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Charlie Kirk’s questionable TurningPoint USA looks more like a scam than a charity
Thu, 03 Dec 2020 18:07:58 +0000
At This Trump-Favored Charity, Financial Reporting Is Questionable and Insiders Are Cashing In

This election, one of President Donald Trump’s most influential advocates is 26-year-old Charlie Kirk, who has developed a unique bond with the first family. The conservative star dines with the president at Mar-a-Lago and rang in the new year there. During each of the last two winters, he used the club to hold a formal fundraiser for his nonprofit, Turning Point USA, that featured Donald Trump Jr.

At a Turning Point event in June, the president, addressing the crowd, said, “Let us also show our appreciation to my good friend, Charlie. I’ll tell you, Charlie is some piece of work who is mobilizing a new generation of pro-American student activists.” On a Turning Point webpage soliciting donations, Trump Jr., a close friend of Kirk’s, is quoted as saying, “I’m convinced that the work by Turning Point USA and Charlie Kirk will win back the future of America.”

The tax-exempt charity says its mission is to educate “students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and capitalism.” As its profile has risen, its revenue has ballooned, reaching $28 million, a sevenfold increase in four years.

But behind the scenes, Turning Point USA has entered into questionable financial arrangements, particularly involving Kirk’s mentor, William Montgomery, the lesser-known co-founder who is credited with discovering Kirk. Montgomery, 80, an Illinois entrepreneur and onetime Tea Party activist, is one of three Turning Point insiders who have won lucrative deals from the group to handle its printing, payroll processing and fundraising.Charlie Kirk photo

The nonprofit has also made misleading assertions about its finances to state and federal regulators, according to interviews and an examination of tax and business records.

Charities are required to conduct annual independent audits certifying their books are sound in order to fundraise in more than a dozen states. But the accounting firm Turning Point uses has engaged in multiple business relationships with Montgomery, who for years served as the nonprofit’s treasurer. The dynamic, experts say, imperils independence and undermines the credibility of Turning Point’s financial statements, including its federal tax returns — an issue of significance at a moment when more and more cash is flowing into the organization’s coffers.

“This raises real questions about the legitimacy of the return,” Philip Hackney, a University of Pittsburgh School of Law professor who formerly worked in the IRS’ chief counsel’s office, told ProPublica. “It makes it difficult to trust what is reported and begins to raise the possibility that it’s a fraudulent statement.”

The IRS requires, under the penalty of perjury, that charities attest whether they received an independent audit. Both Kirk and the co-founder have signed off on Turning Point’s filings.

In response to questions from ProPublica, Sally Wagenmaker, an attorney for the nonprofit, said that payments to businesses belonging to organization officials “provided a compelling operational benefit in Turning Point’s best and other interests,” and that they were “in full compliance with TPUSA’s IRS-compliant conflict of interest policy.”

Andrew Kolvet, a Turning Point spokesman, said the business relationship between the group’s auditor and its former treasurer is not significant and maintained the accounting firm is indeed an independent company. Another potential issue, ProPublica found, is that the license of the firm expired in late 2018, though the one that personally belongs to the firm’s managing partner has not.

Turning Point was founded in 2012 by Kirk, then 18, and Montgomery, who invested in the young activist after hearing him speak at a small college in the state. At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Kirk met Trump Jr. and would soon accompany him on the road as an assistant. As Turning Point has thrived, Kirk’s salary has grown from $27,000 to nearly $300,000, and he no longer lives with his parents — last May he bought a $855,000 two-bedroom, two-bathroom oceanfront condo in Longboat Key, Florida, county property records show.

Over the last year, the president has delivered remarks at the organization’s conferences threeseparatetimes. At the group’s December 2018 Mar-a-Lago affair, the president’s eldest son helped it haul in nearly $5 million, tax records show. Recently, Kirk published a book called “The MAGA Doctrine,” which Trump and his son promoted on Twitter.

For his part, Montgomery, whose Facebook profile picture features him posing with Trump Jr., left Turning Point last April, when, Kolvet said, his term as a board member ended. Two months later, Kirk effusively praised Montgomery in a blog post, celebrating his unmatched contributions to the nonprofit. “To anyone who has been impacted by my videos, podcast, TPUSA, our chapters, literature, events, conferences, field programs, or any speeches I have given,” Kirk wrote, “you have Bill Montgomery to thank for investing in an 18-year-old with a vision — when everyone else thought it was impossible, foolish, and deemed for failure.”

Montgomery, Kolvet told ProPublica, “remains a friend of the organization.”

