- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, April 25, calling for the resignation of Sen. Randy Baumgardner:

It’s time for Sen. Randy Baumgardner to do the right thing and relinquish his seat in the Colorado General Assembly.

A good public servant will recognize when he’s no longer in a position to best serve the needs of his constituents. That moment came when a second investigation of sexual harassment complaints against the Hot Sulphur Springs Republican found that he’s known as a “boob grabber.”

We know this thanks to some dogged reporting by Bente Birkeland who covers the Capitol for several public radio stations and has broken every story about sexual harassment complaints filed in the Legislature since last fall.

On Monday Birkeland reported that the latest investigation determined that eight people’s allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by Baumgardner were credible.

That’s the same conclusion from an earlier investigation of a separate incident, but that report was criticized by Senate Republicans for “inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest and inconsistencies.”

The first report became the basis for an attempt to expel Baumgardner from the Legislature, but it failed to get the required two-thirds majority of all 35 senators. Only 16 Democrats and one Republican voted to oust Baumgardner. That Republican was Grand Junction Sen. Ray Scott, who said he found the first report credible.

Baumgardner’s reprieve looks to be short-lived. Now, Senate leaders are saying the second investigation, conducted by a different company, appears more thorough and professional.

Still, Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, says he’s not planning to ask Baumgardner to resign. Should he have to?

How many of the numerous senators who came to Baumgardner’s defense during the expulsion hearing are regretting that decision - especially in light of the details in investigator Kathyrn Miller’s report? It describes how Baumgardner routinely hugged women so as to brush against their breasts; how he hugged them in a “tight and/or clingy” manner; that his nickname among some female staff workers was “boob grabber;” and that he engages in “an unsettling pattern of inappropriate and offensive behavior toward women consistent with his reputation.”

Baumgardner can maintain his innocence all he wants, but his effectiveness as a lawmaker has been compromised. Who wants to collaborate with an alleged serial groper?

If Baumgardner can’t see the damage he’s done to his party or the embarrassment he’s caused to residents in his district, surely he can see that he lost any hope of being a respected leader.

Baumgardner should resign and save everyone the hassle of another expulsion attempt or a recall election.

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


The Durango Herald, April 25, on Fort Lewis College’s next president:

Depending on whom you talk to, Fort Lewis College’s trustees appear to have chosen for its next president the candidate most likely to lead the college in innovative ways and with some urgency.

Dr. Tom Stritikus, who was a dean of the College of Education at the University of Washington before spending three years with the Gates Foundation, will assume the presidency August 1. Stritikus is the first in his family to graduate from college - the University of Nebraska - Lincoln - and has earned advanced degrees in education from the University of California - Berkeley.

As deputy director of K-12 education at the Gates Foundation, he led teacher preparation, innovation and educational initiatives which the foundation is known for, funding delivery mechanisms and education equipment across communities and institutions aimed to serve people with varied backgrounds from different cultures.

Stritikus and his wife have two middle school-aged children. The quality of K-12 schools in Durango was a draw for him and his family, as was the quality of FLC’s faculty and its dedication to teaching.

Fort Lewis requires leadership which can bring new ideas and at a faster pace, and the campus appears ready for that. Faculty and administrators enthusiastically came together last fall to put forth ideas for new programs, certificates and incoming student activities.

With the approximately $4 million in budget cuts for the coming year beginning July 1, there is a sense of urgency. Enrollment has fallen from a peak of about 4,300 more than 10 years ago to this year’s 3,300. It is expected to fall further for the school year beginning the end of August.

While changing demographics have resulted in fewer higher school graduates, and a highly competitive admissions environment with more than a dozen out of state colleges with offices in Denver, Fort Lewis appears to need a fresh review of its course and campus life offerings, recruitment and marketing efforts.

Is the college offering what students want (and need) and, if so, are college-bound high school students aware of those offerings? Fort Lewis’ tuition is among the lowest in the state and Southwest Colorado has plenty of lifestyle appeal.

