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Tank at asphalt plant explodes in Commerce City

February 19, 2018 - 1:00pm

A storage tank at the United Asphalts plant in Commerce City caught fire late Monday morning, sending plumes of dark smoke into the air near the Suncor Energy refinery.

Crews with South Adams County Fire Department responded to calls of a tank on fire at 11:25 a.m. They fought 15-foot high flames before bringing the blaze under under control, fire department spokeswoman Maria Carabajal said.

There were no evacuations required and no injuries reported, she said.

United Asphalts, founded in 1960 in Denver, produces roofing asphalt, including “no-smell” products that uses an odor suppressant.

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Categories: All Denver News.

A Denver-area district where you could walk around with to-go adult beverages takes big step toward reality

February 19, 2018 - 12:48pm

An effort to bring a 150,000-square-foot entertainment and dining complex to Glendale — a plan that has been repeatedly sidetracked in recent years — this month took its most significant step forward when city leaders approved a development agreement with a Texas company.

Glendale City Council approved the agreement with Lincoln Property Co. on Feb. 6, a deal that could eventually result in 9-1/2 acres of city-owned land along the banks of Cherry Creek being transferred to the Dallas-based company as the project, dubbed Glendale 180, gets built out.

The development, which calls for a hotel and 25 bars and restaurants where adults could walk around carrying to-go alcoholic beverages, has been beset by multiple delays in recent years.

A financing agreement between Glendale and Lincoln will have to be negotiated, likely sometime this spring, before any shovels hit the ground, but deputy city manager Chuck Line said this is the furthest along the $175 million project has gotten to date.

“Before, we were barely getting out of the driveway, and now we’re definitely driving down the interstate,” he said.

More specific plans, along with the naming of potential tenants to occupy space inside the project at the southeast corner of East Virginia Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, could be unveiled as early as May, Line said. Glendale leaders agreed to team up with Lincoln last summer to see if it could deliver the project in the city of 5,200 surrounded by Denver.

A previous developer  backed out of a potential deal more than two years ago. That followed a high-profile battle between Glendale and the owners of a longtime Persian rug store, who claimed the city planned to exercise eminent domain to take possession of their business for the purposes of building out Glendale 180.

The city denied it ever threatened condemnation and, following several legal challenges, said it would continue to pursue a slightly scaled back project without the acreage that encompasses the rug store.

The city is also talking to the owner of the Staybridge Suites hotel on East Virginia Avenue to see if the hotel wants to be a part of Glendale 180. The hotel sued the city in 2015 over how it formed its Downtown Development Authority, which is the primary financial engine behind the development.

A judge dismissed the suit the following year.

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Grading the RPI’s effectiveness in setting state tournament fields for girls and boys basketball, hockey

February 19, 2018 - 12:42pm

Post Preps Insider is your daily source for news, story lines, top games and more information on Colorado high school sports — brought to you by Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman.

The 2018 state tournament brackets for girls basketball, boys basketball and hockey were released on Sunday.

Taking the math out of it — the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) formula that determines a team’s seed takes into account winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage, and opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage — how accurately were the tournament fields set?

5A GIRLS HOOPS

Grade: F

Full Bracket

There’s really no other way to say it — this bracket is straight up awful.

Simply put, No. 1 Fruita Monument should not have gotten the top seed. Three of the Wildcats’ marquee wins came against lower-classification teams (Valor Christian, Colorado Springs Christian, Pueblo West), and they didn’t play near the toughness in their 5A schedule as other programs.

Are the Wildcats a top ten seed? Certainly. A top five seed? Probably. Air Force commit Riley Snyder, a senior point guard, is an absolute baller and she’s complimented well by the inside play of senior center and Chadron State commit Angelique Gall.

But in a field where a handful of teams are capable of making a run at the title — Fruita Monument included — Regis Jesuit and Grandview are the clear favorites for whom the RPI (sans a classification modifier) did no favors.

The Raiders, who boast five Division I starters including one of the best prep players in the country in junior Fran Belibi, have not lost in the state of Colorado and are woefully underseeded at No. 6.

Kyle Newman, The Denver PostGrandview girls basketball huddles prior to their win over Cherry Creek in Centennial League action on Jan. 20 in Aurora. The defending state champion Wolves are seeded fourth in the Class 5A playoffs.

Without question, Regis Jesuit should be the No. 1 seed.

Meanwhile the defending champion Wolves, whose lone in-state loss came to Regis Jesuit, are No. 4 — right behind No. 3 Horizon, a team Grandview beat by 10 points just three weeks ago.

No. 10 Castle View and No. 11 Cherry Creek also got shafted. The Sabercats beat No. 9 Mountain Vista by double digits in league play, while the Bruins are clearly a top five team on paper and on the court.

The point of this argument is not to knock Horizon or Mountain Vista. And the point is not to write off Fruita Monument, even though some on the western slope would argue this debate centers around “some sanctity in centering 5A basketball around Denver and anyone else can hit the bricks”.

The simple fact is, CHSAA needs to seed teams as accurately as possible. And while the formula has done well to help non-metro schools like Fruita Monument who don’t get seen by the Front Range all that often, this bracket shows the process needs a human element reintroduced.

4A GIRLS HOOPS

Grade: B-

Full bracket

Only a few complaints here. The RPI got it right with Pueblo West at No. 1, but the Jeffco League teams weren’t given their due by the formula.

