Colorado wanted to make it less complicated for people with specials needs to vote. Then came coronavirus.

Colorado News

Curtis Chong has witnessed a lot of election cycles where voting officials with good intentions for expanding access to people living with disabilities end up replacing one kind of barrier with another. 

Chong, a Coloradan who is blind and a professional and personal advocate for voters who have disabilities, was living in New Mexico in 2014 when he and his wife — who is also blind — were invited to test the state’s new voting equipment. Like the old system, the freshened New Mexico method offered a voice reader for the ballot; once the blind voter had made selections, a paper ballot was printed and placed in the usual ballot box. 

Curtis Chong could plug his own headphones into the machine. Nice touch, he thought. But the old voice method the Chongs were used to was gone. The new software mushed the S’s and Z’s. If you sped up the reader to get through a thick set of referendums, syllables were clipped and unintelligible. 

“What they did not do was talk to the blind community through the obvious groups or disability groups,” said Chong, who at the time worked for the state chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. “They picked it based on their examination as not-blind people.”

The happier ending for Chong is that he lives in Colorado for the 2020 election, and the activism from him and many allies throughout the state has produced a voting system he declares is excellent for those with disabilities, with legitimate chances of getting even better. 

Coloradans with any access barriers can fill out their ballot through a secure online system, print it out, and mail or drop it back to their county, through a state law passed in 2019 with the advice and backing of major disability rights groups. Online security packages are nearly complete that would allow those voters — and the general public — to also return the ballot electronically with the press of a button at home, if legislatures around the nation move on it, Chong said. 

“We have it pretty darned good here,” said Chong, who lives in the Heather Gardens complex for older residents in Aurora. “It’s absolutely amazing we could do it in the time frame we did.”

Concerns remain about blocked access, though, even with the good will earned by the cooperation of advocates and voting officials during the pandemic. Advocates say family and friends of prospective voters living in the more than 900 elder care centers and other care institutions in Colorado must remain extra vigilant that COVID-19-related health restrictions do not bar their loved ones from casting a ballot. 

At some nursing institutions, “staff do not take election rights seriously with some of their residents,” said Jennifer Levin, an attorney with Disability Law Colorado, a nonprofit that is the designated legal advocate for Coloradans with disabilities. “They may assume because of diminished capacity they should not be given the opportunity to vote. We’ve had that happen.”

Extra measures to make sure all who want to can vote

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which issues pandemic guidelines for care facilities, referred voting questions to the state association of county clerks, who oversee voting and set procedures for their areas.

County clerks have always seen themselves as guardians of institutional residents’ right to vote, and many have taken extraordinary measures in the past to get ballots to group living homes and help people fill them out, said Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. 

This year, clerks are working out ballot-drop procedures with the care facilities in their area, and providing training materials to staff on how to help willing voters fill out ballots. Staff and residents can also take advantage of the 2019 legislation, to fill out ballots on facility computers and print them out along with an affidavit of identification. Clerks make arrangements to drop ballots and pick them up in secure boxes at or outside the entryways of facilities, Anderson said. 

Any facility with eight or more voters, without independent mail delivery for each resident, can qualify for the extra county help, she said. Counties also have emergency voting rules that support return trips or attention for residential facilities when a resident or their family complain of a lost ballot or confusion about the system. 

“This will be our second election under the pandemic,” Anderson said, referencing the June primary season that operated under the same rules with few glitches. 

The modern phase of voting rights for people with disabilities, advocates say, began in earnest when Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The act took on everything from accessibility for voter registration, to updating voting machines in polling places, to opening up voting to those living in institutions, said Levin at Disability Law Colorado.

“So now every voting service needs to have an accessible machine for people that’s also modernized and runs smoothly. It needs to be accessible meaning it can accommodate a variety of disability issues, from low vision to wheelchairs,” Levin said. And it “allows a person of (their) choice to assist them. They can still require assistance if they need someone to help them walk in and fill out the ballot or use the machine, the judge cannot stop that from happening.” 

Though advocates and election officials didn’t know it at the time, the 2019 electronic ballot and printing law took on added importance when the pandemic threw up new barriers to public access.

RTD, for example, which is a crucial lifeline for many riders with disabilities, cut bus and train service 40% as overall ridership plummeted and financial pressures forced massive budget cuts. The cuts severely diminished public transit to in-person polling places or ballot drop boxes.

Advocates look to move toward e-voting in the future

What Chong wants now is for the Secretary of State’s Office and other voting rights groups to advertise electronic ballot delivery more effectively. In fall 2019 and spring 2020 primary elections, using the system, only a couple of dozen voters across the state actually used it, he said. 

And for future elections, one of the primary remaining goals for the disability rights community is completing the technology circle on electronic voting. Voters with disabilities should not have to expose themselves to the difficulties or — in case of a pandemic — the dangers of getting to the mail or a dropbox, Levin said. Colorado should seek the secure technology that would allow returning the ballot simply by hitting the “send” button on the same computer where voters now fill out their electronic ballot.

Voters with disabilities can currently return a ballot electronically under emergency ballot rules, and the pandemic does qualify as an emergency. But those requests can only be made starting seven days before the election, and most voters hearing the debates about the security of balloting this year want to get their tally in earlier, Levin said.

Many people overlook that there are plenty of voters, disabled or not, who don’t have a home printer for their ballot, Chong said. Using electronic return for more voters is inevitable and is on its way, he said. 

“We think that tech will be available and secure within a year,” he said.

Todd Struve, who is blind, is another enthusiast of the voting systems Colorado has refined, whether using in-person machines, paper ballots at home, or the newer electronic-delivery method. In both Jefferson County and Denver voting, Struve said, he has found the voice-prompt machines convenient to use and the poll judges knowledgeable and helpful if anything goes wrong. 

“There was only one hiccup once, and they just reset it and let me start all over again,” Struve said. “It was a fantastic experience, and felt good to just vote on my own, not depend on anybody else to get the job done. I could take my own time.”

Struve, though, also supports complete electronic voting at home as the next wave.

