YEAR IN RE­VIEW

From the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to mar­i­juana laws, 2016 pro­vided an end­less sup­ply of news on which to opine. Here are ex­cerpts from what were among the top sto­ries of the year.

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - By The Den­ver Post Editorial Board

15 Den­ver Post ed­i­to­ri­als on the top­ics that mat­tered most in 2016 Trumped!

Af­ter more than a year of prov­ing his crit­ics wrong, Don­ald Trump again shat­tered ex­pec­ta­tions and pre­vailed in his race for the high­est of­fice in the land.

De­spite his undis­ci­plined, hos­tile and de­mean­ing rhetoric on the cam­paign trail, The Don­ald trumped his an­kle-biters in gath­er­ing enough elec­toral sup­port Tues­day, and now he reigns supreme.

The for­mer real­ity TV star can take his show to the White House.

We hoped our coun­try’s con­tem­po­rary fas­ci­na­tion with him would fade be­fore the ob­vi­ous dan­ger of a Trump pres­i­dency. That the blus­tery bil­lion­aire man­aged to hi­jack the party of Lin­coln with his racist and misog­y­nist ways sug­gests darker times ahead for the coun­try. …

Democrats share in the blame in al­low­ing this gam­ble.

The party was too loyal in nar­row­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton’s path to nom­i­na­tion, and the re­sult was an os­si­fied can­di­date with enough bag­gage to fill a truck, whose re­liance on the Demo­cratic ma­chine pre­vented her from mak­ing a con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment. (Nov. 9)

Clin­ton makes his­tory with her story

One of the things the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion got right in its well-chore­ographed grand nar­ra­tive was to re­mind view­ers of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s life­long ded­i­ca­tion to help­ing the dis­ad­van­taged and those the sys­tem ex­cluded from free­doms every Amer­i­can ought to en­joy. In her his­tory-mak­ing ac­cep­tance as the first fe­male nom­i­nee of a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party, Clin­ton grace­fully summed up the ac­com­plish­ment by not just fo­cus­ing at­ten­tion on her story, but on her story’s po­ten­tial to clear the way for all. …

The con­ven­tion ac­com­plished more than biog­ra­phy, of course. Clin­ton ef­fec­tively brought the con­ver­sa­tion for­ward. In the build-up to ac­cept­ing her party’s nom­i­na­tion, she was at her best. Whether the ar­gu­ment can break through the trou­bling as­pects of her past time will have to tell.

But there she stood for the his­tory books, ar­gu­ing for a na­tion that works to­gether for those not al­ready do­ing well, for chil­dren who need to be able to be­lieve they can make it, too, as that awk­ward young woman from the for­ma­tive years of the civil rights ef­fort grew up to prove with the story of her life. (July 30)

Of course Congress should in­ves­ti­gate al­leged Rus­sian hacks

What an ex­tra­or­di­nary time for our na­tion that there would even be a de­bate over whether Congress should in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions that an­other na­tion at­tempted to in­flu­ence our pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Af­ter months of warn­ings from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and the na­tion’s top spies that Rus­sia sought to make a mess of things, we learn that CIA of­fi­cials be­lieve that Rus­sian-backed hack­ers worked to help push Don­ald Trump to his sur­prise vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton. Per­haps pre­dictably, Pres­i­dent-elect Trump says that’s all bunk and that fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be a waste of time. For added mea­sure, the blus­tery New York bil­lion­aire dis­missed Amer­ica’s pre­miere in­tel­li­gence agents as hacks in their own

right, and po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated bum­blers at that.

Either way, shouldn’t Amer­i­cans be granted the op­por­tu­nity to learn the truth? (Dec. 13)

Glib re­ac­tions to Or­lando shoot­ing, but no easy an­swers

We’re not sur­prised politi­cians are ar­gu­ing that the mas­sacre in Or­lando val­i­dates their po­si­tions, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to sub­scribe to their claims.

From gun con­trol to fight­ing the Is­lamic State to Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion, most poli­cies be­ing de­bated would likely have done lit­tle to pre­vent the ram­page of Omar Ma­teen. …

Hil­lary Clin­ton on Sun­day said, “We need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of ter­ror­ists or other vi­o­lent crim­i­nals.” Yet so far as we know, Ma­teen only be­came a ter­ror­ist and vi­o­lent crim­i­nal the day he stormed the night­club. …

Don­ald Trump’s re­newed call for a tem­po­rary halt on Mus­lim mi­gra­tion to the U.S. is just as de­fi­cient as when he first pro­posed it, on civil lib­er­ties grounds for starters. Now he says we have no way to “pre­vent the se­cond gen­er­a­tion from rad­i­cal­iz­ing.” And yet one sure way of rad­i­cal­iz­ing more U.S. Mus­lims is to in­sti­tute the equiv­a­lent of a re­li­gious test for en­try — the first of its kind in our his­tory. (June 13)

Den­ver’s use-of-force pol­icy is a true mile­stone

If you were try­ing to de­vise a mod­ern, hu­mane use-of-force pol­icy for a sher­iff ’s depart­ment that re­sponded to the con­tro­ver­sies of the day, it’s hard to imag­ine one much bet­ter than what Den­ver an­nounced on Thurs­day.