Defending champion Evergreen, who are led by junior Claudia Dillon and won the conference, is an insulting No. 6 seed behind No. 5 Valor Christian (who took third in the league behind the Cougars and No. 10 Golden). The Eagles are at about where they should be, but the Demons as well as No. 7 D’Evelyn are both a couple spots better than their seeds.

Meanwhile the biggest snub of this bracket goes to No. 8 Mesa Ridge, who ran the table to the Colorado Springs Metro title while not losing to a 4A team all season.

And No. 2 Holy Family, despite being a championship contender again under longtime coach Ron Rossi, is seeded too high. The Tigers lost to both No. 3 Air Academy and No. 4 Windsor this season.

5A BOYS HOOPS

Grade: C 

Full bracket

Like the 5A girls bracket, this bracket underscores the need for there to be some sort of human element — i.e. a committee — in the seeding process. The top five teams are all mixed up, as there should be consideration given to conference champions as well as recent head-to-head results.

No. 2 ThunderRidge should actually be the top seed seeing as they clinched the outright Continental League title with a win over No. 1 Rock Canyon on Friday. And No. 5 George Washington should be flipped with No. 4 Denver East considering the Patriots beat the Angels on Saturday for the Denver Prep League crown.

4A BOYS HOOPS

Grade: B+

Full Bracket

The top seeds are accurate, as No. 1 Pueblo South, No. 2 Lewis-Palmer and No. 3 Golden each had a couple stumbles this winter, but all three programs consistently proved their elite status.

Overall, it’s a fair set-up for the field, although like with the 4A girls bracket, the other Jeffco League teams besides the Demons — No. 8 Evergreen, No. 9 Valor Christian, No. 13 D’Evelyn and No. 43 Green Mountain — should all be moved up a couple spots, especially in regards to the defending champion (yet sleeper) Eagles. Related Articles

HOCKEY

Grade: A

Full bracket

It’s pretty hard to mess this one up, considering the stranglehold the top three programs currently have on the state.

Thus, the path to the Frozen Four at the Pepsi Center — and to the CHSAA title — runs through No. 1 Regis Jesuit, No. 2 Monarch and No. 3 Valor Christian, with No. 4 Fort Collins getting the advantageous seed of having none of those powers in its quadrant.

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Ken Buck is mistaken about Denver’s public safety ordinance

February 19, 2018 - 12:30pm
LM Otero, Associated Press fileU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prepare to apprehend an undocumented immigrant in Dallas on March 6, 2015.

Re: “Denver’s anti-immigration enforcement policies enable heroin dealers,” Feb. 16 guest commentary.

Comprehensive immigration reform and a robust response to the opioid crisis are languishing in this Congress and deserve action. But conflating these two issues for political purposes and blatantly misreading Denver’s ordinance will not solve either challenge — as Rep. Ken Buck did in his guest commentary — only exacerbates them.

Denver’s decision to limit its involvement in civil federal immigration enforcement with the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act should not be confused with our ongoing commitment to enforce criminal drug laws. As The Denver Post has editorialized, under the straightforward text of the ordinance and Denver’s policies and practices, we will continue to permit our local law enforcement to actively assist in the enforcement and investigation of any criminal law, including criminal drug laws.

The fact is, our ordinance does not prohibit, limit or frustrate our ability to investigate and enforce criminal offenses related to the opioid crisis.

I urge Rep. Buck to actually read Denver’s ordinance and review the online training our employees use.

Michael Hancock, Denver

The writer is mayor of Denver.

Submit a letter to the editor via this form or check out our guidelines for how to submit by e-mail or mail.

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Colorado Springs woman shot in the face, police seek help in “extremely active” case

February 19, 2018 - 12:27pm

Colorado Springs police are looking for information regarding a shooting that took place just before midnight Sunday that sent a woman to the hospital with serious injuries.

The 49-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the face from the 500 block of Iowa Avenue. Her injuries are considered to be non life-threatening, medical staff has reported her condition as stable but guarded.

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“Our detectives have been up all night,” said Howard Black, Colorado Springs Police Department spokesperson. “I’ve been doing some interviews this morning. This case is still extremely active.”

Call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 719-634-7867.

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Greeley homeowner shoots suspected burglar, police say

February 19, 2018 - 12:27pm

Greeley police are investigating a home burglary they believe led to a shooting early Monday morning in central Greeley.

According to a news release from Sgt. Joe Tymkowych, about 5:30 a.m. police received a call from the 1700 block of 15th Street from the wife of a homeowner who was holding a man at gunpoint after he broke into the home.

When officers arrived, according to the release, they heard a single gunshot and later found the suspect in the home with a gunshot wound to the torso.

The man was taken to North Colorado Medical Center and is currently undergoing surgery, but is expected to survive, according to the release.

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Read the full story at GreeleyTribune.com.

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Adams State places president on leave amid uproar over bullying, offensive Halloween costume

February 19, 2018 - 11:56am

The president of Adams State University has been placed on leave amid accusations that she bullied faculty and staff, failed to stem declining student enrollment and mocked blue-collar workers with an offensive Halloween costume that sparked an uproar when photos began circulating on campus.