“If you can order a pizza online and have it delivered, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to vote online or on the phone; press 1 for this candidate, 2 for this candidate,” Struve said. “We have the technology; if we have the security, we should use that. That’s a goal not just for Colorado, but for everybody in the nation eventually. It would make life so much easier.” 

What you need to know about accessible voting in Colorado: The first stop for questions should be your county clerk’s office. A statewide directory with easy links is available here

Disability Law Colorado has information, helpline numbers, maps of drop-off sites and more about voting available at Just Vote Colorado

Closer to the election, disability rights advocates will have a live help line for election information or problems at 888-839-8682; they have hotlines to all county clerks for emergency situations.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office answers many questions about accessibility voting here

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  • Colorado wanted to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. Then came coronavirus.
  • Colorado AG’s settlement with mobile home park operator returns security deposits, improper legal fees
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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/13/disabled-people-vote-colorado/

Colorado AGs settlement with mobile residence park driver returns down payment incorrect lawful charges

more news https://northdenvernews.com

A Utah-based mobile home park operator must repay metro-Denver-area residents nearly $150,000 in wrongly withheld security deposits, arbitrary fees and improperly charged attorneys fees as the result of a settlement reached with the Colorado attorney general’s office last week.

The investigation signaled a warning to other park managers that abuses that have frequently been the subject of complaints across the state won’t be tolerated, and also serves as an invitation for other tenants who feel they’ve been treated unfairly to step forward, Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

“There are companies out there who operate irresponsibly on the view they’ll get away with it,” Weiser said. “We got several complaints about this matter, and that is what caused us to look into it. There could easily be other actors out there, other incidents out there that we need to look into. We want to get word out about the settlement, so if there are others and we can do something, we want to know about it.”

As the state has experienced a tighter housing market, mobile homes — also referred to as manufactured homes — have become the nation’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing. But they’re part of an unusual business model in which residents usually own their mobile home, but pay lot rent to park operators for the space where it’s parked. 

There are companies out there who operate irresponsibly on the view they’ll get away with it.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser

Even the term “mobile home” is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s often impractical or prohibitively expensive to move them — thus giving park owners considerable leverage when it comes to issues like rent increases, questionable fees and threat of eviction. The Colorado Sun, in collaboration with media outlets statewide, last year published an award-winning investigative series, “Parked: Half the American Dream,” that detailed how disputes between tenants and park owners have reached the boiling point.

Seven Colorado parks operated by Kingsley Management Corp. were identified in the settlement, which was sparked by resident complaints and ultimately included more than 200 residents, and dates back to Oct. 1, 2016. The parks include Lamplighter Village and Kimberly Hills in Federal Heights; Front Range in Broomfield; Friendly Village of the Rockies in Thornton; Friendly Village of Aurora; Arbordale Acres in Lafayette; and Casa Estates in Westminster.

All are separate business entities, but managed by Kingsley Management.

“I’ve heard about complaints from people who are suffering from unscrupulous and wrongful practices,” Weiser said. “So we started looking into them, and found that there’s a process where people are entitled to get back security deposits, but they were being wrongly denied. And we wanted to do something about it. We were able to look into it, and the company pretty quickly said, ‘We’ll take responsibility and we’ll address this issue.’”

Sheila Meer, attorney for Kingsley Management in the settlement, noted that those 200 or so owed refunds were spread among thousands of residents and multiple years. She added that Kingsley voluntarily audited every tenant account and has “initiated several critical improvements in the oversight of its field operations to avoid such problems in future.”

Housing advocates welcome AG’s attention

Andrea Chiriboga-Flor of the housing nonprofit 9to5 Colorado said mobile home owners have tried in the past to present these same types of grievances to previous Colorado attorneys general — but were met with polite dismissal. 

“So it’s definitely a shift to hear about this,” she said. “When (Weiser) first took office we reached out right away, and flagged that mobile homes were a really big issue. We talked to staff about what we’re seeing on the ground, that this is a really common problem. His office was a lot more interested in taking a stand on this.” 

Chiriboga-Flor added that previously, when the state has failed to act, most tenants had little recourse except to pursue complaints through legal channels, which generally was too costly. With the AG’s office prepared to act on their behalf, she said, the power dynamic could change.

“One reason we’ve heard of so many park owners taking advantage, especially the big companies, is that they’re never being challenged,” she said. “They’re getting away with it. This sets a huge precedent for all folks who are not real property owners.”

More than $125,000 of the total settlement of $146,770.26 will be returned to tenants whose security deposits were wrongly withheld. Once the state subpoenaed documents related to the contested deposits, Kingsley Management launched an internal audit and began to refund the security deposits to homeowners, according to the agreement. 

Kingsley Management also must return $20,877.93 to tenants who were improperly charged attorney fees for unsuccessful eviction actions. The same internal audit led the company to begin refunding to homeowners the costs of “unauthorized, non-existent or unverifiable legal services.”

Cheryl Whisenhunt’s home in Lamplighter Village in Federal Heights, one of the communities where some residents received refunds for improper fees and withheld deposits as a result of a settlement between Kingsley Management and the Colorado attorney general. Whisenhunt, who owns two mobile homes in Kingsley Management properties, said she received a $150 check made out to her late mother, who was a co-owner. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Cheryl Whisenhunt owns mobile homes at two of the Kingsley properties, one she inherited when her mother died. A check for $150 made out to her mother arrived several months ago, she said, but she hasn’t tried to cash it yet.

Whisenhunt worked for a veterinary clinic in its boarding department, but has been out of work since the coronavirus hit. So whatever the refund she might get from the park owners, she feels heartened that at least the state listened and took action. But for some, she said, the refund might come too late.

“The sad part is, I’ve watched family by family disappear from that park at Lamplighter,” she said. “The problem is getting the word out to these people, who maybe still don’t know this (settlement) exists. They could have money coming, but don’t realize it.” 

As of Oct. 7, when the agreement with the state was reached, Kingsley Management had refunded $91,579.91 to current and former residents. The remaining $55,190.35 will be maintained in trust, while the company periodically retries to contact the tenants. Whatever cannot be refunded will be transferred to the state treasurer under the unclaimed property law.

