What can spending on infrastructure do for your state?

❝ Here’s something all of divided America should be able to agree on: Smart infrastructure investment works. For evidence, look at Colorado, where elected officials of both parties trace an economic boom to a decision 27 years ago to spend more than $2 billion on a new Denver airport.

❝ The Denver International Airport was the brainchild of Federico Pena, who was elected mayor in 1983 and who would become the Secretary of the Transportation and Energy departments in the Clinton administration. It was assailed as a boondoggle by some local businessmen in a campaign led by Roger Ailes, then a Republican media consultant and later the impresario of Fox News.

❝ The airport was financed by revenue bonds, which proved to be among the best performers in the market for state and local government debt. Today it is the linchpin of Colorado’s transition to a global 21st-century economy flush with high-paying jobs and enhanced by daily nonstop flights to Asia, Central America and Europe.

Colorado has many economic advantages, from shale to ski resorts and beyond, but state officials say the new airport was the catalyst needed to set off the boom. “It’s foundational,” Governor John W. Hickenlooper said in an interview last month in his statehouse office. “I mean we look at infrastructure” as the central element “to build our new economy around.”

❝ The airport’s…annual economic impact today exceeds $26 billion, more than eight times [the old airport] Stapleton’s in 1984…It has generated more than 270,000 jobs, almost twice the comparable figure for Stapleton 32 years ago, and $295 million in concession gross revenue, compared to $45 million for Stapleton in 1994…Passenger traffic was a record 27.5 million for the six months through June, up 6.8 percent from 2015. Stapleton had 33.1 million passengers in all of 1994…

❝ Colorado’s economy, meanwhile, is leaving behind its reliance on mining and energy. Since 2012, the accommodations and food services industry grew 22.5 percent, faster than in any other state except Texas and California, according to Bloomberg data. Health care and social assistance companies expanded 17.4 percent, the most for any state. Wholesale trade grew 17.7 percent, the fourth best in the U.S. since 2014, and finance and insurance grew 7.4 percent, bettered only by Utah and Nevada. Today, material and energy make up less than 30 percent of the total market capitalization of Colorado’s publicly traded companies, down from 53 percent in 2010.

And that’s the killer for me. Living in New Mexico, everything that was backwards about Colorado in the 1980’s is still alive and well in New Mexico. Our Republican governor has only one response to a budget defined by oil and gas production in a downturn. Austerity, cut the budget for everything from education to social welfare. Infrastructure upgrades started by the previous Democrat governor are still incomplete – mostly because she hates to admit a Democrat did something useful.

And I’m not confident the likely return to a majority Democrat state legislature is going to change our reliance on extractive industries and military subsidies.

Colorado issues first marijuana sales licenses

The first licences in the United States that permit retailers to sell marijuana for recreational use from 1 January were issued in Colorado on Friday.

Owners of cannabis dispensaries lined up to collect the permits in Denver: an initial batch of 42 licences were issued, most to growers but around a dozen to shops.

Colorado voters approved a new law during the November 2012 general election that would expand the state’s laws allowing the production and sale of medical marijuana to cover recreational uses…

The state already licenses more than 500 medical marijuana dispensaries, and only those outlets may apply to sell it for recreational use. State authorities have already approved 348 recreational sale licences but businesses also require a local licence, the first of which were those issued in Denver on Friday.

A festive atmosphere took over at the normally staid city licensing office in Denver on Friday. Justin Jones of Dank Colorado in Denver picked up his grower’s and retailer’s licences for recreational pot on Friday to add to his newly-acquired state licence in readiness for expanding his medical business for recreational purchases…

“Most people have been doing this illegally for so long that they are just ready to celebrate the fact that they can now purchase marijuana legally. I look forward to ending this version of prohibition,” he said.

Colorado last year also brought in a new law specifically to cover the offence of driving under the influence of drugs, which sets a limit of 5 nanograms of the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, in the blood while operating a vehicle…

“We are waiting to see how the science works out. We are waiting to see how many elements of the new law will pan out,” he said.

He said he hoped employers who currently have a zero tolerance policy on drug use among their workers would “adapt to the cultural changes” now accelerating in Colorado.

Of course, we can just sit back and elect a flock of Confederate Republicans to Congress and they can start the fun and games of Prohibition all over again. It would fit what passes for religion among folks with 14th Century minds.

Federal Court decides there is no right to conceal a firearm

A federal appeals court has ruled that permits allowing people to carry concealed weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment.

The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit was issued Friday in a case involving a Washington State resident, Gray Peterson.

A federal judge in 2011 tossed out Mr. Peterson’s lawsuit filed against Denver and Colorado’s Department of Public Safety. He claimed that being denied a concealed-weapons permit because he was not a Colorado resident violated his Second Amendment rights to bear firearms.

According to gun rights groups, Colorado is one of about two dozen states that do not honor concealed weapons permits from Washington State.

