EDITORIAL: Aurora’s winging-it lawmakers impede real progress by peddling more partisan snake oil  

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Aurora City Council members prepare to discuss a controversial proposed ban on homeless people camping in the city during a Feb. 28, 2022 city council meeting. Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

There’s real danger for Aurora — and every other Colorado town and community — from a surge in political theater substituting for legislation posed by jejune lawmakers and others too timid to reject this growing dangerous absurdity.

Welcome to Aurora in 2022, suffering this week under yet another “tough-on-crime” proposition, this one by Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky.

With no data, no research nor any discernible attempt to understand the problem, Jurinsky pitched a three-day mandatory jail sentence for those who steal $300 or more in merchandise.

She skipped Aurora’s tried-and-true committee and staff-review system without ever talking to prosecutors, affected city departments, public defenders, judges, or any kind of experts to examine the idea.

Jurinsky posed the legislation with no inquiry into the complicated problems behind an increase in shoplifting and theft from Aurora retailers, a problem here and across the country.

Jurinsky claims to have garnered valuable expertise because she visited the Aurora Municipal Holding Facility for a shift. She failed to mention, however, that the facility is not a jail. It’s a holding center where arrestees either bond out for low-level crimes or are transferred to jails in either Adams, Arapahoe or Douglas counties to await adjudication.

The facility was never built to be nor intended to serve as a jail repository for sentencing, and detainees must be released or transferred to a real jail within 72 hours.

Seat-of-the-pants schemes like this are what land cities like Aurora in courts against organizations like the ACLU and others, working to correct poorly planned gaffes.

Jurinsky’s stunt also swindles thousands of Aurora businesses by making owners and managers wrongfully believe the city has done something to solve the serious problem of widespread theft.

It doesn’t take an Aurora city councilperson to ask the simple question, what difference will this make if thieves keep their stealing under $300 an episode, or if they’re minors, immune from this farce?

Despite all that, and despite fellow conservatives pointing out that Jurinsky was asking them to drive the “tough-on-crime” circus car speeding into the abyss, they gave initial approval to the idea.

“Mayor Mike Coffman said he supported the bill but criticized the lack of a cost analysis, saying the council was unusual among elected groups he has served on for not requiring that proposals be accompanied by estimates, Sentinel Reporter Max Levy wrote last week.

“All of the legislative bodies I’ve been in do estimates,” Coffman said. “At this point in the process, we really should have fiscal notes on all ordinances that are brought forward.”

On that, Coffman, The Sentinel Editorial Board and more responsible lawmakers and city officials absolutely agree.

Conservative council members Curtis Gardner, Dustin Zvonek, Francoise Bergan, Steve Sundberg and Angela Lawson, however, didn’t care enough about a long list of serious questions unanswered by this ham-handed attempt at addressing a serious problem — again.

These lawmakers unwisely dismiss council opposition as liberal whining.

Aurora embarrassed itself earlier this summer when doing almost the exact same thing when Zvonek led the charge to force jail time for people convicted of stealing cars.

The problem with Zvonek’s scheme, hoping to make himself and fellow conservatives appear “tough on crime,” is that relatively very few car thieves are actually caught, let alone convicted. Zvonek’s attempt in shaming Democrats for changes in statewide legislation inadvertently pointed out how local district prosecutors serving Aurora have failed for years to get jail time out of car-thief convicts. The political kabuki sessions shone a fierce light on the fact that these crimes, plaguing Aurora and the metro area, go unsolved, primarily, because police don’t pursue them as priorities.

Aurora’s must-jail car-theft scheme is so ill-conceived that, despite cheers from far-right pundits across the state, no one has copied it.

Neither has anyone touched the city’s useless ban on homeless camping, which replaced the city’s previous ban on homeless camping. The only substantive change in law the city made was to further involve already overburdened police to help harass and evict homeless campers, shooing them from one unauthorized campsite to another.

In that case, the city, fortunately, agreed to expand pallet shelters and managed camping facilities, which actually help those who luck into the services.

But you don’t have to be an expert to see for yourself that Aurora’s failed camping ban is no more effective than Denver’s failed camping ban at banning homeless people from camping or making them any less homeless.

