Monthly Archives: September 2017

Sexually Violent Predator Christopher Lawyer once again at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless

Read the report in the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:

Christopher Lawyer

Christopher Lawyer (Boulder Police Department)

Christopher Lawyer, a convicted rapist labeled a “sexually violent predator,” is back at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless after a brief stay in Longmont.

The Boulder Police Department announced Tuesday that Lawyer, 42, re-secured a bed at Boulder’s homeless shelter at 4869 N. Broadway.

Police said he de-registered with Longmont police after moving to the Lamplighter Motel, 1642 Main St., on a temporary basis Sept. 8.

Lawyer’s move to the Boulder shelter in May had upset nearby residents as the number of sexually violent predators at the shelter eventually rose to four.

Boulder police Chief Greg Testa earlier this month asked the Colorado Department of Corrections to stop paroling sexually violent predators to Boulder. However, Lawyer is the only one of the four living at the shelter on parole

Lawyer, convicted of rape in 2001, is believed to be the first person in Boulder County to gain the sexually violent predator designation. The label is given by a judge or the parole board to sex offenders convicted of certain crimes and believed to be prone to re-offend.

Police in 2000 said Lawyer kidnapped a Boulder woman who was delivering newspapers at the Gold Run apartments, forced her into her vehicle and taped her eyes and mouth shut. Lawyer drove the woman to another location, and raped her for more than an hour at gunpoint.

Lawyer was paroled last year and briefly lived with his mother in unincorporated Boulder County before he was found to be in possession of pornography, which violated his parole. After serving about six months in prison, he was released and attempted unsuccessfully to live in Jamestown and Longmont before moving to Boulder in May.

Police departments are authorized pursuant to the Colorado Revised Statutes to inform the public when a sexually violent predator moves into the community.

Anyone wanting more information can contact the Boulder Police Department at 303-441-4332.

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Maybe he tried to rape a housekeeper at the Lamplighter Motel over in Longmont, and the owner threw him out . . . One wonders if he will try to rape a vulnerable homeless woman at BSH. Will executive director Greg Harms kick Mr. Lawyer to the curb if he does? I wish we could depend on it, but I just don’t believe that Mr. Harms gives a darn about anything except the $$$ that BSH will once again receive for housing this predator.

— MRW

What is going on at our Main Library?

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, STOP ENABLING BAD BEHAVIOR!

By Max R. Weller

See the Boulder police blotter for 9/14/2017 here. Copied below:

At 11:20 a.m. officers responded to the Boulder Public Library, located at 1001 Arapahoe, on the report of a male viewing pornography and exposing himself to a security guard.  Upon arrival, just inside the main doors, officers contacted the suspect who became uncooperative refusing verbal commands and physically resisted.  Once the suspect was taken into custody he was medically cleared by AMR and transported to jail on charges of Indecent Exposure, Obstruction and Resisting Arrest.  Case# 17-12114

This took place only a short distance away from where I was seated in the computer lab on the 2nd floor. A police officer came upstairs and used his smartphone to take a photo of the computer screen the alleged pervert was viewing, so I had a pretty good idea what was going on.

This also may have been the lunatic who was screaming and cursing downstairs at about the same time, being heard throughout our library, but I’ve been told that this verbal altercation was a separate incident (which it may well have been, given the state of lawless anarchy prevailing at BPL for years now).

JAIPUR LITERATURE FESTIVAL aside — we want a quiet and hospitable environment at this facility every day! Drunks, druggies, perverts, etc. will NOT go away because the BPL powers-that-be curtail services for 3 days to host a pseudo-Indian event, one that would more reasonably have been held at Naropa University.

I’ve found the peace and quiet I’m seeking here at Norlin Library on the lovely CU campus, surrounded by well-behaved NORMAL people. It may take a few more days, but eventually the last bit of my anger will go away — and I expect it will be a cold day in Hell before I go back to 1001 Arapahoe for any reason.

