There’s something bright streaming through my apartment window this morning. It seems familiar, but like something from the distant past. While I investigate this phenomenon — it feels warm and my dog seems to like it — I want to get real for a second.
Here’s a short list of what is contained in just this one email:
- A clear explanation of the science behind why avalanches are so bad this year in the high country.
- The most comprehensive look in the state at the oil and gas reform bill working its way through the statehouse.
- An exploration of why new money to hire more child welfare case workers is still resulting in poor outcomes for vulnerable kids.
- Three more angles (legal, emotional and explanatory) in our expansive project about the death penalty in Colorado.
- A breakdown of exactly which special interests donated to the governor’s inaugural committee.
- Scenes from inside the state’s largest immigration detention center.
And that represents just 48 hours of publication time for The Colorado Sun. We still are just 11 journalists working to help fill the state’s need for this kind of in-depth journalism. But we want to grow. And the only way that’s going to happen is if we get readers like you to join our community.
If you haven’t yet become a member, memberships start at just $5 a month (with perks like exclusive newsletters and access to future events at higher tiers) at coloradosun.com/join. Every dollar we receive goes straight back into journalism. Period.
If you’re already a member, (thank you!) we need your help to spread the word. Getting just a few people you know to sign up for The Sunriser or The Daily Sun-Up can have a huge impact. So my challenge to you is to get three people signed up at coloradosun.com/sunriser this week.
If you’re a Colorado business, we are offering underwriting positions in all of our newsletters that can put your name in front of one of the most engaged and informed audiences in the state. Email email@example.com for rates and availability.
It’s going to take buy-in from all corners of Colorado to keep this kind of independent watchdog journalism alive, so I’m thanking you in advance for being a part of this growing community.
OK, do-a-good-thing-for-your-community pitch over. Let’s grind these coffee beans, shall we?
>> ABOVE THE FOLD
The science behind Colorado’s deadly avalanche season
“The stuff I saw today, you don’t see that very often in your career.”
— Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center
A slide near Telluride on Sunday claimed the state’s sixth avalanche death of the season. Also over the weekend, avalanches dramatically covered Interstate 70 with feet of snow, causing closures and stoking the fears in drivers all over the state. If this kind of avalanche season seems abnormal to you, you’re not crazy. Jason Blevins and Jesse Paul took a look at the science of snowpack, the methodology of avalanche mitigation and this season’s particular weather to create an easy-to-understand explainer.
Major corporations and political interests gave big money to Jared Polis’ inaugural committee
The nonprofit that hosted the “Blue Sneaker Ball” and Gov. Jared Polis’ inauguration raised $1.5 million dollars — twice what John Hickenlooper spent on his 2015 inauguration. As The Sun’s John Frank and contributor Sandra Fish report, top business leaders in the state and a dark-money group that spent big during the November election — to elect Republicans to the state Senate — topped the list of donors.
What the landmark oil and gas bill really says — and its significance for Colorado
Local control over fracking. A potential monopoly for the largest oil and gas company in the state. A list of new regulations and tests that even pro-regulation organizations are hesitant to endorse. A potential temporary moratorium. These are just some of the outcomes possible from the massive oil and gas regulation reform bill introduced recently at the statehouse. Mark Jaffe and John Frank paired a close reading of the bill with reactions from environmental groups, local government officials and industry leaders to give you the most complete picture of the reality of the bill out there.
With more child welfare caseworkers than ever, Colorado lawmakers want to know why some outcomes are getting worse
“What is going on out in the counties that these numbers would look so awful?”
— Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale
In 2014, a workload study showed that Colorado was dangerously short on child welfare caseworkers. Since then, the state has spent $22 million to hire 367 of the 698 caseworkers recommended as part of a phased plan to rectify the situation. But as Jennifer Brown writes, even though staffing has increased, some major measurements of outcomes for children have actually gotten worse in that time.
Could Colorado even get the drugs required by law to perform an execution?
As part of our comprehensive look at the death penalty in Colorado (read them all at coloradosun.com/deathpenalty), Kevin Simpson explored the specifics of Colorado’s unique laws around capital punishment. Specifically, the provision that not only requires lethal injection to be the method the state can use, but also the specific cocktail of drugs that can be used. But now that one of the three drugs has been pulled from the market for use in executions, could the state even legally perform an execution?
