Good morning and happy Wednesday, all. A few of you pointed out that the link to the article “Colorado Never Disappoints” was broken by the time I sent out Monday’s Sunriser, so I want to point you to the correct link, this time with a few of Dan Fleser’s photos of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
With corrections out of the way, I’m going to shorten my usual note up top here so we can get right to the news (If you really want to hear my thoughts on the world, I’ve got a bit on the state of local news down below).
Let’s shuck this corn already, shall we?
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ABOVE THE FOLD
Workers walk next to the two-story mule jack as they ready for the “first toss” of the sweet corn season in Olathe early Wednesday morning. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)
Olathe Sweet corn is a full-fledged brand, thanks to the efforts of farmer John Harold, who trademarked a sugary variety developed by “Corn King” David Galinat in 1987. But behind the branding is a town struggling to get a slice of Colorado’s booming economy.
>> DELAYED HARVEST, CORPORATE SEED WARS Nancy Lofholm has an expansive look at the history and current role of corn in Olathe, from the global conglomerates that are jacking up seed prices to the longtime residents unhappy with how corn changed the flavor of the town. You need to read this before the first ear hits your grill this summer.
— The number of registered sex offenders living in Denver’s East Colfax neighborhood
— The number of registered sex offenders living in Aspen and Denver’s Cherry Creek and Country Club neighborhoods combined
When laws are passed to require convicted sex offenders to be registered and named in public databases, there is almost always universal support. And even in neighborhoods that don’t have zoning laws around sex offenders, landlords running background checks can effectively ban sex offenders from finding places to live. But as Karen Auge reports, the consequences of those well-intentioned laws means that low-income communities in Colorado end up with high concentrations of registered sex-offenders.
>> FEARS VS. FACTS Karen’s story gets deep into the thorny issues of inequality and zoning discrimination, but also looks at new research that shows little actual evidence of the widely held assumption that living near sex offenders puts children at risk. Don’t miss this fascinating, challenging piece (which is also available en español).
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton pushed back on Colorado Democrats’ CORE Act. Now he has his own public lands bill.
Jesse Paul’s lede says it all: “Passing a major Colorado public lands bill through Congress just became a lot more complicated.” But that might be quite the understatement, with 2020 politics in play and big questions about whether the state will now have to wait a long, long while before seeing the passage of federal public lands legislation.
>> A PARTISAN SPLIT IN COLORADO’S DELEGATION Jesse has the backstory on where the new Tipton bill — with the support of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner — does and does not overlap with the ambitious CORE Act launched by Democratic members of the state’s delegation earlier this year, including differences in land location, number of acres and the relationship between public lands and oil and gas development — and why Tipton says he didn’t just try to work with Democrats on their bill.
1275 and 1271 Sherman Street, one block south of the state Capitol in Denver, photographed on July 21. The buildings and an adjacent parking lot are owned by the state government and are part of a proposed affordable housing development. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
Just a block south of the state Capitol building in Denver sit two dilapidated warehouses owned by the state of Colorado. In a city with a massive affordable housing shortage, a plan to use that land to add affordable units in one of Denver’s hippest neighborhoods is coming together.
>> EMPHASIS ON HOUSING TEACHERS Brian Eason has the details on the innovative plan in the works that would add 103 affordable units to the area and be a moneymaker for public schools.
“Rural carriers want to do this, but they look at their pocketbook and realize that if I got every customer in the area, even after 50 years I’m not going to come out ahead. I could not afford to do these projects without the (grant). It’s been a wonderful thing.”
— Josh Wehe, director of operations for Alamosa’s Jade Communications
Colorado’s goal to bring fast internet to every corner of the state is making progress, but there are still about 85,000 households in rural Colorado without access to what the federal government defines as broadband-speed internet access.
>> HOW BROADBAND FUNDING REALLY WORKS Tamara Chuang has details of some exciting new efforts to get gigabit (even faster than I’m working on here in Denver) broadband into rural Colorado and the hurdles that still remain in some communities.
More from The Sun
- Which presidential candidates are getting the most money from Coloradans? Sandra Fish analyzes the data, which finds that, among other conclusions, Bernie Sanders is getting the most support among the top tier Democratic candidates (which doesn’t include Hick or Bennet), but Donald Trump is raising more money than just about all of them.