Residents who think they may be owed money but haven’t received it can contact Kingsley Management or the attorney general’s office at stopfraudcolorado.gov. 

Will refunds act as a deterrent?

In addition to the settlement, Kingsley Management also agreed to pay $10,000 for the cost of the state’s investigation. As negotiations reached the final stages, Kingsley Management asked that part of its payment to the state come in the form of a charitable donation. Weiser’s office selected the affordable housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. Both payments must be made within 45 days of the settlement date.

Because Kingsley Management cooperated with the investigation and this was its first violation, the attorney general’s office viewed consumer restitution an “appropriate remedy and deterrence.” Also built into the agreement are certain obligations for the park management, such as allowing tenants to preview their monthly charges four days before they’re due, so they may make a timely challenge to any they think are inappropriate. 

If Kingsley Management violates any of the provisions, it could be subject to future civil monetary penalties, according to the attorney general.

More than 100,000 people live in more than 900 mobile home parks across the state. But the park industry, with its attractive business model that has traditionally favored park owners, has become increasingly consolidated as corporate investors gobbled up many formerly mom-and-pop operations.

That combination of potentially lucrative returns and a business dynamic that gave park owners leverage over generally low-income mobile home owners finally got serious attention in the 2019 legislative session. For the first time since the state’s Mobile Home Park Act passed in 1985, legislators revamped the law to at least partially level the playing field for homeowners. 

I do think that ultimately there needs to be some statutory reform. There are other types of fees that are perfectly legal, but are still very much predatory.

Jack Regenbogen, senior attorney at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy

With the passage of House Bill 1309, Colorado mobile home residents gained more time to address eviction proceedings. Perhaps even more importantly, the new law provided a means for residents to raise grievances without the expense of hiring an attorney and going to court. That mechanism, overseen by the state’s Department of Local Affairs, also collects and annually reports data generated by disputes and violations.

Although that program began on May 1, few complaints flowed into the program after years of pent-up demand for relief — a development many attributed to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as concerns about lost jobs and looming expenses took priority.

Since May 1, the state has received 90 complaints for the dispute resolution process, according to DOLA.

Jack Regenbogen, senior attorney at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, which tackles housing issues, praised the attorney general’s office for taking on mobile home park owners. But he also wonders if repayment alone is enough to act as a deterrent.

“I do think that ultimately there needs to be some statutory reform,” he said. “There are other types of fees that are perfectly legal, but are still very much predatory.”

Weiser said that his office’s Consumer Protection Division, which investigated the Kingsley Management case, will work in concert with DOLA to monitor the volume and types of complaints submitted to the dispute resolution program. That data could provide clues as to whether additional areas of abuse might merit attention from his office.

“The reason this is such an important policy issue is that, to many people, mobile homes are the most affordable kind of house,” Weiser added. “We do have a serious affordability challenge in our state. More and more people have been squeezed, homelessness has been on the rise. We need to stand up for everybody, particularly people who are most vulnerable, and mobile home operators taking advantage of people through irresponsible and illegal tactics is wrong and we’ll use every tool we can.”

Weiser said his office is committed both to addressing affordable housing and protecting consumers, and the intersection of those goals remains critical to the state. 

“That makes it a natural area of focus,” he said. “The other concern is we have operators acting irresponsibly, taking advantage of people. That’s something we’re not going to tolerate.”

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  • Colorado wanted to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. Then came coronavirus.
  • Colorado AG’s settlement with mobile home park operator returns security deposits, improper legal fees
  • Proposition EE will raise taxes on tobacco products in Colorado — with one very big exception
  • Denver security guard acted in self-defense, his lawyer says
  • Colorado voter guide: What you need to know about the 2020 candidates, mail ballots and how to vote

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/13/colorado-ag-settlement-mobile-home/

New kind isn’t the covering forgiveness some Colorado businesses wished for in federal income car loan program

Colorado News

Months after the federal Paycheck Protection Program stopped taking applications for forgivable small business loans, banks and lenders are still unclear on how to forgive them.

The new simpler form, released Friday, is supposed to make it less complicated for those who borrowed up to $50,000. But it isn’t as simple as some had hoped, said Nim Patel, chief strategy officer for the nonprofit Colorado Enterprise Fund, which had an average paycheck loan size of $23,000.

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Known cases in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: Colorado unveils draft plan for who will get a coronavirus vaccine first

>> FULL COVERAGE

“After reviewing (the simpler form) we have concluded that the form is not for a blanket forgiveness of $50,000 and less, but does make it slightly simpler,” Patel said in an email. “I say ‘slightly’ because there are still documentation submission requirements, complex calculations the applicant is expected to perform, and still review requirements of those documents on the part of the lender.”

Borrowers must still submit payroll costs, taxes and verification of other business expenses, like mortgage interest, lease and business rents and utility payments. There’s also a note on the new form saying those who make false statements face up to 30 years or fines of up to $1 million.

“At this time we don’t see this new form changing our stance on waiting for forgiveness,” Patel said.

The paycheck loan program helped 109,170 small businesses in Colorado borrow $10.4 billion to help pay employees when COVID-19 safety restrictions were implemented in March. If terms were met, the loans would be 100% forgiven, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration rules.

See which small businesses in Colorado received a Paycheck Protection loan.

But what started in April as a loan intended to provide money to pay workers for eight weeks — whether they worked or not — changed to allow businesses to use more of the money on non-payroll expenses and have more time to do so. While that first round of borrowers saw their eight weeks end by early June, forgiveness has barely begun as the SBA continues to add new rules and guidance.

“Still not much to report,” Bruce Alexander, president and CEO of  Vectra Bank, said when contacted in late September about paycheck loan forgiveness. “We have had a small percentage of customers apply for forgiveness. We have gotten most through our own process and have submitted to the SBA for approval but have had no response from them as of yet.”

Over at FirstBank, the lender said in a statement that it is finally moving ahead and hopes to have its system up “in the next two weeks, pending no additional required changes. Once our systems are available, we will notify our customers.”

The wait also has some borrowers anxious, including Susan Baca, a Realtor with Re/MAX of Boulder who, after reaching out to five banks, ended up getting a PPP loan from the Colorado Enterprise Fund in late April. 

