Category Archives: Politics

‘[Transient Migration] a bar to successful Boulder County homeless strategies’

Read the story in the Daily Camera here. Excerpt copied below:

The existing need and scarcity explain why the housing goals associated with Boulder’s newly approved Long-Term Homelessness Strategy are, in the estimation of city officials, both ambitious and insufficient.

Over the next three years, the document states, a total of 180 new units of housing should be created between the city and Boulder County for the benefit of both high-needs homeless individuals and low-income or non-chronically homeless people in need of “rapid rehousing.”

Kurt Firnhaber, the city’s housing director, acknowledged the goals are a “stretch.”

But, clearly, achievement of those targets would still leave a massive amount of need, as assessments of regional homelessness suggest that even during the dead of winter — the down season for transient travel to the area — about 600 people are unhoused in Boulder County.

In Boulder and Longmont, the issue is highly visible, primarily with single homeless adults in the two cities’ respective downtowns. The majority of the homeless services in the county, and the only overnight shelters, are in those two cities. 

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STOP ACCEPTING TRANSIENTS FROM OUTSIDE OF BOULDER COUNTY FOR SHELTER / SERVICES! Really, it’s that simple; I believe that adequate housing solutions can be found for ALL of our local homeless residents — defined as those with a valid photo ID showing a Boulder County address and proof of at least one year’s residency. It seems likely that over half of those seeking aid of all kinds are from elsewhere, so hand them bus tickets on RTD to Denver and sack lunches to-go. Then, embrace the truly progressive concept of inexpensive Tiny Homes. Finally, understand that a small percentage of homeless people will NEVER want to live as society would like them to — these are the folks who require a minimal level of emergency shelter / services during wintertime.

— MRW 

‘Homeless man found dead in unincorporated Boulder County’

Read the report in the Daily Camera here (I presume updates with more details will be on the same link). Copied below:

Just after 8 a.m. [Sunday], officers responded to a report of a man found dead in the 5000 block of 28th St. in unincorporated Boulder County.

The 59-year-old homeless man was found behind an unoccupied building, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

The death does not appear suspicious, according to the sheriff’s office, which is investigating the death along with the Boulder County Coroner’s Office.

The man’s name is being withheld pending notification of relatives and the completion of the investigation.

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I knew this man. Recently, he’d been walking over to Boulder Shelter for the Homeless from his campsite — just a stone’s throw away from mine — every morning before the doors open at 6AM. When I returned to the 4900 block of N. Broadway yesterday morning, I saw the BCSO deputies and what looked like it could have been the coroner’s van parked at the vacant house on the other side of U.S. 36; I immediately knew that someone had died over there, and I guessed who it was based on his history of seizures (at least twice each month during our acquaintance since last October).

I admired J. because he never hesitated to call it as he saw it — despite being a short, skinny guy. He’d tell some transient knucklehead right to his face, “You’re a f***ing idiot!” if that was what the situation called for . . . After all, Boulder is full of misguided do-gooders telling these scurvy characters how great they are and how much they’re entitled to grab for free. I felt like J. was a kindred spirit of mine, and I shall miss him.

BTW, kudos to the DC for using the term “homeless man” in the headline rather then lumping J. in with the transients who come here and cause almost all of the problems we’re facing with homelessness today. He and I and so many of the rest of us homeless people are residents of Boulder County, even if we live outdoors here.

When my time comes, I hope I’ll also die outdoors as a free man.

Transient Migration exhausts Boulder Shelter’s supply of Red Cross disaster blankets

Blankets are a 30/70 blend of recycled wool and man-made fibers

A notice was posted on the north door of Boulder Shelter for the Homeless when I arrived there before 6AM this morning, to the effect that no more disaster blankets would be available for those sleeping outside for the rest of the summer. No mention was made as to whether these cheap but warm blankets (which wear out quickly and can’t be washed) would again be distributed this coming winter season at BSH (October through April).

It’s unfortunate that so many transients will obtain one or more blankets, then throw them away after a single night’s use; you can find them in ditches, on sidewalks, underneath bushes and trees, and littering open fields. The blankets, I mean . . .

— MRW

‘Stopping smartphone zombie children’

Read the editorial from the Dallas Morning News and picked up by the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:

A Denver dad says smartphones turned his two youngest sons into zombies. So he turned himself into a crusader.

Timothy Farnum, an anesthesiologist, wants Colorado to be the first state to ban smartphone sales to children younger than 13, and he already has plenty of parents on board. The behavior of his boys, ages 10 and 11, underwent striking changes when they got phones.