Provided by Adams State UniversityAdams State University President Dr. Beverlee McClure

Beverlee McClure, who became the university’s first female president in April 2015, was placed on leave last week by the school’s board of trustees, leaving the small San Luis Valley school struggling financially and critics angry — and still fearful — in her wake.

McClure, hired for her business acumen, has been attacked by detractors as being abrasive and combative. Critics say her dismissive attitude toward anyone but those in her inner circle was put on display at an Oct. 26, 2016, Halloween party. McClure attended dressed as an obese plumber and outfitted in a prosthetic fat suit and rotting buck teeth.

“It just showed her contempt for the working people in the community in Alamosa, which is very blue-collar and working class,” said former faculty member Danny Ledonne. “But that is McClure. She cultivated this campus culture of bullying and backstabbing, and anyone who didn’t agree with her or her group were thrown under the bus.”

Several attempts were made to contact McClure, but phone messages were not returned. A university spokeswoman said the school had no way to reach her.

Trustees did not offer details on McClure’s leave, except to say that “the priorities of the current board are no longer congruent with the priorities of the president, and the parties are therefore working to accomplish a mutually agreeable resolution. Dr. McClure will be on leave while the parties work through the details of a transition. The board has asked Dr. Matt Nehring to temporarily assume the duties and responsibilities of president.”

Five former and present Adams State University faculty members who spoke to The Denver Post all backed up Ledonne’s characterization of McClure’s temperament and tactics, but they asked that their names not be used for fear of retaliation from her.

“I’m reluctant to speak up too much since I’m already public enemy #1 on campus in some people’s eyes and I imagine she will seek revenge even if fired,” a current faculty member said, adding that McClure is “incompetent to lead a university. … Her people skills are awful because she is vindictive, hyper-sensitive to criticism, and just plain mean. She mocks people less fortunate that herself, like a waitperson with a stutter.”

McClure has previously said her critics are sexist, and she has accused Ledonne of cyber bullying.

“I believe that stronger laws are needed to protect victims of Internet mobs and cyber bullying,” McClure said in a statement last year. “I hope others will join me in the efforts to support these laws at the state and federal level. We cannot continue to allow Internet mobs to stifle the free speech of others.”

McClure banned Ledonne from campus in late 2015, declaring him a security threat. Ledonne taught in the school’s mass communication program from 2011-15 and also operated a video production business, Emberwild Productions. His business required him to attend and film events on the Adams State campus.

After the school didn’t renew his contract, Ledonne launched Watching Adams, in which he criticized Adams State’s pay practices and accused the university of violating state law by failing to make timely payments to adjunct professors.

The ACLU sued the university, which rescinded Ledonne’s banishment in July 2016 and paid $100,000 to settle the lawsuit. Ledonne now documents and writes about Adams State and its recent woes.

A steady enrollment slide is adding to the school’s problems. During the three years of McClure’s tenure, enrollment has dropped from 1,770 undergraduates in 2015 to 1,577 in 2018, a 12 percent decline.

But Board of Trustees Chair Cleave Simpson said low unemployment is mostly to blame for dipping enrollment, adding that when jobs are plentiful people are less likely to chase a degree.

“People are going to go to work quicker than going to college,” Simpson said. “Adams State faces the same challenges a lot of small, rural colleges face. Getting people to enroll in a good economy is a big challenge.”

The university decided to bring on McClure to build enrollment and cut costs stemming from a campus construction boom, Ledonne said. Before she was hired by Adams State for the $205,000 annual salary — minus benefits — McClure was president and CEO of New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry. That group acts as the statewide chamber of commerce and a business policy think tank.

McClure began streamlining budgets, and staff levels declined, mostly due to people leaving because of low morale, Ledonne said. Enrollment also continued to decline, he said.

“McClure came into a difficult situation and in many instances worsened it, in terms of finances and morale,” he said.

Among those who left under McClure’s term as president was Chris Gilmer, who served as vice president for academic affairs. He resigned a year ago and said that although he valued McClure as a friend and colleague, their friendship had “unfortunately dissolved and has begun to affect the university in a negative way.”

The Halloween party where McClure showed up in her fat suit was held at Gilmer’s house, Ledonne said.

Also last week, the trustees voted to begin a series of cuts to help boost the school’s operating budget by $2.7 million. It was a step toward bolstering its shaky financial standing and answering concerns about Adams State’s fiscal and academic management.

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The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits roughly 1,000 institutions of higher education, in 2016 placed Adams State on probation due largely to the school’s handling of its online courses, including high faculty teaching loads and poor faculty-student interaction. McClure has said the HLC was using Adams State as a “whipping boy.”

And last year, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor cited $98.7 million in capital construction costs for saddling the  university with an annual debt service of more than $4 million a year.

As for McClure, Simpson declined to say anything more than that the trustees and McClure now have different priorities.

“There are a number of outcomes to this down the road, but I really can’t discuss those,” Simpson said.

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Trump revives push for limits on immigrants bringing family

February 19, 2018 - 11:04am

NEW YORK — When the U.S. government approved Ricardo Magpantay, his wife and young children to immigrate to America from the Philippines, it was 1991. By the time a visa was available, it was 2005, and his children could not come with him because they were now adults.

More than a decade later, his children are still waiting.