Turning Point amplifies White House messaging by regularly tweeting memes and one-liners supportive of Trump administration policies or politics to hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, and it retweets similar messages sent by Kirk, who is followed by nearly 2 million people. Meanwhile, Kirk’s and the group’s tweets are often retweeted by the president, promoting the young leader’s incendiary statements to more than 82 million followers, including his description of COVID-19 as the “China virus.”

Kirk cultivates the image of a young, serious executive, favoring button-down shirts and sport coats in public. He revels in provoking left-leaning activists and students on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the effects of “white privilege,” which he calls a “racist lie.” Turning Point promotes clips of his campus confrontations on social media, typically boasting that Kirk has “destroyed” an unworthy adversary.

Turning Point says it now has “a presence” on more than 2,000 campuses, 272 employees and an affiliated nonprofit largely focused on supporting Trump. Yet as the organization has expanded, it has on occasion been the center of controversy. Politico found that Turning Point has fabricated its influence on college elections. And in 2017, The New Yorker drew attention to an organizational culture that appeared plagued with racism and indifferent to laws that prohibit charities from engaging in express political advocacy. The magazine obtained text messages written by the group’s former field director that said, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all…I hate blacks. End of story.” (The sender of the text resigned and Kirk told the magazine, “Turning Point assessed the situation and took decisive action within 72 hours of being made aware of the issue.”)

ProPublica’s examination of Turning Point’s finances raises additional questions about the way the group is run, the reliability of its public disclosures and its approach to regulations governing nonprofits.

Turning Point is registered to fundraise in dozens of states across the country. Because of the group’s size, attorneys general and secretaries of state in 15 states — including New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Kansas — require it to file audits to remain in good standing. The work, each state’s statute invariably specifies, must be carried out by “an independent certified public accountant.”

The IRS does not require such an audit, but it asks about the audit’s status. On Turning Point’s last four federal tax returns, consistent with its state filings and spanning a period that covers July 2015 through June 2019, the group asserts that its financial statements are “audited by an independent accountant.”

But Turning Point’s accounting firm, the Stapleton Group, based in Orland Park, Illinois, has a significant tie to the charity. Montgomery, the charity’s co-founder, has served as a “business development advisor” for Stapleton, helping to bring clients to the firm. The company’s managing partner, Robert Stapleton, who handles Turning Point’s returns, has worked as Montgomery’s personal tax preparer, according to Stapleton. The firm, which employs a handful of people, was incorporated by the same suburban Chicago lawyer who, records show, formed a business entity Montgomery used to collect rent and make political contributions.

Robert Stapleton and the Stapleton Group did not respond directly to ProPublica. Instead, the firm provided comments through Kolvet.

Stapleton became Turning Point’s auditor after Montgomery introduced the firm to the organization, a referral for which Montgomery wasn’t compensated, Stapleton said through the spokesman. On his LinkedIn page and in a biography that once lived on Turning Point’s website, Montgomery identifies his connection to Stapleton’s firm; on the former, it states the affiliation began in 2010 and has continued to the present.

Montgomery received “no remuneration” from the firm and “acted in a business development capacity in his spare time and on commission only” in 2011, according to Stapleton. Turning Point, Kolvet said, “is confident in the independence of any services provided by The Stapleton Group.”

In a statement, the firm said, “The Stapleton Group upholds the highest levels of integrity and independence while conducting audits and reviews for many businesses and organizations of all sizes.”

Until the spring of last year, records show, Montgomery served on Turning Point’s board and as its secretary and treasurer, giving him oversight of Turning Point’s financial books and custody over its corporate records, according to the group’s bylaws. At one point, he was solely responsible for fundraising and the spending of Turning Point’s cash, according to charity records filed in New Mexico.

“If Montgomery has a strong relationship with the auditor, then there is a clear conflict there,” said Tzachi Zach, an Ohio State University accounting professor. “Other than the auditor being hired, there should be no other relationship between the auditor and the nonprofit.”

James Fishman, a former assistant attorney general in the New York attorney general’s office, said that, on the question of independence, Turning Point’s audit arrangement “does not pass the smell test. If an attorney general looked closely, they would find it wasn’t independent.”

In a letter dated July 7, and provided by Kolvet, Robert Stapleton wrote to Montgomery on company letterhead asking him to “immediately correct” his LinkedIn profile that claimed he is “associated with the Stapleton Group.” The letter was dated two weeks after ProPublica first inquired about Montgomery’s ties to the accounting firm; Montgomery’s LinkedIn profile still identifies him as a “business development advisor” for Stapleton.

