1} A Friendly Reminder
The economy sucks and seems to be getting suckier. But just in case it wasn’t obvious enough, we now have more proof. State labor officials reported that in March Colorado’s unemployment rate jumped to 8.5 percent, up 0.4 percent from February. Estimates show that Colorado has more than 62,900 fewer workers than it did a year ago. In January, national joblessness reached 8.1 percent, and in some states, unemployment rates hit double digits.
What’s Next: Economic recovery? Not yet, but Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Donald J. Mares told 9News that, “We are trending at a slower rate, we have fewer people out of work (than the rest of the country) and Gov. Ritter’s moving Colorado forward with some initiatives that we think will help stem it.”
2} Bucking the Law?
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck isn’t above the law. In fact, he’s right in the middle of it. State District Court Judge James Hiatt has halted an identity theft investigation that could implicate more than 1,000 suspected illegal immigrants—until he decides whether Buck and other law enforcement agencies used legal tactics to glean information on suspects. Hiatt ordered Weld County officials to fork over documents they took while searching a tax preparer’s office last year. The paperwork is the foundation for charges involving fake Social Security numbers, which are often used by illegal immigrants for employment. The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed the lawsuit against Buck and Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, claiming that they violated privacy rights of taxpayers when they seized the documents.
What’s Next: Hiatt is expected to make a decision in April.
3} Grocers Sober Up—For Now
Kings Soopers, your dreams of aisles flanked with stacks of shiny cans of silver and blue and glistening brown bottles may be over…or are they? Last month the bill that would allow grocers to sell full-strength beer, House Bill 1192, died in committee. Those who voted against the bill suggested a desire to protect small businesses. But the Centennial State’s Safeways and 7-11s may not have to wait too long to sell suds. Advocates say that Coloradans have not seen the end of this issue.
What’s Next: Advocates will likely work to bring the issue to the voters of Colorado, possibly even on the 2010 ballot.
4} Churchill Shoots, Scores!
Ward Churchill’s fait was in the hands of a jury: Was he the victim of a right-wing crusade—or himself? After deliberating for several hours, a unanimous Denver jury announced the University of Colorado fired its famously controversial professor as vengeance for publishing an essay in which he compared some Sept. 11 victims to Nazi Adolf Eichmann. While they found he was fired for protected free speech—and not because of academic misconduct like the university claimed—the jury was not about to let Churchill reap rewards for the victory: He was offered $1 for damages. Churchill’s case took a starring role in local and regional headlines last month, when his four-week wrongful termination trial brought state elected and university officials to testify about the firing.
What’s Next: Denver Chief District Judge Larry Naves will now decide if CU will have to take Churchill back.
5} Driver Gets Charged
The Boulder woman who hit and killed Louisville resident John Breaux after she veered her PT Cruiser off U.S. Highway 287 in Lafayette on Jan. 30 was officially charged in Boulder County Court last month with one count of criminally negligent homicide. Mary Jo Anne Thomas, 62, could receive a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Prosecutors did not pursue a felony charge of vehicular homicide because toxicology reports showed Thomas was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. At the scene of the accident, Thomas failed roadside tests and took 30 seconds to respond to questions, according to police. Thomas’ attorney said she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Breaux was a local fixture in Louisville and considered a goodwill ambassador in the community.
What’s Next: Thomas’ next court appearance is slated for May 8.