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Updated: 1 hour 29 min ago

NASCAR strikes $2 billion deal with International Speedway Corp., will gain a dozen tracks

1 hour 31 min ago

NASCAR announced a $2 billion merger agreement with International Speedway Corp. on Wednesday, an aggressive move to gain control of key racetracks and set itself up for sweeping changes that could save America’s most popular racing series.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

ISC owns 12 tracks that host NASCAR races, including Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Darlington Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Its holdings stretch from New York to California, and ISC is one of two major facilities companies that host NASCAR races, along with Speedway Motorsports Inc.

The agreement would give NASCAR control over those dozen tracks, along with Iowa Speedway, which it already owns. That would seemingly make it easier for NASCAR to alter its racing schedule, including the possibility of fewer events for tracks that host multiple races each year.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps has made it clear that the 36-race schedule in the top-tier Cup Series, generally considered too taxing for teams and fans, is among the areas the sanctioning body is looking to change. NASCAR’s five-year agreement with tracks ends after the 2020 season.

“We are pleased with the progress that the negotiation and execution of the merger agreement between NASCAR and ISC represents,” NASCAR said in a statement. “While important regulatory and shareholder approval processes remain, we look forward to the successful final resolution of this matter and continuing our work to grow this sport and deliver great racing experiences for our fans everywhere.

“With a strong vision for the future, the France family’s commitment to NASCAR and the larger motorsports industry has never been greater.”

NASCAR Chairman Jim France told competitors before the Daytona 500 in February that “this sport was built by families and we’re just a part of it. It’s so important that we remember that this is still a family business. Our family is committed to it.”

Bill France Jr., the eldest son of NASCAR founder Bill France, was chairman of the stock car series for 31 years and ruled the sport as a benevolent but firm dictator.

Brian France replaced his father in 2003 and had been soundly criticized throughout the industry as absent and aloof. Jim France had been running ISC along with the IMSA sports car series but took over as chairman last August after Brian France’s arrest on drunken-driving charges.

Many big sponsors have left NASCAR — Cup Series title sponsor Monster Energy is in its final year — and television ratings hit all-time lows at 26 events last season.

Since NASCAR is private, it won’t have to publicly report attendance revenue and other financials as ISC had to do as a publicly traded company. The merger also would allow NASCAR to make decisions regarding tracks without worrying about quarterly financial disclosures that could impact stock price.

Shareholders will receive $45 for each share under the agreement.

Categories: All Denver News.

Patrick Roy interviews for Ottawa Senators head coaching job, report says

1 hour 55 min ago

Former Avalanche goaltender and head coach Patrick Roy is interviewing to become the Ottawa Senators’ next head coach, according to The Sports Network.

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A decision could be made as soon as this weekend, according to the report.

Roy, 53, spent three seasons as Colorado’s vice president of hockey operations and head coach from 2013-16, compiling a 130-92-24 record. He led the Avs to the top of the Central Division in 2014 before losing to the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs. In August 2016, he resigned from his positions.

He returned to helm the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2018, where he was head coach from 2005-13.

If hired, Roy would take over a Senators team that finished with an NHL-worst 64 points last season. Ottawa fired Guy Boucher in March. Former Avs head coach Marc Crawford finished the season as the interim head coach.

Categories: All Denver News.

Breckenridge extends its season with weekend skiing after Memorial Day

2 hours 20 min ago

The gift of El Niño keeps on giving for Colorado skiers and snowboarders.

Thanks to bountiful winter snows and continuing snowfall two months into spring, officials of Breckenridge ski resort Wednesday announced an extension of its season beyond Memorial Day. That was already an extension of four to five weeks beyond its traditional closing day.

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Summit County neighbor Arapahoe Basin previously announced it would remain open daily through June 2 and at least one more weekend after that, hinting that more could be in store.

Breckenridge will remain open daily through Memorial Day, as previously announced. After that, it will be open the first two weekends of June.

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“It has been one of the best winter seasons I can remember during my more than 25-year career, and we are thrilled to keep it going for our guests and passholders,” Breckenridge chief operating officer John Buhler said in a news release. “With more than 450 inches of snow so far this season, we are excited to offer skiers and riders another chance to get out and experience the incredible spring skiing and riding conditions.”

Imperial Bowl will close on Memorial Day, but after that Breckenridge will be offering an estimated 750 acres of terrain via the six-person Independence SuperChair, which rises more than 1,300 feet above the Peak 7 base. In conjunction with that, the plan is to operate the T-Bar, Zendo and Kensho lifts, getting skiers to a peak elevation of about 12,500 feet on Peak 6.

Categories: All Denver News.

Denver weather: Seasonal snowfall up to 48.1 inches after late-May storm

2 hours 30 min ago

After a slow start, Denver will finish the 2018-19 winter with a nearly average snowfall season.

Thanks in part to the 3.7 inches of snow Denver picked up from this week’s unusually late snow event, the city’s official observation site at Denver International Airport is now up to 48.1 inches of seasonal snowfall. While that trails the long-term average of 57.1 inches, it’s still more than the last two winters combined.

We previously wrote about how the snowfall of the last two winters is far more of a commentary on how paltry the last two years have been, rather than an exceptionally big winter for Denver this year. Still, especially after a rather snow-less start to the winter, a spring snowfall boom has helped Denver catch up.

RELATED: Monday’s snowstorm in Denver reaches all sorts of milestones

As far as drought purposes go, however, the far more important statistic is Denver’s exceptionally wet start to 2019. Through Wednesday, Denver had seen 6.34 inches of rainfall, over an inch and a half above the year-to-date average. That’s helped to all but eliminate drought conditions statewide.

Here are a few other updated seasonal snowfall totals across the metro area. This data is from the National Weather Service and the Colorado Climate Center.

Boulder: 95.1 inches (average: 83.6 inches)

Colorado Springs: 36.2 inches (average: 37.6 inches)

Denver (Denver International Airport): 48.1 inches (average: 57.1 inches)

Denver (Stapleton): 44.9 inches (average: 57.1 inches)

Denver (Water Department – downtown): 34.7 inches (average: 57.1 inches)

Evergreen: 85.3 inches (average: 80.2 inches)

Fort Collins: 48.3 inches (average: 48.5 inches)

Lakewood: 61.2 inches (average: 62.4 inches)

Northglenn: 50.4 inches (average: 43.8 inches)

Pueblo: 17.0 inches (average: 31.7 inches)

Wheat Ridge: 67.6 inches (average: 76.9 inches)

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Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNationTV.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Moose crashes snowy wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park

2 hours 35 min ago

When a couple from Illinois decided to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, the plan was to not have any guests at the ceremony. But one Colorado resident had other ideas.

And so it was that a moose bore witness Monday to the union at Sprague Lake, covered in late-season snow and photo bombing what might be one of the more Colorado wedding shoots ever.

“Anything can happen with weather, but that was unexpected,” said Jane Gorman, who officiated the wedding.

Gorman, who runs Jane’s Personalized Weddings out of Boulder, said a runner told the group before the ceremony that a moose had been seen wandering around the area. It didn’t appear during the ceremony or in time to object, but once the couple exchanged “I dos,” the animal showed up.

“I’ve seen dogs at weddings, deer, elk, but this is a first time a moose walked by,” Gorman said. “How cool is that?”

Wedding photographer Sarah Goff was able to get some shots of the moose walking across the lake in the background. But as everyone began walking toward the parking lot, the moose came even closer.

“She just kept coming closer and closer,” Goff said. “We kept an eye on her, and when there was a break in all the people looking at her she came up onto the trail.”