Magpantay gets worried when he hears the White House is aiming to limit the relatives that immigrants-turned-citizens can sponsor, a profound change to a fundamental piece of the American immigration system.

“It is really frustrating and it is very dreadful for me, because after a long wait, if this will be passed, what will happen for them?” said Magpantay, a 68-year-old mechanical engineer in the Southern California city of Murrieta. “I won’t be able to bring them forever.”

For the past 50-plus years, family reunification has been central to U.S. immigration law. Those who become naturalized citizens can bring spouses and minor children and petition for parents, adult children and siblings to get their own green cards and become Americans in their own right, with their own ability to sponsor.

Many on opposing sides of the immigration debate have long felt the family reunification system needs reform. Immigration advocates want a reassessment of the quotas on how many people can come from a given country in a given year, which has created decadeslong backlogs for citizens of some countries.

Self-described “restrictionists,” including President Donald Trump, want a narrower, nuclear definition of family, making spouses and minor children the only relatives a citizen could sponsor. That’s a central plank of the sweeping immigration overhaul Trump has proposed, a move that activists say could cut legal immigration in the U.S. by half.

Congress rejected competing bills last week meant to resolve the status of hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the U.S. illegally, including one plan that mirrored Trump’s overall immigration proposal. The lack of resolution on an issue that was pivotal to Trump’s election leaves it as potential tinderbox for the midterm congressional elections this fall.

In his State of the Union speech last month, Trump referenced an attempted bombing by a Bangladeshi immigrant in New York in December as proof of the need to curtail what he and others term “chain migration” in favor of a more skills-based system.

“This vital reform is necessary not just for our economy, but for our security and for the future of America,” he said.

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Trump is giving a spotlight to an idea that “was clearly out in the wilderness” in a policy sense, and something only its advocates were really talking about, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which has long pushed for limits on family sponsorships.

“He has forced issues to the forefront that need to be debated,” Krikorian said.

Advocates of family reunification call the rhetoric around merit and skills a smoke screen.

“They’re being disingenuous — their goal is to reduce immigration overall,” said Anu Joshi, director of immigration policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. “This is just about cutting family, it’s a family ban.”

Prior to 1965, U.S. immigration was tightly controlled, with parts of the world all but ineligible and caps that ended up favoring immigrants from northern Europe.

Families of Italians and other Europeans pushed to change the law, resulting in a system that opened visas to all countries equally, with preferences for family reunification and, to a lesser extent, those with advanced skills or education.

At the time, politicians didn’t think the changes would make a great deal of difference and that European immigrants would be the main beneficiaries. Instead, Asians and Latin Americans started coming and then were able to bring their parents and siblings.

Dividing the available visas equally among countries also had an unanticipated impact. In countries where the demand was higher, like China, India and the Philippines, the line has grown so long that it can take years for someone to get a green card.

That’s a reality immigrants and their advocates wish more Americans knew, in the face of Trump’s State of the Union assertion that “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

Jeff DeGuia, 28, recalled that it took his mother more than a decade to bring two sisters from the Philippines.

“There’s definitely this idea you are not really complete without your huge family,” said DeGuia, whose grandfather came to the United States for an engineering job in the 1970s. His family settled in Chicago, though he and his brother now live in Southern California.

“Your cousins are like your brothers and sisters, and your uncles and aunts are like second dads and second moms,” he said.

Proposals to scale back the number of immigrants allowed into the country will end up dividing families and drive more people to enter the country illegally, making them vulnerable to exploitation, said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles.

Family immigration is also important, advocates said, because it signals immigrants’ commitment to make America their home, not just take a job that lands them here. For years, relatives have helped newcomers integrate into society.

Royce Murray, policy director for the American Immigration Council in Washington, said immigrants bringing family to join them once they settle in the United States is the foundation of the country.

“The idea someone came before us and wanted to work hard and bring their family is actually a very unifying value, a very bipartisan value,” she said. “Wanting to reunify families should be common ground, and we’re struggling against this hostile branding to make it something that it’s not.”

___

Taxin reported from Santa Ana, California.



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Neil Gorsuch has deciding vote in key labor union funding U.S. Supreme Court case

February 19, 2018 - 11:03am

WASHINGTON — America’s union leaders are about to find out if they were right to fiercely oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court as a pivotal, potentially devastating vote against organized labor.

The newest justice holds the deciding vote in a case to be argued Feb. 26 that could affect the financial viability of unions that are major supporters of Democratic candidates and causes. The unions represent more than 5 million government workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia who could be affected by the outcome. The other eight justices split 4 to 4 when the issue was last at the court in 2016.

The court is being asked to jettison a 41-year-old ruling that allows states to require government employees who don’t want to be union members to pay for their share of activities the union undertakes on behalf of all workers, not just its members. These so-called fair share fees cover the costs of collective bargaining and grievance procedures to deal with workplace complaints.

Employees who don’t join the union do not have to pay for the unions’ political activities.

Conservative anti-union interests are backing an Illinois government employee who says that being forced to pay anything at all violates his First Amendment speech rights.

“I’m not against unions,” said the employee, 65-year-old Mark Janus, who is represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. “I don’t oppose the right of workers to organize. But the right to say no to unions is just as important as the right to say yes.” He said he opposes his union’s fight for wage and benefit increases when the state is “in pretty terrible financial condition right now.”

