SB217’s Blind Spot: Colorado’s Police Should Return to Unencrypted Scanners

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers inspired one of the most widespread and heroic uprisings in modern United States history. Two weeks of rioting and protest have opened a dialogue about the nature of police and spurred more efforts at reform, or in some cases outright abolition, than years of voting and token civilian oversight efforts ever could have. This is a reckoning years in the making – rampant police brutality has persisted nationwide for decades and between the police unions making any accountability or policy change all but impossible, a “Thin Blue Line” “warrior” culture that has deliberately placed cops above the citizenry, and both peaceful protest and representative democracy failing to rectify the problem, it was only a matter of time before things finally exploded. The brutal, indiscriminate response from police all across the country exposed them as an occupying force with contempt for the populations they purportedly serve rather than a profession existing for conflict resolution; an extortion racket for the wealthy existing to crush dissent and keep systems and institutions failing the vast majority of people afloat to maintain revenue streams.

Unsurprisingly, Colorado law enforcement was in rare form. With a long history of protest suppression, the response to initial demonstrations in downtown Denver as well as Colorado Springs was a strategy of overwhelming force and intimidation. Mirroring the conflicts that played out in most major American cities, it was obvious that the police were starting the riots, but the segment of demonstrators willing to fight back – rightfully fed up with police overreach and invulnerability – was significantly higher than usual. A police murder and the subsequent efforts to crush any outcry should always be seen as a breach of the social contract, and a critical mass of people justifiably and righteously made that breach a two-way street by opening up a conflict with the police that raged for days and still shows very little sign of stopping.

Local efforts to diffuse the tension have ranged from nefarious, with a seemingly AstroTurf “activist” organization emerging overnight in Denver that focused immediately on tone policing, sowing division with a lack of respect for a diversity of tactics, and staging photo-ops for local politicians and the police department, to suspicious – there’s been speculation that the Denver Police stood down not just to deescalate, but because the department was running out of crowd control weapon munitions and had exhausted their manpower. It’s also likely the mayor’s office pulled them back after realizing the DPD handled everything terribly and was primarily responsible for escalating the situation. An officer was fired for posting himself and two other police officers in riot gear and captioning it “Let’s Start a Riot” on Instagram.

Token symbolic measures, like the painting of Black Lives Matter in front of the capitol building and some changing of street signs, were taken this week. Quite quickly, a flurry of activity at the statehouse to get some legislation on the books and hopefully quell anger was engaged, giving Coloradans SB217, a reform bill that’s already passed in the House and will be voted on imminently in the Senate. State Republicans and law enforcement groups (naturally) object to many of the proposals and will likely neuter key provisions in an already relatively toothless bill that seems, on its face, full of “reforms” that are nebulously enforceable.

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Official Notice Regarding the End of the Unexplained and Unannounced Indefinite Hiatus

Just as in the Aughts, when people still read blogs, in the 90s, people subscribed to magazines. These were the decades of my childhood, reading and news consumption was different then. You paid $29.99 a year for several Ivy League dicks to repackage a Pentagon press release so you could learn about “The Crisis in Somalia,” it sat on a coffee table as a kind of milquetoast status symbol, and then, sometime around April, the charge would fuck up your checkbook balancing because you forgot about it and like a New Year’s Resolution during a hangover, you’d decide to pick it back up before remembering Joel Stein as a kind of a blowhard failson and continuing the coffee table ritual once again.

This phenomenon for the reader is remarkably similar to what vain, unpaid indie blogger holdouts experience with their yearly WordPress webhosting bill a full two decades after blogs stopped being relevant reading, as the discourse went bite-sized, or devoured through earbuds by a half-asleep light rail commuter. I live, still, a year later, and for some reason still yearn to broadcast my dropout garbage person thoughts into the ether. My relationship with blogging, characterized as a sort of half-talk-radio-half-newspaper-column informal article writing, is not unlike my stormy betrothal to fiction writing. You sit on ideas, procrastinate, allow yourself to atrophy, and then ultimately decide getting back to your marital home half shitfaced is probably going to get you in more trouble than disappearing onto a westbound Greyhound bus route for a week or two until somebody files a missing person’s report.