The animal ended up wandering right behind the couple, who had never seen a moose before coming to Colorado this week. They have so far declined to be interviewed about the nuptials.

“I told them to look at each other, but they were so terrified they kept looking at the moose and that’s the shot I got,” Goff said.

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The moose eventually wandered off away from the newlyweds.

“She seemed nonplussed about the whole thing,” Goff said.

Goff pointed out that, while the moose showed up uninvited, she at least made sure she held her peace when she did.

“She didn’t have any objection,” Goff said.

Categories: All Denver News.

Mayor Michael Hancock’s sexual harassment scandal still simmers for some Denver voters as runoff approaches

2 hours 40 min ago

A year ago, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s sexual harassment scandal — involving the revelation of suggestive text messages he sent to a female security detail officer years earlier — was dominating headlines.

It energized his critics and spurred calls by activists for his resignation, even as Hancock apologized. In the fallout, both the City Council and Hancock’s own office adopted new harassment policies for public officials.

As Hancock seeks his third term in a June 4 runoff with challenger Jamie Giellis, the issue has faded from the forefront. But plenty of voters haven’t forgotten.

“How is he supposed to lead when he’s not even taking responsibility for what he did?” said Hillary Potter, 49, an ethnic studies professor who lives in Clayton, citing Hancock’s unwillingness to label the texts sexual harassment. “I never really made a decision where he should step down because of it … but I knew we had this election coming up.”

Some political observers, and even Hancock’s own supporters, speculate that the scandal may be among the reasons he fell well short of 50 percent in the first-round election May 7. There hasn’t been any public polling on the issue.

RELATED: Jamie Giellis’ blunders on race reshape Denver mayoral election

“Anecdotally, it’s still out there and he’s still paying a price,” political analyst Eric Sondermann said. “He might have been headed to a runoff in any event, but that might have been the difference between a runoff … with very little ground to make up, versus a very underperforming 39 percent.”

Several voters interviewed by The Denver Post in recent weeks expressed discomfort with Hancock based on the scandal. But that doesn’t mean all have come to the same conclusions — especially as they weigh the two runoff candidates and their views on other issues.

Giellis stepped up her attempts to seize on the issue Tuesday, citing several sexual harassment-related city payouts during a news conference. She said a “culture of sexual harassment in city hall” starts with Hancock.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostCommunity activist (and future mayoral candidate) Lisa Calderón speaks as she and other people gather in front of the Denver City and County Building to call for the resignation of Mayor Michael Hancock on March 7, 2018. Texts released amid #MeToo movement

The series of text messages from 2012 came to light in February 2018 when Denver7 broadcast an interview with Leslie Branch-Wise. Now a Denver police detective, she said the recent national spotlight on treatment of women by men in power had given her the confidence to come forward.

In the texts from his first year in office, Hancock complimented Branch-Wise’s dress and appearance. In one, he asked her why women take pole-dancing classes. In another, he said she “(makes) it hard on a brotha to keep it correct.”

Branch-Wise didn’t file a harassment claim against Hancock back then, but she did pursue a claim alleging harassing conduct by an aide to the mayor around the same time. She has connected the texts to her receipt of a $75,000 settlement for the harassment claim involving the aide, but city attorneys have disputed that contention.

For his part, Hancock said in his frequent apologies that he had acted “too casual and too familiar” with Branch-Wise.

  • Photo by Denver7

    Text messages from April 29, 2012 between Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (on left) and Det. Leslie Branch-Wise, who was assigned to his security detail at the time.

  • Photo by Denver7

    Text messages from April 6, 2012 between Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Det. Leslie Branch-Wise, who was assigned to his security detail at the time.

  • Photo by Denver7

    Text messages from Feb. 8, 2012 between Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Det. Leslie Branch-Wise, who was assigned to his security detail at the time.

  • Photo by Denver7

    Text messages from April 20, 2012 between Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Det. Leslie Branch-Wise, who was assigned to his security detail at the time.

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Few politicians abandoned Hancock, helping him to recover. In the last week, both former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, tweeted their endorsements of Hancock — though Clinton’s tweet prompted a barrage of responses bringing up Hancock’s scandal.

Hancock’s campaign organized a “Women for Hancock” event for Wednesday afternoon that was set to feature community leaders and supporters including his wife, Mary Louise Lee; Wilma Webb, a former state legislator and Denver first lady; state Rep. Leslie Herod; and Denver Public Schools board members Angela Cobian and Barbara O’Brien.

Campaign volunteers have faced questions about the scandal from voters on doorsteps, but Hancock downplays the frequency the issue comes up.

He said he once broached the subject himself while speaking at a women’s event — addressing a likely elephant in the room — but rarely has been asked about it, suggesting to him that voters are more focused on quality-of-life issues.

“I’m happy to continue answering questions about it,” Hancock said in an interview, citing his philosophy: “You are judged as much by your responses to circumstances as the mistakes you have made.”

But Potter isn’t the only voter who has found Hancock’s responses lacking.

Chase Middaugh, 37, compared Hancock’s decision not to admit to harassment with his disappointment over what he saw as the mayor’s tepid responses to the way gentrification has forced longtime residents out of some neighborhoods.

“If you’re going to be a leader of a city like Denver that’s growing and changing, especially at a time when so much is changing economically and culturally, you should not … just play things safe,” said Middaugh, a graphic designer who lives in City Park West.

After supporting Hancock’s reelection in 2015, Middaugh backed Lisa Calderón, a vocal critic of Hancock’s conduct, in this month’s election; she came in third. Now Middaugh likely will support Giellis in the runoff — despite having misgivings, he said, over Giellis’ recent handling of a flap over racial and cultural issues.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostDenver Mayor Michael Hancock thanks his family and supporters during an election night watch party at Exdo Event Center in Denver on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Differing responses by voters

Potter, who at one time was a Hancock appointee on the Denver Civil Service Commission, said she couldn’t vote for Hancock because of the texting issue as well as dissatisfaction with his “irresponsible” approach to growth-related issues.

She supported Calderón but now is torn on Giellis, saying her only alternative is not voting in the mayor’s runoff. Her conundrum illustrates how for some voters, the calculus about their values gets more complex when faced with actual candidates.

Some sorted out their reactions to Hancock’s scandal early.

Amanda Caldwell, 36, said after casting her vote for Hancock on May 7 that the harassment issue was among those she weighed: “I just think it’s a very sticky situation, no matter what,” the Capitol Hill resident said. “You kind of have to set some of those things aside. I don’t know if it was anything so drastic to where it would kind of derail my vote.”

Laura “Pinky” Reinsch, a longtime Denver political activist, holds a stronger judgment about Hancock’s texts.

“I think any elected official should conduct themselves with integrity. Sexual harassment — that is not having integrity,” said Reinsch, 36.

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Yet she now finds herself strongly considering something that was unthinkable a year ago: voting for Hancock.

After supporting musician and disability-rights activist Kalyn Heffernan, in the first round, she recoils at two runoff candidates who both have ties to developers.

Her reasoning for leaning toward Hancock: It would guarantee an open race in 2023, when term limits would prevent him from running again. By deferring, Reinsch hopes for the chance in four years to elect a progressive candidate she likes.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’m decided on every other runoff I get to vote in,” she said. “I guess I’m hugely concerned about the conduct of Hancock in regards to the sexual harassment. I’m also concerned about what I see as a lack of awareness of issues of race by Jamie.”

Staff writer Andrew Kenney contributed to this story.

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Over in 3 minutes: Trump meeting with Dems goes bust in a flash

2 hours 55 min ago

WASHINGTON — The curtains in the Cabinet Room were drawn. The Democrats were waiting. President Donald Trump came and went in all of three minutes.

