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The Sunriser

ICE bill could test Polis / American couch potatoes / Equifax funds to good use / Oil and gas rules ignored / and much more

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

Compiled by Kevin Simpson, kevin@coloradosun.com
Writer/JV Newsletter Wrangler, @kevinjourno

Happy Hump Day, Colorado. It’s been a busy few post-holiday weeks at worldwide headquarters of The Colorado Sun, what with the beginning of the legislative session, events like our Big Ideas confab, those never-ending business details and the usual drumbeat of news, news, news. 

While we’ve gotten back into the frantic rhythm that is business-as-usual, we’ve also taken a few minutes to reflect as we perform another annual chore — preparing a selection of our best work from 2019 for upcoming state and regional contests. Choosing a limited number of entries is like picking your favorite child, or pet, or whatever you love like family. For me, it’s been a jaw-dropping reminder of what a handful of motivated news people can do when our resources — and in large part, that would be our members’ generous support — are funneled 100% into important local journalism.

We harp on this a lot, but it’s true: There aren’t a lot of frills in this operation. 

So thanks for being a supporter of The Sun. Your membership goes a long way toward helping us do what we love and, we hope, what keeps you on top of the news, the people and the places that bind us into one statewide community. We spend your money as judiciously as if it were our own.

As we finish up the first month of the new decade and take stock of the stories and photos we’ve added to the perpetual, statewide conversation, maybe you’ll consider how The Sun adds to your enjoyment and understanding of Colorado. If you like our contribution, then perhaps it’s time to stop, step up and make your own. 

For as little as $5 a month (sign up from your phone in just a few taps!) you can be a very tangible player in local journalism’s emerging future — member-powered, independent, online and yet closely linked to the community. Let’s all be invested in local coverage and the democracy it serves.

Now, let’s inch ourselves over this midweek hump, shall we?

 

The Latest from The Sun

 

A legislative effort to keep ICE officials away from state courthouses could provide a test for the governor’s immigration stance

“I think Gov. Polis needs to consider how he wants to position himself in relation to some of the most cutting-edge advocacy that I’ve seen anywhere in the country.”

—César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, University of Denver law professor

The Colorado Senate will hear a bill this session that could be the strongest in the nation when it comes to keeping immigration authorities away from courthouses throughout the state. While advocates say it will allow people in the U.S. illegally access to the justice system without fear of deportation, ICE officials counter that it’s a sanctuary policy that puts its agents at risk. Reporter Jesse Paul explains how the measure also could test Gov. Jared Polis, who previously did not support an effort to keep state law enforcement from helping federal immigration agents. >> STORY

 


 

Nearly half of Americans didn’t venture outside to recreate in 2018. That has the outdoor industry worried.

Connor Tarrant, 14, left, leaps over a frosty section of Bear Creek while playing with his friend Kodiak Kellogg, 14, near Kittredge Park on Jan. 27, 2020. The number of kids who recreate is declining, according to the 2019 Outdoor Participation Report. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

If the outdoor industry generally has an optimistic, sunny disposition, the 2019 Outdoor Participation Report turned conditions partly cloudy. Two sobering numbers: We went on 1 billion — yes, with a B — fewer outdoor outings in 2018 than we did 10 years earlier; and the number of kids age 6-12 who recreate outdoors has fallen four years in a row. As the Sun’s Jason Blevins explains, that has the industry worried that the U.S. is becoming an “indoor nation.” >> ANALYSIS

 


 

The AG needed a way to use Equifax privacy breach settlement money. A community college had a wish. They got together. 

Remember the Equifax data breach? The one that exposed the personal information of 147 million people? Well, there was a settlement that netted Colorado $3.6 million. So when Colorado Northwestern Community College President Ron Granger last summer mentioned the item at the top of his wish list — a cybersecurity program — Colorado AG Phil Weiser heard bells go off in his head. On Tuesday, Weiser announced that the college with campuses in Rangely and Craig will get $500,000 over three years to launch its program. >> STORY

 


 

Colorado may have lost millions in oil and gas taxes as operators filed spotty production reports, regulators didn’t enforce rules 

“This highlights yet another aspect of the oil and gas industry that has gone unchecked for years, and we need a reliable reporting and compliance system so this industry can no longer skirt the system with impunity.”

