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Denver, CO

Opinion: Recycling would expand in Denver under ballot measure 306

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Are you able to think about with the ability to recycle and compost at each residence constructing and enterprise throughout Denver? Together with your assist, this type of recycling coverage citywide can change into a actuality.

On Nov. 8, Denverites will vote on a poll measure, Initiated Ordinance 306 which, if handed, would require Denver’s companies, residences, development websites, permitted occasions and extra to part in recycling and composting providers. Based on the town’s 2022 Sustainable Useful resource Administration Plan, 82% of Denver’s waste comes from these areas, but there may be presently no coverage to require recycling and composting at these websites.

Poll measure 306 is championed by the citizen-led grassroots environmental group Waste No Extra Denver, which believes each Denver resident ought to have the choice of recycling or composting irrespective of the place they stay, work or play. The group collected 11,000 signatures in order that Denverites can vote on the way forward for sustainable waste administration this fall. 

Together with the requirement to offer recycling and composting providers, the “accountable events” outlined within the ordinance will present bilingual waste diversion data and directions to staff and tenets. The ordinance will even require accountable events to finish an Annual Diversion Plan, which will probably be created by and submitted to Denver’s Division of Transportation and Infrastructure.

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In 2020, almost 1 million tons of Denver’s waste from properties, business properties, and development websites was buried in a landfill. Nevertheless, most of Denver’s waste just isn’t trash; it’s principally recyclable and compostable supplies that would have been recirculated into the native financial system. 

Having sturdy insurance policies like poll measure 306 in place will assist Denver preserve these sources in circulation, create new jobs, guarantee an area provide chain, preserve pure sources, and curb local weather impacts.

A few of the advantages of recycling and composting embody:

• Conserving power, water, and lowering the demand for the extraction of pure sources;

• Creating many extra jobs in comparison with burying our sources in landfills; 

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• Making a extra resilient home provide of uncooked supplies to make new merchandise;

• Avoiding methane emissions, that are generated when meals scraps and yard waste break down with out oxygen at a landfill. Methane is a greenhouse fuel that over time is 84 instances as highly effective in warming the environment as carbon dioxide; 

• Constructing wholesome soils by making use of compost to soil. This retains extra water, grows extra nutritious crops, and pulls carbon out of the environment, lowering local weather impacts.

Waste diversion percentages usually are not summary numbers; they immediately symbolize the environmental advantages listed above. If Denver desires to get critical about local weather motion, guaranteeing entry to recycling and composting providers for all residents and companies citywide is a confirmed technique to cut back greenhouse fuel emissions. 

As somebody who works in Zero Waste outreach, probably the most frequent feedback I hear from Denverites embody, “Why doesn’t my residence constructing have a recycling bin?” and “Why is Denver’s recycling charge so low? I believed we have been a inexperienced metropolis.”

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Some residence buildings do recycle and compost, however by requiring all business properties to offer accountable waste administration programs, poll measure 306 ranges the enjoying subject for companies which have already chosen to do the correct factor by paying for these providers.

When the Metropolis of Boulder adopted an identical coverage, their waste diversion charge skyrocketed from 39% to 57%! Though the prices of recycling and composting have been an extra expense for companies, the funding in a extra round waste administration system resulted in considerably extra recovered sources. Related insurance policies are in place alongside the West Coast and in Austin, Texas, so chain shops have already got expertise complying with comparable insurance policies. 

You might be considering, “Wait, didn’t the Denver Metropolis Council simply go one thing about recycling and composting?” Sure, it did – however the Expanded Waste Companies coverage, accepted by the council in July 2022, solely applies to waste administration programs for single-family properties and residence buildings with seven or fewer models. The Waste No Extra poll initiative addresses waste from companies, residence buildings and development websites. The poll initiative will even require recycling and composting at public occasions.

Denver is presently behind on sustainable waste administration in comparison with equally sized cities resembling Seattle and Austin, but poll measure 306 immediately aligns with a number of of the town’s local weather and waste-related targets. 