Round 2 of the president’s consultations with congressional Democrats on infrastructure went bust in a flash.

Prospects for passing a large infrastructure bill evaporated Wednesday as Trump announced that he won’t work with Democratic lawmakers on policy while they continue to investigate him.

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Trump took umbrage at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accusation earlier in the day of him being “engaged in a cover up.”

He met briefly with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats before exiting to address reporters in the Rose Garden.

His message: Only after the Democrats’ investigations end will he work with them on infrastructure, lowering drug prices and other matters.

Speaking at the Capitol, Pelosi and Schumer suggested that Trump was looking for excuses not to take up infrastructure.

“He just took a pass,” Pelosi said. “And it just makes me wonder why he did that. In any event, I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America.”

The meeting was supposed to be a follow-up from three weeks ago, when Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed to work together on a $2 trillion infrastructure package to invest in roads, bridges and broadband.

Schumer said that congressional committees had been undertaking investigations during that first meeting as well.

“And he still met with us. But now that he was forced to actually say how he was going to pay for it, he had to run away,” Schumer said.

There were obvious signs of trouble going into the meeting, with both sides being guarded about how they would pay for such an investment. The White House released a letter Tuesday night that Trump wrote Pelosi and Schumer letting them know his preference for Congress taking up the proposed U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada first.

“Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” Trump said.

Congressional committees have begun holding hearings on the nation’s infrastructure needs. It’s one of the few issues that lawmakers from both parties have said they would like to address.

Business and trade groups have been meeting with White House officials to emphasize the importance of shoring up the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road improvements and transit systems. Federal fuel taxes supply most of the money that goes into the trust fund, but the purchasing power of the gas tax has declined as vehicles have become more fuel efficient.

Some 30 states have enacted fuel tax increases to raise money for local roads and bridges over the past six years, but Congress has not approved a fuel tax increase since 1993. It now stands at 18.3 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.3 cents a gallon for diesel.

The advocacy groups are trying to make the case that state politicians supportive of gas tax increases have not been punished at the ballot box.

But Republican leaders in Congress have shown little enthusiasm for the price tag of the infrastructure plan, and even less for the idea of raising the federal fuel tax to help pay for upgrading the nation’s infrastructure. Trump himself has suggested that Democrats are somehow setting a trap to get him to go along with a tax increase.

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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Judge bars cameras from Patrick Frazee court hearing because of publicity concerns

4 hours 1 min ago

A Teller County judge has barred TV and newspaper cameras from a court hearing scheduled Friday in the Patrick Frazee murder case claiming that extraordinary media coverage might impinge on his right to have a fair trial.

Judge Scott Sells previously had allowed one TV camera in the courtroom in Cripple Creek during prior court hearings in Frazee’s case, which has garnered international media attention.

RELATED: Patrick Frazee tied a sweater around Kelsey Berreth’s face and beat her to death with a bat, Idaho nurse told police

Frazee faces numerous murder and murder solicitation charges in connection to the Thanksgiving disappearance and suspected death of Kelsey Berreth, whose remains have not been found. Frazee allegedly killed Berreth in her Woodland park townhome by striking her with a baseball bat and then burned her remains on his Florissant ranch.

“This case has received extraordinary media attention. I have considered whether there is a reasonable likelihood that expanded media coverage would interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial,” Sells’ court decorum order said.

“I have determined that any expanded media coverage of the arraignment on May 24, 2019 would interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial and would create adverse effects greater than those caused by traditional media coverage,” he wrote

RELATED: Timeline for the disappearance of Kelsey Berreth

Sells’ order said that cameras also are barred from anywhere inside the courthouse.

Friday’s hearing is an arraignment where Frazee will be advised of charges against him and where he is expected to enter a formal plea. Typically, defendants plead not guilty at this stage in criminal proceedings.

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Five places to get barbecue for Memorial Day weekend

4 hours 58 min ago

Nothing quite says the start of summer like smoked meat, sweet tea and mayo-slathered salads. And while Denver hasn’t always been a barbecue-forward city, the past few years have brought more and more fine iterations.

Though not included here, some of the latest restaurants can be found in trendy neighborhoods, doing Kansas City riffs and Texas tributes. They can also be found in unlikely spots (see the last stop on our list), adding in Japanese ingredients. For classic barbecue, you can head out to the suburbs (see stops in Lone Tree, Superior and Westminster), where they’re sticking firmly to tradition.

By no means a comprehensive list, we’ve compiled some newer and some tried-and-true barbecue favorites (and side dishes — no afterthoughts here). They all offer dine-in and catering options over Memorial Day weekend.

GQue BBQ (Lone Tree, Westminster)

St. Louis native Jason Ganahl’s championship-winning barbecue now has two Denver locations, on the north and south sides of town. The latter is attached to Ganahl’s homemade ice cream shop, if a dessert option sways your vote. For something decadent, try the meltdown sandwich with brisket, cheese and onion rings.

The meats: Pork, turkey, brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken wings

The sides: Apple slaw, pit-smoked beans, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese

The cost: $11 for 10 chicken wings; $16 for four sausage links; $16 per pound for pork and turkey; $20 per pound for brisket; $36 for a rack of ribs. Sides are $9 for a pint, $17 for a quart and $40 for a gallon.

Find it: 8433 Park Meadows Center Drive (Lone Tree), 303-729-2506; 5160 W. 120th Ave., 303-379-9205; gquebbq.com; 11 a.m. until it’s gone

Boney’s Smokehouse (Downtown)

Tucked downtown is this tribute to all Southern barbecue, serving hickory-smoked meats, St. Louis-style ribs and sweet tea, all from six-generation-old recipes. If you’re eating there, find hush puppies, fried okra and “Almost yo’ Mama’s” collard greens.

The meats: Spare ribs, pulled pork, brisket, barbecue chicken breast, hot sausage links

The sides: Baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, green beans

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The cost: $150-$299 for party packs feeding 10-20 guests and served with hickory-smoked wings, a choice of meat, 2-4 sides, sauce, buns or cornbread and cutlery; or order buffet-style for $13-$17 per person.

Find it: 1543 Champa St., 303-825-9900; boneysbbq.com; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, closed Sunday

AJ’s Pit Bar-B-Q (Overland)

This Texas- and Montreal-trained Chicago transplant specializes in beef brisket smoked over post oak. While you can eat in the industrial restaurant (don’t be fooled by its hard-to-find location) Tuesdays through Sundays in the Overland neighborhood, you can also order meats by the pound or pitmaster spreads online for your Memorial Day parties.

The meats: Brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, sausage

The sides: Mac and cheese, cornbread, potato salad, pit beans, farm slaw

The cost: The pitmaster spread costs $15 per person for two meats and two sides, or add $5 per person for a third meat; or order by the pound.

Find it: 2180 S. Delaware St., 720-815-5571; pitbarbq.com; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday

Wayne’s Smoke Shack (Superior)

Modeled after Central Texas meat markets, Wayne’s sells all its barbecue by the pound alongside sides like green chile mac and cheese and desserts such as peach cobbler. Note: The restaurant will only deliver for parties of 25 or more.

The meats: Brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, pork belly, Wagyu beef sausage, turkey breast, hot smoked salmon and catfish

The sides: Green chile mac and cheese, beans with pork, green beans with pork belly, coleslaw, kettle chips, vegetable or fruit platter

The cost: Pick-up for $16.50-$20.50 per person or delivery for $18-$22 per person (for two-four meats and two sides), including sauce, bread and serving ware.

