Good morning, folks, and welcome to the end of yet another contestant in the Wildest Week of 2019. There are so many good contenders for the title already, and we’re not even through the first quarter of the year. A couple of quick notes to start out:
- We had such an outpouring of support for our half-birthday celebration, we’re extending the discounts, T-shirt offers and all the rest through Sunday, in case the bomb cyclone interrupted you (or your friends/coworkers/neighbors) from getting in on the action. Details here, but you can also just jump straight to coloradosun.com/join and use the code 6MONTHS to become a member.
- Our underwriting calendar is beginning to fill up. If you’d like to get your nonprofit, business, event or service in front of one of the most engaged audiences in Colorado, email email@example.com for rates and availability.
Enough dancing around the snow piles, let’s shovel this walk, shall we?
>> ABOVE THE FOLD
Colorado lawmakers are using the deadly Firestone explosion as a fulcrum for change — just as Erin Martinez wanted
“I’m not being exploited. I asked to be involved.”
— Erin Martinez, who lost her husband and brother in a 2017 explosion in Firestone
If there is a central image to the debate over the omnibus oil and gas regulation bill passed by the Senate this week, it is Erin Martinez, standing at a podium and telling the story of waking up in a hospital burn unit after her home exploded and her husband and brother were killed in 2017. But unlike most tragedies that are used in political debates, she sought out her role. “I can’t just sit back and be OK with what happened,” she told The Sun’s Jesse Paul.
On your left! Here comes another another attempt to get scooters off the sidewalks
A Spin electric scooter thaws out in a flower bed at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver on March 1, 2019. Lawmakers are looking to change the legal definition of the scooters statewide to keep them off sidewalks. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
Full disclosure: I am the proud owner of an electric scooter (purchased just before tariffs kicked in and caused the price to skyrocket). Mine is a faster vehicle than the Limes, Birds, Spins, Razors and Lyfts that swarmed Denver starting last spring, so I stick to bike lanes and streets. But the rent-by-the-minute version is a regular presence zipping between pedestrians on the city’s narrow sidewalks thanks to a state law considering them “toys” — in the same vein as Power Wheels Jeeps and Barbie Corvettes. (As a scooter owner, I can say this with impunity: people can be real jerks on them.) Jennifer Brown looks at the effort under the dome to change the classification of the little zero-emission vehicles to legally let them roam off sidewalks and, hopefully, make everyone happier.
BONUS: If you live in Denver, you may have wondered where the heck those scooters went during the bomb cyclone (walking around Cap Hill yesterday, it was like witnessing the aftermath of The Scooter Rapture). According to Lime PR representative Sarah Hoffner, the company deployed its “juicers” (aka the people who are paid via the Lime app to round up and charge the scooters overnight) and its own specialists to pick up every scooter in the city until the weather improved enough to redeploy them. So there’s your peek behind the curtain at the kind of frightening speed at which an app-based business can change the urban landscape.
Step inside the growing world of personal, tricked-out snowcats
Aaron Tucker’s pontoon-tracked 1953 Tucker 743 is one of four made by the Tucker Corp. for the Air Force. It’s the only one still operating. (Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun)
I hope I don’t have to do much to persuade you to click on a story that is best described as “Jason Blevins hangs out at a snowcat jamboree,” but in case that’s not enough, Jason’s story blends the history of military equipment, the passion of hot-rod culture and the desire for luxury of high-end RVs in a really entertaining look at a small but dedicated group who pay big bucks to roll around the high country in “the upholstered comfort of a mobile living room.”
The red flag bill again thrusts Colorado’s sheriffs into the gun debate — with legal questions, strong emotions and Facebook letters
What is a Second Amendment “sanctuary” county? Would sheriffs refuse to enforce state laws? Why are so many county commissioners rushing to pass resolutions before the law is even on the books? What do law enforcement officers actually think of the proposed law? These are some of the questions that contributor Sue McMillin explored in her thoughtful, deep look at politics and personal decisions by the rural sheriffs at the center of Colorado’s latest debate over gun violence and mental health.
