Monthly Archives: December 2007

GOV. RITTER STATEMENT ON DEATHS OF JOHN PARR, SANDY WIDENER AND CHASE PARR

Gov. Bill Ritter issued the following statement today regarding
yesterday’s deaths of John Parr, Sandy Widener and their daughter,
Chase Parr. The Ritter family has been friends with the Parr family
for nearly two decades. Most recently, John Parr served as a
facilitator for Gov. Ritter’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel.

“There is no way to describe the pain of this terrible, terrible
tragedy,” Gov. Ritter said. “This is such a devastating loss for the
entire community on so many levels. John and Sandy made untold
contributions – small, large and every size in between – and touched
untold lives. They were loved by so many people that you can feel the
tears ripple across Colorado today. We will be in mourning for a very
long time.”

“Chase and her sister Katy have been an amazing gift to their many
friends. We will do everything we can to comfort Katy and help her
through this. Let us all hold her deep in our hearts and our prayers.”

GOV. RITTER, FIRST LADY, GEN. EDWARDS SEND HOLIDAY VIDEO GREETING TO TROOPS

Gov. Bill Ritter, First Lady Jeannie Ritter and Colorado National
Guard Commander H. Michael Edwards have recorded and sent special
holiday video greetings to Colorado Guard troops deployed to the
Middle East and to their families here at home.

“During this holiday season, Colorado is grateful for the unwavering
commitment of you and your families, our citizen-soldiers,” Gov.
Ritter in his message. “The call to defend our way of life is not for
the faint of heart. As your commander, I promise to remain committed
to you and your family as you fight this global war on terror.”

The Governor and First Lady, whose father is a retired Navy captain,
extended a special thank you to the families, telling them, “You hold
an honored place in our hearts.”

Adjutant General Edwards saluted the troops in his holiday greeting,
reminding them, “You are truly patriots and great Americans. We look
forward to your safe return.”

More than 600 Colorado Air and Army National Guard troops are
currently deployed to the Middle East, more than at any other time in
recent Colorado history. Some 200 members of the 140th Air National
Guard Wing out of Buckley Air Force Base were deployed on Dec. 4 and
will be spending the holidays overseas.

Gov. Ritter personally visited many National Guard, active-duty and
reserve personnel from Colorado last week during a Pentagon-sponsored
visit to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Gov. Ritter Praised For Supporting Gas Drilling On Roan

Governor Makes Right Call In Supporting Natural Gas Development On Top
Of Roan Plateau, Says Americans For American Energy

GOLDEN, Co. (Dec. 20, 2007) – Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced
today that he supports harvesting clean-burning natural gas in the
U.S. Naval Oil Shale Reserve lands on top of the Roan Plateau. Greg
Schnacke, President and CEO of Americans Energy, said the Governor
made the right decision for Colorado.

“Governor Ritter made the right decision today in saying that he
supports environmentally sound harvest of clean-burning natural gas in
the U.S. Naval Oil Shale Reserve lands on top of the Roan Plateau,”
Schnacke said. “That’s a welcome departure from the highly
inflammatory and negative statements made by other Colorado
politicians on this subject.”

“The Governor is signaling that he understands that Colorado, and
America, needs to increase our ability to produce American energy and
reduce our dependence on foreign energy through environmentally sound
projects like this one,” Schnacke said.

“Governor Ritter also clearly understands that the State stands to
realize billions of dollars of revenue from oil and gas bonus bids and
royalties on this project,” Schnacke added. “Half of that money will
make its way to Colorado’s education system.”

Schnacke said: “Anti-drilling extremists have been lobbying to block
virtually any natural gas harvest in the NOSR lands on the top of the
Roan,” Schnacke said. “The Governor appears to be rejecting that
path. I think he recognizes the value of the stakeholder process that
helped to produce this plan, which itself took seven years to complete.”

“Colorado is a winner today, and the anti-drilling extremists are
losers, which is a good outcome for our state and for the nation,” he
added.

Ritter made his comments at a news conference at the State Capitol.
He said he has “engaged in productive discussions” with the U.S.
Department of the Interior about the development of the NOSR, a small
area on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado, and said he has several
objectives he wants to achieve during continuing conservations with
the federal agency. The Governor’s official statement can be seen here.

It appears that the Governor is asking BLM to reconsider its current
restriction of allowing only one operator at a time to work on top of
the plateau, which may result in a higher level of competitive
interest in the project.

Industry estimates say the area contains enough natural gas to heat 4
million homes for the next quarter century.