Colorado recognizes weapons permits issued by other states, but only for states that recognize Colorado permits. Washington State does not recognize Colorado permits…

In its ruling, the three-judge panel cited a Supreme Court ruling that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.”

“In light of our nation’s extensive practice of restricting citizen’s freedom to carry firearms in a concealed manner, we hold that this activity does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections,” the judges ruled.

Bravo! In all my days as a commercial traveler, I always had a handgun with me – in my car or taken into whichever cheap motel my budget allowed for. If you ever lived much on the road in America, you might note this as a necessity – but, I won’t go into all the reasons.

Point being, in the states I most often traveled – Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Texas – my car was treated like a home as was my motel room. Nary a problem with the law. And I never felt I needed to carry a concealed handgun.

Denver mailman mistakes corpse for Halloween decoration

Pick out the real homeowner!

The United States Postal Service acknowledged on Friday that one of its mail carriers did not report a corpse at a Denver home because he mistook the body for a Halloween display.

“We do know the carrier delivered mail to the house that day, and he remembered seeing something he thought was related to Halloween,” the postal service said in a statement. “When the carrier learned that was not the case, he was shocked and extremely upset.”

The local ABC News affiliate reported that the dead man, Dale Porch, 46, collapsed and died November 2 on his porch steps after returning home from his night shift job…

The postal service called the incident “an unfortunate situation” that probably would not have happened any other time of year.

Our carriers have a long history of assisting customers in neighborhoods across the country each and every day, and that holds true for our letter carriers here in Denver,” the statement said.

I’m not really clear on what sort of assistance the letter carrier could have offered the late Mr. Porch.

Outsourcing excuse offered for bodies switched by funeral homes

The grief of two Colorado families was compounded when the bodies of their loved ones got switched, resulting in the wrong patient getting cremated, a Denver investigation has discovered. The deceased men, one who was white and the other who was black, were wearing identification wristbands at the time of the mix-up.

Just maybe – someone might have noticed the deceased were described as different colors?

Robert Mitchell, of Denver, and Perry Heath, of Aurora, Colo., died at The Denver Hospice on Nov. 10, according to an investigation by Denver’s 9News.com. The families began their respective funeral preparations; unbeknownst to them, many Colorado funeral homes outsource their work, and their late family members were about to go through a complex maze of third-party providers.

Perry Heath was supposed to be cremated. His family arranged for a cremation through 5280 Cremation and Funeral Services of Aurora…Despite its name, 5280 Cremation does not perform cremations, and outsourced the work to a third-party provider.

That same day…Robert Mitchell’s family made arrangements for his burial. They hired Taylor Funeral and Cremation Services, also of Aurora, to handle his viewing, and funeral. Taylor doesn’t have a mortuary, though, so they hired a transport company to pick up Mitchell’s body and take it to a separate embalming company.

The outsourced transport workers arrived at The Denver Hospice on Nov. 10 for Mitchell and Heath as scheduled, but that’s when things went wrong.

According to 9News, Metropolitan Mortuary Services took Heath’s body, slapping a band on his wrist with Mitchell’s name on it next to one that bore his real name. And SI Funeral Services removed Mitchell’s body from the hospice.

The error became evident when Taylor Funeral Home received Heath’s body a few days before what was supposed to be Mitchell’s viewing and funeral. Mitchell is black, and this white body clearly wasn’t his. Meantime, Mitchell had been cremated by another company.

Both transport contractors blamed The Denver Hospice. They told 9News they were directed to the bodies by staff members.

Uh, they didn’t have any paperwork describing who they were picking up? Cripes – all the years I worked in traffic management you had to have a piece of paper describing what [or who in this case] was being picked up – and someone had a piece of paper to sign to validate any transfer.

Aside from no one of responsibility apparently handling a transaction involving the deceased at the hospice – these mortuaries are running their business with the least expensive options handling the low bid pickup. Did they send out cousin Bubba with his pickup truck or what?

“They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you”

Twilight in Canyon Blue” by Jerry Anderson

In an act of extraordinary kindness, a Southwest Airlines pilot delayed his plane by 12 minutes to ensure a passenger would be able to say goodbye to his murdered grandson.

The man’s three-year-old grandchild had been killed by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend in Denver and was due to be taken off life support ahead of donating his organs…

Having been in Los Angeles on business, the man’s wife had arranged for him to transfer at Tucson airport in Arizona onto a flight bound for Denver to be with his bereaved daughter…

Yet, despite arriving at Los Angeles International Airport two hours before his flight was due to depart, lengthy check-in lines meant he faced a race against time to board on schedule.

Even after sprinting from the security checkpoint in his socks, the grandfather still arrived at the departure gate 12 minutes late…

According to a letter written to travel blog Elliott.org by the man’s wife, he was greeted by the pilot and ticketing agent with the words: ‘Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we’re so sorry about the loss of your grandson…’

The letter continues: ‘As my husband walked down the Jetway with the pilot, he said, “I can’t thank you enough for this.”