Admittedly, my laziness is a blessing here. I lost my debit card in an ATM inside of an Arby’s twice last year, and waited until the final hours of my renewal period to decide to probably start writing again. An election year, traditionally, is my time to shine. Around the start of 2020, I figured I’d throw on the jaded black hoodie of my vandal youth and don my “I’m only in it for the horse race” hat and prepare to clown the sinister and false earnestness of the Democratic Party’s primary process while also couching hope that the age of illiterate, frothing-mad fascism of Republican power is waning. This spurt of productivity didn’t materialize, thankfully, or I’d be subjected to an embarrassing internal dialogue as I reviewed those posts, ridiculing my fleeting hope that a man like Bernie Sanders was a Sure Thing after vanquishing a rat-faced neoliberal mayor spouting empty platitudes in a deliberate clusterfuck Iowa Caucus, the narrow triumph in hard-nosed New Hampshire, and a complete, victory-lap worthy blowout in Nevada before watching voter suppression, an in-the-tank media apparatus and the antibodies of the Party Elite work in wish-dashing concert to coronate a senile Blue Dog Democrat with sexual assault allegations to go up against Lawrence Limburger from Biker Mice from Mars in November.

Lawrence Limburger | Villains Wiki | Fandom

How embarrassing that would’ve been, for me. I’m not particularly incisive regarding policy or legislation, but for a moment I had found a reluctant compromise in the Sanders campaign. He’s the only half-decent man to have a viable run for the office since The Party fucked McGovern, so it was only natural for him to crumble under the weight of an oppressive and insincere fetishization of civility and a craving for the same corporate-consolidated “normalcy” that has fucked the average worker since the dawn of economic globalization. As I sit here, at my deemed-essential night shift position, in Plague April reeking of hand sanitizer, I can’t help but feel smug as I reminisce over the last month’s total failure of Holy Free Market Capitalism, and inspired by the acts of Mutual Aid helping keep knots of people afloat. Like a bittersweet Charlie Horse, a spasm of both teenage anarchist “told-you-so” sure-headed glad-handing meets my regrettable cautious optimism that perhaps, representative democracy might do the right thing for once and it might be a laugh to, as ironically as possible, celebrate the Fourth of July in 2021.

It was not to be.

But they had to cheat. Fifteen years of hammering Emma Goldman quotes on electoralism into my brain didn’t dissuade me from getting taken by the siren song of wondering if for once in the thirty years I’ve been on this planet, everything wouldn’t intentionally and systemically suck fucking shit. What a fool, to even momentarily think you could vote your way through a middlemen orc horde snarling on behalf of the pedophile Monopoly Men, when the answer, of course, as I’ve known for most of my adult life, was to come together and raise a mob of Marauders, knives in their teeth, and rampage until the vampires and their world have been reduced to ashes beneath thousands of pairs of vegan Doc Martins. Continue reading →

Huge Pay Disparities Mean Denver Public Schools Should Strike, Too

As the first teacher’s strike in 30 years kicks off in LA today, Denver Public Schools looks poised to strike as well if a deal isn’t reached by this Saturday after narrowly avoiding a strike last year. Like most teachers around the country, most cannot afford to live in the districts they teach in and one in five DPS teachers work a second job. Long-standing issues in funding, particularly in regards to property taxes, mean school funding and teacher pay is an obvious issue of racial discrimination and class warfare.

