In Boulder, Dalai Lama advocates for a happier, more compassionate world

Some 18,000 people listened to the Tibetan spiritual leader during morning, afternoon teachings

By Sarah Kuta and Charlie Howard

Staff Writers

Link to Story: Here


Like bicyclists need helmets, Buddhists making a spiritual journey toward enlightenment need armor and protection against afflictions.

That was the message of the 14th Dalai Lama after receiving a bike helmet and jersey from Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones at the start of his first teaching at the University of Colorado on Thursday.

"There is a symbolism for this helmet, of course," the Dalai Lama said through a translator. "I am too old to bike. When I was young, I used to bike."

He wore the awkwardly fitting white helmet for several minutes before taking it off and inspecting it. He let out a deep chuckle.

The Tibetan spiritual leader frequently cracked himself up during his two teachings in front of 18,000 total people at the university's Coors Events Center in Boulder. His visit was a mostly peaceful one, with the exception of three silent protesters who were dragged from behind the stage by police during the afternoon teaching.

The stage was adorned with dozens of ferns, colorful banners, flowers and other items. Prior to the Dalai Lama's arrival, a group of 50 students from Boulder's Tibetan Cultural School wearing shiny pink and blue robes sang and danced several numbers in front of the stage. The students also sang to the Dalai Lama when he arrived, wishing him good health and that he might live hundreds of years.

  The Dalai Lama signs "I Love You" in response to a question Thursday during the afternoon session Thursday at the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. (  Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer  )

The Dalai Lama signs "I Love You" in response to a question Thursday during the afternoon session Thursday at the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

During the two-hour morning session, he spoke about a wide range of topics, including the idea that all religions are fundamentally based on love and compassion.

"Therefore, (all religions) have the same potential to help humanity, to create good human beings, sensible human beings," the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama explained that every object we encounter can be broken down into smaller and smaller parts, until we realize that nothing "objectively exists." That concept — coupled with letting go of all attachments — can help us tackle destructive emotions such as anger and greed, he said.

"Of course, I'm not saying I'm experienced or something," the Dalai Lama said, drawing laughing from the audience.

In order to practice altruism more successfully, we need to practice contentment, tolerance and forgiveness, he told the crowd.

'Make the effort now'

After a short lunch break — during which the Dalai Lama met fellow 1989 Nobel Prize winner and CU chemistry professor Tom Cech — the Dalai Lama took the stage again to speak to CU students, employees and alumni.

The ornate decorations that adorned the stage during the morning session were replaced by four simple armchairs — three purple chairs for translator Thupten Jinpa Langri, Chancellor Phil DiStefano and CU student leader Colton Lyons, and one white chair for His Holiness.

The Dalai Lama made a costume change, donning a gold CU visor for the afternoon session.

The spiritual leader took questions from the audience before and after his afternoon teaching. Attendees asked him how to spread love and happiness, for an explanation on the purpose of life, how to raise children and how he deals with adversity.

The spiritual leader spoke mostly about the responsibility of young people to work together toward a common goal of making the world a happier place.

He said he believes one key to reducing violence and division in the world is an education system that teaches moral ethics. Children need to learn a "sense of oneness" with the seven billion other people on earth, he said.

"If you make the effort now, after two, three, four decades of generations who come through that kind of education," he said. "And more effort (from) politicians or media people or businessmen and women ... if we take the same goal, one goal (to make a) happier world, a compassionate world, I think it's really possible (the world) will be a happier one."

Demonstrators removed

  Police apprehend a protestor as the Dalai Lama spoke during the afternoon session Thursday at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. (  Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer  )

Police apprehend a protestor as the Dalai Lama spoke during the afternoon session Thursday at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

The lack of air conditioning inside the events center coupled with afternoon temperatures in the 80s led some in the audience to leave early. Some people took to social media to complain that they had a hard time hearing the Dalai Lama in the arena.

In the middle of the afternoon session, three people appeared behind the stage carrying candles and a black banner with white lettering that read, "Meat is violence, not compassion."

When police and security officials approached them, the protesters appeared to refuse to move. Police could be seen dragging the three people up the stairs to the concourse, then carrying them into a room in the north end of the building.

The Dalai Lama did not appear to notice the action behind him and kept talking.

A group called Direct Action Everywhere, which described itself as a grassroots animal rights network, claimed responsibility for the demonstration in a news release sent shortly after the protesters were removed by police.

In an email, an organizer for the group said two of the demonstrators were CU students.

The three demonstrators were ejected from the teaching for violating the rules of the venue and the event. They were not arrested, said CU spokesman Ryan Huff.

Public accounting

At the end of the morning teaching, an accountant gave a public report of that session's finances. He said the Tibetan Association of Colorado brought in $421,600 from ticket sales and donations and had so far spent $330,200 on event-related expenses.

Since the Dalai Lama does not accept money for his teachings, the remainder will be donated to Boulder's Bridge House, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, the Dalai Lama Trust and the Tibetan Association of Colorado to build a proposed cultural center.