‘The pilot responded with, “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”’

Thanks to the kindness of the pilot, the man was able to reach his daughter in Denver and bid farewell to his grandson…

A Southwest spokesperson said the airline was ‘proud’ of the pilot’s behaviour.

My kind of pilot. My kind of airline. The rare corporation that hasn’t forgotten that human beings are the source of their income.

Very special thanks to Mr. Fusion.

A truly “heart-healthy” pizza…

A laid off paramedic who turned to delivering pizzas to make ends meet is credited with saving the life of a man who went into cardiac arrest just as a pizza was delivered to his door.

Christopher Wuebben, 22, was delivering a pizza late last week to the suburban Denver home of George Linn, when he heard the man’s wife screaming for help, according to Wuebben’s boss, John Keiley.

Chris told the woman that he was trained in CPR and knew what to do,” Keiley, owner of Johnny’s New York Pizza, said on Tuesday. “He got him on the floor and brought him back to life before the fire department showed up.”

Linn was transported to Swedish Medical Center where he is listed in serious condition in the hospital’s critical care unit, hospital spokeswoman Julie Lonborg told Reuters.

Keiley said Wuebben is a military veteran who recently moved to Colorado after he was laid off from his paramedic job in Illinois. He said Wuebben is not scheduled to work at the pizza restaurant until later in the week, but Keiley may not have his new employee for long. At least one local hospital and a fire department have called to offer Wuebben a job in his chosen field after hearing of his heroics.


With life-saving and supporting skills, maybe this is another one of those government jobs that really should be budgeted, eh?

Denver Archbishop defends bigotry

The archdiocese of Denver, Colorado, is defending its decision not to re-enroll two children in a Catholic school in Boulder next year because their parents are lesbians.

“The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are ‘bad,’ or that their children are less loved by God,” wrote Archbishop Charles J. Chaput…followed by predictable blather about Church teachings – with a capital “C” – homosexuals aren’t bad, just lost – or something equally archaic.

The issue centers on the Sacred Heart of Jesus School, where the children are currently enrolled, the older of whom has been enrolled in kindergarten for next year but will not be allowed to enter first grade and the younger of whom is in preschool but will not be allowed to enter kindergarten.

DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke in a written statement said…At a tender age, this child has learned that Catholic officials are willing to inflict pain on children and families…”

About 30 opponents of the move, “mostly hetero allies of the gay community,” protested Sunday outside the church during Mass, said Dave Ensign, board president of Boulder Pride…

Ensign handed out flyers to the protesters and then joined the parishioners as they listened to the sermon defending the church’s move. “I was disappointed, but it was pretty much what I was expecting to hear,” he said.

He added that the larger community’s reaction has been positive. “When people hear about this, they speak up and I think that says a lot about our community,” he said.

The issue says a lot about the history of religious bigotry, the failure of the Roman Catholic church to advance the cause of civil rights in centuries.

Officer, you’ve got the wrong person – once again

Three police cars pulled into Christina FourHorn’s front yard one afternoon just before she was supposed to pick up her daughter at school. The officers had a warrant for her arrest.

“What do you mean robbery?” FourHorn remembers asking the officers. Her only brushes with the law had been a few speeding tickets.

She was locked up in a Colorado jail. They took her clothes and other belongings and handed her an oversize black-and-white striped uniform. She protested for five days, telling jailers the arrest was a mistake. Finally, her husband borrowed enough money to bail her out.
“They wouldn’t tell me the details,” she said.

Later, it became clear that FourHorn was right, that Denver police had arrested the wrong woman. Police were searching for Christin Fourhorn, who lived in Oklahoma.

Their names were similar, and Christina FourHorn, a mother with no criminal record living in Sterling, Colorado, had been caught in the mix-up…

The problem of mistaken arrests continues, said attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. The group, which represented FourHorn, calls Denver’s police work “recklessly sloppy.” An ACLU mistaken identity lawsuit on behalf of four other people is pending against Colorado police agencies…

Since the FourHorn case, the ACLU found at least 237 cases in Colorado in which police may have arrested the wrong person. The figure is likely a small sample since police often release those wrongfully arrested before the first court appearance, the ACLU said…

“Naturally police think people are lying when the person says they didn’t do it,” said Jack Ryan, an instructor at the Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute and police officer for two decades.

“But that doesn’t change the fact that there needs to be an investigation,” he added. “The overall philosophy of justice in this country is that an innocent person shouldn’t be locked up.”

In Christina FourHorn’s case, she was about 100 pounds heavier then the suspect, Christin Fourhorn. Her middle name is Ann, while the suspect’s middle name is Blue. She was also seven years older and didn’t have a tattoo on her left arm, which the suspect did.

Sounds like a police department where families buy a job for the dullest nephew. The one who couldn’t figure out how to work a shovel in the state highway department.