The Home Front: In immigration meeting with Trump, Colorado sheriff asks for federal funds to ‘indemnify sheriffs when sued by the ACLU’

“Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith was among a small group of law enforcement officials invited to the White House on Tuesday to speak about immigration and sanctuary cities and states,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Smith is no stranger to Washington, D.C., but this trip was different. ‘It’s a little unbelievable to get a phone call and be there within 24 hours,’ he said. President Donald Trump told the roundtable of experts gathered that he wanted to ‘discuss the threat of very lawless, in many cases, sanctuary cities,’ saying they are ‘causing a lot of problems.’ ‘Sanctuary cities and states like California put innocent Americans at the mercy of hardened criminals, hardened murderers in many cases,’ the president said. Saramento, California, Sheriff Scott Jones and Gwinnett County, Georgia, Sheriff Butch Conway were the other sheriffs involved in the discussion. Smith, who is the president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, thanked the president, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and staff for their efforts to ‘restore the rule of law.’ …  Smith also thanked the federal representatives for their work on clarifying legal contracts for detainers and requested federal resources to ‘indemnify sheriffs when sued by the ACLU.'”

“Rep. Ken Buck said Wednesday he’s concerned the special counsel investigation has gone beyond its original scope, saying the law allowing the special prosecutor undermines the integrity of U.S. elections,” reports The Greeley Tribune. The paper “reached out to Buck and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in the wake of the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, statements from President Donald Trump’s attorney regarding the special counsel investigation and tweets from the president on the same topic. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., was quick to offer his take on Twitter last week, saying any effort to interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation would create constitutional crisis and undermine the rule of law. Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano said the senator’s views on the special counsel haven’t changed since Mueller was appointed, and Siciliano pointed to Gardner’s original statement: ‘I fully support the decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russia. We need to get all the facts, and Mueller is the type of person that is respected and trusted by both Republicans and Democrats and will put country over politics.'”

“Hundreds of students in schools across the Grand Valley stood up from their desks and silently walked out of class Wednesday morning — not in agreement on politics or gun control or a solution to school violence, but unified in their grief for the 17 people who died in last month’s school shooting in Florida,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “School District 51 high school students organized the 17-minute demonstration — one for each of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School victims — after national walkouts were planned for March 14, a date that fell during the district’s spring break.”

“Carbondale voters are in the process of deciding between five candidates to fill four seats on the town’s Board of Trustees, as mailed ballots are out for the April 3 election,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Incumbent Trustees Erica Sparhawk, Heather Henry and Luis Yllanes, all of whom were appointed within the last two years to their respective seats, are running for formal election.”

“Conservative commentator Ann Coulter spent most of the first 15 minutes of her appearance at the University of Colorado — put on by the conservative Turning Point USA as a ‘free speech’ event — deriding immigrants as ugly rapists who depress wages and ‘block vote’ for Democrats,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “‘I’m totally a ‘looksist,'” Coulter said. “I told Donald Trump when he was running that he could completely get rid of the (Immigration and Naturalization Services) and I’d do it all before breakfast on Tinder.” She opened with a shot at former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has recently taken to criticizing the Republican Party and announced plans to sue big oil companies over climate change, as proof that California is too liberal.”

“Hundreds of Thompson School District students are expected to walk out of class for a rally at Dwayne Webster Veterans Park on Friday to promote increased school safety,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The rally will start at the park at 1 p.m., lasting one hour, and is expected to draw at least 200 students but possibly many more, said Ehret Nottingham, spokesman for the rally and a junior at Loveland High School. “It could be anywhere from 200 to 800 students,” said Nottingham, explaining that the estimate is based on social media response. “It also could be a lot bigger than that.” The students from schools across the district will meet at the park for the rally, though those from Loveland High will walk out at noon, observe 17 minutes of silence for those killed in Parkland, Fla., and then march from the school to the park, which borders Eisenhower Boulevard.”

“Real estate developers who are hoping to annex new neighborhoods into West Steamboat Springs walked away from their latest meeting with the city’s elected officials optimistic about the future of the development,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “‘We’re really in the zone,’ Brynn Grey Partners CEO David O’Neil said Wednesday. “‘It was really constructive.’ The council spent about five and a half hours with Brynn Grey at a work session coming to agreements about the terms of the annexation.”