A CU student leader said the afternoon teaching was funded by student fees and ticket revenue. CU covered labor and expenses for the event and did not turn a profit, officials said.

In past interviews, CU officials said they had earmarked $200,000 in student fees for the event, though they said that number would likely go down based on expenses.

Nearly 3,500 free student tickets were issued for the afternoon session, according to CU spokeswoman Deborah Mendez-Wilson.

The Dalai Lama's visit to Boulder has been in the works for roughly two years. CU student leaders and members of the Tibetan Association of Colorado initially invited His Holiness in 2014.

He had planned a two-day visit to campus in October, but the aging Buddhist leader canceled all of his planned United States events in late September for health reasons.

"Organizing the visit has been stressful but we are delighted to have His Holiness here today," said Tenzin Tashi, part of the organizing committee that brought the Dalai Lama to Boulder.

A large crowd greeted His Holiness when he arrived at the St. Julien Hotel in downtown Boulder on Wednesday.

The 80-year-old Tibetan leader, who is the 14th Dalai Lama, last visited Boulder in 1997.

Heat, poor sound quality did little to dampen the Dalai Lama's allure in Boulder

By Charlie Howard

Special to the Camera

  The Dalai Lama prays with the crowd during Thursday's morning session, "Eight Verses of Training the Mind," in the Coors Event Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. (  Autumn Parry / Staff Photographer  )

The Dalai Lama prays with the crowd during Thursday's morning session, "Eight Verses of Training the Mind," in the Coors Event Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. (Autumn Parry / Staff Photographer)

Link to Story: Here

Spectators were thrilled to have two opportunities to see the 14th Dalai Lama speak at the University of Colorado Boulder's Coors Event Center on Thursday.

Many native and non-native Tibetans arrived early sporting robes and dresses called Chupas. Chupas are a form of traditional Tibetan dress, not to be confused with the maroon and yellow Buddhist monks' robes the Dalai Lama was seen sporting.

Yvonne Holland and her daughter Shuryl Holland drove up for the day from Denver. Shuryl Holland got tickets to see the Dalai Lama as a Mother's Day present for her mom.

"We like this kind of atmosphere — mellow, just trying to always give back, always do the right thing," Yvonne Holland said. "How many times in life will you get to be able to see the Dalai Lama?"

Holland said she hopes to leave His Holiness's teachings with "a positive energy."

"And just to walk away, shoulders back a little bit further and just to relay that feeling to everyone else in our lives," she said.

Security for the event was tight. Spectators weren't aloud to bring their bags or water bottles, which resulted in large collections of bottles being left around the building.

The Dalai Lama arrived at the Coors Event Center at around 9:30 a.m. for his first talk.

While waiting for His Holiness to speak, attendees milled around the arena, getting water to beat the heat and ordering food from the concession stands.

Inside, crews had set up a makeshift market on the events center concourse with Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian items such as beads, scarves, shawls, mantra banners and jewelry.

Thutop Yuthok, who moved here in 2005, owns the store Yuthok Tibetan Treasure in Denver.

He said singing bowls, small bowls made with seven types of metal that emit a bell sound, were especially popular before the Dalai Lama's teachings. A large bowl sold for $120.

Yuthok and other vendors said they planned to donate half of their proceeds to the Tibetan Association of Colorado.

"This is a special event because the Dalai Lama is talking," Yuthok said. "Most people who come here have a lot of interest in these kinds of things, but usually it's not like this. This is really busy. We are selling a lot."

Many spectators exiting the event center early said they blamed their premature departure on the hot temperatures inside.

Boulder's Stephanie Anderson said that she found the spiritual leaders talk difficult to hear. "The acoustics were not ideal for this kind of an event," she said. "But being in his presence was still well worth the price of admission."

As farmers age, Boulder growers welcome efforts to lure young to the fields

New state tax credit encourages veteran farmers to lease land, equipment to newcomers

By Charlie Howard

For the Camera

Link to Story: Here

  Eric Skokan, Ruben Ramirez and Juan Collazo Galarza prepare a field for planting along Jay Road in Boulder on Monday morning. (  Devi Chung / For The Camera  )

Eric Skokan, Ruben Ramirez and Juan Collazo Galarza prepare a field for planting along Jay Road in Boulder on Monday morning. (Devi Chung / For The Camera)

What you need to know about House Bill 16-1194

Aging farmers

Colorado average age of farmers:

1997: 53.3

2002: 54.5

2007: 57

2012: 58.9

US average age of farmers:

1997: 54

2002: 55.3

2007: 57.1

2012: 58.3

Young Colorado farmers who lack resources got a boost from Colorado lawmakers this year under a new measure that gives tax breaks to older farmers who help them.

House Bill 16-1194, which takes effect in 2017, was signed into law June 8.

The bill's sponsor, State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, said the bill is designed to encourage young people to enter the field, taking the place of older farmers who are nearing retirement age.

