Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter announced the appointments today of 23 Coloradans to a new Child Welfare Action Committee, which will recommend improvements to Colorado's child-protection system following 13 child deaths at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008.
Gov. Ritter established the action committee by executive order in April and through follow-up legislation – House Bill 1404, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Stafford and Sen. Moe Keller – in May. The committee will deliver interim recommendations to Gov. Ritter by Oct. 31 and a final report by Dec. 31, 2009.
The action committee's first meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Doubletree Denver North, 8773 Yates Drive,Westminster. All meetings will be held at this location, and all meetings will end with a public comment period.
"I am pleased to announce these appointments today so this committee can get to work," Gov. Ritter said. "When it comes to protecting our most vulnerable children – those in foster care, those who have suffered abuse or neglect – the status quo is no longer acceptable."
"When Gov. Ritter spoke in April about a new day for taking a hard look at Colorado's child protection system, the community, state Department of Human Services, professionals, counties, providers and families embraced the idea of a need for improvement and change," said Karen Beye, executive director of the Department of Human Services and chair of the new action committee.
"The Child Welfare Action Committee will lead this change process and I am enthusiastic about the strengths and variety of experience the appointees bring to the table," Beye said. "I look forward to beginning our work this week as we commit to a joint effort of improving the child welfare system in Colorado."
The other appointees are:
State Rep. Debbie Stafford
Lincoln County Commissioner Steve Burgess
Larimer County Commissioner Kathay Rennels
17th Judicial District Court Judge Katherine Delgado
Cyril "Skip" Barber of Denver
Phyllis J. Bigpond of Aurora
Shirley Chapman of Denver
Kenneth Crichlow of Denver
Barbara Drake of Colorado Springs
Linda Fairbairn of Lamar
John Faught of Denver
Megan Ferland of Evergreen
Mary W. Lewis of Aurora
Jose Mondragon of Pueblo
Adrienne Pederson of Arvada
Patricia Schene of Littleton
Barbara Shaklee of Denver
Shari Shink of Denver
Theresa Spahn of Denver
Deborah Valentine of Fort Collins
Dr. Kathryn Wells of Denver
The executive directors of the Department of Public Health and Environment and Department of Health Care Policy and Financing also will serve on the action committee.
The committee will:
·         Analyze Colorado's current state-supervised/county-administered child-welfare system to determine whether this system is most effective in protecting children.
·         Examine the quality and quantity of training that child-protection caseworkers should receive.
·         Recommend ways to make the system more responsive to people reporting child maltreatment.
·         Explore the role that independent oversight committees can play in ensuring that human service agencies are held accountable, and recommend how these bodies can be incorporated into Colorado's child-welfare system.
·         Develop recommendations as to how public/private partnerships can improve the services and care provided to children who reside within the welfare system.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter is seeking federal disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers who are experiencing financial distress in 22 counties hit by drought and late-spring freezes.
Gov. Ritter's letter was sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday:
Honorable Ed Schafer
U.S. Department of Agriculture
14th and Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250
Dear Secretary Schafer:
I write to request Secretarial Disaster Designation for 22 Colorado counties where farmers and ranchers are in economic distress due to ongoing drought and late spring freezes.
Production of native pasture in the counties listed below has been dramatically reduced due to drought. Losses to forage production reach as high as 100 percent in Bent County, Colorado. I hereby request drought disaster designation for the following counties:
Kit Carson
Las Animas
EI Paso
I further request Secretarial Disaster Designation due to freezes destroying fruit and vegetable crops in the following counties:
Delta: April 25 through May 8, 2008
Fremont: April 29 through May 4, 2008
Pueblo: May 2 through May 5, 2008
Farmers and ranchers in these counties have a great deal of money invested in crops that will not yield profitable levels. I request your prompt consideration of these requests.
Bill Ritter, Jr.
Cc: John Stulp, Commissioner


Gov. Bill Ritter today designated Attorney General John W. Suthers as a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that John Newsome, district attorney for the 4th Judicial District, misspent taxpayer funds. Suthers has, in turn, appointed two former district attorneys from outside his office to oversee the investigation.
Newsome traveled to Chicago last October to interview a witness in a Colorado Springs homicide case. While there, he drove to SouthBend., Ind., to watch a Notre Dame vs. University of Southern California football game. He initially received reimbursement from his office for those travel expenses, about $700. But after a media inquiry in April, he paid that money back.
The case was initially referred to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation by the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Because Mr. Newsome and his opponent in the current 4th Judicial District Republican primary, Dan May, were employees of Mr. Suthers when he served as district attorney in Colorado Springs, and to avoid any appearance of possible bias in the investigation, Suthers has elected to appoint Special Assistant Attorneys General from outside his office to conduct the investigation and possible prosecution.
Former 8th Judicial District Attorney Stuart A. VanMeveren and former 19th JD Attorney Al Dominguez have agreed to accept the appointment. They will also oversee the investigation by CBI and conduct any prosecution arising from their investigation.

