Compiled by Eric Lubbers,
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Good morning from foggy Denver town, where we’re less than 48 hours away from having an entire calendar month of wintry weather for the first time in what feels like a long time. The best part of this icy stretch is that when spring comes around, it’s going to feel like we earned it, for once. But don’t go popping the champagne just yet. As Jesse Paul wrote in December, we won’t know until spring if this winter will even move the needle to reverse two decades of pervasive drought around Colorado.

A quick thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes my way. Even though I’m constitutionally eligible now, I don’t think I’ll be joining the crowded “white guys from Colorado” contingent of possible presidential candidates just yet (more on the “awkward tango” between Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and much more can be found in this free preview of The Unaffiliated, our premium Colorado politics newsletter that is always my favorite read of the week).

OK, let’s blow out these candles already, shall we?


The Latest from The Sun



Colorado pits big colleges against small campuses in a “zero-sum game.” Gov. Polis wants a truce.

“It’s a zero-sum game. If anyone gets more, that means it comes from someone.”

— Inta Morris, Colorado Department of HIgher Education COO

I can’t do a better job than Brian Eason did when he tweeted about his second piece on Colorado’s abysmal public support of higher education: “Colorado is effectively trying to sustain one of the most educationally demanding economies in the country, while spending the fourth least of any state to educate its residents after high school.”

>> Read how Colorado’s funding formula works and how lawmakers are trying to fix it.  

>> ICYMI, here’s Brian’s piece about how (and why) Colorado universities are catering to out-of-state students.

MORE SCHOOL NEWS: Computer science isn’t required in Colorado schools. But enough people think it should be that the state is training teachers for free. A very cool story by Tamara Chuang on how workshops are training teachers to train elementary-school students to think like programmers.


Colorado has the highest rate of teen vaping in the country

“My thoughts were, ‘When is the next time I can step outside and smoke or go to the bathroom to Juul.’ I stopped focusing on what I wanted to do after school.”

— Jim Lynch, a Wheat Ridge High School junior who quit vaping two months ago

You just need to read the lede on Jennifer Brown’s story to get a sense of just how easy it is for teenagers to vape, even in class with the right technique. But for cities around Colorado, attempts to take regulation of cigarette and tobacco licenses into their own hands to prevent teens getting access to nicotine is unearthing a legislative relic from Big Tobacco’s heyday.

>> Read Jennifer Brown’s story, and learn how “popcorn lung” relates to vaping, here.


Nothing but green lights for some drivers in Lakewood as new V2x technology debuts

If you’re in the right car (certain Audis and BMWs, for now) in the right city (Lakewood, for now) your car will be able to tell you exactly what speed to maintain to hit a “green wave” of lights, thanks to the latest incarnation of Vehicle-to-Everything communication. “But wait,” I hear you say, “what if I can’t afford an Audi or I’m trying to drive less to save the climate?”  As Tamara Chuang writes, the green wave is just one feature in an overall smarter traffic system — coming to more car manufacturers — designed to adjust on the fly to reduce the time that all cars on the road (not just the fancy ones) spend idling and to give pedestrians safer places to walk.

>> Read more about the system, including what other Colorado cities have it in the works, here.

More from The Sun


// The Bustang, the Wi-Fi-equipped bus connecting the Front Range and the High Country, is hugely popular. (It’s almost as if when you build quality public transportation that actually goes where people want to go, people use it. What a concept!) One problem: It can’t find enough bus drivers. // The Denver Post

// Meanwhile, there’s another shortage affecting transportation in Colorado: We just don’t have enough mechanics. // KDVR

// It’s good to be a baby in Colorado. // Chalkbeat Colorado

// David Migoya’s “Shrouded Justice” project — about the thousands of cases hidden from the public on judge’s orders —  is a finalist for the “Distinguished Service to the First Amendment” category at the Scripps Howard Awards. // The Denver Post, PR Newswire

// Outside Magazine’s “David Bernhardt Scandal Tracker” has 12 scandals and counting for the Colorado native nominated to be the Trump administration’s Interior secretary. // Outside Magazine

// I was a football player, (briefly) a basketball player and a hardcore trackster during my high school prep career. But I probably would have dropped football in a heartbeat if I’d had the opportunity to join a high school bowling or boys volleyball team like some future Colorado athletes will. // CHSAA Now

// Democrats at the Capitol are ready to take sanctuary policies (keeping public entities from sharing data with ICE without a warrant) statewide. But how will Jared Polis, who said he wouldn’t sign such bills on the campaign trail, react? // CPR News

// All but 10 Denver schools tested positive for lead in at least one water source, but there’s no requirement in any regulation for that to change. // Denverite

// In anticipation of the “red flag” gun law working its way through the legislature, Fremont County passed a resolution to become a “2nd Amendment sanctuary county,” and Montezuma County is considering joining them. Looking south, there’s precedent for such “sanctuary” moves in New Mexico.  // Gazette, Durango Herald, Santa Fe New Mexican

// Pueblo is getting a big CBD manufacturing business to replace a longtime food distribution company — and some of the current employees will be offered jobs at the extraction plant. // Pueblo Chieftain


Today’s Thing



The Thing: Ologies, a podcast featuring people who know what they’re talking about (iTunes, Spotify, RSS).

Why You Might Like It: Watching Alie Ward’s career blossom has been a trip. A former LA Times journalist, she rose to modest internet fame a decade ago for co-creating “the McNuggetini” in a viral video, which spun off into a comedy podcast, a Cooking Channel series, and more recently, a whole mess of science-y TV shows aimed at kids and adults alike. But my new favorite Alie Ward product is her podcast Ologies, which has a pretty simple concept: Each week, she talks to one expert in one “-ology” or another. That simple concept ends up in some wild places, from the sex and sociopathy of chimps in the Primatology episode to a whole episode dedicated to “Corvid Thanatology” aka crow funerals. One of her mottos is “always ask smart people dumb questions” and this is one of the most accessible ways to nerd out on topics you’d never considered before. While you might be tempted to put it on for kids, be warned, things get blue just often enough to keep it PG-13.

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.

And that brings us to the end of today’s Sunriser. Don’t forget, if you haven’t already, to check out the free preview of The Unaffiliated newsletter (including how to score a rare discount on new Politics+ memberships with The Sun until the offer expires this evening). I’ll say it again, it’s my favorite read of the week and now is the time to join up if you’ve been on the fence.

Have a great week!

— Eric

Eric Lubbers is one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun, focused on making technology work hand-in-hand with journalism. He was born and raised in Yuma, Colorado, and since starting his career with the Rocky Mountain News/YourHub in 2005...