Damn Dem charity events! Please stop the emo e-mails the phony birthday cards as well as the bomb clocks that never run down!

Colorado News

Here’s the deal. I’ve already voted for Biden. I’m making calls on behalf of the Democratic party. I am worried sick about the election. All polls depress me. When I hear Trump I cringe. When I hear Biden I also cringe. Is he going to say the wrong thing? Why did he call the “Proud Boys” the “Poor Boys”? C’mon, Joe, get it right!

Through all these nail-biting days, though, nothing gets me down more than the hundreds of fundraising emails I get every day. When I see a fundraising email now — which is now about one every minute, I shout and curse at my screen. I say F* You! Stop! Stop! Are the fundraisers actually trying to make voters like me feel both powerless and murderous?

To keep myself sane, I’ve begun a little typology: There are the crying-wolf emails (Jaime Harrison Lost), the emo emails about the enemy (Lindsey Graham is laughing), and the emo emails about us (We are choking back tears), the Do-you-hate-Obama? mails, the command birthday cards (Wish Michelle a happy birthday), the fake final emails, the fake surveys, the fake petitions, and the fake time bombs.

Sarah Boxer

Here’s an emo email from We Train Democrats. “FIRST: Biden was S-O-A-R-I-N-G in the polls. We were over the moon!! THEN: Trump POUNCED!! He BLITZED Biden with horrible attack ads in key states… We thought it was all over.” Do I pull out my wallet? No! Why would I give money to this campaign that is clearly off its meds? As if that isn’t enough, the email goes on: “President Obama is PLEADING.” He tells me, “Whatever you have done so far, it is not enough.” What? If it’s never going to be enough, why should I try?

And what about the NIGHTMARE emails? The Democratic Majority in Alabama shrieks: “Sarah — this is our WORST. NIGHTMARE. Doug Jones is … SLIPPING in the polls.” This use of “NIGHTMARE,” especially in ALL CAPS, scares me. Also, really? This is your worst nightmare? By the way, I know now, from We Train Democrats, that nightmares can be good. Here’s an email headlined “Trump’s NIGHTMARE.” The tone was excited: “YES YES YES! Nate Silver just made a MAJOR prediction: Trump is FINISHED! … Donald Trump THOUGHT he was safe. … Then Joe Biden SNUCK UP … But we HAVE to get serious. Donald Trump is praying that you IGNORE Nate Silver. He’s praying that you close this email. He’s praying that you walk away without a donation!!”

There are so many problems with this. First, psychotic mood swings: Clearly, this writer could not decide whether to be confident or desperate. So he used both. Second, bad logic: Trump is not praying that we ignore pollster Nate Silver’s rosy predictions; he’s praying we do pay attention to them and become complacent. Actually, he’s not praying at all. He doesn’t pray. And third, now I am confused about nightmares. Aren’t we the anti-nightmare party?

This leads me to another irritation — the horse race aspect of these emails. Here’s an example from Blue State Digital: “It’s a MIRACLE. … DONALD TRUMP NEVER SAW THIS COMING.” Now here’s the money shot, so to speak: ONE: Trump spent over $103 MILLION to DOMINATE Florida. TWO: Democrats did the impossible… We beat back Trump’s lead!!! NOW: Joe Biden just clinched a ONE POINT LEAD!! Trump is about to LOSE IT ALL!!

By “LOSE IT ALL” do you mean lose the money race? Or lose the election? The writer has mistaken winning donations with winning the election. Hey, I’m aware that these days (since Citizens United) every election is, to some extent, bought. But for god’s sake, don’t say it!

Another thing: Don’t order me around so much. I got an email from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee commanding me to “Sign Michelle Obama’s Birthday Card.” Which I did, because I am not a mean person, right? Now I doubt Michelle got my good wishes. And I really don’t mind making a birthday “sacrifice.” But why don’t they just say Michelle is having a birthday fundraiser? It’s the lying that kills me. Isn’t that Trump’s job?

