A 2018 Colorado ballot. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Eric Lubbers, eric@coloradosun.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning and happy Last Day to Feel Confident About Ordering Christmas Gifts Online! If you hurry, you can still grab a T-shirt or tote bag emblazoned with The Colorado Sun logo to stick under the tree for the independent-journalism fan in your life (coloradosun.com/store). If you want the good feeling to last all year long, you can pick up a gift membership to The Sun and get your giftee access to things like our premium politics newsletter, The Unaffiliated. Check out your options at coloradosun.com/giftcard.

And it’s worth reminding you that anything you buy at coloradosun.com/store is not just a gift for the person doing the unwrapping: Every single dollar earned via memberships or merchandise sales goes directly into funding journalism. We don’t have much overhead, so your purchases and memberships really do have a big impact in helping us grow.

OK, sales pitch is over. Let’s mash this avocado, shall we?

Ranked-choice voting (aka “instant runoff” voting) could be headed for Colorado cities and — maybe — the statewide ballot

“Our political system has become so toxic that we just can’t keep doing things this way.”
— Linda Templin, executive director of RCV Colorado

Brian Eason is going to do a better job of explaining exactly what ranked-choice voting is in the full story, but the gist is that instead of just voting for one candidate in an election, a voter will rank the available choices from first to last. Why do that? Supporters say that it could transform the country’s politics by eliminating the “spoiler effect” of voting for a third-party candidate and even give a path to victory for candidates outside of the two major parties. (Two big examples: If ranked-choice voting had been used in 1992, Ross Perot voters could have given George H.W. Bush the victory over Bill Clinton, same with Ralph Nader voters and Al Gore in 2000).

If you’re waiting for the Colorado connection, here it is: the group RCV Colorado is making a push to bring it to Pueblo, Denver and other Front Range cities in 2019. And they’re already making plans on how to implement it statewide.

>> Read more about the history of ranked-choice voting, its pros and cons and which powerful people in Colorado are mulling support.

7 Colorado political myths busted in the 2018 election

John Frank, using a new analysis of the 2018 vote by Rick Ridder and Ariane Williams, played Mythbuster with some of the longest-held tropes in Colorado politics, from “A politician from Boulder can’t win statewide,” to my favorite: “Younger voters don’t vote.”

>> See the whole list of busted myths here.

“Recreation does not come without costs”

“Everyone gets it. Everyone wants to recreate and we want them to recreate. But sometimes, you can love a landscape to death. Recreation does not come without costs.”

— Perry Will, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Jason Blevins has a masterpiece article here about one of the central tensions in Colorado: Just about everyone agrees that our beautiful landscapes should be enjoyed by everyone, but when it comes to actually building access to it, the needs of residents, wildlife and the sometimes-fragile ecosystems of the high country may be conflicting. A proposed 83-mile trail from Carbondale to Crested Butte that could be fuel for rural economies — as well as a major ecological disruption — is a perfect example.

>> See a map of the proposed trail and read Jason’s breakdown of the issues at hand here.

More from The Sun


From left: Larry Nau, federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration, explains a new millimiter-wave, fully-body scanner now being used at Denver International Airport on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, as TSA agents in plain clothes test out the device. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
  • Sometimes it’s the little things: A new body scanner at DIA is the first in the country that lets passengers keep their hands at their sides instead of going full Vitruvian Man. As Jesse Paul writes, it’s just one piece of DIA’s push to upgrade security technology as part of the airport’s $1.8 billion Great Hall renovation. Read the story and see the scanner in action here.
  • The economy in Colorado Springs is booming — in some ways even more than Denver’s. Tamara Chuang took a look at the numbers and talked to city leaders to get insight into why everything seems to be clicking in El Paso County.
  • Interesting: Colorado’s oil and gas regulators voted to expand the mandatory buffer zone between new wells and all school property to 1,000 feet — and the industry supported the new rule.
  • Republican state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who was nearly expelled from the legislature last session over sexual harassment allegations, will leave the legislature next month — as soon as the deadline passes for his replacement to be eligible for extended term limits. Jesse Paul has the whole story
  • The Lakewood baker at the center of a Supreme Court case over LGBT discrimination, is back in court over another cake, this time ordered by a transgender lawyer to celebrate her transition.
  • Colorado’s longest-running civil litigation (backstory here) could be coming to a close. Jason Blevins reports that the owner of the Cielo Vista ranch has promised to end his legal battle to limit access to the property by the heirs to an 1844 land grant.

The Shortlist

Stuff about Colorado worth checking out


// According to this very unscientific online poll by CityLab that measured the two most important factors for any metro area (tacos and transit) Denver is taco-rich and transit-poor. // CityLab

// Because I’m both a jock and a nerd (I had to leave football practice early to get to play rehearsal in school) I’m a big fan of advanced stats. Like this one, that ranked Vance Joseph’s decision to kick a field goal on Saturday against the Browns as “the largest play call error” that the stat nerds have ever seen. // Ryan Koenigsberg on Twitter

// If you’d like a taste of true solitude, head over to the little strip of asphalt known as U.S. 385 that hugs Colorado’s eastern border and has been dubbed Colorado’s “quietest highway.” // OutThere Colorado

// The Reporter-Herald broke the story, but the Aurora Sentinel won the headline game:  “BAAAAAD COMPANY: Residents report goat joining elk herd near Loveland// Loveland Reporter-Herald, Aurora Sentinel

// Two words: Marijuana mold. // Westword

// This is a fascinating story: In 2014, Boulder’s primary ambulance service got rid of the stations where EMTs could sleep, eat and rest between calls. So for four years, EMS crews have been spending their entire 10-hour shifts driving and idling in their ambulances all over town. // Boulder Weekly

// This is a touching remembrance of a Las Animas County Sheriff’s sergeant who was killed in a three-car crash near Trinidad. // Pueblo Chieftain

// The Daily Camera has a sobering look at CU Boulder students going hungry as they experience food insecurity during their studies. Last month, the Colorado Independent had a long piece about the rise of campus food pantries and the growing problem of student hunger. // Daily Camera, The Colorado Independent

Your Thing for Today

The Thing: “Shark Smile,” by Big Thief (Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music)

Why You Might Like It: Sarah (my lovely girlfriend and musical muse) and I listen to music a lot. Every car ride and apartment cleaning session has a steady, curated soundtrack. We try to keep it fresh, but every once in a while we stumble onto a song that we just keep playing over and over (and find ourselves humming even when we aren’t listening to it). This song, by one of the best new bands around, has the haunting charm of Mazzy Star, some beautiful Wilco-esque guitar and is just a charming, catchy number that will make any playlist a little brighter.

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.

That’s it for today! But before we go, I have to give a special shout out to my man Marvin Anani (who has photographed teen parents in lockup, Denver architecture, harm reduction centers, political rallies and a newly reunited father-daughter family for us at The Sun). Marvin became a U.S. citizen yesterday and the whole staff couldn’t be prouder of him (or of his taste in suits, which you can see here). Congrats, Marvin!

Have a great day and we’ll see you back here on Friday.


Eric Lubbers

Eric Lubbers is the Chief Technology Officer and one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun. A native of Yuma, Colorado, he writes The Sunriser newsletter in addition to handling most of the behind-the-scenes tech stuff. Email: eric@coloradosun.com...