—Rep. KC Becker, Colorado House Speaker

A state audit found that from 2016 to 2018 Colorado oil and gas companies either didn’t file all required production reports for their wells or provided only partial information. (The information is used to calculate the amount of severance taxes the companies owe.) Yet, as the Sun’s Moe Clark reports, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission failed to enforce the rules governing those reports — one large operator missed more than 8,000 of them. And the mining industry has issues, too. >> STORY

 


 

More from The Sun

  • NO LONGER GOING BY THE BOOK: One of the traditional add-on expenses to college tuition — books — has moved some students to abandon their higher-ed pursuits as the costs have become prohibitive. But as Sun education writer Erica Breunlin reports, some instructors have taken steps to break down that “barrier to completion” by creating and curating their own materials — many of them online — that students can access for a tiny fraction of the cost of books, or even for free. OERs, as they’re called, are gaining momentum — and state support. >> STORY
  • “LOCKED INTO A PARTISAN MOMENT”: Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet sees his Republican colleagues adhering to the party line when it comes to impeachment, but he also thinks that information from former national security adviser John Bolton’s unpublished book could change the trajectory of the proceedings — if he’s allowed to testify. The Sun’s Jesse Paul quizzed Bennet, who remains in the presidential field for 2020, on a variety of impeachment-related issues, including his close relationship with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. >> STORY
  • FROM TRENDS AND TOYS TO ISSUES AND ADVOCACY: Once upon a time, events like the Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show in Denver were all about the gear and the wheeling and dealing. But they’ve evolved as “existential issues” like climate change and public lands have become inextricably woven into the industry. Outdoor expert Jason Blevins takes us through the evolution of these trade shows and how they now feature manufacturers and retailers convening over environmental impact as well as pumping up outdoor recreation. >> STORY
  • WOULD CHANGES IN CHILD SEX ASSAULT LAW HELP PAST VICTIMS? Lawmakers want to address the civil statute of limitations for child sex assault, but it might be too late to help past victims sue their perps. Colorado’s constitution appears to prohibit laws from being enforced retroactively — an issue several other states that have updated their statutes haven’t encountered. As Jesse Paul reports, the legal options for more than 150 victims of Catholic priests identified in a recent report hang in the balance, while victims and their advocates argue that the constitutional matter isn’t settled and want to continue the fight. >> STORY

 

The Colorado Report

THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE

// CAN THE OLYMPICS BE FAR BEHIND?Esports continues to carve out its place on the sporting landscape, with video gamers competing for official state high school championships, holding practices, studying film, diagramming plays and getting outfitted with uniforms. Rising stars already idolize players who’ve made it big on the pro circuit, where even Kroenke Sports — which owns the Avs, Nuggets and Rapids — has an ownership stake in some L.A. teams. // The Denver Post 🔑

// BRINGING BLACK HISTORY HOME TO COLORADO: Some Denver students who visited the national African American history museum in Washington, D.C., last fall returned with a question: Why did we have to travel so far to learn about black history? Denver Public Schools, which also has faced criticism for a lack of Native American perspective in the history curriculum, promises changes are in the works // Chalkbeat

// UNTOUCHABLES WITHOUT THE TOMMY GUNS: Denver DA Beth McCann is going after two accused brothel owners with legal strategy that harkens back to the days of Eliot Ness. As Michael Roberts reports, in addition to the usual laundry list of prostitution-related offenses, McCann has tacked on the same sort of charges that brought down Al Capone — tax evasion counts. // Westword

// GOOD LUCK BOOKING A FULL-MOON NIGHT: Campsite reservations in Colorado already are getting to be a tough ticket. But this one might be worth the trouble: There are nine spots in Boulder Field, on the way to the top of iconic Longs Peak, which can turn a one-day grind to the summit into a relatively leisurely two-day adventure with the promise of gorgeous sunrise views. // The Know

// WE’RE GONNA NEED MORE PAINT: A group of young women has resolved to paint every grain elevator on Colorado’s Eastern Plains — a project that took root when Staci Beauford, her sister and a cousin were commissioned by the mayor of Limon to paint a mural on the town’s largest grain elevator that captured the essence of the community. Now, Some Girls and a Mural, as they’ve dubbed themselves, have expanded their passion project. // 303 Magazine

// THEY’RE NO SPRUCE BEETLES, BUT STILL: An aerial survey has revealed discouraging news for forests in the Roaring Fork River watershed. Although the area has dodged insect infestations for years, two pests have invaded to munch on fir trees, according to state and federal forest services. The Douglas-fir beetle and the western balsam beetle have been dining well on about 7,400 acres statewide, it seems — as indicated by red or orange dots on the aerial photos that cover the Roaring Fork Valley “like chicken pox.” The Aspen Times

If you made it all the way down here, consider yourself over the hump. And please don’t forget to shower your friends and acquaintances — even family — with links to the stories you figure will add something to their day. 

Now let’s all bank into a nice, smooth glide path toward the weekend, which I have on good authority will feature weather that just begs you to get off the couch and do something outdoors. Although there might be a football game on the tube. 

Take care.

— Kevin