Find it: 406 Center Drive, Superior; 303-554-5319; waynessmokeshack.com; 11 a.m. until sold out (lunch only) Tuesday through Saturday

Dry Storage (Boulder)

An Oklahoma “hodge-podge” barbecue, according to chef Kelly Whitaker, this option is available weekends-only, served from inside Boulder’s new Dry Storage cafe. Like daily menu items at Dry Storage, Whitaker’s barbecue brings in Japanese influences — from miso pork ribs to horseradish Kewpie mayo sauce. And Boulder Daily Camera’s restaurant critic just called it the best barbecue in Colorado.

The meats: Brisket, pork, ribs, chicken

The sides: Slaw, house-milled corn grits, housemade white pullman bread

The cost: Chicken from $8 a quarter to $30 for a whole bird, and the other meats for $10 per half pound or $20 per pound

Find it: 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder; 720-420-0918; drystorage.com; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, with barbecue sold Saturday and Sunday only

 

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The NFL is already considering tweaks to its replay-for-interference measure

5 hours 8 min ago

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — It has been less than two months since NFL owners voted to make pass interference reviewable by instant replay, a change that came in the aftermath of the colossal officiating blunder in last season’s NFC title game.

And already, the league is ready to tweak the new measure, months before the modified replay system is put to its first on-field test.

Owners of the 32 NFL teams began to gather Tuesday at a Key Biscayne resort for a one-day meeting scheduled for Wednesday. The competition committee plans to seek the owners’ approval Wednesday of a resolution that would authorize it to modify the replay-for-interference rule. With the change, all pass interference calls would fall under the coaches’ challenge system.

The system ratified by owners in March at the annual league meeting in Phoenix puts such reviews of interference rulings under the challenge system for all but the final two minutes of each half. Initiating a replay review of a pass interference call must be done by the replay booth in those final two minutes.

In March, the thinking was that coaches should not be able to challenge pass interference calls or non-calls in the final two minutes because that would enable them to challenge a non-call on a Hail Mary pass, with its jumble of players jostling for end zone positioning for what amounts to a jump ball.

But since then, the concern has become the number of stoppages that could occur from booth-initiated replay reviews of pass interference.

“We’ve clearly made a step in the right direction,” Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, said Tuesday. “I would say that the issue here is that as you go through it, one thing you do not want to do is be a game that has multiple stops in the last two minutes.”

The concerns were voiced by teams to Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating.

“I think we were all comfortable when we left Phoenix on the procedures,” McKay said. “And one of the concerns about leaving it in the coaches’ challenge (system) was the Hail Mary, the last play, that idea of: How do we not have a challenge on every one of those? So that’s when it really reverted to, ‘Let’s go to the replay assistant.’ I think as Al has gone around, I think the concern is: How many stoppages will we end up with in the last two minutes?”

The coaches’ challenge system limits the number of replay reviews — and stoppages to the game — because each coach has only two challenges per game, then is granted a third if both of those challenges are successful.

“The one nice thing about the challenge system is, it has a substantiality meter to it,” McKay said. “And that meter is based on the coach. It’s based on his thought that, ‘This is a very important play.’ Whereas in the replay assistant … there is no materiality factor. It’s just: If there’s something that looks like it’s reviewable, they’re supposed to stop the game regardless of whether it’s important or not important.”

No change will be made Wednesday. The competition committee wants the authority from the owners to make the change before the season if it comes to believe, after further study, that is what should be done.

“I think we’re trying to figure out how to deal with the Hail Marys because no, we don’t want those challenged,” New York Giants co-owner John Mara, a member of the competition committee, said Tuesday.

McKay said the competition committee likely would exclude Hail Mary plays from being challenged by coaches for pass interference.

“If we go down this path and it ends up being a challenge system, you’ll exclude and exempt that play in some way,” he said. “You’ve got to write it. You’ve got to figure it out and make sure everybody agrees to it. But then it would just become a play that’s not reviewable. It doesn’t mean pass interference can’t be called. … But it does mean it wouldn’t be in the replay system.”

That, too, would present its complications: how to define, in a rule, what’s a Hail Mary and what isn’t.

“I actually don’t think it’s that hard,” McKay said. “It’s gonna be: From what yard line was it thrown? Were there multiple receivers? How much time’s left on the clock? There’s a few elements that we all know go into the Hail Mary. But you want to get the input from the coaches. … You don’t want to take away a real play. If they’re at the 15-yard line and they’re running what is a real diagrammed play, you wouldn’t then want to say that play is not subject to review. We’ll have plenty of discussion. I don’t think it’s that hard to define.”

The NFL, by making interference reviewable, is attempting to avoid of repeat of the officiating gaffe that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl rather than the New Orleans Saints. But things rarely are simple and straightforward when it comes to NFL rule-making, and now the accompanying task is to avoid the sort of confusion that surrounded the new helmet-hitting rule and roughing-the-passer calls last season.

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“I think whenever you have a new rule like this, there’s always some concern about how it’s gonna be implemented,” Mara said. “I think we’ll be fine.”

Owners also are to give consideration Wednesday to the proposal by the Kansas City Chiefs, tabled in March, to guarantee each team at least one possession in overtime. The Chiefs made the proposal after losing the AFC championship game on a touchdown by the New England Patriots on the opening possession of overtime.

The Chiefs’ proposal appears unlikely to generate the 24 votes among the 32 franchises necessary for ratification, owners and other high-ranking team officials said.

“I think there’s some support,” said Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy, a member of the competition committee. “But I don’t think there’s enough for it to get voted in.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Boulder County commissioners see permanent supportive housing as potential homelessness solution

5 hours 42 min ago

About 15 years ago, Michael Evan lost his job as a chef in Boulder, and, no longer able to afford his mobile home’s lot rent, left it with a knapsack full of essentials never to sleep in it again.

Evan, now 52, was homeless on the city’s streets for 11 years, racking up dozens of criminal charges with Boulder police for municipal violations such as camping in public and open alcohol containers.

But since November 2014, when he entered the once-controversial 1175 Lee Hill permanent supportive housing project owned by Boulder Housing Partners, with resident social services offered by the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Evan has had a home of his own.

The housing project, which supports 31 residents who are chronically homeless has given Evan and others much-needed stability to end rough periods in their lives. Chronically homeless is defined as those experiencing homelessness for 12 months out of the past three years.

“I can call it home. I can relax,” Evan said.

Few police calls, no neighborhood complaints

Since it opened its doors in 2014, 1175 Lee Hill has generated zero neighbor calls to police, zero complaints to Boulder Housing Partners and accounted for zero police arrests during the period, Boulder County and Boulder Housing Partners staff told county commissioners on Tuesday. Commissioners’ reactions consisted of one word: “Wow.”

The word was uttered by both Commissioners Deb Gardner and Elise Jones upon noting the progress made by the facility’s residents. One tenant spent 200 nights in jail and endured 22 arrests over a five-year period before moving into the project, with another five residents accounting for 195 arrests before moving in.

Jones’ inquiry on whether there is a goal for an appropriate time period for residents to move into other private housing options from permanently supportive housing resulted in an explanation of the advantage of facilities like 1175 Lee Hill: They allow for flexibility to house people with a variety of capacities for financial and housing independence.

“Because it’s permanent supportive housing, for some people, the goal is to have them live there forever,” said Lyndall Ellingson, Boulder Housing Partners Resident Services program manager. “For other people, the goal would be to help them stabilize to the point where they feel they can be successful somewhere else, and helping them work toward building that self-sufficiency that allows them to thrive in independent housing.”