“It just doesn’t make sense to me that this process has been what it’s been.”
— Bobby Stephens, the sole survivor of the Chuck. E. Cheese shooting that put Nathan Dunlap on death row.
MORE: John Ingold has two pieces to round out our project on the death penalty. Start here, with a quick explainer of how capital punishment works in Colorado, from prosecution to the appeals court. Then read his interview with the sole survivor of the Aurora Chuck E. Cheese shooting in which he was shot in the face and saw four of his coworkers killed by Nathan Dunlap, one of three people on Colorado’s death row.
More from The Sun
- The man who helped establish Colorado as the epicenter of the massive outdoor industry is leaving the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office after four years to work for industry juggernaut VF Corp. Jason Blevins has the story.
- We went inside the massive ICE immigration detention center in Aurora after reports of mumps and chickenpox outbreaks at the facility.
- The plan to protect the Colorado River still isn’t done. Now what? Felicia Fonseca with the Associated Press explains.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// JUST IN: Our buddies at Colorado Public Radio are acquiring our buddies at Denverite. Denverite’s Ashley Dean has the story about the merger of the two Colorado news outlets. // Denverite
// Two prominent police departments are facing allegations of harassment and discrimination. In Fort Collins, a 51-year-old crime analyst is suing the city for gender and age discrimination while in Denver, while a complaint by Cmdr. Magen Dodge alleges DPD is “rife with sexism.” // Coloradoan, The Denver Post 🔑*
// We just barely got reporter Jesse Paul back to the Front Range after this weekend’s snow dump over Aspen, and it looks like there could be up to 20 more inches of snow at high elevations in the area this week. // The Aspen Times
// Sen. Cory Gardner made an unannounced visit to the University of Colorado campus to speak to about 20 people last Friday. Here’s an account of how the event went. // The Colorado Independent
// A 4.5 magnitude earthquake on the Colorado-Utah border is being investigated for any connection with a nearby deep injection well that keeps salt out of the Colorado River. // KUNC
// U.S. 34 ran about five blocks from my house in Yuma, and we did a lot of driving on it to get around Northeast Colorado during my childhood. I remember hearing the story of the tiny little ghost town of Dearfield once as we drove through it, but this NBC News story is a much more thorough account of one of the most successful (for a time) all-black settlements in the American West. // NBC News
// Here’s an interesting real estate story: The FBI in Denver has a new landlord for its massive building it built under 24/7 surveillance to make sure contractors didn’t slip in something to spy on the operations. // BusinessDen
// In today’s Reminder That Your Vote Matters: With a record turnout, the controversial Lift One corridor project in Aspen won approval by just 26 votes. // CPR News
// Small farmers are feeling the pinch of the lack of workers, but a new cooperative springing up in southwest Colorado is hoping to help stem that tide. // Durango Herald
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>> TODAY’S THING
Why You Might Like It: When I was searching for the right words to sum up why some of my favorite writers here in the modern era have sportswriting in their resumes, I saw author Colson Whitehead describe Brian Phillips as “a cultural code-breaker of the highest order” and there’s no way I’m going to come up with something better than that. Something about serious sportswriting — grappling mostly with the written and unwritten rules of spectacle and how they intersect with human emotion — seems to make writers uniquely able to write about our current culture where everything from politics to education is a form of performance. But what’s great about this book in particular is that, while it does dip into some timely observances, its essays deal with things much more primal than politics (sumo wrestling, the Iditarod, the mythology of booms and busts in Oklahoma, Area 51) in really skilled ways that leave you feeling both educated and satisfied.
REMINDER: If you’ve got a Thing you can’t stop raving about, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name, where you can find it and why The Sun community might like it and you could get published in a future newsletter.
If you’re reading this deep today, I commend you. There was a lot of news to get through, and hopefully you’re leaving this email more informed than you entered it.
Thanks again for reading and sharing The Sun’s work and being an active part of our growing community. Have a great Wednesday and we’ll see you on Friday.