Recent polls and surveys show wide support among Coloradoans for the
project. A Denver Business Journal reader survey this past week showed
73 percent of respondents were in favor of moving forward with the
BLM management plan to harvest the NOSR’s natural gas, with 27 percent
opposed.

A statewide voter opinion poll, conducted by Hill Research Consultants
in August, showed 60 percent of respondents approved of developing the
NOSR in order to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports, with
31 percent opposed and 9 percent unsure.

In addition, 66 percent of respondents to the HRC poll said they would
be “more likely” to support development of the area if tax revenues
from the project were used to fund higher education in Colorado.

The state’s three largest newspapers also have expressed support for
the project, with The Denver Post and the Colorado Springs Gazette
saying in the past two weeks that the project should move forward. A
recent report in the Rocky Mountain News also detailed the revenues
that Colorado could gain from ongoing and future oil and gas
development.

Schnacke noted that the oil and gas industry contributes some $23
billion to Colorado each year.

STATE, FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS TO CONTINUE ROAN PLATEAU DISCUSSIONS

Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that his administration and the U.S.
Department of the Interior are engaged in productive discussions about
the future of the Roan Plateau and will continue the dialogue over the
coming weeks.

“We are making steady progress on what I believe is a uniquely
Colorado solution – a solution that strikes an important balance and
will benefit our environment, economy, communities and energy
industry,” Gov. Ritter said. “I’m pleased that Interior is working
with us in reviewing the environmental, economic and technical issues
pertaining to the Roan. I look forward to continuing these discussions
to reach a mutually agreeable means of developing the energy resources
on the Roan while also serving as responsible stewards of Colorado’s
future.

“The Roan Plateau is a very special place, and we have only one chance
to get it right,” Gov. Ritter said. “The state and federal governments
owe it to present and future generations to do everything we can to
accomplish our goals.” Gov. Ritter said he hopes to achieve several
objectives during the ongoing conversations, including:

· Ensuring protection for critical fish and wildlife habitat,
such as by expanding the size of the four wildlife-protection zones,
known as “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern”;

· Exploring the concept of phased or incremental leasing to
increase state revenues, better protect the environment and properly
pace future development;

· Achieving sustainable economic prosperity for local
communities and industry;

· Exploring a possible amendment to the 1997 federal Transfer
Act to ensure that the state receives bonus payments from future
leasing on the Roan; and

· Incorporating state-of-the-art technology to minimize
environmental disturbance.

“During this period of discussions with the Interior Department, we
will continue to actively engage all those with a stake in the future
of the Roan Plateau,” Gov. Ritter said. “This will include local
officials and community leaders, energy industry representatives,
conservationists, sportsmen, state lawmakers and members of Colorado’s
congressional delegation.”

Facts about the Roan Plateau

What is the Roan Plateau?

· A federally and privately owned plateau in northwest Colorado about
180 miles west of Denverwith significant recoverable natural gas
resources.

· The federally owned portion of the Roan Plateau Planning Area (RPPA)
is 73,602 acres, including surface acres and subsurface mineral rights.

· The federal acreage includes 34,758 acres on top of the Roan and
38,844 acres on the sides and the base.

· The BLM owns 58 percent of the surface of the RPPA and private
entities, including energy companies and ranchers, own the remaining
42 percent.

· The Roan Plateau rises to more than 9,200 feet and is 4,000 feet
higher than the Colorado Riverat its base.

· The Roan includes scenic areas, varied and rich wildlife habitat,
more than 200 miles of roads and thousands of acres without roads.
This includes 157 miles of unpaved roads on the federal land on top of
the Roan.

· The recoverable resources are estimated at 8.9 trillion cubic feet
(TCF), including 4.2 TCF on the top and 4.7 TCF on the cliffs and
below the rim. That is enough natural gas for Colorado’s 1.5 million
residential customers for 34 years.

What’s happening today on the Roan Plateau?

· There are more than 1,300 producing natural gas wells in the RPPA,
including 10 on private land on the top.

· There are 876 permits to drill new wells, including 161 on the top
and 715 on the bottom.

· On the bottom of the Roan, there are 980 wells on private land and
333 wells on federal land.

What is the federal government’s current plan for leasing on the Roan?

· BLM has estimated that under the current plan up to 1,560
wells on 193 well pads would be developed over the next 20 years,
including 210 wells and 13 drilling pads on the top of the Roan.

· The BLM would lease the available acres all at once.

· The BLM said the management plan will protect 51 percent of
the Roan (top, sides and bottom) and allow for recovery of 90 percent
of the natural gas resources.

· Surface disturbances, including well pads and equipment,
would be limited to no more than 350 acres at a time and wells must be
clustered on multi-well pads at least a half mile apart.

