Good morning and happy midway point of this always-feels-longer-than-it-should holiday-shortened work week.
Over in D.C., the Scripps National Spelling Bee is in full swing, bringing with it two very specific memories of my two trips to the Colorado state spelling bee as a kid: 1) Hearing the word “quiche” for the first time in my young life during the written test (I’m sure someone got a chuckle when they read “keesh” on my form); 2) Going to Media Play on the 16th Street Mall after and buying a six-year-old copy of “The Simpsons Sing The Blues” (spoiler: It doesn’t hold up) to listen to on the ride home. I was a simple child with simple needs.
We’ve got everything from peaches to impeachment in today’s Sunriser, so let’s not get too lost down memory lane (though I’m always interested to hear which words people remember being eliminated on if you’re willing to share).
So let’s use this word in a sentence already, shall we?
The Latest from The Sun
Diego Dominguez culls fruit from peach trees at Talbott Farms in Palisade. He and other workers are removing tiny fruits to make sure the yields are good without harming the trees. (Nancy Lofholm, Special to The Colorado Sun)
Colorado has a lot of great seasons, but Palisade Peach season has to be one of the most beloved. And this year’s extremely wet winter, lack of harsh cold snaps and near-perfect bee activity means that growers are expecting one of the best yields in state history.
>> WORKERS WANTED: But too many peaches — “millions” as my favorite band from childhood once sang — means that growers who submitted applications for worker visas long before this perfect season are worried that they’ll be way short on help. Nancy Lofholm explains it all in this dispatch from the Western Slope.
“As the weeks have gone by, it’s really clear that the president intends to refuse to comply with Congress to get that evidence, which is extraordinary and just further obstruction of justice.”
— U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver
From peaches to impeachment: Just a few weeks ago, Colorado’s Democratic delegation was mostly in agreement: It was too early to embrace impeachment of President Donald Trump. But as Jesse Paul reports, actions by the president have started to change some of their positions.
With snow still looming in the nearby San Juan Mountains, Lake City prepares for a deadly spring runoff
Gunnison High School student Anders Harvey wrestles a sandbag onto a pallet in Lake City, Colorado, on May 25, 2019. Harvey was one of a busload of high school students who came to help with the flood preparation effort. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)
When you’re looking at something like this drought map, Colorado’s huge snowpack seems like an unequivocally great thing. But for a community like Lake City sitting below the San Juan Mountain range — which received 38 feet of snow this winter — that snow represents some potentially devastating flooding.
>> MAKING A STAND WITH SANDBAGS: Photographer and writer Dean Krakel spent a couple of days in Lake City chronicling the efforts by Hinsdale County and beyond to make a stand against the runoff floods with thousands of sandbags and strategy.
One school social worker quelled a girl’s suicidal thoughts. Colorado hopes a lot more of them can provide a lasting solution.
Megan Wykhuis, a state grant-funded social worker at Soroco High School in Oak Creek uses poetry and writing to help students learn to cope with past experiences. (Nina Riggio, Special to The Colorado Sun)
The Sun reported last month that not one Colorado school district met federal safety recommendations for behavioral health staff like nurses, psychologists, counselors and social workers. Since then, Colorado lawmakers have committed more money to help boost that staffing around the state.
>> HOW SOCIAL WORKERS CAN SAVE LIVES: Chris Osher has an in-depth look at the work that school mental health workers are already doing in Colorado schools, including the lifesaving work of preventing teen suicide, as well as how the new money will change things for schools around the state.
$120 million in requests and $40 million in the bank. How an obscure theory helped prioritize the Colorado budget.
To find an answer, Democrats attempted a novel approach to public policy: quadratic voting. The obscure economic theory is designed to do what seems impossible at the state Capitol — limit the influence of politics and self-interest.
Folks, I get it. Every single fiber of your being is probably screaming at you to skip a story about something called “quadratic voting.” But I promise, this is not only an easy read, but the topic is maybe one of the most interesting things to happen under the dome in Colorado this year.
>> LET’S GET NERDY: Every lawmaker is fanatical about their pet projects, and no matter how well-meaning they are, that fanaticism gets in the way of deciding how to spend Colorado’s limited state budget. Brian Eason deftly explains how a method of voting championed by a Microsoft researcher with a Princeton doctorate helped Democrats decide on how to prioritize things — and whether it actually worked.
More from The Sun
“Guzman Energy brought us an imaginative and creative high-level verbal proposal, which lacked any specific or meaningful detail or terms. Tri-State requested a written proposal but Guzman refused to provide one, instead deciding to go to the press.”
— Tri-State CEO Duane Highley
- A bold offer by a Miami energy company to buy three Colorado coal-powered plants for $500 million from Tri-State in order to close them and replace them with renewables and natural gas was rejected. But as Mark Jaffe writes in his explanation of the deal, the move underscores how fast the economic calculus is changing for active coal-powered plants.
- Gov. Jared Polis signed a law to expand the state’s backlogged driver’s license program for people living in the U.S. illegally, which is slated to grow the offices that offer the licenses to 11 from just four.
- State lawmakers don’t just get the rest of the year off because the legislative session is now over: John Frank breaks down the interim homework legislators have to study on topics from school safety to private prisons to tax breaks before they bring bills next year.
- Boulder attorney Christopher Kulish died just after reaching the top of Mount Everest, completing his effort to scale the highest peaks on all seven continents but also highlighting a crowded and deadly climbing season on the world’s highest peak.
// Bruce Finley continues his investigation into how the massive Suncor refinery north of Denver continues to break pollution limits — and seemingly has received no punishment by the state or federal government for it. // The Denver Post 🔑
// This is the world we live in: A cyberattack on the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District was eventually foiled by the work of Interpol, and leading researchers suspect that the ransomware deployed was likely the work of a foreign entity looking for vulnerable systems in local government. // The Coloradoan 🔑
// Colorado State University has agreed to pay unpaid overtime wages to more than 1,500 current and former low-wage school employees as the result of a settlement around a class-action lawsuit filed last year. // The Colorado Independent
// Two stories about housing: In news not very surprising to the Zillow-addict writing this newsletter, home prices are rising faster than incomes all over the state. Meanwhile, real estate startup Opendoor (an algorithm-driven home-flipping company) reports that it bought 201 homes and sold 79 of them in its first six months (and sold 21 percent of those at a loss). // CPR News, Business Den
// Foreign entities own more American land than ever, with parcels owned by aging farmers being the biggest target to shift to foreign buyers. // KUNC
// Legendary webcomic XKCD tackled some of the lesser-known effects of high altitude. // XKCD
The Thing: Denver’s Paco Sanchez Park
Why You Might Like It: If you live anywhere near the west side of Denver (or the east side of Lakewood) and you haven’t checked out Paco Sanchez Park, you’re missing out. And if you don’t live anywhere near but find yourself with some time to kill in Denver and you’re looking for somewhere free and fun to take kids, this park has one of the coolest-looking playgrounds in the metro area plus a 21-target, 3-mile long disc golf course that winds along Dry Gulch. And the best part? You can get to it directly via light rail W line and three different bike paths. (The second best part, of course, is getting a smothered fajita burrito at El Zarape a few blocks away after you’re done playing).
What’s your thing? 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!
We will be back on Friday with some more great journalism to share. Until then, please consider supporting our work with a membership or share this newsletter (here’s a link) with a few friends who might not know about us yet.
Every new supporter we get means more journalism for Colorado. It’s a pretty simple formula.
Until then, enjoy this cool weather before summer kicks in (you’ll miss it soon enough) and good luck getting to the end of this week!