A man who was rescued from a creek during the floods that took place in Colorado last year is suing the county for taking too long to rescue him.
The man, Roy Ortiz, found his vehicle submerged in a Broomfield County creek after hitting a washed out area of the road on U.S. 287. Ortiz was trapped in his vehicle for around two hours, ABC 7 News Denver reports.
Ever since filing suit against the county, Ortiz has been receiving backlash for suing those that were simply trying to help him. Ortiz insists that he should not be criticized for the situation.
"People react like I am a bad man for filing this. It's not like that. I just tried to defend my rights. My name is being defamed; I've been working for the same company for 17 years, I'm co-pastor of a church in Aurora. People know me. I've never caused trouble," Ortiz said.
Ortiz’s attorney Ed Ferszt explained that this lawsuit should not be viewed as an his client being ungrateful for the work his rescuers did to save his life. Instead, people should note that the length of time that it took to find Ortiz and remove him from his vehicle demonstrated negligence.
“Of course he was thankful because those divers did have a major role to play in saving his life that day. That doesn’t negate the fact that a mistake may have been made. I can understand why there’s a lot of furor over people thinking that he’s biting the hand that feeds. Does that mean the officers of North Metro Fire are above reproach?” Ferszt said.
According to Ortiz, one of the reasons he is suing the rescuers because he has accumulated at least $40,000 of medical bills directly related to the incident.
“I’m really happy to be alive, but I’m looking for some help with my bills,” Ortiz explained.
Ortiz also explained that the county did act with negligence, despite much of the backlash he has received for suing them. Ortiz claims that the rescue mission took place over the course of longer than an hour, and the divers still did not see Ortiz until they hooked up tow cables to his car. Other vehicles had been submerged in the water after hitting the same washed out spot on the road, diverting the divers’ attention to other vehicles and individuals.
According to the Huffington Post, Ortiz is suing for damages up to $500,000.
Since the recreational use of marijuana became legal in Colorado at the beginning of the year, businesses have been trying to keep up with demand for new products. As that demand increases, many believe that further state regulation is going to be necessary to protect consumers and keep the quality of new products consistent. A new story in the Denver Post claims that recent testing of edible marijuana products revealed levels of the euphoria-inducing THC were inconsistent with product labeling.
One company, Dr. J’s Hash Infusion, had two of its products tested. One was a milk chocolate Star Barz that carried a label claiming the product contained 100 mg of THC. Tests revealed that the bar only contained 0.37 mg. A similar product with the same claim of 100 mg of THC, the Winter Mint bar, contained only 0.28 mg.
Joseph Evans of Steep Hill Halent, the laboratory that conducted the tests, said it shows that some companies, including Dr. J’s, need to work on their consistency.
"They need to work on their process," Evans said. "I don't know that it's irresponsible, but it's nonprofessional.”
A report by ABC News pointed out earlier this year that sales of edible marijuana-infused products were up 300 percent in Colorado since the drug became legal in the state. Owner of LoDo Wellness Center in Denver, Linda Andrews, said she was having trouble keeping such products on the shelf.
"We got a new supply in last week and sold out in an hour," Andrews told ABC.
Such high demand may be the culprit for inconsistent products. That is the claim of Dr. J’s owner Tom Sterlacci.
"We were making smaller batches prior to recreational [legalization], but the demand went so high that we are now making bigger batches," Sterlacci said. He claimed in the Denver Post story that the company changed its process in the last week to make batches more consistent with product labeling.
Dr. J’s has begun offering refunds on unopened products on a case-by-case basis while they iron out the new process.
Evans also says testing is becoming more consistent in the state but is not yet perfect. As the industry in Colorado continues to grow, he urges customers not to place too much faith in the numbers on the packages.
The Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colo., is under intense scrutiny after an investigation found officials from the district intentionally destroyed records of a special needs student in order to keep them away from his family.