Out of the 26 people who have entered and left 1175 Lee Hill over the past four years, 17 were considered successful exits that resulted in the tenant finding different housing or dying while housed, while nine were unsuccessful, meaning they returned to homelessness or incarceration, according to Ellingson’s presentation to commissioners. Among current Lee Hill residents are 12 who have been there four years or longer, six who have been there three years, another six who have been there two years, with the remaining residents having been there less than two years.

“The intent is not to put a time limit on it,” Boulder Shelter for the Homeless Director Greg Harms said. “That’s the traditional transitional housing, where you have two years and if you don’t have your act together, tough luck. Permanent supportive housing is intended to say if you need to stay here forever, you can. We would love for you to graduate, and we encourage people to do so, and we have that success, but it’s not a requirement so people don’t end up back on the streets if they can’t handle that.”

For that reason, Commissioner Matt Jones recognized the rate at which people leave the permanent supportive housing model won’t allow for an influx of new clients, which means it can’t make a dent in the county’s homeless population.

“If people are leaving very slowly, and we’re putting more people in, that says we need a lot more housing,” Matt Jones said.

To solve the local homelessness issue, county and Boulder Housing Partners officials recommended to commissioners the permanent supportive housing model — which works with properties that charge 30% of a tenant’s monthly income for rent, which often comes out of Social Security or federal disability payments — expand across the county. Expansion could be accomplished, they said, through developing facilities similar to 1175 Lee Hill, and by public housing agencies obtaining more state and federal vouchers that can be used to cover rent costs beyond the 30% of income threshold, so homeless residents can be placed in privately owned rental homes.

A combination of 200 new supportive housing vouchers and units dedicated to formerly chronic homeless people in facilities like 1175 Lee Hill is needed, county Homeless Services Navigation Manager Jennifer Biess said. That goal aligns with the year-old Homeless Solutions for Boulder County coordinated entry program, which is aiming to replace an over-reliance on temporary shelter services for the area’s homeless with a housing-first approach, a model based on the philosophy that an individual’s run-ins with the law and mental and physical ailments can be solved or improved most rapidly by a stable living situation.

Obstacles still ahead

But there are barriers to acquiring those resources, even though leaving shelters to fill the housing gap costs $43,000 a year on average per homeless resident for emergency room, jail, court and shelter costs, according to Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, compared to less than $20,000 annually to house a chronically homeless individual in facilities such as Lee Hill that offer long-term case management support.

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“The biggest challenges in solving local homelessness are finding the needed rent subsidy (vouchers) and finding the available apartment units,” Boulder Shelter for the Homeless’ Harms said. “Building facilities like Lee Hill take years to come to fruition. Using vouchers on existing units is a much faster way to get people off the streets. However, it requires landlords willing to rent to voucher holders.”

In Longmont, the Inn Between has eight units dedicated to permanently supportive housing for chronically homeless people, with its other 64 units units serving a mix of low-income families and other individuals. The Inn Between’s Micah Homes project being built in collaboration with Longmont Housing Development Corp. and United Church of Christ will add another six units of permanently affordable housing when it is complete, expected to be by next winter.

Commissioners hope the evidence gathered from years of operating 1175 Lee Hill showing no neighborhood complaints, and that surrounding residents’ fears about the facility never materialized, will help prevent contentious public opposition to similar projects.

“The neighbors are all friendly,” Evan said, adding one even donated a pool table to the facility on which he shoots on occasion. “A lot of them say ‘Hi’ when they walk by.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Have some leftovers? Here are some great kitchen hacks.

5 hours 43 min ago

I go grocery shopping, more often than not, accompanied by my close friend Chagrin who just talks incessantly.

Rolling my cart down the shopping aisles, all I hear in my head is stuff like this: “OK, the recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of slivered almonds, but I’ll never use the rest of this little bag.”

“I’ve got to make croutons for that Caesar salad, but I’ll just waste the rest of the loaf.”

“Whoever actually uses an entire bunch of parsley?”

Chagrin also follows me home and blabs whenever I’m at work in the kitchen.

“Huh, look at all that leftover pasta” — or risotto, or pilaf, or polenta — “whatcha gonna do with all that before it goes green, eh, Billy Boy?”

“Well, what have we here?” Chagrin will snarl. “That finger of ginger has more wrinkles than the Dos Equis guy. Do I see sprouts coming off that garlic bulb?”

Et. Cetera.

So, I’ve taught myself to take Chagrin’s nags and spin them into something useful. Culinary ju-jitsu, if you will.

Here are three hacks that might profitably utilize your own kitchen excess.

Romesco sauce, perfect for summer, is a great rescuer of cast-off foodstuffs. Today’s featured recipe of this classic Mediterranean sauce is adapted from one in “Mother Earth News” — how perfect is that, hackers? — and is a delish addition over grilled meats, cheese, or fish; as a pasta sauce or a boost for gazpacho; for a garnish on steamed or grilled vegetables; or, with an enrichment of mayonnaise, as the globe’s most excellent sandwich spread.

Another favorite kitchen hack of mine is to take next-day leftover risotto and fry it up into a crisp pancake, sort of a flat arancini ball. The Italians call the pancake “risotto al salto” and it loosely translates that “the risotto jumps into your mouth.” Nice.

Iranian cooks do much the same with next-day leftover pasta preparations, they fry it in clarified butter and olive oil and call the crisp pancake a “tahdig.” What the skillet does is add a huge additional flavor, that of a crisp skin, the brown of a pecan shell, to both sides of the pancake. Let’s say you have some leftover mac ‘n’ cheese (or any leftover rice, cornmeal, or other pasta dish). Make a tahdig out of it.

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil (or a mix of clarified butter and oil); slip in whatever leftover mac ’n’ cheese you’re now going to turn into utter scrumptiousness, and pat it down with a silicon spatula into a flat pancake. Once it starts sizzling, let it fry for a good 15 minutes over medium-low heat, frequently tucking in the edge all around with the spatula, turning the skillet a quarter turn every few minutes to even out the heat, and jostling the skillet to keep the tahdig loose in the skillet.

You’ll hear the tahdig scratch somewhat when the first side is browned enough. Slip the tahdig out of the skillet onto a large flat cookie sheet, or pizza peel or pan, and lightly wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Place the open side of the skillet over the “raw” side of the tahdig and carefully flip everything over so that the tahdig can now crisp on its second side.

You’ll probably need to slip a little more olive oil down into the skillet and under the tahdig (but, depending on the style of mac ’n’ cheese preparation, perhaps not). When the tahdig is finished cooking and nicely colored, cut it as you wish to serve it, and top with chopped flat-leaf parsley and a solid grinding of back pepper.

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I use a third kitchen hack whenever I note the close-to-corpse remainders from a bunch of parsley in the refrigerator’s vegetable bin. Or to use up that gnarly knob of ginger, or long-in-the-clove head of garlic.

Time to make and freeze some herb bombs. These you can use to finish a pan sauce for a steak; enrich a stir-fry toward the end; lay down an exclamation point in a bowl of soup; up the ante on fried rice; or coat the pasta noodles with something extra — you get the idea.

Add a small handful of blanched parsley leaves (and some hanging-around spinach leaves if you have them) — blanching is key — with a couple cloves of garlic and a 1/2-inch-square of peeled, chopped ginger to a food processor. Pulse and process, binding the pulp with extra virgin olive oil (not water; EVOO holds together all the flavors better in the freezer).

You don’t want a too-aggressive oil here, just one that has great undernotes of fruit flavor such as a Ligurian or Provencal oil, or something from the mild, buttery arbequina olive of Spain.