‘That’s the Lyons way’: Residents help homeless man find way out of woods

Read the story in the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:

Charlie Armstrong, who is homeless, recently told a Lyons resident who had given him a ride that he didn’t know if he could manage another winter of

Charlie Armstrong, who is homeless, recently told a Lyons resident who had given him a ride that he didn’t know if he could manage another winter of sleeping on the ground in his tent outside Lyons, overlooking the South St. Vrain River. Now, due to residents’ generosity, he won’t have to. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

Maybe it’s a minor miracle. Or perhaps, like some are saying, it’s just the Lyons way.

At the very least, credit good timing and the generosity of human spirit that has seen dozens of Lyons-area residents come together to put a roof of sorts over the head of a man with mental health issues who has weathered the past four years living a hardscrabble existence in a tent in the woods outside of town.

“I’m really grateful, and I appreciate it. I had no idea that many people cared,” Charlie Armstrong, 64, said on Wednesday.

Armstrong’s circumstances have taken potentially a dramatic turn for the better, beginning with Sept. 7, when he was picked up hitchhiking outside Longmont by Lyons resident Jen LaFollette.

LaFollette, the married mother of two homeschooled boys, knew Armstrong, like many who live in the St. Vrain Valley, as the homeless man who has fashioned an isolated life for himself at a makeshift campsite overlooking Colo. 7 and the South St. Vrain River, a few miles outside of town.

“Most of us in Lyons know Charlie,” LaFollette said. “We have seen him selling his art on the side of the road or given him a ride from the canyon into Longmont and vice versa. He goes into Longmont, where he does his artwork and gets art supplies.”

Armstrong, a Denver native, is also known at Ralph Ford’s Lyons Farmstand in downtown Lyons, where bundles of sage that he has collected are sold as smudge sticks.

“He’s a steadfast fixture in Lyons. He is one of us,” LaFollette said. “He is not a homeless person living in Lyons. He is Lyons. He lives here.”

‘The biggest smile’

When giving him a ride on Sept. 7 , LaFollette asked him if he was tiring of long, cold winters in a tent, where rain, heavy snows, high winds and the occasional marauding bear are just some of the obstacles he faces.

“It’s a question I have asked him many times before, and this was the first time his answer was different,” she said. “He said, ‘I think I am just getting too old to sleep on the ground anymore, and I would like somehow to find a pop-up camper.'”

She couldn’t believe her ears, she said, because the same day, she had seen on a Facebook page for local yard sales an offer of a used pop-up camper in good condition, with no leaks, for $1,100.

“Usually, if they don’t leak or have major issues, they are at least $3,000,” she said.

Putting social media to work, LaFollette posted a fundraising note on the Lyons Happenings Facebook page, and in one hour and 10 minutes, she had pledges to cover the purchase price.

LaFollette and her husband picked up the camper that night, and the next day she surprised Armstrong at the downtown produce stand with the title to the camper.

As of Thursday morning, the total raised was actually $1,815, enough for extra propane tanks, a new battery for the camper and other incidentals needed to ready Armstrong’s new digs for move-in day.

“I drove down there with the title and the list of names,” she said, referring to the 70 different people who pledged money to cover the purchase, for which she and her husband wrote a check up front.

“He was bundling smudge sticks. I walked up to him and said, ‘Charlie, do you remember the conversation we had yesterday about the camper?’ I said, ‘Well, there are a lot of people here who want you to know that we love you, and we bought you that camper.'”

She said Armstrong didn’t at first understand what she was saying, because he was so overwhelmed.

“I handed him the title, and he took his sunglasses off and he had tears in his eyes, and the biggest smile,” LaFollette said.

‘Lyons way’

At his campsite on Wednesday, Armstrong lamented the trash piles under tarps that he has not yet packed out, and fretted a bit about the work that lies ahead in moving on — although he is delighted to have a better option ahead.

“I had no idea how much stuff I’d accumulated,” he said. “If I ever live in a tent space again, I’m just going to have a sleeping bag and a toothbrush.”

Winters have been tough, and as recently as last week, he had a tent ripped up by a visiting bear that tore through his bag of toiletries.