It’s also hard to imag­ine we just wrote those words, given all of the crit­i­cism we’ve lev­eled at the depart­ment in the past few years over abuse of pris­on­ers, er­ratic dis­ci­pline and scan­dalous hir­ing pro­ce­dures — not to men­tion lead­er­ship that had been blind, if not in­dif­fer­ent, to the prob­lems.

But the city has me­thod­i­cally — too me­thod­i­cally in our view, but we won’t harp on that to­day — moved to clean up the mess, in­clud­ing hir­ing a new sher­iff from out­side. And this use-of-force pol­icy is an­other mile­stone in the ef­fort. (June 16)

Don’t short­change ef­forts to com­bat Zika

An­other baby was born this week in the U.S. with Zika-linked mi­cro­cephaly — an ab­nor­mally small head and ar­rested brain devel­op­ment — the third such case over­all and first in the North­east. But there will be more in the U.S. af­ter this one, and per­haps many more. …

What to do? Above all, fund re­search to com­bat the dis­ease and ef­forts to con­trol mos­qui­toes and ed­u­cate the public (the virus can also be trans­mit­ted sex­u­ally, for ex­am­ple). That’s what the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been say­ing for months, while call­ing for an ap­pro­pri­a­tion of $1.9 bil­lion to boost an­tiZika ef­forts, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment’s re­search into “vec­tor­borne dis­eases” (ticks, fleas, mos­qui­toes, etc.) that is head­quar­tered in Fort Collins.

But Congress still hasn’t agreed on a fund­ing plan. (June 2)

Retry­ing Clarence Mosel-EL is a trav­esty of jus­tice

A jury in 1988 de­cided there was enough ev­i­dence to put Clarence Moses-EL in pri­son for 48 years for sex­ual as­sault, and now, af­ter a judge has va­cated that sen­tence, a new jury will be asked to re­con­sider. …

Moses-EL pushed the is­sue from pri­son, in­clud­ing rais­ing money to pay for the DNA test­ing that he be­lieved would ex­on­er­ate him and prove some­one else com­mit­ted the crime.

The de­struc­tion of key ev­i­dence in this case — de­spite the clear or­der to pre­serve — rep­re­sents such a trav­esty to jus­tice that if it can’t be con­sid­ered by ju­rors, it should at least be con­sid­ered by the DA con­sid­er­ing pros­e­cu­tion.

Given that sorry his­tory of jus­tice in this case, we are puz­zled by the de­ci­sion to move for­ward with pros­e­cu­tion. Moses-EL has served 28 years. With­out the DNA ev­i­dence to prove the case one way or the other, time served would seem jus­tice enough. (Nov. 7)

Den­ver made the right move on home­less camps

So what is a city sup­posed to do when some home­less peo­ple re­ject avail­able shel­ter and ser­vices and in­sist on camp­ing on public prop­erty?

That’s the is­sue Den­ver has faced since last fall near the down­town Sa­mar­i­tan House shel­ter, and of­fi­cials demon­strated a great deal of pa­tience in try­ing to re­solve the prob­lem with­out mov­ing against the camps them­selves.

But the prob­lem did not sub­side. It got worse and would prob­a­bly have con­tin­ued to worsen with warmer weather on the way.

So Den­ver de­cided to act — to evict the campers and re­move their be­long­ings on the ba­sis of a “loom­ing public health and safety emer­gency.” And while the de­ci­sion was dif­fi­cult, the ac­tions taken so far this week have been jus­ti­fied. (March 9)

Bill Arm­strong’s con­ser­vatism al­lowed room for bi­par­ti­san­ship

Bill Arm­strong was a man of strong con­vic­tions. No one who knew the for­mer U.S. se­na­tor, who died this week at 79, would quar­rel with that state­ment, or with the fact that his be­liefs were both deeply con­ser­va­tive and re­li­gious.

And yet Arm­strong’s most mem­o­rable ac­com­plish­ment dur­ing his 12 years in the Se­nate was al­most cer­tainly his ser­vice in 1983 on the Na­tional Com­mis­sion on So­cial Se­cu­rity Re­form, which rec­om­mended a bi­par­ti­san pack­age of re­forms that Congress would ul­ti­mately en­act. The deal in­volved sac­ri­fice on both ends of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, in­clud­ing higher pay­roll taxes, more ben­e­fits sub­ject to tax­a­tion, a hike in the re­tire­ment age, and a de­lay in the costof-liv­ing ad­just­ment.