“Well, I’ve reached out to them twice now to say ‘Hey, I’m ready,’” Baca said. “And their response is the SBA hasn’t told us what criteria we need, which is interesting because I’ve heard other people have already received their forgiveness.”

On Oct. 1, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SBA would begin forgiving loans on Oct. 6. An online portal for borrowers seeking forgiveness was already up to 96,000 applications but none had been forgiven, according to the Journal’s story. The SBA has not confirmed this to The Colorado Sun.

There’s anticipation among many lenders and borrowers that loans of up to $150,000 will be forgiven with just a certification by the borrower that the money was used according to guidelines. 

Some expect Congress to add such wording in future coronavirus stimulus legislation, as well as open it up to larger loans, said Amanda Averch, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Bankers Association.

The CBA is asking for “almost automatic forgiveness” of loans of up to $150,000 and a more streamlined process for loans larger than that, she said. 

“Loans in excess of $50,000 still face a complex application process that takes lots of time and causes frustration for the borrower and bank alike,” she said.

The CBA is also advocating that the forgiven loans won’t be counted as income for a small businesses’ tax purposes.

More: Here’s the latest look at which Colorado businesses received Paycheck Protection Program loans — and how much they got

According to SBA data, 68.6% of the 5.2 million PPP loans were at $50,000 or less. Loans at $50,000 and below made up 12% of the $525 billion total approved for small businesses.

In Colorado, 88% of small businesses approved for paycheck loans were less than $150,000. The Colorado Sun received a PPP loan.

But even as paycheck loans proved so popular at first that the $349 billion program ran out of money after two weeks, Congress made another $310 billion available during a second round of loans in late April, the program petered out. Extended for six weeks, the program had more than $130 billion available for loans at the end on Aug. 8.

On Sunday, the White House asked lawmakers to spend the unused $130 billion on broader relief right now as Congress continues to negotiate the next stimulus plan. 

Patel, with Colorado Enterprise Fund, said Congress is still negotiating so they could approve simpler terms for more borrowers  because, he said, “we know blanket forgiveness of loans under $150,000 is still on the table for those negotiations, so we remain hopeful that the overall process for over 80% of our borrowers will be simple soon.”

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  • New form isn’t the “blanket forgiveness” some Colorado businesses hoped for in federal paycheck loan program
  • Colorado wanted to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. Then came coronavirus.
  • Colorado AG’s settlement with mobile home park operator returns security deposits, improper legal fees
  • Proposition EE will raise taxes on tobacco products in Colorado — with one very big exception
  • Denver security guard acted in self-defense, his lawyer says

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/13/ppp-forgiveness-paycheck-protection-program-pandemic-stimulus/

Stone minimizes COVID restrictions on 18-22 year-olds as cases drop

get headlines https://thecherrycreeknews.com

Gathering limits are eased for 18-22-year-old individuals in Boulder

 The young adults (18-22 years old) in Boulder have shown their commitment to the wellbeing of all residents by reducing their gathering size in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, per Public Health Order 2020-08. Due to their diligence, beginning at noon today they can expand their gathering circle to groups of up to 6 people.

“This is such good news. This means that our community is safer from the spread of this disease, and young adults can connect with a few more of their friends,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director.

The change in levels from Level C to Level A is based on metrics identified by risk level. One metric, 14-day average new cases per 100,000 (among individuals aged 18- to 22-years-old in Boulder County) dropped significantly to 470.5. The second metric, test positivity percentage, also declined to 6.2%. Testing among this age group has also been consistent, ensuring that the data is an accurate reflection of incidence.

Because the metrics improved, there are additional opportunities to increase gathering limits among this age group and to participate in regulated or CU Boulder-sponsored events by continuing to be diligent in maintaining social distance, masking, and keeping gatherings to a minimum. “CU-sponsored events” are events explicitly approved by the CU administration through an approval process. CU is working with Boulder County Public Health and CU students to determine what these events will look like.

“This has been tough on our young adults and on our community. Our hope is that new cases will continue to decline, and young adults will be able to return to the Safer at Home gathering size allowance of 10 people, like the rest of the county,” said Zayach. “We know that the majority of young adults are following the requirements and they should get to gather with friends safely. Individuals who have not been adhering to the guidance will be held accountable.”

Metrics for the young adult levels are monitored daily and reported weekly. The decision to move levels is decided and announced by Boulder County Public Health on Tuesdays by 11 a.m. each week. Any changes in restrictions goes into effect at noon on the Tuesday they’re announced.

 

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via Straight News https://northdenvernews.com/boulder-reduces-covid-limits-on-18-22-year-olds-as-cases-drop/

We need to get this under control now: Colorados coronavirus test positivity rate increases above 5%.

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday announced that Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate has risen above 5%, an alarming update that he says means Coloradans need to take immediate action to slow down the spread of the disease.

“We need to get this under control now,” Polis said at a news conference at the governor’s mansion in downtown Denver. “We have to do better.”

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Known cases in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: Colorado unveils draft plan for who will get a coronavirus vaccine first

>> FULL COVERAGE

The rate — the number of positive results among all tests — comes as Colorado for the first time on Saturday recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a single day. On Tuesday, Colorado also recorded more than 1,000 new cases.

Coronavirus hospitalizations, meanwhile, which were at 290 on Tuesday, are at their highest level since May. Colorado also passed 2,000 deaths directly caused by COVID-19 this week.

“It’s very worrisome,” Polis said. “It’s very alarming”

The World Health Organization says that test positivity rates above 5% suggest a need for restrictions on people’s movement.

Polis didn’t address a question as to whether he’s weighing to impose new mandates aimed at slowing the virus’ spread. Instead, the governor asked Coloradans to change their behavior to reverse the trend — go out less, put off gatherings, wear masks more and ensure they are washing their hands as often as possible.

Polis said the if the current trend of increasing cases and hospitalizations continues, there will be major risks to Colorado’s economy and people’s health.

The governor said the majority of Colorado’s new cases are in Denver and Adams counties.

“There are a few rural counties that have had spikes,” Polis said. “But they alone don’t push us above 5%.”

