Good morning and happy February, folks! I’m not quite used to February greeting us with sunshine and melting snow, but we’re at the point where our old ideas about Colorado’s weather patterns can be hung up in the closet — next to your Walkman.
We have so much in today’s newsletter that I won’t waste any more of your time here. Well, OK, I’ll waste a little more by showing you a bit of visual convergence I spotted while looking at satellite images of our state (as one does).
OK, let’s dip this nacho, shall we?
>> ABOVE THE FOLD
You can tell state lawmakers how to spend $30 billion. Here’s how.
Colorado is currently planning how to spend the more than $30 billion in the state budget. And for the first time, you (yes, you) can tell lawmakers directly how you would like to see the money distributed. As part of our Capitol Sunlight project — where we try to demystify how the legal sausage is made in Colorado and help you to get involved — we’ve got a super-easy-to-understand guide for exactly how you can speak your piece.
// RELATED: If you’re going to wade into how Colorado spends its money, you need to know about the hidden (and not so hidden) forces that constrain spending here in the state, from TABOR to the Gallagher Amendment to Amendment 23 and beyond.
>> Here’s the whole guide, but if you’d like, you can skip right to the sections for TABOR, Gallagher or Amendment 23. Keep them handy and share them with your friends and family as they try to make sense of the budget.
Electric airplanes developed in Colorado are taking aim at the global pilot shortage
“The pilot pay is terrible. They might offer $40,000 in the first year and a $20,000 bonus, so it’s $60,000. You’re still not where you could be if you spent the time going into pre-med or law. Plus, you can’t live at home. You have to live in some exotic city, like Newark.”
— Mike Boyd, an airline consultant from Evergreen
Here’s one thing I learned reading Tamara Chuang’s profile of Bye Aerospace, the electric plane company based at Centennial Airport: Becoming a pilot is expensive. To get your foot in the door of the industry that is experiencing a global pilot shortage, you could end up spending between $60,000 and $250,000. But George Bye, creator of the all-electric Sun Flyer plane, has his eyes on replacing aging Cessnas, the fuel for which is a big factor in the high cost of learning to fly, and making flight school accessible to a whole new generation of wanna-be pilots.
Hemp has arrived: Colorado crops double after Farm Bill makes growing more legit
Colorado has been at the forefront of the revived hemp-growing industry ever since the state struck out on its own in the world of legalized cannabis. But with the passage of the massive federal Farm Bill that effectively put the growing of hemp on par with corn or soybeans or any other industrial crop, the green rush is coming. Nancy Lofholm reports on how quickly the number of farms is growing in Colorado and what’s next for a forecasted billion-dollar industry.
Gov. Polis injected himself into the Denver teachers’ strike. Now he needs a way out.
“He has to actually make a real decision. It will be pretty telling for us.”
— Henry Roman, the president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association
Two weeks into his term as governor, Jared Polis inserted himself in the middle of an intense, five-year contract dispute between the state’s largest school district and its teachers. And, as John Frank reports, he risks making some powerful enemies no matter whether he intervenes — or not.
>> DON’T MISS
- Sen. Cory Gardner told the Independent Journal Review that he fully endorses President Trump’s re-election in 2020, citing what Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders “will do to Colorado.” One day later, former state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston announced he is running for Gardner’s seat, becoming the highest profile Democrat (for now) in what is sure to be a crowded race.
- Over at the massive Outdoor Retailer Snow Show (which moved from Salt Lake City to Denver in part spurred by Utah’s policies toward of public lands), representatives of outdoor recreation organizations flexed their political muscle with a united push to fight climate change. Jason Blevins has the details of the unprecedented move.
- Former Gov. John Hickenlooper raised a decent amount of cash in his still undeclared push as a 2020 presidential candidate, and our analysis of his donors shows that he stayed close to home for most of his money.
>> THE FUN STUFF
// Drew Litton has a tip on the most exciting drama on Colorado television.
// It’s our 20th edition of our weekly strip “What’d I Miss?” and it’s an uncomfortable look at just how much your friends can change in 30 years. (Do me a favor and set some time aside to read this strip from the beginning.)
The chain-link fence rattled. Someone’s scaling it.
// Nothing perks up the January doldrums like a good thriller, and in this week’s SunLit, we’ve got an excerpt from Colorado Book Awards finalist “Broken Slate.” Don’t miss our interview with author John A. Daly, a media analyst and reviewer who said he was excited to use this book to delve into the backstory of his series’ protagonist Sean Coleman (and why he had to become an expert in how bodies are shipped interstate).
JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK
Bell’s Brewery in Michigan is well-known in the craft beer world, but still new to Colorado after beginning distribution here only a few months ago ahead of the state’s new grocery store sales. So don’t miss Bell’s new release of its much-touted Hopslam, a bitter and boozy double IPA that is a throwback to when the style didn’t come fruited or hazy.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// I’m sort of athletic, but not great in competitions. But I just heard about the “beard dipping” contest as part of Durango’s “Snowdown” event and I feel I’ve found my true calling. // Durango Herald
// One element of Nancy Lofholm’s story on hemp (above) is that many farmers who were applying to grow hemp were stymied by the government shutdown. Harvest Public Media has more on how federal workers are playing catch-up to help farmers. // Harvest Public Media
// As the man who unseated him held his first town hall, former Congressman Mike Coffman announced he’s throwing his hat into the ring to run for mayor of Aurora. // Aurora Sentinel
// Our former colleague Kevin Hamm has put together a live map to track the number of officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death so far in 2019. // The Denver Post
// I can’t wait to ride in this robot shuttle. // 9News
// Here’s a deep look at how climate change is permanently changing Colorado’s relationship to snow. // The Colorado Independent
// The iconic “research bridge” at East Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard is finally coming down, after developers couldn’t quite figure out how to preserve it as a hotel. // BusinessDen
// Adios, payday lenders in Colorado. // CPR News
>> TODAY’S THING
The Thing: “Hunted” a local podcast about Ted Bundy’s time terrorizing Colorado (link)
Why You Might Like It: I’m … torn, I guess, about the recent trend of true-crime pop culture. From more serious documentaries to podcasts like “My Favorite Murder,” there has never been a more popular time to consume content about some of the worst crimes in modern history. The focus on the scandalous parts of each crime almost always glorifies the perpetrator and relegates the stories of their victims (and the network of people whose lives were altered forever by the crimes) to window dressing. Case in point: A recent documentary on Netflix inspired social media to suddenly start talking about how hot Ted Bundy was, leading the streaming service to issue a statement urging people to spend their romantic capital on someone who wasn’t a brutal serial killer. But there is still some value in learning about how someone like Bundy operated for so long and in such defiance of law enforcement, which is why The Fort Collins Coloradoan made a new three-part podcast focusing on Bundy’s time terrorizing Colorado, including multiple escapes, from a newsier perspective. I’m only a few minutes into the first episode, but it’s already showing promise.
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 the week. Congratulations, you made it! Go enjoy yourself out there this weekend and make sure, as always, to share what you’ve read here with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and anyone else you think would be interested and tell them to sign up for The Sunriser (coloradosun.com/sunriser).
See you on Monday!— Eric