“He liked the hand cream,” Armstrong said. “And there was a bite taken out of a bar of soap.”

Still, he said, “It’s not like living in a cardboard box,” something he has done in Denver, where he said his seven siblings live.

Armstrong’s many Lyons supporters are delighted to see a positive next step for a man who has had little to celebrate in recent years, and scrapes by on $623 in monthly disability checks.

“We’re absolutely thrilled for Charlie,” said Emily Dusel, executive director of the Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund, which administers the Lyons Community Food Pantry, where Armstrong makes weekly food pickups. “And we continue to be astounded by the generosity of the community for those in need.”

Just down the street at the Barking Dog Cafe, where Armstrong stops in for occasional Cokes, baker Amanda Anderson said the outpouring of support did not surprise her.

“That’s the Lyons way. That’s always been the way,” Anderson said. “People helping people to make everyone succeed.”

For Anderson to succeed, he’ll have to complete an assignment from LaFollette. She and her husband are making a few improvements to the camper, while he works to gain permission to use a piece of private property on which he can park the camper for at least the next few months.

Armstrong said he has a line on someone who will provide that, and he just has to nail that detail down.

Ford, who welcomes Armstrong at his farmstand and helps him when he can, has just a little apprehension about his friend making the transition.

“It might be that it’s just another new set of problems, in a way,” Ford said. “I mean, he’s been living in the hills for 20 years in a tent, and then all of a sudden, it’s like ‘Forrest Gump.’ He might be a little overwhelmed by getting it so fast.”

Armstrong acknowledges that in the woods, he eschews medications for his depression and anxiety — “I don’t want to take meds that may cause death or suicide as a side effect” — because there are no neighbors to be bothered by the occasional resulting fits of yelling and cursing triggered by his mental issues.

Presuming that his camper is set up in an area where he has a nearby neighbor or two, he anticipates having to be on his meds.

But with colder weather just around the corner, Armstrong said, he’s ready to be out of the woods — a place, he noted, where “if something happens (in the winter) you won’t be in the newspaper until next summer.”

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No need for the Homeless Philosopher to comment, beyond pointing out that there are many more long-term homeless campers out there — and Mr. Armstrong is very lucky to have friends who are NOT trying to push him into the social services system against his will.

— MRW

‘Operational changes afoot at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless’

HELP BOULDER COUNTY’S OWN HOMELESS PEOPLE, NOT TRANSIENTS!

By Max R. Weller

Read the report in the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:

Will, who asked that his last name not be used, plays guitar Friday afternoon at the Glen Huntington Bandshell in Boulder. He said he has been homeless for

Will, who asked that his last name not be used, plays guitar Friday afternoon at the Glen Huntington Bandshell in Boulder. He said he has been homeless for about a year (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

The management plan that lays out how the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless operates — who it serves, when and under what conditions — may undergo heavy changes soon as part of a general overhaul of the city’s strategy for responding to homelessness.

Among the most significant additions to a redrafted management plan is a stipulation that the facility shutter its Transition Program and start offering overnight sheltering year-round to people accepted through a new coordinated entry process that the city says will shoot for a more personalized approach to intake of homeless clients.

Also, the shelter would remain open and available during the daytime to some of those who arrived via coordinated entry. The current management plan requires clients to leave by 8 a.m. every day and not return until 5 p.m.

Earlier this summer, when the City Council discussed the possibility of a rewritten management plan for the shelter at 4869 Broadway near the northwest edge of the city, Mayor Suzanne Jones made a prediction.

“I’m guessing a lot of neighbors are going to be upset,” she said.

That prediction will be tested in the coming weeks.

The council will hold a public hearing on the potential management plan changes on Tuesday, and a “good neighbor meeting” has been arranged — at the request of the city manager — for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School Gymnasium, 999 Violet Ave. Local businesses and residents will have a chance then to give feedback on planned changes and how they’ll impact the neighborhood.