They became withdrawn, distracted, disinterested in playing outdoors. When he tried to take the phones away, Farnum told CNN, one of his previously easygoing sons showed symptoms that looked alarmingly like drug withdrawal: “He was very addicted to this little machine. It kind of scared me.”

Parents face an everyday challenge in trying to sort out the rapid-fire changes mobile technology is making in American life. How much is too much? Does early mastery of technology give kids a competitive edge later on? If electronic content is labeled “educational,” does it help or hinder?

All valid questions, all slowly being sorted out by pediatric experts. Their short answer: Media are inescapable for children growing up today, and it’s up to parents to be careful and vigilant regulators.

Farnum’s initiative, which would require retailers to ask pointed questions of shoppers about who will use new phones and maintain exhaustive records, is a long shot, and he admits as much. He hopes, he says, to at least get parents to examine current scientific studies on the effects of screen time on young children and teens to better enable them to set guidelines for their own families.

Such studies abound with cautionary messages: Excessive media exposure, especially for younger children, can interfere with sleep, hinder social development and discourage physical activity.

A study presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting found a direct correlation between hand-held electronic media exposure and delayed speech in very young children. And that’s already a problem: According to the recent study, a survey conducted at children’s 18-month checkups found one parent in five said their child was already exposed to at least a half-hour of screen time daily.

A columnist for Psychology Today explains it this way: A child hearing a story read by a parent visualizes the action taking place, interacts with the reader, and begins to link printed words with language. A child watching a video is passive, yet comes to expect constant stimulation: “The device does the thinking for them … their own cognitive muscles remain weak.”

Being a parent is no easy business; runaway technology often rockets beyond the research. But the research in this area is emerging with a consistent message: Too much mobile media exposure is a problem for our kids. Farnum reports that once he pried the smartphones away from his boys, they reconnected with such basic childhood pleasures as playing outdoors and reading.

Those are experiences all children need. It’s up to us to make sure they get them.

— Dallas Morning News

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Caveat: I don’t have kids. But, I have to wonder why kids as young as 10 and 11 need a [dumbass]phone at all — what, if anything, am I missing here?

— MRW 

Council member on new homelessness strategy: ‘It’s ridiculous . . .’

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

By Max R. Weller

Read the Daily Camera’s report here: Boulder OKs new homelessness strategy, calls on neighboring cities for backup. Copied below in its entirety:

A homeless man, who didn’t give his name, sleeps in Central Park on Tuesday in Boulder.

A homeless man, who didn’t give his name, sleeps in Central Park on Tuesday in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

The system of services available to the area’s homeless and unstably housed is changing, with a planned shift in priorities that promises greater focus on exits from homelessness and more personalized case management.

But Boulder officials are hoping to get more buy-in from other towns in the county to address this regional problem.

On Tuesday night, the City Council spent several hours reviewing the city’s new “Long-Term Homelessness Strategy,” then voted unanimously to approve the document.

One of the most significant proposals within the strategy — informed in large part by the work of a citizen working group — involves establishing a “coordinated entry and assessment” program.

The city currently has little data on the homeless people they serve, and would work with service providers to collect better information on who they’re serving and what their distinct needs may be.

Under this plan, people deemed “high-need” through the entry process would be referred, often, to transitional housing at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Boulder Human Services Director Karen Rahn said.

Meanwhile, those with smaller needs would be referred to a facility — the location, among other details, to be determined — at what Rahn called a “navigation center,” and ideally given access to short-term beds, plus rental and transportation subsidies.

This entry system would focus on intake of single-adult homeless people. Roughly half of homeless people in this area are members of families with children. Rahn said Boulder would look to include those demographics in the future.

“We want to start with (single adults), get that going, get that fine-tuned,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re starting it right and making the adjustments as we go.”

The council was generally supportive of this and other aspects of the homelessness strategy, though some members expressed concern about potentially committing to coordinated entry at the expense of emergency solutions.

“What I’ve seen as the biggest gap in what we’ve proposed is emergency and walk-up sheltering,” Councilman Aaron Brockett said, echoing concerns recently voiced by homeless people and advocates in Boulder.

“If you have someone who comes into crisis on a particular day, I think we need to be able to offer something to help those people on that day.”

As part of its broad focus on housing solutions, the city’s strategy identifies multiple targets for creation of more exit scenarios.

The strategy calls for five new units of permanent supportive housing in the city every year, and 10 in the county at large. It also calls for 20 new units of “rapid rehousing” in the city for those who’ve fallen homeless, and 50 such units in the county.

Kurt Firnhaber, the city’s director of housing, advised looking at existing housing stock to satisfy those goals, but he acknowledged that the numbers set by the strategy are a “stretch.”

