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Gimme shelter

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Our June 29 Public Eye raised the ire of some in the local academic world who called in to express their anger that UCCS had fired Ed Sbarbaro, an assistant professor in the school's Graduate School for Public Affairs.

Sbarbaro claims he was fired largely because some students were offended by his critique of the criminal justice system, talking too much about race, and raising the point that most people behind bars in America are either poor, part of a minority ethnic group or both.

But before you go firing off angry letters to Dean Kathleen Beatty or associate dean Fred Rainguet who both were involved in Sbarbaro's termination, at least listen to their side of the story.

Had the correct version of the story run, readers would have learned the following: "Both the school's dean Kathleen Beatty, and associate dean Fred Rainguet (retired Fort Collins police chief) described [Sbarbaro's] assessment as totally 'inaccurate' and 'false.'

"The school has numerous courses that draw students of many backgrounds -- not just cops or prosecutors -- and, further, Sbarbaro's 'at will' contract was withdrawn because 'he didn't meet the high standards required to teach core courses in this program,'" Rainguet said.

The story went on to quote Beatty and Rainguet saying they made their decision based on more than just a few negative comments from students. Though she would not provide specifics, citing the confidentiality of personnel issues, Beatty said "there had been issues discussed with [Sbarbaro] along the way" regarding his classroom performance.

According to Beatty and Rainguet, Sbarbaro consistently scored low on student evaluations in the school's core degree courses, not just in the controversial elective course cited by the Indy and Boulder Weekly.

Since last week's story ran, Rainguet noted that Sbarbaro's final evaluations for the spring semester averaged a 'D' for student evaluations in core courses.

Nevertheless, comments we've received from Colorado College faculty and students since last week's article ran indicate that Sbarbaro was popular at CC, where he taught for four years before shifting to UCCS.

Colorado Springs officials continue their closed-mouth approach to the growing problem of a dearth of affordable housing.

The latest reminder occurred during the Colorado Springs City Council's June 27 meeting. Activists from the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission protested that "urban renewal" of the old Lowell School neighborhood southeast of downtown was forcing them out -- and that their headquarters and other low-income homes in the neighborhood are being destroyed to make way for higher-end homes and apartments.

"Urban renewal has become synonymous with gentrification," said Mary Sprunger-Froese, who is being relocated from the neighborhood.

The Justice and Peace Commission wants the City Council to make sure that every new residential development is required to include a percentage of low-income and affordable housing.

At the council meeting, activist Susan Gordon reminded the elected officials that they have the power to reverse their current pattern, and that lawmakers all over the country are considering and passing ordinances requiring affordable and low-income housing in new developments.

Members of the local Housing Advocacy Coalition also were on hand to protest what activist Ben Burrell termed an "economic cleansing" of the poor. Elderly, low-income and disabled persons are being displaced, Burrell argued, asking the elected officeholders to develop a trust fund for affordable shelter.

Minutes from the June 27 Council meeting reflect that, after the Justice and Peace and Housing Advocacy Coalition activists' presentations, none of the elected officials made comment on the issue, choosing instead to continue with their regular agenda.

This spring, the Indy reported on efforts to build grass-roots support for the draining of Glen Canyon Reservoir and the decommissioning of Glen Canyon Dam. This week the battle comes to Colorado.

The US Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on the operation of Flaming Gorge Dam on Utah's Green River. The government is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address Flaming Gorge Dam's impact on endangered species of native fish.

According to the Glen Canyon Action Network, The Endangered Species Act requires the Bureau to change the operations of Flaming Gorge Dam to reduce the harm caused to endangered fish. GCAN contends that the dam damages the habitat conditions these fish require. Conservationists are asking the Bureau to study a dam decommissioning alternative, and to look not just at Flaming Gorge but at the entire Colorado River watershed to address the recovery needs for endangered species.

A series of public meetings in mid-July provides opportunities for citizens to speak out on the topic. In addition to meetings in Utah and Wyoming, there will be a public meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 at the Adams Mark Hotel, 743 Horizon Drive, exit 31 on I-70.

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