NEWS: Monday September 20, 2010

Sep 20th @ 6:03 am in News by Scott Staley

The Grand Junction Police Department has decided to close their substation inside the Mesa Mall. The Daily Sentinel says the officers will stay through the holidays, but come the first of the year; the space they’re leasing will be empty. The Department as a whole is down nine positions and says that mall traffic has been on a decline since their storefront presence in 2002. The Grand Junction Police Department ensures that they’ll keep an eye on the mall, but just won’t be staffed there.
Source: Daily Sentinel (Posted 6:02a)

Tragic news for an Olathe family after a car accident on Highway 50 over the weekend. Alyssa Blake was a front-seat passenger in a single vehicle car crash Saturday west of Delta.  Colorado State Patrol tells NBC 11 News that Rama Martin of Montrose was driving the Suzuki Sidekick when she drifted into the median, causing the small SUV to roll four times. A 14-year-old in the car was not wearing a seatbelt and was life-flighted to St. Mary’s where she remains in critical condition. A baby strapped correctly in it’s car seat suffered only minor injuries. Blake was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. No word on what caused the fatal accident.
Source: NBC 11 News (Posted 6:01a)

The percentage of infants and young children who are properly restrained in car seats declined slightly this year in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  The announcement comes as National Child Passenger Safety Week is set to take place Sept. 19-25th.

A statewide observational study conducted by Colorado State University in June 2010 shows only 85% of Colorado children, newborn to age 4, are safely restrained in motor vehicles, down from 87% last year.  For children ages 5 to 15, there was a 2% improvement in restraint use, but it remains low at 76%, well below the overall statewide seat belt usage of 83%.

Safety officials say the drop in car seat use and the low overall seat belt use among children highlights the need for continued education to parents and caregivers about the best ways to keep children safe while traveling in a motor vehicle. “Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14, but those deaths are absolutely preventable by properly using child safety seats,” said Pamela Hutton, CDOT’s chief engineer and governor’s representative for highway safety. “Adults need to set an example by always buckling up themselves and taking responsibility to make sure their youngest passengers are properly protected as well.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seats reduce the likelihood of an infant being killed in a crash by 71%, and reduce the likelihood to toddlers (age 1 to 4) by 54%.  However, simply using a car seat is not enough.  It must be installed properly to be effective, but studies show approximately 3 out of 4 child safety seats are not used correctly. “It is critical that parents pay close attention to the instructions that come with car seat and to adhere to the weight limits of that seat,” said Corp. Eric Wynn, Colorado State Patrol.  “The position of the harness belt and chest clip is also important, and parents shouldn’t be afraid to tighten it down snugly against children to prevent them from slipping out during a crash.  We know it’s not easy to install a car seat, but there is free help available across the state.” To assist parents in determining the best child safety seat for their child and to make sure it is installed properly, a network of more than 140 Child Passenger Safety Team Colorado “fitting stations” statewide offers year-round assistance to parents. And during Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept 19-25th, there will be several special “check-up” events held across the state to assist parents. For more information on those events and to find a local fit station, visit www.carseatscolorado.com or call toll free 1-877-LUV-TOTS or 303-239-4625 in Metro Denver.

Child Passenger Safety Week is also an opportunity to remind parents that Colorado’s child passenger safety law recently changed as of Aug. 1, 2010.  It now requires all children under 8 to be properly restrained in a child safety seat, which means 6- and 7-year olds are now required to be in booster seats, if they are not already using them.  Safety experts recommend children use boosters until the seat belt fits properly, which is usually when they are at least 4’9” tall.   The revised law gives parents more flexibility in choosing the best safety seat for their child or baby, as long as they adhere to the upper weight and height limits set by the seat’s manufacturer and follow installation instructions.  However, the law does set the following minimum requirements:
Babies under 1 year old and less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat and only in the back seat of the vehicle.
—Once babies turn 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds, the law gives them the option of using a front-facing car seat. Rear-facing car seats are still allowed by law and safety experts recommend that parents continue using them to the upper weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer because it provides the most protection.
—Children ages 4, 5, 6 and 7 must continue to be protected in a child safety restraint. For most kids in this age group that means a booster seat, but experts recommend that children remain in a forward-facing car seat longer if the upper weight limit of the seat allows it (usually 40-50 pounds).
—When a child turns 8, the law allows them to use a vehicle seat belt. But for the best protection, safety experts recommend that kids continue to use a booster seat until they are at least 4’9” tall, which half of children will not reach until they are 11 years old.
—The minimum fine is $82 per violation. All child passenger safety violations are primary enforcement. There is a one-year education period for booster seat violations only.

For information on Colorado’s Child Passenger Safety laws and safety recommendations, visit www.carseatscolorado.com.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also hosting a Twitter party to inform people about Child Passenger Safety Week and National Seat Check Saturday.  Join in on Wednesday, September 22 at Noon MST. Follow twitter.com/childseatsafety  and use the hashtag #CPSweek to participate.
Source: Press Release    (Posted 6:00a)

Last week, the Justice Department announced that it has reached agreements with Colorado, District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii officials to help ensure that military service members and U.S. citizens living overseas have an opportunity to participate fully in the Nov. 2, 2010 federal general election.  These agreements were necessary to ensure compliance with the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act).