The district’s actions were brought to light after the student’s father, corporate lawyer Ephraim Starr, filed an Open Records Act request with the school. Starr requested the educational records of his 9-year-old autistic son, Isaac, after the child started reverting back to problematic behaviors he hadn’t displayed in years. The behaviors started soon after Isaac was enrolled in the Poudre School District following the family’s move from California.
"He would throw 45-minute tantrums, things he had done when he was several years younger, that now started resurfacing again," said Starr. "He wasn't doing well in school. Things were getting much worse."
Starr’s Open Records request did turn up a number of documents, though they were not at all what the Starr’s expected to see. The family discovered that Sarah Belleau, the district’s director of integrated services, was telling school staff to delete all records they had on file for Isaac.
Here is one of Belleau’s emails to her special education coordinator from Dec. 9, 2010:
Please delete this e-mail when done…
Please ask all involved staff to delete AND destroy any e-mail or paper records related to this family. When they delete the e-mail, they need to then "empty the trash" Please have them do this immediately. All other records with the exception of the latest plan should be destroyed -- shred. The reason is to protect against an Open Records Request.
Thank you for doing this and for verbally communicating this with staff. I do not want this put in writing.
An email dated just days after Starr’s request shows that Isaac’s principal at Bacon Elementary, Joe Horky, was involved in the cover-up too. Horky mentioned both Belleau and Starr in an email and encouraged staff to use a code word when referring to the two in order to avoid the email from showing up in data searches.
“Student initials may not be the only/best answer to our email issue," read Horky’s email. "Please creatively think of something we may all be able to use as a 'code' word - haha!!”
He later reminded officials to delete all emails and records pertaining to Isaac in an email saying, “Delete your message!” “Delete your deleted!” and, “Delete your sent!”
Special Education Coordinator Gloria Hohrein told Colorado news station ABC 7 the officials deleted their messages out of fear “that he [Ephraim Starr] would bring a lawsuit against the school district. Because he wasn't getting the services he wanted."
As you would imagine, the Starrs feel incredibly betrayed by the district.
"I'd never seen a record like that in my life," Starr said. "I didn't know what to think. I felt like, so not only do we have every reason to be distrustful of these people, but by virtue of their approach to our son's special education they were intentionally destroying the very records on which we would like to rely to make sure his education was what he deserved."
The Starr family’s lawsuit against the Poudre District has cost taxpayers over $200,000. After finding the district illegally held records from the family, a judge ordered the district to pay the family’s $122,577 in attorney fees. The district also had to foot a $56,609 bill owed to a data recovery agency used in the investigation. The lawsuit has not yet come to a close.
"It's not merely unethical, unconscionable; it's fundamentally corrupt, I think," Starr said. "Parents throughout the district ought to be concerned that what the school district is telling parents is not the same as what's actually happening."
A Papa John’s pizza driver was robbed at gunpoint, had his car stolen, and was fired from his job last weekend. And you thought you’ve had a bad couple of days.
Reza Abolhassani was delivering a pizza to an apartment complex Saturday night when two men approached him.
“I thought he was the customer waiting for the pizza,” Abolhassani said. “As I walked up the stairs, two men ran at me, said, ‘shhhh, where’s the money.’”
The men held Abolhassani at gun point.
“I just told them, ‘please don’t shoot me. I have a three year old kid,’” he said.
The men didn’t shoot Abolhassani, but they did steal all of his money and his 2006 Nissan Sentra. He reported the holdup to his shift manager, who put his call on hold. When his shift manager never got back to him, he reported the theft to police.
The next day, the Papa John’s store manager called him.
“He asked 'What happened? Why did you not put your money in the red box?' which he never gave me."
Drivers are never supposed to carry more than $20 cash on them at a time. The rest goes in the aforementioned red box. But according to Abolhassani, management didn’t give him a box.
“(The manager) gave me a box for about week, then took my name off of it and gave it to someone else,” he said.
Regardless, management fired Abolhassani for violating company policy.
