It seems like a week without any mention of sexual harassment, wouldn't be much a week at all in Colorado; but rest assured, news on that front is limited.
There was a press release issued by Senate Democrats to urge the Senate Republicans to "do something" about Sens. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulfur Springs) who have both had investigations finish that deem accusations against them credible. Senate Leadership has not made any public announcements since last week when they asked Denver District Attorney (former state Rep.) Beth McCann to investigate the charges.
This week, was still light in terms of bills being heard though as Republicans and Democrats around the state met to caucus on Tuesday.
According to the Secretary of State (SOS), 34 people have filed paperwork declaring they are running for governor of Colorado. Among them, there are about eight candidates that will give this race a real shot, according to analysts and political strategists.
For Democrats, the leaders are: former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, former state Sen. Michael Johnston, Congressman Jared Polis and businessman Noel Ginsburg.
Kennedy was the big winner on Tuesday night, having the support of more than 50% of voters that showed up to caucus, which is typically about six percent of registered voters. Support from at least 30% of voters means that a candidate has officially "made the ballot." The only other Democrat to reach that threshold was Polis.
For Republicans, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, businessman (and nephew of former US Senator Mitt Romney) Doug Robinson, and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell are leaders. Yet, differing from the Democrats on process, the GOP does not assign delegates through a poll.
Of the four, Coffman is the only top Republican officially seeking to earn a spot on the ballot solely through the caucus, some consider that to be a risky path as she doesn't always align with Republicans on litmus-test issues. The true test will be at the state assembly, where the official votes will be cast.
For the rest of the Republicans and for the Democrats as well, caucus is only one of the two (not mutually exclusive) paths to the ballot.
One way, as has been mentioned, is caucus. There, a candidate tries to break through the potentially risky gauntlet of the grassroots caucus-and-assembly process. The other option is to bypass that route completely with a typically costly effort to go directly to the ballot via voter petitions.
Stapleton is likely doing both. He considered to be leading the pack for the GOP. He is submitting signatures and also had a strong showing at caucus. This strategy could place him as "top line" on the ballot, first in a potentially long list of candidates to from which to pick.
Johnston, the former state Sen. with over $1 million to spend in his campaign fund, also went both routes. He submitted more than 20,000 voter signatures last Wednesday in his bid to qualify for the ballot in Colorado's governor's race and, his campaign boasted, those signatures were collected exclusively through the use of volunteers. Johnston also went to caucus, but only had support from about eight percent of caucus-goers.
As he was the first to return his petitions, he secured a significant strategic gain in the crowded Democratic primary since a voter's signature only can count once. That means if someone signed a petition more than once, the campaign to turn that signature in first is the only campaign to get credit for that supporter.
To qualify for the ballot, candidates must secure 10,500 signatures from registered party members - 1,500 in each of the state's seven congressional districts. It's a tough threshold to meet and typically candidates pay canvassers to collect signatures on their behalf. According to people familiar with the matter, those signatures can cost upwards of $15 each.
At this point, it is likely Johnston's name will appear along with Kennedy and Polis' on the ballot. Lynne is working to get access to the ballot via the petition path as well. When it comes to the primary, it won't just be partisans that the candidates will have to impress. Thanks to new laws voters passed in 2016 by the state legislature, those who are unaffiliated with a major political party can participate in either party's primary.
Appealing to moderates and independent voters may make the difference in this large field diverse candidates. For right now, it seems like anybody's race and when it comes to the General Election, it is too early to tell who could come out on top.
The governor's race continues with the next major marker being the county assembly and the session is officially half way over, but huge issues remain unresolved. Rumor has it that the coming weeks will bring a new transportation funding bill, reform to the Public Employees Retirement Act (PERA) and more messaging bill from each chamber.
A desperate tone filled the chambers at the state capitol this week; many wondering what will happen to the legislators accused of sexual assault. A vote on Friday afternoon, after hours of heavy and heartfelt testimony from both sides of the aisle, resulted in most members supporting expulsion of Rep. Steve Lebsock (Thornton).
