Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Colorado Civil Rights Commission discovers that discrimination has not disappeared in a decade

The people gathered in a meeting room at the Blair Caldwell library last summer were getting restless. "You all wasted our time," proclaimed one community activist.

"This was not a waste of your time," replied Rico Munn, then-director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs, which includes the Division of Civil Rights, headed by Steven Chavez. "We're trying to put together a report that has not been done in a decade."

A decade?

As it turns out, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is supposed to submit a report every year, one that summarizes the state's civil rights concerns. But the last report published in 2001. That's why the division took its show on the road last summer, collecting input from residents of the state -- residents who wanted to talk about how in a tough economy, when jobs are hard to come by, stories of discrimination are not.

The findings from that road show were just released.

"The report clearly shows that we are listening to civil rights complaints and taking action where appropriate," writes Governor Bill Ritter in the introduction. "This Annual Report by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a longstanding requirement by law. However, this is the first report in approximately a decade. I am sure budget and resources have always been a hindrance of publishing this report in the past, but when I signed legislation in May 2009 to continue the Colorado Civil Rights Division's great work in protecting consumers, I insisted that this report be a priority."

Better late than never.

Find the full -- if tardy -- report here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun