Colorado Editorial Roundup
The Pueblo Chieftain, May 28, on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signing into law a bill that caps insulin costs:
We continue to be impressed with the accomplishments of Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado General Assembly this past session.
In running for governor, Polis promoted an aggressive agenda that would directly impact the citizens of Colorado. Skeptics, including The Pueblo Chieftain, asked: “Where will the money come from?” So far, the governor has managed to splatter egg on our faces and those of many others.
For example, the governor last week signed a new state law that guarantees that no diabetic person in Colorado with health insurance will have to pay more than $100 a month for his or her insulin.
State Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, was the prime sponsor of House Bill 1216. For him, pushing the bill through the Legislature was a labor of love and remembrance.
“For Coloradans living with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is essential to their survival — it’s the same as oxygen,” said Roberts, whose younger brother, Murphy, died of diabetic complications. “The skyrocketing cost of insulin is outrageous and it is literally putting people’s lives at risk.”
Kudos to Roberts, who was able to get the cooperation of health insurers. Otherwise, House Bill 1216 would not have had a prayer of passage.
In recent years, the price of insulin has more than tripled and some people have had to pay as much as $900 a month or more, even with insurance.
Robert said that has forced some diabetics to make a potentially deadly decision: “There is evidence that one-in-four diabetics are rationing their use of insulin because of the cost.”
The bill has teeth to it as well.
The measure signed by Polis also gives the Colorado Attorney General’s office the power to investigate drug pricing, manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers — all of which have a role in setting the cost of insulin.
This type of legislation is impressive and the impact it will have on the diabetic citizens of our state is profound.
While we applaud this legislation, we also want our state and our Pueblo community — which has a disproportionately higher rate of diabetes than the rest of the state — to continue its efforts to urge people to live healthy lifestyles. That includes a healthy diet, frequent and consistent exercise, and regular doctor’s visits.
But in the meantime, this bill putting a cap on the cost of insulin is terrific news.
Greeley Tribune, May 25, on backup systems when police body cameras fail:
Any time a law enforcement officer has to take a life in the line of duty it’s an unfortunate situation, but these are compounded by failures in process that lead to more questions than answers.
This is what happened when LaSalle Police officer Caroline Persichetti shot and killed off-duty Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Jenson after a pursuit. The Weld County grand jury investigated and cleared Persichetti in the shooting, but the fact that she wasn’t wearing her department-issued body camera is troubling, and the reason she wasn’t wearing it that fateful night speaks to breakdown in procedure and process.
Persichetti’s body camera was broken that night. In fact, it had been broken for nearly a month before she shot Jenson. The only video evidence we have of the incident is a distant look from a gas station and the after-the-fact shooting body camera footage of LaSalle officer Dave Miller.
The incident still has plenty of unanswered questions, but ultimately they are compounded by the lack of video evidence. Persichetti shot Jenson once in the head.
In Miller’s video, Persichetti can be heard on the audio saying, “That was mine,” referring to a shell casing. Miller asks if he, Jenson, is shot. Persichetti responds, “He might be.”
Persichetti then begins to panic, telling Miller numerous times Jenson was reaching into his pocket. During the brief conversation, Persichetti comes into view of the camera. The video reveals that unlike Miller, Persichetti was not wearing a body camera.
The question, one that the Weld County Sheriff’s Department will certainly be asking itself, is why would you have an important accountability program, but have no process in place to provide a backup solution? It shouldn’t take a month to come up with a solution.
Police departments in Greeley and Evans have rolled out body cam programs, but with protocols in place to deal with equipment failures.
The Greeley Police Department contracts with Axon, the same company that provides its Tasers. The agency outfitted 136 officers with body cameras and purchased spares in the event of a malfunction.
Should a body-worn camera break, Greeley police protocol is to send the device back to Axon for repair or replacement, Sgt. Joe Tymkowych, spokesman for Greeley police, told Greeley Tribune reporter Joe Moylan. The affected officer is assigned one of the spares, which becomes his department-issued body camera until his or her replacement unit arrives.
Evans police also uses Axon, which does offer a temporary replacement program and will provide a department with a working body camera while a defective unit is being repaired or replaced, said Evans police Cmdr. Dan Ranous.
This is the right way to roll out a program, and the lesson learned from this incident should be a reminder to all departments that accountability also requires a backup plan.
Sentinel Colorado, May 22, on Aurora’s management of the oil and gas industry:
Aurora, like much of the state, is in the weeds when it comes to managing oil and gas industry permits and dealing with this complex industry in a way it never has before.
It’s time to delay issuing new permits until the city can create a sound, transparent system that’s accountable to the public. Currently, that doesn’t exist.
The already complicated process of how petroleum companies drill for and extract gas and oil in Aurora was turned upside down this year when state lawmakers make drastic changes to the state’s regulation of that burgeoning industry.
Parts of Aurora encompass or are near the lucrative and petroleum rich Wattenberg Field, part of the larger Denver-Julesberg Basin. It means that oil exploration and development will continue to be an important part of the city’s economic and environmental picture.
Three critical things have changed in the past few weeks:
. The new state law changes the focus of petroleum industry regulation from development to public safety.
. That new law also turns control of petroleum regulation over to local governments, including Aurora and Adams and Arapahoe counties. New state gas and oil regulations and procedures are just now being created.
. Aurora simultaneously, and unwisely, created a new system of regulation allowing the city to enter into operating agreements with oil companies, outside of state control. Had Colorado not passed Senate Bill 181, an operator agreement process would have made sense. Since it’s unclear how that now-law will be implemented, the operator agreement process in Aurora has only created confusion.
The biggest problems are that agreements between the city and petroleum developers are created and negotiated in secret, and the city council, which is navigating drilling and fracking pacts, has absolutely no expertise to do it.
There is no parallel to this dubious process. The only time the city council directly negotiates contracts is when the other party is either giving something or getting something to the city as a legal entity, such as tax incentives and city-owned land negotiations. That’s not the case here. Drilling almost always occurs on private land, and how that occurs is a matter of policy, not contract. With no separation between oil companies and the elected officials who will now directly control their livelihood, the appearance of impropriety pales under the very real threat of personal and campaign corruption.
This week, two of these new operator agreements came before the city council. Both had been created and negotiated by the city council in secret, executive sessions, closed to the public. The city’s nascent and now useless oil and gas commission was not involved. After being drafted, these pacts were released to the public, where city lawmakers forwarded one to open city council meetings and hearings, and they delayed another.
Since the agreements are created in secret by the very lawmakers who then publicly scrutinize and then approve them, any suggestion of accountability and transparency is a sham. How a vast and complicated operator agreement with Axis Extraction was created and then pulled by the same people who wrote it is a concerning example of how confused and unprepared Aurora is to take on this critical and far-reaching job.
First, the city must either incorporate the operator agreement process into existing permitting process, which involves the Aurora Planning Commission as well as a Board of Adjustments, or the city should reconfigure the Aurora Oil and Gas Commission to include expertise from petroleum, environmental and planning industries to create and hone these agreements — in public.
Those draft agreements should be scrutinized and modified by the city council in public, in the same way they conduct all other city business.
The oil and gas industry is exceedingly complex, and how it operates in Aurora has far-reaching economic and public safety consequences that are too critical to allow permanent contracts to be created by 11 untrained, part-time legislators and a handful of city staffers behind closed doors.
A few weeks or months for prudent reflection and preparation have never been more important in Aurora.