Acknowledging Firnhaber’s point that achieving relatively small numbers of exits annually may well prove a stretch, Councilwoman Jan Burton said that targets of five, 10, 20 and 50 are insufficient.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s got to be much higher than that,” she said. “I mean, wow. That’s not going to put a dent in it.” (Emphasis is mine — MRW.)

Several council members expressed a desire to pressure surrounding communities that they allegedly ignore the issue of regional homelessness. The council was pleased with Longmont’s outlook, but criticized other county communities for their collective lack of involvement in serving, transitioning and then housing the homeless.

“We need to get them on board,” Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said. “This is a regional issue.”

Mayor Suzanne Jones, whose sister, Elise Jones, is a county commissioner, wondered aloud whether Boulder County officials might not “compel participation” from neighboring communities through withheld funds, or other punitive actions.

“I think it’s time to think about leverage,” Jones added.

Several council members said the city should consider, as a temporary homeless housing site, the former Boulder Community Health location on Broadway, which the city owns and plans to redevelop, but sits vacant now.

A consistent theme in discussions about Boulder’s response to homelessness is that the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, on north Broadway, is not as valuable an asset as it could be, in part because of a restrictive neighborhood management plan that limits the number of clients who can be served on a nightly basis.

However, the shelter’s executive director, Greg Harms, indicated that his organization is open to renegotiating the management plan. This would take place through a series of meetings with neighbors, and could result in more bed space and perhaps a greater diversity of services in that facility.

Mayor Suzanne Jones predicted a less-than-smooth process on that front.

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

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At this point, let me make it clear that NOBODY is talking about prioritizing shelter / services for the homeless folks who actually have been living here in Boulder County; they’re being lumped together with Alabama arsonists and Denver sex offenders. This is a fatal flaw in what is obviously a cobbled-together plan lacking in common sense; the number of transients allowed to migrate to Boulder, CO and become dependent on social services will always be far in excess of available housing . . . YOU MUST SET PRIORITIES BASED ON RESIDENCY AND REQUIRE DOCUMENTATION!

The neighbors have been upset for a long time, Mayor Jones, and it’s mostly due to the many registered sex offenders being harbored by Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. None of my neighbors can recall Greg Harms or anybody else mentioning that rapists and pedophiles would be a part of BSH’s operating plan, and now all the misguided do-gooders want to do is make excuses for it so they can continue to collect $$$ from Colorado DOC for the perverts in so-called parole beds.

It seems to this long-time observer of homelessness that the issue is way too much for the nonprofits and city staff of Boulder, CO to deal with — and this plan seems to satisfy no one at all. Indeed, it’s ridiculous in more ways than Councilwoman Burton meant.

I predict that the Transient Migration will increase, the new Civic Area will once again be overrun by BUMS from outside of Boulder County, the quality of life for residents will suffer, and still more impotent hand-wringing will be the response of all those in authority as well as of those who whine endlessly while claiming to advocate for the homeless.

Boulder Homelessness Czar, Alfred E. Neuman 

‘Renewed tax could fund north Boulder library . . .’

Read the report (which is only speculative at this point, like so much that passes for “news” these days) in the Daily Camera here. Excerpt copied below:

What might a tax renewal fund?

Boulder City Council members are expected to vote to place on the 2017 city ballot a renewal of the “Community, Culture and Safety” tax, which is now being renamed the “Capital Improvements Tax.” Should that renewal question reach voters, there’s a good chance that the public will be deciding on a slate of associated projects recommended by a citizen advisory committee convened by the city.

That committee suggested renewing the tax for five years, and allocating the revenue in the following way:

Relocate Boulder Fire Station No. 3 — $13 million

Renovate Scott Carpenter Pool — $6.2 million

Renovate and expand the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (nonprofit) — $6 million

North Boulder library — $6 million

Police Department/Fire Department radio infrastructure — $6 million

Fourmile Canyon Creek Greenways Improvements — $4.25 million

Facilities maintenance backlog — $3.2 million

Studio Arts Boulder (nonprofit) — $1.75 million

Meals on Wheels (nonprofit) — $1.6 million

Public Art — $1.5 million

Center for ReSource Conservation (nonprofit) — $1.4 million

KGNU (nonprofit) — $1.25 million

Community Cycles (nonprofit) — $822,500

Growing Gardens (nonprofit) — $87,000

Continuing excerpt:

The NoBo Corner Library, at 576 square feet, would be replaced by this new facility, which could be about 15 times larger.

Plans for a full-service branch have been floated in north Boulder since 1988, and have been included in every library master plan since 1995. But the 576-square-foot facility has remained, even as its annual attendance has ballooned to 45,000 — more than much larger cultural institutions such as the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Boulder.

