The Home Front: An attempted jail riot over food portions, anonymous threatening letters to politicians, and more

“An attempted riot over food portions at the El Paso County Jail in November was not without warning signs,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “In the weeks after the institution switched food service providers in early fall, complaints about meals skyrocketed, deputies warned their supervisors as pressures mounted and inmates from several wards threatened to ‘take matters into their own hands’ if something wasn’t done, according to information provided by the Sheriff’s Office in response to a Colorado Open Records Act request. The turmoil began in September, when the jail’s vendor changed from Aramark Correctional Services LLC, which had served the institution for 18 years, to Trinity Services Group Inc.” The Colorado Springs Independent, the alt-weekly in the city, first reported on issues at the jail related to food in an early February cover story titled “Gruel and Unusual” that relied in part on an open records request and interviews with inmates and their families.

“A string of anonymous letters, which some Weld County commissioners have described as increasingly threatening, have initiated two law enforcement investigations and have put county officials on edge,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Weld County Undersheriff Donnie Patch on Monday attended a brief work session with commissioners in which commissioners shared their concerns — as well as the letters — with law enforcement. ‘It concerns me,’ said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer. ‘That’s why I asked for Undersheriff Patch to come over.’ Commissioner Steve Moreno’s wife was sent a letter at her work in Larimer County. The letter made a variety of accusations against Moreno. Moreno, the former clerk and recorder, said he and his wife laughed off the allegations, but Moreno said he was still concerned about the letter. Loveland police are investigating, Moreno said. ‘The investigator told my wife it was a very serious issue, and (the person who sent the letter) was a very disturbed individual,’ Moreno said. ‘He told (my wife) to take precautions.'”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald profiles two longtime local court bailiffs. “Bill Monroe, 87, started volunteering as a court bailiff in the Loveland Police and Courts Building at 810 E. 10th St. just one week before Flo Holesovsky, 75, joined him as a bailiff in the courtroom of former Loveland Municipal Court Judge John Easley 20 years ago. Since then, Monroe and Holesovsky have been running court documents between the court clerk’s office and the courtroom, explaining rules of the court to defendants, issuing them paperwork and directing them to offices around the Police and Courts Building.”

“Some called it a simple cleanup bill, but others said a measure dealing with last year’s law opening full-strength liquor sales to grocery stores did a lot more than that,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Because of that dispute, a measure that was intended to fix a glitch in last year’s law died on a surprising bipartisan 18-17 vote Monday. ‘A lot of the people that are involved in this internally and externally (of the statehouse) are really unclear and uncertain about how all this comes together and how it’s being determined,’ said Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs. ‘This is a tough decision because several of my mom-and-pop (liquor stores) are saying, ‘It doesn’t sound like a bad deal.’ But then I have several that said, ‘I hate this. This is going to destroy us.’ So it’s going to be a hard decision for a lot of us on how to vote on this.'”

The Coloradoan in Fort Collins reports on one of its county commissioners announcing a run for governor. “Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter will throw his trademark cowboy hat into the ring for the 2018 governor’s race. The Livermore Republican said he had been toying with the idea for a while, usually in talks with his father. The growing divide in the country — which is as much rural-versus-urban as it is Democrat-versus-Republican, Gaiter noted — was a key motivating factor. It’s also an inspiration for his campaign slogan, ‘Bridging the divide.’ Further, Gaiter’s father recently died. He said it makes his campaign for governor a bit of a tribute to his father, though the larger factor was ‘if not me, who, and if not now, when?’ As if cementing that commitment, Gaiter would be eschewing a third term as commissioner to instead run for governor.”

“The first bill to advance from the Colorado Legislature this year and become law could eventually be used by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to set a tax for upkeep and expansion of the valleywide public bus system,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “House Bill 17-1018 extends the time period that regional transportation authorities can ask voters for approval of a property tax for public transit systems. The authorization to levy a property tax was set to sunset in January 2019. The new law extends the sunset until January 2029.”

“Eleven firms, including some of Colorado’s largest commercial waste management companies, attended a pre-bid meeting Monday morning to learn more about what Boulder County wants in a new recycling center operator,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The county announced last month that it was, for the first time in 17 years, seeking competitive bids for its recycling operation, a role the nonprofit Eco-Cycle has played since 2000. Among those firms attending the meeting were Waste Management, Alpine Waste and Recycling, Boulder-based Western Disposal, Midwest Waste, and Eco-Cycle, which plans to submit its own bid to continue running the center.”

“House Republicans on Monday released their long-awaited plan for unraveling former President Barack Obama’s health care law, a package that would scale back the government’s role in health care and likely leave more Americans uninsured,” reads a wire report on the front page of The Boulder Daily Camera. “House committees planned to begin voting on the 123-page legislation Wednesday, launching what could be the year’s defining battle in Congress. GOP success is by no means a slam dunk. In perhaps their riskiest political gamble, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under Obama’s overhaul, including many residents of states carried by President Donald Trump in November’s election. Republicans said they don’t have official estimates on those figures yet. But aides from both parties and nonpartisan analysts have said they expect coverage numbers to be lower.”

The Durango Herald profiles the retirement of a local clock repairman. “For 25 years, Robert Scott has lived in a house on Florida Road four miles east of town where he also repairs clocks and makes jewelry. After more than a quarter century, he said it’s time to sell Clock Repair and Restoration. Scott has been self-employed for more than 30 years, and as one who never cared to have colleagues he likes it that way. ‘I’m a gardener and a homebody,’ he said. ‘It seems when you work with people and you tell them too much, they start to use it against you. I like having a business where I set my own hours. I like being able to go work on a clock at 8 p.m.'”

“An attorney representing the estate of John Patrick Walter believes the medical provider at the Fremont County Jail appeared to have a ‘money-making motive’ for not taking Walter to a hospital when he fell ill,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “New information regarding the medical provider’s contract with Fremont County and information about the provider’s internal budget figures shows the medical provider at the jail may not have provided proper care to Walter because money wasn’t properly budgeted. Walter, 53, was taken into custody April 2, 2014, and found dead in his cell 17 days later. He was being held on charges of first-degree assault, felony menacing and reckless endangerment.”

“A $9.5 million proposal would outlaw locking people in jail when they are picked up on mental health holds and bolster the state’s network of crisis-response teams, walk-in treatment centers and transportation from rural Colorado,” reports The Denver Post. “A bill under consideration at the statehouse would ban the use of jails to house people who are a “danger to themselves or others” but have not committed any crime. Colorado is one of only six states that allows putting people who are suicidal or having mental health episodes behind bars.”