- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Pueblo Chieftain, Aug. 16, on state shifting DUI jail costs:

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor has a genuine beef with the state for pushing the cost of incarcerating habitual DUI offenders onto local jails, rather than state prisons where such sentences ought to be served.

A new law, House Bill 1288, mandates hard time for offenders convicted a fourth or subsequent time for driving under the influence, making it a class 4 felony to be sentenced to county jail, rather than the Colorado Department of Corrections, where state felons belong.

While he supports getting tough on these habitual drunken drivers, Taylor said, “The problem with the bill, in my opinion, is the fact that they’re not sentenced to DOC, they’re sentenced to county jails. Even though the numbers are not going to be substantial, we’re going to see jails have an uptick in sentenced inmates.

“We believe in the fact that if you get four DUIs, you ought to do some time. We think it should be in the prisons. It’s another way the state is circumventing their responsibility and putting it on locals.”

How right Taylor is. First of all, Pueblo County already experiences serious jail overcrowding and every new sentencing mandate just adds to the pressure. Second, while the cost to individual counties may not appear to be substantial, there’s no question the Legislature ducked the much larger statewide expense if repeat DUI offenders were sent to state prison. Perhaps the sponsors of HB1288 were worried that putting the entire cost on the Department of Corrections would have jeopardized the fate of the bill in the legislative appropriations committees.

It may be cynical to suspect ulterior selfish motives - but it’s the very kind of unfunded mandate that the states often complain are forced upon them by Congress and overzealous federal regulatory agencies.

If the Legislature and Gov. John Hickenlooper decide to get tough on habitual drunken drivers, they ought to have the state pay for it. The traditional rule of thumb is to sentence convicted felons to prison and to send misdemeanor offenders to local jails. Until now, that is.

Let’s hope Colorado lawmakers think twice before imposing the next unfunded mandate on local governments.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2fLteV1

___

Daily Camera, Aug. 15, on Trump statements on Charlottesville:

David Duke, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, publicly thanked President Donald Trump on Tuesday for his statements during a press conference at Trump Tower earlier in the day in which Trump suggested a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and those who protested that rally.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” Duke wrote on Twitter.

The confrontation in Charlottesville, which left a protester dead when a white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of protesters, drew a similarly ambivalent response from the president on Saturday, when he condemned the violence “on many sides, on many sides.”

After that statement was widely criticized, including by members of his own party, he read a prepared statement Monday specifically condemning “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

But on Tuesday, responding to questions following a prepared statement about an infrastructure initiative, Trump left no doubt that Saturday’s take was the one from his heart, referring to some “very fine people” who were in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate Army general who led a treasonous rebellion against the U.S. government to establish a separate country built on slavery.

As Trump doubled-down on equating those participating in the swastika-laden Charlottesville rally with those protesting it, his chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, was caught in a still photograph standing off to the side with his head down, looking at the floor.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny tweeted that a senior White House official told him afterward, referring to the president: “That was all him - that wasn’t our plan.”

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” Trump demanded at one point of a reporter asking about Charlottesville. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? … You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

Referring to those participating in the “alt-right” rally, Trump said: “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.”

Let’s start by rejecting the use of “alt-right,” which sounds more like a keystroke combination than what it is - a euphemism for “white nationalism,” which is, in turn, a euphemism for white supremacy. Never in our modern history has a president been so reluctant to turn his back on those who believe in Adolf Hitler’s doctrine of racism and anti-Semitism. Since Saturday, Republicans of many stripes have cited statements by Ronald Reagan, Robert Dole and George W. Bush denouncing such bigots in dramatic terms and declaring they had no place in the Republican Party.

By contrast, Trump seems inexplicably drawn to defend them whenever he’s not reading from a teleprompter. Indeed, he has several working for him in the White House.

At least three explanations have gained traction. One is that the president of the United States is indeed sympathetic to white supremacists and may be one himself. Evidence includes his campaign attacks on Muslims, Mexicans and immigrants generally, his leadership of the “birther” movement questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency, and a history as a New York real estate developer that included a racial discrimination case brought against him and his father by the Justice Department and his advocacy of capital punishment for the Central Park Five, a group of black youths later exonerated in a Central Park rape.

A second explanation is that this is entirely about practical politics. Trump knows that white supremacists are a part of his shrinking political base and he doesn’t want to alienate them.

A third is psychological. It suggests that Trump’s narcissism is so severe that he must take on anyone criticizing him, no matter what substantive position that forces him to adopt. In this view, Trump’s off-script rambling Tuesday was a temper tantrum, “an F-U to the media,” and to the establishment generally, in the formulation of former Republican operative Nicolle Wallace.

Whatever the true source of Trump’s bizarre, self-destructive dance with racists and Nazis, this much is certain: It is a disgrace. Never in our lifetimes have we had such profound cause to be ashamed of the president of the United States. Those who continue to stand with him have no better moral compass than he does.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2wQSo8I

___

Cortez Journal, Aug. 14, on creating a supportive community for children:

The idea that “it takes a village” to rear strong, resilient children is unpopular in certain circles.