Colorado farmers are aging at a faster rate than their counterparts nationwide. Across the U.S. in 1997, for instance, the average age stood at 54, while Colorado farmer age was 53.3 By 2012, the national average stood at 58.3, while Colorado's average age had risen to 58.9, according to the United States Department of Agriculture's 2012 Census of Agriculture. The next census is due out in 2017.

Boulder Valley growers are seeing the impact of the trend every day.

"This bill really captures the essence of the struggle going on in the farming community today. We have a lot of older farmers who are over capitalized and looking to retire and a lot of younger farmers under capitalized with no land," said Eric Skokan, co-owner of Boulder County's Black Cat Farm.

While the tax credit is an important step, experts said more will be needed to ensure veteran farmers connect with the next generation.

Norman Dalsted, an agricultural economist with Colorado State University's extension service said that because of lower commodity prices, the tax deduction might not be enough of a break to get established farmers to lease their land to beginning farmers.

What it does: Provides an income tax deduction for established farmers who lease out their agricultural assets to beginning farmers.

What's considered an agricultural asset: Land, crops, livestock, facilities, equipment and machinery, grain storage or irrigation equipment.

Who qualifies as a beginning farmer: A Colorado resident whose net worth is under $2 million. Must have less than 10 years of farming experience and must plan to farm full time and provide the majority of the daily labor.

Who qualifies as an established farmer: Any Colorado taxpayer who owns agricultural assets

When it takes affect: January 2017.

Why it was drafted: To encourage young people to enter agriculture by removing some of the most costly obstacles, such as the purchase of land and equipment.

"A number of commodities like corn and livestock have taken such a hit in recent years that this incentive might not be enough to get a farmer who has to net a yield to gamble on a beginning farmer," Dalsted said.

Dalsted also said that for an established farmer simply passing the land on to the next person is no easy task.

"The hard part is getting a person to give up their way life. If you have spent your entire life dedicating all of your time, blood, sweat and tears into to a piece of land, the person you pass the reigns has to be someone you have a deep relationship with," Dalsted said.

Adrian Card, extension agent with Colorado State University in Boulder County, said he looks at the challenges of a beginning farmer like he would look at the challenges of a small business start up

"Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur and not everyone is cut out to be a farmer," Card said.

Card is a coordinator for Colorado Building Farmers, a farming education program designed to help beginning farmers learn the business of farming.

The program, nearly 10 years old, has had failure rates as high as 75 percent, Card said.

The reason beginning farmers often have so much trouble in their initial years, Card said, is because they have to invest heavily for years before generating income.

"Beginning farmers will sometimes have a mismatch between the business goals and resources available. The cost of running a farm requires farmers to shoot for a higher yield then is sometimes possible for a farm in its early years," Card said.

Under the law, new farmers must be Colorado residents with a net worth of less than $2 million and with less than 10 years of experience. Those interested in participating must have some farm experience or education and they must commit to farming full time.

The beginning farmer must then attend a financial educational program and be approved by the Colorado Agricultural Development Authority.

New farmers will be able to lease agricultural assets from any Colorado taxpayer who owns agricultural assets. The bill defines agricultural assets as land, crops, livestock, facilities, equipment and machinery, grain storage or irrigation equipment.

Established farmers will be certified by the Colorado Agricultural Development Authority, and will be entitled to an income tax deduction equal to 20 percent of the annual lease payment received from new farmers for a minimum of 3 years.

An established farmer can possess more than one deduction certificate and can receive up to $25,000 in income tax deductions a year. Only 100 certificates will be available each year.

Jill Skokan, co-owner of Black Cat Farm, said that one of the largest hurdles of getting into farming is obtaining land.

"Land is in high demand these days and anything that opens up availability to farm land is a good thing," Skokan said.

Brian Coppom, executive director for the Boulder County Farmers Market said that certain agricultural assets aren't suitable for sharing.

"You may not want to lease your tractor or your seeding machine because often times farmers need these pieces of equipment at the same time depending on the time of the year," Coppom said.

Marc Arnusch, owner of the 26,000-acre Arnusch Farms LLC in Weld County said that the equipment will not be a limiting factor to the success of the bill because it is the inability of young farmers to obtain land that keeps them from entering the business.

"Down the road I would love to take advantage of this kind of legislation. I could see myself leasing 400 to 500 acres to my son or relative at some point in time in the future to get young people involved."

  Eric Skokan, of Black Cat Farm and Bistro examines his combine on Monday morning which he purchased from a farmer nearing retirement. (  Devi Chung / For The Camera  )

Eric Skokan, of Black Cat Farm and Bistro examines his combine on Monday morning which he purchased from a farmer nearing retirement. (Devi Chung / For The Camera)

Montana entrepreneur throwing his hat into Boulder's fast-casual food scene with a Brazilian entree

  General Manager Taylor Graham works on a lunch order for Jorge Elizondo at Five on Black Brazilian Grill on Thursday in the 29th Street Mall. (  Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer  )

General Manager Taylor Graham works on a lunch order for Jorge Elizondo at Five on Black Brazilian Grill on Thursday in the 29th Street Mall. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

By Charlie Howard

For the Camera

Link to Story: Here

Montana-based Five on Black, created three years ago by a university student who won a startup challenge, is making its first interstate move this year, with a new restaurant in Boulder and another planned for Denver.