- It’s alive! A lawsuit challenging Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and dating back to 2011 has been revived by a powerful federal appeals court in Denver. Between efforts to eliminate TABOR at the ballot box and now again at the courthouse, this is a situation worth paying attention to.
- The Trump administration’s plans for mass immigration enforcement across the nation earlier this month, which reportedly included Denver, netted 35 arrests. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials signaled that might just be the start.
- Remember that Equifax breach that exposed millions of Americans personal information? Well, the credit background check company has settled with states that were impacted, including Colorado, which received more than $3 million after more than 2.5 million residents were affected by the breach.
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// As we reported last week, the Bureau of Land Management will relocate its headquarters to Grand Junction as part of the agency’s plan to spread jobs around the country, touted as a victory by Sen. Cory Gardner. Former directors of the agency have now gone public saying they believe the move is an attempt to “make it almost impossible [for the federal government] to manage these public lands” as a stepping stone to transferring control of public lands to states, a longtime goal of some conservative politicians in the West. // The Colorado Sun, Bloomberg Environment
// Tom’s Diner on Colfax, just a few hundred feet from where I write this newsletter, is a step closer to being designated as a Denver landmark — against the wishes of owner Tom Messina. // The Denver Post 🔑
// In the six years since large-capacity magazines were banned in Colorado, just 11 people have been sentenced for violating the law and many people still use them openly at shooting ranges around the state. // KUNC
// I watch a lot of movies, but between the rise of streaming and the aftermath of covering the Aurora theater shooting, I virtually stopped going to movie theaters. But lately I’ve been pulled back into the experience at places like the Alamo Drafthouse and the renovated Esquire and Denver Pavilions — and as John Wenzel writes, I’m not alone, as Denver-area theaters are bucking national trends to thrive. // The Denver Post 🔑
// The Epic Pass just got a whole bunch of new resorts east of the Mississippi with Vail’s acquisition of Peak Resorts. // Summit Daily News
// One of the worst parts of the modern internet is that there is money to be made in being a conspiracy theorist, which incentivizes the harassment of already traumatized victims of crimes. Alex Jones has been effectively kicked off every major platform because of his harassment of the victims of Sandy Hook, but smaller-scale conspiracy peddlers have begun harassing the family of Shannan Watts, seemingly with impunity. // 9News
// Amazon is getting into Denver real estate … kinda. // Denver Business Journal 🔑
// From the “homeowners will complain about anything” files: Neighbors to Heritage High School’s new athletic field say that the new lighting on the field will “tank their property values” and the facilities will bring “traffic and crime” to their neighborhood. // Littleton Independent
// Meanwhile, a proposal from the Trump administration could cause 3 million people — mostly working families with large child care, housing or medical bills — to lose food stamp benefits. // Harvest Public Media
“Local newspapers are basically little machines that spit out healthier democracies.”
// If the merger between Gannett (owner of 216 papers including The Coloradoan in Fort Collins) and GateHouse (owner of 451 papers including The Pueblo Chieftain) is approved, then the resulting company would own one out of every six newspapers in the U.S. // Axios
// Study after study — including a recent one that shows that shrinking local news leads to fewer people bothering to run for mayor — shows a direct connection between strong local news and local democracy. And these kinds of mergers tend to result in fewer journalists producing less coverage and/or chasing less impactful coverage in order to satisfy corporate pressures.
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Dearly departed Denver band Sauna playing inside what was then Indy Ink on South Broadway at the UMS in 2011. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
The Thing: The Underground Music Showcase (This weekend — July 26-28 — on South Broadway in Denver, tickets and info)Why You Might Like It: I’m not going to mince words. This is the best music festival in the state no matter how you measure it and a personal summer ritual for my entire adult life (I even made a Tumblr a million years ago for photos I took there). It might not have the biggest bands, but even at the full price of $75 for a weekend pass, the experience of 200-plus shows from local and national acts, plus art and food trucks in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Denver is easily the best value of entertainment per dollar in the state. And if you can’t quite fathom spending three days on South Broadway, they do have day passes, so check out the schedule and see if anything catches your eye.
Let’s finish this newsletter with a cooperative spirit. Here’s a gif to illustrate that we’re all on the same fire truck and we’ll only get where we want to be if we all stay in sync. We’re almost there, and we will continue keeping up our end of the bargain with informative journalism, and we hope you’ll help us serve our state.