The Home Front: Gorsuch rulings, free speech zones, and fake news lectures in Colorado

The Denver Post reports on what 10 key opinions by President Donald Trump’s Colorado nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, say about the judge’s judicial mindset. His “conservative credentials are evident in opinions from his decade-plus tenure on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver,” the paper reports.

“College students wouldn’t be restricted to free-speech zones in order to express their First Amendment rights under a bill that cleared a Senate committee Thursday,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The measure, offered by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Parker, is aimed at making sure that students, regardless of their political leanings, are not restricted in where they can express themselves when they are in public areas of university and college campuses. The bill is limited only to those open areas and does not attempt to dictate what happens inside college classrooms, Neville said. ‘We’re trying to make sure those free-speech rights are being honored at the same time allowing the university to make sure it can fulfill its educational function,’ he said.” “‘The rise of these so-called free-speech or safe-space zones kind of spreads an incorrect premise that this is where you can speak freely, and everywhere else not so much.'”

The Longmont Times-Call reports on a recent lecture about fake news. “Kent Willmann, an instructor at the University of Colorado’s School of Education, had an overarching message for those looking for tips on discerning fake news from real news: do your homework,” the paper reports. “Willmann started his presentation at the Longmont Library on Thursday night by noting that he was an education instructor, and he doesn’t teach in either the journalism or political science colleges. ‘What I try to do with high school teachers and students is help them be better consumers of news and media of all different types,’ Willmann said. ‘I do have some journalism experience. Years ago my first job was as a paperboy.'” He said there’s no easy solution to the fake news problem. The lecture, initially to be held in a library, was moved to the city council chambers “to accommodate more people.”

“A legal battle between Weld County and a renewable energy company continues to work its way through U.S. District Court, with both sides asking the judge to use force in their favor,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Heartland Biogas, which breaks down various waste materials to create natural gas, has been under fire for more than a year, with dozens of neighbors filing about 400 odor-related complaints. When the Board of Weld County Commissioners on Dec. 28 suspended Heartland’s special use permit for a variety of alleged violations, including odor, the company sued. Heartland continued to operate on Weld County Road 49 near LaSalle in violation of the commissioners’ order. Late Thursday, company officials said in an email, they had stopped operating.”

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports marijuana is still good for the local economy. “City sales tax records show the industry sold about $10.8 million in product last year and added $431,113 to the sales tax coffers,” the paper reports. “Medical and retail pot sales grew by 18 percent, or about $1.6 million, last year compared to 2015. And the sales have come a long way since 2014, when $6.8 million of product was sold. ‘I just still think Colorado is getting a lot of marijuana tourism,’ Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill said Thursday. ‘Nobody is selling retail marijuana like Colorado is right now.'”

Colorado’s U.S. senators, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, are getting slammed with phone calls, The Coloradoan in Fort Collins reports. Read our own report about this recent ramp-up in activism here.

“An investigation by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has determined that Trinidad School District No 1 violated Title IX by failing to respond to claims of sexual harassment and assault,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Kimberly Begano, who filed the complaint with OCR after contacting both district officials and Trinidad police, was notified of the three-year investigation’s findings in a Jan. 19 letter. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex, in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports how the body of a slain RTD officer in Denver was returned to Loveland. “Family, friends and co-workers of Scott VonLanken gathered at Viegut Funeral Home to unload his casket. VonLanken, 56, was shot to death while on duty as an RTD Security officer in Wynkoop Plaza outside Union Station. Several officers with Allied United, the security professionals contracted by RTD, assisted in the procession from Denver and spoke kindly of their fallen co-worker while at Viegut Funeral Home.”

“Boulder and the University of Colorado have finalized an agreement on how the city will provide power to the campus if and when the city begins to operate its own electrical utility separate from Xcel Energy,” The Boulder Daily Camera reports. “The agreement, which does not set rates or include any kind of price tag, goes before the City Council on Tuesday. ‘We are connected to the infrastructure that delivers power into the city and is currently owned by Xcel,’ CU spokeswoman Frances Draper said. ‘All we’ve done is say that, if that comes to pass, we have an agreement so we know how it will work. It doesn’t change anything we are doing today.'”

The Gazette in Colorado Springs reports “an Air Force official revealed to the county commissioners on Thursday that the service has a five-year plan to mitigate water contamination that recently had southern El Paso County residents searching for clean water sources after wells in Security, Widefield and Fountain were tainted by perfluorinated compounds from toxic firefighting foam.”