Week in Review
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario denied all allegations the American Civil Liberties Union leveled against him and county jail Commander Scott Dawson in a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver on Wednesday.
Vallario said he was offended by the ACLU suit’s claim that Garfield County Jail staff uses “mental torture” against inmates by taunting them about the use of an electric shock belt, which reportedly delivers an eight-second, 50,000-volt shock to an inmate with the press of a button.
Because of the claim that Vallario’s staff is torturing inmates, Vallario said he hopes a federal judge will immediately throw out the case.
The complete 72-page complaint can be viewed at http://www.aclu.org.
A new state law that forces people to do their smoking outside Colorado restaurants, bars and other establishments is threatening to send some of them down the street as well.
That may be an unintended consequence of the part of the law that prohibits smoking not only in buildings, but within 15 feet of their doors.
It might sound logical enough as a way of keeping smoke out of buildings. But it’s causing problems in places such as downtown Glenwood, where storefronts are wedged so close together that smokers can’t stay the required distance away from entryways.
Glenwood police chief Terry Wilson agrees such establishments face a challenge dealing with smokers.
“If you get them 15 feet from one door they’re within 15 feet of another door,” said Glenwood police chief Terry Wilson. “It becomes this pass-it-down-the-block kind of thing.
“Basically I think we’re going to have to stack everybody under the Grand Avenue Bridge.”
Wilson said his department has taken a few calls a week from people concerned that others weren’t abiding by the 15-foot rule.
The rule is one of the challenges facing local communities as they begin to implement the statewide law, which took effect at the start of the month. The cities of Rifle and Glenwood Springs are both working on passing municipal ordinances that mirror the state law, so they can prosecute violators in municipal court and keep all fines collected from them, rather than having to return 25 percent of proceeds to the state.
Glenwood Springs City Council delivered a raise and an apology to its city manager Thursday.
Council voted unanimously to approve an 11.5 percent raise in the pay of Jeff Hecksel, meaning he will earn $121,000 over the next year.
Council member Dave Merritt, who headed council’s negotiations with Hecksel over his contract, apologized for public criticism Hecksel has received in recent weeks because council had considered providing some form of housing assistance to him.
Merritt said the idea was council’s, not Hecksel’s.
“He was not in the loop at all and has not requested anything,” Merritt said.
Council had discussed the idea because Hecksel has had difficulty finding a home to buy in the Glenwood area since starting his job nearly two years ago. However, some city residents questioned whether the city’s top-paid employee needed housing help.
In the end, council chose against providing any such assistance.
Under the contract, Hecksel’s salary will increase again, to $125,840, on Sept. 1 of next year. Future salary hikes over the remainder of his contract will be determined following annual reviews by council.
Finalists for the 9th Judicial District judge vacancy left open by the death of Chief Judge T. Peter Craven were named Tuesday.
The 9th Judicial District Nominating Commission met in Glenwood Springs on Monday to interview a slate of candidates, settling on three finalists. Gov. Bill Owens has 15 days from Tuesday to name one of the finalists to the bench.
Finalists are Glenwood lawyer Mark E. Hamilton, Assistant Garfield County Attorney Denise K. Lynch and Public Defender Jamie J. Roth.
Hamilton is the Carbondale town attorney and vice chair of the Water Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association.
Lynch has worked for Garfield County since 2002 and practiced law privately for more than 20 years.
If Owens names Roth to the bench, she will follow the legacy of Craven, who was one of the region’s first public defenders.
Roth has served as a public defender since she graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law nearly nine years ago.
Samuel Lincoln, who is accused of stabbing and attempting to murder a man in a West Glenwood trailer in 2004, pleaded not guilty Thursday in District Court.
Public Defender Jamie Roth requested the court grant Lincoln a trial beyond the six-month limitation necessary for a speedy trial. Because Lincoln must stand trial twice for more serious charges in Grand Junction, Roth said Lincoln’s trial here should wait until his Mesa County court dates have passed.
Senior Judge Joseph Quinn, a former chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court who is one of multiple judges presiding over District Court until a new judge is appointed to succeed late District Judge T. Peter Craven, set Lincoln’s trial for April 16, 2007.
The trial is scheduled for three days.
Lawrence Dale Doty, Lincoln’s alleged accomplice, also pleaded not guilty.
” compiled by Derek Franz
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Only two weeks into the Colorado legislative session, local representatives can see the lines between Republicans and Democrats, as well as common ground.