Freeze the paste into cubes or, better, splay flat in a sturdy plastic zipper bag. Crack out a smidge whenever you’re after the bomb.

Romesco Sauce

Adapted from motherearthnews.com; makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 grill-roasted red bell peppers or 1/2 15-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 slice white bread (crust removed), toasted and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, both stems and leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

In a food processor, grind the almonds. Add roasted peppers, garlic, bread, parsley and hot pepper flakes. Blend until it becomes a paste. Add the vinegar and pulse to blend. With the motor running, gradually pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream until the mixture thickens like mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Categories: All Denver News.

Man dies in fiery crash on southbound I-25 at 58th Avenue

5 hours 57 min ago

A 32-year-old man died in a fiery pickup truck crash on southbound Interstate 25 near 58th Avenue early Wednesday morning.

The name of the man has not been released.

The highway was completely closed for more than four hours while Colorado State Patrol officers investigated the scene, leaving traffic backed up for miles. All lanes of the highway are now open, said Trooper Josh Lewis, CSP spokesman.

The man was driving south on I-25 at 2:30 a.m. when he lost control of his 2000 GMC pickup and it smashed into a concrete median and burst into flame.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. No other vehicles were involved.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Federal and Colorado authorities raid marijuana grow houses in huge black market roundup

6 hours 15 min ago

Federal and state law enforcement officers have fanned out across the Denver metro area in a massive black market marijuana grow sting, authorities have said.

Agents including some wearing all-white scrubs and gloves are currently pulling dozens of marijuana plants from an Aurora home. Other agents in street clothes are laying out marijuana plants in neat rows on the driveway.

The nearly fully grown marijuana plants have dirt clinging to the roots indicating that federal agents pulled them directly out of planters in the grow house. There are roughly 100 marijuana plants on the driveway.

The raid is happening in a quiet upscale neighborhood. The light-colored brick home has three garages. An American flag and a lawn mower can be seen in the garages.

Joyce Menard lives next door to the raided house in the Conservatory subdivision. She said agents came to the house at 7 a.m. this morning. She said the neighbors were rarely seen and “extremely peaceful….It doesn’t really bother me because they’re so quiet.”

Joyce Menard lives next door to the raided house in the Conservatory subdivision. She said agents came to the house at 7 this morning. She said the neighbors were rarely seen and “extremely peaceful….it doesn’t really bother me because they’re so quiet”

— Sam Tabachnik (@sam_tabachnik) May 22, 2019

https://twitter.com/sam_tabachnik/status/1131205702779715584.

Wednesday’s raids come on the heels of three similar drug busts around metro Denver over the past 10 months, where local and federal agents seized thousands of plants, dozens of heat lamps and bags of cash from suspected black-market grow houses in tony subdivisions across Aurora, Commerce City, Lakewood and Thornton.

Authorities have previously said that large black market marijuana rings transport drugs to states where marijuana is illegal because they can get three- or four-times the amount of money for their product.

George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, told reporters after the Oct. 10 raid in Aurora’s Tollgate Crossing subdivision that the pot busts that day centered on a single criminal operation.

Agents are raiding homes in Aurora, Centennial and Castle Rock.

Check back with this breaking news story for updates.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Boulder to temporarily ban commercial e-scooter companies

6 hours 39 min ago

Boulder has another temporary moratorium, this time on the issuance of business licenses to commercial electric scooter companies.

During their Tuesday meeting, city council members passed a temporary moratorium — on emergency — to prohibit business licenses for scooter companies. It’s set to last about nine months, until Feb. 4.

The moratorium will not prohibit the use of e-scooters on streets, but it will prohibit their use on sidewalks, multi-use trails and open space. E-scooter use was already illegal in Boulder, except on private property, but council passed the motion Tuesday in response to state legislation to allow e-scooters on streets.

City staff and the majority of present council members reasoned the temporary moratorium would give them time to seek feedback from the community, study other communities and ensure the safety of riders who zip around Boulder.

City Attorney Tom Carr pointed to the city’s process around short-term rentals. That process taught the city, he said, “Take your time. Hear from the community up front, and then engage in the process.”

David Kemp, senior transportation planner, said staff are not opposed to the use of scooters but rather want to ensure that safety and right-of-way are taken into consideration.

“We’re not against e-scooters,” Kemp said. “We see this as a new form of transportation.”

Staff has said they want regulations in place to address various concerns, including injuries, especially head injuries; pollution, as the scooters have a 30-day street life; parking and storage; and data.

“(W)hile the commercial e-scooter industry continues to evolve and improve, there remain significant areas of concern for municipalities, including public safety, right of way (in terms of storage and operations) and environmental issues,” staff wrote in a memo to council.

Kemp also said demonstrations of the scooters, in which residents could ride e-scooters, and a potential pilot program in restricted areas could happen concurrently during the moratorium.

Staff proposed a nine-month process to collect feedback from the community about what they’d like to see if commercial e-scooter companies are allowed in Boulder. The process also would include outreach, a poll and focus groups.

Council in a 4-1 vote approved the temporary moratorium, though several council members urged expediency and expressed an interest in getting the project done before the Feb. 4 deadline. Mayor Suzanne Jones and council members Aaron Brockett and Mirabai Nagle were absent, and Councilwoman Lisa Morzel dissented.

Council members Sam Weaver, Cindy Carlisle, Mary Young and Bob Yates voted in favor.

“I would be in favor of a moratorium,” Yates said. “I thought I would never say that out loud. … However, I would like to make it as short as possible.”

Carlisle said a moratorium “has the benefit of seeing what other communities have done.”

Meanwhile, Weaver said the process would allow the city to holistically examine all micro-mobility options, not just e-scooters.

“This is an attempt to make sure we’re asking for what we want so we get it provided by whichever businesses will operate here,” he said.

Morzel voted against the moratorium, which she said she would have preferred expired before the November election.

“I would like to get this into our options of transportation options as quickly as possible,” she said. “I think the summer is a great time to be trying this out because the weather is warm, and … the students are pretty much gone. We have less stress.”

She also took issue with the terminology used to describe it. The city hurt itself by calling it a moratorium, she said.

“If we could use different terminology, I would prefer to start it as a phased-in program where we’re doing pilots, we’re doing demonstrations, we’re doing community outreach,” she said.

Two people took to the podium during public comment, both of whom spoke against the moratorium.

Resident Matt Frommer said e-scooters would help the city do more to reduce its climate impact and fill transportation gaps.

“The question is: Why is Boulder so far behind?” he said.  “… I’m frustrated because we should have put together a plan last summer.”

Andrea Meneghel, director of public affairs for the Boulder Chamber, urged a pilot program and quicker action.

“Let’s get there quickly,” he said. “… Let’s move forward with regulations in a small pilot rather than imposing a lengthy moratorium.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Denver weather: Freezing temperatures, then rain in the city, up to 10 inches of snow in the mountains

6 hours 59 min ago

The streak of chilly weather continues Wednesday as temperatures dipped overnight to below freezing.

A frost warning is in place until 8 a.m. It was 31 degrees in Denver at 6 a.m.

More rain is coming to the Front Range and up to 10 inches is expected in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

The best chance for rain will be after 3 p.m. The high temperature in Denver will be only about 47 degrees.

Between 5 and 10 inches of new snow could fall in the mountains, the NWS says.

Showers will increase this afternoon and continue into Thursday. Snow level will drop to 8000 feet with 5-10" over higher mountains. #cowx pic.twitter.com/CwOHsxfL3I

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) May 22, 2019

Afternoon thunderstorms and rain showers are forecast for Thursday, when the high temperature will be only 50 degrees. The chance for rain is 60 percent.