Polis applauded Boulder County for reversing its trajectory of rising cases stemming from an outbreak among students at the University of Colorado.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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  • “We need to get this under control now”: Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate rises above 5%
  • New form isn’t the “blanket forgiveness” some Colorado businesses hoped for in federal paycheck loan program
  • Colorado wanted to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. Then came coronavirus.
  • Colorado’s settlement with mobile home park operator could provide path for other tenants seeking justice
  • Proposition EE will raise taxes on tobacco products in Colorado — with one very big exception

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/13/coronavirus-test-positivity-colorado/

Weld Area grand court fingers man in 1984 Greeley cold-case murder of 12-year-old woman

Colorado News

Nearly 36 years after 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews disappeared from her Greeley home, a Weld County grand jury has indicted an Idaho man for her death.

Steven Pankey, who lived in Greeley at the time of Jonelle’s disappearance and had ties to the family’s church, was indicted on Oct. 9 on five charges, including first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Pankey, a failed two-time Idaho gubernatorial candidate, was arrested without incident on Monday, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said at a news conference Tuesday.

Jonelle Matthews was 12 years old when she went missing in 1984. Her body was recently found near Greeley (Handout)

Rourke said Pankey had “intimate knowledge of the crime” that wasn’t known to the public — specifically that a rake was used to wipe out footprints in the snow.

The indictment alleges that Pankey took Jonelle from her home on Dec. 20, 1984, and shot her in the head during the kidnapping. It also said he had been watching Jonelle and other children walk home from Franklin Middle School, and that he exhibited strange behavior over the years, including muttering “false prophet” in 1985 during a church service when the pastor announced that Jonelle Matthews would be found safe.

The indictment also says Pankey “intentionally inserted himself in the investigation many times over the years claiming to have knowledge of the crime which grew inconsistent and incriminating over time.”

The indictment states that Pankey’s ex-wife, Angela Hicks, provided much of the information on his background, which may have led to the charges, including “dumping” the family dogs before they went on their Christmas trip in December 1984. The dogs “were never seen again,” she said. 

When Pankey and his ex-wife returned from that trip, “Pankey immediately began digging in their yard, and approximately two days later a car on their property burst into flames,” the indictment quotes Hicks as saying. Pankey then disposed of the car at a salvage yard.

In 2008, Hicks heard Pankey say “at his murdered son’s funeral, ‘I hope God didn’t allow this to happen because of Jonelle Matthews,’” the indictment says.

Steve Pankey. (Provided photo)

Jonelle was last seen walking into her home after family friends dropped her off. She had been singing with her middle school choir for a Christmas concert. 

Her disappearance prompted a manhunt by Greeley police. Jonelle’s smiling school picture was among the first to show up on a milk carton, amid a nationwide missing children’s campaign that was prompted by the disappearance of another child, Adam Walsh, three years earlier in Florida.

Around an hour after the friends dropped Jonelle off at home, her father, Jim, walked into his empty house. Jonelle’s stockings were draped over the couch and her house shoes were missing.  

“After being home for about a half an hour I just had a really strange feeling,” Matthews told The Colorado Sun last October, “because our girls were very good about letting us know if they were gonna change their plans, leaving a note or calling.” 

Jonelle’s mother had gone out of town to visit family, and her older sister, Jennifer Mogensen, was playing a basketball game and returned home not long after their father. 

Mogensen told The Sun that her sister would have left a note if she had gone somewhere. “It was weird. There were Christmas presents to Jonelle under the tree — and that’s where they stayed,” Mogensen told The Sun. 

The Matthews family eventually moved from Greeley, and so did Pankey, who moved to Idaho and ran for governor twice. Most recently, he ran for Twin Falls County Sheriff and lost in the primary in May.

Jonelle’s remains were found on July 23, 2019, by a crew digging an oil pipeline in Weld County. 

Jim and Gloria Matthews interring their daughter Jonelle at the Linn Grove Cemetery (Courtesy Matthews Family)

Two months later, Greeley police announced that Pankey was a person of interest in the case and searched his home and car. But he was not arrested for the child’s murder and in fact, continued to draw attention to himself, by calling and texting reporters to profess his innocence.

In December 2019, in a nearly two-hour phone interview, Pankey told The Sun that he was innocent in Jonelle’s murder. 

“If the Greeley PD thinks I murdered Jonelle Matthews, or if they think I murdered John F. Kennedy or if they think I murdered Abraham Lincoln, they’ve got my DNA,” he said. “I did not know that this young lady existed or disappeared. I did not know her family.”

In subsequent text messages to a Sun reporter, Pankey floated a theory that the Greeley police killed the girl in an elaborate cover-up. 

“Justice for Jonelle requires the guilty to be held accountable,” Pankey said in January. He explained why he decided he was going to run for Twin Falls County Sheriff: “I want to work within the system to improve the system.” 

Greeley Mayor John Gates was a police sergeant in 1984 and was among those who searched for Jonelle. Through the years, he said, he never could figure out what Pankey was up to. 

“The minute I walked into their home, I thought that this was probably not a runaway,” Gates said. “We walked the neighborhood. It was dark. Nobody in that neighborhood saw anything. It wasn’t long before we started thinking that this was probably not going to end well.”

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  • Weld County grand jury indicts man in 1984 Greeley cold-case murder of 12-year-old girl
  • 9News says it requested unarmed security, wasn’t aware Matthew Dolloff had gun before protest shooting
  • “We need to get this under control now”: Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate rises above 5%
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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/13/jonelle-matthews-steve-pankey-greeley-murder/

9News claims it requested unarmed safety wasnt mindful Matthew Dolloff had weapon prior to demonstration capturing

Colorado News

Denver television station 9News says its employees were unaware that Matthew Dolloff, a private security guard hired to protect them, was armed before Saturday’s fatal shooting as dueling protests wrapped up in Civic Center Park.

In fact, the station says that when it contracted with the security company Pinkerton to protect its journalists at protests it specifically requested that guards not carry a gun.

“9News contracted with Pinkerton and had directed that security guards accompanying our personnel not be armed,” the station said in a written statement. “None of 9News’ crew accompanied by Mr. Dolloff on Saturday were aware that he was armed.”