Library and Arts Director David Farnan said he’d like to see the new library — if it is indeed funded and built — stay at Yarmouth Avenue, which is home to the current, smaller branch. But the city would investigate other sites, too.

Families in north Boulder have almost double the number of kids per household than those in other areas of the city, and almost double the rate of non-native English speakers, according to city numbers.

“If you look at a heat map of diversity in Boulder*, the epicenter is right next to that (library) site,” Farnan said. “So I think that’s a nice ingredient for both the city and the community.”

Germaine Johnson and her daughter, Vienne Tillotson, 11, shop for books at the north Boulder library on Monday in Boulder.

Germaine Johnson and her daughter, Vienne Tillotson, 11, shop for books at the north Boulder library on Monday in Boulder. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

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I nearly always support tax issues for emergency services and libraries . . . HOWEVER, it seems to me that we have too many nonprofits suckling on the taxpayers’ sugar teat in this city! Meals on Wheels does good work, and they probably deserve what is proposed, but Studio Arts Boulder, KGNU (radio station), Community Cycles, and Growing Gardens ought to make their own way if they can or cease to be. And will somebody please point out to me ANY “Public Art” here in Boulder that would make us want to spend another $1.5M? Perhaps a Marcalee Gralapp-inspired display of colorful ceramic dildoes strung up along Pearl Street Mall? NO THANKS!

*BTW, what in the blue blazes is a “heat map of diversity in Boulder”? Is this some term invented by a sociology professor seeking a grant? I want a full-size north Boulder library because it would be convenient for all of us who live in this area!

— MRW 

‘Drug ring bust a huge wake-up call for Colorado cannabis regulators’

Read the editorial in the Denver Post here. Copied below in its entirety:

By

Colorado’s efforts to ensure our legal cannabis industry remains above suspicion of black market shenanigans have taken a major hit. In response, our state’s leaders need to act quickly and soundly to make sure our seed-to-sale regulatory system is reliable and beyond reproach.

Without that certainty, Colorado’s cannabis experiment could find itself in peril, jeopardizing the work of the many law-abiding ganjapreneurs out there who follow the rules.

The recent indictment of a former Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division officer ought to come as an enormous wake-up call.

As reported this week by The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace, a grand jury has concluded that the enforcement officer, Renee Rayton, joined a company masquerading as a legal cannabis operator that lured her to work as a “compliance consultant” for $8,000 a month. We add the air quotes because the work Rayton was being asked to do hardly had to do with compliance, and it strains credulity to believe that someone in Rayton’s position was fooled.

Instead, she is charged with using her extensive field experience as a regulator to aid illegal marijuana grows. From there, Harmony & Green, a shell company, bought legal pot cultivation licenses and tricked investors into helping finance the scheme. But Harmony & Green was never in the legal marijuana business. Instead, the grand jury found, it shipped Colorado cannabis worth millions of dollars to several states illegally.

Rayton’s indictment says that she was introduced to a Harmony official through an enforcement division employee. When she quit her post in early November, she declined to tell her peers where she was going. But within weeks she was working for Harmony. Her doing so meant a breach of policies that require former regulators from working in the industries they oversaw for six months.

Worse, during her employment at Harmony, when questioned about monitoring tags being switched among plants illegally and other trickery, Rayton told a source she knew someone at the Department of Revenue who would help the company “get legal.”

Investigators assert that, given Rayton’s vast regulatory field experience, which included warehouse monitoring and inspection, she must have been aware of the duplicitous practices that were lining her pockets.

Like their product, the drug ring’s activities haven’t escaped attention beyond Colorado’s borders. Even before news of Rayton’s indictment, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioned the Harmony operation in a recent letter to Congress, arguing against a measure that would prevent the Justice Department from prosecuting violations of the Controlled Substance Act in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Sessions, of course, would rather cannabis remain illegal.

We’ve argued many times that, for the most part, Colorado’s experiment with legal cannabis sales has been successful. But there have been problems, and this one fundamentally calls into question the state’s ability to keep pot out of the illegal marketplace.

Colorado’s Enforcement Division is right to have asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent investigation. Meanwhile, the Department of Revenue should launch a review of its enforcement division’s practices and ensure, through education and otherwise, that its regulators can be trusted.

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Far from being “successful” as this editorial states, Colorado’s so-called legal dope industry is now being exposed for the cesspit of corruption it has been from the start — with illegal drug profits being laundered as start-up capital for ganjapreneurs. It’s no surprise that a CMED officer might succumb to the temptation for easy money.

BTW, do you remember Hector Diaz, a Colombian national arrested some time ago as reported in the Denver Post?

Mr. Diaz supports Colorado’s legal dope industry.

— MRW