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Administrative and executive salary documents

District salary documents circulating on Facebook detail a massive pay disparity between the average DPS teacher and administrative officials. While a first-year teacher makes less than $45,000 a year, a rate the union is fighting to increase by up to 10% and with the rapid rising costs of living in Denver amounting to basically an inflationary wage raise, executive directors are pulling nearly a quarter-million dollar salary. Anyone that has ever worked within a school system could tell you the teachers are being hosed. The distribution of labor between even a school principal, making upwards of $85,000 per year, and that of a teacher is astronomical: pouring through the documents, DPS has one administrator to manage every 7.5 teachers, yet one teacher for every 40 students. Couple that with the fact that teachers pay hundreds of dollars per year to supply their own classrooms, work countless hours of unpaid over-time grading papers and preparing lesson plans, and without a doubt spend the most time educating and supervising children, it’s no wonder DPS teachers are ready to form picket lines.

Despite initial record profits and promises that the legalization of marijuana would provide an influx of funding for school districts across the state, that is largely not the case. Construction projects (notoriously nebulous processes) and programs like substance abuse prevention or adding counselors are funded through grant programs from marijuana sales taxes, however, teacher’s salaries aren’t addressed because the grants are not a consistent source of budgetary income for the schools and districts. While voters in Colorado likely had issues like this in mind when voting to pass Amendment 64, the nuts and bolts of the funding limitations mean teachers, one of the last widespread unionized professions in this country not connected to health care or law enforcement, get the shaft. Continue reading →

An Autopsy of the Denver Bronco’s 2018 Season

Roughly three years ago, you probably could have floated a ballot initiative in Colorado about renaming Denver International Airport after John Elway. After wining the Superbowl with a crippled Peyton Manning and one of the most historically lethal defenses ever seen in the NFL, Elway was riding high, going on to sign long-term deals for Von Miller, maybe the best pass-rusher since Lawrence Taylor, and Emmanuel Sanders, the league’s most underrated and consistently productive wide receiver.

That goodwill is long, long squandered.

Today, Elway finds himself without a head coach, having fired Vance Joseph after months of presumptive anticipation. There was some speculation last night, after losing to division rivals the LA (SAN DIEGO) Chargers by a score of 23-9, that because Joseph was allowed to speak to the press and state that he wanted to return next year to “make things right,” that Elway might hold off on his termination after all. The logic behind this is actually pretty sound and definitely what was parroted by a lot of people last year after calls for heads to roll went unheeded: it’s very difficult to attract coaching talent to a franchise if the GM could throw you out after a single losing season. Nobody wants to relocate their family, teach their playbook, and develop a staff if you’re a few bad games away from the chopping block without being given any real time to gel within a franchise.

That said, Joseph was proven to be absolutely abysmal at clock management, timeout strategics, and calling for challenges. Basic game management skills eluded him and penalty flags were called constantly based on his ineptitude. Vance, despite being a basically affable guy, well liked in the locker room, that seemed willing enough to take risks and had a playbook that seemed to work for a Broncos team shedding veterans and rudderless without a stable quarterback situation into at least losing games by a closer margin that the blowouts of 2017. After a short winning streak, it even looked like he might have locked down the job for next year, but then they lose to both of the Bay Area’s sorry offerings and shut down by Phillip Rivers, villainized by Bronco fans everywhere. Vance had to go. It’s the third non-interim head coach in eight years, but he had to go. That’s not great for any franchise.

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AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Broncos Anger God, Invite Torrential Downpour After Blowing 13 Point Lead

There’s no real reason to get too worked up about losing an NFL preseason game in the fourth quarter with third-string players on the field. Being up 23-10 after three stings a bit, but the first and second squads had good showings early on, key players looked returned to form, and drives came together in a way that was both productive and satisfying to watch. Last week, an increasingly frustrating coaching staff marched into the opening game against the Minnesota Vikings with an… avant-garde game plan, in which the team was clearly experimenting and seeing what could stick to the wall. That’s fine for a preseason game, although I think most fans prefer something a little more structured and goal oriented. Against the Chicago Bears, a team that finished last in their division last year, the Broncos looked pretty lethal at times, with Von Miller on the field longer than most people would probably like and Emmanuel Sanders blossoming new chemistry with 2018’s hired gun QB Case Keenum.

