More popular than President Barack Obama?
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s growing unpopularity in swing states like Colorado has prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reach for another party leader to campaign for Democrats like Sen. Mark Udall – former President Bill Clinton.
The Democratic Senate leader suggested that Obama would drag down the party’s candidates in highly competitive states, and implied during his weekly press conference Tuesday that Clinton should campaign in his place.
The Colorado Observer asked Reid if he had advised Obama or his White House aides to campaign for Udall. The Nevada lawmaker deflected the question but signaled that it would not be in Udall’s best interest.
“You would have to talk with Mark. He knows his state better than I do,” Reid said. Read more »
Former Jeffco superintendent Cindy Stevenson
DENVER — Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson will receive a six-figure cash payout as part of her lucrative early-release agreement, even though she’s leaving the district with four months to spare on her contract.
Stevenson, whose last day of work was Feb. 21, will receive $204,194, which includes the $68,500 in salary she would have received if she had worked through June, according to district records obtained by The Colorado Observer through an open-records request.
Stevenson, who served 12 years as superintendent, will also be paid $35,894 for unused vacation days and $85,107 for unused sick days. She receives a $10,000 “retention bonus” and another $10,000 in “additional compensation” in lieu of a performance bonus.
It’s a generous farewell package for Stevenson, who submitted her resignation two days after voters elected a conservative pro-reform majority to the five-member school board on Nov. 5. She later requested and was granted an early release from her contract, which expires June 30.
The Jefferson County School District has been forced to cut $79 million in classroom spending since 2010, eliminating 500 full-time equivalent positions over that same period, and dipping into reserves to avoid deeper cuts, according to the district website. Read more »
Attorney General Eric Holder
House Republicans have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to appeal a court decision that would allow criminal gang members who are also illegal immigrants to seek asylum in the U.S. for renouncing their membership.
The case involved Julio Martinez, a former member of the MS-13 gang from El Salvador, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit determined last month that he should not be forcibly removed from the country because his life would be in danger.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia asked Holder in a letter Friday whether the ruling in North Carolina would be challenged by the Obama administration in the Supreme Court.
“This decision encourages fraud and creates a new loophole where gang members can simply claim that they are no longer a member of a gang in order to game the immigration system,” Goodlatte and Forbes said in the letter.
“This undermines the federal government’s ability to enforce our immigration laws and promote public safety,” the lawmakers said. Read more »
Anti-fracking initiative needs out-of-state activists to gather petition signatures.
DENVER — Colorado could soon become Ground Zero for the national anti-fracking movement with the filing of a second statewide initiative to allow communities to clamp down on oil and gas development.
Organizers of Local Control Colorado, a coalition of a dozen environmental groups, filed paperwork Friday to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot giving communities broad authority to restrict oil and gas development within their borders.
The filing comes as the Colorado Community Rights Network (CCRN) wraps up the final details on its own ballot question, the Community Rights Amendment, an anti-corporation measure that would allow communities to ban for-profit businesses including oil and gas operations.
Leaders of both campaigns say they’re planning to use volunteer petition-circulators when and if they reach the signature-gathering phase. That could result in an influx of out-of-state activists as early as April, said CCRN chief Cliff Willmeng. Read more »
Colorado teenagers testified about Internet harassment before House panel.
DENVER – Conjuring images of the film “Carrie” and the pain of being tormented by high school bullies, teenagers shared with a House panel their stories of harassment from cyberbullies prompting passage of a bill to criminalize the online behavior.
In today’s world, mean-spirited pranks have escalated to hateful messages, images and videos that are broadcast anonymously and globally through cyberspace and can’t be erased. The victims can change schools – but they fear the demeaning posts on the Internet will follow them.
House Bill 1131 sponsored by Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) would define cyberbullying – conveyed via Internet websites, phone texts and emails – as a criminal misdemeanor offense and impose penalties.
The House Education Committee passed the bill to the Appropriations Committee, which will likely advance the measure to the House floor.
“Bullying is no longer just in our playgrounds – bullying has gone high-tech,” said Fields. “Bullying will never stop if we just stand by and do nothing.” Read more »