William Messenger, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation lawyer who is representing Janus at the Supreme Court, said everything the union does, including its bargaining with the state, is political and employees should not be forced to pay for it.

The issue might have been settled in Janus’ favor two years ago. In January 2016, the court heard an identical complaint from California teachers and appeared to be ready to decide that states have no right to compel workers to pay money to unions.

But less than a month later, Justice Antonin Scalia died and the court soon after announced its tie, in effect a win for the unions. The one-sentence opinion did not identify how each justice voted, but the court appeared split between its conservatives and liberals, the same breakdown seen in two other recent cases about public sector unions.

Those unions cheered President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the court’s vacancy. But the Senate took no action on Garland’s nomination, President Donald Trump won the election and the union opponents rushed new cases to the court to challenge the union fee arrangement.

Union sentiment about Gorsuch was unvarnished when he was nominated and confirmed. “In Neil Gorsuch, Trump has nominated an extremist judge intent on overturning basic, well-established Supreme Court precedents,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said.

Following Gorsuch’s Senate hearing, the Service Employees International Union said, “Throughout the last three days of testimony, Judge Gorsuch has again proved that he isn’t the kind of judge who gives working people a fair shot at justice.”

Having won an unexpected reprieve in 2016 and with Gorsuch on the bench, labor leaders are predictably fatalistic about where this case is headed, focusing on how they might adapt to a world without compulsory payments.

Union leaders have described the years-long fight against fair share fees as a political attack launched by wealthy special interests that want to destroy the labor movement

Their fear is that a ruling for Janus that frees employees from supporting the unions financially will cause union members to stop paying dues, too.

“Are you going to lose some people?” asked Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “Sure. I’m not going to lie to you.”

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Three Nobel Prize-winning economists and 33 other scholars described the potential fallout as a classic free-rider problem.

“If individuals are not required to contribute, many who undisputedly benefit will nevertheless withhold their contributions out of simple self-interest, and others will withhold their contributions to avoid being taken advantage of by the free riders,” the academics wrote in a Supreme Court filing in support of the unions.

But Saunders, Weingarten and other union presidents said their focus has been on reconnecting with members, who have been more engaged since Trump’s election.

“The opportunity here is to re-engage in a way that the reason for unions in the first place becomes a prominent reason again,” Weingarten said.





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MLB made a big change to its rules to speed up games. Players are dubious. The Rockies will have to adjust.

February 19, 2018 - 10:53am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bud Black loves baseball for the the space between action, the beats and pauses where strategy becomes paramount. The Rockies’ manager uses that time to, at times, alter the course of a game.

“Some of the beauty of the game is the interactions that do, at times, cause a pause in the game,” Black said Monday from Salt River Fields.

But Major League Baseball on Monday, despite some objections from players, announced a major rule change the league hopes will speed up the pace of a baseball game.

Mound visits — either by a manager, coach, catcher or infielder — will now be limited to six for each team for every nine innings. If a game goes to extra innings, each team will be allowed one more mound visit. The visits do not include pitching changes and a rule instituted before the 2017 season, forcing a team to make a pitching change on the second mound visit of a game, remains.

Tony Clark, the director of the player’s union, immediately responded, saying:

“Players were involved in the pace-of-game discussions from Day 1. And are committed to playing a crisp and exciting brand of baseball for the fans, but they remain concerned about rule changes that can alter the outcome of games and the fabric of the game itself — now or in the future.”

For several seasons, MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred have toyed with the idea of a pitch clock, something the players have objected to. The new rules skirted that idea. But MLB was adamant about finding other avenues.

Players, though, are already pushing back. Royals pitcher Danny Duffy last week spoke forcefully about his disgust for the idea of changing rules to speed up the game.

“I just don’t get it, man,” Duffy told the Kansas City Star. “I don’t know what (Manfred’s) obsession with shortening games is, and I just don’t understand it. It doesn’t seem to be as much of an obsession when it’s a national broadcast, and the commercials go for two minutes, and we’re ready on the mound. And we’ve got to wait around, but it’s all about money. Bunch of crap. It angers me.”

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Black said he uses mound visits to guide a game to the end. He is not wasting it talking about candlesticks. In a July 4 game last season at Coors Field, Black walked to the mound to dress down rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland. It became a pivotal moment in Colorado’s season. It worked. Five days later, Freeland nearly threw a no-hitter in Denver.

“Strategy moments on the mound, infield visits, pitching coach visits: Those are strategic and important to the outcome of a game. That’s what I don’t want to mess with,” Black said. “You can look at this both ways. There’s a great tradition to this game and how it’s played — the pace of it and the timing. That part of the game I love. Can we shave off some minutes? Absolutely.”

Black said he is not opposed to propelling the game into new avenues and he won’t be a traditionalist just for the sake of it. He only wants to manage to win.

“There are a lot of games won or lost with that delay of coaches or players talking about specific moments in the game and the strategy,” Black said. “But there are definitely some things that can shave minutes off the game, from first pitch to the last.”

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Colorado snow totals for Feb. 19, 2018

February 19, 2018 - 10:10am

The following Colorado snow totals have been reported by the National Weather Service for Feb. 19, 2018, as of 10:00 a.m.