Dolloff, 30, is being held for investigation of first-degree murder in the killing of 49-year-old Lee Keltner. 

Matthew Dolloff, 30, is being held for investigation of first-degree murder. (Denver Police Department)

The shooting happened at about 3:30 p.m. near the Denver Art Museum as Dolloff was providing security for a 9News producer. According to court documents, Keltner slapped Dolloff just before the shooting. Keltner fired a stream of mace at Dolloff as he was fatally shot. 

Keltner was a U.S. Navy veteran who operated a hat-making business in the Denver area.

Pinkerton said in a statement that Dolloff wasn’t actually one of its employees, describing him as a “contractor agent from a long-standing industry vendor.” The statement didn’t specify which vendor he worked for. The statement also didn’t address why Dolloff was armed when 9News had asked otherwise.

“We take loss of life in any situation very seriously and our hearts go out to those impacted by this situation,” the Pinkerton statement says. 

9News said it has been hiring private security to accompany staff at protests for “a number of months.”

Attorney Doug Richards, who said he is representing Dolloff’s family, says Dolloff was acting in self-defense and that he feared for his safety when Keltner reached into his shirt during the seconds-long confrontation leading up the shooting.

“He was doing what he was supposed to be doing there,” Richards said.

MORE: Denver security guard acted in self-defense, his lawyer says

The Denver Post reports that Richards says Dolloff was also armed while he was working security Friday night for the U.S. Senate debate between Republican incumbent Cory Gardner and Democrat John Hickenlooper, which was held at the studio of television station Denver7. The newspaper says that Denver7 specifically asked Pinkerton for unarmed guards for the event.

Denver officials say Dolloff did not have a license to work as a security guard in the city and are investigating how he was allowed to work anyway.

Under rules adopted by Denver in 2018, both security companies and the guards they employ must have city licenses. Guards must complete 16 hours of training and a FBI background check to get a license. They must complete another eight hours of training each year to renew the license, said Eric Escudero, a spokesman for the city’s Excise and Licenses Department. Guards that carry firearms must also be screened by police, he said.

Private security guard Matthew Dolloff is taken into custody following a fatal shooting during competing political protests in Denver on Oct. 10, 2020. (CBS4)

Companies that employ unlicensed guards can have their licenses suspended or revoked and face fines. Individual guards who do not have licenses can be punished with a $999 fine and up to one year in jail.

“Licensed security guard employers that hire unlicensed security guards could face disciplinary actions against their licenses ranging from a fine, to suspension, to revocation,” said Ryan Luby, a spokesman for Denver’s City Attorney’s Office. “Businesses could also face criminal charges for permitting or directing an unlicensed person to perform security services.  Regarding Matthew Dolloff, there could be civil or criminal actions taken, or both, against Mr. Dolloff, Pinkerton, 9News, and/or any other entity that hired and deployed Dolloff in an unlicensed security guard capacity.”

Dolloff did have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Colorado issued by his local sheriff’s office but it was suspended Monday because of the allegations against him. Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton said he will decide whether Dolloff will get the five-year permit back based on what happens in the criminal case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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What you missed out on in the last Colorado UNITED STATE Us senate debate between Cory Gardner as well as John Hickenlooper

Colorado News

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he believes the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade protecting a woman’s right to an abortion and a ruling affirming a same-sex couple’s right to marriage are settled law.

“Both cases are settled law … and that precedent should be respected,” Gardner said.

The Republican incumbent’s comments in the final U.S. Senate debate Tuesday came even as he labeled himself “pro-life” and expressed support for a 2020 ballot measure in Colorado that limits abortions by prohibiting the procedure after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

His Democratic rival, John Hickenlooper, once again refused to directly answer a question about whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court to lessen the influence of Republican appointees. The former governor previously said he was “open” to the move but allowed that he’s not a fan of the concept. “I don’t like the idea of court packing,” he said.

“I think if you get new people in Washington, you won’t have to do that kind of institutional change,” he added.

The debate’s focus on the Supreme Court came the same day that President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, faced questions about her views on abortion and court precedents at a confirmation hearing in Washington. 

Gardner supports the Republican-led U.S. Senate’s efforts to fill the court vacancy days before the election, despite the fact that he took the opposite stance when President Barack Obama nominated a pick in 2016. Hickenlooper said the chamber’s leaders should instead focus on passing additional coronavirus relief and economic stimulus legislation, rather than working to “rush through this Supreme Court nomination.”

The two candidates delineated clear differences on a range of issues in the hour-long televised debate hosted by 9News, Colorado Politics and The Coloradoan at the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. 

The contest is key to determining which party will control the U.S. Senate, and earlier in the day, a newly released Morning Consult poll showed that Hickenlooper held a 10 percentage point advantage against Gardner, 50% to 40%, according to the survey conducted Oct. 2-11.

A month ago, just before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, a poll from Morning Consult found the race at a statistical tie with Hickenlooper at 46% and Gardner at 44%. But the newer numbers show Ginsburg’s death only galvanized support for the Democrat. 

POLL TRACKER: How Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper are polling in the 2020 U.S. Senate election

Jessica Taylor, a national analyst at the Cook Political Report, said Ginsburg’s death and the Supreme Court vacancy “sends people to their partisan corners.” She said the abortion issue is one that positions Gardner “really far and away from where Colorado voters are.”

“Clearly Colorado is a state that is moving away from Republicans — we saw that in 2018 and 2016 as well, and on social issues it’s far more progressive,” said Taylor, who spoke at an election forum hosted by the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research ahead of the debate.

Here’s a look at the other battle lines in from the final debate before the Nov. 3 election: 

Coronavirus and stalemate on a federal relief package is central focus

The debate began with Gardner and Hickenlooper tussling over coronavirus and the federal response to the pandemic. 

Hickenlooper accused Gardner of not making the passage of a new stimulus package a priority, instead focusing on pushing through Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “Cory can just say I will not vote to support this thing — this Supreme Court nominee — if indeed the relief act doesn’t get passed first,” he said. 