Dr. Stritikus will begin leading Fort Lewis at a time of challenges, but we join others in Southwest Colorado in believing that Fort Lewis has significant potential and all the pieces necessary to succeed. We look forward to hearing Dr. Stritikus’ ideas and welcoming him to town this summer.

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


The Denver Post, April 24, on three bills addressing mental health challenges:

When politicians and commentators talk about Colorado’s unmet budgetary needs, they usually highlight spending on education and transportation. Occasionally they’ll notice the $32 billion unfunded liability in the public pension system that glowers over the state’s future like an angry cloud. But mention mental health care and their eyes often go blank.

What’s the backlog there?

A big one, actually. The state’s major mental health hospital in Pueblo and the smaller Fort Logan facility are aging and have struggled to keep up with soaring demand for services and beds. And yet the combined price tag for a new Denver area hospital and upgrading the Pueblo facility checks in at more than $650 million.

We mention this by way of providing context to the state’s mental health challenge, not because we expect major construction anytime soon. But lawmakers are hardly off the hook. They need to take action to alleviate a crisis involving a shortage of inpatient mental health beds by approving three Senate bills (250, 251 and 252) that were filed last week.

Without reforms in those bills, including $4 million in additional funding, the state is facing potentially ruinous fines for violating a legal settlement governing how pretrial detainees are evaluated for mental competence to stand trial and how those ruled incompetent receive treatment.

As recently as the turn of the century, according to the state Department of Human Services, Colorado courts ordered 332 annual competency evaluations for pretrial detainees. In the most recent fiscal year, by contrast, they ordered 2,072 - a staggering increase.

During the same period, the number of court-ordered “restorations” - treatment that restores individuals to a condition that allows them to face charges - spiked from 87 a year to nearly 900.

Experts can debate why courts are directing so many more people into the mental health system, but the fact is the state has no choice but to deal with them in a timely fashion. But it is failing at the task, by its own admission.

Under a legal settlement reached with Disability Law Colorado, the state must offer inpatient competency and restoration services to everyone who needs them within 28 days. At the end of last year, however, more than half of the 179 defendants in line for such services had been waiting longer than that. It’s only a matter of time before a court decides to impose penalties on the state, as a federal judge did when the state of Washington violated a similar agreement.

Although SB 250 would strengthen jail-based behavioral health services, especially in rural facilities, the legislative package isn’t mainly about boosting resources. Indeed, no one believes the state can spend its way out of the problem given the trajectory of court-ordered evaluations and restorations.

Instead, the bills seek to ensure defendants get evaluations and treatment at the most appropriate setting. Most detainees do not need to be sent to state hospital for a competency evaluation, for example, and many individuals deemed incompetent can be treated on outpatient basis rather than occupy scarce, expensive hospital beds.

To that end, SB 251 assigns behavioral health professionals as court liaisons who can assist judges in identifying treatment options in their communities. SB 252 institutes numerous reforms, including capping the time individuals involved in less serious offenses can be confined while being restored to competency.

All three bills are scheduled for a hearing Monday in the Senate Finance Committee, and they’ll need smooth sailing to get through both chambers by the May 9 adjournment. But there’s really no alternative if the state is going to treat mentally ill defendants in the manner they deserve while avoiding a costly judicial reaction to the unacceptable status quo.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/2KcNs4E


The Coloradoan, April 19, on the need for local news and journalists:

Open rebellion against The Denver Post’s ownership on the paper’s April 8 opinion pages quickly became a national news story.

In reaction to deep cuts to the paper’s newsroom staff, its editorial board called for new ownership that would actually support the paper’s important work rather than wringing the Post dry in the name of profit.

Support for the Post in the wake of cuts mandated by Alden Global Capital poured in from readers, pundits and even politicians. The civic group Together for Colorado Springs is reportedly seeking investors to bring the Post under Colorado-based ownership.

