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Boulder Valley school board recall organizers fail to return petitions Monday, ending recall effort

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Boulder Valley school board recall organizers fail to return petitions Monday, ending recall effort

An effort to recall three Boulder Valley school board members is over after petitioners failed to return signatures by Monday’s deadline.

The recall was based on concerns about decisions made by the school board about the coronavirus pandemic, including requiring face coverings. Named in the recall were Kathy Gebhardt, Richard Garcia and Lisa Sweeney-Miran.

Organizers had 60 days to gather 15,000 signatures for each petition. The Boulder County Clerk’s Office announced on Twitter that none of the three petitions had been returned with signatures by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

“Our office now considers this recall effort over,” according to the tweet.

Garcia said the news came as a relief.

“We don’t have to hassle with it any more, and we don’t have to spend all that money on a recall,” he said. “I really think the Boulder community would have voted it down, even if they had collected enough signatures. They know we were just following the orders of the health department and will continue to follow the orders of the health department.”

The estimated cost for a school board recall, whether for one board member or all three, was about $670,000. The school district’s current mask requirement aligns with a Boulder County Board of Health mandate for all students and staff in all schools and child care facilities to wear masks to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

In a written statement, Sweeney-Miran said she’s thankful for the district’s partnership with Boulder County Public Health, the leadership of Superintendent Rob Anderson and “the wisdom of our Boulder Valley community in declining to sign this failed recall effort.”

“I look forward to continuing to focus on the important work of our school district and on continuing to put the best interests of our community first; there are so many exciting things that we’re working on in BVSD,” she wrote.

Gebhardt thanked the community for their support by not signing the petitions.

“I will continue to listen to all voices as we work together to address the impacts of this pandemic,” she said in a written statement. “We will now be able to continue using our resources to support our students, faculty and staff rather than to the costs of another election.”

The petitions listed eight reasons for the recall, including ignoring dissenting opinions, demonstrating a “callous disregard” for students’ physical and mental health by mandating masks and promoting coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use.

The nine petitioners provided a joint written statement Monday in response to the end of their effort.

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White House: Texas hostage-taker not in terror database

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Texas synagogue hostage-taker had stayed in area shelters

By JAMIE STENGLE, JAKE BLEIBERG and ERIC TUCKER

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) — The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the U.S. but raised no red flags, the White House said Tuesday.

Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the U.S. at Kennedy Airport in New York about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack Saturday in the suburb of Colleyville.

British media, including the Guardian, reported Tuesday that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the investigation was closed after authorities concluded he posed no threat.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Akram appears not to have set off any alarms in U.S. terrorism databases when he entered the country.

“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against U.S. government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the U.S. government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” Psaki said.

She added: “We’re certainly looking back … what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future.”

The standoff in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 people 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Dallas, ended after the last of the hostages ran out of the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed, but authorities have declined to say who shot him, saying it was still under investigation.

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the hostages, told “ CBS Mornings” that he had let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning because he appeared to need shelter.

Cytron-Walker said the man wasn’t threatening or suspicious at first, but later he heard a gun click as he was praying.

One hostage was released hours later, and the rabbi and two others later escaped after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman.

During the standoff, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth.

An attorney in Texas who represents Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.

The investigation stretched to England, where over the weekend police announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. The teenagers are Akram’s sons, two U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, police in Britain said the teenagers had been released without charge. They were detained in Manchester, about 30 miles from Akram’s hometown of Blackburn.

Akram’s family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”

Federal investigators believe Akram bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.

___

Stengle reported from Dallas and Tucker reported from Washington. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin; Michael Balsamo in Washington; and Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London.

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

Becky Hammon said she has always followed her heart and not worried about what other people think of her career decisions.

There were concerns when she chose to play at Colorado State instead of a bigger school. There was backlash about her playing for Russia in the Olympics and now she has heard rumblings about leaving the NBA and coach the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

“My heart was saying it was time to go. This is where I am supposed to be right now,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “There were a lot of sleepless nights getting to this conclusion.”

She spent eight years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs becoming the first fulltime female coach in NBA history. She learned from one of the NBA’s best in Gregg Popovich and now feels it is time to for a different path, so she pivoted to the WNBA, where she played for many years.

“Las Vegas sees me as a head coach now,” she said. “The WNBA has called every year with job openings. … I’ve always said thank you I’m very flattered, but stayed on this path. This was first time where I was like I’ll listen.” ”

She’s proud of her still–being-written legacy as a trailblazer, having interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs. But for now, her dream of becoming the first woman to lead an NBA team is on hold.

“Women are getting hired in all sorts of positions now. Not just the NBA, but across professional sports leagues,” she said. “For anyone to say the needle hasn’t moved is wrong. The process (interviewing) in Portland moved the needle. It was a great process for me.”

Hammon has heard the outside noise that taking the WNBA job is a step down and she takes umbrage with any who believes it.

“I think it’s an ignorant statement. To think I’ve outgrown the WNBA in a coaching capacity is ridiculous,” she said. “I’d rather be a coach in the WNBA and have my own organization and be running a team.”

There are still a half dozen women assistant coaches in the NBA. Hammon’s resume jas earned her plenty of respect: A person familiar with her contract says she will be the WNBA’s highest-paid coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the deal has not been publicly announced, and they are still unclear.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a head coaching job at that level.,” Popovich said. “To prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run. She’s interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA, and she’s more than qualified and would have done a great job.”

Hammon will be pulling double-duty for the next few months until the Spurs’ season is over. One of the first things that she’ll have to do is hire her own coaching staff. She’s begun calling Aces’ players to get to know them.

“Right now I’m reaching out to all the players on the roster,” she said. “Establish a relationship with them and talk a little bit about roles what we’re doing offensively and defensively.”

The Aces finished with the second-best record in the WNBA last season at 24-8 before falling to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. The franchise, looking for its first WNBA title, has a solid core led by former MVP A’ja Wilson.

Hammon was coy about what her on-court philosophy will be, only saying that the team which was last in 3-pointers attempted will definitely shoot more this season. The 44-year-old former WNBA player says she just wants to coach for now and not worry about being the team’s general manager.

“Down the road we’ll talk. I just want to coach. That’s it. Get out there, get with the players,” Hammon said. “Get in the foxhole with each other.”

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is headed to his first NHL All-Star Game. So is Colorado native and former Denver Pioneers standout Troy Terry.

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