Then Gardner criticized Hickenlooper for not supporting a scaled-back aid bill put forward by Senate Republican leaders last month. “We can’t afford to have someone who refuses to support the people of Colorado in the Senate,” Gardner said. 

Hickenlooper has said the legislation didn’t go far enough and wasn’t a real effort at helping Americans weather COVID-19. But then he said he supported a scaled-back bill not loaded down with partisan amendments, saying Republicans and Democrats are at fault for the gridlock.

“Certainly, if I was in Washington, I would do everything I can to make sure there was a sufficient process to get a lean bill to put forward,” he said.

Gardner also accused Hickenlooper of leaving Colorado unprepared to deal with the pandemic by not stockpiling personal protective equipment and medical devices, like ventilators. But Gov. Jared Polis has blamed Colorado’s initial struggles with the pandemic and its shortages on a lack of federal aid and guidance, not his predecessor. 

Hickenlooper, meanwhile, called the accusations “ridiculous.”

A pandemic simulation run in 2017, when Hickenlooper was governor, showed deficiencies, but mostly surrounding communication. In August 2019, under Polis, another exercise was run that in retrospect showed that neither Colorado, nor the rest of the country, was ready for a virus that a test wasn’t available for and that hit the nation and globe all at once.

Later, Hickenlooper attacked Gardner for joining Trump at a crowded rally in Colorado Springs on Feb. 20 despite the fact that the senator was raising concerns about the coronavirus and demanding hearings in Washington. “As you stood side by side with Donald Trump, you didn’t warn anyone,” Hickenlooper said.

Gardner pointed to his early inquiries about coronavirus, but said Trump didn’t warn him about the fact that COVID-19 was so deadly, transmissible by air and far worse than influenza, as he told Washington Post reporter Bob Wooward on Feb. 7.

“I don’t know what he knew or didn’t know,” Gardner said of Trump. “I certainly wish that we would have had all of the information at the very beginning of this.” 

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, participates in the final debate at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on Oct. 13, 2020. (Bethany Baker, The Coloradoan/Pool photo)

The candidates sparred over how to address climate change 

The most pointed exchange in the debate came on a series of questions about oil and gas drilling and the environment, an issue where both candidates have different records than the ones they tout in campaign advertisements.

Hickenlooper’s plan calls for 100% renewable energy, and earlier this year he said he wants to make fracking obsolete. 

Gardner said that would lead to thousands of layoffs in the oil and gas industry. He said he opposed other measures on climate change because “the number of jobs that they would cost are too high.” 

“I don’t think we have to punish our economy in order to achieve  reductions in pollution and to address climate change,” Gardner added.

When Gardner touted his legislation to fund land and water conservation programs, Hickenooper came ready with a retort: “Just because you have one environmental bill doesn’t make you an environmentalist,” he said.

As a former geologist, Hickenlooper said he always knew climate change had “the potential to be an existential threat” but he avoided a question about why he drank fracking fluid and his vocal support for the industry as governor.

Gardner replied with his own jab about his reversal and new embrace of tougher regulations on the industry: “He may have drank the fracking fluid but he’s also drank the Kool Aid now,” he said.

Gardner’s support for Donald Trump continues to raise questions

In his successful 2014 bid, Gardner proclaimed that “when my party’s wrong, I’ll say it.” But his repeated silence on Trump’s controversial actions and statements led to a question of whether he broke the promise or agreed with the president.

Gardner didn’t answer directly. But he pointed to his legislative accomplishments as evidence he can work with Democrats and the Trump administration.

Elsewhere in the debate, more questions about Trump put Gardner in the spotlight. Gardner said he believes Trump is a “moral and ethical man” but said he could communicate better with the American people. Hickenlooper said Trump is not moral or ethical.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner addresses a question in the final debate of Colorado’s U.S. Senate race at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on Oct. 13, 2020. (Bethany Baker, The Coloradoan/Pool photo)

On a question about the president’s ambiguous statements about accepting the election results, Gardner was direct: “The president should be crystal clear. … There will be a peaceful transition of power,” he said.

In regards to the QAnon conspiracy promoted by the president, Gardner replied: “I don’t believe in QAnon, and yes, I believe they are a threat.”

A clash of views on guns and the need for more regulations

The candidates also spent part of the debate discussing gun control, with Hickenlooper defending his record of passing legislation in 2013 tightening regulations around firearms and Gardner accusing him of trying to infringe on people’s rights. 

“I stand by my record on gun safety,” Hickenlooper said. “We were the first purple state to actually roll up our sleeves and actually pass universal background checks. To this day, Cory Gardner — Mitch McConnell — don’t think universal background checks really work.”

Hickenlooper sidestepped a question about the firestorm that erupted in 2014 when a video surfaced of him telling county sheriffs that he didn’t think legislation banning gun magazines that carry more than 15 bullets would pass. He told the sheriffs that he signed the measure because one of his staffers committed the governor’s office to supporting it.

In the debate, Hickenlooper said he had always intended that bill to pass a year later than it did “for a variety of reasons,” though he didn’t elaborate.

The former governor attacked Gardner for receiving nearly $4 million in support from the National Rifle Association and for not backing gun regulations aimed at making firearms more safe.

MORE: Gun-control groups see Colorado’s U.S. Senate race as a big opportunity. But it’s complicated.

“I support our Second Amendment and I believe we have laws in place that need to be enforced,” Gardner said. “But I don’t think when it comes to prohibiting a sale between a father and a son — interfering at that level — that that’s a good thing for our country.”

Gardner slammed Hickenlooper for supporting a national gun licensure policy, as he did in his ill-fated presidential campaign. Hickenlooper still backs the policy, but it’s not a part of his Senate priorities.

“What he’s saying here is different than what he actually wants to do in Washington,” Gardner said. “It’s this two John Hickenloopers.”