The public tension between The Denver Post’s hard-working staff and managers of a soulless hedge fund is symptomatic of broader issues that cut across Colorado and the country. It reflects the state of journalism and how it is practiced in these turbulent times.

It should be no surprise that the Coloradoan editorial board knows journalism matters. We believe thoughtful, fact-driven, accurate, unbiased reporting is a key component of our democratic society.

We believe that as we marked Colorado Journalism Week on our calendars last week that the work of a free press remains necessary, relevant and worth fighting to preserve.

Here are a few reasons why:

Knowledge matters

There’s no denying that traditional newspapers that are printed and hand-delivered to doorsteps and driveways are losing ground in the fight for readers’ attention. However, demand for their primary products - news and information - has never been higher.

In addition to print, news is routinely delivered by journalists through numerous digital platforms thanks to the internet. Readers may find what they need to know on topics ranging from what the city council is doing with their tax money to the best local places to score a good meal.

Community members benefit from having access to that knowledge: It helps them make sound decisions as they go about their daily lives.

Acquiring useful knowledge would be a lot more difficult without trained journalists vetting the overwhelming amount of information floating around the digital world and delivering it as understandable content.

The importance of investigative journalism cannot be overstated. How would you know what hides in the dark corners of our government agencies if journalists were not around to notice and ask questions?

How would you know what financial resources the school district needs to educate your child if a reporter didn’t crunch the numbers?

You probably wouldn’t. That’s why journalistic watchdogs are needed to keep an eye on all levels of government.

Good journalism makes for informed citizens who can exercise their power in the marketplace as well as the voting booth.

Facts matter

Everybody has an opinion; and some people don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. So, relying on bloggers with axes to grind or activists with self-serving agendas for information is a poor way to stay informed.

Real journalists work with facts. They listen to the concerns of community members, as well as their conjecture, dig up data to determine what’s going on and report on their findings. They are guided by ethical principles that place telling the truth above all else.

When mistakes are made, and they certainly are in the fast-paced world we live in, they own up to them and set the record straight.

Journalists live in the communities they serve: They have no interest in steering those communities wrong.

Trust matters

Journalism has been called the first rough draft of history. It’s also storytelling that connects to readers, viewers and listeners on a personal level.

For that connection to work, consumers of news and information must feel they are receiving trustworthy information. That trust is built over time by journalists consistently delivering verifiable facts and compelling stories that explain complex issues.

Building trust is a shared responsibility. At a time when propaganda is routinely peddled as truth and truth is called lies, readers need to be media literate.

Consumers of information must know the differences between news stories, opinion pieces and plain old advertising. And they need to know how to identify those items and understand they are not interchangeable.

Money matters

News is a business like any other. It needs people and a lot of time, energy and equipment to deliver its goods. All of those things come at a cost.

The economics of business, even not-for-profit models, require revenue to support operations. If readers find value in the content they receive via newspapers in print and online, and if they want to continue enjoying the benefits, they must be willing to pay to support its continued delivery.

The news industry shot itself in the foot a couple of decades ago when it collectively decided giving away online content was a good idea. By relying on advertising rather than subscriptions to generate revenue, it fell into a situation that is not sustainable.

The tide is slowly turning on this point. Media companies are getting in line for requiring subscriptions for online content.

Readers who are used to “free” content may not like it, but the fact remains that the best way to support journalism as we know it is through paid subscriptions.

Of course, we want readers interested in news and information from Fort Collins and Northern Colorado to subscribe to the Coloradoan. But in the name of supporting good journalism everywhere, subscribing to any legitimate publication is a positive step.

Journalism matters: It has since the first newspaper went to press and it will when the last newspaper gives way to the inevitable digital wave and is no longer printed.

It will survive and flourish because readers who care about their communities see the value in quality journalism, and will do what it takes to help keep it alive.

Editorial: https://noconow.co/2r0enZx

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