- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Daily Sentinel, Aug. 9, on the unfinished administration building at Grand Junction airport:

The airport director wants the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority to wait awhile longer before deciding whether to demolish a partially built administration building on airport property.

The hope is that the Bureau of Land Management might want to use the building for its new headquarters in Grand Junction.

While we’re glad to see the airport facing up to the difficult challenge of what to do about this “white elephant,” board members must be realistic about the long odds of converting the skeleton to a functional use.

It’s not a bad idea to wait and see if the BLM is interested - if a move seems imminent. But that’s not how things are shaping up. As soon as BLM officials announced a plan to move 84% of its Washington, D.C.-based staff to points out West, Democrats on Capitol Hill began contemplating how to block the action. One idea is to bar funding for the move in the annual Interior-EPA appropriations bill.

But the complexion of the move changed even further after Interior Secretary David Bernhardt installed William Perry Pendley to a new position “exercising authority of the director” of the BLM. This is a position that normally requires a nomination and Senate confirmation. And Pendley’s professional background as an anti-public lands crusader has conservation groups and former BLM employees fearful that Interior executed a 1-2 punch aimed at dismantling the agency.

On Wednesday, Western affiliates of the National Wildlife Federation wrote to House and Senate chairs of committees with Interior oversight asking them to take three actions:

“1. Demand that the administration revoke Mr. Pendley’s appointment.

“2. Place a freeze on any BLM spending that would enable implementation of BLM’s westward relocation until a BLM director is nominated, testifies before Congress on his or her beliefs about public lands, and is confirmed.

“3. Hold oversight hearings on BLM proposed restructuring to determine whether such a move is in the national interest and will protect public lands for future generations.”

If any of these demands gain traction, it could delay when the BLM is in a position to actually choose office space - if it moves at all. So while there’s some wisdom in “pressing pause” (once the building is demolished, all possibilities are gone, after all) the board should give itself a realistic deadline to make a decision on the building. It can’t wait forever for an answer that could likely be “no” anyway.

We would argue that putting the BLM steps away from the airport terminal is not necessarily a good thing. It would make the BLM a cloistered agency with officials flying into Grand Junction to conduct business without actually mingling with the people who live here. That’s not much different than the problem the BLM move is supposed to solve.

If BLM does not want to use the building, the airport has no immediate need for it, nor does it have $9.5 million to make it useful. So board members have to decide what is a reasonable time to wait. They’ll get a chance to discuss it at a workshop in October.

Something needs to be done to that building. Housing the BLM would be a happy ending to a sordid saga. But the airport board shouldn’t hold its breath. It’s time to fish or cut bait.

At some point the airport authority needs to clear the decks to move toward a brighter future for the airport.

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


Greeley Tribune, Aug. 7, on making air and water cleaner:

State health officials have announced proposals toughening controls on Colorado’s oil and gas industry to reduce air pollution.

We all would appreciate cleaner and healthier air and are tiring of the many ozone warnings issues on hot summer days. While Denver has been fighting the “brown cloud” image for years, a state with dirty, unsafe air is just not what Coloradans envision in a place known for great water and mountain peaks one can see for miles.

However, we challenge the state to not just turn to oil and gas.

The industry is an easy target right now. Granted some of the proposed regulations make sense and should be standard operating procedures for the many oil and gas facilities scattered across Colorado.

Coloradans should do more than demand that corporations and industries shoulder responsibility for clean air and water. We all bear the blame for our lifestyles that create the demand for industrial activity and mineral extraction.

Most of us who call the state home think nothing of jumping into our large pickup and SUV and roaring down Interstate 25 to Colorado Springs for a few days, or driving up I-70 for a day or two of skiing at one of the many ski areas, or a day soaking in Glenwood’s hot springs.

How many vehicles do we see on the road each day with just one or perhaps two riders?

Our recycling system is all but broken. Aluminum cans, plastics, cardboard and paper get dozed into landfills, rather than reused, creating a larger demand for mining and logging.

The city of Greeley doesn’t have any recycling program at all, leaving it up to private waste haulers to provide some service.

Yes, we know it’s expensive, and it’s hard to find companies to take recycled items right now, but it’s also costly to ratchet up demands on industry.

Coloradans have a right to demand that pollution-causing industries employ state-of-the art techniques to lessen damage to our air and water.

Coloradans also have a responsibility to do what we can individually to alter our lifestyle where we can to reduce our impact on air and water, and help us return to clear skies on all those sunny days we boast.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2TwSf5V


The Denver Post, Aug. 7, on the Colorado Springs police shooting:

Law enforcement officials have their own handling of a police shooting in Colorado Springs to blame for the angry protests that have erupted since.

Of course, friends and family members of a teen shot and killed by police Saturday would take to the streets if both law enforcement agencies in their community badly mischaracterize the events that occurred. The misrepresentation of events in official communications would leave even the most trustworthy soul skeptical that an honest and fair investigation is about to occur.

Because a home-security camera happened to capture the event and reporters at The Gazette acquired a copy of it, we know that De’Von Malik Bailey, 19, was running from Colorado Springs police Saturday when he fell to the ground, presumably from the gunshot wound that took his life.

This video is incongruent with how top officials with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office - the agency investigating the shooting - described Bailey’s death in a press release sent out Sunday morning, a day after the officer-involved shooting near Adams Elementary School southeast of downtown.

This was the official story the department sent out to the public: “The Colorado Springs Police Department were dispatched to a report of a personal robbery in the 2400 block of East Fountain Blvd. Upon arrival, officers interviewed the victim who identified two suspects. Officers contacted the suspects and during the encounter, one suspect reached for a firearm. At least one officer fired a shot at the suspect.”

No video has been released yet showing what happened in the moments before Bailey was running away. It’s possible police will promptly release a video from the officers’ body cameras showing Bailey reach for a gun and then run.

The video only shows Bailey run four or five steps into the camera’s range before stumbling to the ground, and then two officers walking over to the wounded teen from the direction he came from with their weapons drawn. Witnesses of the shooting have told The Gazette they didn’t see the teen reach for a gun. They said the teen turned and ran and police shot him in the back. There doesn’t appear to be a gun in Bailey’s hands in the video.

“There is some outrageously irresponsible and incorrect information being put out on social media,” Lt. James Sokolik, a Colorado Springs police spokesman, told The Gazette, when asked about conflicting witness statements.

Yes, and it was being put out there by the Colorado Springs police and the sheriff’s department. No wonder protesters arrived at police headquarters downtown.

Want to rile up a community grieving the loss of a 19-year-old? Irresponsibly post misleading and incomplete information about the incident. What faith are these families to have in justice if the police department immediately misrepresents what occurred?

We understand that police work is difficult. These officers were responding to reports of a possible crime - it’s unclear whether the reported robbery involved a gun - and they were very near a neighborhood park and school. Bailey was headed toward the park and was a few steps away from the sidewalk when he fell down.

But the disconnect between the first story police released and the video have caused distrust. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers was right to begin talks of a grand jury to consider the evidence instead of leaving the decision of whether to prosecute the officers for a crime to the district attorney. Perhaps a DA from another location should be called in as well, to calm fears that justice will be misplaced.

Protesters have made their point clear. If they continue to demonstrate, we urge them to continue to be peaceful and obey laws and police commands. More violence is the last thing anyone should want.

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

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