Friday will be sunny with much warmer temperatures going into the Memorial Day weekend.

The high on Friday will be 70 degrees. Temperatures will be in the 70s through the holiday weekend including Monday, which is Memorial Day.

Afternoon rain showers are possible on Sunday and Monday.

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Categories: All Denver News.

Presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper calls for national standard gun licenses

7 hours 58 min ago

John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s former two-term governor turned Democratic presidential candidate, wants to create a national standard for gun licenses — one that would require individuals who want to own a gun to pass a safety test first — as part of a national gun control platform his campaign released Wednesday.

Hickenlooper is also calling for expanded access to mental health services in schools, money for community-based programs to end gun violence in urban areas and national universal background checks.

“In this county, before you can drive a car, you have to get a license and demonstrate you can responsibly drive that vehicle. I believe we should create that same right of passage for gun ownership,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Under my plan, people born after 2001 would need to get a license and pass a test that demonstrates they can safely handle and store a gun before they possess one.”

The Democrat, who signed sweeping gun control reforms into state law in 2013, is expected to discuss his policy proposals Saturday with survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Hickenlooper’s national gun control proposal comes two weeks after another Colorado school shooting and a month after the state marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

RELATED: How John Hickenlooper defied the odds in 2003, and how he might do it again in 2020

It is the latest in a string of policy proposals the former governor has released since launching his campaign in March. On Monday, Hickenlooper announced his foreign policy platform. Earlier this month, he outlined his goals for economic equity, which included raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Colorado’s other presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, is in the early stages of rolling out his own policies. This week he announced a $1 trillion package to fight climate change.

Hickenlooper follows other Democratic presidential candidates, including U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, in talking about gun control. Booker’s plan also calls for a federal standard for gun licenses and would impose greater regulation on the gun manufacturing companies. Harris has pledged to give Congress just 100 days to act on gun control legislation or she’ll begin to issue executive orders on the matter, including one to establish universal background checks.

That so many Democratic presidential candidates are talking about gun control priorities early in the campaign is a welcome change from previous cycles, gun control activists say.

“We’re in a really remarkable time,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, the gun control advocacy organization founded by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a mass shooting. “It was only a few years ago when gun safety was considered a third rail, when candidates, elected officials, Democrats and Republicans ran in the opposite direction.”

Hickenlooper previously has touted his record on gun control on the campaign trail, proclaiming himself the only governor of a Western state with a culture of hunting gun sports to sign gun-safety bills. However, his relationship with gun control policies has not always been smooth.

Following the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, Hickenlooper demurred when asked about gun control legislation. But in his next State of the State address, which closely followed the Sandy Hook shootings, he called for universal background checks. After he signed the legislation, he caused an uproar when he apologized for not working with conservative sheriffs who opposed it.

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And during his last year as governor, Hickenlooper called for a ban on bump stocks and promised to sign bipartisan legislation that would have given judges the ability to temporarily seize a person’s guns if they’re found to be a credible risk. But Senate Republicans prevented that legislation from reaching his desk.

Hickenlooper’s proposals and record could go a long way with voters in early nominating states, said Amber Gustafson, an Iowa-based gun control activist who previously led a chapter of Moms Demand Action.

“I think if a candidate wants to run in Iowa and they don’t have a gun platform, they’re not going to go far,” Gustafson said. “It’s an issue of courage.”

Categories: All Denver News.

When it comes to low foreclosure rates, no state compares to Colorado

7 hours 58 min ago

Colorado was a leader when it came to missed mortgage payments and foreclosures in the years before the 2008 financial crisis. Now, no state can compare when it comes to borrowers who are timely on their mortgage payments and hanging onto their homes.

The share of mortgage loans in the state past due 30 days or more stood at 1.78 percent in April, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology firm. That is only slightly above the record low of 1.76 percent reached in the state last August.

Colorado has had the lowest rate of mortgage delinquencies of any state for 26 consecutive months and has ranked in the bottom five states for the past 94 months, said Mitch Cohen, a spokesman for Black Knight.

When it comes to the share of mortgage loans that are seriously delinquent, past due 90 days or more, Colorado has had the lowest rate of any state for 14 months and ranked among the bottom five for 49 months.

And it’s not because other states are slouching. The U.S. national delinquency rate hit a record low in April based on records back to 2000, according to Black Knight.

RELATED: In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices.

“Colorado has consistently outpaced the national average in many top-level economic metrics, including — but not limited to — both GDP and population growth. Combined with rising home prices, a strong economy and a robust job market, these factors have all helped keep a lid on mortgage delinquencies,” said Andy Walden, Black Knight’s director of market research.

Colorado home prices have risen more than 80 percent since 2011, double the gain seen nationally, according to the FHFA Purchase-Only Home Price Index. All that appreciation has helped homeowners along the Front Range build one of the thickest equity cushions in the country.

Borrowers have a strong incentive to catch up if they slip behind. They also have an easier escape route if they can’t get current. In an undersupplied housing market like metro Denver, buyers have remained plentiful.

Last year, there were 1,461 homes sold in the state in a foreclosure sale. In 2007, nearly 40,000 homes went into foreclosure and nearly 25,000 ended up sold at auction, according to statistics from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Denver housing economist Ryan McMaken, who compiles the state’s foreclosure statistics, said the market has seen less new home construction this cycle than the prior one, avoiding a supply glut.

The ability to sell a home quickly and for more than the debt borrowed against it may explain why far fewer homes are going all the way to a foreclosure sale, he said.

But it doesn’t explain why Colorado homeowners are missing mortgage payments at half the rate of everyone else. Are their financial stresses here in some way less than those in other states, even states with lower unemployment?

One explanation is that lenders have been much stricter since the housing crash in who they will lend to.  It is simply much harder to purchase a home than it was last decade.

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“Credit quality in residential lending on a national level is very strong,” said Tom Wind, executive vice president of consumer lending at U.S. Bank, one of the state’s largest lenders.

Those underwriting standards are national. But Colorado had such a deep purge of homeowners via foreclosures that it meant a bigger share of buyers who took over came under the more stringent standards. And those who survived were more likely to toe the line.

“People can learn. There is no reason to expect the next financial crisis to play out in exactly the same way,” McMaken said.

Categories: All Denver News.

Colorado raking in record marijuana money again in 2019, but in era of “stabilization” industry leaders look to impact of new legislation

7 hours 59 min ago

It’s become a predictable pattern in the era of legal recreational pot in Colorado. Every year, the state sets a record for marijuana sales then, 12 months later — poof — it goes up in smoke and another record is set.

It should come as no surprise then that after seeing a record $1.55 billion in sales in 2018, Colorado is on a record-setting pace in 2019.

Through the first three months of the year, combined recreational and medical cannabis sales have totaled a little less than $387 million, more than $21 million ahead of the end of March 2018, with the busy summer sales months ahead. March itself set a record for sales in a single month at more than $142 million. It beat out the previous mark of more than $141 million set in August.

“I honestly just think it’s just more people finding out about it consistently,” said Colin Patrick, general manager of the Eurflora dispensary on the 16th Street Mall. “I think that the word is just spreading. More people tuned onto it every year through education.”

A deeper look at sales data provided by the state shows another trend emerging, however. To put it in a single word, Kristi Kelly, executive director of industry lobby the Marijuana Industry Group, calls it “stabilization.”

RELATED: Turning point for legal marijuana in Colorado: Big changes in the works as state plays catchup

After seeing combined recreational and medical sales rise 46 percent in 2015 over 2014 (the first year of legal rec sales), growth moderated some in 2016, rising 31 percent over the prior year’s total. The same occurred in 2017, with total sales growing just over 15 percent. Finally, in 2018 total sales grew just 2.5 percent over 2017.

