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Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

17 state lawmakers: 'All confidence lost' in Utah County leader

SALT LAKE CITY — Most of Utah County's state lawmakers are calling on embattled Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves to resign.

The all-Republican group has grown significantly since Tuesday, when four of the lawmakers said they would sign a letter urging the commissioner to step down immediately. The letter is signed by 17 of 22 legislators whose districts cover at least part of Utah County.

The bolstered calls follow a county investigation that found employees view Graves as a bully who often is explosive and vulgar. The commissioner did not immediately return a message Wednesday.

The lawmakers' note to Graves is dated Dec. 13. In it, the group said they "have lost all confidence" in his capacity for public service.

Read more: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900005698/17-state-lawmakers-all-confidence-lost-in-utah-county-leader.html

Congressional committee testily debates proposed national park in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Local leaders' role in managing a proposed national park and three new national monuments in southern Utah led to a testy exchange between a Garfield County commissioner and an Arizona congressman during a congressional hearing Thursday.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., apparently touched a nerve while probing a provision in legislation calling for a management council made up of local officials. He wanted to know how the rural county would manage and pay for management of the lands.

"You can interrogate me all day long, but we’ll manage those lands a lot better than they’ve been managed," Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock said.

Pollock tried to explain that local leaders would draft a plan, but the Bureau of Land Management would do the work on the ground.

Read more: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900005748/congressional-committee-testily-debates-proposed-national-park-in-utah.html

Upcoming election makes proposed pay hike tricky for legislators

While an independent commission says Utah lawmakers should give themselves an overdue pay raise, legislative leaders say members might not want to take on that politically tricky issue during the upcoming election year.

“It’s a tough time to be talking about that,” House Speaker Greg Hughes said after the compensation commission formally presented its recommendations Tuesday to the Executive Appropriations Committee.

When Senate President Wayne Niederhauser was asked what chance he gives of passing a pay raise during the upcoming election year, he said, “50-50. There’s a chance. It’s hard to say.”

Utah lawmakers have not increased their pay since 2013.

The commission now proposes to raise legislative pay from $273 daily to $285. It says that “roughly corresponds to cost of living increases since the last raise in 2013.”

Read more: http://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2017/12/13/upcoming-election-makes-proposed-pay-hike-tricky-for-legislators/

Lyle Jeffs, one-time leader of Utah polygamous sect, sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud,

Lyle Jeffs, one-time leader of Utah polygamous sect, sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud, absconding

Lyle Jeffs, who once was the day-to-day leader of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly five years in a federal prison for defrauding a government assistance program and then fleeing.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sentenced Jeffs to 57 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. Jeffs also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program that Jeffs and his fellow FLDS members were convicted of defrauding.

“I acknowledge my mistakes and my decision-making and how it has affected the law,” Jeffs, 57, told Stewart in Salt Lake City’s federal courthouse. “I humbly accept responsibilities for my actions.”

“As far as my religious beliefs, they are sincere,” he added, specifying he doesn’t watch television or listen to modern music.

Read more: http://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2017/12/13/lyle-jeffs-to-be-sentenced-today-ending-polygamous-sect-food-stamp-fraud-case/

Lady Gaga's foundation recognizes Utah girl who came out to her LDS congregation and a refugee organ

Lady Gaga’s foundation recognizes Utah girl who came out to her LDS congregation and a refugee organization for women

On Thursday night, Lady Gaga will be rockin’ down Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. Her foundation, on the other hand, was in a quieter mode on its “Channel the Kindness” tour, recognizing a 13-year-old lesbian girl named Savannah and Women of the World, a nonprofit that helps refugee women become self-sufficient.

Savannah garnered fame in May when she came out as a lesbian before her Eagle Mountain Mormon congregation. “No part of me is a mistake,” she told them. “I do not choose to be this way, and it is not a fad.”

Savannah was not allowed to finish her church testimony, but she did make national headlines. [The Salt Lake Tribune is not using her last name, in accordance with her parents’ wishes.]

She is one of eight recipients of the Channel the Kindness award from the Born This Way Foundation, which was established by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta.

Read more: http://www.sltrib.com/news/2017/12/14/lady-gagas-foundation-recognizes-utah-lesbian-girl-and-a-refugee-organization-for-women/

Police raid eight Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center locations in Denver and Aurora

Denver police on Thursday raided eight Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center locations in Denver and Aurora and arrested 12 people as part of a yearlong investigation into illegal marijuana sales.

The criminal activities alleged included sales of cannabis in violation of the 1-ounce-per-person, per-day limits established under Colorado marijuana law, Denver police officials said in a statement.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses in concert with the police action suspended 26 licenses for medical, retail, cultivation and extraction operations that conduct business as Sweet Leaf, said Dan Rowland, spokesman for the excise and licenses department.