The nonprofit’s most recent publicly available audit, signed by the “The Stapleton Group” in May 2019, presents an additional issue. The firm’s license to practice expired in late 2018, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the state agency that regulates occupational licenses. In Illinois, state law prohibits certified public accounting firms with an expired license from conducting audits.

Stapleton said his firm “is aware and is in the process of rectifying the issue,” and through Kolvet provided a copy of his personal CPA license to ProPublica. Wagenmaker, the Turning Point attorney, wouldn’t provide a copy of the group’s most recent audit, which is not yet public and captures the nonprofit’s finances through last July. She also wouldn’t confirm whether it was carried out by the Stapleton Group.

Montgomery hasn’t responded to calls and emails seeking comment.

During Montgomery’s time at Turning Point, he personally benefited from several of the group’s business arrangements. Between July 2017 and June 2019, tax records show, Turning Point paid more than $430,000 to a printing shop owned by Montgomery, and gave him an additional $25,000 for the rental of a small office space. The compensation was on top of the direct income he received from Turning Point, which earned him close to $200,000 during the same period.

Doug De Groote, the organization’s board secretary, said the vendor payments to Montgomery “represent fair market value or lower for the trade services received.” He added, “These decisions were made with Mr. Montgomery recused and with the organization’s best interest paramount.”

Turning Point similarly said it was getting a better deal by using the payroll processing firm owned by the organization’s current treasurer, Tom Sodeika. In late 2018, the nonprofit tapped the services of his small, Illinois-based company, Precision Payroll of America. Turning Point paid Precision $51,072 for its services from late 2018 through last July, according to tax records. The amount, Kolvet said, was “at a significant discount below market rates and in full compliance with Turning Point conflict-of-interest policy.”

In January, Sodeika sold the company and relinquished all executive positions there. Turning Point would not say how much Sodeika sold Precision for or to whom he sold it, but Kolvet told ProPublica that “prior to the sale of the company” it provided services to Turning Point “at discounted market rates.”

Turning Point’s treasurers are not the only insiders who have reaped financial rewards from the nonprofit. It also appears to have steered extra cash to a highly paid employee through limited liability companies, business records show.

Stacy Sheridan, Turning Point’s “senior advancement director,” receives a salary of more than $180,000, according to the group’s latest tax filings, which also show over $200,000 flowing to two business entities — GSM Strategy LLC and Lionrock Ventures LLC — that were paid for fundraising. The return does not disclose who is behind both companies, neither of which has a website. But corporate records for GSM and Lionrock include Sheridan’s name and addresses associated with her.

When asked about the LLC payments, neither Kolvet nor Sheridan provided a comment. On their own, the veiled arrangements may pass legal muster, but Hackney, the former IRS official, said they could be part of a larger, troubling pattern.

“As the number of self-interested transactions go up,” he said, “the potential goes up for the possibility that the organization is being operated for the private interests of those who control the organization.”


Photo by Gage Skidmore


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As global pandemic takes its toll on many, this industry found a way to surprise observers
Fri, 27 Nov 2020 18:34:09 +0000

The world’s coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on parts of the global economy, but the international shipping industry has rebounded in a way that surprises many observers.

In early 2020 when COVID-19 first made its mark on the world, the ocean shipping lanes across the globe quickly felt the impact. One by one, national economies began shutting down. International trade took a huge hit. Global lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe, the biggest markets for Asian imports, led to a steep drop in May in traffic of seaborne containers, according to The Financial Times.

Instead of millions of containers crossing the oceans with everything from expensive automobiles to fresh fruits needed to satisfy the global supply chain, much of the international shipping fleet remained idle and tens of thousands of sailors were out of work.

Not only as the global economy adjusted, but the shipping companies quickly did as well. As more people stayed home, a surge in e-commerce helped increase demand for products. And as that demand increased over the summer when the worst of the first COVID-19 wave had passed, international trade continued a steady climb that helped increase the number of shipping containers crossing the globe.

At the same time, shipping companies took steps to address the new pandemic reality. They pulled some of their fleets out of service, according to The Times. They also focused on serving shorter shipping routes with smaller vessels, a cost-saving move that helps reduce capital and labor expenses.

While shipping activity hasn’t rebounded to 2019 levels, the industry has seen a dramatic improvement since its collapse in the spring.