Five on Black is a fast-casual Brazilian styled restaurant that opened its doors April 25 at the 29th Street Mall in Boulder.

Owner and Founder Tom Snyder launched the first Missoula location in May 2013, two years after his business idea for the restaurant won the Montana-wide John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge. Snyder said he was a senior in college when he won the competition.

The Boulder restaurant, located at 1805 29th St., is the chain's fourth location and its first outside Montana.

Snyder chose to expand into Colorado because of the region's affinity for high-quality fast-food.

"The Denver-Boulder area has really become the testing ground for fast-casual restaurants and has one of the strongest fast casual markets in the U.S.," Snyder said.

The NPD Group, a market research company, defines fast-casual restaurants as "upscale quick service restaurant concepts that offer more service and higher quality food than typical quick service restaurants."

It's a dining style Coloradans have embraced, according to NPD's research, and it has spawned a slew of locally based establishments.

A 2013 study by NPD showed that the Boulder metro area had the third most fast-casual chain units per-resident nationwide. The top two metro areas were the Fort Collins-Loveland metro area and the Denver metro area.

"There is a significant growth of fast-casual restaurants in Colorado," said Caroline Livingston, communications director for the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Some of these companies include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Mad Greens, Smashburger, Noodles & Company, Qdoba, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Garbonzo Mediterranean, Boston Market, Quiznos, Modern Market, Tokyo Joe's, Lark Burger, and many more, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association.

The name Five on Black comes from the menu, which provides five main dish options on top of a base of black beans, said Manager Taylor Graham.

"People love our food because of our fresh ingredients and our variety of options for different diets," Graham said. All of its offerings are gluten free.

Graham, who's been with Five on Black since its beginning in 2013, started out as a dishwasher at its original Missoula location.

Five on Black is opening a Denver location at 1617A California St. in early August, Graham said.

Hick approves compromise on grocery store liquor sales

My first official by-line for the Boulder Daily Camera

 

  Kippie Loughlin, right, of Liquor Mart in Boulder, helps Michael Geramita, left, and Anthony Baraff, buy a 6-pack of assorted craft beers on Friday. (Cliff Grassmick Staff Photographer)

Kippie Loughlin, right, of Liquor Mart in Boulder, helps Michael Geramita, left, and Anthony Baraff, buy a 6-pack of assorted craft beers on Friday. (Cliff Grassmick Staff Photographer)

By Charlie Howard

Special to the Camera

Link to Story: Here

What governor approved, what grocers want

SB 197: Opens up sales of full-strength beer, wine and liquor at grocery and convenience stores starting next year, with full implementation over 20 years

Your Choice ballot initiative: Would create food store liquor license to allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer and wine, but not liquor, effective in 2017

SB 197: Would prohibit new liquor licenses from being issued within a 1,500-foot radius of an existing establishment and require new applicants to buy two existing licenses within jurisdiction

Your Choice ballot initiative: No restrictions on location

SB 197: Allows liquor stores to generate sales up to 20 percent of total revenue from food items. Food sales, except of items related to alcohol such as limes and olives, are currently prohibited.

Your Choice ballot initiative: No provisions for liquor stores to sell food

Coloradans will be allowed to buy full-strength beer, wine and liquor in grocery stores, on a limited basis next year, after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a controversial bill allowing those sales Friday.

The new law, widely viewed as a compromise measure, came after weeks of deliberations and a long legislative battle to craft a compromise.

Liquor store owners had come to back the new law, though some grocers remain adamantly opposed. In addition to planning a ballot measure this fall, grocers said Friday they may challenge the measure in the courts.

Senate Bill 16-197 will be implemented in multiple phases. Next year, the number of liquor licenses a grocery chain can possess grows from one to five and will gradually increase over the next 20 years.

Beginning in 2019, grocers will end sales of 3.2 percent-only beer and by the beginning of 2037 an unlimited number of additional liquor licenses will be available.

The bill passed the Colorado State Senate on May 9 and passed the Colorado House on May 11.

Tiffany Lough, general manager of Boulder's Liquor Mart, at 1750 15th St., said she was pleased with the governor's decision.

"This was definitely the best compromise that could have been reached," Lough said.

The bill had the endorsement of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, of which Liquor Mart is a member.

The law has a proximity restriction, which would prohibit new liquor licenses from being issued within a 1,500-foot radius of an existing establishment and which would require new applicants to buy two existing licenses within each jurisdiction.

For communities with fewer than 10,000 people, the radius grows to 3,000 feet.

Erik Lebsack, owner of Boulder's Bailey's Wine and Spirits at 4800 Baseline Road, said that he was indifferent to the change. The store is within the 1,500-foot radius of a Safeway.