· All drilling would be done in phases with well pads
clustered to limit surface disturbance to 1 percent at any time.

· To access the natural gas resources with a minimum of wells,
directional drilling will be used. Directional drilling is currently
used on over 98% of new wells in the Piceance Basin.

· Drilling would not be allowed on slopes with greater than a
20 percent angle.

Geography of the Roan Plateau

· Four “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern” are home to
wildlife such as genetically pure strains of the Colorado River
cutthroat trout, bald and golden eagles, deer, elk, puma, black bear,
peregrine falcon and sage grouse

· The four areas total 21,032 acres:
§ Anvil Points — 4,955 acres
§ East Fork of Parachute Creek — 6,571 acres
§ Magpie — 4,696 acres
§ Trapper/Northwater — 4,810 acres

Allard Announces Over $100 Million for Colorado Transportation Projects in Omnibus Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), a member of the
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and
Urban Development, announced today that he has secured over $100 million
for Colorado transportation projects.

“The Omnibus bill includes significant funds for Colorado transportation
projects, including funds to complete the T-REX project and begin
construction on the new West Corridor light rail line,” said Allard. “I
am pleased I was able to secure these funds in the conference committee
report, and that they were ultimately in the Omnibus. Additionally,
funds to improve access to the Fitzsimmons campus in Aurora for the
Wadsworth and Highway 128 interchange in Broomfield will make a big
difference to Colorado.”

Allard requested the following projects for Colorado:

* $39.2 million for the new West Corridor light rail project line;

* $50.53 million to complete federal funding for the T-REX
project;
* $656,600 for the intersection at I-225 and Colfax Avenue and
17th to improve access to the Fitzsimmons redevelopment project. The
funding will help preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition
to assist the interchange construction;
* $588,000 for the Wadsworth & state Highway 128 interchange in
Broomfield, Colorado to relieve peak hour congestion along 120th Avenue,
state Highway 128 and the interchange at US 36.
* $500,000 for the I-70 interchange at the Stapleton
redevelopment.
* $3.52 million for the Colorado Transit Coalition;
* $1 million SH 150 (160 to great sand dunes)
* $2.26 million for Fort Carson Gate 20 near I-25 at state Highway
16
* $1.34 million for US 287 at Lamar (Ports to Plains)
* $490,000 SH 13 WY line south
* $980,000 for US 491 in Montezuma County

Allard opposed the final version of the Omnibus Appropriations bill due
to a controversial measure that prohibited the promulgation of oil shale
development regulations for the Western Slope, which could result in the
millions of dollars being lost for Colorado’s rural communities and
school districts.

The final version of the bill now headed to the President to be signed
into law.

GOV. RITTER APPOINTS PUEBLO COUNTY COURT JUDGE

Gov. Bill Ritter today announced the appointment of Steven Bruce
Fieldman of Pueblo West to serve as a Pueblo County Court judge in the
10th Judicial District.

Fieldman is currently a deputy district attorney in the 10th Judicial
District, a position he has held since 1993. Prior to serving in the
District Attorney’s Office, Fieldman was a volunteer attorney/
paralegal with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

He has performed extensive community service worked extensively in the
community, including serving on the boards of Crossroads’ Turning
Points and the Senior Resource Development Agency, as well as the
Pueblo Community Health Center Nurse-Family Partnership Program
Advisory Board.

Fieldman is also a member of Pueblo County Domestic Violence Task
Force and the Pueblo CountyDomestic Violence Treatment Center. He
received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from ClarkUniversity in
1988 and his law degree from the University of Denver College of Law
in 1992.

The initial term of office is a provisional term of approximately two
years, and then until the second Tuesday in January following the next
general election.

GOV. RITTER SEEKS TO STEM FORECLOSURES

GOV. RITTER SEEKS TO STEM FORECLOSURE EPIDEMIC

Concerned that high prepayment penalties on mortgage loans will lead
to an additional round of foreclosures in Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter is
seeking aggressive implementation of the new Mortgage Broker
Registration Act he signed into law in June.

“Colorado continues to struggle with an exceedingly high foreclosure
rate, and my administration is working hard to protect homeowners and
communities,” Gov. Ritter said. “Implementing this legislation is one
more important step. Solving this crisis will involve industry and
government working together.”