“As a new industry, there is obviously going to be exponential growth in the very earliest times, but what we’re seeing is the stabilization of customer demand,” Kelly said of the Colorado market.

Stabilization isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It happens in mature markets. Another one of Colorado’s marquee industries, craft beer, is going through something similar on a national level.

Colorado was the forerunner state for recreational adult-use marijuana, but, as acknowledged this year by industry experts, competition has ramped up as larger states such as California and entire countries such as Canada have embraced recreational weed. That competition made the recently completed legislative session at the state Capitol especially critical from an industry perspective.

A trio of bills passed in the session have big potential to reshape businesses — and drive sales — in the years to come.

House Bill 1090 opens the door for cannabis companies operating in Colorado to become publicly traded and court investment from equity funds. House Bill 1230 creates new business licenses for marijuana tasting rooms and “hospitality” business where people 21 and older can use their own cannabis products outside their private residences. And House Bill 1234 legalizes cannabis deliveries starting with medical products in 2020, with recreational to follow in 2021.

None of the legislation will have an immediate impact on the industry. For one thing, none of the bills have been signed by Gov. Jared Polis yet. Many are counting on Polis’ support, but the industry has seen legislation vetoed by Polis’ Democratic predecessor, John Hickenlooper.

Just one of the bills — the one clearing the way for publicly traded cannabis operators in the state — is set to take effect this year. Its effective date is Nov. 1. The other two are subject to the rulemaking authority of the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division before taking hold next year. The public rulemaking process brings together groups that include industry proponents, industry opponents, municipalities and law enforcement being assembled to discuss and craft regulations.

“For us, we‘re writing these rules and our hope is to have as few unintended consequences as possible,” said Marijuana Enforcement Division spokeswoman Shannon Gray.

It promises to be a busy year at MED headquarters; the division also has been tasked with streamlining the state’s separate medical and recreational marijuana codes into a single code as part of the so-called “sunset bill” that also passed out of the General Assembly this year.

Of the three house bills, the Marijuana Industry Group’s Kelly expects the public investment legislation to have the biggest impact should the governor sign it, not the delivery or hospitality businesses bills.

She said that legislation “will allow for reinvestment in growth, employees, operations and research and development.”

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Kyle Speidell, the co-founder and co-owner of the Green Solution, an industry powerhouse, is excited about what the public investment bill will mean, both for Colorado-based companies like his and the industry at large.

“It’s really focused on legitimizing the industry even more,” Speidell said. “It’s going to bring back the desire to reinvest in the business, to legitimize the retail experience and stores throughout the state.”

Speidell and his brothers, formerly real estate developers, got into the marijuana industry in 2010. Today in Colorado, they operate 18 dispensaries — six of which have opened since the start of 2018 — a products manufacturing facility, and a network of indoor and outdoor grows. They employ nearly 700 people. That doesn’t even touch on their operations in Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada and Canada.

Billy Koerber works, fixing a display, at The Green Solution’s new downtown dispensary on May 21, 2019 in Denver. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

With a long history in the industry — and a lot at stake — the Green Solution has thrown its weight into lobbying at the statehouse. Company leaders spoke at committee hearings in favor of the public investment bill. Speidell is already talking about the need to “fix” the hospitality bill. He feels that with no insurance liability cap written into the legislation, insurance companies won’t underwrite new business concepts, and those that do operate will run the risk of major lawsuits if anything goes wrong. He will be keeping a close eye on the delivery bill as it is rolled out, too. That law allows jurisdictions to opt in or out of allowing deliveries in their borders, something that could limit the market opportunity.

Overall, Speidell said he is very pleased with how the legislative session went. With the Hickenlooper administration and its “conservative outlook” gone, he feels Colorado’s cannabis industry is moving into a new era.

“Ultimately, I feel like we’re in a very good place as an industry right now,” he said. “We can use the next few years to learn again about what things are working and what things aren’t.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies should consider signing Dallas Keuchel after the MLB draft

7 hours 59 min ago

Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent and a number of teams around Major League Baseball could use the help of the former Cy Young Award winner.

Keuchel turned down a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Houston Astros over the winter. A few reasons he remains available for teams is that he’s looking for a large sum of money to throw a baseball, and teams are shying away from the 30-year-old who has only won more than 15 games one time in his career, and that was his 20-win campaign where he claimed the Cy Young Award. The other reason Keuchel is still available is teams would have to give up a draft pick to the Astros if he is signed before the MLB draft on June 3.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, it appears Keuchel is going to be waiting a few more weeks until he gets offers. The Rockies, however, could use a veteran like Keuchel on the mound.

For a Rockies team that has struggled most of the year, Keuchel could bring life back to a franchise looking to make a third consecutive postseason appearance. The question remains, will the Rockies be willing to spend the money for a one-year rental? Or could they make a splash and sign him to a long-term deal?

One thing is well known, though, and that is the Rockies starting rotation has not lived up to expectations thus far in 2019.

Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post

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Scoreboard

MLB: Rockies 5, Pirates 0
Full story | Box score

Must-Read Tyler Kaufman, The Associated PressNew Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Kiszla: As Nuggets look to take next big step in championship quest, why not explore trade for New Orleans star Anthony Davis?

If Nikola Jokic and Davis joined forces, Denver would have twin towers to rival heyday of David Robinson and Tim Duncan in San Antonio. Read more…

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostDenver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly speaks to the media on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. “Loyalty and patience”: Why Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly passed on Wizards

“I can’t imagine there’s another team from ownership to front office to coaching staff that has the relationship and the alignment that we have,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. Read more…

David Zalubowski, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Anderson works against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning of a baseball game Friday, May 3, 2019, in Denver. Rockies left-handed starter Tyler Anderson will undergo knee surgery; season in limbo

The Rockies’ reeling rotation has taken another hit. Read more…

Quick Hits

+ Broncos Briefs: Courtland Sutton confident his red zone production will improve in second season

+ Colorado Classic announces four host cities for August races

+ PHOTOS: Cherry Creek wins over Kent Denver for 5A state lacrosse championship

+ PHOTOS: Golden lacrosse wins over Cheyenne Mountain for Colorado 4A state championship

+ Blues beat Sharks, march on to Stanley Cup Final

+ Velocity is strangling baseball — and its grip keeps tightening

+ Control over future Denver Olympics bids to be decided in runoff election

+ Ezekiel Elliott handcuffed, but not arrested, after incident with Las Vegas security guard

+ Ex-NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. on trial for allegedly raping homeless woman, hitchhiker, unconscious teen

+

Post Mailbag forms

+ Broncos Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Ryan O’Halloran here.

+ Nuggets Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Mike Singer here.

+ Avs Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Mike Chambers here.

+ Rockies Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Patrick Saunders here.

By The Numbers

$30.1 million

Paul Millsap “expected” to be back with Nuggets, Tim Connelly says

The veteran power forward has a $30.1-million team option for next season, and the Nuggets’ front office sounds as if they’re optimistic they can make a reunion work. Read more…

Parting Shot Joe Amon, The Denver PostSnow covers a trees on May 21, 2019 in Arvada. Late spring snowstorm damage your trees? Here’s what you need to know.

Here are some other state forest service tips and tricks for dealing with snow-damaged trees. Read more…

Get in Touch

If you see something that’s cause for question or have a comment, thought or suggestion, email me at dboniface@denverpost.com or tweet me @danielboniface.

Categories: All Denver News.