Royce Freeman and CU alum Phillip Lindsay dominated the running game over Broncos veteran Devontae Booker, both clearly deserving spots on the final roster. Jeff Hue-Hue-Hue-Heuerman, a sorely underused tight-end weapon, looked like a bouncer at closing time, fighting for every bit of yardage he could get and scoring on a two-point conversion after a running TD from Freeman early on in the second quarter. First-round draft pick Bradley Chubb forced a safety after a bobbled snap, and Justin Simmons caught an interception to bring in “back up” Chad Kelly, quickly becoming a fan favorite in the preseason for his physicality and clear QB IQ. Everything was looking great. I think everyone knows it’s the Bears, but the Broncos played legitimately good football for basically three and a half quarters. This Kelly to Sutton touchdown near the two-minute warning right before halftime is an absolute thing of beauty:

After last week’s disastrous, downright depressing showing by first-round bust Paxton Lynch, most fans, including myself, were calling for him to be cut from the team or traded to another franchise dumb enough to take a chance on him. Lynch was booed as he took the field and again periodically as he threw 5/11 for 39 yards, most of which were YAC against a third-string defense from one of the worst-performing teams in the league. He’s abysmal, yet had the audacity in the post-game presser to claim that he “wants to be THE quarterback, not the backup.” If anything, tonight cemented my claims last week that Lynch doesn’t even belong in the NFL, much less warming the bench in Denver. Local sporting press is starting to feel bad for him, despite urging the team to “make a move”, and head coach Vance Joseph, traditionally a little bit cagey regarding questions about Lynch, seemed particularly unleashed when commenting on him getting booed at Mile High. Again. Even ex-Bronco RB CJ Anderson admonished fans for booing:

A lot is being made about the Isiah McKenzie fumble, and although I think he’s tested quite a bit of patience after earning a reputation for dropping punt returns last year, that was a bang-bang great defensive play from the Bears and McKenzie did what he could. I really hope his confidence isn’t shaken, because he’s shown a lot of progress from last year and I believe he’s earned a spot on the roster without a question. He looked dejected on the sidelines after that play, in which he was fighting for extra yardage with defenders on his ankles before having the ball punched out of his grasp. There’s no shame there, he’s out to prove himself.

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Local deity, pictured after a Broncos loss.

I was fortunate enough to be commuting into work shortly after the game when the Denver metro area finally let open the monsoon it had been brewing since the late afternoon. Luckily, the lightening that had been persistent for much of the game didn’t delay anything. I’ve been out of town for several of the summer storms, which I’ve cherished in the nearly 15 years I’ve spent here, and this was definitely the hardest, most sustained rain I’d seen all year without any added hail. After a 24-23 loss in the final two minutes, I’m assuming the Gods were absolutely furious at another week of Paxton Lynch provoking an entire region of the United States into more wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Next game: Friday 8/24 at 5:30pm MST @ Washington.

 

Paxton Lynch Sucks

Bronco’s football returned tonight with a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings and after another lackluster training camp showing and another abysmal preseason game going into his third year, it’s time for John Elway to swallow his pride and cut Paxton Lynch. This evening, he went 6/11 for 24 yards with an interception and was sacked, then completely shown up by Chad Kelly, literally a Last Chance U alumni who spent last year sidelined with a wrist injury and had never played a game in the NFL. With concerns about Case Keenum being injury prone, the back-up job clearly needs to go to a player that doesn’t have the football IQ equivalent of a student repeating the fourth grade twice.

Look at this shit:

He’s 6’8″ and screen passes are swatted down at the line of scrimmage. This is a guy that lost depth chart positioning to Brock Osweiler, a man paid by the Cleveland Browns to not play and Trevor “Skittles” Siemian. The fact that he’s on an NFL roster is astonishing. Zero development or improvement in three years, but John Elway refuses to admit his first-round pick is a bust, which has cost the Broncos two serviceable second-string quarterbacks going to Minnesota. At least Brock, now playing in Miami, had passion for the organization and town. Paxton should be working as a mascot in Tampa Bay or doing Captain Morgan promotional appearances on frat rows. He’s a dullard.

