Good morning and happy Monday. If you’d like some perspective on how much worse your Monday could be, I’d reference the look on my puppy’s face as I dropped him off for his neutering this morning (if I hadn’t been trying to hustle out the door too fast to take a photo).
So with that bit of perspective in hand, we’ve got a lot of news to get through today, so let’s fit this cone, shall we?
>> ABOVE THE FOLD
Trouble in Dinosaur: Cop fired, town hall searched as border town reckons with new pot money, old problems
Dinosaur, Colorado, used to have a school and residents still pay property taxes to the school district in Moffat County, but kids are educated in Meeker, in Rio Blanco County. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)
There’s a lot going on in Dinosaur right now. The hamlet of 320 souls near the Utah border used to limp by on about $2,700 a month in sales tax revenue. Then, three recreational marijuana shops opened up and the town suddenly has revenues 10 times that. But as Nancy Lofholm writes, a political crisis is unfolding after the town’s only marshal was fired (leaving the mayor to do law enforcement himself), a still-secret search warrant was issued for town hall and talk of recalling elected officials permeated the air. You need to read this one, even if you’ll never make it out to Dinosaur yourself.
Immigrants here illegally were waiting until near death to get dialysis. A new Colorado policy changes that.
It was a regular occurrence at emergency rooms all over Colorado to see people living in the country illegally who have kidney illnesses show up in such dire condition that federal law required they receive emergency dialysis. The treatments were expensive and people were regularly risking death. Jennifer Brown writes about the new policy from Colorado’s Medicaid department — the same department that pays for the emergency treatment — to give preventative treatment at a fraction of the cost.
Colorado’s universities are catering to out-of-state students. Is their public mission at risk?
“Despite the fact that they get less of their revenue from public coffers today than they once did, they were built with a significant amount of Colorado taxpayer dollars. And they are intended to serve — as a first priority — the education and skill-building needs of Colorado.”
— Dan Baer, former director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education
A solid university system is a point of pride in a state. But after two decades of cuts to state funding — a UCLA professor said “there’s none worse than the state of Colorado” in disinvesting in higher education — schools like the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus have shifted their business models to be heavily reliant on tuition, especially from the more lucrative out-of-state and international students. The shift has been profound enough that the student body of CU Boulder is expected to soon flip to a majority of out-of-state students.
More from The Sun
- Last night former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, long expected to be a challenger to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020, said she instead will mount a primary challenge to Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette. Jesse Paul breaks down the potential domino effect of this decision.
- “Friends don’t let friends drive I-70.” Just about everyone can agree that ski traffic on Interstate 70 is a huge problem in Colorado. But you may not know just how thorny the issue is, from lack of funding to the physical limitations of adding a rail line. The Associated Press has a great breakdown of the problem and the problematic solutions.
>> THE OPINION PAGE
“I’m a former writer of editorials, and news of Sutton’s transgressions against humanity haunts my soul.”
- Chuck Plunkett took on the Alabama newspaper editor who wrote a hateful editorial, and in the process lays out why ethical opinions have a place alongside journalism.
- Sun editor Larry Ryckman wrote a note about the anniversary of the closure of The Rocky Mountain News and the state of journalism in the state (more on that later).
- Mario Nicolais celebrated that Colorado has grown up a bit, citing a bill that would make it easier to change gender on a birth certificate.
- Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, wrote in support of her bill to create a pilot program to increase access to social workers in elementary schools.
- Organizer Katie Farnan challenged Sen. Cory Gardner to protect the Affordable Care Act.
