Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What inspires me. #FailedToDeath

The response we've received from our "Failed to Death" series shows Coloradans do care about child abuse and neglect. I never thought they didn't, but with so many competing interests these days I wasn't sure how many people would react.

In great numbers they have emailed, called, Facebooked and tweeted me to say they want to see the system improve.

I got this email from a Littleton couple:
"Your week-long reporting, along with the corresponding articles in the Post, have not only informed us but also has raised our awareness to the point of action.  This morning we sent an email to our re-elected State Senator, Linda Newell.  We explained to her that we fully support the idea of a statewide hotline and would support her efforts fully."
Last night State Senator Linda Newell wrote to tell about the urgency she's feeling from the dozens of people emailing and calling her. She is inspired. I am too. I take pride in knowing that our series, which we produced with The Denver Post (see their series here), has the attention of legislators who have great power and can do something about reducing child abuse and neglect.

Here are State Senator Newell's thoughts which I included in follow-up news report.

I want to know what you think after watching our stories. Send me a note on Facebook or tweet me. Thanks for watching and caring.

Here's first story in our series. It's heartbreaking.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why you can't see what inmates in federal custody look like

There are two reasons... one cameras are not allowed in federal courts. We can have sketch artists who draw what people look like. We are allowed to Tweet from court and use other technology, but no cameras. I wish I knew the full reason behind this. In come courts, an inmate must walk into public view as they enter or exit the courthouse. In the District of Colorado, that's not the case.

The other reason, is that most federal districts do not release mug shots of people who have been arrested. Colorado is one of those that doesn't.

...just a couple of interesting pieces of information. I had time to write this out because the hearing for Mitchell Kusick is delayed by 30 minutes and counting. He's the man federal prosecutors say planned to attack Jefferson County school kids and also kill Obama.

Apparently I'm "trustworthy." Scam artists just love flattery

Like I would ever fall for this. (I say that all the time, but clearly people do.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Keeping abuse & neglect stories in perspective #FailedToDeath

I wanted to share a couple of things on my mind.

We worked long and hard to investigate both state and county departments of human services, as well as the overall systems in place to keep children from dying of abuse and neglect.

It hasn't been easy. We've been critical of the system.

We've shown how some 3,000 child abuse or neglect tips were not properly investigated. We've shown you the smiling faces of children who lived tough lives.

With all of the tough facts I'm reporting this week, I do think people in charge do want to improve the systems. There are hard-working caseworkers and supervisors out there. Caseworkers aren't after a big paycheck. Imagine if each day you had to go see kids in struggling situations. It would be very, very tough. The hard-working caseworkers deserve a lot of our thanks and gratitude for doing what they do day in and day out.

I don't have all the solutions.
Maria Gardner talks from prison.
Some progress is being made. El Paso County DHS changed its policy after Maria Gardner lit her children on fire. But we still don't have a full understanding of why the caseworker and a therapist didn't realize she was a danger to herself and her children.

Change is not as fast as anyone would like.

It's clear the system fails some children. I wish counties were able to share the whole picture with us when a child dies.

It doesn't sit well with me when I learn that the head of Adams County's Department of Human Services told my colleague, Jeremy Jojola, that he didn't want to release information in Andres Estrada case.

He asked Jeremy how he'd feel if his family lost a loved one and details appeared on television.

It wouldn't be easy for any of us. But how will we ever know of problems and find solutions if the facts don't eventually come out?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Valid provisional ballots will be counted

I just got off the phone with Adams County. Every provisional ballot that is determined to be valid, will be counted. It does not matter how close an election is. Adams County tells me that it is that way nationwide. Federal law actually dictates how provisional ballots are counted.

Karen Long, who is the Adams County Clerk and Recorder, tells me every election cycle there is a rumor that provisional ballots only get counted if the race is very close. She says that's only a rumor and is not true.

Voting problems in Adams County confirmed

I just got off the phone with officials in Adams County. They told me that they've identified the source of the computer problems.

When some voters went to check their voter eligibility at the polling precincts they were told they were not eligible to vote. Officials think that that was because poll workers were putting too much personal information into the system. Believe it or not, I'm told the system works better when you put less information in.

Here's an example. If you put someone's first name, last name, address, city, state and ZIP Code and any part of that information isn't exactly correct then the computer rejects it.

Officials think they have corrected the problem by instructing all of the polling precincts in Adams County to only use someone's first name, last name and date of birth.

If someone was rejected previously they were still allowed to vote using a provisional ballot.

Our 1.5 hour voting line prediction at CenterPoint was WAY wrong #Decision2012

Reports that post office won't deliver ballots inaccurate

The U.S. Post Office says it will deliver any mail-in ballot, even if it doesn't have the correct postage.

David Rupert, with the Denver area post office, says it's the national policy to deliver ballots.

Of course, he doesn't want people to take this information and decide not to put any postage on their ballot. In most cases, the U.S. Postal Service goes back to the individual counties and makes them pay up, Rupert says.

Report: Computers not working right in Adams Co., Co. checking

I just heard from a 9NEWS viewer via Facebook who said he tried to vote but the computer system in Adams County wouldn't pull up his voting information. Here's part of his Facebook message:

"As [the election judge] typed in my information apparently the computer system was not able to find my information in the data base. I have lived at my address since 1999 and have not changed any thing. He tried to find my information several different ways and still could pull up the correct information. At that time he offered me the option of a provisional ballot.....

"A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there is some question in regards to a given voter's eligibility."

My response was "No i will not fill out a provisional ballot, I am in the system you should probably get a supervisor over here to get this straightened out."

One of the other volunteer's mentioned "Why is this happening so often?" That is what concerned me the most. Another volunteer suggested I move to a different terminal "That seems to help" she said.

Well it did help and my information popped up right away."

I talked to Adams County Clerk Karen Long just now. She tells me she's not aware of such problems but she was going to call the Thornton City Hall, where this supposedly happened, and get back to me.

I'll keep you posted. Anyone else have this problem?

Info on lines at CenterPoint in Aurora #Decision2012

I'm hearing you loud and clear, there are long lines at Aurora's CenterPoint.

Manny Sotelo, one of our photographers, took this image about 9:30.

  • He estimates an hour-and-a-half wait,
  • He was told it's too busy inside for him to go in,
  • People are in a small room voting and it's packed,
  • Manny says everyone is patiently waiting and no one is angry,
  • Lots of people are Facebooking, Tweeting or reading a book.