The set­tle­ment didn’t fully re­solve So­cial Se­cu­rity’s longterm fund­ing woes, but it was a mile­stone com­pro­mise nev­er­the­less. And it re­mains in­struc­tive, since a sim­i­lar deal is un­think­able, un­for­tu­nately, in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. …

Arm­strong left the Se­nate on his own terms while still in his 50s, an age when many ca­reer politi­cians are just hit­ting their stride. And he would go on, years later, to put his stamp on Colorado Chris­tian Uni­ver­sity, spear­head­ing am­bi­tious re­de­vel­op­ment plans to ex­pand and up­date the cam­pus with state-of-the-art ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties. That he would con­tem­plate such a grand goal in his 70s sur­prised no one who knew him well. Colorado has lost a gi­ant in its po­lit­i­cal and civic life. (July 7)

Congress right to press VA on Au­rora hospi­tal

Tax­pay­ers in Colorado and across the na­tion have been kept in the dark far too long about what went so dis­as­trously awry with the mush­room­ing cost to build the still-un­der-con­struc­tion veter­ans hospi­tal in Au­rora.

One would think a bil­lion-dol­lar over­run for a fa­cil­ity orig­i­nally slated to cost $604 mil­lion would de­mand a timely ex­pla­na­tion. But as we saw again last week, the top brass at the U.S. Depart­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs keeps try­ing to keep its se­crets. Though the VA com­pleted a re­port on the mat­ter more than a year ago, it has de­clined to make its find­ings public. What’s more, the VA has kept in­for­ma­tion from con­gres­sional over­sight.

We’re pleased that mem­bers of the U.S. House Com­mit­tee on Veter­ans’ Af­fairs have taken ac­tion meant to free up that in­for­ma­tion. Last week, the com­mit­tee voted to com­pel VA of­fi­cials to make avail­able de­tailed records from the depart­ment’s in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the eye-pop­ping over­run. (Sept. 13)

A year af­ter Planned Par­ent­hood shoot­ing, a call for women’s rights

One year ago a man be­set with men­tal ill­ness de­cided to add a deadly re­join­der to the de­bate over women’s ac­cess to abor­tion ser­vices.

The 57-year-old gun­man killed three peo­ple, in­clud­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer, at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Colorado Springs on Black Fri­day, a day typ­i­cally spent re­lax­ing or shop­ping with fam­ily and friends. A dozen oth­ers, in­clud­ing of­fi­cers and sher­iffs deputies, were in­jured.

As Den­ver Post re­porters noted dur­ing the af­ter­math, “the very na­ture of the in­ci­dent — a shoot­ing at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic — man­aged to tie to­gether two of the na­tion’s most di­vi­sive is­sues into one com­bustible pack­age.” …

To­day we call out for sober re­flec­tion on this mis­er­able tragedy and a re­newed pledge to women’s rights. They took a beat­ing this elec­tion sea­son. For many vot­ers, the pres­i­den­tial race — given the va­cancy on the U.S. Supreme Court — be­came an usu­ally in­tense proxy bat­tle over abor­tion rights. (Nov. 24)

Hick­en­looper should veto gro­cery store al­co­hol sales bill

Law­mak­ers and lob­by­ists were too clever by half when they de­vised a com­pro­mise to al­low ex­panded al­co­hol sales in Colorado gro­cery stores. Al­though they suc­ceeded in find­ing a so­lu­tion ac­cept­able to most par­ties, they de­cided that wasn’t enough. They also sought to tie the hands of those who didn’t get on board with the deal.

It was a big mis­take, and it badly tar­nishes the fin­ished prod­uct, Se­nate Bill 197, which is head­ing for the gov­er­nor’s desk. He should veto the bill for that rea­son alone.

When we urged law­mak­ers last month to fash­ion a com­pro­mise to phase in full-strength beer and wine sales in gro­cery stores, the idea was to pre-empt the need for a bal­lot ini­tia­tive that would throw the switch on such sales overnight. But we never doubted the right of Colorado vot­ers to take mat­ters into their own hands and open up gro­cery store sales more quickly if they liked.