This is only the second time Gov. Ritter has designated Attorney General Suthers as a special prosecutor. The first was in January, when Gov. Ritter named the Attorney General to review the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick after Timothy Masters was freed from prison. That appointment came at the request of Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson.


Here is the executive order Gov. Ritter issued today in the Newsome matter:

D 015 08
Designating State's Prosecutor to Investigate Conduct of District Attorney John Newsome
Pursuant to the authority vested in the Office of the Governor of the State of Colorado, and in particular Colorado Revised Statute § 24-31-101(1)(a), I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order designating John W. Suthers, Attorney General for the State of Colorado, as the State's prosecutor, to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute criminal matters related to possible criminal conduct by John Newsome, District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District.
I.                   Background and Purpose
On October 20, 2007, Fourth Judicial District Attorney John Newsome traveled at state expense to Chicago, Illinois to interview a witness in a Colorado Springs homicide case.  Mr. Newsome did not return to Colorado until Sunday, October 22.  In the intervening days, he traveled from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana to attend a University of Notre Dame football game.  The travel costs associated with this trip – car rental, gas, per diem, and hotel expenses, totaled $699.  Mr. Newsome requested and received reimbursement for these costs.  In April 2008, after a media inquiry, Mr. Newsome reimbursed the county for the majority of these expenses.  
Mr. Newsome is a sitting district attorney and, thus, not subject to investigation by his own office.  Because the allegations against Mr. Newsom concern official misconduct, it is not appropriate to request a sitting district attorney in another judicial district to investigate this matter.  I am, therefore, designating the Attorney General to appear for the State of Colorado to investigate, and if appropriate, to prosecute any potential criminal wrongdoing related to Mr. Newsome's conduct.
II.                Directive
Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute § 24-31-101(1)(a), I hereby appoint John W. Suthers, Attorney General for the State of Colorado, to be the State's prosecutor and authorize him to take all necessary actions to investigate and, if he deems it appropriate and if supported by the evidence, prosecute, on behalf of the State of Colorado, misuse of state funds or abuse of the public trust by John Newsome, including conduct related to his October 2007 trip.
III.             Duration
Unless modified or rescinded by future Executive Order of the Governor, this appointment and the directive in this Executive Order shall expire upon completion of the Attorney General's investigation and, if deemed appropriate and supported by the evidence, the prosecution of Mr. Newsome.
Given under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado, this twenty-eighth day of July, 2008.
Bill Ritter, Jr.


Lt. Governor to announce multi-million dollar grant to help keep Coloradans heart healthy

July 28, 2008
Colorado Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien will join Denver Health Cardiologist Mori Krantz, Tuesday, July 29, 1:15 p.m., at the Wellington E. Webb Center for Primary Care, 301 W. 6th Ave., to launch Colorado Heart Healthy Solutions.
Colorado Heart Healthy Solutions, under the direction of Denver Health and the Colorado Prevention Center and funded through a three-year, $6.7 million grant from the state of Colorado's Cancer, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease Program , will provide statewide screening, risk assessment, navigation and treatment of heart disease in 49 communities across the state.

Gov. Ritter nominates Vail chef to represent Colorado in national seafood cook-off

