Headlines October 26, 2021
Denver City Council Approves COVID Vaccine Bonus And Hazard Pay
Denver City Council passed a pair of proposals that will make city employees eligible to receive a $400 bonus for getting a COVID-19 vaccination. They can also earn $2,500 in pandemic hazard pay, according to The Denver Gazette. The hazard pay passed city council with unanimous support while the vaccine bonus proposal had an 8 to 3 vote, with two council members absent.
Denver city employees eligible to receive the vaccine bonus include those who complied with the city’s September 30th mandate and those who with religious or medical exemptions. Exempted employees have an added requirement for not violating any accommodations, which include masking, regular testing, and physical distancing.
The vaccine bonus proposal faced opposition as some council members expressed that the money should go to other needed programs and infrastructure and that a bonus sends a wrong message of rewarding behavior that is expected.
To pay for the vaccine bonus, $5 million will come from the city’s general fund while $16.6 million in federal funds will provide hazard pay to career service and uniform city employees who worked in high-risk positions at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Audit Finds Overpayment In Pandemic Housing Assistance Program
A recent audit of the state’s Pandemic Housing Assistance program found that Colorado’s Division of Housing erroneously sent out $2.39 million or 5% of the total Property Owner Preserve program budget to landlords.
The POP program was available for landlords requesting money on behalf of their tenants. According to Colorado Newsline, the state made 23,000 payments, worth $47.1 million to 1600 landlords through the program. The audit found these payments were higher than amounts of money allowed under the POP program.
Besides overpayments, the audit found the Division of Housing did not consistently receive signed rental agreements or send out notification letters to tenants to help ensure the money actually went to cover tenants’ rent.
Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 20-1420 into law in June 2020. The bill directed $20 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds toward helping people with their unpaid rent during the pandemic. The program later received millions more in additional state and federal funding.
Auditors recommended that the overpaid funds be returned.
Over 70 Organization Call For More Ambitious Xcel Energy Electric Resource Plan
Over 70 organizations submitted a letter to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission yesterday calling for a more ambitious Electric Resource Plan for the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy. The organizations demand that Xcel transition away from fossil fuel sources by 2030 to support the state’s climate action goals. The coalition is calling on the PUC to require Xcel Energy to close its coal plants by 2030 and for the utility to invest in the maximum amount of renewable energy and energy storage as soon as possible. The coalition is demanding that Xcel not replace coal plants with other fossil fuel sources. Signatories of the letter include Mi Familia Vota, NAACP Denver, 350 Colorado, Green Latinos, CWA Local 7799, Mother’s Out Front, Eco-Cycle, Colorado Rising, the Signal Tech Coalition, the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, as well as other groups.
Boulder Police Oversight Committee Denies NAACP Request To Reopen Case Against Slain Officer Eric Talley
Boulder’s police oversight committee announced yesterday it has denied a request by the local chapter of the NAACP to re-examine a closed independent monitor case against the late Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley. The NAACP requested the oversight panel re-examine a 2014 complaint filed by a black man who alleged that Talley pulled him over while off duty and held him at gunpoint for unsafe driving. Talley was killed in March while responding to the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting. The Daily Camera reports the NAACP submitted the request to the panel after a pending bill was announced from Congressman Joe Neguse seeking to rename the downtown Boulder post office after Officer Talley.
Denver Courts FIFA World Cup Officials
High ranking FIFA officials visited Denver yesterday as the city seeks to host matches for the 2026 World Cup. According to The Denver Post, Denver is one of 17 American cities vying to be one of 10 host sites for the world stage of soccer. According to promoters, Denver’s centralized geography gives it an advantage over other cities.
The city would raise between $35 million and $45 million to host the World Cup through a mix of corporate sponsorship, ticket sales and other fundraising. Public funding would not go toward supporting the event.
The Denver Post reports finalists are not expected to be announced until sometime next year.