The suspension order stated: “Reasonable grounds and probable cause exists to believe that respondents have engaged in deliberate and willful violations of state and local laws or regulations, and/or that the public health, safety and welfare requires emergency action.”

Read more: http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/12/14/denver-police-raid-marijuana-stores/94629/

Suburban Denver deputy snaps mans middle finger after he flipped lawman off, lawsuit says

A man admits that he flipped off an Adams County deputy, but he claims that didn’t give the lawman the right to intentionally break his middle finger in retaliation.

Jeffrey Woodfork has sued Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Wilson accusing him of excessive force and several Adams County jail nurses and their employer, Corizon Health Inc. of Tennessee, claiming the nurses didn’t treat his finger and it healed in a permanently malformed position.

Denver attorney Raymond Bryant filed the lawsuit Tuesday on Woodfork’s behalf in U.S. District Court in Denver. Woodfork is seeking compensation and punitive damages including permanent impairment.

On Dec. 12, 2015, Wilson jumped out of an unmarked vehicle and pointed a gun at Woodfork as he was crossing a street. At the same time, a woman who was with him took off running, the lawsuit says.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/13/adams-county-broken-finger-lawsuit/

DaVita pharmacy unit pays $63.7 million to settle claims of improper billing and kickbacks

A pharmacy services unit of the Denver-based dialysis provider DaVita Inc. will pay $63.7 million to resolve allegations it improperly billed federal health care programs and paid illegal financial inducements to patients, the U.S. Department of Justice reported Thursday.

The settlement resolves an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the practices by DaVita Rx LLC, a pharmacy services unit that specializes in serving patients with severe kidney disease.

The Coppel, Texas-based pharmacy provider was accused of billing federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid for medications that were never delivered or had been returned unused, or for medications that did not comply with documentation requirements.

The provider also allegedly violated the federal anti-kickback statute by paying unlawful financial inducements to patients. The inducements included writing off unpaid beneficiary debt and extending discounts to beneficiaries who paid for their medications by credit card, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The company also allegedly allowed patients to use manufacturer co-payment discount cards.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/14/davita-pharmacy-improper-billing-kickbacks/

Former Colorado inmate, a Muslim, files federal suit, claims forced shaving of beard violates relig-

Former Colorado inmate, a Muslim, files federal suit, claims forced shaving of beard violates religious rights

A former Colorado Department of Corrections inmate, a Muslim, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that a prison staffer made him shave his beard, a violation of his First Amendment rights to freely practice his religion.

Tajuddin Ashaheed, 47, filed a civil lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court claiming the order to shave caused Ashaheed to “suffer injuries, including an inability to engage in a significant religious practice,” according to the lawsuit. Ashaheed was known to the corrections department, and identified as, a Muslim, the lawsuit said.

On July 5, 2016, Ashaheed went to the corrections department reception center to begin a 90-day sentence for a parole violation and when being processed he was ordered to shave. Ashaheed, according to the lawsuit, protested, explaining that “shaving his beard would violate a core tenet of his faith.”

The defendant, identified in the lawsuit as Officer John Doe, but who is known to CDOC officials, told Ashaheed he must have a “full beard” in order to qualify for a religious exemption, according to the lawsuit. Corrections policy and federal law provide shaving exemptions for “inmates who wear a beard based on religious tenets,” according to the suit.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/14/muslim-colorado-inmate-beard-shaving-violated-religious-rights/

Former Ariz. sheriff Arpaio raising funds for Tancredo's Colorado gubernatorial bid

The Colorado Democratic Party quickly seized on freelance reporter Sandra Fish's tweet Thursday afternoon saying Tom Tancredo has a notable but not surprising new fundraiser, former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio shares the Colorado gubernatorial candidate's passion for strident immigration reform, which landed him with a criminal contempt of court conviction for his unyielding enforcement that was deemed to be profiling Latinos. President Trump pardoned Arpaio in August.

The 85-year-old Maricopa County sheriff of 24 years is viewed as a hero or villain in the nation's polarized debate on illegal immigration.

"Once again, the Republicans running for Governor are racing to the right to prove they're the most extreme right-wing candidate in the field," Eric Walker, the spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement. "Anyone who associates with convicted criminal Joe Arpaio - much less uses him to raise money - is unfit to be the governor of our state. Period."

Read more: http://gazette.com/former-ariz.-sheriff-arpaio-raising-funds-for-tancredos-colorado-gubernatorial-bid/article/1617233
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