“They said, ‘I’m sorry Reza. We know you’re a good driver, but we can’t keep you because it’s the policy,’” he said.
Abolhassani suspected from the start that the delivery he was making when he was robbed wasn’t legitimate.
“I told [the manager] before I left the store, ‘if I don’t come back in 20 minutes, please call the cops,” Abolhassani said.
One estimate claims two-thirds of pizza delivery driver robberies happen on fake orders made with the intention of robbing the driver.
Within the first month of recreational marijuana being legalized in Colorado, welfare beneficiaries accessed cash benefits from ATMs in marijuana stores no less than 64 times.
This means that a total of $5,475 in public cash benefits has been withdrawn from ATMs in stores that sell marijuana.
National Review Online obtained records that indicate that in January, ATM withdrawals in pot shops ranged from $20 to $400. The average withdrawal was $85.55.
Included in this figure are medicinal dispensaries, recreational stores, and at least one place that combines the two. Because some of these stores sell not only pot but also groceries, it is hard to determine just how much of this money was actually spent on marijuana.
These 64 withdrawals represent a minor fraction of the more than 42,000 electronic benefit transfer (EBT) withdrawals in Colorado in January.
As National Review Online points out, they also “demonstrate the Centennial State’s lack of oversight of improper use of welfare benefits.”
In line with a 2012 federal law, the withdrawal of EBT cash is illegal in Colorado’s adult entertainment establishments, gun shops, liquor stores and gambling facilities.
However, information concerning withdrawal and possible use of cash assistance in pot shops comes closely after the Senate’s failed attempt to similarly outlaw EBT use in pot shops.
Republican Representative Dan Nordberg has expressed frustration about the bill’s failure.
“Truth be told,” said Nordberg, “you would think this is common sense, yet I’ve still not received a straight answer for why [Colorado’s Democrats] killed our bill and think it’s okay for welfare beneficiaries to withdraw public benefits in pot shops and strip clubs.”
The state’s Department of Human Services’ Employment and Benefits Division remains without the same authority to regulate cash assistance at marijuana facilities, as it does at other facilities.
“We cannot assume that somebody who has accessed money at a retail marijuana shop has spent that money on marijuana,” said human services department director Levetta Love.
“There’s no correlation there,” Love continued. “We don’t have any proof of that.”
Photo source: http://www.npr.org
Shortly after adjourning a meeting in a committee room at the Denver Capitol Building, Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer found a black canvas bag under the table where the lawmakers had been sitting. When he opened it to look inside he found a loaded revolver. The gun, it turned out, belonged to Republican Rep. Jared Wright from Fruita, Colo.
“I just immediately notified the Sergeant at Arms and soon we realized it was Jared’s bag,” Singer told the Denver Post.
Wright, in his first term, told the Post he often carries the gun at the Capitol. State law prohibits carrying a gun in the building “without legal authority.” Wright maintains he has a right to do so as a peace officer. He served in the Fruita Police Department from 2007 to 2011.
“I feel it’s my duty to be a first responder wherever I am at,” said Wright. “That’s why I carry it.”
The bag was returned, with the gun, to Wright’s office where he got it back.
Gun control has been a contentious topic in Colorado in recent years. The state has experienced some of the worst mass shootings in the nation’s history, including the 2012 incident in which a lone shooter opened fire in a crowded movie theater, killing 12 people. In response, the state has passed a number of controversial gun laws. One law requires background checks to be performed prior to any private gun sale. Another law limits gun magazine capacity to 15 rounds.
Nevertheless, the meeting the two lawmakers had just left, prior to the gun being found, was to discuss a bill that would ease restrictions on carrying concealed weapons. That bill is largely a bipartisan effort.
"It's unfortunate that this turned into a distraction, but it's a real lesson on the responsibility a person takes on when they own a firearm," Singer told Reuters in a phone interview.
Lawmakers carrying guns at the Capitol in Denver is not unusual. It seems to be a bit of an open secret, according to a story by the Durango Herald last year.
