Afternoon headlines February 7, 2017

The City of Denver today filed its witness list in the class action lawsuit against the city over its camping ban. The witness list contains 34 names and comes 2 weeks before the scheduled start of the trial. Attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Jason Flores Williams says the filing of 34 witnesses so close to the trial is “grossly dilatory and untimely.” Flores Williams says that it also eviscerates Defendant’s’ Fifth Amendment rights to due process and Sixth Amendment rights to fair trial. He has filed a motion to exclude all of the State’s witnesses for severe untimeliness and gross constitutional violation.

In 2012, the City of Denver passed an urban camping ban that resulted in law enforcement sweeping encampments where people experiencing homelessness sleep. In December 2016, Jenna Espinoza, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Hancock, told the Denverite that the term “sweep” is inaccurate. She says it is designed to help keep the streets clean and safe while also working to understand the challenges of people currently living on the streets.

But a lawsuit filed in 2016, states that the sweeps are unconstitutional. The lawsuit states that they violates people’s 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendment rights to unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and right to due process and equal treatment.

This morning, Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a tie in the Senate and pass the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education. Senate Democrats spoke on the floor for a full 24 hours before the vote to show their opposition to the candidacy.

Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado spoke at 6:30 pm Mountain Time last night to share his opposition. He said DeVos as Secretary of Education would be an insult to children, their families, and teachers. He added that DeVos has not shown a commitment to excellence and equality in the schooling system, which could prevent children from getting a high-quality, free, public education.

Senator Cory Gardner has previously stated his support of DeVos, and voted along party lines to confirm her nomination. Campaign finance records show that Betsy DeVos and other members of her family donated tens of thousands of dollars to Cory Gardner and his senate campaign.

A recent study states that Boulder County residents needing support for mental health and substance abuse may have a hard time gaining access to services provided.
The study, published by a coalition of organizations, including Boulder County Public Health, the county’s Housing and Human Services Department, and the county Community Services Department, says that it can be difficult for people to access services in a timely manner, and they can often be expensive.

There is also a lack of prevention and early detection services, in addition to a scarcity of trained mental health professionals in schools.

Kelly Phillips-Henry, CEO of Mental Health Partners, a nonprofit provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment, says the study validates much what they already know. In a news release, Phillips-Henry said that it is crucial for people to get treatment early in their need.
Summer Laws, a Boulder County Public Health planner, told the Longmont Times Call, that over 20 government, nonprofits, and health care organizations have identified mental health as a priority, and they have started thinking of ways to address the barriers mentioned in the study.




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