Akron — 0.4 inches

Arvada — 1.2 inches

Berthoud — 0.9 inches

Boulder — 2 inches

Broomfield — 1.2 inches

Denver — 0.2 inches

Denver International Airport — 0.2 inches

Englewood — 0.3 inches

Erie — 1.2 inches

Estes Park — 0.1 inches

Evans — 1 inch

Fort Collins — 1.6 inches

Fort Morgan — 1 inch

Holyoke — 0.5 inches

Horsetooth Mountain — 1 inch

Hygiene — 1 inch

Ken Caryl — 1 inch

Lafayette — 1 inch

Longmont — 1 inch

Louisville — 1.7 inches

Loveland — 0.9 inches

Lyons — 1 inch

Niwot — 1.3 inches

Northglenn — 1 inch

Raymer — 0.6 inches

Virginia Dale — 0.9 inches

Westminster — 1.5 inches

Wheat Ridge — 2.7 inches

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Trump backs efforts to bolster FBI gun checks

February 19, 2018 - 9:52am

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump offered support Monday for an effort to strengthen the federal gun background check system as he hunkered down at his private Florida golf course just 40 miles from last week’s deadly school shooting.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president spoke on Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” Sanders said in a statement.

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his private Palm Beach estate, started President’s Day at his nearby golf club. The White House did not immediately answer questions about whether he was playing golf. The president spent most of the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, as White House aides advised against golfing too soon after the shooting at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead.

Trump spent much of the holiday weekend watching cable television news and grousing to club members and advisers about the investigation of Russian election meddling.

In a marathon series of furious weekend tweets from Mar-a-Lago, Trump vented about Russia, raging at the FBI for what he perceived to be a fixation on the Russia investigation at the cost of failing to deter the attack on a Florida high school. He made little mention of the nearby school shooting victims and the escalating gun control debate.

Surviving students have called for tougher gun control and are planning a march in Washington next month. Trump has focused his comments on mental health, rather than guns.

The White House said Sunday the president will host a “listening session” with students and teachers this week, but offered no details on who would attend or what would be discussed.

The bipartisan background check legislation would be aimed at ensuring that federal agencies and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. It was introduced after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church.

Trump has been a strong supporter of gun rights and the National Rifle Association. Last year, he signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.

Trump was last seen publicly Friday night when he visited Parkland. He fired off tweets Saturday and Sunday and met House Speaker Paul Ryan Sunday afternoon. He also visited the golf club Sunday night.

President Barack Obama took heavy criticism in 2014 when he went golfing during a vacation just minutes after denouncing the militants who had beheaded an American journalist. He later regretted playing golf so soon after the killing.

Trump has grown increasingly frustrated since the indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday charged 13 Russians with a plot to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

On Twitter, Trump stressed that the Russian effort began before he declared his candidacy and asserted that the Obama administration bears some blame for it. He also insisted he never denied that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 U.S. campaign, although in fact he has frequently challenged the veracity of the evidence.

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Trump tweeted about the nation’s “heavy heart” after the shooting in Parkland. But he also sought to use the shooting to criticize the nation’s leading law enforcement agency.

Trump said late Saturday that the FBI “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect and argued that agents are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

The FBI received a tip last month that the man now charged in the school shooting had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said Friday that agents failed to investigate.

___

Lemire contributed from Paradise Island, Bahamas.

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Alleged pain pill “bully” faces felony charges in Wyoming

February 19, 2018 - 9:15am

WORLAND, Wyo. — A northern Wyoming man is facing 14 felony blackmail and drug charges after authorities say he badgered and bullied neighbors into giving him their pain medications over the course of a year.

The Northern Wyoming Daily news reports that Michael Scott Claycomb could face up to 20 years in prison each on the most serious drug delivery charges.

Charging documents say authorities were contacted by the manager of the apartment building where Claycomb lived after several residents said he’d bullied and threatened them for their Oxycodone pills.

Claycomb reportedly told a judge during an initial appearance Thursday that he was on disability for a back injury.

The 60-year-old defendant was being held Saturday at the Washakie County Jail on a $50,000 bond. It was unknown if he’d retained an attorney.



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Legal bill hits $700,000 in fight over Ten Commandments monument in rural New Mexico

February 19, 2018 - 9:06am

FARMINGTON, N.M.  — A northwest New Mexico community is considering using online fundraising to pay the $700,000 it owes from a lawsuit that stemmed from a dispute over a Ten Commandments monument that was formerly located outside of Bloomfield City Hall.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 sided with a lower court that ordered the monument’s removal, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and represented a government endorsement of religion, the Farmington Daily Times reported .

The city of Bloomfield must now pay the legal fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the complaint in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents, Janie Felix and Buford Coone.

Bloomfield has until June 30, 2021, to pay the $700,000 it owes for the American Civil Liberties Union’s legal fees, City Manager Eric Strahl said.

If the city is unable to raise money through donations to pay the $700,000, it will have to pay the sum out of its general fund, Strahl said.

The monument was installed in front of City Hall in 2011. Shortly afterward, Felix and Coone sued the city alleging it violated their constitutional rights and represented a government endorsement of religion.

The city maintained that the monument was placed in front of City Hall by a local group that is not connected to the city.

The city petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but the high court declined the case.

The city asked the organization that owned the monument to move it off city property. It has since been relocated to property owned by a Baptist church.