“Since I started here, I think I’ve always known that members had guns on the floor,” Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) said in that story.
The days of being one of those gun-toting lawmakers are over for Wright. After being contacted by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office and speaking with Colorado State Patrol, he has agreed to stop carrying his gun in the building.
A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado, who once referred to the city of Miami as a third-world country, broke a vow this week never to campaign in Spanish.
Despite a long history of supporting anti-immigration reform, Tom Tancredo, who unsuccessfully ran as a Republican candidate during the 2008 presidential election and as a Constitution Party candidate for Colorado governor in 2010, released a Spanish language ad addressing Hispanic voters.
During a 2008 presidential debate, Tancredo told Wolf Blitzer, “No I would not advertise in Spanish.”
“Believe me when I tell you this,” he continued, “the preservation of the English lanuage is important for us for a lot of reasons not the least of which because it is what holds us together. It is the glue that holds a country together, any country. Bilingual countries don’t work, and we should not encourage it.”
On the Spanish-language ad released on his campaign website, Viva Tancredo he says, “Tom Tancredo will fight for our families.”
“Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared the “War on Poverty” in the United States. But poverty has not disappeared and hardworking families keep on fighting, especially in the Hispanic community because our broken immigration system promotes poverty, rewarding law breakers instead of helping immigrant families that follow the law,” the ad says.
The website, which is formatted with English on the left and Spanish translations on the right, says “Viva Tancredo” is a “movement of Hispanic citizens” who support the candidate because he “will fight for the everyday interested of law-abiding and hard-working immigrants.”
Supporters are asked to sign up and explain why they support Tancredo.
“I know him to be a good man and unlike out-of-touch liberal John Hickenlooper, Tom Tancredo truly understands the issues and values that matter most to Hispanic workers, families, and communities,” writes Alex Vigil.
Tancredo once proposed cutting off legal immigration permanently and is famous for his support of English as the official language of the U.S.
In March 2013, he argued that undocumented immigrants should self-deport. He also said Hispanic people weren’t “natural” Republicans because they “are twice as likely as whites to have abortions,” according to ThinkProgress.
When recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, the go-to joke for news anchors and pundits (after “munchies” references, of course) was that there would be a parade of stoners moving to the state. Little did anyone think that families with children suffering from conditions that result in crippling seizures would be part of that parade.
According to the Associated Press, “an influx of families with seizure-stricken children” are moving to Colorado in search of a specific strain of medical pot called “Charlotte’s Web.” The strain was named after Charlotte Figi, a girl whose quality of life drastically improved while taking the drug. When Charlotte was five years old, her doctors “were out of ideas.” Her mother sought out medical marijuana as a last resort.
THC, the psychoactive compound in pot, is known to make seizure conditions worse. However, another active chemical in the plant is CBD, which is known to lessen the likelihood of seizures. Charlotte's Web uses a strain of marijuana low in THC but high in CBD, developed by a family of growers. The CBD is extracted from the plant by a chemist, who used to work for Pfizer, and then sent to a third-party lab for purity testing.
Unlike other types of medical marijuana, such as those used to manage pain or increase appetite, this strain has no potential for abuse, since there is no THC present in the final product. However, many critics believe that the push for medical marijuana is simply a backdoor method of legalization.
“When you talk about medical marijuana and you go to a research organization like a National Institutes of Health ... there is absolutely zero scientific support for smoking marijuana and believing that it has any successful impact on anything,” said Gen. Barry McCaffery, former drug czar for President Bill Clinton, last December while being interviewed at the First Annual Veteran Courts Convention in Washington, D.C.
Yet, in this case, no one is smoking anything, and it’s still illegal. Because of the black-market nature of this drug, desperate parents can find themselves susceptible to misinformation. One case reported by the AP involved parents who were told they could make the drug at home but were given dosage was incorrect, so their child’s seizures worsened.