Voting sure on 306 and getting concerned within the Waste No Extra Denver marketing campaign is a chance so that you can assist Denver transfer in a extra sustainable route.

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Ryan J. Name of Denver is the Denver campaigns coordinator for Eco-Cycle Inc. He earned a grasp of science diploma from the College of Denver with a deal with Zero Waste coverage.



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Denver, CO

City of Denver asking for more help to support migrants who arrive in the city

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Metropolis of Denver asking for extra assist to assist migrants who arrive within the metropolis – CBS Colorado


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The City of Denver is asking for more help to support migrants who arrive in the city and have left everything behind.

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Denver, CO

Denver mayor candidate Trinidad Rodriguez would declare a “state of emergency” over homelessness and push for “involuntary holds” for mental health and addiction treatment

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Standing in entrance of the Statehouse, mayoral candidate Trinidad Rodriguez informed a small crowd of supporters he is able to declare a state of emergency over homelessness in Denver.

One thing in regards to the metropolis’s response to homelessness isn’t working and issues are getting worse, he mentioned. For Rodriguez, who has recognized individuals who lived with out shelter and struggled with dependancy, that’s unacceptable — not only for companies but in addition for individuals experiencing homelessness and psychological well being points.

“A part of my dedication to this trigger comes from my private expertise with family members who’ve battled housing insecurity, dependancy, and psychological well being problems,” he mentioned. “It additionally helped me develop my proposal with an understanding and compassion for the challenges that our persons are dealing with at a person degree.”

When he was 11, he realized his godfather was each homeless and combating dependancy.

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“I bear in mind the primary hope and need that popped into my head for him was, wherever he’s, no matter metropolis that he’s in, that there’s somebody there who would shield him from himself and anybody who would do hurt to him when he’s weak,” he mentioned.

The candidate’s hope is that he’s in a position to present that form of safety to the chronically homeless in Denver.

Rodriguez has spent 25 years of his profession working to handle homelessness by way of the Denver Housing Authority and as a board member on the Downtown Denver Partnership and the youth homelessness supplier City Peak. He’s been a member of Denver’s Housing Advisory Council and served on the taskforce for Blueprint Denver, a grasp plan for town.

“I imagine the disaster on our streets is principally pushed by a sequence of well being crises — not affordability in our metropolis,” he mentioned.

The town’s methods for addressing the problems of dependancy and psychological well being of these dwelling on the streets merely aren’t working, he mentioned. Deaths amongst individuals experiencing homelessness are up, and violence is rising.

“Downtown is a shadow of its former self, having been overtaken by individuals in disaster pursuing their drug misuse, laid low with psychological problems, and by those that prey upon them, presenting critical security issues,” Rodriguez mentioned. “Workers of our downtown companies cite security issues amongst their principal causes for not returning to their places of work.”

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The town’s makes an attempt to handle homelessness have been lengthy and complex. One in every of Mayor Michael Hancock’s signature efforts in his first time period was the passing of an city tenting ban. The town has seen a dramatic rise of unsheltered homelessness since its passage.

The group round Union Station has wrangled with the Hancock administration’s method to homelessness and psychological well being points on the streets. Some residents have demanded a extra muscular police response. Downtown condominium dwellers have advocated to close down a resort the place unhoused individuals weak to COVID-19 have been dwelling. Companies in Capitol Hill and different neighborhoods have put boulders and fencing on their properties to discourage individuals from tenting in entrance of their buildings.

Rodriguez, who donated to Hancock’s mayoral campaigns from 2013 to 2019, proposed becoming a member of downtown enterprise leaders of their plans for addressing security and homelessness. That follows Hancock’s actions, together with a current compassionate crackdown on crime, with assist from the Downtown Denver Partnership, the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace, Colorado’s Legal professional Basic and the mayor.

But when elected, Rodriguez plans to take issues a step additional.

“As Mayor, amongst my first acts might be to declare a state of emergency concerning unhoused individuals dwelling on Denver streets,” mentioned Rodriguez, who was a monetary backer of the Hancock marketing campaign.