"It doesn't create any new opportunities for us," Lebsack said, but it prevents the nearby Safeway from competing with his store head-to-head.

Despite the compromises in the legislation, grocery stores remain opposed because they view the measure as being too restrictive. In response the grocers' coalition, Your Choice Colorado, has put together a ballot initiative that as of Friday afternoon contained nearly 87,000 of the 93,000 signatures required to make it onto the ballot, Your Choice officials said.

Georgie Aguire Saca, campaign manager for Your Choice Colorado said that she was "disappointed with the flawed bill" and said the decision was too rushed.

"We believe too many people were left out of the conversation and believe that some portions of the bill could be unconstitutional," Saca said.

The ballot initiative includes only the sale of full-strength beer and wine and excludes the sale of spirits. It would take effect at the beginning of 2017. There is also no proximity restriction.

In addition to pursuing the ballot initiative, Saca said that Your Choice Colorado is considering legal action to overturn the new law.

Boulder PD Vows to Makes Changes to Normalize Race Relations

By: Charlie Howard

BOULDER - On April 5, 2016 Boulder City Council approved recommendations to reevaluate the way Boulder Police collect arrest and traffic data as well as revising department policy on the use of race to profile potential criminals.

These recommendations were provided to the council in a special study session conducted on February 23, 2016 by Hillard Heintze, an independent strategic advisory firm that specializes in evaluations of law enforcement agencies.

This independent evaluation of the Boulder Police Department came as a direct response to a 2014 USA Today study that found that in 2011-12, 568.5 per 1,000 arrests in Boulder were black people. This meant that over 50 percent of all arrests in the city of Boulder involved a black person while black people only made up 2.5 percent of Boulders population, according to official documents provided by the Boulder Economic Council.

“Boulder has been one of the nicest looking places but it has been one of the worst as far as a feeling of comfort and belonging,” Derrick Jones, a resident of Boulder who is black, said in an interview in 2014.

According to official documents provided by Hillard Heintze, I was their job to “evaluate the structure and processes of Boulder Police Departments Professional Standards Review Panel and provide recommendations for the implementation and best practices that will ensure public trust and credibility as well as police accountability.”

After the six months it took for Hillard Heintze to conduct the study, the firm to had 16 key findings and 12 primary recommendations titled “Actions that will make a difference,” that were presented to the council on how the police department could change some of their policies.

Click here to see the key findings done by Hillard Heintze.  

The first six key findings were based on a review of the police department’s data and interviews with police command, officers, city and personal stakeholders in terms of the stops made by Boulder police. The last ten findings are based upon the investigative process dealing with complaints and interviews between people in the community and other stakeholders.

The study points out the extreme difficulty in understanding the complexity of an issue like this saying “Any study of racial bias in policing must invariably face several challenges…no statistical test can tell us exactly what was in the mind of an officer when an enforcement decision was made.”

The review of police data suggested that police might have been disproportionately filing stops for black citizens compared to that of non-black citizens by their decision to use field interview cards which are useable at an officers discretion and are entered into records if filled out.

The 12 recommendations of the Hillard Heintze report included revisions to traffic stop data collection procedure, the field interview process and policies for using race as proxy for criminality and officer training in ethics and accountability. 

Click here to see the Hillard Heintze recommendations to council.

The formerly homeless South Sudanese refugee resident of Boulder, Patrice, who decline to tell me his last name, doesn’t believe that these changes are going to be enough to change the culture in Boulder because he says the issue is not about black people and white people.

“It is the idea of this town that these officers protect. They targeted me when I was sleeping. If they didn’t arrest me when they found me, they would wait until I left and then they would through away my stuff,” Patrice, said.

The City of Boulder has a ban on camping and in particular, the use of shelter while sleeping. Shelter can be defined as any form of covering such as a sleeping bag, a back pack, an extra T-shirt, and in one case even a tree branch, according to official documents.

A study published by the University of Denver’s Strum College of Law, said that Boulder has handed out out more camping ban citations in between 2010-2014, than any other city in Colorado combined. In those four years Boulder has handed out 1767 citations compared to the rest of Colorado’s 1061 citations.

“One of the first nights I was here it was snowing and I was denied from the shelter. I went inside an office building to get warm and the Police showed up and kicked me out immediately,” Patrice said.

“The majority of people I see getting harassed by the police are homeless and especially us black homeless,” Patrice said.

“Its not the policies it is the culture that need to change. Cops are in a brotherhood where they look out for each other rather than serve and protect their communities. The police make me afraid and that is a lack of communication on their part,” Patrice said.

“I want to go back to my country, I don’t feel welcome here. I wish something would change,” Patrice said

The report published by Hillard Heintze said, “Faced with the type of information revealed in our report, agencies typically respond in one of three ways: 1. Some continue to deny the possible existence of implicit bias on the part of their officers and cite, for example, the lack of citizen complaints. 2. Others make some incremental changes such as revising policy or requiring officers to attend a cultural awareness course. 3. Well-led, progressive agencies, however, view the information as a real opportunity for reform.”