I’m very forgiving. I didn’t mind seeing Trevor start again last year despite his ongoing issues. He had heart and came back from big hits as best he could. The team seemed to get behind him until obvious frustrations from a diminished but still legendary defense became insurmountable. Paxton, which is the male naming equivalent of Makayla, is lazy, listless, and obviously yippy anytime he’s put into a pre-planned QB1 situation.

There’s a question of “dead money” for next year if Elway can fall out of love with this towering mutant pirate, do the right thing, and get rid of him. It might cost a seventh-round pick down the line to sweeten the garbage pot, $600k in cap space this year, and $1.3 million next year, but after watching him booed off the field in Mile High tonight what are the other options? He’s dead weight. Even the most optimistic homer fans waiting for a development breakthrough or hoping for him to stop getting Vietnam flashbacks every time the sub-par defensive line collapses his pocket are reaching the end of their ropes.

It’s been enough chances and without a move by the coaching staff or front office, it’s only a matter of time before people start saying the same thing about Vance Joseph or even John Elway, who just two years ago could’ve gotten Denver International Airport named after him. At a certain point, it’s undeniably an organizational problem.

The Highwaymen Are Now Boarding

high·way·man 

/ˈhīˌwāmən/

noun historical

noun: highwayman; plural noun: highwaymen
a man, typically on horseback, who held up travelers at gunpoint in order to rob them.

 

When you get back on a sub-par metropolitan public transit system, especially after a brief respite, there’s sometimes new nuances and customs to learn. I’ve detailed the bad taste in my mouth Colorado’s Regional Transportation District has left after thirteen years of residency and service before, but my most recent return to this town’s buses and trains during arguably the hottest summer this city has ever seen has left me shaking my head in a puzzled, Kafkaesque bewilderment. As the city pushes more and more poor and working class people out, forcing longer commutes, RTD is pushing another fare hike and aggressively pursuing so-called “fare dodgers” on the light rail lines. I don’t know why I even let myself be surprised anymore.

meta-chart

I’ve prepared a graph.

Anecdotally speaking, the vast majority of people I’ve seen ticketed are either underage kids with expired transfers who would be riding on economically negligible fares anyhow, commuters who chanced it instead of missing a train because of slow ticket kiosks and validation processes, and regular, every day people who paid for the “wrong fare.” Armed men, sometimes uniformed security contractors and sometimes plainclothes city police, will board the trains from “random” stops and like hall monitors checking to make sure you’re allowed to be going to the bathroom, pace the aisles checking tickets. If you’re not squared away, they take your identification, take your picture, and put you in a database with a warning. If you’re already in there, you’ll get a ticket for more than $100.

Of course this happened to me.

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The G-Line is Really Coming This Time, Guys

As both a longtime Northwestern Denver resident and a self-sabotaging, economically disadvantaged proletarian, public transit development in Colorado is something I pay a lot of attention to. I’m on my second car and I didn’t learn how to drive until I was 19, which was almost ten years ago, and I didn’t own a car until I was almost 21. From about 15 on, I rode Denver’s buses and trains for work, play, and everything in between. One conclusion I think many of my fellow riders can agree on is that RTD, Denver’s Regional Transport District, is fucking horrible.

Much of my early usage with Twitter was primarily to antagonize the intern running the RTD account. Buses very rarely run on time or don’t come at all. More often than not, a trip with more than one transfer is going to get screwed up, and that makes using public transit as a way to reliably commute almost impossible. Unless you’re planning on leaving an hour earlier, which compounds how horrific RTD’s metro transit routing network actually is: an accurate anecdotal estimation is that for every 10-15 minutes it might take to drive somewhere, you can count on at least an hour on a bus. My commute is about a thirty minute drive. Once you factor in the walking, due to the fact that both my destination and my home don’t have have any direct bus service, using public transportation for my commute takes nearly three and a half hours. One way. Inclimate weather? Go fuck yourself. Continue reading →