Doing so, he would train powers from the Colorado Catastrophe Emergency Act and Denver Constitution that might release emergency funding to handle the problem.

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“With this expanded authority I suggest to, to start with, construct a brief area remedy heart with the assistance of native, state and federal assets which can be acceptable in a state of emergency, truly using a number of the methods we developed as we ready for a catastrophic COVID surge.”

Kyle Harris / Denverite

He would transfer the mayor’s workplace to the sector remedy heart so long as there was “any single particular person receiving remedy,” he mentioned.

He plans to harness state and federal assets to pay employees, together with medical professionals, to confess individuals into medical care who’re a hazard to themselves or others. That might be voluntarily or involuntarily. He additionally desires to push state lawmakers to allow involuntary holds on individuals in want of psychological and substance dependancy remedy.

“We could have a excessive moral burden to make sure our method is humane, and we’ll fulfill it,” Rodriguez mentioned.

He would open navigation facilities, akin to related ones in Houston and the Bay Space, the place individuals could be related to remedy.

“I help the transition of individuals when they’re stabilized from this preliminary remedy to the ecosystem of suppliers in our group to make sure further phases of therapeutic and restoration with suppliers and the providing of extra voluntary choices,” he mentioned.

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He believes this method — which echoes New York Mayor Eric Adams’ controversial plan to involuntarily hospitalize mentally sick individuals who seem unable to take care of themselves — will assist individuals experiencing homelessness and Denver’s neighborhoods alike.

“What success will seem like is that unhoused individuals will get compassionate help no matter the place they’re of their journey — voluntarily or involuntarily,” he mentioned. “Our neighborhoods will see seen enhancements in public well being and security circumstances surrounding road homelessness.”



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Denver, CO

Denver recovered a record amount of wage theft money this year. Stronger protections for workers may be coming

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When Michael Ginzel did every week of building work for a contractor in Denver, Ginzel mentioned his employer informed him to count on a verify within the mail. Weeks glided by with no cash, and Ginzel’s calls went unanswered. He confirmed as much as the employer’s home in particular person and located himself in what he known as a combative and harmful state of affairs.

“I used to be determined, I had no cash, no work,” Ginzel informed Metropolis Council at this week’s Finance and Governance Committee public remark session on preventing wage theft. “It’s not essentially about doing what is true for the employees, it’s additionally about defending their security.”

Metropolis Council is weighing an ordinance that will strengthen protections for staff experiencing wage theft.

It has the assist of labor leaders, however companies fear it would add paperwork and hurt small companies. On Tuesday, Council members on the Finance and Governance Committee expressed assist for the proposal, however voted to postpone passing it to the total council with a view to reply further questions and have interaction with companies.  A particular assembly to vote on sending the proposal to the total council is scheduled for Dec. 20.

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Dialogue of the ordinance comes throughout a 12 months the place Denver recovered a document $1.1 million in wages for staff in 2022, in contrast with round $690,000 in 2021 and round $1 million in 2020.

A report from the Colorado Fiscal Institute estimates that employers steal an estimated $728 million from staff throughout the state, with low earnings staff, staff of colour and girls most in danger. The report estimates that this interprets to an approximate $45 million in misplaced tax income for the state.

In 2022, one of many largest sums recovered in Denver got here from a $207,000 case for 35 folks working for trash elimination companies and disposal web site contracts, the place the contractor was incorrectly claiming advantages like medical health insurance, paid day off or retirement plans.

One other investigation recovered about $48,000 for 107 workers working for a valet parking firm, which was underpaying its workers and impartial contractors. “Valet corporations had been certainly one of our most typical areas of underpayments this 12 months,” wrote metropolis Auditor Timothy O’Brien in his report. “We recognized underpayments of greater than $111,000 for staff in that business alone.”

A 3rd case recovered cash and acquired a elevate for an Afghan refugee getting paid beneath minimal wage. The auditor’s workplace didn’t embody the particular person’s job, or identify any particular corporations in its report.

