The ordinance is similar to one passed by Lafayette City Council in 2017.