Aurora lawmakers must stop preening for themselves and conservative talk-radio shows and media with their ineffectual and wasteful showboating. The city faces a plethora of serious and critical issues, almost none of which are being effectively tackled with these partisan antics.

Aurora is managed and run by what is arguably the most professional and expert legion of municipal staffers in the state. Rather than listen to talk-radio extremists and their own instincts, city lawmakers should immediately consult the city experts that taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars to for advice, guidance and, most importantly, solid data.

Reliable and credible information does not come from partisan “think tanks” and especially not from Twitter trolls or talk-radio personalities.

Aurora lawmakers should put this latest partisan snake-oil proposal on hold until real experts can review the effects and possible benefits.

Heed the mayor’s advice in demanding fiscal prudence and accountability when passing legislation, and ignore the mayor’s inability to follow it himself.  

 

 

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Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
14 days ago

Perry and the Sentinel staff complaining about partisanship while being the most partisan hacks in the Denver media scene. It’s telling that his big comeback to businesses being ripped off is, “Oh well, nothing we can do about it anyway.” And no, there’s nothing “complicated” about thieves stealing from people, other than people like Perry enabling their bad behavior.

These lawmakers unwisely dismiss council opposition as liberal whining.”–That’s because it’s all your side is capable of doing.

Last edited 14 days ago by Factory Working Orphan
Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
13 days ago

Right. The city of Aurora should most definitely jail felons for the few days they legally can sentence them to rather than have them, you know, get felony convictions and potential prison time. That’ll work.

Order up a rap sheet sometime from CBI, then tell me how many municipal court convictions you see listed there. It will be zero, meaning they can just keep getting municipal court jail time with no one else realizing they have been committing felonies by stealing cars repeatedly.

You obviously know nothing of how the criminal justice system works, and how miniscule the role of municipal government is. You aren’t aware of how any of this works, but don’t let that stop you from mouthing off.

Hey, let’s send rapists and murderers to municipal court too! That’ll teach ’em! “For the heinous crime of killing your wife I hereby sentence you to 30 days in jail!” Yeah, that’ll work.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

Except jurisdiction wasn’t part of Perry’s whinging on this, the supposed cost and unfairness of throwing thieves in jail was. You’re just desperately covering for that now because you either don’t have a problem with these businesses and people being stolen from because you think Property Is Theft, or you’re clueless as to how to actually solve the problem. That’s why you brought up the unrelated crimes of rape and murder even though the proposal only covers theft.

Everything you write is dishonest, and nothing you say can be taken at face value. Like I pointed out above, and which you so elegantly proved, you burnouts can’t do anything but complain because it doesn’t cleave to your dumb utopian vision.

Zero
Zero
13 days ago

This is an astronomical level of irony from “Factory Working Orphan”, whose name is an awful and cruel joke poorly aimed at people who actually experience adversity, and who has often responded to other people with just “**** you”, out here trying to deflect from deflection with deflection.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Zero

I’m sure that made sense to you when you typed it out.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
12 days ago

Far more sense than your idea to treat felonies as municipal ordinance violations.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

Yes, Jeff, we know you love it when your allies steal from businesses. That’s why jurisdiction never appeared once in this sad, whinging article.

Paul Reimer
Paul Reimer
14 days ago

I couldn’t agree more.

J Walter
J Walter
13 days ago

I’m betting the incarceration costs far outweigh any benefit. How about restitution and community service, a very visible one like picking up trash wearing a bib that says SHOPLIFTER or THIEF? We have totally lost the age-old use of shame to keep people on the straight and narrow. Remember why inmates are no longer out on highways, working? It was decided that embarrassment was unfair TO CRIMINALS. Good Grief!

Juan
Juan
13 days ago

The writer (I’m treating that like we omit the name of serial killers) obviously has no concept of representative government. We elect people who represent us and who respond to our calls, emails and other communication. Constituents have asked for tougher punishments due to the Socialist, err Democrat, “equity” policies that have seen criminals get slapped on the wrist. Constituents demand their elected representatives enact harsher punishments and those elected representatives correctly respond by forwarding those wishes for policy creation.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
13 days ago
Reply to  Juan

Tougher penalties only apply IF and when a violator is apprehended and brought to justice. Without sufficient policing, that is what’s not happening. The crimes somehow need to be prevented in the first place. But that would take an involved effort by society–parents and schools. It’s much easier to pass laws that have no effect and then pretend like we did “something.”