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San Diego man allegedly zip-tied his girlfriend, tried to strangle her in Vail lodge

February 19, 2018 - 8:20am
Vail Police, suppliedMartin Ian Goodman, 54, from San Diego, Calif., is booked on charges of attempted first-degree murder and assault. Police say he zip-tied his girlfriend’s hands behind her back in a Vail lodge, tried to strangle her and hit her several times.

VAIL — A California man is accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend to death after he tied her hands behind her back with police-style flex-cuff zip ties.

Martin Ian Goodman, 54, from San Diego, Calif., is booked on charges of attempted first-degree murder and assault.

Just before midnight Friday, Feb. 16, Vail Police officers were called to The Lodge at Vail in Vail Village where they were met by the woman, who had been found moments before by hotel staffers with her hands zip-tied behind her back.

She told officers that Goodman, her boyfriend, had done it to her. She claimed he tried to strangle her with his hands and struck her numerous times.

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Hotel security found the woman when other hotel guests called about noise and shouting coming from her room. Those hotel security staffers found her in her bedroom.

Read the full story at VailDaily.com.

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Aspen hatchet man arrested at Intercept Lot again

February 19, 2018 - 8:17am

For the second time in a year and a half, a local transient was arrested Friday for brandishing a hatchet at fellow residents of the Intercept Lot, according to court documents and statements in court Monday, Feb. 12.

Justin Schaaf, 35, was charged with felony menacing after two other men who live in their vehicles at the park-and-ride lot at Brush Creek Road and Colorado 82 called 911 to report that he was “waving a hatchet around,” according to an affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Both men, however, showed up Monday at Schaaf’s advisement hearing in District Court and said Schaaf was a good friend of theirs and they didn’t want to press charges against him. One told Magistrate Judge Susan Ryan that Schaaf had been “under an extreme amount of stress” lately and that they’d never had problems before.

On Friday, the two men told Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies that Schaaf had called and wanted them to return a fuel can and a broom they’d borrowed, according to the affidavit. The men walked across the parking lot to return the items Friday night, but Schaaf began to yell at them when they got close, saying they shouldn’t take things that weren’t theirs, the affidavit states.

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“(The two men) said Schaaf then began to wave a small hatchet at them in a threatening manner,” according to the affidavit.

Read the full story at SummitDaily.com.

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Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush” is leaving Park County, but residents continue to fight for more mining oversight

February 19, 2018 - 8:15am
Hugh Carey, Summit DailyHeavy equipment at the site of a mining operation for the reality-TV show Gold Rush near Fairplay. The controversial show is leaving the area, but residents are still pushing for greater mining oversight.

It’s been nearly two years since the reality-TV show “Gold Rush” roared into Park County, descending on an old dredge near Fairplay with a small army of trucks and excavators to mine for television gold — and a bit of the real stuff, too.

The show stirred up some trouble along the way, disturbing the peace and quiet of some neighbors and even leading to some gunplay with a fed-up local. It also had its defenders, including Fairplay’s mayor, who said the miners’ relationship with the town was “five-star.”

Now, the crews are packing up and leaving Park County for good. But Save South Park, the opposition movement that sprang up against them, isn’t going anywhere, galvanized by their struggle against the show to push for more oversight of mining.

“The legacy of mining and what’s happened in the past is pretty horrific,” said Trevor Messa, one of the group’s co-chairs. “We just want to see responsible mining our region. Mining can take place, but it needs to take place with people’s approval.”

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Save South Park’s members are still in a legal battle against the county over a re-zoning decision favorable to “Gold Rush,” which they fear could mean the mining continues even after the TV crews are gone.

Read the full story at SummitDaily.com.

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Colorado Springs man armed with kitchen knife had to be tased — twice

February 19, 2018 - 8:14am

A man wielding a large kitchen knife threatened Colorado Springs officers Sunday afternoon, saying he wanted police to shoot him.

Originally called in as a domestic disturbance in the 1400 block of Meadow Peak View, the first officer arrived just before 1 p.m. and saw the suspect leaving the apartment where the disturbance was reported — with a kitchen knife in his hand.

The officer used a taser on the man immediately, but according to the police blotter it, “had no effect on the suspect.”

The two began talking, buying time until additional officers arrived on scene.

Once additional officers arrived they surrounded the man and were able to convince him to toss down the knife. But compliance ended there because he then started to advance toward the officers, saying that he would fight them.

Police used a taser on the man a second time and then took him into custody without further incident.

He was arrested for menacing, violation of a protection order, obstruction, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.



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Kiszla: Mikaela Shiffrin becomes face of frustration at the Grumpy Games, where Americans can’t win for losing

February 19, 2018 - 8:08am

PYEONGCHANG — Welcome to the Winter Games of our discontent. From wind-ravaged mountains that blew away any chance skier Mikaela Shiffrin had at winning five medals to hard falls on the figure-skating ice, the U.S. Olympic team has lost that loving feeling, to say nothing of the botched opportunities for gold, silver and bronze.

It has turned ugly for Americans. For us, these are the Grumpy Games. Too many excuses. Not enough winning.

What’s it like to lose on the Olympic stage and disappoint all the folks back home? It’s a permanent scar on the soul.

“It’s like having a bad relationship and having it go sour,” said U.S. hockey player Hilary Knight, who has experienced the heart-breaking pain of losing in the Olympic gold-medal game. “It’s always going to be there, a main part of your fabric.”

