The Home Front: Pension tension in Colorado

“Colorado’s three largest public pension funds now have about a 40 percent chance of running out of money in the coming decades, putting the Public Employees’ Retirement Association on its most precarious financial footing since the Great Recession,” reports The Denver Post. “According to financial projections released last week, Colorado’s public retirement funds are now only 58.1 percent funded, down from 62.1 percent last year and 64.7 percent in 2010 — the year the legislature enacted sweeping reforms to shore up the pension fund.”

“Colorado State University scientists, student interns and a couple of high schoolers are venturing into land in Spring Valley and north of Rifle this week to collect wildlife and plant life data, adding to a data set to be used in future conservation efforts,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. Rising before dawn Tuesday morning, the scientists and scientists-to-be made the rounds checking 50 small traps at the ranch they’d set the previous night in the hopes of snaring some small mammals. This is the project’s second year to study the ecosystems at these locations, both owned by John Powers. The team of scientists and interns from CSU’s Colorado Natural Heritage Program is in the area for four days conducting a range of biodiversity studies, which the program has dubbed a ‘bioblitz.'”

“Senate GOP leaders abruptly shelved their long-sought health care overhaul Tuesday, asserting they can still salvage it but raising new doubts about whether President Donald Trump and the Republicans will ever deliver on their promises to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” reads a national wire report in The Greeley Tribune. “Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced a delay for any voting at a closed-door senators’ lunch also attended by Vice President Mike Pence. McConnell’s tone was matter-of-fact, according those present, yet his action amounts to a stinging setback for the longtime Senate leader who had developed the legislation largely in secret as Trump hung back in deference.”

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to recodify its Waters of the United States rule as it was before 2015 — delighting Republicans and provoking environmental organizations,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed the proposed rule on Tuesday. The agency now is seeking public comment on the change. Pruitt’s action is “welcome news,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., who said the Obama-era rule would have usurped long-held state water law and threatened access to private water rights.”

“The Loveland City Council spent most of its meeting time Tuesday night hearing about its possible role in providing high-speed internet in the city, but not before giving final approval to a law allowing the feeding of squirrels and most birds,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The ordinance amends a 2003 law that forbids feeding a variety of wild animals and includes a prohibition on feeding squirrels and birds if they become a nuisance to neighbors. The new law removes the nuisance exception and says that if someone is feeding only squirrels and birds, that “shall be a defense of violating this section” of the law.”

“Rescuers raced up the Poudre Canyon on Tuesday morning after a man became unresponsive in the rough waters of the Poudre River, reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The 64-year-old Severance man was on a commercial rafting trip when his raft flipped. A rafting guide performed CPR until the man was airlifted to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, where he later died. As the guide worked to revive the man, four other rafters waited, stranded on the other side of the Poudre River until rescuers could safely bring them back to shore.”

“Downtown business leaders who have spent years trying to get property tax revenue to keep the city’s urban corridor clean and in tip-top shape will wait another year to ask voters for tax funding a third time,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Some downtown business leaders were eying a ballot question as early as this year. But Main Street Steamboat Manager Lisa Popovich said there just isn’t enough time left in the year for a ballot question to be crafted before a filing deadline, along with an educational campaign in support of the tax.”

“Longmont’s City Council members on Tuesday night gave initial approval to an ordinance that would expand no-smoking zones outside several city buildings,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “There was no council discussion of the measure before the 6-0 council vote. Councilwoman Bonnie Finley was absent. Nor did anyone speak about it during the public-comment portion of Tuesday’s council meeting. The ordinance would ban outdoor smoking on the entire city block northeast of Third Avenue and Kimbark Street, a block where the Longmont Public Library and Longmont’s Civic Center office building are located.”

“A Boulder District Court judge ruled Tuesday that the Longmont parents of a blind, autistic teenage boy who was malnourished nearly to death should spend the next decade in prison, saying she had seen no evidence they had taken accountability,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “David and Vanessa Hall, who pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, were handcuffed at the end of their sentencing hearing, when Judge Ingrid Bakke sentenced them to 10 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections followed by three years of parole. ‘There was a conscious decision to isolate him … so that nobody would see what kind of condition he was in,’ Bakke said about the boy.”

“A rare species of cutthroat trout found near Gypsum is expected to thrive if an idea for stream restoration is realized,” reports Vail Daily. “Thanks to recent donations, that idea is much closer to becoming a reality. Trout Unlimited announced Monday that the Abrams Creek restoration project has been awarded several local and federal grants in recent weeks, totaling $190,500.”

“The Durango City Council discussed where to build a permanent legal campground for homeless residents on Tuesday and found challenges with all of the sites,” reports The Durango Herald. “The site could be governed by a nonprofit similar to Mesilla Valley Community of Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a model that has worked for many years to help transition people out of homelessness, Sheriff Sean Smith said. The council spent the most time discussing a site on the social services campus on Avenida del Sol, which is near the Durango Community Shelter, Manna and housing supplied by Housing Solutions for the Southwest.”

“The deadline to turn in a petition aimed at recalling Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker is due by the end of the day Thursday; however, signatures will fall short by a couple thousand,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Rick Ratzlaff, who is one of the lead petition organizers of the recall group, the Fremont Freedom Fighters, said Tuesday that 2,630 signatures have been gathered. The group needed more than 4,000 signatures. “There are just too many people who are scared,” Ratzlaff said. Ratzlaff started the petition and the recall group after purchasing a storage unit that once belonged to former FCSO Lt. Robert Dodd. The storage unit was filled with evidence from the 2006 homicide of 17-year-old Candace Hiltz and its discovery caused the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to open an investigation of the former officer. The discovery of the evidence also led to Dodd being placed on administrative leave Jan. 1 until he retired April 23.”

“Twenty-two potential jurors said they had made up their minds: Ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is guilty,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “All were thanked for their service and sent on their way. Roughly one-third of the 90 people called for jury selection Tuesday were dismissed on the opening day of Maketa’s long-awaited trial on corruption charges, including those who said in pre-trial surveys that they couldn’t be neutral. Opening statements will be heard in 4th Judicial District Court once the field is narrowed to a panel of 12 jurors plus two alternates, a process that could take all day Wednesday or longer. Prospective jurors’ impressions of Maketa and media coverage of the case against him dominated the questioning. … ‘I try not to watch the news,’ one potential juror said. ‘It’s too depressing.'”