Good morning. I’m going to be blunt: This was an awful, heart-wrenching weekend for America. While the two mass shootings that left 31 people dead did not happen within the borders of Colorado, there is no denying that forces at play in these tragedies are as relevant in our state as anywhere else.
So I have two goals in today’s newsletter. First, as always, to bring you the tidy package of Colorado news from The Sun and journalists around the state that you’ve come to expect. (As someone who has experienced most of these tragedies from inside a newsroom, I can say that taking a break and reading about your community is vital for your mental health.) Secondly, I’m going to try to (briefly) put the emerging political conversation about mass shootings, white supremacy and gun control into a digestible context.
So, let’s get to it.
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ABOVE THE FOLD
Lawsuit against signature-gathering firm illustrates problems with Colorado’s process to get on the ballot, lawyer says
$11 per signature
— The final cost Walker Stapleton paid to get 22,000-plus signatures for his campaign
Colorado’s petition system is in the spotlight again, with Republicans pushing to get recalls of laws passed in the last session and Democratic lawmakers on the ballot — not to mention the huge Democratic primary field jockeying to take on Sen. Cory Gardner. But as Jesse Paul reports, the system can be costly and complex.
>> GOP CANDIDATE, DEMOCRATIC LAWYER ON THE CASE Jesse talked to Democrat Stan Garnett, who is representing 2018 Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton in a case against a signature gathering firm that Garnett says highlights the growing problem with Colorado’s signature-gathering laws.
MORE: The trial is getting underway in Denver this morning and already some interesting details about the 2018 election cycle are emerging.
An Extraction Oil & Gas oil drilling rig in operation on the Livingston pad on the west side of the Anthem neighborhood in Broomfield on Aug. 2, 2019. (Doug Conarroe, Special to The Colorado Sun)
When the Colorado legislature passed a major regulation overhaul for the oil and gas industry in the state this spring, many thought the fight over drilling would cool down. But this summer has proven that the bill may have more nuanced consequences than expected.
>> BOULDER & WELD: A TALE OF TWO COUNTIES Mark Jaffe looks at how the local control portion of the new law is resulting in some wildly different approaches from county to county — which has the state scrambling to keep up.
“I think guilty people will go free if we aren’t able to get these tests done in time and are unable to produce experts at trial. And if we have an individual who is accused and they are actually innocent, they are going to be waiting an extraordinarily long period for the test results to be made available for prosecution and for the defense.”
— Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty
Last week we reported on the change to Colorado’s DUI testing system that could lead to a backlog. Jesse Paul talked to district attorneys on both sides of the aisle about what the practical effects of this change could be and found they go far beyond DUIs.
>> VEHICULAR HOMICIDE, MURDER AND OTHER CRIMES Any case where toxicology reports are crucial will be affected, the DAs said, and the issue has the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Gov. Jared Polis’ office publicly promising to find a remedy.
“One way or another, the order is a financial hit on communities with PEG programming.”
— Ken Fellman, legal counsel for the Colorado Communications and Utility Alliance
Back in February, Tamara Chuang reported on the communities, like Durango, that still rely on public-access TV channels for everything from city council meeting broadcasts to emergency updates during massive wildfires. But a rule change proposed by the Federal Communications Commission threatened to upend the funding for those community stations.
>> AN EXEMPTION, BUT ONLY FOR NOW Tamara reports today that the FCC exempted the public channels, sparing them the potential funding shortfall, but that the fight to preserve public access funding is far from over.
More from the Sun
- A campaign to make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after 22 weeks is pursuing several versions of a ballot measure with eyes on the 2020 election.
- From Chalkbeat: Teachers unions are working to block the first state-ordered interventions into underperforming districts, and their lawsuits will help define exactly the level of authority that the state has over local districts.
- The Associated Press looks at how American public culture is changing as mass shootings in public places happen with more frequency.
>> FROM THE OPINION PAGE
- CU Boulder freshman and target shooter Nina Shelanski: “We are the children of gun violence, fear, racism and hate. Will you love us more than your guns?”
- Mario Nicolais: “Michael Bennet’s ‘equal is not equal’ debate moment highlighted a tragic legacy of segregation in public schools”
- Diane Carman: “The addicts in our families deserve justice for drug company corporate kingpins”
- Colorado Association of Health Plans Executive Director Amanda Massey: “Health insurance companies want lower premiums. But here’s why they’re so high.”
