Afternoon Headlines June 6, 2017

The Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project held a meeting in Lafayette Monday night, advocating for local governments to exercise greater control over oil and gas regulations, specifically when it comes to residential developments. The meeting was co-hosted by the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans, or LOGIC, and joins the chorus of voices calling for increased local control following the fatal home explosion in Firestone in April, that was a result of a cut gasline.

Josh Joswick, a community organizer with Earthworks, facilitated Monday’s meeting and outlined concerns about the locations of oil and gas lines. Representative Mike Foote, a Democrat from Boulder County, introduced a bill to require companies to provide the locations of their pipelines to the state. The bill died after Republicans filibustered it on the House floor. Joswick told the meeting on Monday that he believes localities can exercise more power by demanding information on gas locations, and by establishing their own setbacks and permitting processes. Just last August two anti-fracking initiatives failed to make the state-wide ballot. Both initiatives intended to give municipalities the power to enforce their own fracking regulations.

The ACLU of Colorado is calling on Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign House Bill 17-1313 which seeks to reform civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement officers to seize, and then potentially keep or sell, any property allegedly involved in a crime without any arrest or conviction of the suspect.

More than three fourths of the Colorado Legislature voted to pass the bill.

Supporters claim it strengthens due process protections for Coloradans by requiring that property with a net worth of $50,000 or less be seized under state instead of federal law. The bill also expects police departments to make all details of the asset forfeitures publicly available in an effort to increase transparency.

Opponents, which include members of the law enforcement community, argue that there is not adequate evidence of this practice being abused. They claim that by limiting federal involvement in forfeiture actions, departments lose potential proceeds. Gov Hickenlooper has yet to make a decision on his stance on HB 17-1313. Thursday is the deadline for bills to be signed into law.

Denver Public School and City officials yesterday announced a new process to review how rapid gentrification is impacting public schools in the city.

Denver is experiencing massive changes in the city’s racial and economic make up, and increasing rents and house prices are pushing communities further out of the city.

As a result, many Denver neighborhoods are racially and socioeconomically segregated as are neighborhood schools. A 2015 analysis of the school district showed that Denver Public Schools is the most segregated school district in the metro area.

In March the school board established the Strengthening Neighborhoods Committee which consists of 42 community members who represent the city’s diversity. Over half are current DPS parents, and more than 60 percent are people of color.

The committee is part of Denver’s efforts to strengthen their school against the most detrimental effects of gentrification.

On Monday, city and school district officials held a press conference to announce that the committee has been tasked with reviewing how demographic changes are affecting Denver schools and to recommend changes to district policies regarding boundaries, choice and enrollment.

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