Thus, parents are calling for states to make at least this low-THC, high-CBD strain legal and as carefully made as the kind which seemingly worked for Charlotte Figi. There have been no peer-reviewed studies as of yet, which could happen concurrently with legalization, but Charlotte's Web has given desperate parents a sliver of hope. In Florida, advocates have already began gathering signatures to put a medical marijuana referendum on this year’s ballot.
A Colorado couple is furious over their local government's efforts to seize their mountain cabin and its surrounding property.
The couple is Andy and Ceil Barrie. In 2011, the Barries visited Breckenridge, Colorado and stayed at a cozy cabin deep in the White National Forest. The Barries, surrounded by jaw-dropping peaks and picturesque forests, fell in love with the property. They contacted the cabin’s owner and bought the cabin and its 10 acre lot for $550,000. They’ve lived there ever since.
A few months after buying the property, the Barries were contacted by the U.S. National Forest Service. Representatives from the service told the Barries they couldn’t use any motorized vehicle to access their property. The organization cited concerns from both themselves and the local community about preserving the terrain and environment in White National Forest.
The Barries took issue with the service’s demand. Ever since buying the property, they’d reached their cabin by driving 1.2 miles on an old mining road. They used a modified snowmobile for the drive. The property, which lies deep in the heart of the White National Forest, would be incredibly inconvenient to live at without access to motorized transportation. They prepared a formal court challenge.
Before their challenge was heard, the Barries were told their property was being foreclosed on. The county commissioner condemned the property using an eminent domain clause typically reserved for protecting wild areas from economic development.
The Barries are fighting the ruling. They’ve even agreed to knock down the cabin if they will be allowed to keep the property.
“We just want the land,” Ceil Barrie said. “I feel like I can’t trust my government.”
Eminent domain legal expert Dane Berliner says that although it has happened before, governments usually find more reasonable ways to preserve open space than simply seizing an owner’s land.
“It’s not that you can’t do it, but they don’t do it much,” she said. “There’s typically other ways of doing open space than just taking land.”
Parents across the country are turning to medical marijuana to help their children who suffer from autism, epilepsy, debilitating seizures and other severe health conditions.
In most cases, however, the children are not smoking the drug. Instead, they are ingesting it in the form of cannabis oil. Some take fruit-flavored gel caps while others have the gel stirred into their yogurt or applesauce.
Typically, the cannabis oil is derived from medical marijuana that can be purchased legally in many states as long as the child carries a medical ID card issued by the state health department.
In New Jersey, Tina Marie DeSilvio creates the concoction for her daughter, Jenna, by soaking the marijuana buds in 180-proof alcohol. She allows that to evaporate into a thick substance that is then mixed into coconut oil. Jenna, who suffers from severe convulsions, can then ingest the mixture when it is mixed into her food. The 10-step process can even be found on Facebook.
While the parents of children like Jenna clearly believe the “tinctures” are helping their children, others would like to see a more scientific approach to creating the edible forms of the drug.
In Utah last year, a group of doctors and pediatric neurologists sent a letter to the state’s Controlled Substances Advisory Committee. The letter said the oils “should be available as soon as possible to Utah children with severe epilepsy. The substance is not psychoactive or hallucinogenic, it contains less THC than do other materials that can be legally purchased in Utah, and it has absolutely no abuse potential.” The letter points out that, once produced, the oils would be used only under the supervision of a doctor. The oils are marketed in Utah under the name Alepsia.
In New Jersey, though, such commercially produced edibles can still be hard to obtain. Governor Chris Christie, who originally signed a bill that made it easier for children to get the drugs, has said that he would veto any other bill that sought to expand the program.
Frustrated, some parents have left the state for Colorado, where the products are easier to obtain. Brian Wilson is one of those parents. His daughter, Vivian, suffers from life-threatening epilepsy.
"We're hoping we can come back to New Jersey in a year and a half," he said, hopeful that the state can get its medical marijuana products available to all children in need.