Our readers let us know in no uncertain terms that Colorado’s unemployment system was broken. They got rejected even though they should have qualified for help. The forms were confusing. One error meant payments were delayed for weeks.

So reporter Noelle Phillips decided to dig in. She started by trying to figure out what state officials and the governor’s office were doing to fix the problem and when they understood how bad it was. A normal way to understand conversations that government officials aren’t anxious to recount, is to use Colorado’s open records law to request emails on a subject. The cost was prohibitive.

By now, Noelle knew there was a contract to upgrade the system. So she sought that. It required another open records request and again she was stymied as the state initially only offered up one piece of the contract — the piece they decided she should see.

But bit by bit, over weeks, she pieced together the story we published in Sunday’s Denver Post. A budget brief from 2017 proved the most useful tool in unlocking the core premise of this story: After 22 years and nearly $100 million, this state’s unemployment system was still antiquated. A new system goes online this week. Will it work? Time will tell.

We are interested in hearing about your experience with the system. You can reach Noelle Phillps at nphillips@denverpost.com.

— Lee Ann Colacioppo, Editor, The Denver Post

As rioters attempted to break down the doors of the U.S. House of Representatives, and police pointed their guns through the broken glass of those chamber doors, Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora was watching from the gallery.

“They evacuated the folks on the floor but those of us in the gallery actually got trapped for like 20 minutes as the rioters stormed the stairwells and the doors. So, Capitol Police actually locked the doors of the chamber and started piling furniture up on the doors to barricade them, while holding their guns out,” he recalled.

“I got into ranger mode a little bit,” the Army combat veteran said. “Most of the members didn’t know how to use the emergency masks, so I was helping them get their emergency masks out of the bags and helped instruct a bunch of folks on how to put it on and how to use it. I wasn’t going to leave the House floor until every member was gone, so I waited until we were able to get everybody out.” Read More…

Amid confusion over Colorado’s vaccination plan, the state health department clarified Tuesday that essential workers, including teachers, should not be inoculated against COVID-19 until after health care workers, first responders and people 70 and older receive their shots.

The state agency sent a letter to providers further illuminating Colorado’s vaccine priorities as at least two Denver-area school districts announced they would begin vaccinating teachers as early as next week — plans that those districts’ local health department said must now be halted.

It was the latest hiccup in the state’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, which was further complicated by Gov. Jared Polis’s announcement last week that 1.19 million more people will be eligible to be inoculated sooner than originally planned. Read More…

Two more people in Colorado have confirmed cases of the new, more contagious variant of coronavirus, including a staff member at a skilled nursing facility in Aurora.

Colorado public health officials first confirmed the presence of the new variant — known as B.1.1.7 — last week. The new cases brings the state’s total to three.

The new variant is believed to be more contagious than previous strains of the novel coronavirus but does not lead to more severe symptoms. It is believed COVID-19 vaccines will protect against the variant. Read More…

Colorado landlords, with some limited exceptions, can no longer refuse to accept prospective tenants based on their source of income, including public housing vouchers, under a new state law that took effect at the start of the year.

“Colorado is home to a diverse array of industries, and a person cannot be denied housing regardless of their source of income, be it in the form of public or private assistance or any lawful employment,” said Civil Rights Division Director Aubrey Elenis in a release. “Further, during a particularly difficult time for many in our state, discrimination based on receiving government or private assistance should never occur. All Coloradans have a right to access housing, and this right is now solidified.”

Housing advocates, with a heavy lift from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, pushed for a bill to eliminate income discrimination, an issue that has especially impacted renters using Section 8 vouchers. The legislature passed it last spring and Gov. Jared Polis signed it into law in July. Read More…

Five years removed from the Broncos’ last Super Bowl championship, a day removed from another disappointing year out of the playoffs and hours removed from the birth of his seventh grandchild, John Elway stepped down as general manager Monday, but will remain with the team as president of football operations.

Elway, 60, arrived at his decision after several lengthy discussions with president/CEO Joe Ellis over the past month and informed the team’s coaching and scouting staffs during an early afternoon video meeting.

Elway will lead the search for a new general manager. The hire will report to Elway but will have final say on personnel.

Read More…

See more great photos like this on The Denver Post’s Instagram account.

Source:
https://www.denverpost.com/2021/01/10/post-premium-top-stories-for-the-week-of-jan-4-10-2021/

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