The Mortgage Broker Registration Act includes four mortgage-fraud and
foreclosure-prevention bills signed by Gov. Ritter in June. The bills
are:

· HB 1322 (Marshall/Groff), “Mortgage Fraud Prevention Act”
· SB 85 (Veiga/Massey), “Protect Consumer Real Estate Transactions”
· SB 216 (Veiga/Marshall), “Mortgage Loan Acts Practices”
· SB 203 (Groff/Marshall), “Mortgage Broker Licensing”

Regarding the need for aggressive enforcement of the Mortgage Broker
Registration Act, borrowers are increasingly lured into adjustable
rate mortgage products that initially have very low monthly payments.
When their rates increase, they may find stiff prepayment penalties if
they attempt to pay off their loan by selling their home or
refinancing. Their only option is foreclosure. As a result, Gov.
Ritter requested a solution from Division of Real Estate Director Erin
Toll, who is charged with implementing and enforcing the new law.

Acting on the concerns of Gov. Ritter as well as those of consumer
groups and members of the legislature, Director Toll has issued an
emergency rule restricting prepayment penalties on mortgage loans. The
new rule prohibits prepayment penalties that extend past the
adjustment date of an interest rate, teaser rate or payment rate. The
borrower’s payment virtually always significantly increases on the
adjustment date. The rule creates a presumption that a mortgage broker
has violated their duty of good faith to the borrower if they
recommend a loan product with a prepayment penalty that extends beyond
the adjustment date. The rule took effect Friday.

“Prepayment penalties can trap families in no-win situations where
foreclosure becomes the only option,” said state Rep. Rosemary
Marshall, who sponsored mortgage-related legislation the past two
years. “I wholeheartedly support the Division of Real Estate’s new
rule implementing the mortgage broker legislation I sponsored during
the last session. I believe it will help lenders and consumers keep
their mortgage contracts alive.”

Since taking over the Division of Real Estate last year, Director Toll
has made tackling Colorado’s mortgage fraud and foreclosure epidemic
the Division’s top priority. “Along with our aggressive enforcement
actions against those who participate in unlawful actions that
encourage foreclosures, this is another step to attempt to stem the
wave of foreclosures,” she said.

The Division’s enforcement actions include imposing permanent license
revocations along with record fines against real estate appraisers and
real estate brokers who engage in activities leading to higher
foreclosure rates.

For more information, visit the Division’s website at www.dora.state.co.us/real-estate

Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien Issues Statement on Bush Veto

Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien today issued the following statement on President Bush’s veto of the SCHP (State Health Insurance Program):

 

“At this holiday time, President Bush has ignored the needs of millions of children and vetoed spending for the Child Health Plan.

 

The Colorado Child Health Plan Plus has been hugely successful in enrolling 10,000 children who, over the last year, otherwise would not have had health insurance or access to health care. In addition, we still have about 50,000 more kids and pregnant moms that remain uncovered.

 

President Bush’s veto of the national SCHIP funding undermines those efforts by casting a shadow of uncertainty over the program and putting children’s health care at risk.

 

Both Governor Ritter and I believe a budget should reflect our moral values. To that point, we have pledged to invest in children’s health and education, and we urge President Bush to fully fund this program.”

 

CHP+ is Colorado‘s low-cost health and dental insurance program for uninsured children ages 18 and under from working families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance. CHP+ also offers benefits to pregnant women through the CHP+ Prenatal Care Program. For more information or to download an application, visit www.CHPplus.org.

 

GOV. RITTER VISITS COLORADO TROOPS IN IRAQ

GOV. RITTER VISITS COLORADO TROOPS IN IRAQ

Gov. Bill Ritter is in Iraq visiting Colorado National Guard troops at
the invitation of the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, part of a
fact-finding program that allows governors to experience conditions in
the Middle East first-hand.

Gov. Ritter toured and stayed overnight in the International Zone in
Baghdad, and also met with troops from the 332ndExpeditionary Fighter
Squadron, which includes about 225 Colorado National Guard members,
and the 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, which also includes
Colorado National Guard members. Gov. Ritter visited several military
installations, neighborhoods and a local hospital in Iraq.

“These men and women are serving under very difficult conditions,”
Gov. Ritter said during a conference call fromKuwait this morning.
“But their morale is high and they seem very heartened that I’m here
on their turf, on their territory, to gain a better understanding of
the work they are doing. It’s extremely helpful for me, as the
commander in chief of the Colorado National Guard, to be on the ground
to see the conditions they are serving in and how they are making a
difference.”

Hundreds of Colorado National Guard troops are currently deployed to
Iraq, Kuwait and other areas in the Middle East, more than at any
other time in recent Colorado history. Colorado Air National Guard
members have logged more than 5,000 combat hours and flown more than
500 consecutive combat sorties without failure since 2003.

“The Guard troops I’ve talked to wanted to convey their love and best
holiday wishes to their families and everyone back home,” Gov. Ritter
said. “They also wanted to express their gratitude for everything
their neighbors are doing to help their spouses, from shoveling
sidewalks to helping with chores around the house.”