“We’re working to implement the recommendations that were provided by Hillard Heintze and our goal is to do everything we can to make the police department better. Those areas that were identified where we could maybe improve our service are things we are interested in working on,” Deputy Chief of Boulder Police, Curtis Johnson, said in an interview.

When asked what specific actions would be taken within the department as they relate to the Hillard Heintze study, Chief Johnson said that he simply didn’t know which recommendations would be used which ones would not.

“We are going to need more time to figure out the logistics of implementation as well as a realistic timeline,” Chief Johnson said.

Click here to see full report presented to council by Hillard Heintze. 

Tatiana

This is a short documentary about a woman named Tatiana Salguero and her transition in to America, as well as her transition from a man into a woman.

A Culture of Drunken Resistance

By: Charlie Howard

On Jan. 16, 1919, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. One year later our country went dry, prohibiting all sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition was the most extreme of restrictive alcohol policy in United States history. It was also one the nations least successful alcohol policies because It failed to recognize the culture of resistance that it would meet in the years following it’s ratification.

In a recently published study titled “Reform and Resistance: Exploring the Interplay of Alcohol Polices With Drinking Practices,” Dr. Peter d’Abbs says that drinking policies set in place by those in power neglect and misunderstand the cultures of resistance and thus, the people who are governed by those policies.

In 2014, CU Police made 55 arrests for DUI-related offenses, and 235 arrests for MIP offenses, according to official documents. These documents state that where a single arrest was made for both a DUI offense and an MIP offense, the occurrence was counted as one arrest for each category of offenses, meaning that there were even more individuals charged.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     Student presses a bottle of Tequila to his lips and gulps in pain moments later, at a house party in Boulder Colorado, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. (Photo/Charlie Howard)

Student presses a bottle of Tequila to his lips and gulps in pain moments later, at a house party in Boulder Colorado, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. (Photo/Charlie Howard)

d’Abbs’ study questions the place these, and other restrictive drinking policies have in our society.

To understand to the nature of the culture of resistance it is important to first understand the laws themselves and how they are enforced.

There are two types of justifications for punishment, Ahmed White, professor of legal theory at the University of Colorado, said. There is utilitarian and there is moral. These are the two basis of thought when it comes to establishing criminal law, White said.

Alcohol policies fall at the intersection between these two categories. It is practical to prohibit citizens from driving their cars while impaired because that is a matter of public safety, White said. Morally our society has decided that 21 is the appropriate age to allow a person to consume alcohol but as we know, other cultures have different take on that age, White said.

University of Colorado student Sepp Kuss, when asked about his MIP arrest in 2015 said, “I still believe in the legitimacy of the rules, I just think that there are smarter ways of getting around them.”

Morally, Kuss said, he believes in a younger legal drinking age but from a practical standpoint it makes sense to him. Where Kuss disagreed with alcohol policies in the fact that it is treated as a criminal offense and punished as so.

“If you treat it as a health problem rather then a criminal offense then you can actually focus on helping people who are addicted and have problems, allowing us to focus on the root cause of alcohol and drug disorder,” said Kuss.

On the other hand, many have found that health promotion messages are not so much resisted but rather dismissed as irrelevant to managing one’s behavior, according to d’Abbs.

“Researchers found that the guidelines were seen as irrelevant, largely because they failed to acknowledge the importance of pleasure, sociability, and ‘the complex relations between discipline and abandon’ that influenced the ways in which young people use alcohol,” according to d’Abbs.

From a legal stand point this may not be as simple because many law makers carry the stand point of “so what ?” White said.

“Many people really don’t care about the people whose intention is to break the rule because our legal system is designed purposefully to flush those offenders out,” White said.

This raises the question of, where would we as a society be without these restrictive alcohol policies?

During prohibition for example, the regulation on liquor became so unrealistic that the United States Justice system had to deal with the problem of over criminalization, White said. Over criminalization meaning that there were so many people that were not abiding by the standard of the eighteenth amendment that the United States judicial system began to lose it’s legitimacy.

When asked whether the University of Colorado takes into account these cultures of deviance and resistance when writing alcohol policy, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Relations, Frances Draper, declined to respond.

d’Abbs argues that the desire to drink and to resist using the medium of alcohol is a tactical response to those who have power over those who do not.

“Tactics are the practices deployed by those who lack such powers, whose practices necessarily occur in contexts shaped by others. Tactics are about manipulating events and seizing opportunities to turn them to advantage. Ruses devised on the factory floor or by workers in the office are examples of tactical practices,” d’Abbs said.

Legal theory has very little to offer when it comes to the topic of trying to mitigate tactical decision making and the potential dangerous consequences of someone who might make decisions like these.

The most lawmakers can do is begin to knit pick the way in which they write legislation, or alter the kinds of punishment that might be dealt to someone who chooses to resist policy, White said.