The accounts of the five women who made official complaints about the actions of Rep. Lebsock were all found credible this week by a third party independent investigator.
On Tuesday, the details of the two month investigation were revealed in a confidential document provided to the legislature. By Wednesday, a redacted version of the document was leaked to the press and public. The 35-page brief, detailed eleven offenses allegedly committed by Rep. Lebsock. He was accused of soliciting women for sex and subsequently retaliated against those women and his colleagues when these accusations were brought to light.
While no criminal charges were brought against the representative, the investigation at large has tested the credibility of a workplace harassment policy that tries to balance victims' privacy concerns with transparency in government. Some criticized the process as opaque and claimed that it lacks consistent enforcement standards and pushed for standards that would be typical in a criminal case.
Criticism of the process was championed by Republicans in the House, some of whom believed that only the voters have the authority to remove Rep. Lebsock from office. Yet, that opinion represented a small minority of members.
Rep. Lebsock, on Friday evening, was expelled from office on a bipartisan vote of 52-9. Minutes before the final vote was taken, Rep. Lebsock changed his voter affiliation from Democrat to Republican in one final blow to House Leadership.
Right now, there is not certainty regarding when that registration becomes effective. Questions remain about whether a county clerk needs to take action and regarding the rules about expulsion.
Rep. Lebsock becomes the first Colorado House member expelled since 1915, when Rep. William Howlett was ejected after he perjured himself in a bribery investigation.
Hoping for better days again. Until next time!
Session highlights provided by:
(Centennial, COLO) The City of Centennial and Ting Internet executed an agreement for Ting’s lease of fibers in the central ring of Centennial’s fiber optic backbone. Ting will lease 12 fibers from the City’s 432 strand fiber backbone for a term of 20-years. The City will receive a one-time payment of $302,500 for the lease as well as an annual payment of $4,325 (with a 3 percent annual escalator) for operations and maintenance. The lease payment and operations and maintenance payment are consistent with industry standards.
This fiber lease agreement is the first for Centennial, since construction of the City’s fiber backbone began in 2016 when Centennial City Council approved the $5.7 million Fiber Master Plan. The Plan demonstrates the potential benefits that a neutral, carrier-grade fiber backbone can provide to the City and its stakeholder agencies. The City completed construction of its 20-mile central ring of fiber, with construction on the west and east rings of fiber currently underway. The entire 50-mile City-owned fiber backbone will be completed by end of this year.
“The City is very pleased to see this agreement with Ting executed. Voter approval of the ballot question in 2013 allowed the City this opportunity to use our existing fiber network to complete a backbone to improve technology and attract private sector telecommunications providers to Centennial. It is very exciting to see the goals from just a few years ago come to fruition,” said Mayor Stephanie Piko. “We are looking forward to our businesses, community anchor institutions and residents benefiting from the completion of the City’s fiber network.”
When complete, the fiber backbone will connect and complete the City’s underground infrastructure, connecting to key City sites and other community anchor institutions. Centennial’s backbone will enable both existing and new broadband providers an additional option with the goal of making it more feasible for broadband providers to deliver superior and more competitive choices and services for consumers.
“Municipal broadband is essential 21st century infrastructure and vital for economic development,” said Centennial Fiber Commission Chair Ken Lucas. “When City Council approved the Fiber Master Plan, the intent was to allow opportunities for open access to the City’s backbone, enhancing Centennial’s infrastructure for businesses, residents and government agencies. Entering into this agreement with Ting demonstrates opportunities that will result from the execution of the Master Plan.”
From specific connection points on the City’s fiber backbone, Ting will construct its own local fiber network within select neighborhoods in order to offer its Gigabit services to residents and businesses. Ting has begun construction of local fiber to residents in the Willow Creek, Walnut Hills and Hunters Hill areas with plans to expand throughout the City.