Fair enough. Healthy families place much less stress on the village.

As children return to school this fall, it’s worth reflecting that the reverse also is true. Living in a healthy community benefits children and families in ways that often are not noticed except in their absence.

Many of the foundational components of a healthy community are obvious: jobs that pay a living wage, high-quality, affordable health care and child care, dependable public safety, a library, recreational amenities, welcoming churches, good schools.

Two other elements sometimes seem a little more nebulous, but they’re equally important:

The first, visible support for education, means communicating a consistent message that the community wants its young people to grow and thrive. It means encouraging students’ efforts and applauding their successes. It means not publicly denigrating schools but expressing concerns privately to those who can address them.

Sometimes, it means spending money. Sometimes it means volunteering time.

The other, creating a community of positive role models, means demonstrating the results of good education, but it is more complicated than that. It also involves modeling what a good life looks like: ambitious but manageable steps toward long-range goals, lifelong learning, financial responsibility, safe and law-abiding recreation, supportive relationships, civic participation, community cooperation.

Less positive examples exist. They receive a lot of attention, and they sometimes look like a lot of fun. The eventual consequences of those choices can be difficult for a child to see. Many successful people talk about the tremendous gift of just one positive person in their lives. For kids who may not meet that one person, it’s important that the good role models outnumber and outshine the others.

That’s what children deserve from their community, and it’s not really “extra” work. It’s just the baseline of a healthy hometown.

Children notice what adults do, and they notice whether adults care. As students return to the classroom, think about more than just watching for kids at crosswalks and stopping for buses. Think about what children see in our community, and consider whether it’s what we want them to emulate.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2wbdfpY

___

The Coloradoan, Aug. 11, on efforts to curb panhandling:

A man waiting at a busy Fort Collins street corner is asking for money.

He knows that if he stands there long enough, someone will give it to him.

Fort Collins, though, doesn’t seem to know how to handle this situation.

Not just the city - which ran afoul of the American Civil Liberties Union with a 2015 crackdown on panhandling and ensuing efforts to blunt “disruptive behaviors” linked to the city’s homeless and transient population - but its residents and visitors, too.

Popular opinion on how to handle concerns surrounding the city’s increasingly visible issues of homelessness runs the gamut, from busing transients out of the county to building rent-free housing for Fort Collins’ long-term homeless. Consensus has been hard to come by.

Even efforts to direct money to common needs can be seen as misdirected.

A 2014 effort to curb panhandling by encouraging donations to “care meters” set up in Old Town, rather than individuals, was met with resistance from homeless advocates who called the parking meter-like structures demeaning and ineffective.

A similar initiative in Denver, which directed meter donations to efforts to fight homelessness, saw initial donations of $100,000 in the first year drop off sharply as the meters blended into the cityscape in ensuing years.

But on the topic of panhandling, a major cross-section of the city seems to be united: Residents would prefer to not be asked for money when they and their families stroll the sidewalks of Old Town or wait at the red lights that line College Avenue.

So how should we treat that man waiting at the corner today? The Coloradoan Editorial Board has grappled with this question for months and remains split on the issue of whether city leaders should work again to discourage panhandling in Fort Collins. But through conversations with numerous stakeholders, we’ve come to view this issue through the lens of respect and dignity.

Fort Collins is a city with a big heart, full of people who want to do right by others. But if we provide for panhandlers simply to soothe our conscience or to make the immediate problem of the ask for money go away, we do nothing to respect dignity.

Most times, too, we are slapping a $1 Band-Aid on a wound that requires greater care.

So what are we to do? Outreach Fort Collins program director Nick Verni-Lau gives this advice: Don’t ignore panhandlers. Return their request with an acknowledgement. It’s OK to say, “Sorry, not today,” or, “I don’t have any cash.”

Verni-Lau has worked for more than a year with Old Town’s homeless and transient populations. He told the editorial board that residents who want to help can also provide nutritional snacks or socks as an alternative to money. Both actions can fill immediate needs.

Another option, Verni-Lau said, is to donate to a nonprofit that you believe serves the population well. It can be hard to know how money will be spent when you give it to an individual, but numerous nonprofits tailor their missions to meet specific needs of the area’s long-term homeless population.

Giving to nonprofits might also appeal to those people who want to know their gift is supporting efforts that help people reach self-sustainability. Volunteering or being engaged in community conversations geared toward solutions is a further way to help, Verni-Lau said.

Poverty, while traditionally defined as having a lack of resources, is also about a lack of relationships that can provide support or access to those resources. That means giving is more effective when we give to organizations that develop relationships.

Outreach, Faith Family Hospitality, the Fort Collins Rescue Mission, Catholic Charities, the Murphy Center and Serve 6.8, among others, do this well.

But doing whatever promotes a person’s dignity, even if it’s as small as a simple acknowledgement, is a constructive path. Greet someone with respect and, if you want to move from there, introduce yourself and get to know their name.

There’s no reason to believe that building relationships will make Fort Collins a more attractive place for panhandlers. But there is reason to believe that doing so will help those truly in need of help get off the streets.

We are all humans and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Editorial: https://noconow.co/2vEUlXj


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