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Editorial: The county’s ag study dilemma

David Krieger (Boulder Daily Camera)- The Boulder County commissioners’ Sept. 10 rebuttal to our Aug. 27 editorial, “A rigged county bid process,” was long on issues not argued in the editorial and short on responses to the issues it did raise. Much of the rebuttal was spent recounting how widely the county circulated two requests for proposals to conduct an agricultural study on county-owned land. No one contested the circulation of the RFPs.

What we contested were the ethics of a process in which county commissioners explicitly recruited a bidder — the Rodale Institute of Kutztown, Pa. — with a well-known political agenda in an attempt to preordain the outcome of the study. Disingenuously, the commissioners argued that Rodale is a “well-known research organization” without ever acknowledging it is also a well-known advocate of organic farming. We have nothing against organic farming, but we believe if you want to conduct an unbiased study of sustainable agriculture in Boulder County’s semi-arid climate, you do not predetermine the outcome by recruiting an organization with a political agenda.

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Ethics expert: No saving Boulder County’s GMO transition RFP

Shay Castle (Boulder Daily Camera)-  A controversial proposal to create a research center to help Boulder County gradually remove GMO crops from county-owned farm lands may have to be scrapped for a second time amid claims that the county has mishandled the bids.

An attorney for area farmers, who has been critical of the process, on Thursday sent a letter to county commissioners requesting that they invalidate a bid from Colorado State University, on the ground that an employee helped shape the contract on which the university is now bidding.

“The situation is hard to salvage at this point,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “The best course would be to vacate the deadline (and) start over from scratch.”

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.


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Rug store flap weaves an ethics tapestry between Glendale and state watchdogs

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Politics)- An ethics complaint lodged against a former Glendale city councilman has turned into a can of worms for the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission over whether home-rule cities that have their own ethics codes have the final say over ethics complaints.

The ethics issue dates back to 2016, when MAK Investment Group of Glendale filed an ethics complaint with the city against then-city councilman Jeff Allen. The complaint alleged Allen, who also serves as CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, improperly voted on the city’s budget, which includes funding for the chamber.

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Emails raise ethical questions about Colorado lawmaker. But he says there’s nothing to see.

Jesse Paul (Denver Post)- A top Republican state lawmaker appeared to suggest wielding his political influence to help or harm a business partner in an email exchange that led up to a lawsuit now pending in federal court, but he says his words have been taken out of context.

Ray Scott of Grand Junction, currently the No. 4 Republican in the state Senate, made the remarks in 2012 as part of a dispute with Montigo Del Ray Corp., a custom fireplace company, about its decision to remove his business as a regional representative for states including Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Scott is founder of Gas Products Corporation, which sells high-end heating equipment for luxury homes and commercial applications, and at the time, served as a state representative with a focus on energy issues. Gas Products, according to the lawsuit, handled area business for the Canada-based Montigo.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

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Colorado hemp bill’s author dismisses claims of conflict

Dan Njegomir (Colorado Politics)- Legislation intended to keep federal water flowing to Colorado’s hemp crop — a growing industry in the state, if you’ll forgive the expression — has unexpectedly led to an anonymous accusation that the bill’s sponsor has a conflict of interest. So says a report in the Durango Herald.

Spoiler alert: The law seems to be on the sponsor’s side, as the Herald reports.

Senate Bill 117, adopted by lawmakers in the 2017 session and now awaiting the governor’s signature, was supposed to quell controversy, not cause it. As explained in a press release by the state Senate Republican majority when the bill was approved by the legislature last month, industrial hemp is misunderstood because of its association with marijuana, and that has led to bad policy by the federal government:

After Colorado voters approved hemp’s cultivation as part of a broader legalization of marijuana, questions arose about the legality of using federal reclamation water to grow a  crop often wrongly confused with marijuana.

Montrose Republican state Sen. Don Coram, who introduced the measure, said in the press release that the bill “ensures that Washington can’t deny hemp growers access to water from federal reclamation projects, due to disagreements between Washington and Denver on drug and farm policies.”

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Ken Salazar Working For Anadarko After Promising To Honor Federal Ethics Law

David Sirota, Lydia O’Neal, Andrew Perez (International Business Times)- Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been working for a major oil and gas company as it has sought to limit political damage after a deadly explosion near one of its Colorado wells, a spokesperson for Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and emails obtained by International Business Times and MapLight say.

One of his state’s most powerful Democrats, Salazar was in touch with Hickenlooper’s office after the blast on behalf of Anadarko Petroleum — a company Salazar helped when he ran the Interior Department under former President Barack Obama.

Salazar, a corporate lawyer, has previously said he would honor federal ethics laws by walling himself off from matters in which he was involved at the agency. Emails show he has been working for Anadarko in Colorado though he has not registered to lobby for the company there, state records show.

Click here to read the full story in the International Business Times.

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2 Boulder Planning Board members face possible conflicts ahead of vote on 1440 Pine St.

Alex Burness (Boulder Daily Camera)- Potential conflicts of interest for two Planning Board members loom over the board’s highly anticipated Thursday vote on whether to approve a controversial plan to build housing in downtown Boulder for 40 chronically homeless young adults.

Member Crystal Gray, whose longtime partner has been, for a year and a half, among the most outspoken opponents of the project, says she doesn’t plan to recuse herself from the hearing.

Her partner, John Spitzer, is a former Planning Board member, and has been one of the primary organizers of neighborhood opposition to the project, which has centered on the building’s density and height and on the opinion that homeless people ages 18-24 will be at further risk living in busy downtown.

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Nor’wood negoatiates to buy government land southwest of downtown

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- If at first you don’t succeed, work out a new deal and continue moving forward.

That might be an apt description of Nor’wood Development Group’s efforts to gain control of land located in the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area owned by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

After an agreement with RBD collapsed last fall due to conflict of interest questions and legal requirements, Nor’wood persuaded the Regional Building board, composed of elected officials, to simply sell the property to Nor’wood without placing it on the open market.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Colorado marijuana czar and fellow top regulator make leap into consulting

Alicia Wallace (The Cannabist)- Colorado’s marijuana czar and one of its top enforcement chiefs are jumping to the private sector to advise local and state governments hashing out cannabis regulations.

Andrew Freedman, the state’s director of marijuana coordination, Lewis Koski, Colorado Department of Revenue deputy senior director of enforcement, and John Hudak, drug policy expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, formed Freedman & Koski LLC.

Click here to read the full story in The Cannabist.

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Pay Colorado’s elected officials and judges their due

Denver Post Editorial Board – Colorado’s elected officials have a complex job to do, and a growing population to serve, but they are paid quite a lot less than their peers in other states. We’ve stood behind the idea of raising their salaries over the years, and applaud a plan that makes use of a recent law to finally pay these public servants what they’re worth.

Yes, money is tight at the state level. And critics of high-dollar salaries for some city and county elected officials across the state are right to question them.

But we would argue that it is highly unfair not to have raised pay for top officials, like the governor and attorney general, since 1999, as is sadly the case.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Denver Post.

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