D’Abbs concludes his study by saying “A more sociologically informed theorizing of resistance and the culture surrounding it, as well as more research may redress the neglect, and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of alcohol policies and their place in society.”

The question posed to d’Abbs findings then is not, what can policies do when considering the factor of resistance, but what can society do for itself when trying to understand the nature of resistance?

Is the problem really within the policies inability to take into account the rebellious few, or is it within every single one of us, and the accountability that we take for our actions?

Mitigation versus Preservation

BOULDER –The soft drone of croaking frogs blankets the damp, green grasslands of the University of Colorado’s South Campus. A gentle breeze rolls across the 316-acre pasture at dusk, a pasture containing only two buildings, a few ponds, and a system of trails.

At the edge of the campus there is a fence and a sign that reads “Boundary, Open Space Property Behind This Sign.” Beyond this sign there is another damp, green pasture, which is punctuated by U.S. Highway 36 and South Boulder Creek.

The property line between the undeveloped CU South Campus and Boulder’s open space, Saturday, May 2, 2015. This land is at the center of debates over how it could be used for future flood mitigation.
(Charlie Howard)

These undeveloped pastures are at the center of a flood mitigation debate over whether it would be appropriate to develop parts of both Boulder open space, and CU’s South Campus into a flood detention plain.

The city along with the engineering firm CH2M Hill have proposed a flood mitigation plan that is intended to eliminate a 100-year flood risk affecting 700 structures and 1,200 homes in the flood plain of South Boulder Creek, down stream of this land, official documents say.

According to documents provided by CH2M Hill, the plan includes the installation of a large earthen berm that would run parallel to U.S. 36, on Boulder open space land, near South Boulder Creek, creating a flood plain on these pastures, to dissipate the amount of water that would flow down stream during severe flood periods.

Many of the structures that would be protected with this plan were affected during the flood of September 2013, according to documents provided by CH2M Hill.

Proponents of the proposed $46 million plan say that it is the most effective plan for achieving the goal of protecting 700 structures down stream from U.S. 36 while having a positive benefit to cost ratio. Opponents argue that the plan does too much damage to Boulder’s open space, which is home to a number of federally protected species and habitat.

On Sept. 10, 2014, the Open Space board of trustees issued a motion, which, “recommended investigating alternatives to the regional detention at U.S. 36 that may have lesser potential for environmental impacts,” according to official documents.

The open space board of trustees also issued a statement to Boulder City Council saying, “The board believes that constructing a regional detention facility at U.S. 36 would require a significant disposal of open space lands, which would be subject to all applicable open space charter provisions,” according to official documents.

This specific plot of open space is home to the federally threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and Ute ladies’- tresses orchid, according to official documents. It is also home to a tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which is one of the most endangered plant communities in the world, according to official documents.

Deserai Crow, associate director for the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a study that the city of Boulder received an estimated $50 million in damage to city infrastructure and property, mostly to open space, sewer and water, and roads during the flood in September of 2013.

Crow, who did extensive research on the 2013 flooding, also said in a study that many community’s parks and open space were the most heavily damaged during the 2013 flood.

Charles Howe, professor emeritus of economics and staff of Environment and Behavior Program at the University of Colorado said that there are strict regulations on changing the use of open space.

The Department of Open Space and Mountain Parks defines acceptable use as “Preservation of land for passive recreational use,” according to the department’s mission statement.

Howe, who has been working with the University to negotiate a deal with the city, said that the only way city council can change the use of the land is by the recommendation of the Open Space board of trustees.

“The open space board of trustees doesn’t want to see any change in use…once you take a step in that direction, it opens it up for someone to say ‘let me put a hot dog stand out there, or maybe some crop use’ and when you start down that road it might be hard to stop other types of development,” Howe said.

Spokesperson Phillip Yates for the Open Space Mountain Parks department said that the board of trustees are still evaluating the project and would like to see a plan that can address flood mitigation while reducing the amount of environmental impact on open space land.

According to official documents, the Water Resources Advisory Board have recommended looking for alternative plans for equivalent mitigation which utilize more of the University of Colorado’s South Campus and less open space land.

Steven Thweatt, vice chancellor for administration at the University of Colorado, said that he believes the flood mitigation is an important issue and believes the University should do all it can to keep people safe.

Thweatt, who is oversees facilities management for the University also said that the University is flexible about the use of CU South property.

When asked about the goals for the CU South Campus Thweatt said that there are no definitive plans for the property but in their framework plans they have already identified areas for potential flood mitigation. The goal he said was finding a balance between the desires of board of trustees without “unnecessarily” restricting CU’s potential for future development.

Boulder’s Department of Open Space and Mountain Parks board of trustees will be holding a meeting on May 13, 2015 at 6 p.m. to evaluate more options for this flood mitigation facility.

Written on May, 3 2015

Boulder City Council Under Fire For Racial Profiling Allegations

March 20, 2015

 BOULDER – City Council officials faced harsh criticism from multiple residents at the city council meeting on Tuesday for the way the Boulder police, and the city, have been conducting what the residents to be racial profiling.