And 3 days in jail? Are you kidding? That wouldn’t deter even a high-school kid.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
13 days ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

But that would take an involved effort by society–parents and schools. It’s much easier to pass laws that have no effect and then pretend like we did “something.””

Right, that’s why when we started throwing criminals in jail in the mid-90s, it had no effect on crime rates.

Oh, no, that’s not what happened–crime rates dropped like a stone.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
12 days ago

I’m sorry – no one was throwing felons in jail until the 1990s? Or is that just the decade in which you woke up?

You should study criminology and sociology. And learn how to do basic research.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

I’m sorry, are you upset when criminals are thrown in jail? Or does reality intrude on your fantasy? Considering you thought a state that had a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators was “right-wing,” probably the latter.

You should stop stanning for thieves. And learn how to execute basic reading comprehension.

BlueBird
13 days ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Well, for the teens that I grew up with, time sitting in a jail cell was a scary, dirty, and embarrassing experience and one that we never ever wanted to repeat. Plus, it was expensive and made our parents pissed.

Nilta
Nilta
13 days ago
Reply to  Juan

See Jeff Ryan’s post above.

Zero
Zero
12 days ago
Reply to  Juan

Juan… I got bad news for you, my dude.

Those socialists you are so mad at, they were ALSO elected.

And Aurora overwhelmingly elects Democrats at every level of government where the Democrats are named as Democrats. More people voted for Bernie Sanders in a PRIMARY in Aurora than voted for Danielle Jurinsky in the general. Our entire state delegation is not just Democrat, but very comfortably Democrat and in several cases, moderate Democrats who lean even a little right get toasted in elections. Aurora elects Democrats to all County level positions in Adams and Arapahoe county. Jurinsky, Sundberg, Gardner, Lawson, even Coffman have to HIDE their Republican affiliation to get elected in this city at all.

By your own interpretation of “representative government” – and that interpretation is sus af, but okay, let’s try rolling with it – then everything Marcano, Coombs do that is “socialist” is just representative of their voters, my dude, and you gotta chill out and let ’em do it!

By your own interpretation of “representative government”, all the Aurora state legislature’s support of police reforms and criminal justice reforms are ALSO just “forwarding wishes”.

By your own interpretation of “representative government”, if all the socialists in the city go ‘demand’ that Jurinsky support raising the minimum wage, she’s gotta do it, right? If someone does a poll and finds out that more people in Jurinsky’s district believe that the homeless camping ban is bad, she has to support repealing that ban, right? Right?

And on the subject of “calls, emails, and other communication” – how do you know what calls, emails, and other communication is being recieved from constituents to Jurinsky & Friends? If they simply must do the bidding of whoever emails them the most, I also got bad news for you if you hate bleeding heart liberal stuff, the socialists and the liberals LOVE email campaigns. Do you know how many messages Council recieved about firing the cops involved in the Elijah McClain killing? So many emails that it literally broke the system at Aurora. Do you know how many emails were sent about Jurinsky breaking the city code and pressuring the city to fire the Police Chief? Or when that awful officer sent that blatantly racist mass email? If Council had to do everything they’re emailed or called about, seems like those officers would have been fired immediately and we’d still have Vanessa Wilson as Chief.

Danielle Jurinsky was elected by like 11% of the vote, and the vote was a teeny tiny portion of the actual constituency in Aurora. She was elected by a fraction of a fraction. By your own interpretation of “representative” government, she doesn’t represent Aurora at all.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Zero

That’s a lot of words just to say, “I don’t like it when thieves are thrown in jail.”

