A new climbing film, Eldora, and concussions: November 22 Health and Recreation round-up

By Kirsten Ellis

A climbing film for everyone

Three Boulder climbers are featured in a new climbing film, which premiered Wednesday at the Boulder Theater, called “Exposure 1.” Filmmakers Chuck Fryberger and Kyle Berkompas aimed to show the emotion behind the sport, both on and off the rock, the Colorado Daily said.  Tickets to watch online can be bought on EpicTV.

Eldora Mountain Resort opens

“Stoked” skiiers and snowboarders decended on Eldora today for opening day, The Denver Post said.  The Epic Pass includes Eldora for the first time this year, adding this closer resort option for local skiiers.  They currently have a 20 inch base and got six inches of new snow in the last 72 hours, according to Eldora’s website.

Concussions are worse than you may have thought

Here’s the bottom line, don’t hit your head against a tree while skiing.  According to an article in The Denver Post, most people think they are ready to be out playing sports again too quickly after a concussion, and can cause and even more serious brain injury, since their body is not fully functioning yet.  So, even a mild concussion can result in more long-term consequences.


Health and Recreation Round-Up for November 15

By Kirsten Ellis

Winter Sports

On Tuesday, the forecast did not anticipate that the mountains could get up to a foot of snow this weekend.  But its time to sharpen and wax your skis, snow is fluttering down, and the mountain resorts should see 12 inches by Sunday afternoon, according to The National Weather Service.

The Daily Camera reported that this year is already Boulder’s ninth-snowiest year on record.  Here’s to the beginning of a great ski season!

The Affordable Care Act

It has been an uncertain week for private health insurance and the Affordable Care Act.  250,000 lower end policies in Colorado alone were due to be cancelled this year because they did not meet new law requirements effective Jan. 1, but President Obama announced that these policies can be extended for another year if the state regulators and insurance companies decide to allow customers to renew their existing policies.  The Denver Post explains what you need to know about Obamas cancelled policies.

The most common advice to consumers is to call your insurance company to ask what your options are, and check the online marketplace to see if you might have better coverage options through the Affordable Care Act.

Boulder Ice Rink

The downtown Boulder ice rink announced today that they will not re-open for the 2013-2014 season, citing major mechanical issues.  They are also unsure if they will open next year, according to The Daily Camera.

Boulder Ballot Issues 2B, 2C, and 2D pass together, shifting and extending open space funds

By Kirsten Ellis

Voters passed three measures Tuesday that will require Boulder, over the next two decades, to shift sales tax revenues it uses for open space acquisition and maintenance to transportation and general funds.

Ballot issues 2B, 2C, and 2D all passed city elections with about three-fourths of the votes — practically a landslide. Pun intended.

City council members unanimously agreed in August on this package of three ballot issues, transferring some funds away from the mature open space program to transportation maintenance costs and the general fund deficit.  City council members, and even Mike Patton, the director of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), are very excited about Tuesday’s results.  Funds for open space will be sufficient to acquire new land, maintain trails, and continue with the cities master open space plan, in addition to extending funds to open space longer than they had originally planned for the project.

Heres a breakdown of the Ballot Issues.

Currently, Boulder city allocates .6 cent of city sales and use tax to the acquisition and preservation of open space.  This will continue, without changes, for six more years.

2B creates a new short-term city sales and use tax of .15 cent to fund transportation needs between 2014 to 2019, about $4.5 million annually.

Tim Plass, former city council member, said the immediate transportation need is maintaining pavement.  There is a basic transportation backlog that amounts to $4.2 million for roads that need to be fixed.  If the roads are too deteriorated, it’s actually more expensive to repair them, than if funds were used earlier to mend smaller problems.  So it’s more cost effective to fix them now, rather than later.

2C will alter an existing .33 cent tax allocated for open space, splitting it between open space and the general fund, starting in 2019.  Open space will receive .22 cent, and .11 cent will go to the general fund, helping to close the budget gap.  Starting in 2035, .10 cent will go to open space, and .23 cent to the general fund.

City council and OSMP have teamed closely for their open space vision, acquiring a necklace of parks around Boulder.  Together they budgeted for future open space acquisition, development, and maintenence.  2C will extend open space funding past it’s current expiration, 2019, and still allow for much needed core services funding, like fire, police, and transportation, said Tim Plass.

OSMP director Mike Patton is happy 2C passed.  Since much of the open space land has already been purchased, this will ensure funds will continue to flow to open space past 2035.

In 2035, these same 2C funds will swap with .10 cent going to open space and .23 cent to the general fund.

2D shifts money from existing open space taxes to transportation in 2019, extending the short-term .15 cent transportation tax, 2B, for 20 more years. During the first 10 years, 2019-2029, funds will go to transportation.  The last 10 years they will go to the general fund.

PLAN Boulder did not support 2D because “it strikes us as deceptive and overly complex,” and they think the tax for open space may prove necessary, said Ray Bridge.  They might have supported a transportation tax for this amount if it was separate from open space, had been written to provide the right amount of money and the right amount of time, and had been written clearly for transportation maintenance and not growth.

City council members were concerned that voters would be wary about cuts to open space after the September 2013 flood, as it seems open space needs more resources now.  But FEMA will be reimbursing the city for some costs.  And tax percentages to open space will remain the same for the next 6 years, not going into effect until 2019, said Tim Plass.

Although it seems like open space funding could be cut by almost one-third by 2035, the city is actually just adjusting their open space budget and extending it for at least 16 years, ensuring residents can still escape city life, just minutes from their doors.

