Good morning and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Denver’s 35th Annual Marade kicks off this morning in honor of the civil rights leader and I always like to use this opportunity to remind people to look a little deeper into Dr. King’s writings — beyond the cherry-picked speeches like “I Have a Dream” — to see a man whose ideas on America’s economy and the power of media feel as relevant today as ever.
We have stories about reinventing child welfare, the Constitution and something called “terror management” waiting for us in today’s Sunriser, so let’s just stack these blocks already, shall we?
The Latest from The Sun
Erica Sullivan, an early childhood clinician with the Tennyson Center for Children, talks through parenting exercises during a session with Jessica, a young mother who has been learning ways to work with her 3-year-old son, Michael. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
“We think we will show it’s cheaper to intervene earlier, that it’s less traumatic, that a family does not have to continue to get worse before they get help.”
— Tennyson Center CEO Ned Breslin
What if the child welfare system could help kids sooner? Before they end up in the kind of mental health crises that put too many kids — especially teenagers — into foster homes? Jennifer Brown writes about a massive, multimillion-dollar experiment to get services to kids in families that are “wobbly” — without secure food or housing or that lack parenting skills — but wouldn’t normally be eligible. And the people behind the experiment say it could not only be more effective, it could be significantly cheaper than the current system. >> STORY + PHOTOS
Quick aside, I had the chance to photograph one of these parenting skills sessions in action and it was pretty remarkable to watch two grown women play with blocks — and hear firsthand how much the sessions changed one mother’s relationship with herself and her son.
Jessica, right, plays with blocks and imitates the behavior of her son, Michael, while Erica Sullivan from the Tennyson Center for Children demonstrates ways to stay engaged with her son while discouraging damaging behavior. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
Why the U.S. Supreme Court hearing Colorado’s faithless electors case is a really big deal for 2020 and beyond
“If the other side’s argument wins, that means if an elector took a bribe, the state is powerless to do anything. And I view that to be untenable, both as a matter of text of the Constitution and of common sense.”
— Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser
The Electoral College — which two of the last three presidents of the United States have used to take office despite losing the national popular vote — has been under scrutiny for years. Now, the case involving three Colorado electors attempting to switch their final votes away from what Colorado voters chose in 2016 could become the U.S. Supreme Court’s strongest statement on the system by which America elects its presidents.
Jesse Paul talked to people on both sides of the case and constitutional scholars for context about how Colorado plans to win the case and its origins. >> STORY
“Why are older people dying more? That’s a weird phenomenon. You would think it’s the opposite.”
— Sara Boilen, a clinical psychologist and avid backcountry skier in Montana
From 1950-90 the average age of victims of avalanches was 27. From 1990-2019, the age rose to 33, a significant jump by research standards. Sun contributor Stephanie Maltarich explored why that number is creeping up, including the theory I’m going to be thinking about for a long time: “terror management,” aka the idea that as one ages and confronts mortality, one might engage in riskier behavior. This is a fascinating read you don’t want to miss, even if you aren’t hitting the backcountry any time soon. >> ANALYSIS
More from The Sun
“Because these platforms actively compete with the very businesses that rely on them, what may be portrayed as an innocent change could very well be a deliberate strategy to crush any existing or potential competition,”
— U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island
- MIDSIZE BIZ BASH BIG TECH COMPANIES IN BOULDER: You don’t often read about a Congressional antitrust hearing outside of D.C., but on Friday, leaders of businesses like PopSockets, Sonos and Tile shared their concerns in Colorado about the monopolistic power of Google, Amazon and Facebook. Tamara Chuang has more on the hearing and what steps Congress could take. >> STORY
- BIG MONEY WILL POUR INTO BATTLE FOR STATE SENATE CONTROL: Four super PACs are already fundraising like crazy in preparation to battle over a small handful of seats that are the key to controlling the Colorado State Senate. Sandara Fish and John Frank crunched the numbers here. >> ANALYSIS
“The documents appear to be a request for information related to alleged violations of civil immigration law. Based on these facts, we are denying your request.”