What’s not clear is how the ongoing pandemic will continue impacting international trade. In the second quarter of 2020, after the initial economic impact of shutdowns across the world led to a sharp 19 percent plunge in global trade from the same period in 2019, uncertainty fueled concerns about economic recovery.

A recovery in the third quarter, however, helped ease some of those fears. Global trade experienced a more modest decrease of 5 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the same period last year, according to the Global Trade Update from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The UNCTD’s early estimates suggest continued improvement through 2020, although still, a frail recovery expected, with a 3 percent drop in global trade compared to the same fourth-quarter period in 2019.

A recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the world could take its toll on the global economy and, by extension, the international shipping industry. But so far, countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere have not responded as dramatically as they did in early 2020 by completely shutting down commerce and forcing residents to stay home except in only the most urgent cases.

Despite record-breaking coronavirus activity reported in the U.S. in recent weeks by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, none of the states have implemented shut-down orders as they did early in the pandemic. And President-elect Joe Biden has said he does not envision a complete shut-down order for the country, instead suggesting such orders would only be issued in those regions suffering the greatest spread of the virus.

Although the future impact of COVID-19 remains unclear on the global shipping industry, there is optimism in steps taken by shippers and the lessons learned by policymakers early in the pandemic

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Rocky Mountain Human Services Remains a Financial Risk for the City
Thu, 03 Dec 2020 16:56:32 +0000

The city and Rocky Mountain Human Services are doing more to ensure case support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in Denver, but both organizations remain at risk of misusing property tax dollars or making improper reimbursements with that designated money, according to a follow-up report from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA.

“Rocky Mountain Human Services using feedback to prioritize effective case management is good news for people in Denver with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Auditor O’Brien said. “But the city failing to monitor subcontractors’ goals and refusing to verify millions in reimbursements is bad news for property taxpayers.”

In our 2019 audit, we found Denver Human Services needed to do more to make sure Denver property tax dollars designated to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are used correctly. We also recommended better monitoring of subcontractors to confirm they are using Denver property tax dollars to achieve goals supporting residents within the City and County of Denver.

At the time of our follow-up work, Denver Human Services had still failed to fully implement monitoring procedures for subcontracts. This means there is a chance subcontractors could misuse city money by not meeting the goals outlined in each of their contracts. Rocky Mountain Human Services did create new procedures to monitor the subcontractors; however, the procedures include only steps to review expenses, not steps to monitor goals.

“Monitoring expenses is the first basic step in proper oversight,” Auditor O’Brien said. “But making sure public dollars are being used to actually achieve the intended goals is also necessary.”

In 2019, Denver Human Services was also not verifying self-reported costs for reimbursement from Rocky Mountain Human Services. Our audit team found Denver Human Services paid $16.5 million of $25.2 million in total reimbursements to the organization — or 66% — without validating the expenses.

Denver Human Services disagreed with this essential accountability measure, and we did not identify any action taken since our audit.

“We don’t follow up on recommendations when an agency disagrees because we assume the agency will not act,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Nevertheless, I would hope to see this significant area of weakness remedied in the near future. The people of Denver deserve responsible stewardship of these millions of dollars.”

Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Human Services has improved how it confirms people are receiving the case support they need, it updated its training to include awareness of residency requirements, and it implemented better transparency in responding to its Community Advisory Council. The organization also developed new controls to hold its service coordinators accountable for meeting the requirements for Denver residents receiving case management services.

Additionally, our audit team found the organization has developed and administered a client satisfaction survey for case management. The survey included questions relating to access to services and quality of care — such as asking whether services were made available at times and in places convenient to the client and whether the case manager supported the client’s needs.

“Rocky Mountain Human Services is working hard to provide good services to the people who need them,” Auditor O’Brien said. “I’m pleased the organization is doing better at taking in feedback to ensure it meets the needs of its clients.”

Denver Human Services and Rocky Mountain Human Services together implemented six of our recommendations. Four recommendations were only partially implemented and one was not implemented. Denver Human Services disagreed with three recommendations and no further action was taken.


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Cold and windy with snow showers through Wednesday
Tue, 01 Dec 2020 19:01:06 +0000

After a glorious Thanksgiving weekend, Denver area weather is a bit ugly this week.

A storm system is working through Colorado with some snow to parts of the state. The mountains will see snow arrive early on Tuesday, especially in the northern areas. Light snow will be in pockets through the day with additional light snow expected on Wednesday.
of less than an inch in a few areas south and west of downtown.

The snow will take a break during the overnight hours. A second occasion of light snow flurries will return by Wednesday especially by the afternoon. But the storm will likely make Wednesday rush hour treacherous.