- Colorado vaping nonprofit vice president Amanda Wheeler: “Boulder misses the mark on e-cigarettes”
We’re always looking for voices to represent Colorado in our opinion pages. If you’ve got something to say, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
// Colorado is one of the healthiest states, but when the data is split by race, it’s clear that the state’s black and Latino populations are struggling with obesity. // Kaiser Health News via CNN
// Health experts want regular Coloradans to have naloxone — the nasal spray that can save the life of someone experiencing an opioid overdose — on hand. // CPR News
// You may have seen a headline about a longhorn running into a Colorado Springs business, but the headlines can’t compare to the video. // KOAA 5 on Facebook
// I like electric scooters. I own one of my own, and I think they are a great way to reduce urban car travel while we work on improving public transportation and bike lanes. But for the love of god, people, you have to be careful on them. We’re already seeing more collisions between scooter riders and cars and stunts like these two helmet-less riders taking scooters ON THE SHOULDER OF U.S. 6 indicate that we have a long way to go before we get to a safer environment. // DPD on Twitter, /r/Denver
MASS SHOOTINGS, IN CONTEXT
A tweet from Columbine survivor and senior editor at The Athletic Stephen Cohen.
Here are the basics: A 21-year-old white man allegedly drove nine hours to El Paso, posted an anti-immigrant screed on an online forum known to host racist discussions (including the rant and livestream from the man who killed 51 people in a mosque in New Zealand) from the parking lot of a Wal-Mart, before marching into the store and killing 22 people and wounding 24 more. He was later arrested without incident. Less than 24 hours later, a 24-year-old white man went to a neighborhood in Dayton, Ohio, and used a gun outfitted with a 100-round magazine legally purchased online from Texas to kill nine people and injure 27 others in less than 30 seconds before he was shot and killed by nearby police officers. // ABC News, Dallas Morning News, CNET, USA Today, Washington Post
These are the victims: The El Paso Times and Dallas Morning News have updating lists of the victims of the El Paso shooting, including a young father and mother who died protecting their 2-month-old son. The Dayton Daily News has this list of the victims in Ohio, including the shooter’s sister. // El Paso Times, Dallas Morning News, Dayton Daily News
White supremacy, anti-immigration rhetoric: Much of the initial conversation around the shootings has been about the El Paso shooter’s anti-immigration screed, which overlapped with ideas frequently promoted by President Trump and in political discourse on Fox News and even the opinion pages of The New York Times.
The New York Times analyzed the role of white extremist ideology in recent mass shootings while the discussion of “stochastic terrorism” — violent acts committed by random individuals inspired by broad political demagoguery — is getting more oxygen (though it has been discussed since the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a mathematician from Kansas City, by a man who reportedly yelled “get out of my country” in Feb. 2017).
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who lives in and represented El Paso in the House, was asked if there was anything that president could do to make this better and responded with an emotional statement directly blaming the president for stoking racism.
President Trump condemned white supremacy in a statement this morning, but made no mention of the current political atmosphere or his role in shaping it. // Washington Post, New York Times, Slate, Kansas City Star, CBS News
Gun control: After three recent shootings included military-style rifles (the models and modifications were different in each case, but the basic framework of each weapon was similar), there are calls to increase weapons restrictions from places as varied as the often-conservative New York Post to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and the president himself said he is open to limited new measures. // New York Post, CBS4
Safety: On social media over the weekend, people began to talk about the psychological effects of living in America where a new mass shooting happens monthly, if not weekly. Colorado residents protested on the steps of the Capitol and some are worried that the shootings will chill civic life and increase Americans’ sense of isolation from their neighbors. // BuzzFeed News, CPR News, Associated Press
Technology and social media: 8chan, the forum that has acted a megaphone for at least three mass shooters and is the most prominent online home of white supremacist and misogynist discussion, lost its service from outage protection service CloudFlare and has been sporadically taken offline this morning. But 8chan is just where the most extreme of the extreme hang out after they’ve likely been radicalized on YouTube, which is still struggling to prevent its algorithms from pushing viewers down conspiracy-filled rabbit holes. // Cloudflare Blog, Bellingcat, New York Times
The Thing: Your local library
Why You Might Like It: Is “Your Library” maybe the broadest, most vague thing I’ve ever suggested in the space? Maybe. But the thing about libraries is that they are all great. The story I recounted on Twitter above is a great example of the modern mission of libraries (and the great people who staff them): to keep people connected with their community and the world. Here in Denver, you can check out books, sure, but you can also check out a bike repair kit, a GoPro, an indoor air quality monitor, find services for immigrants, get help with your small business or filing a patent, or stream Oscar-winning movies directly to your home. And they’re a great place to just hang out in the air conditioning when you’re a roaming journalist. I promise that if you go poke around your local library, you’ll find a lot of cool stuff you may not have known about.
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That’s it for today. I know this batch of news may have been a hard one to process, but a commitment to staying informed is one the best ways of coping (that said, make sure you take time for yourself these days, you’re no good to anyone if you’re too anxious).
We’ll see you back here on Wednesday.