The Home Front: Cory Gardner says Congress should protect the disabled, ‘an answer he didn’t provide’ when activists besieged his office

“Congress should be able to design protections for the disabled community as lawmakers look at shrinking the growth in the Medicaid program, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said Tuesday to the Pueblo County Farm Bureau,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Gardner, a Republican who was part of the Senate GOP team that fashioned a failed Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, was targeted by the disabled community this summer to oppose reductions in the Medicaid insurance program they rely on for home health services. Gardner said Medicaid spending in both the federal and state budgets has swollen rapidly. “But we should be able to design protections for (the disabled) at the state level,” he said during a question period at the farm bureau meeting. That’s an answer he didn’t provide in June and July when disabled activists were besieging his office. Gardner said has met with those groups as well as heard from them last week in raucous town hall meetings in Greeley, Lakewood and Colorado Springs.”

“High turnover, low morale and mandatory overtime exacerbated by significant staffing shortages — with a side of favoritism and retaliation — are among the findings of an independent audit of the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s office,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The 148-page audit, released late Monday during a Weld County Council meeting, makes nearly 20 recommendations for solving those problems. But the problems, to hear Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes tell it, aren’t hers. She was the first to speak during the public comment portion of the council meeting, thanking auditors for proving what she has been saying for three years, that the clerk’s office is understaffed. For that, she blames the Board of Weld County Commissioners, despite commissioners adding 5.5 employees to the clerk’s budget since Koppes took over in 2015. High turnover has prevented Koppes from utilizing those extra positions, and for that, Koppes blames the Weld County recruiter. Koppes said accusations of retaliation and favoritism belong to middle managers, who Koppes said didn’t have training before she took over.”

“After months of debates, arguments and unanswered questions, the Colorado Springs City Council voted Tuesday to cement a set of proposed stormwater fees onto El Paso County’s November ballot,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “With Councilmen Don Knight, Bill Murray and Andy Pico in opposition, the council approved an ordinance revamping the city’s existing code on stormwater fees alongside the official ballot language to be used. The council also approved a payment of $137,265 to hold the election. Knight and Pico opposed the payment. The move is a win for Mayor John Suthers, who has fiercely advocated for the fees’ resurrection since June. His true test, however, will come on Nov. 7, when voters will decide whether to follow through with the proposals and impose the fees on property owners once more.”

“Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts teachers have gone months without back pay for their services,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “That’s about to change. During a special meeting Tuesday night, the Glenwood Springs City Council reached a settlement agreement with the arts center. The city will pay teachers more than $20,000 in back pay. The arts council, which governs the center, will end its city contract and vacate the city-owned former hydroelectric building by the end of the year. That will allow the organization time to liquidate any assets.”

“Gov. John Hickenlooper wants the state to make some changes when it comes to abandoned wells and the flowlines that extend out of them,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Responding to April’s explosion of a home near Firestone that killed two people, Hickenlooper on Tuesday called for some regulatory changes that deal with flowlines from existing and abandoned wells. He also wants to expand the state’s 811 call line to include flowlines. That service helps property owners locate utility lines. The governor’s seven-point proposal also includes calling on the Colorado Legislature to create a nonprofit orphan well fund, which would be used to help pay for sealing abandoned wells and offering refunds for homeowners who want methane monitors.”

“Longmont voters will be asked in November to authorize the city to sell $36.3 million in bonds backed by water customers’ user rates, to raise the city’s municipal sales tax rate to pay for hiring more public safety personnel and to charge retail recreational marijuana customers a special pot tax. In separate votes, the City Council on Tuesday night approved advancing all three measures to the ballot,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The council voted 7-0 for a ballot question that will seek voters’ permission for the city to issue $36.3 million in bonds that would help pay the city’s remaining share of costs of the Windy Gap Firming Project, a multi-government water storage project that currently would include up to 10,000 acre-feet of water stored for Longmont’s use.”

“Colorado’s Office of Behavioral Health announced this week that Frisco and Montrose will both receive funding for new mental health facilities serving the Western Slope,” reports The Summit Daily News. “A senate bill signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May set aside millions in marijuana tax dollars for upgrades to Colorado’s mental health system and to help curtail the use of jails to house those in crisis who have not been charged with a crime. The deficiency in rural facilities was specifically targeted in the bill, which set aside nearly $2 million over two years to expand services.”

“Colorado State Representative Steve Lebsock (D) of Thornton was born in Sterling and considers northeastern Colorado to be more than just a place on the map,” reports The Sterling Journal-Advocate. “Lebsock is proud of his heritage and family influence on the Eastern Plains. While Lebsock’s family was the first to move away from the family farm in Logan County, he still credits his work ethic and sense of fairness to the “farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs” in his bloodline. “If there’s one thing I learned from my hard-working family,” Lebsock said, “it’s this: work hard and don’t lie.”

“Two longstanding Colorado institutions have applied to run Boulder County’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Initiative (SARII) as it transitions away from the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops on open space land,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “It is the second round of bidding on the project after the first round failed to produce a viable proposal. A previous bidder has dropped out of the running, and the involvement of the Rodale Institute, embroiled in a controversial bidding process , is unclear. Details of the proposals are not made public until after county commissioners have made a decision. Staff who have viewed them declined comment.”

“Finding an organization to oversee a permanent homeless camp in Durango has proved challenging, city staff told the Durango City Council Tuesday,” reports The Durango Herald. “Thus far, nonprofits focused on serving homeless residents in the area haven’t shown interest in managing a homeless camp and related efforts, Assistant City Manager Kevin Hall told council. Local nonprofits function on a shoestring budget and can’t take on something new, Assistant City Manager Amber Blake said. While the city has land that could be used for the project, it can’t manage that kind of facility because it is not a social services agency, Hall said.”

“To help protect the fragile ecosystem of Hanging Lake, where as many as 1,100 people visit on a busy summer day, the White River National Forest is proposing a visitor cap, fees, timed reservations and shuttles to the trailhead,” reports The Denver Post. “Hanging Lake is a Colorado treasure and really beloved by so many,” said Aaron Mayville, the Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger for the most trafficked national forest in the country. Maybe too beloved by too many. That’s becoming an increasingly urgent theme in Colorado, where treasures such as the state’s 54 fourteeners, remote backcountry lakes and popular national parks have been swarmed by record numbers of visitors as the state’s population surged. Federal and state land managers are navigating a delicate dance in Colorado, balancing those record crowds with duties to protect natural resources.”