Micah Parkin Micah Parkin, April 24, 2017

by Amy Gray, 350 Colorado Springs

First Leslie Weise blew the whistle. And then she faced jail time. It all started two years ago with what seemed like a simple question: Is Colorado Springs’ downtown power plant, which is fueled b…

Board Member and Climate Warrior Leslie Weise won The Colorado Independents 2017 Whistleblower award. There couldn’t be a more deserving member of our community who deserves this award. We are extremely proud of her and all the dedicated hard work she puts forth daily for 350 Colorado and climate justice.

Weise won the award after a long and heated battle where she was almost jailed and fined for seeking an air quality study, transparency and clean air. The City of Colorado Springs had petitioned the Court of Appeals for punitive sanctions to be imposed against Weise for speaking out about the air quality violations of the Martin Drake Plant, which the City of Colorado Springs continues to withhold from the public. Leslie Weise, a single mother whose child attends elementary school under the plume of toxins from the Drake Power Plant, was facing a serious threat of fines and/or jail time for her efforts to ensure that the coal-burning power plant complies with air quality standards.

Weise’s concerns that the Martin Drake plant was in violation of federal sulfur dioxide standards, based on multiple air quality modeling studies, were furthered after the Court of Appeals accidentally sent her the air quality study commissioned by the Colorado Springs Utilities that she had been seeking. She returned the report upon order of the Court of Appeals. Nevertheless, this incident prompted a groundswell of citizens and the 350 Colorado Springs team to step up pressure on the City of Colorado Springs to release the records and address the issue. The City responded by trying to threaten Weise into silence.
 
The City of Colorado Springs had petitioned the Court of Appeals for punitive sanctions to be imposed against Weise for speaking out about the air quality violations of the Martin Drake Plant, which the City of Colorado Springs continues to withhold from the public. Leslie Weise, a single mother whose child attends elementary school under the plume of toxins from the Drake Power Plant, was facing a serious threat of fines and/or jail time for her efforts to ensure that the coal-burning power plant complies with air quality standards. Feb. 8, the Colorado Court of Appeals dismissed its citation Weise who had been seeking air quality information through CORA concerning the Martin Drake Power Plant, an 80 year old coal-fired plant located central to downtown Colorado Springs. Weise agreed to dismiss her appeal to obtain public access to the records that she had been pursuing, releasing her from any potential punishment.
She remains dedicate to

Most folks — even the most socially conscious and politically active — don’t take the trouble to fight for records they believe should be public and go to court when they’re denied. It takes time. It takes money. And it takes fortitude— and the stomach— to challenge a powerful government agency that would rather you’d go to jail than talking publicly about something it wants to keep secret.” 

Congratulations Leslie Weise! You are an inspiration to all who know you and we are proud to fight alongside you.

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/164988/leslie-weise-whitleblower

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