“Army officials want to install two weapons incinerators, called ‘static detonation chambers,’ at the Pueblo chemical weapons destruction plant, saying they offer the best chance of destroying all the mustard-agent weapons stored here by 2023, the government’s target year,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The Citizen Advisory Commission listed to the presentation Wednesday night and Chairman Irene Kornelly acknowledged the Army seems to promoting the old-style weapons technology that Pueblo rejected decades ago when it argued for the construction of the $4 billion water-based neutralization plant that now stands at the depot.”

“The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics may be over, but the discussion about whether the Denver metro area and the Colorado High Country should jointly host its own future Olympics is just beginning,” reports Summit Daily. “On Wednesday morning, the Summit Daily hosted its latest “What’s Brewing?” event, one focused on the question of whether or not Colorado should bid to host a Winter Games. The event was organized in the wake of last month’s five “mountain community meetings” hosted by the Denver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee. The local meetings, which invited Summit County community leaders and stakeholders, included stops in Frisco and Breckenridge.”

“Boulder County’s Public Trustee, nearing financial insolvency, met with county commissioners today to explore potential fixes to the budget crisis. Trustee Jim Martin and a representative from the governor’s office, Romaine Pacheco, met with Deb Gardner and Cindy Domenico to explain how and why the governor-appointed trustee’s office has nearly run out of money,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Martin told the Camera that funds could be zeroed out as early as May 1. The meeting was “not an ask” for money, Pacheco said, but simply a prompt to begin exploring the legal and financial possibilities of Boulder County providing temporary funding to the trustee, which generates revenue from fees charged on real estate transactions Martin’s office handles.”

“A Houston school executive will lead Eagle County Schools, the school board announced Wednesday afternoon, March 21,” reports Vail Daily. “After months of searching and days of interviews and deliberations, the school board selected Dr. Carlos Ramirez as the next superintendent. He will succeed Dr. Jason Glass, who left Eagle County Schools last spring to take the helm of Jefferson County schools. Ramirez was one of two finalists, with the other being Dr. Tyler Ream, also of Houston, current associate superintendent of academics for the Spring Branch Independent School District.”

“Fremont County Clerk and Recorder Katie Barr bonded out of jail Wednesday afternoon, according to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “She made her first court appearance hours earlier, one day after she was arrested in connection with alleged embezzlement. Barr’s arrest came after a six-month investigation into financial discrepancies found in her office. She was held at the Fremont County Jail on charges of embezzlement of public property, harassment, intimidation of a witness and fraud by check.”

“Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, who oversaw the massive expansion of the city’s water supply and the decision to eventually shutter the downtown, coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant, will retire at the end of May,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Forte, 63, who was earning nearly $450,000 this year, said he told the Utilities board of his plans Wednesday in an executive session. “It’s something that we’ve worked on, we developed a transition plan and it was just a matter of when the time is right,” Forte said. “And for me, I think the time is just right.” A Colorado Springs native, Forte was with the municipal utility since 2002. He was the chief operating officer his first four years with Utilities before being promoted to chief executive officer in 2006.”

“The Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday agreed to set aside $825 million in next year’s budget to address the three biggest — and most contentious — financial issues of the 2018 legislative session: transportation, schools and the state pension fund,” reports The Denver Post. “The unanimous decisions by the bipartisan budget writing committee won’t be the final word on how the funding is divvied up among the three. But they will set something of a financial benchmark for the ongoing spending negotiations by lawmakers in each chamber. Transportation would get the biggest infusion — $500 million in one-time money, as requested by Democratic Gov. John Hicklenlooper, after the latest revenue forecasts showed the state government surprisingly flush with cash for next year. The committee also agreed to set aside $100 million to reduce the annual amount the state under-funds public schools and $225 million to help pay down the Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s unfunded liability.”

“The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office said it will not manage a proposed campsite adjacent to the Durango Dog Park where Durango City Council plans to allow homeless residents to sleep,” reports The Durango Herald. “City councilors want the existing homeless camp north of the Tech Center closed to help mitigate fire danger and to address safety concerns of residents on the west side of town. They plan to prohibit setting up semi-permanent camps but will allow people to pitch tents and sleep overnight on the property.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.


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