Headlines – July 19, 2023

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    Headlines – July 19, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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Denver Mayor Declares State of Emergency on Homelessness

Denver’s new mayor, Mike Johnston, has declared a state of emergency on homelessness and set a goal to house 1,000 unsheltered people by the end of 2023. 

This declaration and plan were his first major actions after being sworn into office. 

Johnston says he plans to tour Denver’s neighborhoods and work with property owners to find housing options. His administration is also considering using public plots for tiny home communities. The state of emergency will help access state and possibly federal funding and expedite construction and permitting processes. 

The city will utilize its own budget and apply for state grants to fund the programs. 

Johnston supports a “housing first” strategy, which calls for prioritizing housing for the homeless rather than restricting services based on eligibility criteria like employment or sobriety. 

The new mayor says he will engage directly with stakeholders to develop a plan. 

Aurora Police Suspends Pact with Denver Police 

The Aurora City Council voted 5-4 Monday to suspend the city’s mutual aid agreement with the Denver Police Department. 

This means that Aurora police will no longer provide assistance to their counterparts in Denver upon request. 

The decision comes after Denver refused to cover legal costs for Aurora officers named in lawsuits related to the 2020 racial justice protests in Denver.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman stated that suspending the agreement would give Aurora leverage in negotiations with Denver. While the move is not expected to affect day-to-day cooperation between the police departments, some council members expressed concern that it could strain the relationship between the two cities. 

After the vote, the Aurora Police Department affirmed its commitment to working with Denver outside the context of mutual aid, stating that they would evaluate future requests on a case-by-case basis.

Towards Justice Group Raises Concerns About Worker Surveillance 

A Denver based nonprofit law firm is calling on the White House to create a legal framework to protect against workplace surveillance. 

The nonprofit legal organization Towards Justice has launched an initiative to educate workers about threats to their privacy on the job. 

The firm released a new instructional video this week to raise awareness about the new technologies now in use to track employees at their workplaces.

“Often implemented without worker knowledge or consent, automated surveillance can be used to collect data on a wide array of worker behaviors,” the video said. “From monitoring keystrokes on a keyboard, to tracking the number of packages a warehouse worker scans per minute. Surveillance isn’t just about watching workers, it’s about controlling them.” 

Earlier this month, Towards Justice called on the White House for action, requesting a coordinated response to corporate surveillance from all relevant departments. 

Towards Justice has brought litigation against Amazon, Uber, and Lyft on behalf of workers.

CDPHE Names New Chief Medical Officer 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment named Dr. Ned Calonge their newest chief medical officer yesterday. 

Dr. Calonge is taking the place of outgoing chief medical officer, Dr. Eric France, who was in office from February 2020 to June 2023 . This will be Dr. Calonge’s second tenure as chief medical officer, with his last stint lasting from 2002 until 2010.

The chief medical officer is responsible for keeping the department’s initiatives evidence based, strategizing departmental policy, and advising the governor on preventative healthcare policy. 

The chief medical officer position requires approval from the Colorado senate. Dr. Calonge will serve in the position until the next senatorial session when they will deliberate on his appointment.

Dr. Calonge’s appointment is effective immediately, exciting colleagues at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, who describe him as, “a dedicated public servant.”

Representative Neguse Introduces Agriculture Sustainability Bill

Representatives Joe Neguse of Colorado and Mike Flood of Nebraska introduced the bipartisan Sustainable Agriculture Research Act, aimed at supporting sustainable agriculture and soil research.

The bill seeks to provide federal support through the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority program, with a focus on carbon sequestration and emission reduction. 

The proposed investment will fund research to enhance the efficient use of resources in food production, particularly water and soil, as farmers adapt to a changing climate. 

Various organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and Farm Journal Foundation, have expressed their support for the bill, emphasizing the importance of agricultural research and innovation in ensuring resilient and sustainable food supplies.

Bill Introduced to Protect Fish Hatcheries in Upper Colorado River Basin

Republican U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert of Silt has introduced a new bill.

If passed, it would reauthorize programs that help endangered fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Over the past few decades, a large part of the funding for things like fisheries maintenance has come from hydropower revenue from Colorado River dams, like Glen Canyon.

Zane Kessler is the Colorado River District’s director of government relations. He says human-caused climate change and historic drought have significantly decreased hydropower revenue.

“And this reauthorization effort helps to try to account for that loss of revenue and try to find other ways that we can pay for these programs within federal law,” said Kessler. 

He says the program has been successful in getting one of the endangered fish, the humpback chub, relisted as threatened.

Kessler says another success of the program is the bipartisan support it inspires–from Republicans like Lauren Boebert and Utah Senator Mitt Romney, to Colorado’s two Democratic Senators, Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper. Romney and Hickenlooper are co-sponsoring a Senate version of the bill.

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