- Matt Kirby, of the National Parks Conservation Association, laid out a case against Colorado native and former energy lobbyist David Bernhardt’s nomination to serve as Secretary of the Interior.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// Colorado disability rights advocate and attorney Carrie Ann Lucas has died at the age of 47. Lucas became well-known as a vocal member of ADAPT, which staged a sit-in at Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in 2017. The obituary posted on her Facebook page says her death was the result of complications after an insurance company denied the cost of an antibiotic. // 9News, The Colorado Independent, Facebook
// Two girls, Valley’s Angel Rios and Skyview’s Jaslynn Gallegos, made the podium for the first time in Colorado high school wrestling history. Along the way, Classical Academy senior Brendan Johnston made news by forfeiting a match to Rios rather than wrestle her. // CHSAA Now, The Denver Post
// Jacy Marmaduke has a thorough and excellent project detailing how confessed child molester Andrew Vanderwal went undetected for years in Northern Colorado and how one victim’s mother went to extraordinary lengths to bring him to justice. // Coloradoan
// El Paso County residents will be part of the CDC’s massive study on toxic chemicals ingested from drinking water after firefighting chemicals leached from Peterson Air Force Base. Julie Turkewitz has the story of the soldiers who, after serving in combat, returned home to find their water tainted by their own military. // Gazette, New York Times
// I’ve been waiting for the right moment to fire up “Roma” on Netflix, but if you’ve seen it (or are curious after last night’s Oscars) and wondered about the namesake neighborhood in Mexico City, longtime Colorado arts critic Ray Mark Rinaldi has a wonderful piece in the Chicago Tribune about his new part-time home in Roma and how many of the cultural threads of the film remain. // Chicago Tribune
// It’s one thing to own a Lamborghini. It’s another to not know that Lambos aren’t exactly built for the poorly-plowed streets of Denver. // /r/Denver
// We should all hope to be as passionate about our jobs as Lowell Plum, Longmont’s typewriter repairman. // Daily Camera
// “I died recently.” I’m so happy to be reading the words of Joey Bunch again. // Colorado Politics
>> SOME THOUGHTS ON THE ROCKY
A copy of the final edition of The Rocky Mountain News, published on Feb. 27, 2009, photographed in downtown Denver on Feb. 22, 2019. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
Tomorrow marks a moment in both the history of journalism in Colorado and for me, personally. Feb. 26, 2009 was the day Scripps CEO Rich Boehne told us gathered in the newsroom of The Rocky Mountain News that the paper would print its last edition. And it was my 25th birthday.
At the time, I was less than six months into my position as the solo managing editor of YourHub, then a 3-year-old neighborhood news insert of The Denver Post and The Rocky, with a sprawling 18 discreet weekly editions and a staff of about 25. I was also just 24 and because we were published by The Rocky’s newsroom, I had spent the first three years of my journalism career in near-weekly ominous meetings about cost-cutting and buyouts and rumors of the unthinkable.
That cloud, that uncertainty of not knowing exactly where the bottom is and being afraid of what you’ll find when you hit it, hung over the local journalism community for the next decade as Denver got used to being a one-newspaper town, then watched as that one newspaper got cut and cut and cut even as it created award-winning journalism.
I’m not going to spend much time breaking down the history of The Rocky (my old boss John Temple did a great job of that speaking to Westword) or ruminate on the struggles of journalism (that’s been done far and wide), but I’ll just say this: I miss The Rocky.
But as much as I’ve been looking back with that potent mix of grief and nostalgia lately, I’ve been able to see something clearly. I like where I’m at right now.
Journalism is in the midst of an overdue reckoning. And as our editor Larry Ryckman wrote in his column, we at The Sun are proud to be in the mix, trying to define how sustainable local journalism will look now and in the future. Not to mention getting to do that work in a state where so many passionate journalists — from those still fighting at The Post to other startups like us — are taking a crack at the same problem.
There’s a line in a song I’ve been coming back to a lot lately. It’s not a new idea, but it’s expressed well and feels appropriate for this moment in the story of journalism: “The past is the past / but then the present is nothing without it.”
I’d be remiss not to end this section with a reminder that the future of journalism is in large part reliant on support from readers, like those of you who have already become members of The Sun. If you’ve been on the fence about joining, now’s the time. Head to coloradosun.com/join and help us make sustainable journalism the norm in Colorado.
>> TODAY’S THING
Why You Might Like It: I think I’ve had caviar once in my life. If my memory serves, an extremely small amount was delicately positioned on some kind of fancy cracker as part of a Denver Restaurant Week meal. As you can tell by my vague memory, it didn’t leave much of an impression. But this article, written by David Gauvey Herbert for Longreads, about a small Missouri town that gets overrun by Eastern European fishermen hunting paddlefish every time the price of caviar ticks upwards, hit me just right. There are crime noir elements, an undercover bait shop and a narrative of the collision of international politics with culinary history. Bonus: One of the main players in the story is from Denver. Not to ruin anything, but the article has a very satisfying turn toward the end that I really enjoyed. Long live longform journalism!
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. Got a great thing you can’t stop talking about? Email email@example.com and you could get published in a Sunriser!
And with that, I believe I may have overstayed my welcome in your inbox. Thanks for getting down the bottom with me. Have a great Monday and a great week and I’ll see you back here Wednesday.