Headlines — January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023

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    Headlines — January 27, 2023 Stacie Johnson

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 Boulder City Council Approves New Members To Police Oversight Panel 

Amid two previous vote delays in recent weeks, the Boulder City Council approved Thursday evening new members to the Police Oversight Panel by a vote of 6 to 3. Mayor Pro Tem Mark Wallach and Councilmembers Bob Yates and Tara Winer voted no on the candidate recommendations. 

Thursday’s vote was the third time council members dealt with issues surrounding the selection process for new members to the police oversight panel and a complaint filed by John Neslage alleging that the process is flawed with bias, prejudice, and conflict of interest. In his complaint, Neslage also targets candidate Lisa Sweeney-Miran by including tweets from Sweeney-Miran about law enforcement. During last night’s meeting, council members also appointed Claybourne Douglas, a municipal lawyer, to investigate Neslage’s complaint into the selection process. 

Former Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson And Other City and County Officials Face Lawsuit From Ex-Girlfriend Of Wilson’s Partner 

Kristin Nichols, the ex-girlfriend of the partner to Aurora’s former police chief, Vanessa Wilson, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging Wilson used her position of power to have Nichols arrested in 2021. When police arrested Nichols, they charged her with domestic violence-criminal attempt, second-degree assault, burglary, and criminal mischief based on allegations from her ex-girlfriend, Robin Niceta, who Wilson was dating at the time of the arrest. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Nichols last summer.

According to the Denver Post, the 85-page lawsuit by Nichols against Wilson also names an Aurora police detective, the city of Aurora, and various Adams County officials. The lawsuit also details allegations of domestic abuse and child custody battles between Nichols and Niceta. The Denver Post says Niceta and Wilson’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment and an Aurora spokesperson said the department could not comment on the pending litigation.

The Nichols lawsuit comes amid other troubles for Niceta who last week received an order from an Arapahoe County judge to pay Aurora city councilperson Danielle Jurinksy $3 million after Jurinsky sued her for making an unfound child sexual abuse report. Niceta made the child abuse claims against Jurinsky when she, Niceta, was an Aurora County caseworker. Niceta also faces criminal charges stemming from the unfound allegations.

In the aftermath of Wilson being ousted by Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly in April 2022, Wilson accused Aurora officials, including Jurinsky, of conspiring to fire her as they sought to stop Wilson from pursuing police reforms. Aurora officials, including Jurinksy, denied Wilson’s allegations surrounding her firing. 

State Officials Select Denver-based AidKit To Provide Technological Operations For Unemployment Fund Serving Undocumented Immigrants 

State officials with the Office of New Americans have picked AidKit, a Denver-based company, this week to help administer an unemployment fund to undocumented immigrants. According to Colorado Newsline, the state is paying the company to supply necessary technology to host applications for the program, determine eligibility, and provide direct cash payments to recipients through same-day bank transfers or reloadable debit cards for individuals without bank accounts.

Colorado lawmakers passed an unemployment benefits measure last year that included a Benefit Recovery Fund to serve unemployed people regardless of immigration status. If operations are a success, Colorado will be the first state in the country to provide unemployment funds to undocumented immigrants.

Kathy White of the Colorado Fiscal Institute told Colorado Newsline more than half of undocumented workers have unemployment insurance premiums paid on their wages, just like all laborers, but they cannot claim the benefit because of their work authorization status.

AidKit also has a history of partnering with the Denver Basic Income Project along with providing rental aid to undocumented people who experienced job loss during the pandemic. 

Colorado Lawmakers Considering AI For Wildfire Detection 

On Tuesday, the Colorado Senate Committee voted for initial approval of a bill that invests $2 million into artificial intelligence. The AI system will include high-definition cameras in remote positions and mountaintops to discern early signs of wildfire, like smoke plums. According to experts, climate change effects like heat waves and an increasingly concerning drought will lead to more “frequent and destructive” fires. Many of these cameras are already in use at lookout towers. The bill to use AI is part of a new initiative for better employment of firefighter’s resources following the example of states like California, Oregon, and Nevada. According to AP News, the program will “support 40 fixed camera stations and six more mobile stations that can be moved to monitor ongoing fires.”

Colorado Baker Jack Phillips Loses State Appellate Court Case Stemming From The Refusal To Make A Gender Transition Cake

The Colorado baker Jack Phillips and his business Masterpiece Cakeshop, known for winning a partial 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision stemming from refusing to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, has lost an appeal Thursday before the Colorado Court of Appeals involving a birthday cake for a gender transition. The state appeals court said the pink with blue frosting cake requested by Colorado lawyer Autumn Scardina from Phillips is not a form of speech. The appellate court decision also said the state law making it illegal to refuse services to people based on protected characteristics, such as race, religion, or sexual orientation, does not violate a business owners’ right to practice or express their religious beliefs. Alliance Defending Freedom, who is representing Phillips, says their client plans to appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in the 2018 case for Phillips that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission unfairly dismissed Phillips’ religious beliefs but did not rule on the larger issue if Phillips can invoke a religious objection to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people. Alliance Defending Freedom also has another case before the nation’s high court by representing Colorado graphic artist Lorie Smith, who says she does not want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples and claims state law violates her freedom of speech. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Headlines — January 27, 2023 Stacie Johnson

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