That’s why SB 197 is so flawed. Al­though it does phase in ex­panded al­co­hol sales in gro­ceries (over 20 years), it also cur­tails vot­ers’ right to adopt a statute free of leg­isla­tive in­ter­fer­ence. Even if the group Your Choice Colorado goes ahead with its bal­lot mea­sure to al­low gro­cery stores to sell full-strength beer and wine and it passes in Novem­ber, cer­tain pro­vi­sions of SB 197 would ham­string its ef­fect. (May 16)

Death of An­tonin Scalia raises stakes for 2016 elec­tion

In this most ex­tra­or­di­nary po­lit­i­cal sea­son, pre­pare your­self for an­other nov­elty: a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that isn’t filled for more than a year. Af­ter Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia’s death over the week­end, it’s al­most cer­tainly go­ing to hap­pen. (Feb. 14)

Be­cause Jack Splitt stood strong and tall, oth­ers may suf­fer less

Too of­ten while ob­serv­ing the su­per­charged public pol­icy arena, we for­get why so many go to so much trou­ble to bat­tle over leg­is­la­tion in the first place.

While it can get ob­tuse and ver­bose at times — and mean and petty — it’s ul­ti­mately about peo­ple.

This week, we were re­minded of — and hum­bled by — the story of Jack Splitt’s brave ef­forts to help chil­dren and fam­i­lies deal­ing with ex­treme med­i­cal con­di­tions and dis­eases.

Splitt, who died Wed­nes­day at the age of 15, be­came the face of the suc­cess­ful push to al­low chil­dren suf­fer­ing from the kinds of ail­ments who see ben­e­fit from med­i­cal mar­i­juana to be able to use it in the class­room.

Hav­ing the guts and the char­ac­ter to stare down the enor­mous taboo sub­ject of mar­i­juana in schools is one thing. Tak­ing up that chal­lenge from a wheel­chair while trapped in a body fre­quently wracked with pain from his strug­gle with cere­bral palsy makes Splitt’s ac­com­plish­ments all the more amaz­ing. (Aug. 26)

Cannabis de­ci­sion is cause for muted cel­e­bra­tion

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to ex­pand op­por­tu­ni­ties for sci­en­tific re­search of med­i­cal mar­i­juana, while leav­ing cannabis clas­si­fi­ca­tion un­der its long­time most-dan­ger­ous-drug sta­tus, strikes us as an im­por­tant step, but hardly a so­lu­tion.

The de­ci­sion is hope­ful in that it sig­nals an at­tempt to end the bu­reau­cratic hur­dles that pre­vent sci­en­tific study of the drug that so many ad­vo­cates claim has cu­ra­tive pow­ers. But leav­ing in place the stigma and le­gal prob­lems that a Sched­ule I des­ig­na­tion cre­ates makes the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s at­tempt to find some mid­dle ground dif­fi­cult to truly ap­pre­ci­ate.

And by leav­ing cannabis in that most-dan­ger­ous cat­e­gory — a cat­e­gory that de­fines pot as hav­ing zero medic­i­nal value — the de­ci­sion leaves in place re­stric­tions that baf­fle re­searchers and does noth­ing to ame­lio­rate the many prob­lems state-le­gal cannabis busi­nesses must nav­i­gate. Nor, ob­vi­ously, does it do much good for per­sonal free­dom in states where cannabis re­mains il­le­gal. And so the de­struc­tive, decades-long war on pot hob­bles along. (Aug. 12)

D “The for­mer real­ity TV star can take his show to the White House.” Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing an elec­tion night rally at the New York Hil­ton Mid­town on Nov. 9. Jim Wat­son, AFP/Getty Images file

“Hav­ing the guts and the char­ac­ter to stare down the enor­mous taboo sub­ject of mar­i­juana in schools …” 15-year-old Wheat Ridge High School stu­dent Jack Splitt’s court case led to Jack’s Law, which per­mits stu­dents to use non­smok­able cannabis treat­ment on school grounds. Hy­oung Chang, Post file

D “Above all, fund re­search to com­bat the dis­ease [Zika] and ef­forts to con­trol mos­qui­toes and ed­u­cate the public …” Joao Guil­herme, who has mi­cro­cephaly, re­ceives aquatic phys­io­ther­apy treat­ment with Dr. Karen Ma­ciel in the Pepita Du­ran clinic in Re­cife, Brazil. Mario Tama. Getty Images file

Drew An­gerer, Getty Images file

“Don­ald Trump’s re­newed call for a tem­po­rary halt on Mus­lim mi­gra­tion to the U.S. is just as de­fi­cient as when he first pro­posed it …” Mourn­ers gather at a makeshift me­mo­rial prior to a June 13 vigil for the vic­tims of the Pulse Night­club shoot­ings in Or­lando, Fla.

AFP/Getty Images

“In her his­tory-mak­ing ac­cep­tance as the first fe­male nom­i­nee of a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party, Clin­ton grace­fully summed up the ac­com­plish­ment …” Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton at an Oct. 31 cam­paign rally in Cleve­land, Ohio. Robyn Beck,

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