“We encourage any group teams to achieve out in the event that they know of a attainable underpayment,” O’Brien wrote. “The minimal wage applies to all work carried out within the Metropolis and County of Denver, no matter a employee’s immigration standing.”

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In 2023, Denver’s minimal wage is rising from $15.87 to $17.29 per hour, apart from folks within the meals and beverage business, who can declare as much as $3.02 per hour in documented ideas.

Metropolis Council’s ordinance would strengthen protections for staff towards wage theft.

Councilwomen Stacie Gilmore, Candi CdeBaca and Amanda Sawyer, and Council President Jamie Torres, sponsored an ordinance on stopping wage theft at Council’s Finance and Governance Committee on Tuesday.

The brand new coverage would enable employee complaints to go on to the auditor. “By avoiding courts and threats of jail time, staff can receives a commission extra rapidly,” wrote the Council members in a presentation on the ordinance.

Torres defined that employers typically keep away from paying out owed wages by classifying staff as impartial contractors, which is why the ordinance would increase to incorporate impartial contractors as effectively. It might additionally enable staff to take their complaints up the chain of command, even when their employer is bancrupt and can’t pay.

The ordinance would additionally give staff the chance to deliver a civil motion to courtroom, as a substitute of going via the auditor.

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The sponsors emphasised that the proposal just isn’t meant to unfairly goal unintentional theft, and that the auditor has flexibility in penalties imposed.

“We’re actually going after people who find themselves deliberately withholding wages, don’t repair points in 30 days and/or don’t cooperate with investigation, so this isn’t supposed for individuals who make an trustworthy mistake,” CdeBaca mentioned.

On the committee assembly, individuals who had skilled wage theft shared their tales.

Building staff spoke about being pressured to categorise as self-employed, not getting extra time pay and never with the ability to qualify for unemployment. Labor leaders additionally acknowledged that wage theft makes it troublesome for lawful companies to compete.

David Hernandez spoke on behalf of painters, drywall finishers and different building staff. He mentioned his union present in a survey that one in six of their staff had skilled wage theft. “Like me, there are staff in all places being victims of wage theft,” he mentioned. “Not solely that, however there are various corporations that make the most of these staff’ immigration standing.”

Labor organizer Alejo Gonzalez shared the tales of residence care staff, who’re predominantly ladies of colour, together with somebody who needed to reside in her automotive and one other who skipped meals after checks bounced.

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“Day-after-day this occurs,” Gonzalez mentioned. “The espresso that a few of you’re consuming, these baristas are experiencing it. The lunches and dinners you had, these restaurant staff are experiencing it.”

Enterprise leaders denounced wage theft, however mentioned Council’s proposal would damage the enterprise group.

Leaders expressed concern with the flexibility for staff to deliver complaints up the chain, saying that it might disproportionately have an effect on small and minority owned companies that haven’t finished something mistaken.

Jess Kostelnik, who spoke on behalf of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, condemned wage theft, however mentioned that Colorado already has robust state and federal protections. “We severely query the necessity for and efficacy of Denver’s wage theft proposal as it’s at the moment written,” she mentioned. “[It] would make proudly owning a enterprise and doing enterprise in Denver much more bureaucratically nightmarish.”

Others requested for a delay.  “Let me be clear, we don’t assist wage theft, we strongly imagine that everybody must be paid for his or her work,” mentioned Kate Barton, Chief of Exterior Affairs for Downtown Denver Partnership. “We wish to be certain that your entire enterprise group, these which are most impacted by this coverage, have the chance to supply significant suggestions and guarantee this coverage has the specified affect.”

CdeBaca mentioned that in growing the ordinance, town checked out states like Maryland and Massachusetts with related laws that allowed legal responsibility for wage theft to go up the chain of command. “There’s nonetheless clearly enterprise occurring, nonetheless clearly building occurring at unprecedented ranges,” she mentioned.

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