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The Sunriser

Sunriser: Olympic skier’s jump to UK team / Polar Express + Colorado tourist trains / A $165 million state budget question / Don’t bet on revenue / Much more

Your guided tour through Colorado news, compiled by your friends at The Sun.

A stop sign just off Colfax Avenue in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood on Dec. 19, 2019. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Eric Lubbers, eric@coloradosun.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

Hello! There’s a pretty good chance you are already focused on your weekend shopping/skiing/traveling/decorating/wrapping/baking, so I’m already grateful that you opened this newsletter at all.

I’m so grateful, in fact, that I’m going to jump right into the news so you can breeze through it and move on with your day!

So let’s hoard this 3M Invisible Gift Wrap tape already, shall we?

 

The Latest from The Sun

 

Skier Gus Kenworthy jumped to Britain’s Olympic squad because he “never felt supported by the U.S. team”

Gus Kenworthy, skiing for the U.S., catches air during the men’s slopestyle qualifications on Feb. 18, 2018, at Phoenix Snow Park at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. (Mark Reis, ZUMA Press/The Gazette via AP)

“very dog-eat-dog and insane”

— How Olympic medalist Gus Kenworthy described the U.S. team’s qualification process.

Gus Kenworthy may have been raised in Telluride — the home base from which he helped establish the U.S. as a halfpipe and slopestyle skiing powerhouse — but he was born just outside of London and holds dual citizenship with the U.K.

INTERVIEW: Jason Blevins talked to Kenworthy about getting older in a tough sport, how his mom factored into his choice and how the skiing world has reacted to his big jump.

 


 

Tourist trains are all the rage in Colorado, from the Polar Express to murder mysteries

Passengers wait to board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Polar Express train at the depot in Durango. (Jerry McBride, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The most popular train in the state right now might be the Polar Express (aka the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), but as Sue McMillin writes, the wide variety of train-based tourism is keeping parts of Colorado’s rural economy chugging along.

STORY + PHOTOS: Plan your own whistle stop tour of Colorado’s trains here.

 


 

4 numbers that explain the funding controversy around Gov. Polis’ reinsurance program

$164.5 million

— The gap between what the reinsurance program’s projected general fund impact was when lawmakers approved it and what a new Joint Budget Committee memo estimated the impact could be now

One of Gov. Jared Polis’ signature accomplishments of the last session was passing a reinsurance program that will reduce health insurance costs for thousands of Coloradans. But a new estimate that put the program’s projected impact on the state’s general fund at 800% more than initially projected have reignited the debate over the future of the program.

ANALYSIS: John Ingold explains four numbers that will help you understand the controversy that will be a huge part of budget talks for months to come.  

 


 

Sports betting won’t generate any money for Colorado’s water needs in first year, new analysis says

“I want to talk to the department to find our what the differences are in the fiscal note that we had attached to the bill last year, the campaign promises that were made during this summer and this fall, and what the reality is going to be now that it’s being implemented.”

— State Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee

Sports betting in Colorado starts in May, but the first full year of wagering is not expected to meet the minimum volume for the state to begin transferring money to the Colorado Water Plan, which has up to $40 billion of need.

STORY: Jesse Paul looks at the new projections and talks to lawmakers about how the expected shortfall will impact the budget for Colorado water projects.

 


 

Colorado reps on President Donald Trump’s impeachment

(Associated Press graphic)

Colorado’s seven representatives in the U.S. House followed party lines in the historic vote to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday. But each member had very different things to say about their votes.

STORY + VIDEO + GRAPHICS: Watch video from each member of the delegation, from Ken Buck’s defense of executive privilege to Jason Crow invoking the founders saying “we would have no kings or dictators.”

+ LATEST IMPEACHMENT NEWS: Here’s a good look at how things will work as the impeachment proceedings move to the Senate for trial. But after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he would do everything in his power to quickly acquit the president on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would hold back sending the charges to the Senate until she was certain rules were in place for a fair trial. // NBC News, NPR, The New York Times

 


 

More from The Sun

“People always say they’re sorry — we’re sorry for your loss, sorry for the statement we made — make it your life work to prove it. Do something different. Advocate for good.”

— John Castillo, father of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed in the STEM School shooting in May, to KDVR about Chuck Bonniwell’s comments
  • CONSERVATIVE RADIO SHOW OFF THE AIR: Chuck Bonniwell, the owner and publisher of Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle newspaper, said on his KNUS radio show “Chuck & Julie” that he wished for a “nice school shooting to interrupt” the impeachment coverage on Tuesday. The show, which he hosted with his wife and former TV news anchor Julie Hayden, has been canceled and the hosts have issued an apology.
  • DEFUNCT CAMPAIGNS RACKING UP MILLIONS IN FINES: Sandra Fish has the report of 30 zombie campaign committees that, by Colorado law, have been racking up $50-per-day fines for failing to file disclosures, even if the candidates believed the committees were closed.
  • END OF AN EMPLOYEE-OWNED ERA: It’s official. The employee-owners of New Belgium Brewing have voted to approve the sale to a subsidiary of Japanese beverage giant Kirin, with employees receiving $100,000 in retirement money (or more). 
  • NEW BELGIUM’S MYANMAR PROBLEM: The Coloradoan reports that New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan will be part of a process investigating Kirin’s relationship with a military commander accused of leading the Rohingya genocide that left thousands of members Myanmar’s Muslim minority dead and forced more than 700,000 to flee to Bangladesh.
  • FEDERAL MONEY FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS: From Chalkbeat Colorado: A grant program from the federal government and a matching state grant could pump nearly $50 million into Colorado’s efforts to educate from “birth-to-5.”