Greg Harms, director of the shelter, said “we weren’t comfortable with everything” in terms of proposed changes, but that “we’re embracing it and we’re trying to do everything we can to move forward.”

He added: “Hopefully the changes we’ve proposed to the neighborhood are relatively minor operational changes. We’re working with the neighborhood now to understand if there’s anything we can do to mitigate negative impacts.”

With the planned removal of the Transition Program, which has allowed people to stay in the shelter during the May-September period, the plan is for the shelter to move toward being open year-round, including for people who have higher needs, Harms said.

Sobriety has been required of summer sheltering residents, but that would no longer be the case under the proposed changes.

Along with what’s planned now, and to be reviewed during upcoming public meetings, is the scaleback of walk-up services throughout the city for the homeless. This is true at the north Boulder shelter, where Harms’ operation is moving toward only accepting clients checked in through coordinated entry, but also true of bad-weather warming centers and daytime sheltering.

The shift away from walk-up, emergency-based servicing is designed to emphasize better countywide coordination, the city has said, so that individual needs can be addressed in the interest of more strategic and numerous exits from homelessness.

But the entire plan hinges on coordinated entry — that is, the intake and assessment of clients so that they can become better known to the city’s various homeless-serving agencies and, in theory, better helped through more informed referrals to various services.

As of now, with the new program set to turn over Oct. 1, it’s not yet known where the coordinated entry will take place.

“There’s a lot of people scrambling to figure this out,” Harms said. “There’s people working on some more permanent locations, but this is all a real-estate (issue).

“Knowing that those things can take a while, we’re looking for an interim solution.”

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Where, oh where, is prioritizing shelter / services for Boulder County’s own homeless residents, who can show valid photo ID with a local address and proof of at least one year’s residency? This is the crux of making everything fairer and more efficient! Without this step — consistently enforced by all of the nonprofits and government agencies involved in Boulder, CO — the Transient Migration will continue to suck up resources intended for our own homeless men, women, and children AND the quality of life for all residents will continue to decline.

Transients can be given bus tickets on RTD headed to Denver and a sack luch to-go. BTW, my guess is that “Will” (pictured above) is another young traveler just looking to grab all the Free Stuff he can.

As I understand it, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless will continue to offer walk-up morning services from 6-8AM, including showers, breakfast, locker access, mail, etc.

The other glaring omission is banning registered sex offenders (especially Sexually Violent Predators most likely to re-offend) from shelter / services anywhere in our city. The do-gooders (like Greg Harms) still persist in the unfounded belief that they can somehow help to rehabilitate these characters, who have already been in so-called treatment without anything positive to show for it.

At this point, it seems like MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING to this long-time observer of homelessness here and in other cities.

‘Homeless men in Aspen found grilling lobster tail, lamb, salmon’

Read the story in the Aspen Times here. Copied below in its entirety:

In Aspen, even the homeless eat like kings.

That was the message received by a sergeant with the Aspen Police Department on Tuesday evening after he checked on a report of smoke coming from a popular homeless campsite in the Castle Creek Valley near Aspen Valley Hospital.

Sgt. Rob Fabrocini said he was coming on duty Tuesday evening when a fellow sergeant asked him to check out the smoke. So he tromped through the brush and found two homeless men well-known to local police with a full hibachi.

“They were grilling — are you ready for this — lobster tails, rack of lamb and salmon steaks,” Fabrocini said. “They also had a 12-pack of Stella (Artois) that was unopened, and I said, ‘You guys can’t be cooking in the woods when it’s this dry.'”

To his surprise, the men then opened three or four of the beers and doused the fire, he said.

The men told Fabrocini they’d just received a paycheck and were celebrating with the choice meal, he said.

“I said, ‘You guys are eating pretty good,'” Fabrocini said. “It was a little hibachi grill and it was loaded.”

The sergeant said the meal easily topped his dinner of cold pizza.

Fabrocini said he tries to be sympathetic to people’s situations and even suggested a spot where the men might be able to finish cooking the food. The men were not arrested or cited, he said.