"We're excited to bring fiber Internet to Centennial," said Adam Eisner, Ting's Vice President of Networks. "With network construction now underway, the City's fiber backbone will be a key component of our deployment.”
Ting is a subsidiary of Tucows Inc., a public company, based out of Toronto, Canada.
View information about Centennial’s FiberWorks Program.
Are you working to improve the health of your community? The Colorado Health Foundation, one of our Chamber members, is offering fellowships to attend the annual Colorado Health Symposium in Keystone, CO this summer. The theme of this year’s Symposium, Aug. 1-3 is Achieving Equity in Behavioral Health. Symposium fellowships support Colorado professionals from rural-based, minority-led and/or community-based organizations and covers registration, lodging and, in some instances, travel costs to the conference. The Foundation encourages people who are bringing health in reach for Coloradans, but who may work in areas outside of traditional health care industries, to apply by the March 14 deadline.
The Foundation is also soliciting proposals for the Symposium's afternoon exchange sessions, which are designed to engage and offer tangible information or resources around behavioral health that attendees can apply to their own work in creating a healthier and more equitable Colorado. The deadline for submitting exchange session proposals [http://www.tfaforms.com/4660657] is also March 14.
The Colorado Health Foundation is focused on strengthening bodies, minds and communities in the fight for health equity. Learn more about their work here.
Economic Development organizations around the region have been sharing their monthly and/or quarterly reports that provide a snapshot of economic activity in labor and employment, the consumer sector and residential and commercial real estate.
Metro Denver EDC - February 2018 - Monthly Economic Indicators
Metro Denver recorded a 10.2 percent decrease in foreclosures in December over the prior month and an 18.6 percent decrease over the year-ago level.
Employment in Metro Denver rose 2.1 percent between December 2016 and 2017, or an additional 34,100 jobs during the period.
The average rent for apartments decreased while vacancy rates rose to their highest level in seven years for the fourth quarter of 2017 as thousands of new apartments became available in the metro area.
View the indicators online – www.metrodenver.org
Douglas County and Research Development Partners shared their 3rd Quarter 2017 Economic Development report
A few notables include:
Download the report:
The City of Centennial is currently gathering community input for the third and final phase of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Centennial NEXT. Residents and businesses are invited to provide feedback on the what they would like to see “next” in Centennial as neighborhood shopping centers evolve, intersections along the Central Arapahoe Road Corridor (S. Quebec St. to S. Parker St.) change and future transportation options along E. Arapahoe Road become available. During the community input events, City staff will be available to discuss outcomes from phase one and phase two of the planning process and gather additional feedback to inform future policy decisions related to the Plan.
Give us your feedback! Stop by anytime.
Thursday, March 15
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Starbucks, 11703 E. Arapahoe Rd.
Whole Foods Market, The Streets at SouthGlenn, 6853 S York St., Suite 119
6 – 8 p.m.
Growler USA, 11405 E. Briarwood Ave. Suite 100
**$2.00 off a beverage when you take our survey**
Friday, March 16
Trails Recreation Center, 16799 E. Lake Ave.
Tuesday, March 20
7 – 9 a.m.
303 Coffee, 8283 S. Akron St. Suite 170
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Starbucks, 11703 E. Arapahoe Rd.
6 – 8 p.m.
Two Penguins Tap & Grill, 13065 E. Briarwood Ave.
**$1.00 off any draft beer, wine or cocktail when you take our survey**
Halfpenny Brewing Company, 5150 E. Arapahoe Rd.
**$1.00 off a beer when you take our survey**
If you aren’t able to attend the public outreach, please take a short survey.
Centennial NEXT will guide our approach to preserving, enhancing and growing Centennial’s neighborhoods in a way that promotes mutual prosperity, coordinated public investment and a healthy environment. The plan will promote quality of life, a sense of community, economic vitality, supporting infrastructure and responsible government that leaves a legacy for future generations.
For additional information please visit centennialco.gov/centennialnext.