Again, accumulation looks light with generally less than an inch in most places across the city.
The forecast turns dry with sunshine returning, but it will be chilly on Thursday and Friday. 
Denver is expecting warmer temperatures in the 50s by the weekend.

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Polis, Legislative leaders tell tale of successful #COVID special session
Thu, 03 Dec 2020 18:42:05 +0000

Governor Polis and Legislative Leadership today discussed the successful special legislative session and announced the passage of bipartisan legislation to provide COVID-19 relief.

“The bipartisan efforts achieved this week will help folks get through the challenging months ahead. I’m thrilled we are acting now as a state to improve internet access for students and educators, give a much needed boost to child care providers, provide a lifeline for small businesses and restaurants through tax relief and assistance, and bridge the gap on rent, utilities and food pantry programs for Coloradans who have been hit the hardest,” said Gov. Polis. “But we know there is more work to be done and we continue to urge Washington to take action and give Coloradans the support we need to get through these tougher times and build back stronger.”

The legislation passed during special session provides support to small businesses, helps families avoid eviction or foreclosure, keep the lights on, and access safe child care, and ensure every Coloradan has a fair shot to get through this pandemic and succeed as our state recovers.

“During this session, we worked in a bipartisan way to use our limited state resources to help those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “Colorado stepped up to bridge the gap until we have a vaccine or until Congress can pass relief. In the absence of Washington, we deployed every tool and all the state resources we have to boost our small businesses, preserve safe child care options for working parents, and help families make ends meet.”

“I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished during this Extraordinary Session. With limited resources, we were able to come together and work across the aisle to deliver results for our state – passing meaningful legislation to address child care shortages, housing instability, and small business struggles. At the same time, the people of Colorado are not out of the woods yet, families and businesses are fighting to survive, and without Congressional action, people will continue to suffer serious, lasting consequences. But hope is on the horizon, and with aid successfully on its way, we can hold on a little longer,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.

Legislation approved by the legislature includes:  

SB20B-001 sponsored by Senators Faith Winter and Kevin Priola, will send $57 million in direct aid, grants, and annual fee waivers to struggling small businesses – prioritizing those operating in counties experiencing severe capacity restrictions. It will also create grant programs and allocate funds specifically for art and cultural organizations as well as minority-owned businesses. 

SB20B-002 sponsored by Senators Julie Gonzales and Chris Holbert, provides $60 million for emergency housing assistance to individuals and households who are in financial need due to the COVID-19. Of that funding, $1 million will specifically support the Eviction Legal Assistance Fund, which will help Coloradans stay in their homes this winter. Finally, the bill puts in place a provision that seeks to ensure tens of thousands of unemployed Coloradans can continue to have access to the federally funded State Extended Benefits Program through December 26.

SB20B-003 sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields and Larry Crowder, appropriates $5 million to the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund in order to provide financial relief to Coloradans that are struggling to pay their utility bills – a dangerous outcome in the winter months. 

SB20B-004 sponsored by Senator Dominick Moreno, allocates an additional $100 million to ensure the state can continue to protect public health while waiting for further federal stimulus and reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

HB20B-1001, sponsored by Reps. Mary Young and Matt Soper will dedicate $20 million towards increasing our state’s broadband capacity – connecting more students to their teachers so that they can learn safely in the months ahead. Internet access is absolutely essential for students during this difficult time. But many families who are struggling with financial stability simply can’t afford to cover the cost, while numerous school districts lack the infrastructure to educate their students remotely.

“This special session shows what is possible when people from both parties work together–we can provide meaningful relief to help the small businesses and families who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” said Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “We have challenging months ahead, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we know more help is needed from Washington, this assistance will support small businesses who are struggling to stay open and deliver relief for Colorado families to help them through the pandemic.”

“Coloradans take care of Coloradans,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “Despite the incessant partisan bickering among our friends in the federal government, I’m deeply grateful that we were able to set a better example – putting differences aside and coming together around a common purpose.  This pandemic has been brutally hard, affecting every part of our lives, but things will get better. And hopefully what we accomplished here will lighten the load for families and small businesses through the difficult winter months ahead.”  

HB20B-1002, sponsored by Reps. Cathy Kipp & Lois Landgraf will distribute $45 million to enable existing child care providers to keep their doors open and new providers to open and meet the needs of working parents, especially in child care deserts. Colorado’s economic recovery depends on its workforce having access to stable child care, but due to temporary closures and the increased costs of health and safety precautions for child care providers, many are on the brink of financial collapse. These grant programs are estimated to support 2,600 child care facilities, preserving child care for over 100,000 children and creating capacity for tens of thousands more. Moreover, research shows that for every dollar spent on early childhood programs, $2.25 is contributed to our state’s economy. 