 Most of the ten speakers who criticized the conduct of Boulder police were doing so in direct response to a Human Relations Commission meeting the previous day.

 The Human Relations Commission meeting was organized to allow Boulder Chief of Police, Greg Testa, an opportunity to address a recent USA Today report that found that in 2011-12, 568.5 per 1,000 arrests in Boulder were black people. This is opposed to the 117.8 per 1,000 of non-black arrests.

 “Boulder has been one of the nicest looking places but it has been one of the worst as far as a feeling of comfort and belonging,” Derrick Jones, a resident of Boulder who is black, said in an interview.

 Jones was one of ten residents who spoke about the issue of racial discrimination, and said that his appearance during the opening comments of the meeting was to address council directly.

 Many of the speakers were disgruntled with Chief Testa’s response, saying that all he did was defend the status quo.

 “Chief Testa denied that his department engages in racial profiling and dismissed the findings of the USA Today report,” Cynthia Beard, a resident of Boulder, said during opening comments.

 One of the primary discussions following the opening comments was how the council could empower and support the Human Relations Commission to further understand the problem and to “ask the Human Relations Commission to make a recommendation about what it feels is appropriate to study and request that the council add that to its work plan,” City Manager Jan Brautigam said. 

 When Appelbaum addressed whether the matter would be discussed at a future council meeting he said “I think we’re there but we just need to figure out what information we need and begin the conversation and scheduling.”

 Appelbaum also said “The last couple of months have been more that a little crazy but I think they are a little less crazy over the next couple of months so we should be able to schedule it.”

 The rest of the council chuckled at this notion.

 After Jones raised his criticisms to the council the crowd erupted into applause.  After the applause Mayor Matthew Appelbaum said, “I’d appreciate it if don’t applaud,” which lead to a man in the audience to continue clapping.

 Appelbaum continued to insist that there be no applause during the meeting and even threatened to kick the man out but the man continued to clap. After a few bouts of this the clapping finally ceased and the meeting was able to proceed.

 The man was never kicked out.

 The Boulder Police Department declined to comment about the events regarding the city council meeting.  

Lafayette Girl Testifies Against Her Father - She Saw Him Sexually Assault Her 9-year-old Cousin in 2005

March 17, 2015

BOULDER – The daughter of a Lafayette man accused of sexually assaulting his niece, who was a minor, testified Wednesday morning that she saw her father grab the girl’s breasts under her shirt while she was sleeping.

Malia Mata said in her testimony, given in the form of a video recorded by police, that the alleged victim was 9 years old when this incident occurred.

Rafael Mata-Vasquez, 51, has pleaded innocent to the charges of sexual assault of a child and his bond was set at $100,000, according to court documents. Mata-Vasquez is being represented by public defender Jennifer Wickens.

Mata also said in her testimony that in the month prior to when she gave the video testimony that, she, the alleged victim, and Mata-Vasquez, were drinking together when Mata-Vasquez threated to call the police. She testified that the alleged victim then said, “Do you want me to tell them that you raped me?”

Court documents say that the alleged assaults occurred over a range of dates in 2005. Mata-Vasquez was arrested in March 2014, according to court documents.

Court documents say that Mata-Vasquez is scheduled for five days of jury trial and his sentencing is supposed to occur on Friday, Madoche Jean, a deputy district attorney, said.

Prosecution witness Suvi Miller, a clinical social worker who works with sexual trauma victims, was asked a number of times about the concept known as “grooming” which Miller described as a process in which the perpetrator will attempt to desensitize and prepare a victim for sexual contact.

The defense tried to get Miller’s testimony thrown out on the grounds that she was not a research specialist and had not published any peer-reviewed articles. Judge Andrew Macdonald declined the defense’s request.

Jurors also heard testimony from Manuel Mata-Garcia, the nephew of Mata-Vasquez. Mata-Garcia said that he never saw Mata-Vasquez sexually assault the alleged victim. Mata-Garcia also said he never saw Mata-Vasquez treat the alleged victim any differently than any of his children, nieces, or nephews.

The defense also called Juan Mata, the brother of Mata-Vasquez and the grandfather of the alleged victim, who echoed Mata-Garcia’s testimony.

Detective Stacy Hendershott with the Lafayette Police department testified for the prosecution as an investigator on Mata-Vasquez’s case.

Hendershott said that she had arranged for the alleged victim to undergo a forensic interview, which she described as an interview technique used by law enforcement to find out if a child has been mistreated, but the alleged victim never showed up.

Hendershott also said that she could not contact the alleged victim for months following the skipped interview. Hendershott said she visited the alleged victim’s home and school multiple times but could not find her.

Hendershott said she was eventually able to contact the alleged victim, who appeared in court on Tuesday to testify against her uncle, Jean said.

The prosecution asked Hendershott about Mata-Vasquez’s cell phone and specifically about the phones background photo which was set as a photo of Mata-Vasquez and the alleged victim standing together.