1} The Beet Goes On
Six farmers who lease land from Boulder County Parks and Open Space asked for the county’s permission to raise Roundup Ready sugar beets, which are modified to resist an herbicide called Roundup. The farmers asserted that growing the genetically modified crop would allow them to stay competitive, with bigger harvests and fewer expenses. Despite opposition and a negative recommendation from Boulder County Food and Agriculture Policy Council, Parks and Open Space staff recommended that the county allow the beets, requiring them to make efforts to limit cross pollination. But on Aug. 25, commissioners opted to delay the decision until more information is gleaned. What’s Next: County staff will go back to the books, looking at developing a general GMO policy and a comprehensive plan for Boulder County’s cropland.
2} You Down With BEC?
Broomfield City Council approved the contract late last month that secures Peak Entertainment, LLC, as the new BEC manager. Peak, a joint venture between well-known entertainment promoter AEG Live and sporting venue manager Kroenke Sports Enterprises, will replace Broomfield Sports and Entertainment. The three-year contract can be renewed up to 30 years and will make Broomfield more financially vested in the venue than in the past. The city will be required to pay for the first $450,000 in losses over the first three years of the contract. Broomfield and Peak Entertainment will share initial improvement costs up to $1 million; the city will pay up to $500,000 of those. Broomfield will share in revenue as well. What’s Next: Peak Entertainment took over operation on Sept. 1. They will continue to announce plans.
3} Renovating 36
“Going forward, U.S. 36 is all about money.” That’s what Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Russell George told a crowd during the launch of the Help Us Fix U.S. 36 campaign, which supporters are hoping will raise awareness and bring in cash for Highway 36 improvements. Planners have introduced possible options for an overhaul of 36, including managed lanes for carpools and toll payers, bus rapid transit, corridor walkways and updates to aging bridges and pavement. It’s expected to cost $1.3 billion. Political leaders and transportation officials at the launch discussed seeking federal support in upcoming months. “Highway 36 is my top highway to fund,” Rep. Jared Polis said during the event. What’s Next: The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the renovation of Highway 36 will be released in mid September.
4} Doors Wide Shut
The Longmont Times-Call, a Lehman Communications newspaper, filed suit against the Longmont City Council in August. The newspaper claims the council violated Colorado open-meetings laws when it allegedly adopted a decision on a legal matter during a June 23 executive session. According to the suit, following the meeting Mayor Roger Lange and a member of council told Times-Call reporter Rachel Carter that City Council had done a “straw poll” and decided during the closed-door meeting to appeal a recent court ruling. “This conduct constitutes the ‘adoption of a position’ by the City Council, an action that the Colorado Open Meetings Law expressly prohibits a local public body from doing in the course of an executive session,” the suit reads. Times-Call is asking the court to listen to the meeting tapes. What’s Next: The city has since filed an answer to the suit, denying wrong doing and saying the meeting was properly closed. Times-Call is expected to file a reply in September.
5} Teachers’ Dirty Looks
The Boulder Valley School District saga continued when hundreds of outraged teachers—including those from other districts, showing solidarity—filled a school board meeting to support union leaders, who called contract offers “demeaning.” A week prior, union members rejected a contract that gave a one-year, 1-percent stipend and no cost of living increase. Similarly, St. Vrain School District also struggled to resolve contract issues; as of press time, St. Vrain’s union had rejected two district offers. What’s Next: Both districts and unions continue to seek mediation; reports from the Colorado Education Association are due out soon.