HB20B-1003, sponsored by Reps. Lisa Cutter and Rod Bockenfeld will devote $5 million to replenishing essential community services that increase access to food for Colorado families facing food insecurity. 1 in 3 Coloradans are struggling with hunger as more and more families are being forced to choose between paying their bills and putting food on the table. Food banks, food pantries and their partners need additional assistance to meet the rising demands, especially as the December expiration for federal hunger relief looms.

HB20B-1004, sponsored by Reps. Alex Valdez & Kevin Van Winkle, will allow restaurants, bars, and food trucks to retain state sales tax they collect from November 2020 through February 2021. This will provide bars and restaurants up to $2,000 per location and limited to five locations for up to $10,000 in tax relief each month to help them make ends meet. 


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Category: COVID19Colorado

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Colorado Department of Higher Education unveils Colorado Collegiate Apprenticeship Program
Wed, 30 Sep 2020 22:36:52 +0000
Innovative new apprenticeship model pairs education and healthcare providers, allowing students to earn while they learn on their way to a new career

Making community colleges more effective in job and career training has long been an underutilized tool, one that helps businesses and students simultaneously,  The Colorado Department of Higher Education has unveiled the Colorado Collegiate Apprentice Program, an innovative new learning model that empowers Coloradans with the hands-on career training to accelerate their education in specific fields.

In partnership with the Colorado Community College system, the first learning track, launching this fall semester, is focused on careers in healthcare, with other industry programs to follow. The apprenticeship model pairs traditional in-classroom learning with hands-on, paid training that is tailored to the specific needs of industry partners, resulting in a pipeline of highly skilled employees with direct experience in the workplace.  There are more than 300 positions opening over the next few months, ranging from public health to medical assistants and nursing, with information technology and cybersecurity launching in January 2021.“

This is an amazing opportunity for Coloradans and a real path to a highly skilled workforce and better jobs,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way to learn and provide the talent our local businesses are seeking. I’m proud to say that Colorado is leading the country in re-imagining this innovative way to learn.

”Data show that the model leads to successful outcomes for apprentices. Retention rates average more than 90% and the average starting wage while in the program is $15 an hour, compared with the typical out of pocket education costs of a traditional education.“It’s wonderful to see a powerful program like this come to fruition,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “One of my passions since coming to the department has been to connect students to a meaningful workplace education component during their academic experience. This program does just that and more, beginning in healthcare and expanding to other areas of study. We aim to scale to 5,000 apprenticeships over the next several years.”

The pilot program is the result of a federal grant to develop new healthcare career pathways. But CDHE will soon expand the program to other industries such as information technology.

“Our education and workforce leaders, now more than ever, must strategically come together to provide supportive pathways that make sense for today’s dynamic learners,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “Alongside CDHE, our system of 13 colleges is committed to partnering, investing, and designing new apprenticeship programs that scale across our fastest-growing industries in order to meet the unique needs of employers, as well as attract, retain and inspire the next generation of Colorado’s workforce.”

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Can A Personal Injury Settlement Be Garnished?
Fri, 30 Oct 2020 11:17:13 +0000

Whether or not you can keep your personal injury settlement award when you file for bankruptcy depends on a number of different factors.

 It is certainly possible that you will lose a personal injury settlement award if you file a bankruptcy case. It is not, however, always the case as you may be able to protect all or some of the funds you receive. There are a number of factors which will impact whether or not you can keep a portion (or all) of  your personal injury settlement award.

In a Chapter 7 case, where you are seeking a total discharge of your debts, it is much more likely that the trustee will be interested in taking your personal injury settlement award to share among your creditors.

If your plan requires that you pay back your general unsecured creditors at 100%, it’s unlikely that you will have to surrender your award. (

When you receive a personal injury settlement, you expect it to cover your losses and compensate you for your pain and suffering. However, if you have outstanding debts, you might start to wonder if your injury settlement is subject to garnishment.

The general rule is that a personal injury settlement can’t be garnished in Colorado. The State of Colorado has a law that makes it clear that injury settlement funds are not available to creditors by garnishment.