What finally pushes me over the brink, though, are a string of “Do you Hate” emails from We Train Democrats. Some of them ask me to confirm my hatred for Mitch McConnell. They ask, “do you hate McConnell? (OR JUST IGNORE THIS).” OK. I’ll bite.

But then in another message, they decide to test my hatred: “Sarah actually HATES Barack Obama?” They want me to prove my non-hatred of Obama. “You’ve Been Selected: Take The Emergency Obama Poll Now … Do you HATE Barack Obama?!?!”

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

My brain is in a twist. I don’t hate Obama. Yet part of me wants to say that I do, just to spite this poll. I pass up my chance. I am miserable. This manipulation of my hatred, which I cherish very much, is really having a bad effect on me.

I make up my mind at this point to give false answers to the next poll that comes my way. I don’t have to wait long. Let America Vote, orders me to “Be Brutally Honest” in the poll they offer. I tell my truth-telling self to shove it.

I am off to the races. It takes a lot of willpower for me to say that Trump won the first debate and that I don’t think the rules of the debate should change for the last one, but I click on those answers anyway. It is even harder to say I will not be voting for Joe Biden (a total lie). But now I’m on a lying binge. I say that I don’t care about voter confusion or a voter education campaign. What will happen? Will these “pollsters” try to change my mind? No. They ask for the same donation as if I’d said nothing.

Finally one of the campaign fundraisers tells me that they’ve had it with me. The “We’re giving up” email sounds like it’s written by a long lost boyfriend who’s fallen on hard times: “Sarah, we’re choking back tears as we write this: We emailed once to tell you Mitch McConnell was on the verge of LOSING. We emailed you again to tell you we UNLOCKED a 400%‑MATCH. But then we emailed you to say we were falling WAY behind. But STILL NOTHING. We’re BROKE!!!”

I’m sorry you’re broke, but it’s not my fault. And maybe if you weren’t such a manipulative jerk you wouldn’t be broke!

MORE: Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper have dual personalities when it comes to television ads and campaign emails

One particular goodbye message catches my attention because it has a fascinating gizmo attached. “Goodbye Sarah. … FINAL NOTICE IN D.C. … 500%-MATCH is ACTIVE … But you’re almost OUT OF TIME!” To drive home the point, they’ve set up a kind of bomb clock.

I’m fixated on the clock. What will happen at the 00 hour? I wait. I watch. I fail to donate and the bomb fails to detonate. Doomsday comes and goes. Nothing matters.

By the way, after the last election (yes, I’ve collected these fundraising emails for the past four, no eight, years) I had a chance to ask someone who is closely connected to the Democratic party about the piles of whining, debilitating, manipulative emails I’ve received. Why in the world do you send these? I asked. He shut me down with three words: “Because they work.”


Sarah Boxer, a native Coloradan and a former critic and reporter at The New York Times, is now a freelance critic who writes for The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The Comics Journal and Photograph magazine. She is also the author of two psychoanalytic comics, “In the Floyd Archives” and “Mother May I?”


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/31/political-fundraising-democrats-anxiety/

Did you miss our previous article…
https://danpabon.com/polis-indications-broadband-orderreleases-broadband-initiatives-report/

Polis Indications Broadband OrderReleases Broadband Initiatives Report

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Today, Gov. Jared Polis released the Broadband Initiatives Report which outlines the state’s vision to create economic opportunity for Coloradans and accomplish the administration’s Bold Four issues through changing how Colorado governs, maps, funds and deploys broadband. To support this vision, the Governor signed an Executive Order creating a Broadband Advisory Board within the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to focus on collaboration and coordination of broadband efforts for Colorado, and to partner with the Office of Future of Work (OFOW) to provide regular updates to the board on digital inclusion and literacy.

“All Coloradans should be able to access the information and services only broadband networks can provide. Access to broadband can help communities access markets across the country and around the globe, help hardworking people receive quality health care and expand educational opportunities for students,” said Gov. Polis. “That is why I called upon the state Broadband Office to partner with agencies and identify what is needed to ensure access to universal broadband so every Colorado community can thrive.”

