Speaking out about substance abuse

In this July 2019 file photo, Senator Cory Gardner speaks at the Voice for Awareness event at Colorado Mesa University.

President Donald Trump’s tweet Wednesday morning that he was sending 100 ventilators to Colorado at the behest of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner met with praise from some and condemnation from others.

The praise came from the Republican senator himself, saying he was appreciative of Trump agreeing to send the ventilators to the state.

The condemnation came from Democrats, who said Gardner was “spineless” for losing 400 ventilators. That’s because Gov. Jared Polis went on national television last week to complain that after the state had successfully ordered 500, the federal government stepped in and took them all.

Regardless of that, though, Polis said he wouldn’t join the Democratic bandwagon to attack Gardner or the president.

“You’re not really going to get my read on it because I’m not here to do a political analysis,” Polis said at a press conference Wednesday, much of which was conducted virtually. “I’m here to celebrate any ventilators that arrive in our state. I’m grateful for 100 ventilators. If Coloradans are successful at staying at home in very high numbers, we are hopeful the surge will be developed in time.”

That sentiment wasn’t shared by many others in Polis’s party, who said Trump only did it to help Gardner’s re-election bid.

“Cory Gardner is such a spineless yes-man to Donald Trump that he is literally thanking Trump for only stealing 400 ventilators from the state,” said Zach Hudson, spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century, a Washington, D.C.-based super PAC that supports Democratic candidates. “Gardner’s pathetic groveling to the president who just hijacked hundreds of desperately needed ventilators from this state highlights why Gardner is currently losing his re-election campaign by double digits.”

Gardner went on Fox News Wednesday to talk about that matter.

“The governor has been searching for ventilators and FEMA has also been searching for ventilators,” Gardner said. “I talked to the president last night about the Colorado need for ventilators, and of course I’m very thankful that he provided that last night. We’re going to continue to work with the president for more and continue to meet Colorado’s needs.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado Legislature is planning, at least for now, to reconvene from its COVID-19 recess of the 2020 legislative session on May 18, assuming the governor’s stay-at-home order isn’t extended yet again. That order was to end on Saturday, but Polis has extended it until at least April 26.

Legislative leaders said chief on their list of things to do right away is to pass a budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. That budget, however, is expected to see cuts of up to $2 billion.

“There’s a lot of unknowns, and that’s another reason why pushing out coming back into session was the smart thing to do,” said House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “The world has completely changed in so many ways, and one of those ways is just, what are the impacts to state programs and services and how is the federal government filling those gaps.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado Education Association sent Polis a petition Wednesday asking him to ensure that all school workers, including staff, continue to be paid while schools are closed.

Association president Amie Baca-Oehlert said that currently, she knows of no school district in the state that isn’t paying all of its workers, something Mesa School District 51 spokeswoman Emily Shockley confirmed locally.

Shockley said “the vast majority of staff” are being paid, adding that the only exceptions are a handful of substitute teachers and coaches who did not have signed contracts as of April 1.

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