Good morning from winter, returned after a couple of days of what we used to call “spring weather” around here. As the snow blankets parts of our state yet again, I want to remind you that the staff of The Colorado Sun will be hanging out in Boulder the night of Feb. 15 to talk about local journalism — and you’re invited! All the details are here and we’d love to see you!
OK, we’ve got a lot of good stuff to get to today, so let’s de-ice these wings and take off, shall we?
The Latest from The Sun
Cities across Colorado saw how gentrification impacted Denver. They’re trying to avoid the same pitfalls.
“If somebody takes an aging apartment complex and redevelops it, we’re not getting 1-for-1 replacement, but 1-for-4 replacement.”
— Jim Robertson, Boulder housing director
Most of the discussion of gentrification in Colorado centers on Denver — indeed, most of this week’s project has been focused on a few vulnerable neighborhoods in the city. But, as Kevin Simpson writes, the example of Denver is casting a shadow over Colorado’s largest cities, from Fort Collins and Boulder to Aurora and Colorado Springs.
Millions in development coming to Sun Valley, Denver’s poorest neighborhood
Ninety-four percent of Sun Valley residents live in the Sun Valley Homes, owned by the Denver Housing Authority. (Amanda Clark, Special to The Colorado Sun)
As part of The Sun’s gentrification project with the University of Colorado’s News Corps, CU students Amanda K. Clark and Shannon Mullane bring you this story reported from Sun Valley, Denver’s poorest neighborhood. The neighborhood is feeling the pressure of some of the city’s most ambitious developments, from a major public-housing initiative to Meow Wolf to a proposed “entertainment district” on the outskirts of Mile High stadium. But because the Denver Housing Authority owns most of the housing in the neighborhood, city officials are hoping it can be a model for development without displacement.
>> RELATED: News Corps students Anna Scott, Anna Blanco and Jackson Reed looked at redlining, the practice of codifying housing discrimination in the ’30s, and how new, more-affluent residents in formerly redlined neighborhoods are often choosing to not enroll their kids in neighborhood schools, resulting in struggling neighborhood schools getting less funding. Read the whole story here.
>> WATCH: News Corps student Will Halbert interviewed lifelong Westwood resident Eve Ulloa on what the neighborhood means to her.
Colorado wants renewable energy, and small hydropower providers are hoping it’s their time to shine
Owner and operator Eric Jacobson inside the Ouray Hydroelectric Power Plant with his dog, Cora. The electric plant, built in 1885, is one of four of the oldest working hydroelectric power plants in the world. (Nina Riggio, Special to The Colorado Sun)
In Colorado, wind and solar power account for the lion’s share of planning and discussion about renewable power. However, a small but passionate group of advocates say the power of running water is essential for the state’s renewable-energy future. Jason Blevins looks at the efforts to bring more hydropower online, from friendlier regulations to the state’s historic power plants, which date to the late-19th century.
>> DON’T MISS
// One of the Trump administration’s shots at the Affordable Care Act was a new rule allowing people to use short-term health plans (the kind that are cheaper but don’t provide the same level of coverage) for longer periods of time. But here in Colorado, John Ingold writes, insurance regulators engaged in “guerrilla warfare through rulemaking” to keep short-term plans from affecting the ACA marketplace in the state. Trust me: This is the most interesting story about insurance regulations you’ll read all year.
// There still are three vacant spots in Gov. Jared Polis’ cabinet a month after his inauguration. And, Jennifer Brown writes, they are positions that oversee some of the state’s most complicated departments.
// Colorado, one of only 10 states that don’t require all campaign ads to identify their sponsor, is taking one step toward more disclosure around campaign advertising, but the legislation still leaves one of the biggest dark-money loopholes unaddressed.
// Colorado native David Bernhardt has been tapped by President Donald Trump to be Interior secretary. That has Republicans happy, but Democrats and environmentalists raising the alarm. Caught in the middle is U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, who has been notably silent on the nomination.
// The terrible details of the Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors scandal just keep coming. The latest: A class-action lawsuit claims a conspiracy among the owner of the funeral home, her parents and the Montrose County Coroner to tell customers that their loved ones’ bodies were cremated or buried and then sell body parts around the world for profit. The Sentinel has a good summary of the new accusations here. // Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
// KUNC’s series on refugees in Colorado continues with a basic economic question: If more refugees are rejected from our borders, who will work at Greeley’s meatpacking plant? // KUNC
// DPS strike update: The school district and the teachers union met with Gov. Polis separately yesterday, but no significant movement was announced. In a related matter, Melanie Asmar at Chalkbeat has a great look at ProComp, Denver’s pay-for-performance system — which launched to much acclaim in 2005 — has become one of the biggest factors pushing teachers to strike. // Chalkbeat Colorado
// Meanwhile, north of Denver, the Westminster school district is using money approved by voters to significantly increase starting salaries for teachers and create a path for teachers to earn $100,000 per year. // Chalkbeat Colorado
// I used to ride Denver’s dockable B-Cycles all the time. But I haven’t even considered it since electric scooters and electric bikes started popping up in town. And, as Andrew Kenney writes, the city-backed program is facing an existential crisis, even as the city is redoubling its commitment. // The Denver Post
// There are some furloughed Mesa Verde National Park employees who still haven’t gotten backpay since the end of the federal government shutdown. // Durango Herald
// If you spent any time on Denver social media in the past few days, you probably saw this very cool graphic/story about how Western cities, Denver first among them, are growing up instead of out. It’s a cool story! But as DP business reporter Joe Rubino pointed out on Twitter, the centerpiece of one of the graphics, a 1,000-foot tower on 17th Street, isn’t likely to break ground as the land deal behind it fell through. // Washington Post, @RubinoJC, The Denver Post
// The most recent Greeley police blotter is something else: A man pours Mountain Dew in his ex’s gas tank; someone calls the cops on a woman “carrying a sealed Amazon box”; and a man tells police that his 14-year-old son won’t clean his room. // Greeley Tribune
// A longtime Pueblo doctor was confirmed as wearing blackface in a photo in the same 1984 medical school yearbook that sparked calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign. // Pueblo Chieftain
Why You Might Like It: Let’s just start by saying that Google, as a company and cultural force, is … not great. From siphoning off money that used to power journalism to a seriously shady project with the Chinese government (a project that has been scrapped after employee protests), their old motto of “Don’t be evil” seems harder for them to stick to these days than it did in the ’90s. I still use an Android phone and a ton of their services, though, because modern life seems to be an endless compromise between convenience and morality and they aren’t quite as net-negative for society as Facebook. So what does this have to do with fine art? Many years ago, the company, flush with cash and innocence, created Google Arts & Culture, an online repository for some of the most beautiful and inaccessible works of art from around the world. But the real magic was that it also created a Chrome extension that takes over your new tab page with a high-res piece of art from its digital collection. That may seem simple, but think about how many times you open a new tab in a day or a month or a year. Now imagine getting to see a piece of art you may have never seen before every single time you do that. That’s a low-effort, high-reward way to bring a little beauty into your life.
Editor’s note: Every Sunriser will include one … thing … to cap off our time together. The Thing will be just about anything, like a TV show or a book or a particularly cool dog toy.
You made it to the bottom of a particularly jam-packed Sunriser — and for that you are to be commended. As always, make sure to share what you’ve been reading with your friends, family and neighbors and tell them you found it in The Sunriser!
Stay warm, drive safely and we’ll see you back here on Friday.