The Colorado Broadband Office (CBO) convened an agency working group  this year to provide recommendations in the areas of broadband governance, data accuracy, sustainable funding and future technology. The recommendations informed the Broadband Initiatives Report and will help drive broadband deployment and digital equity while effectively using state resources. Each recommendation plays a key role in ensuring that Colorado leads the way for broadband deployment and innovation.

“The Governor provided the CBO an excellent opportunity for cross-agency collaboration and to align state agencies’ broadband initiatives and goals,” explained CBO Executive Director Anthony Neal-Graves. “Resilient, reliable, and future-proof broadband infrastructure is crucial for economic prosperity and connecting patients with the healthcare they need as we face the COVID-19 global pandemic. It also allows for students to learn from home and gain access to education opportunities that not only enrich the communities they live in, but our state as a whole.”

The board will include executive directors or designees from OIT, Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Department of Local Affairs, Department of Regulatory Affairs, Colorado Department of Transportation, and any other agency that has relevant projects and initiatives focused on broadband activities within the State of Colorado.

via Straight News https://northdenvernews.com/polis-signs-broadband-order-releases-broadband-initiatives-report/

Colorado day care centers see increase in coronavirus episodes as disease spreads across Denver location

Colorado News

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

The rate of COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado child care centers more than tripled in October, prompting reminders from the state about key health and safety precautions.

State officials tallied around three dozen outbreaks in child care programs in October, compared with 10 in September. There were a dozen outbreaks Denver, with smaller numbers in Adams, Boulder, Jefferson, and El Paso counties. Colorado has about 4,500 licensed child care providers serving children ages 0-5 and school-age children.

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An outbreak is defined as two or more cases in which public health officials believe transmission occurred within a particular facility.

Unlike schools, many child care centers have been open during most or all of the pandemic. The first child care outbreaks occurred in May in two suburban Denver centers, and there have been periodic outbreaks since. However, October saw a notable increase in the number of outbreaks.

The jump coincides with rising community spread in metro Denver over the past several weeks. State officials have now classified both Denver and Adams County in the second-highest of five risk categories, called “Safer Level 3.” Most other nearby counties fall into the middle category, “Safer Level 2.”

Around 40 K-12 schools also had COVID-19 outbreaks in October, with nine in Adams County, seven in El Paso County, six in Denver, and five each in Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson counties. That compares with 18 outbreaks in September. Colorado has more than 1,900 K-12 schools.

Read more at chalkbeat.org.

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/31/colorado-child-care-centers-coronavirus/

Democrats maintain focus on public lands in Colorado Montana Senate races in spite of GOP legislative win

more news https://northdenvernews.com

BILLINGS, Mont. — Democrats seeking to pick up U.S. Senate seats in Montana and Colorado are falling back on a party playbook now familiar for the U.S. West: Paint their opponents as a threat to the public lands the two sprawling Rocky Mountain states are known for.

The Republican incumbents appeared to have inoculated themselves against such allegations earlier this year, when Montana’s Steve Daines and Colorado’s Cory Gardner worked with President Donald Trump to finalize sweeping conservation legislation years in the making.

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But the two Democratic challengers and their supporters have continued to push the issue in debates and a flood of advertisements, charging that the Republicans converted to conservation when the election was looming. The two contests are crucial in the fight for control of the Senate, where Republicans have a 53-47 majority.

“You can’t just be a supporter of public lands for four months before the election,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, challenging Daines, said in an interview. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has made the same case against Gardner.

Democrats have gained traction on a Bullock lawsuit against a senior Trump administration official with a history as an anti-public lands firebrand, Wyoming attorney William Perry Pendley.

The Trump administration installed Perry as the nation’s lead public lands steward, acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, only to have a court side with Bullock and remove Pendley from the post. The court also struck down plans approved under Pendley that would have opened public lands in Montana to more oil and gas development.

