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The Colorado State Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved house concurrent resolution 1, a bill that would authorize a ballot question to revamp the rules surrounding how the state hires and fires employees. The measure would allow the state to hire residents of neighboring states who live near the Colorado border, enable temps to stay on longer, and double the number of finalists considered for open positions. The referred measure passed in the state senate on Tuesday and must now return to the house for approval of senate amendments. Governor John Hickenlooper supports the personnel changes, as well as others in a separate bill, HB1321 that would determine state employees’ pay through a mixture of performance and time on the job, rather than the current performance pay system. State employees have not had a raise in four years. Changes to how seniority affects transfers and pay grades are also included in the other bill.
Threats against two Trinidad city council members have been received following the council’s firing of Trinidad City Manager Ed Gil De Rubio on Tuesday. Gil De Rubio has been the Trinidad city manager since September of 2010. He was fired Tuesday on a 4-3 council vote. Since then, two city council members who voted to fire Gil De Rubio have received threatening phone calls according to police. The two council members have not been identified. Trinidad City Mayor John Rino and council members Al Pando, Linda Velasquez and Joe Bonato voted to fire Gil De Rubio. Bernadette Baca-Gonzales, Frank Shew and Carol Bolton voted against the measure. In a hearing in the Trinidad High School gym attended by about 150 people, Gil De Rubio criticized the council, city attorney, Rino and others saying that the city has enjoyed a budget surplus under his guidance and called attempts to fire him personal in nature and the result of micro-management. Gil De Rubio, who had clashed with some council members, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 6th. He will be paid two months’ salary, or about $15,000, in severance, according to his employment contract.
Charges against Daniel Willburn, 26, have been dismissed in a kidnapping and sexual assault case. Willburn was alleged to have kidnapped and sexually assaulted a teenage girl at John Mall High School in Walsenburg last September. Willburn was charged with two counts of sexual assault, a single charge of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of third-degree assault, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of interference with staff, faculty and students of an educational institution. According to court documents, the alleged victim in the case was unable to identify Willburn. There is also no physical evidence connecting Willburn to the alleged crimes, according to District Attorney Frank Ruybalid. A second defendant in the case, Laqun Murphy, faces trial on the same charges on June 4th.
Saguache County Commissioners have granted Solar Reserve, a California-based solar company, a permit and have signed a development agreement for the construction of a 200-megawatt solar power-generating station north of Center. The project consists of two 100mw 656-foot tall solar thermal power generating units based on emerging concentration of solar-thermal power technology. The next step in the process is for solar reserve to get a long-term contract to sell the energy to a utility. Tri-State Generation and Xcel Energy are the best options that Solar Reserve has at this point. The agreement between Solar Reserve and Saguache County includes “reasonable efforts to hire applicants” through the six valley counties for construction jobs, a company payout of $50,000 for a one-time operational shortfall fee if there are not enough local hires, and $200,000 for local training programs to develop skills essential to the project. The project will be completed in two phases, with commercial operations beginning no earlier than June 1st of 2014 and June 1st of 2015, respectively.
Colorado’s economy slowed slightly from March to April, according to the Goss Business Conditions Index to be released today. The overall index for Colorado sank to 58.9 from March’s 61.4. Components of the business conditions index for April in Colorado were new orders at 59.9, production or sales at 60.6, delivery lead time at 51.6, inventories at 54.7 and employment at 67.7. An index value that is greater than 50 indicates economic expansion. A value lower than 50 indicates contraction.