The Home Front: Ex-Colorado Republican Party chairman who blamed voter fraud on ‘Democratic agenda’ is found guilty of voter fraud
Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado
“A Weld District Court jury turned in two convictions in the case of a former Colorado Republican Party chairman accused of voter fraud by filling out his ex-wife’s ballot and mailing it in,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Jury members deliberated for about four hours after attorneys on both sides in the case of Steve Curtis, 57, delivered their about two hours of closing arguments Thursday. Curtis, who served as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party from 1997-99 was found guilty of voter fraud and forgery. In October 2016, he filled out a ballot delivered to his Firestone house, which was addressed to his ex-wife and forged her signature. She and Curtis had been separated for months by that point, though, and she was living in South Carolina at the time. He faces up to three years in prison, although Weld District Court Judge Julie Hoskins said probation is more likely. Throughout the trial and on the witness stand, Curtis claimed he was in a diabetic blackout when he filled out the ballot and did not remember the incident for months. He claimed he was blacking out often during the closing months of 2016 and had no intention of forging his ex-wife’s signature.” According to The Tribune, the prosecutor in the case said Curtis was a talk radio host who blamed the issue of voter fraud on the “Democratic agenda” just a few weeks before he filled out his wife’s ballot.
“Aztec High School 10th-grader Bill Kearney was working on a project in his first-period math class when he heard what sounded like someone slamming a book on a desk in the classroom across the hall,” reports The Durango Herald. “Students and teachers quickly realized the noise was gunshots. Kearney hid behind the teacher’s desk before being instructed to hide in a utility closet. “I heard a lot of shots,” he said. “It felt like the whole thing lasted a long time.” It is unknown exactly how many shots were fired Thursday morning during the shooting that would end up leaving three people dead, including the gunman, in this small town 35 miles south of Durango. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office identified the two victims as Casey Marquez and Francisco Fernandez. New Mexico State Police confirmed the shooter was a male but declined to identify the suspect or say whether he was a student.”
“The Bureau of Land Management is issuing a one-year delay in key aspects of its rule regulating methane emissions in oil and gas development, an action welcomed by industry groups for the savings that will result, but considered wasteful and environmentally harmful by critics,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The move is intended to keep companies from having to invest in short-term compliance with measures that the BLM may not require once it finishes a long-term review of the rule, which was put in place last year by the Obama administration. The BLM is considering revising or rescinding the rule in accordance with President Trump’s goal of reducing regulatory burdens on energy development. The 2016 rule was intended to reduce natural gas waste from venting, flaring and leaks during oil and gas production involving onshore federal and Indian leases. It’s modeled after a pioneering rule in Colorado, and would result in reduced emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, and associated pollutants while boosting federal royalty revenues.”
“A proposed city of Loveland annexation of property on the east side of Boyd Lake drew nearly 200 residents to a public meeting Thursday to hear the city’s plan for the area and to voice concerns about apartments proposed to be built there,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “A petition has received 250 signatures to stop the annexation and rezoning of the 27-acre property at the southeast corner of Frank Road and Boyd Lake Avenue. Neighborhood residents turned out to the Best Western on U.S. 34 in Loveland in force to voice concerns about traffic congestion, decreased property values, overcrowded schools, the safety of children playing near roads and losing their lakeside views. The city hosted the public meeting as the mandatory first step in the annexation and rezoning process. The Thursday meeting was the fourth neighborhood meeting on the contentious development, which has been in the works since 2015.”
“Fort Collins has a path forward for carbon neutral electricity — and no coal — by 2030,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “On Thursday, Platte River Power Authority — the electricity provider for Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park and Longmont — unveiled details about what could be the most affordable way to get there. It would include mostly wind and solar power supplemented by about 25 percent gas-powered electricity, according to a Platte River-commissioned study by Pace Global. Extra renewable energy generated would be sold to other energy users to offset greenhouse gas emissions from gas-powered electricity.”