— Chad Sublet, Senior Counsel to the Department of Safety in Denver
- DENVER REFUSES ICE SUBPOENA: ICE came knocking, papers in hand, looking for information on four foreign nationals wanted for deportation, but Denver officials continued to resist cooperation. >> STORY
- PROPOSED LAWS TARGET TRANS KIDS, ACTIVISTS SAY: Colorado is one of the states considering a type of bill endorsed by national conservative groups that would ban doctors from providing certain gender-related medical treatments, and LGBT activists say that the laws could trigger suicides in an already vulnerable population. >> STORY
- POLIS PITCHES PRESCHOOL: Colorado is now paying for full-day kindergarten statewide, and while some schools are using funds formerly focused on kindergarten to expand preschool, the governor wants “universal preschool access” by 2023. Erica Metzler at Chalkbeat Colorado analyzed the governor’s pitch — and its costs. >> STORY
- LITTLETON STATE REP. RESIGNS TO JOIN TRUMP ADMIN: Republican state Rep. Susan Beckman, who ran a close race to be the chair of the Colorado GOP, resigned her seat to take a mysterious position in the Trump administration. >> STORY
From the Opinion Page
- Columnist Diane Carman: “As impeachment trial looms, vulnerable Gardner is on increasingly thin ice”
- Attorney and columnist Mario Nicolais: “Humane Pet Act is a long-overdue step toward compassion for dogs and cats”
- CEO of Centura Health hospital group Peter D. Banko: “The public option plan isn’t sustainable for Colorado and jeopardizes access”
- ASCE Colorado Infrastructure Report Card chair and engineering graduate student Peyton Gibson: “Colorado can’t withstand more growth without modernizing our aging bridges and water infrastructure”
- Mom and spinal muscular atrophy advocate Michelle Pritekel: “Colorado’s clear 2020 vision for newborn screening of SMA will save lives, starting now”
The Colorado Report
THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE
// AS STREETSBLOG DENVER TRANSITIONS, A LOOK AT TRANSIT: Streetsblog Denver, a site that used advocacy journalism to promote better walking/biking/transit in town, laid off its only full-time staffer. As they hand off the website to become a different kind of resource, let’s just check in on a few recent stories about getting around Denver:
- RTD IN CRISIS: RTD is in Crisis (part 1), A Failure of Leadership (part 2), How to Fix RTD (part 3). // Streetsblog Denver
- EVERYONE IS DRIVING MORE: Air quality and transportation commissioners agree: We need fewer people on the roads to improve the pollution problem on the Front Range. But vehicle miles have increased 15% between 2013 and 2018. // The Denver Post 🔑
- RTD WORKERS LACK CONFIDENCE: Only one in three RTD employees believe the organization is equipped to be an effective transit agency over the next 30 years. // CPR News
- DENVER’S TEPID COMMITMENT TO BIKES: The city says it is committed to building 125 more miles of bike lanes faster, but its definition of “bike lane” includes some still not-as-safe options for cyclists. // Denverite
- FORGET TRAINS + GET ON THE BUS: Everyone loves trains, but RTD is looking at Bus Rapid Transit like the Flatiron Flyer for the future. (we wrote about the struggle to bring buses into favor in Northern Colorado). That’s great, but … // CPR News, The Colorado Sun
- COLFAX BUS COULD STILL TAKE YEARS: One of the most talked-about rapid transit projects in Denver (basically, a voter-approved plan to put a two-way bus line down the middle of East Colfax, home to the most popular bus line in the state), still doesn’t have funding and could take eight years to build. // The Denver Post 🔑
// LYONS HAS A NEW NEWS OUTLET: Welcome to the online-only news space, Lyons Recorder! The new outlet covering the Boulder County town has already covered how to run for mayor, affordable housing, and flood mapping in its first few weeks. // Lyons Recorder
// ICE CLIMBER KILLED IN AVALANCHE SOUTH OF OURAY: A falling block of ice triggered a small avalanche that swept a 44-year-old Seattle woman into a gorge south of Ouray, killing her and becoming the first avalanche victim of the season in the county. // Ouray News
// A THREAD ON LIFE AFTER HOMELESSNESS: I’ve lived and worked near homelessness my entire adult life, seeing both success stories and — unfortunately — too many people who have been unable to escape the cycle. A reporter from the Houston Chronicle had a Twitter thread (and story) that really hit home something I’ve seen firsthand in efforts to help people: After years of being in survival mode on the streets, even basic comforts like a coffee maker or air conditioning can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for something closer to home, Jen Brown wrote about (and I photographed) a new housing complex in Denver that actually considered those traumas from the design up. // Houston Chronicle, The Colorado Sun
Through an in-camera double exposure a climber works their way up a column of ice photographed over an image of a of trees over the Ouray Ice Park Sunday January 5, 2020. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)
That’s it for your Monday Sunriser, folks. I hope you find a way to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service today, whether you have the day off of you have to work. And even if you can’t get out and volunteer, just injecting a little bit more kindness and empathy into the world can help push things toward the justice he sought.
Let’s have a great week, shall we? We’ll see you back here on Wednesday.