Gov. Ritter is traveling with South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and Rhode
Island Gov. Donald Carcieri. The trip included meetings with U.S.
military and diplomatic officials such as Gen. David Petraeus, the top
U.S. commander inIraq; Maj. Gen. Dennis Hardy of U.S. Central Command;
Patricia Butenis, the U.S. Embassy’s chief of mission in Iraq; the
deputy prime minister of Iraq; and local government leaders as well.
Butenis hosted a dinner for the governors at her residence.

“We really appreciate Gov. Ritter taking the opportunity to visit our
deployed Colorado National Guard men and women,” said Colorado
National Guard commander Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards. “Although being
deployed over the holidays is difficult for our Guard men and women, I
know it means a lot to them for their governor to make the effort to
visit them in theater. His visit will certainly be a special memory
for our Colorado Guard members.”

Gov. Ritter began the week on Monday with briefings by U.S. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in
Washington. More than 30 U.S. governors have visited Iraq as part of
the Department of Defense program.

GOV. RITTER ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

Gov. Bill Ritter today announced appointments to a variety of
statewide boards and commissions:

Health Care Community Board
Randy L. Evetts of Pueblo, Toloa D. Pearl of Westcliffe and Dr. Jack
Berry of Denver, for terms expiring Nov. 20, 2008.

Dr. John M. Westfall of Greenwood Village, Stephen L. Holloway of
Denver and Antonio Prado-Gutierrez ofLittleton, for terms expiring
Nov. 20, 2009.

Lou Ann Wilroy of Denver, Ross A. Brooks of Denver, Jay H. Lee of
Denver and Michael V. Stafford of Wray, for terms expiring Nov. 20,
2010.

The 10-member Health Care Community Board was established by Senate
Bill 07-232 to help health-care professionals repay outstanding
education loans in exchange for a commitment to provide health care in
underserved local communities.

Pollution Prevention Advisory Board
(For terms expiring July 1, 2010)
Kai K. Abelkis of Niwot
Janell A. Barrilleaux of Golden
Mary “Meg” Collins of Boulder
Jill E. Cooper of Golden
S. Michelle Edwards of Larkspur
Jamie W. Gaboriau of Littleton
Landon W. Gates of Denver
Darrin J. Henke of Denver
Michael F. Kostrzewa of Fort Collins
Cynthia S. Peterson of Littleton
Margaret W. Staub of Evergreen
Melissa S. Yoder of Denver
Jere W. Zimmerman of Golden
Seth A. Portner of Boulder (ex-officio)
Patrick B. Hamel (ex-officio)

The 15-member Pollution Prevention Advisory Board (plus two ex-officio
members) provides policy guidance and advice for development and
implementation of the Colorado Pollution Prevention Program.

Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness
(For terms expiring Sept. 1, 2009)
Cheryl Ames of Arvada
Brandon L. Bailey of Breckenridge
Craig. J. Bannister of Denver
Billie A. Busby of Denver
Stacy J. Fowler of Golden
Julie A. Gabler of Arvada
Michael A. Hashemi of Littleton
Robert Kendrick of Denver
Debora Ridgell of Golden
Jeffrey A. Taylor of Denver
DaVarryl J. Williamson of Aurora

The Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness promotes good life-long
health and fitness habits by sponsoring educational and recreational
events statewide.

Colorado Children’s Trust Fund Board
Cecil “Bud” H. Lashlee III of Denver, Tara L. Trujillo of Aurora and
Jacalyn M. Reynolds of Sterling, for terms expiring Nov. 7, 2009; and
Holly B. Hedegaard and James Snyder, both of Denver, for terms
expiring at the pleasure of the Governor.

The nine-member Colorado Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funding
to programs around the state that focus on the prevention of child
abuse and neglect.

Community Corrections Advisory Council
(For terms expiring at the pleasure of the Governor)
The Hon. Christopher Cross of Centennial
Frank Dubofsky of Boulder
Thomas A. Giacinti of Lakewood
Charles F. Garcia of Denver
Paul M. Isenstadt of Colorado Springs
Jeffrey T. Mannix of Durango
Lawrence “Alex” Marquez of Fort Garland
John M. Riley of Denver
Peter A. Weir of Golden
Ari Zavaras of Denver

The 18-member Community Corrections Advisory Council advises and
assists the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice by analyzing,
identifying and recommendation policy modifications for the community
corrections program.

For more information or to obtain an application to serve on a
Colorado board or commission, contact the Governor’s Office of Boards
and Commissions at 303.866.6380, boards@state.co.us