This week in Government: 66 government shutdown questions, Boulder furloughed workers, and a FEMA flood recovery flood status report.

Although most of us know about the government shutdown, we may still have questions about specifics like “What is a furlough?”, “Why can’t Congress agree?”, and “Will student loans be affected?”  USA Today answered 66 common questions in an article that came to them via Twitter followers.  A follow-up article answered 27 more questions.  They are both worth the read.

Locally, as Boulder is just recovering from a flood, the government shutdown extended financial strain on federal research laboratory employees, some university employees, and all the businesses they contribute to.  Colorado River Public Media investigated life and plans for some of these furloughed workers.

Colorado flood victims have received more than $60.7 million in state and federal assistance according to a report issued by FEMA.  Other key financial figures in this report are highlighted by the Longmont Times-Call.

As part of a progressive, academic community, Boulderites might be interested to know that a chemical watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,  won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

A Nobel Peace Prize nominee and 16-year-old Pakastani education activist, Malala Yousafzai, has a fantastic interview on Jon Stewart.

Boulder attorneys provide landlords and tenants post-flood legal advice

By Kirsten Ellis

During this month’s flood, Sara Watson of Boulder moved most of her belongings out of her apartment while the flooding was happening.  She said she also asked her landlord to notify her when crews would be coming in to make repairs.

Watson said she never received a call from her landlord, and later found her bed and bed frame broken and completely covered in dust and cleanup mess.

The 1-in-1,000-year flood has put Boulder residents such as Watson in unusual situations, so the Boulder Community Mediation Program, along with local attorneys, hosted a question-and-answer session Thursday. Attorneys addressed issues such as:  when and how to terminate a lease, mediation, mold, when to reduce or prorate rent and who is responsible for damages.

Attorneys told Watson that common law practice requires landlords to give notice before they enter a tenant’s property.  The tenant’s lease should outline what happens when tenants belongings are damaged. Watson said she does not have a lease.

Another tenant said he had an understanding with his landlord through several phone calls to have his belongings out of his home by Thursday evening, but found his things being hauled to a dump Thursday morning.  Without a paper trail attorneys said it’s a case of he said,/she said in recovering the losses for his broken electronics and family heirlooms.

“Always have every agreement in writing,” was the common refrain from the panel.

A few landlords were also having problems with tenants not allowing them to properly clean damaged apartments. In this case, if a landlord wants to terminate a lease, he/she must give a three-day notice, return the security deposit, and prorate rent, attorneys said.

Kelsey Taylor and her boyfriend live in a basement studio apartment built in 1962.  They say the soggy drywall in their bedroom was knocked out and asbestos insulation remains open.  They say they have been sleeping on the floor for two weeks, there is little livable room, and that the landlords won’t agree to prorate rent.  They left the meeting with a few unanswered questions and plan on contacting the Community Mediation Service and health officials for more information.

Attorneys strongly encouraged communication between the parties.  There’s not always a clear legal answer and many times simply keeping each other informed can address many questions and problems. The city of Boulder is providing free mediation services.

Additional Resources:

Community Mediation Service – (303) 441-4364 www.bouldercolorado.gov

Boulder County Health Department Indoor Air Quality (Mold, etc.) – 303-441-1564

Housing Inspection and Rental Licensing – 303-441-3152

Doing the right thing

By Kirsten Ellis

I was listening NPR’s “On Being” podcast this week, with host Krista Tippett, in which she said that her 10-year-old son, who is very resistant to external expectation, responded better to her saying “Do the right thing. You know what the right thing is.”

This idea of “doing the right thing,” even if it is easier to accept government handouts, even if it’s easier to be comfortable at home instead of standing up for what you believe in, came up several times as a concern in our country as I sat in a dentist’s office waiting for a teeth cleaning.  I found a group of individuals frustrated with what they call the lack of morality in our country.  These folks say they are people who work for their paycheck, and they want to see others work for theirs.

Tyler Muheim, a 20-year-old mechanic is concerned about the use of his tax dollars.  After the recent flood, Muheim said he worked 18 hours of overtime fixing flooded machinery and saw only $100 of it after taxes.

“Why should I work to put money into taxes that don’t affect me?” Muheim asked.

He claimed to know people who get money from the government who have nicer homes and go out to eat in sit-down restaurants more than his family does, who take advantage of the system.

“There should be a mandatory drug test every month and an interview process for anyone receiving government aid,” Muheim said. Florida and other states have implemented laws just like the one Muheim wants.

Later that night a friend invited me to a Bible study gathering. In all honesty I would have politely declined, but I thought the opportunity to talk to new people might arise, and I was surprised at some of the responses.

Pastor Steve Hamilton, 38, fully supports our right to bear arms.  The Second Amendment keeps the power with the people, not the government, Hamilton said, and citizens should be able to have exactly what the government has.  Taking away freedoms was the start of every current communist country, he said.

“Don’t let the camel put its head in the tent or next you’ll find yourself outside,” Hamilton said referencing gun control laws.

Jessica Beans, 24, who works for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, said Obamacare is the forefront of her mind.  Dale Bridger, 30, an outdoorsy physical therapist, said the new policy will make him either pay additional for health coverage or pay a fine.  They are both concerned that there has been a shift in America where government handouts have made life better to just not have a job.

These conversations were surprising to me, a very conservative view after having recently moved from liberal California.  The root of these conservative concerns resonated with me.

How can we share knowledge and pick each other up without coddling?  How can we individually and as a country take responsibility for our actions, even if it’s not the easy road?