 

The Fun Stuff

 

CARTOONS

// Drew Litton takes issue with the comments of the KNUS radio hosts booted from the airwaves referenced above — especially in a state where “we are all Columbine.”

// It’s so easy to get lost in the latest respectful terminology, but as Ossie and Myra uncover in this week’s “What’d I Miss?” it really is the thought that counts (If you’ve spent much time on East Colfax near Pete’s Kitchen, check out Cori Redford’s watercolor backgrounds this week).

 


 

JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK

This time of the year, special Colorado beers hit the shelves, and the 2019 offerings don’t disappoint. Wiley Roots in Greeley rolled out six variants of its big porter, Imperial Somethin’, including a sugar cookie edition that is not to be missed. And find more holiday-themed beers at Hops & Pie in Denver on Saturday when the pizza and beer joint taps a dozen or so big stouts.

Finally, if you’re headed to the mountains this weekend, stop at Outer Range in Frisco. The brewery is hosting its third anniversary party with the 12 Beers of Christmas, which range from hazy IPAs to imperial stouts.

 


 

SUNLIT

An asteroid that destroys most of humanity. An alien emissary that looks like a giant cucumber with three eyes and six arms. A man whose personality has been preserved after his death, kept company by artificial intelligence. “A Once-Dead Genius in the Kennel of Master Morticue Ambergrand” packs all this and more into a single sci-fi excerpt. And in the SunLit interview, author Gary Raham explains how it just wasn’t coming together … until he planted his tongue firmly in cheek.

 

The Colorado Report

THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE

// WOLVES AND CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE: Rae Ellen Bichell talked to wildlife experts about how the potential reintroduction of wolves to Colorado could spread the prion-based neurodegenerative chronic wasting disease in the state’s elk, deer and moose populations. // KUNC / Mountain West News Bureau 

// SIGN ME UP:  There is yet another weird (and environmentally friendly) way to deal with a human body (remember the Arvada entrepreneur and his alkaline hydrolysis business?) that could be made explicitly legal in Colorado: Composting. Please plant a tree in me when I’m gone. // CPR News

// CHRISTMAS CROC CRISIS: OK, “crisis” might be too strong a word, but I’m still marveling that Crocs are not only back but they are in such high demand that they’re having trouble shipping in time for the holidays. // Denver Business Journal 🔑

// WEWORK LOCAL FALLOUT: The spectacular burnout of one-time unicorn WeWork is beginning to have local impacts, as the company pulled out of a planned location for four floors of 1660 Lincoln St. in downtown Denver. // BusinessDen

// RTD PLAN WOULD CUT BUS ROUTES, MALLRIDE FREQUENCY: RTD hasn’t discovered a magic fountain of bus drivers yet, and consequently the transit authority’s plan is to cut bus lines, drastically cut light rail frequency on some lines, eliminate special service buses (like the RunRide for Bolder Boulder participants) and drop the number of 16th Street Mall shuttles running during peak periods.  // CPR News  

// REUSE MORE COOL BUILDINGS LIKE THIS: One of the oldest standing structures in Greeley (a grain elevator more than 100 years old) is now a cocktail bar and craft distillery — in yet another sign that Greeley is growing up fast. // Greeley Tribune

// PHONE TRACKING IS EVEN CREEPIER THAN YOU THOUGHT: Sorry, but this story might ruin your weekend. Reporters at The New York Times were sent a file containing the “anonymized” location data of 12 million Americans over a period of several months, tracked by their phones. With that data, they quickly identified individuals (because even if the data doesn’t have your name attached, who else is driving from your home to your job every day?) and highlighted the ways the data could be used by foreign spies, blackmailers, domestic abusers or even your own employer (say, to notice if you used your lunch break to go out on a job interview). And all of it is legal, unregulated and in the hands of a few private companies that sell it to just about anyone who pays for it. // New York Times

 

Today’s Thing

 

The Thing: COtrip.org

Why You Might Like It: Sure, pretty much everyone fires up Google Maps or Waze these days to get from one place to another. But if you’re planning a holiday road trip anywhere in Colorado, make sure to check CDOT’s COtrip.org first. The powerful mapping site not only has your expected online map features, but it also tracks road conditions, average road speeds, closures and even lets you peep through live cameras all over the state so you can see how good or bad the roads are for yourself. Even though the chances of a White Christmas are very low outside of the high country, this should be an essential part of your travel planning.

OK, that’s all folks! Thanks for spending some of your busy Friday with us. Now go start tackling that list!

Drive safely, start whipping up your first batch of eggnog and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

— Eric