However, there is an exception for outstanding child support balance. Generally, personal injury settlements are not subject to garnishment in Colorado except to satisfy outstanding child support debt. Garnishment rules for personal injury settlements vary significantly by state. Some states allow for relatively open garnishment of money received for personal injury settlements. These states may establish an exempt minimum, but typically, they allow creditors to satisfy a judgment by garnishing a personal injury settlement.

However, Colorado completely exempts any personal injury settlement from garnishment with a few exceptions. There’s no minimum or maximum threshold amount in the State of Colorado. In Colorado, all personal injury settlement funds are the sole property of the person who receives the payment. A creditor can’t come and take the money unless it’s to satisfy a child support obligation. (coloradolaw. net)

Colorado law 13-54-102 [1] creates exemptions for garnishments. The law comes from Title 13, Courts, and Court Procedure. The basic rule is that assets are subject to garnishment to satisfy a debt.

In other words, if you owe someone money, they can execute what’s called a garnishment to get what they’re owed. However, Colorado Revised Statutes 13-54-102 gives a list of exceptions to garnishments. The proceeds of any claim for damages for personal injuries is exempt from garnishment.

Some states don’t allow garnishment of injury settlements at all, but you might find yourself in a jurisdiction that allows garnishment of 100 percent of a settlement. (askadamskutner. com)

Most people know that if you get injured, and it’s someone else’s fault, then you are generally entitled to some money for your medical bills and for your pain and suffering. That’s how personal injury settlements work in the minds of most people who aren’t lawyers.

Many parents are surprised to find that if they win a personal injury settlement and they’re behind on child support , that money can be taken to back pay any owed child support. It can come as a nasty shock if you owe thousands of dollars in child support arrears.

Two legal jargon terms will come up again and again in cases like this:arrear and lien

An arrear (or arrears) is money that someone owes which should have been paid earlier. For instance, “outstanding child support arrears” would refer to missed child support payments.

A lien is someone’s right to keep possession of property owned by another person until that person repays their debt. For example, there might be a lien on your car title if you borrowed money from a title loan company.

Putting the two into a missed or late payment child support example, if you have child support arrears, the state may put a lien on your personal injury settlement claim.

States have the power to garnish income for child support arrears. Basically, if you aren’t paying your child support, they have ways to force you to pay it.

If the other parent has requested legal help with child support enforcement at any time in the past, there is probably a process already a lien in place. You may have received something in the mail about owing child support.

If the state is going to take part of your settlement for paying down your child support debt, both you and the insurance company responsible for the claim will be notified.

The insurance company paying the claim will work out the payment with your personal injury attorney

Is it legal to put a lien on a personal injury settlement?

Yes, it is legal. Most states take the care and support of children extremely seriously. The states have rules in place to make sure that both parents take responsibility for raising that child to the best of their ability.

Source: (askadamskutner. com)Can A Personal Injury Settlement Be Garnished?

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Colorado kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch to get new food benefit
Tue, 26 May 2020 21:47:33 +0000

Eligible Colorado families with school-aged students to receive Pandemic-EBT benefits

Benefits are expected to be delivered in mid- to late June and throughout July

The Colorado Department of Human Services, in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education, has received federal approval to administer benefits to about 363,000 school-aged children who are not able to receive meals at school. The benefits are part of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which will support Colorado families during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program can get extra food benefits in addition to the grab-and-go meals currently offered at many schools across the state. P-EBT benefits are expected to be delivered in mid- to late June and throughout July in the of amount $5.70 per student per day of school closure. Students already enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program will receive a lump sum of $279 (49 days of closure at $5.70 a day). A child newly eligible but not previously enrolled will receive the appropriate amount for the month they have been determined eligible for P-EBT.

P-EBT is one of many critical tools that can be used to increase access to nutritious foods as we continue to support and promote the health and well-being of Colorado’s children during this challenging time,” said Food and Energy Assistance Director Karla Maraccini. “Our team is working to make access to this new benefit as easy as possible for Colorado families.

Colorado families that currently receive SNAP benefits and whose children attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program do not need to take any action, as the benefits will automatically be issued on their Colorado EBT cards. Families that currently do not participate in the SNAP program, and whose children attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, will receive instructions and key information through the family’s school or school district on how to receive those benefits in June.

In addition to supporting healthy and wholesome meals for Colorado’s eligible school-age children, P-EBT is expected to bring in more than $100 million of federal money into the state’s economy through food retailers.