While the nuances of that case are likely off the radar for most voters, political analyst Sara Rinfret said Bullock can still leverage Pendley’s removal to cast himself as the lands protector in the race.

MORE: Judge removes Trump’s public lands boss, William Perry Pendley, after governor sued

“That’s a push point for voters,” said Rinfret, who specializes in environmental policy. “There are parallels across the Rocky Mountain West.”

Daines dismissed the Pendley dispute as “political theater” meant to distract from the legislation he and Gardner sponsored, the Great American Outdoors Act. The measure permanently reauthorized a fund that supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects nationwide.

Daines in 2015 cast a vote against an amendment that would have re-authorized the conservation fund, saying at the time that he supported full funding but wanted to reform the process.

He had a similar shift of position on a bill to protect areas near Yellowstone National Park from mining. Daines was initially reluctant to sign on, suggesting in 2017 that any ban in the Yellowstone area needed to be offset by allowing mining elsewhere. Legislation specific to Yellowstone eventually passed with Daines’ support.

“Let’s step back and remember what was accomplished a few months ago,” Daines said. “President Trump signed into law the single greatest conservation win in the last 50 years.”

A view of the San Juan Mountains near Telluride. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Development and protection aren’t mutually exclusive, he said, adding that Democrats advocate policies that would kill energy jobs including for the Keystone XL oil pipeline now being built in the state.

During his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bullock questioned whether Keystone should be built. He says now that it should, as long as it’s “done right” to prevent spills and with proper consultation with Native American tribes along the route.

Gardner, too, has made the legislation he sponsored with Daines a centerpiece of his uphill battle to convince Democratic-leaning Colorado voters that he works for the state’s interests despite supporting the president. At a debate this month he called it “the holy grail of conservation.”

It’s an unusual tactic for two Republicans who slam their Democratic opponents for pushing environmental rules that could hinder oil and gas development.

In an interview, Gardner said former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a onetime petroleum geologist turned brewpub magnate, “wants to make oil and gas obsolete” and supported a “radical” environmental agenda. “His idea for economic success is mass layoffs of energy industries,” Gardner said.

Gardner contends there’s no contradiction between his protection of the oil and gas industry and support for conservation matters, citing a long bipartisan Colorado tradition of doing both.

That, ironically, has included Hickenlooper, who drew flack from the left during his tenure for defending the energy industry and resisting calls to let local jurisdictions regulate drilling.

Hickenlooper did support some crackdowns on the energy industry, including a limit on methane emissions that Gardner voted to overturn once Trump was in office, and has since stepped up his warnings about climate change.

Hickenlooper says he hasn’t changed, and neither has Gardner. “Cory Gardner has done as much to roll back environmental protections for air and water as anyone in the U.S. Senate,” Hickenlooper said in an interview.

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  • Colorado child care centers see rise in coronavirus outbreaks as disease spreads across Denver area
  • Democrats keep focus on public lands in Colorado, Montana Senate races despite GOP legislative win
  • What’s Working: A new $375 stimulus, small business grants and tales from Colorado’s unemployment queue
  • Damn, Dem fundraisers! Please stop the emo emails, the fake birthday cards and the bomb clocks that never run down!
  • Barbara Nickless juggled plot and backstory to create a tale inspired by an Army intelligence officer

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/10/31/great-american-outdoors-act-senate-races/

Littwin: Trump might shed the political election yet do not anticipate completion of Trumpism whenever quickly

Colorado News

Should Joe Biden win the presidential election — as all the polls and most pundits predict — on Tuesday, or more likely Wednesday or Thursday, and possibly not for weeks and maybe months, here’s my prediction, which you may not like and I know I don’t like: Our long national nightmare will not be over.

Too much has been lost over the past four years, and it will take at least as many years, and maybe longer, to recover. On Election Day in 2016, someone asked me if I thought Donald Trump could win. I remember answering that it was definitely possible and yet, at the same time, inconceivable.

