Pot Helping Fill Denver’s Pot Holes: ‘Gets The Job Done’

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – It was five years ago on New Year’s Day 2013 when legal sales of recreational marijuana began in Colorado. Pot is helping fix Denver’s pot holes. No, the weed isn’t being used to fill the holes. The marijuana tax revenue the City of Denver receives is partially used for that.

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“So that money goes into a big pot called the General Fund, no pun intended there with pot,” Eric Escudero, spokesman for the Department of Excise and Licenses, told CBS 4’s Rick Sallinger.

The pot holes form due to snow and ice in the winter seeping through cracks then expanding creating pits in the road.

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A lot of people had no idea that’s where marijuana tax revenue was going. We asked people who are Colorado voters.

“You know I thought the money was going more towards schools so did most of the public,” said James Breitzman.

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In fact, only the first $40 million from marijuana revenue was dedicated to fix schools. Pot holes are just one of many things pot tax revenue helps pay for.

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Escudero pointed out it also goes for drug education, opioid addiction prevention, affordable housing (aided by an increase last year in Denver’s pot tax), regulation and enforcement.

“It’s not going to fix every thing in Denver. It’s not going to fix every pot hole in Denver, but it does help,” he said.

Denver brought in $48 million in medical and recreation pot revenue this past year. That can help fill a lot of holes. People don’t seem to mind.

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“Do you think it’s a good idea?” Sallinger asked Breitzman.

He didn’t hesitate to respond, “Good idea. It gets the job done.”

Alexander Elbanna said, “You are doing something great for our community, and it’s a good idea to spread the wealth.”

Denver’s General Fund totals $1.4 billion, but only 3.4 percent of that comes from marijuana tax revenue according to the department of excise and licenses.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

$425 Million Jackpot Could Make Someone’s New Year Extra Special

Chicago (CBS) — Sales of the Mega Millions tickets stopped at 9 p.m., but the dreams of those playing continued right up until the winning numbers were drawn.

At $425 million, the lure of the Mega Millions Jackpot was too much to resist for many.

Some passers-by, like Taylor Ramey, were drawn in by simple handwritten signs.

“I had no idea it was even happening,” Ramey said.

“I saw a sign on the door and it said $425 million, and I was like absolutely I’ll try it,” Mike Frankhouse said.

Devante Perry was so shocked by the jackpot, he did a double take.

“The number was pretty high so I was pretty interested,” Perry said.

He wasn’t the only one. Even though it was a holiday, a steady stream of Mega Millions players wanted to try their luck, hoping to start 2019 on a financial high.

“I don’t usually play, but I passed by and saw the money on the window, the signs, and I said let me try one,” Ira Gray said. “One, that’s all it takes.”

The players all have big dreams of how they’d spend their winnings.

“I’d definitely try to take care of my family in Ohio, maybe buy a yacht,” Ramey said.

“I would definitely take care of my own personal finances, like finish paying off the rest of my student loans,” Frankhouse said.

“I think I would buy myself a studio, a music studio,” Perry said. “I like to make music. That would be really fun to me, and a dance studio.”

For Perry and the other players, the possibilities seemed endless if theirs turned out to be the winning ticket.

According to Mega Millions, the jackpot has only been won once on New Year’s Day, and that was back in 2008. The cash option of about $255 million is not too shabby either.

The winning numbers drawn tonight were 34, 44, 57, 62, 70 and Mega Ball 14.

Lincoln-Way Marching Band Doesn’t Let Rose Parade Performance Go Up In Smoke

Chicago (CBS) — Band members from a suburban high school marching band are expected to return home Wednesday after a trip to the Rose Parade in California had an unexpected twist.

RELATED Lincoln-Way Marching Band Prepares For 2019 Rose Bowl Parade

During the parade, a train-themed float caught fire, and thousands lining the route were stunned by the smoke.

But, the Lincoln-Way marching band, from suburban New Lenox, played through the float fiasco.

“I smelled the smoke and I was like, ‘oh, this caught on fire’,” Madisen Tomaszewski said. “I looked over to the side when we passed the float and I saw this hole in the side of it.”

Toluwa Balogun said the 281 students marching had plenty of practice.

“We’re a good band. We adapt to situations that are serious,” he said.

Months ago, CBS 2 got a glimpse of the hundreds of hours of preparation the band puts in. The cost to fly them out, ship gear and stay in California surpassed $1 million. A portion was paid through fundraising.

Fortunately, no one was hurt by the fire.

“The rest of the parade went on without a hitch,” Tomaszewski said.

Band members call the march the most memorable they’ll take part in.

“It’s not the memory I expected,” Balogun said.

Tomaszewski said she doesn’t think the fire ruined the trip for her.

“I think it actually made it more memorable because I think later on me and my friends can laugh about the float that caught on fire and how we just kept on marching,” she said.

The students added they never felt in harm’s way. Hundred of volunteers and first responders acted quickly.

300 Catholic Bishops To Gather For Conference In Mundelein

Chicago (CBS) — Catholic bishops from around the United States will gather in Chicago’s north suburbs Wednesday to reflect on the church sex abuse crisis.

The seven-day retreat at Mundelein Seminary will be attended by 300 bishops and will include prayer and spiritual lectures.

Pope Francis convened the gathering in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

However, the Archdiocese of Chicago says one thing that won’t be discussed is a recent state attorney general’s report, claiming the church hid more than 500 alleged cases of priest sex abuse in Illinois.