Preach, sister.

After Shiffrin failed to medal in the slalom, where the 22-year-old resident of EagleVail was regarded as the Olympics’ surest bet for gold, I asked her: How good are you at throwing a bad performance in the trash?

“I’m terrible at that,” Shiffrin admitted.

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In America, where second place is the first loser, Shiffrin is experiencing the backlash of being built up as the next Olympic hero, only to be bitten by the hype.

Despite finishing first in the giant slalom, Shiffrin is having a tough trip to South Korea. Ballyhooed by NBC as the golden girl of the Games, lousy weather created a scheduling crunch that forced Shiffrin to withdraw from the super-G and now a forecast for ill winds that has moved her appearance in the combined up 24 hours to Thursday also caused her to bail on racing the downhill.

“As much as I wanted to compete in the Olympic downhill, with the schedule change it’s important to focus my energy on preparing for the combined,” Shiffrin said in a statement released by the team. And on top of everything else, she has boy trouble. French skier Mathieu Faivre, who is Shiffrin’s boyfriend, was kicked out of the Games and sent home because he ranted after a disappointing finish in giant slalom that he did not care about teammates’ success and was only concerned about himself.

Almost everywhere you look in PyeongChang, there are U.S. athletes feeling the strain of under-achieving at these Games. While Norway led the medal count with 10 gold, nine silver and eight bronze, Americans read the scoreboard at conclusion of competition on Monday and wept:

Ten days. Only 10 stinkin’ medals for the whole U.S. team. Tension.

“As much as I tried to deny it, I did feel the pressure,” figure-skater Nathan Chen said after his short program was a train wreck that ran his hopes for a medal off the rails.

Maybe the woes of the U.S. Olympic team are nothing more than a reflection of the contentious times in which we live. Instead of pulling together, our country is drifting apart. Does everything have to be a Twitter fight?

Instead of the USA against the world at the Winter Games, there seems to be an uncommon amount of red and blue pitted against each other between athletes and fans that once stood proudly united under the same flag. Yep, the same U.S. flag that snowboarder Shaun White dragged through the snow during a victory celebration, igniting a social-media storm of criticism.

Network television viewership of the Games on NBC is down roughly 10 percent, and if that sounds vaguely familiar with the troublesome static received by the NFL last season, maybe it should be no surprise.

From the poor flag etiquette of White to the LGBT issues being raised by freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy to the quarrel with Donald Trump instigated when Vonn declared she had no interest in visiting the White House, it seems to me there could be a growing disconnect between the young, liberal vibe of Olympic athletes and the older, wealthy and deeply patriotic audience that has long tuned in to watch the Winter Games to feel good about America being great.

“There are going to be people that hate me. That’s fine,” said Vonn, who refuses to let social-media trolls intimidate her. “I stand by my values. I’m not going to back down.”

Vonn could lead a late-Games rally by Americans in the medal count, as the downhill, Vonn’s signature race, remains on the schedule, as do many events inspired by the X-Games, where U.S. athletes shine.

But the team better get busy. The United States took home 28 medals from Sochi, and Americans are in danger of turning in their worst performance at the Winter Olympics since 1998, when there were 50 percent fewer events staged at the Games.

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Hey, wasn’t Russia supposed to be banned from these Games after getting busted for widespread doping program as the host of the Olympics four years ago in Sochi?

So how is it possible that a cheating country, which is represented in South Korea by the thinly veiled squad referred to as Olympic athletes from Russia, has won 11 medals, while the United States has only 10?

If that sounds like sour grapes, pour me another glass of whine. We are sore losers in America. After getting shellacked 4-0 by Russia during the preliminary round of the men’s hockey tournament, U.S. coach Tony Granato cried about the opposition sending its top scorers out on the power play late in the third period.

Everywhere you look at the Winter Games, there’s somebody singing the red-white-and-lose blues. If we’re not golden, we’re grumpy.

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Colorado oil production forecast at 580,000 barrels per day as prices cross $60

February 19, 2018 - 8:05am

Oil production continues to increase in Colorado as energy companies respond to a recent rebound in crude prices, according to U.S. government data.

The Energy Information Administration said drillers in the Niobrara region that includes much of northern Colorado will produce 580,000 barrels daily in March. That’s a 6 percent increase over February’s expected production.

Oil prices have risen sharply since last summer’s low of $43 per barrel, to more than $60 per barrel in recent weeks.

Gas production also is expected to increase in the Niobrara in March, according to the energy agency.

The Niobrara includes portions of neighboring states, but the energy patch’s sweet spot is in Weld County, which has almost 24,000 active oil and gas wells.

Amid the industry’s resurgence, the number of drill rigs working in the state has remained relatively flat.

“Rigs are only one part of the picture,” Bernadette Johnson, vice president of Market Intelligence at DrillingInfo in Littleton, told Colorado Public Radio. “What matters more is how quickly those rigs can drill wells, and how big those wells are.”

Operators also are drawing down their stockpiles of “drilled but uncompleted wells.” These are wells that were previously drilled, but not finished.

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Drilling applications suggest more new wells are on the way.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reported receiving 5,548 applications to drill last year, a 70 percent increase over 2016 and the most in at least six years.



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