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  • What you missed in the final Colorado U.S. Senate debate between Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper
  • Weld County grand jury indicts man in 1984 Greeley cold-case murder of 12-year-old girl
  • 9News says it requested unarmed security, wasn’t aware Matthew Dolloff had gun before protest shooting
  • “We need to get this under control now”: Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate rises above 5%
  • New form isn’t the “blanket forgiveness” some Colorado businesses hoped for in federal paycheck loan program

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Denver to postpone resuming center high schools for in-person learning until at least November

more news https://northdenvernews.com

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

Denver middle and high schools will continue with virtual learning into November, according to an internal district communication obtained by Chalkbeat. The school district had planned to reopen school buildings to middle and high school students on Oct. 21.

COVID-19 cases have been rising in Denver. On Monday, as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock sounded the alarm, Superintendent Susana Cordova said the district would consult with public health officials and take a second look at plans to bring older students back to the classroom.

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Known cases in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: “We need to get this under control now”: Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate rises above 5%

>> FULL COVERAGE

At a school board meeting later that evening, Dr. Bill Burman, the director of Denver Public Health reiterated that he believes it’s relatively safe to bring students back to school and that the greatest risk is that of frequent learning disruptions due to quarantine.

But he also noted that COVID cases had risen among school-age children in Denver in recent weeks. Public health officials have attributed a spike in cases citywide to outbreaks that originated on college campuses and have now spread to the community.

Denver elementary schools will reopen on schedule, the district communication says. The district has been gradually bringing back elementary students in recent weeks, with the goal of having all students who opted for in-person learning back in classrooms by Oct. 21. Public health data shows COVID infections are lower among young children than in teenagers

Read more at chalkbeat.org.

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  • What you missed in the final Colorado U.S. Senate debate between Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper
  • Weld County grand jury indicts man in 1984 Greeley cold-case murder of 12-year-old girl
  • 9News says it requested unarmed security, wasn’t aware Matthew Dolloff had gun before protest shooting
  • “We need to get this under control now”: Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate rises above 5%

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Opinion: Why Coloradans should rally behind Judge Amy Coney Barrett

more news https://northdenvernews.com

It’s tempting to buy in to the partisanship that is ripping our country apart. Today, that includes deeply personal and anti-religious attacks on Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her family.

It’s all about power. It is happening, and it is wrong; it’s not what’s in the best interests of America.

Colorado is unique, we are closely divided among Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters. But, more importantly, there is far more that unites us as Coloradans than there is that divides us. One of Colorado’s cherished values is fairness.

Jane Norton

The president has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. A president has the right, pursuant to Article II, Section II, of the U.S. Constitution to nominate a Supreme Court justice if there is a vacancy.

Indeed, every single time there has been an opening on the Supreme Court in the final year of a president’s term, the president then in office has put forward a nominee.

The Constitution provides that a Supreme Court nominee may be appointed only with the “advice and consent of the Senate.”

An individual senator may vote to confirm or not to confirm for any reason or no reason. But some reasons are, or at least ought to be, off limits. Attacking a person’s faith is one of those improper reasons. Likewise trying to demonize a nominee or, worse yet, that nominee’s family and children, is abhorrent to our civilized society.

The confirmation of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee depends on the balance of power in Washington, D.C. If the party that controls the White House also controls the U.S. Senate, the nominee is likely to be confirmed. Indeed, in our history, only one such nominee has not been so confirmed and, in that case, a scandal resulted in the disqualification of the nominee.

Likewise, when the White House and the Senate are held by different parties, the majority of the time, the nominee has not been confirmed.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

This feature of our constitutional republic — three branches of government acting independently and as a check on each other — should be celebrated, not demeaned. This is how our system of government was designed to work, and this is exactly how it does work.

The Constitution is clear and, with history as our guide, responsible news media and reasonable Coloradans should ignore criticisms of Judge Barrett’s faith and family. Those cries are nonsense.

To his credit, in the days following Judge Barrett’s nomination, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said, “…not a single Democrat will make these attacks or make personal, religious beliefs an issue … Republicans invented this concern.…”

Unfortunately, this has not been true. That is exactly what several Senate Democrats have been doing — questioning both Judge Barrett’s faith and her family. One senator has questioned Judge Barrett’s ability to look past her personal “closely held” views to rule impartially.

Those who attack a nominee over the nominee’s faith, whether in the Senate, in the media, or elsewhere, sadly ignore Article VI of the Constitution which provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Like most Coloradans, I love my country and I love the Constitution. These personal, ad hominem attacks sadden me. They are irresponsible and reprehensible and should not stand.

Judge Barrett is clearly a person of faith and she is proud of her family. Indeed, if confirmed, she will be the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court with school-age children. She has also built a highly successful legal career because of her remarkable intellect, her character and her commitment to the law.

Her former students, her peers and Judge Barrett herself have told us just what kind of a superb justice on the U.S. Supreme Court she will be.  

A half dozen former students of then-professor Barrett told America that Judge Barrett impressed upon them “the necessity of setting personal beliefs aside when evaluating the answer to a legal question.”

Noah Feldman, an acknowledged liberal and Harvard law professor who clerked with Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court over 20 years ago wrote, “I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed.”

It is Judge Barrett’s record that our senators must weigh. I know Sen. Cory Gardner, an effective leader and good person, will evaluate Judge Barrett on her merits, including her public record as a scholar and a circuit court judge. I urge Sen. Michael Bennet to do the same.

Soon-to-be Justice Amy Coney Barrett may have a different background and philosophy than did the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Frankly, I celebrate that fact.

And, importantly, this seat on the Supreme Court belongs to America, not to one political party. Not all women are required to think and believe the same, no matter what left-wing politicians or some in the media say.

Judge Barrett has earned the respect of her legal peers. In just a few days, tens of millions of Americans will witness a strong, highly competent and accomplished woman as she takes center-stage in our country in the process of becoming the next associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. That should make all Americans – men and women alike – proud.


Jane Norton, a native of Grand Junction, served as the 46th Lt. Governor of Colorado and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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  • Littwin: If you’re watching the Supreme Court hearings, you know the real drama would come after Barrett is confirmed
  • Opinion: Why Coloradans should rally behind Judge Amy Coney Barrett
  • Denver to delay reopening middle, high schools for in-person learning until at least November
  • What you missed in the final Colorado U.S. Senate debate between Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper
  • Weld County grand jury indicts man in 1984 Greeley cold-case murder of 12-year-old girl

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