Omen Cross
Omen Cross
13 days ago

*Yawn. Tough on crime. What a joke. They can keep spending more and more taxpayer money, they can supposedly keep the Police busy all day every day. So much so they don’t answer some calls, so much so they choose who gets their help. So much so they will respond to petty theft of a business before gunshots. Yet despite their tough stance on crime, it is all political theater. The proof is in the fact that these, “tough on crime” politicians let robberies happen right next door, knew it was a high possibility, yet did nothing. Watch, Jurinsky will rant and rave about these things, despite ignoring the problem when it could’ve been handled. More theater, no results. The laws are bad because they aren’t being made to serve the people. They are being made to serve selfish political agendas, thus they have no real legs to stand on. But notice, when they pass laws to limit public speaking time, or protect their right to give gifts to one another, or give themselves legal protection from the ramifications of their actions. That goes by without a hitch. Don’t fall for the games anymore. Call out these bad actors for using your tax money and your city to put on the worst of political theater, and accomplish nothing of value.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
13 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

Yes–“political theater” is exactly what I call most of our legislative hijinks these days. It’s all for our entertainment, amusement and division, as evidenced on here.

But making it sound like you did something that was “tough on crime” makes for good press come election time.

Juan
Juan
13 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

You claim the policy will result in nothing yet you rant that the policy was created without any substantive research supporting it. You are guilty of the same thing you are accusing the counsel of. How can you claim a policy will result in anything until it has had time to be enacted and results collected?

Omen Cross
Omen Cross
13 days ago
Reply to  Juan

Because they already exposed it as pointless. Theres no need to do an analysis when they cant even make good excuses for flaws that exist blatantly in these policies before they are enacted. 3 days is nothing, especially in a place thats just an enlarged holding cell. They will what, be released afterward with new connections and new ideas for how to do better/worse? The business owners, the ones supposedly being helped by this. Why isn’t this about labor restitution, or anything that might actually benefit the owners? Why must the answer be the only one that doesnt help or change anything other than adding to the illusion that these people are being “tough on crime”. If you’re tough on crime, you’re tough on all crime. But by prioritizing only the crime they choose to, they are being discriminatory against their own populace. They sure make a big deal about 300 dollars in theft from a store, but stay real quiet about letting people be robbed right next door as they said and did absolutely nothing. Pretty sure the things stolen there amount to way more than 300 bucks. So crime is only important when it serves their agenda. As are the people, who seem to only be treated as important when it comes to election time.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
13 days ago
Reply to  Juan

Car theft is a felony. Since when does the Aurora Municipal Court have felony jurisdiction?

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

That’s not what Perry was whining about, he was whining about thieves getting any kind of jail time at all.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
12 days ago

Keep telling yourself that. It will allow you to avoid learning anything about what you’re talking about.

I think felonies should be prosecuted by the office that has the jurisdiction to do so, and doesn’t send felons to jail for a mere three days for serious crimes.

But hey, what do I know?

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

I don’t have to “tell” myself anything, it’s right in the article. If you don’t think thieves should get jail time, just say so. Perry didn’t bother differentiating between felonies and misdemeanors, nor bothered bringing up jurisdiction, which shows how desperate your deflection is here.

Zero
Zero
12 days ago
Reply to  Juan

Juan, there was substantive research AGAINST this. Jurinsky refused to let the research be presented and she and her friends voted for it anyway, against substantive research.

Scott
Scott
13 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

I don’t get it. Crime is a problem and you’re attacking representatives trying to reduce it.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
12 days ago
Reply to  Scott

So felonies should be handled by municipal courts? Where there is no authority to send someone to prison?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
13 days ago

Yes, something needs to be done about the crime rate, but knee-jerking is never the answer. We need a concerted, collaborative effort with the prosecutors and the courts. But mostly, someone needs to figure out how to get more police officers on the streets.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
12 days ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Check your side’s talking points. Is “more police on the streets” your new “defund the police”? I don’t think so. Pick a lane.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
12 days ago

When did he say “defund the police”? I must have missed that…

Dennis Duffy
Dennis Duffy
13 days ago

Oh how incredibly tedious these clowns are, both the council members and the editorial BORED

Michael L Moore
Michael L Moore
13 days ago

I don’t get it! The conservatives wanted a chance to manage city policy, but then they just put things in place untested or uninformed by experts that are left to enforce someone’s “idea” of what is right. One would think they would want to improve the city. I understand that these problems of car theft and shoplifting are vexing, but more so are not getting the solutions right. I have problems with people who don’t want to listen to the pros. I managed grants for 4 different colleges. Audits in grant work are annual. My first was contentious! From there we spent the ensuing year listening to auditors about what would make our process better. It worked so well other colleges would ask us about our process. I would suggest a similar tactic for the city council!