Gov. Ritter nominates Vail chef to represent Colorado in national seafood cook-off
Chef Paul Anders will showcase state's aquaculture and produce
Gov. Bill Ritter today extended wishes of good luck to Colorado's team as it readies to compete in the 5th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off inNew Orleans. Gov. Ritter has nominated Paul Anders, executive chef of Sweet Basil in Vail, to represent the state in the prestigious event.
"This Colorado team represents so much of what the state has to offer," said Gov. Ritter.  "Whether we're talking about the top notch culinary talent and distinctive cuisine, or our spirit of competition and entrepreneurship, it's all evident in our large number of family and privately owned businesses; and Chef Anders, who will be cooking with fish farmed in the San Luis Valley, is such a fine example of just that."
Chef Anders has been executive chef for Sweet Basil since 2006 and has decorated many a plate in Colorado. He also has worked as chef at the five-star, five-diamond Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs and at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel.
"I'm honored and excited to be representing Colorado," Anders says. "Our culinary landscape is diverse and sophisticated. Just because we're in the mountains of Colorado doesn't mean we can't prepare seafood well."
Anders will be using a hybrid striped bass farmed in Alamosa by family-owned Colorado Catch. Co-owner Tyler Faucette says the company produces 350,000 pounds of the bass each year and nearly half of that stays "local," being consumed within the state.
"The bass is super consistent to work with," says Anders. "It has great texture, is moist, flaky and has a mild flavor. I love working with it."
Anders is keen to highlight regional produce as well. His recipe uses Olathe sweet corn and locally grown onions.
The idea to highlight the state's own product came from Derek Figueroa, chief financial officer of Seattle Fish Company. The family-owned, third-generation business is the largest wholesaler of fresh and frozen seafood in the Rocky Mountain region and is marking its 90th year in business. 
"It's exciting to have a purely Colorado team at this competition and showcase the exceptional culinary scene in Colorado to the rest of the nation." Figueroa says. Seattle Fish Company is supplying the fish and sponsoring the team's trip to New Orleans.
Anders will be one of the country's top twenty chefs competing with their best seafood recipes in the Aug. 1st and 2nd competitions and the winner will be crowned King or Queen of Seafood.
Anders' wife, Theresa, is a formally trained chef and will accompany him as his assistant.


Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that Colorado will receive $20.8 million in federal homeland security grants for Fiscal Year 2008, up about 4.5 percent from FY 2007's $19.9 million.
"This is great news for Colorado," Gov. Ritter said. "These federal funds are vital to our overall homeland security mission. They will allow the state to continue building strong partnerships with local agencies so that we can improve our ability to prevent, deter, respond to and recover from many types of incidents."
Gov. Ritter made the announcement as more than 100 local, state and federal officials – including U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and Ed Perlmutter – gathered at the state Capitol for a Homeland Security Summit.
"These funds will help us to keep investing in and improving our capabilities, allowing us to better respond to and recover from any natural or manmade disaster," said retired National Guard Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security.
Here is a breakdown of the FY08 grant allocations, compared with FY07 allocations:
Grant Type                                                    FY08                           FY07
State Homeland Security Program                 $11.9M                        $6.4M
Urban Areas Security Initiative                      $7.6M                          $7.9M
Metropolitan Medical Response System        $964,000                     $774,000
Citizen Corps Program                                    $249,000                     $245,000
Nonprofit Security Grant Program                 $55,000                       $0
Law Enf. Terrorism Prevention Prgm.*          NA                              $4.6M
Total:                                                              $20.8M                       $19.9M
Local agencies, grouped into nine all-hazard geographical regions across the state, will now have an opportunity to submit grant applications to the Governor's Office of Homeland Security seeking access to these federal funds. A review committee will spend the summer soliciting applications, with grant recipients expected to be announced in the fall.
Last year, local agencies submitted applications for more than 100 different projects, seeking $53 million in funds.


Monday, July 28, 2008
9 to 11:30 a.m.           Gov. Ritter will deliver opening remarks at a Colorado Homeland Security Summit along with Congressmen Mark Udall and Ed Perlmutter. Federal, state and local officials also will take part in the Summit. Among those making presentations will be Colorado Homeland Security Director Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney.
                                    Location: Old Supreme Court Chambers, 2nd floor, State Capitol.
Noon                           Lt. Gov. O'Brien will address teachers at a workshop dedicated to launching a new curriculum called Orion's Path, named after Lockheed Martin's Orion project, designed to replace the U.S. space shuttle fleet for manned space travel.
                                    Location: 1360 Lawrence St., Lawrence Street Center, Hotel Teatro Terrace Room, 2nd floor.



Friday, July 25, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter and Congressmen Mark Udall and Ed Perlmutter will host a homeland security summit on Monday to address the effectiveness of how local, state and federal agencies communicate and interact.
The summit will be structured similar to a legislative or congressional committee hearing, with presentations being made by Gov. Ritter; Colorado Homeland Security Director and retired National Guard Maj. Gen. Mason Whitney; Rep. Udall, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Perlmutter, who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Presentations and testimony also will be made by officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Administration and state and local agencies.
Following the presentations, a comment and Q&A period will be open to the audience. First-responders from around Colorado have been invited to attend and participate.
WHO:       Gov. Ritter, Homeland Security Director Whitney, Rep. Perlmutter and Rep. Udall.
WHAT:    Homeland Security Summit.
WHEN:    9 to 11:30 a.m., Monday, July 28, 2008.
WHERE: Old Supreme Court Chambers, 2nd Floor, Colorado State Capitol.