“Our uniformed service members and other overseas citizens deserve to have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the election of our nation’s leaders, and to know that their votes will be counted,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “I am extremely pleased with state officials who worked quickly and cooperatively with the department and agreed to measures that will ensure the states’ military and overseas voters, many of whom are members of our armed forces and their families bravely serving our country around the world, will have their votes counted in the upcoming election.”

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) requires states to allow uniformed service voters (serving both overseas and within the United States) and overseas citizens to register to vote and to vote absentee for all elections for federal office.  In 2009, Congress enacted the MOVE Act, which made broad changes to UOCAVA.  Among those changes is a requirement that states transmit absentee ballots to voters covered under UOCAVA no later than 45 days before federal elections.  Under the new law, states can apply to the Department of Defense for a hardship waiver of this requirement for a particular federal election if the state’s primary election date prohibited it from sending ballots by the 45th day before the election; if a legal contest causes a delay in generating ballots; or if the state’s constitution prohibits compliance.  To obtain a waiver, states must 1) establish that one or more of these circumstances creates an undue hardship, and 2) present a comprehensive plan that provides UOCAVA voters sufficient time to receive and submit marked absentee ballots in time to have them counted in that election.  Waiver determinations are made by the Department of Defense, after consulting with the Department of Justice.

The agreement with Colorado provides that the state will take the actions necessary to ensure that its counties send an official absentee ballot to all military service members and U.S. citizens living overseas no later than Sept. 18, 2010, thus ensuring that eligible military and overseas voters have at least 45 days to receive, cast and return their ballots in time for them to be counted in the Nov. 2, 2010, election.  The agreement also commits the state to take steps to ensure compliance in future federal elections and provide a report to the Department of Justice on those efforts.  Colorado sought a hardship waiver on grounds that its Aug. 10 primary election date prohibited it from complying with the 45-day deadline specified by the MOVE Act.

Under the agreement with the District of Columbia, the District will send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters no later than October 4, and will provide additional time — until Nov. 19, 2010 — for receipt of absentee ballots.  The District passed emergency rules embodying these new deadlines, which will ensure that eligible military and overseas voters have at least 45 days to receive, cast and return their ballots in time for them to be counted in the Nov. 2, 2010, election.  The agreement also commits the District of Columbia to take steps to ensure compliance in future federal elections and provide a report to the Department of Justice on those efforts.  Earlier this year, the Council of the District of Columbia adopted a “Sense of the Council Primary Election Timing Resolution of 2010” acknowledging that the District needed to enact legislation to move its primary election for federal offices to a date no later than the first Tuesday of the first full week of August, beginning in 2012.  The District sought a hardship waiver on grounds that its Sept. 14 primary date prohibited it from complying with the 45-day deadline specified by the MOVE Act.

According to the agreement, the U.S. Virgin Islands will send absentee ballots for federal office (the Virgin Islands’ Delegate to Congress) on or before Sept. 18, the 45th day before the election.  In addition, the Virgin Islands will mail a second ballot with the territorial contests for local office to UOCAVA voters by Oct. 2.  The Virgin Islands sought a hardship waiver on grounds that its Sept. 11 primary election date prohibited it from complying with the 45-day deadline specified by the MOVE Act.

Hawaii’s primary election on Sept. 18, 2010 precludes the state from sending absentee ballots to military and overseas voters by the MOVE Act’s ballot transmittal deadline of September 18 — the 45th day before the November 2 federal general election.  To ensure that the state’s military and overseas voters have sufficient time to receive, cast and return their ballots in time for them to be counted in the Nov. 2, 2010 election, the agreement requires Hawaii to send out ballots by express delivery service no later than Sept. 24, 2010, and to provide voters with the means to return their completed ballots by express delivery free of charge.  Additionally, Hawaii will contact voters to remind them of their option to receive their ballots by email starting on Sept. 24, and of a procedure by which voters may obtain, and also return, replacement ballots electronically within 5 days of the Nov. 2 election if the voter has not otherwise received his or her ballot.  Hawaii will maintain contact with its military and overseas voters periodically in the days leading up to the election to monitor whether voters have received their ballots and to take action if replacement ballots are necessary.  These safeguards are designed to ensure that eligible military and overseas voters have sufficient time to receive, cast and return their ballots in time to be counted.  Hawaii sought a hardship waiver on grounds that its Sept. 18 primary election date – the latest in the nation — prohibited it from complying with the 45-day deadline specified by the MOVE Act. Earlier this year, Hawaii enacted legislation, effective on Jan. 1, 2011, which moves Hawaii’s primary date to the second Saturday in August in every even-numbered year to help ensure compliance with UOCAVA’s 45-day advance ballot mailing requirement in future federal general elections.

On Aug. 27, the Department of Defense denied all four waiver requests.  The Department of Defense found that Colorado and the Virgin Islands did not establish an undue hardship for the Nov. 2, 2010 election, and that their proposed comprehensive plans did not afford sufficient time for UOCAVA voters to receive and submit absentee ballots in time to have them counted.  For Hawaii and the District of Columbia, although an undue hardship was found, they did not provide adequate comprehensive plans.  Immediately following denial of the waiver applications for Colorado, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii, the Department of Justice advised state officials that the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights had authorized litigation to enforce UOCAVA.  Discussions with the state and territory officials were initiated to resolve the matter, which led to the agreements announced today.

More information about UOCAVA and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/misc/activ_uoc.htm. Complaints may be reported to the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
Source: Press Release    (Posted 5:58a)