NOTE: The legislation is getting its first hearing in the Colorado Senate on Friday, where an amendment is expected that would include language to help people whose guns are seized under the policy get access to mental health care.
5,800 Colorado kids in second grade or younger were suspended last year. State lawmakers want to reduce that.
The use of suspension and expulsion for students in second grade or younger has been a target of lawmakers who have said the punishment disproportionately affects students of color and those with disabilities. But thanks to three years of work between lawmakers, advocates and rural educators, a new reformed framework is likely to become reality in Colorado.
More from The Sun
- Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has made good on his plans to sue the Trump administration over its efforts to expand birth-control exemptions under the Affordable Care Act. Here’s what else Weiser is planning to take action on.
- Don’t like what state lawmakers do? Here’s how to recall a law in Colorado, including which law was the last to be overturned this way in 1932.
- Cory Gardner voted against a bipartisan effort to block President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over immigration to divert military funds build a wall. This comes one month after he endorsed the president’s re-election campaign in an effort to stave off a primary challenge in 2020.
- State oil and gas commission regulators OK’ed the use of forced pooling to allow Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. to create a drill site near a Broomfield neighborhood.
>> THE FUN STUFF
// This week’s edition of “What’d I Miss?” gets dark, both literally — Cori Redford’s illustrations of a night drive are starkly beautiful — and figuratively as Myra and Ossie have an extremely uncomfortable experience. I’ve said it before: Start this strip at the beginning and you can catch up in just a few minutes.
// Drew Litton redefines March Madness in Colorado.
If you’ve been sitting on an idea for a book or your own memoirs, use the story of Joan C. Lieberman as inspiration. She finished her autobiography “Optimal Distance, A Divided Life” on her 75th birthday, thanks to her husband’s bucket list. Read an interview with Joan here and check out an excerpt of her Colorado Authors League finalist book, dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia.
John Frank’s Beer Pick
Collaboration Fest this Saturday kicks off Colorado Craft Beer Week (tickets still available here). One of the highlights is next Wednesday with the debut of a custom pint glass that celebrates the state’s brewing culture. Find it and fill it at one of these 93 breweries across the state.
>> THE SHORTLIST
// The push to force judges to ditch cash bail for small crimes is gaining steam and support from lawmakers and advocates (including George Brauchler). // CPR News, George Brauchler on Twitter
// Locals are skiing a heck of a lot more in Aspen than they were two seasons ago. // The Aspen Times
// The enterprising folks at /r/denver both reminded me that Denver once had a massive eight-story Montgomery Ward store and surfaced a 1993 home video of said store’s implosion. // /r/Denver, YouTube
// A survey of middle and high schoolers in Grand Junction’s District 51 showed that a majority of students felt disconnected and disengaged from their peers, teachers and education. // Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
// This is a great bomb cyclone story: Meet one of the postal workers who lived up to the USPS motto and delivered mail through the most powerful storm recorded in Colorado. // Denverite
>> TODAY’S THING
Why You Might Like It: It’s been a hard week for so many reasons. Sometimes you just want to listen to a solid rock band (think Thin Lizzy and MC5 but funkier) born in the middle of Zimbabwe’s civil war sing — “Watch out / Big storm is coming / There’s thunder and lightning / You better hold on” — over and over. If this hits the music center of your brain just right, shoot me a note and I can point you to some other excellent ’70s African rock and roll.
REMINDER: If you have something that you just can’t stop raving about that you’d like to share, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be published in a future Sunriser!
This was a long week, and a long Sunriser. You are a trouper for making it this deep.
As the state thaws out and spring gets within striking distance, make sure you enjoy your weekend and get some rest (right after you share our half-birthday discount with your network one more time). There’s plenty left to do next week.
See you on Monday.