I was right on both counts. I’m not patting myself on the back here. I still thought and wrote that Hillary Clinton would win easily. Not because of the polls, which were drawing closer, but because of a certain understanding I thought I had of human nature and also of an idea forged over decades as to what degree of vulgarity might be acceptable in America. I thought a clown like Trump was, to use his favorite term, a loser. Cynic that I might be, I had surprising faith, which has been, yes, shattered.

Mike Littwin

There has been so much to learn during the Trump presidency and much to relearn if/when it ends. We are a country constantly on edge, and that was before the deadly coronavirus took hold. There is no normalcy, and that, too, preceded the virus. It was also before we learned, via Bob Woodward’s taped interview with Jared Kushner, that the plan to dump the COVID response on governors was not so much about incompetence — although there’s a lot there — but as a means to an electoral end. The Trump game plan: Put the blame on the governors — particularly the “Democrat” governors — and do whatever it takes to keep the economy and the stock market moving. The stock market has held, mostly, not that most people benefit. The economy has not. And, of course, the pandemic has come at us again with a Trumpian-like vengeance.

It’s all of a piece, We have a president who tweets out a crisis point daily and sometimes hourly. We have a president who calls for his opponents to be prosecuted and, yes, locked up. We have a president who holds rallies during a pandemic, rallies that endanger all who attend. We have a president who couldn’t protect the country during a pandemic and failed to even protect himself and his family. We have a president who traffics in racism, in sexism, in xenophobia, in daily humiliations.

It’s the same president who says Article 1 of the Constitution, which I guarantee he’s never read, lets him do whatever he wants to do. And so he has. Occasionally the courts try to stop him, and nearly as often, he ignores the courts. House Democrats impeached him because at some point, it was impossible to oppose all that Trump has done to America and not impeach him. 

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It was hardly surprising that the Republican-held Senate stuck with its leader and did not vote to convict. No president has ever been convicted. But it was another thing to vote — as Cory Gardner did — not to hear witnesses, not to have the case laid out before the American people so they could judge. It was a suppression of a kind, which is in line with the GOP strategy of voter suppression in this election and with Trump’s insistence that he can lose only with a rigged vote. By the way, who predicted that Trump would attempt to subvert the post office as a campaign strategy?

Could there be violence on Nov. 3 and after? There could be. Will there be ballots challenged and thrown out across the country? You bet. Could Trump use the courts to steal an election? Some of that is already happening. It’s definitely possible there could be more, but still unlikely unless, as in 2000, it comes down to one state or two and, say, Pennsylvania becomes the new Florida, although with no hanging chads and no beaches.

Still, poll analysts like Nate Silver give Trump only a 10% chance of winning. In 2016, he gave Trump a 29% chance, which is a significant difference. According to the polls, Biden has been growing more popular while Clinton, at the same point of the race in 2016, was growing ever less popular. 

Trump fatigue lies over the land like a fog that just won’t break. We don’t pay attention to most of Trump’s tweets any more. And Fox is the only network that carries his rallies, and even they don’t carry them all the time. But election fatigue is something different altogether. It looks as if people may vote in record numbers. No one can safely predict what the early voting means, but in Texas, a state that seems suddenly in play, the early voting has already overtaken the total vote from 2016.

Which brings us to Colorado, where we know all about mail-in voting and where many of us still have faith the vote will be counted fairly, and where it seems that the strong early voting, in this case, favors Democrats. 

READ: More columns by Mike Littwin.

Colorado has moved to a blue state from a purple state, which isn’t to say that Republicans can’t win races. Two of the bluest states in the country — Massachusetts and Maryland — have Republican governors. But you can place the 2018 Democratic landslide in the state, up and down the ballot, directly at Trump’s feet. Things are bad for Republicans in Colorado, but not that bad.