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The Homeless Philosopher will be dining on Frito Pie tonight, made with Fritos corn chips, Hormel canned chili, and shredded mild cheddar cheese — all on sale at King Soopers on Table Mesa this morning. This redneck delicacy will be served cold, of course, since it’s wiser to keep a low profile when camping here, and that means NO FIRES. Plain tap water will accompany this repast.

Yes, indeed, you’re doing well when you can douse your illegal campfire with an expensive imported beer like these Aspen BUMS . . .

— MRW

‘Longmont Councilman Brian Bagley wants city to consider how to deal with transients’

HELP BOULDER COUNTY’S OWN HOMELESS PEOPLE, NOT TRANSIENTS!

By Max R. Weller

Read the article from the Times-Call here. Copied below in its entirety:

Longmont City Councilman Brian Bagley listens during public comment at a City Council meeting in July.

Longmont City Councilman Brian Bagley listens during public comment at a City Council meeting in July. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

Longmont’s City Council needs to consider what it can do to address the growing problems caused by transients converging on the community, Councilman Brian Bagley suggested on Tuesday night.

Bagley said that from what he’s seen and has heard from small businesses — particularly along Main Street — those problems include people urinating, defecating, sleeping in stores’ back and front entrances, using drugs and even illegally tapping into electric power outlets.

Some of those businesses report having lost customers, and their renters complain about the noise from blaring music in the middle of the night, Bagley said.

“I just think we need to come up with a plan” for dealing with the situation, he said during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “It’s getting worse.”

Bagley suggested that the city staff present a report during a future meeting on “what we’re going to do with these transients.”

Other cities have probably had to deal with the issue, he said, asking: “What have they done? What works?”

Mayor Dennis Coombs, one of the owners of the Pumphouse Brewery at 540 Main St., said he’s also been contacted by the owner of one nearby business — the Dairy Queen at 616 Main St. — with complaints about the activities of transients who have been gathering in the area.

However, “I don’t know what the solutions are,” Coombs said.

City Manager Harold Dominguez said the city staff already has begun to look for “a more comprehensive strategy” for dealing with lawbreaking transients and had already intended to schedule a council tour of some of the areas frequented by transients — to be followed by putting the issue on a subsequent council agenda.

Dominguez said police and others are reporting that transients’ encounters with authorities “are becoming more aggressive.” (Emphasis is mine — MRW.)

Programs to assist the homeless are intended “to focus on those who really want to change their conditions,” he said, as opposed to people who are homeless because it is “a lifestyle choice.”

The city staff has also talked about the need to engage Longmont’s business community and neighborhoods frequented by transients in order to come up with solutions, Dominguez said.

Based on other cities’ experiences, “It’s really a process that takes the community to resolve,” he said.

Bagley suggested there is a difference between problems faced by Longmont individuals and families who become homeless and require assistance to recover from that status, and problems caused by transients “who come to Longmont” but aren’t originally from here.

“We need to figure out what’s bringing them here and fix it,” said Bagley, who is in a three-way contest with Roger Lange and Sarah Levison for mayor in this fall’s city election. (Emphasis is mine — MRW.)

Bagley said what he wants from the city staff is a presentation of what the city’s options are and then for the council to set formal policies for the staff to follow.

“What is our plan?” he asked.

Councilwoman Polly Christensen said, “It’s really a problem of very few people doing a huge amount of damage.”

She added: “That’s what we have to deal with.”

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I’m glad to see that they’re starting with the commonsense viewpoint that the Transient Migration to Boulder County is NOT something positive to be enabled, and certainly NOT deserving of millions of taxpayer $$$ to support it. That alone sets Longmont City Council apart from our elected leaders here in Boulder.

I hope Longmont will follow through and send the so-called travelers on down the road; paying for the bus tickets on RTD to Denver, and tossing in sack lunches to-go, is far more cost-effective than citing BUMS into court or tossing them into jail. BUT, if a particular troublemaker comes back after being given the chance to leave, THEN you can lower the boom.

Councilman Bagley seems like he would be an effective mayor for Longmont . . .