“Three Routt County officials recently sent a memo to the county’s human resources department detailing several concerns they had about the work environment and top management at the county treasurer’s office,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The memo, which outlined the observations of Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth, Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and Clerk and Recorder Recording Supervisor Barb Houston, stated the three officials walked away from a grievance hearing for a treasurer’s office employee thinking “there is reason for concern about fair and equitable treatment of (treasurer’s office) employees below the level of Chief Deputy Treasurer.” The memo raises serious questions about Treasurer Brita Horn’s leadership of the office at a time she is seeking higher office in the state as Colorado’s treasurer.”
“Boulder County and Lafayette are pushing back against an oil and gas operator by asking that state regulators reject a plan for additional wells and require more public participation in the development,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Extraction Oil and Gas is the second operator along with Crestone Peak Resources to propose dotting unincorporated county land with multiple wells. Kim Sanchez, the county’s chief planner, said she plans to request that Extraction be required by state regulators to schedule local public forums on the two developments. Her request will be heard at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hearing scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at 1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 801, in Denver. She said Lafayette staff also will be there.”
“Several private foundations and nonprofits on Thursday gave a more than $24 million boost to an idea that has gained attention from Denver affordable-housing advocates as a promising way to put homeownership within reach for lower-income families in the metro area,” reports The Denver Post. “By forming the Elevation Community Land Trust and committing that money, its backers aim to create the largest community land trust in Colorado. Within five years, the new organization could assemble a collection of 700 homes scattered across the city and its suburbs — split between existing houses and new townhomes and condos — using a model that reduces the cost for buyers who fall below income limits. It would do so by holding ownership of the land under each home in a nonprofit trust in perpetuity, leasing the land to the home’s owner for regular payments. Upon reselling the house, owners would pocket a portion, but not all, of any increase in the home’s value. Future buyers would face similar income qualifications.”
“Superior may soon sanction a pay raise for the town’s future mayor and trustees in an effort to match the latest offerings of its Boulder County neighbors; by 2019, its elected leaders would enjoy a salary roughly 700 percent greater than what trustees were paid only a few years ago,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “If approved Monday, the ordinance would bump the monthly compensation for the mayor from $500 to $1,100, a 120 percent raise — future trustees would also see a roughly 167 percent pay bump, according to a town staff report. Current trustees wouldn’t be eligible for the raise unless they are reelected, according to the ordinance’s language; three trustee seats are up for reelection in 2018, and another three will be in 2020. Clint Folsom, the town’s current mayor, is eligible to run again in 2018.”
“An upcoming death penalty trial could have the largest pool of prospective jurors in El Paso County history,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Jury summonses were mailed out last week to 2,800 people for the double murder trial of former Fort Carson soldier Glen Galloway – larger than any local pool on record, court officials say, but less than a third of the 9,000 people who were called for Aurora theater shooter James Holmes. The job of winnowing the group of nearly 3,000 to a panel of 12 jurors plus six alternates begins Jan. 2 and is expected to take up to three months.”
“Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are urging Senate leaders to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program by the year’s end to avoid cuts in funding to rural public schools,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “The Secure Rural Schools program, which expired in 2015, supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services and other essential county services throughout the country. Bennet has introduced legislation to restore that funding for schools in 43 Colorado counties. Last year Colorado received $11.8 million in SRS funding from 2015 revenues, Bennet’s office reports. Without the program’s funding in 2016, Colorado counties saw an average 52 percent decrease in payments — a loss of $6.2 million dollars for essential services and schools in rural counties, Bennet says.”
“Denver officials are working to show more details about where marijuana tax revenue is going, but there’s still room for improvement, according to the Denver Auditor’s Office,” reports Denverite. “Recommendations from a 2016 audit pointing out ways the city could be more transparent about how pot taxes are being spent have been “partially implemented.” But the 2018 budget for the city does not detail how each Denver agency is using the money generated from legal marijuana sales, the auditor’s office announced Thursday in a follow-up report. The initial audit looked at the Office of Marijuana Policy. The office is now part of the Department of Excise and Licensing.”
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