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
13 days ago

How is throwing thieves in jail making the city worse?

BlueBird
13 days ago

Let’s consider:
The main duty of city government is to keep it’s communities safe.
The current crime rate is out of control.
A thief cannot steal more stuff while they are in jail.
A strong intervention by the courts might just change the thief for the better.
Strong swift judicial action can be a powerful deterrent.

BlueBird
13 days ago

Parents, do a better job and then schools, police, and courts will not have to be heavily involved in disciplining and training your child.

GeneD
13 days ago

Please CONcil members. don’t just do something; sit there!

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
13 days ago
Reply to  GeneD

Yeah, Gene, it’s good when business owners are robbed!

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
12 days ago

Right. They should get three days in jail. That’ll fix them.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

If it makes you mad that your allies get thrown in jail for robbing people, it’s automatically good.

Zero
Zero
12 days ago

Where are all the “facts over feelings” conservatives when the FACTS show that silly blustering about being “tough on crime” doesn’t actually reduce crime at all? You want to FEEL like we’re kicking criminals, so you ignore FACTS that kicking them doesn’t stop them from doing anything.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago
Reply to  Zero

Where are all the “facts over feelings” conservatives when the FACTS show that silly blustering about being “tough on crime” doesn’t actually reduce crime at all? “

The drop in crime from the mid-90s peak called.

Don Black
Don Black
12 days ago

I find it sad that no one made any noise about the police reform bill that basically destroyed policing in Colorado. Now, police officers know that they cannot risk getting in struggles with suspects who resist. Therefore, they are not going to stop or chase criminals or suspicious persons. Add to that the large number of officers who left due to these facts and you have a shortage of enforcement. The legislators, supported by the media, made it clear that they did not want criminals stopped. The language in the police reform bill is so vague and also punitive, that law enforcement cannot afford to risk their freedom based upon some popular interpretation of their actions. We are struggling to quickly replace all those experienced officers with fresh untested faces who are only minimal trained.

Studies have shown that it it is not the severity of the punishment but the certainty pf punishment that makes a difference. We have eliminated the certainty
of being caught and the certainty of punishment.

Virtually all politicians today are engaged in political theater. There seems to be little concern for the real things the majority of people want.

When you talk about the cost being more than the benefit, you must consider the cost to you the public. As a former police officer, I realize, from experience, a great deal that our politicians and the media do not. After dealing with criminals for so long, I realize that they do not fit the idea that many people hold. They are not, for the most part, just poor people down on their luck. Further, after dealing with the victims for so long, I realize that the very real losses and suffering caused by criminals is something that you can’t put a price tag on. It makes me crazy when I hear politicians calmly talk about the cost when untold misery and financial losses are being enacted upon our public. A good burglar commits 200 burglaries a year. 200 homes where the people feel like they have been raped. Calculate the cost of that.

So, let the council do what it can. Understand that the very real issue that the council and the chief of police should be addressing is the disastrous police reform bill. The fact that none of our police leaders or our city government leaders are addressing a major factor in the crime wave says much about their lack of courage. God knows it takes courage to address a sacred cow with a name like “police reform”.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
12 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

Well said, Mr. Black. For as much talking as the leftists on council do about “lived experience” they sure don’t want to hear from folks like you who have it.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
12 days ago

Yeah, their acceptance of “lived experience” is definitely selective, just like the rest of their ethic of repressive tolerance.

DICK MOORE
11 days ago

I’d like to personally thank the conservatives on City Council for attempting to make Aurora a safer city. I and I believe thousands of other Aurora citizens, probably a majority, believe that crime is out of hand in our city and we need someone to make it the number one priority to stop it. The Sentinel, Dave Perry and most of the commenters here don’t really understand the gravity of the problems nor have any viable plan to bring us back to safety. They only have rhetoric.

You Council conservatives, Don Black and I understand that the APD can only currently react to crimes because other forces stop them from trying to proactively stop the criminals. It’s now up to city leadership to make laws that help the jails and judicial system in an attempt to stop the criminals.

Keep up the good work until citizens can feel safe in Aurora, again.