Remember the Roan!

Is it just me, or is the globe still warming?

Governor Bill Ritter has appointed a 32-member education council, as Berny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Gov. Bill Ritter Tuesday appointed a 32-member council with broad authority to recommend changes in education, from preschool through graduate school. Ritter has been promising to name such a committee since the election campaign last year.

He put off approving several school reform bills during the 2007 legislative session, saying he wanted the council to look at the entire education system before implementing changes.

Unlike previous study groups, this one will not conclude its work with one report. It will continue to make recommendations on legislation and administrative changes indefinitely, Ritter said.

Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, who will co-chair the council, said the group will work to come up with ideas that “power us into a leadership position for the whole country.”

Also chairing the panel will be businessman Bruce Benson, former chairman of Metropolitan State College trustees; and Colorado State University-Pueblo President Joseph Garcia.

The four-member advisory committee includes education commissioner Dwight Jones and higher education director David Skaggs.


Congressmen Mark Udall and John Salazar are trying to delay drilling on the now infamous Roan Plateau. As Judith Kohler of The Associated Press reports:

Two Colorado congressmen will try this week to delay federal funding for new energy leases on top of the Roan Plateau to give the state and public more time to study the federal management plan and consider alternatives.

Democrats John Salazar and Mark Udall are sponsoring an amendment that says no money in the Interior Department’s appropriations bill could be used to open new oil and gas leases on federal land on the western Colorado landmark.

The congressmen were getting help from the conservation group Trout Unlimited, which wants to preserve pristine waterways on the plateau, including habitat for Colorado River cutthroat trout.

The House is expected to debate the bill later this week.
After seven years of study, hearings and comment from state agencies, the Colorado office of the Bureau of Land Management finalized a plan last week that authorizes up to 1,570 new natural-gas wells on and around the Roan Plateau over 20 years.

It projects up to 13 well pads and 210 wells on top of the Roan.

Multiple wells can be drilled from one pad, and wells would be clustered on pads spaced a half-mile apart.
But Udall and Salazar have said a year’s moratorium on new leases would allow time to weigh the impacts on the plateau, which rises about 3,000 feet above the floor of the Colorado River.


As Perry Swanson of The Colorado Springs Gazette reports, a legislative panel in Colorado Springs yesterday focused on the disabled:

People with severe disabilities in the Pikes Peak region are suffering because there’s too little government funding for health care, job training and other services.

That was the message Tuesday from hundreds of parents and friends of people with developmental disabilities in a forum with local and state lawmakers. Some parents pointed out Colorado’s funding for disabled people is among the lowest in the nation, even while incomes in the state make it among the wealthiest.

Louis Lucas, whose 28-year-old son has autism, called Colorado’s tax support for the services “starvation-level funding.”

“What do each of you intend to do to correct this gross disparity?” Lucas asked a panel of lawmakers gathered at the Antlers Hilton hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.

The panelists offered few specific answers, but they said they would look for ways to provide more money. Several of them cautioned a tax increase would be difficult because it would require approval from voters. That rule in the state constitution has led to funding shortfalls in several areas, said state Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

“We’ve chosen not to tax ourselves,” Morse said. “The bottom line is eventually we’re going to need more money into government.”

State Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, said another option is ensuring El Paso County residents get a fair share of state tax money allocated for people with disabilities.


Former Rocky Flats workers received more bad news yesterday when a board investigating pleas for help told them to get bent. As Ann Imse and Laura Frank of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

For sick Rocky Flats workers, a federal board’s rejection of their plea for aid Tuesday was an expected but nevertheless devastating loss.

Former atomic bomb makers with cancer were crushed and tearful when the board denied the majority of them immediate medical care and compensation. They say they are dying because they put their lives on the line for America at the now-demolished nuclear weapons plant outside Denver.

“How many more workers have to die?” asked Terry Bonds, district director for the United Steelworkers Union, which filed the petition.

But the board did accept the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s assurance that it can estimate workers’ radiation contamination, well enough to prove – or disprove – that it caused their cancers. Workers say many exposures went unrecorded so managers could earn bonuses instead of fines. As a result, they say, the dose estimates are wrong.

“It is an outrage that six of the advisory board members decided to believe the faulty, insufficient and incomplete data that NIOSH uncovered over workers’ experiences of what actually happened at that plant,” Bonds said.
The plant 15 miles northwest of Denver made plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads. It opened in 1951 but was shut down in 1991 after a troubled history that included several fires…

…Workers took the denial as a call to battle.
They plan to appeal and seek an override from Congress. Democratic Rep. Mark Udall has sponsored such legislation, Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar is seeking hearings on the compensation program’s problems, and Republican Sen. Wayne Allard promised to be an “advocate.”

It’s not coincidence that a great number of former workers have cancer. What evidence do they need other than that?


Senator Ken Salazar is joining President Bush in a call to revive talks on illegal immigration. As Peter Roper of The Pueblo Chieftain reports:

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and others joined President Bush on Tuesday in trying to restart the comprehensive immigration bill that derailed in the Senate last week when most Republican senators opposed bringing the bill to a vote.

Bush met with Republican senators behind closed doors to urge their support while other backers of the bill, such as Salazar and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., organized press conferences in an attempt to revive the nearly dead legislation.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would bring the legislation back to the Senate for further debate and action this month if assured by the White House of more Republican support for the measure. That commitment wasn’t apparent Tuesday.


With Democrats in control on Capitol Hill, subpoenas have been flying fast and furiously. As The New York Times reports:

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote Thursday on whether to authorize subpoenas to gain access to Justice Department documents related to the National Security Agency’s domestic wiretapping program, including a series of secret legal opinions.
The vote comes a week after Democratic leaders on a House Judiciary subcommittee threatened to issue subpoenas for the same documents.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and its ranking Republican, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, wrote to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on May 21 seeking access to the documents and asked for a response by June 5. The panel will vote on whether to authorize Mr. Leahy to issue subpoenas for the documents He could decide to subpoena the documents or to use that power as leverage with the Justice Department.


Rocky Mountain News reporter M.E. Sprengelmeyer is helping the Rocky in mapping the money being contributed to Presidential candidates:

Ace Rocky reporter M.E. Sprengelmeyer has turned Extra! on to a new toy on the Internet.
The Federal Election Commission, in an effort to make campaign contributions as transparent as possible to average Extras like you and me, has a handy map on its Web site tracking the who, what and where of money given to presidential candidates.

While the actual dollar amounts are reported in the media, it’s possible via the FEC site to map out the state to see where the donations are coming from and for how much.