P-EBT was created under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) as an important opportunity to provide nutritional resources to families who are losing or lost access to free or reduced-price school meals as schools across Colorado closed in response to COVID-19.
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Nine Dead from Distracted Driving each day
Thu, 01 Oct 2020 18:08:56 +0000

You’re behind the wheel, your phone buzzes, and you briefly take your eyes off the road to check your notifications. Harmless, right? Dead wrong: Per research from AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text takes an average of five seconds. At 55 mph, then, you’ll have traveled the length of a football field with your eyes off the road.

Little wonder that distracted driving regularly results in devastating consequences. Each year, nearly 3,500 lives are lost to drivers who divert their attention from the road – even for a few seconds. Another 391,000 people are injured, according to NHTSA. All told, distracted driving is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities, behind speeding and driving under the influence.

Top Denver personal injury attorney Brad Freedberg says the cost is too high. “Every week I see the results of distracted driving in my practice. The toll on families is horrific and sadly preventable,” says Fredberg.

Why? Using your cell phone is fundamentally incompatible with safe driving – just like drinking. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the nation’s leading automotive safety research organization, has found that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.

What’s more, drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks such as texting or surfing the Internet are between two and eight times more likely to be involved in a crash. 43 percent of those involved in a recent crash admit to texting while driving in the past month compared to 27 percent not involved in a crash, and fully 59 percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention.

“A distracted driver is a lot like an intoxicated one,” said Skyler McKinley, director of public affairs for AAA Colorado. “When a driver’s attention is diverted from the road, their reaction time slows – and lives are jeopardized.”

Take the Pledge to Stay Safe
According to the 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index, nearly 97 percent of drivers believe that texting and driving is very dangerous – and yet, per the same survey, nearly 40 percent admit to having done it in the past 30 days. Why? Fundamentally, smartphone apps “leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines to keep us using their products as much as possible,” per Harvard University. If it feels like you’ve become addicted to your phone, it’s because you have.

Luckily, fighting that addiction while behind the wheel is as simple as stowing your smartphone.
You’re in control of how you drive. Your smartphone isn’t.

Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems such as GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls, and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. Mental distractions last longer than you think – up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station. Disable or stow electronics. Never use text messaging, email, video games, or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features. Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts, and program the navigation. Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first. Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted. Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.

Colorado Law
For adult drivers
, regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted and headphones may be worn in one ear for this purpose. Distracted driving is illegal: Adult drivers are prohibited from manual data entry and transmission on a cell phone (i.e., to send a text message or browse the internet) while behind the wheel.

Drivers under 18, meanwhile, are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission.

“A single, seconds-long distraction is all it takes to forever change the course of your life,” McKinley said.”No life is worth losing to distraction. Pay attention, focus on the road, and put the phone away to save lives this National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and, in fact, all year long.”

Brad Freedberg Attorney at Law

1888 Sherman St #200, Denver, CO 80203

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Colorado Springs courts to resume jury trials #COVID19Colorado
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:16:20 +0000

After seeking approval from Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats, Fourth Judicial District Chief Judge William Bain announced today that jury trials will resume on a limited basis in El Paso County the week of July 6, 2020.

“Trial by jury is the cornerstone of our judicial system, and there is no way to fairly and effectively effect justice without it,” Chief Judge Bain said. “With the thoughtful planning we have put in place in consultation with our local health experts, I am confident we can conduct these trials in a safe and efficient manner for everyone involved.”

Chief Judge Bain called upon the expertise of El Paso County Department of Health Deputy Director Dr. Leon Kelly (M.D.) to assist in the development of a plan to safely conduct jury trials in the El Paso County Courthouse. That plan, along with a request for a waiver from the Chief Justice’s order suspending jury calls until July 6, was then forwarded to Chief Justice Coats for consideration whereupon he gave his approval.

If you receive a jury summons and have a vulnerability for COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within14 days of your scheduled jury service, the Court asks that you contact the jury commissioner to reschedule your jury service.

Attorneys, court staff, defendants, jurors, media, public, victims and witnesses for these trials will be required to wear masks. The judge will spend approximately 30 to 45 minutes conducting the initial introduction and jury qualification process. The judge will not be required to wear a mask during this process, as long as he or she is at least six feet away from everyone else in the courtroom.

From their tables, the attorneys will conduct questions of the jury panel. The judge and attorneys will use a microphone to amplify their voices. Before each person’s use of the microphone, a new piece of plastic wrap will be placed over it. Social distancing measures will also be implemented throughout the courthouse and courtroom.

The Fourth Judicial District is the first judicial district in Colorado to seek and receive approval from the Colorado Supreme Court to resume jury trials.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Nathan B. Coats


Category: Colorado Springs