In 2016, Trump lost Colorado by five points. The polls say the number will be greater this time, but the thing to watch is how Cory Gardner’s numbers compare to Trump’s. I’ve been told that the Democratic internals suggest Hick could run a point or two ahead of Biden, which would mean, should Gardner lose, that it would have been more than Trump to bring Gardner down. It has been conventional wisdom among Republicans that Gardner would run five points ahead of Trump in the state, which seemed reasonable to me. In any case, if Gardner loses, state Republicans will have no one in a major statewide elective office. And, of course, a Gardner loss would be one of at least four GOP losses the Democrats need to regain control of the U.S. Senate. 

In the 3rd Congressional District, the only competitive House seat in the state, Lauren Boebert is a gun-toting, QAnon-flirting Trump acolyte and her Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, lost by eight points to Scott Tipton in 2018. But this time, it’s very much about Trump, who carried the district by 12 points against Clinton in 2016. Some say that if Boebert wins, she’ll become the face of Colorado Republicans. If that were true — which I doubt — a lot of Colorado Republicans I know would be wearing paper bags over their heads.

Meanwhile, those who watch the state legislative races carefully believe Dems will hold on to both houses and may, in fact, increase their leads. It’s definitely a crisis point for Colorado Republicans.

The basket full of referendums has some critical ones, including Amendment B, which would end the Gallagher Amendment. A large majority of rural state legislators support Amendment B, but we’ll have to see if that correlates to their voters. There’s Prop 116, a proposed tax cut during a huge pandemic-related state revenue shortfall. You can expect it to pass easily. There’s Prop 115, the anti-abortion amendment that could take on new meaning with the new 6-3 Supreme Court and the threat to Roe v. Wade. There’s Prop 118, family and medical leave insurance.

But most eyes in Colorado and everywhere else will be on the Trump-Biden race. Every presidential election is routinely called the most consequential in the nation’s history. But this one clearly deserves a rating as among the most consequential. That Trump’s victory followed Barack Obama’s victory is no accident. If Trump were to lose to Biden, Obama’s vice-president and a many time loser in presidential runs, you couldn’t escape that meaning either.

And yet, if Trump loses in a landslide, he’d still get, say, 45-46 percent of the vote, meaning that after four years, nearly half the nation still supports Trump, many of them supporting him to, well, extremes. It isn’t just because of the likelihood that Trump will contest the election that I believe our national nightmare is bound to stick around. If Trump loses, he won’t lose his voice, and he won’t lose much of his base and he won’t lose Fox News. Or Republicans could try to pretend that Trump never happened. No one has any idea what will become of a post-Trump Republican Party or even if there will be a post-Trump Republican Party. I mean, Don Jr. could run in 2024. Try to wrap your head around that.

It would be great to remove Trump from the Oval Office and to begin the process of reversing the damage he has done to American democracy and to America’s standing. But whatever happens next, Trump will still own a hold on the American psyche. Whatever happens next, Trump’s enablers will never erase that stain. Whatever happens next … well, I guess that’s the point. After 2016, it’s foolish to believe we can say with any certainty what happens next.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/01/donald-trump-cory-gardner-election-littwin-opinion/

Carman: Roe may be doomed however the defend females civil liberties is about to get a shot of adrenaline

get headlines https://thecherrycreeknews.com

To say we have been manipulated is a grotesque understatement.

Now that we’re faced with the likelihood that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, politics will never be the same – and a lot of that may be for the better. 

To understand, consider how we got here.

Until the 1980s, abortion politics weren’t a big deal, even for the Catholic Church. In fact, for a long, long time, to be a pro-life Catholic meant you were passionately opposed to the death penalty. Anybody who went to Catholic school in the 1960s can confirm that.

Diane Carman

Protestant clergy members went even further. They created the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion in 1967 to counsel women and recruit doctors who would defy the law and provide safe abortions to women who wanted them. Then, it opened the first legal abortion clinic in New York City and created an underground railroad for women from all over the country who sought safe abortion services.

Abortion wasn’t much of an issue for Republicans in those days either. 

Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller,  Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush all were pro-choice for blatantly obvious reasons. A Gallup Poll in 1972 found 68% of Republicans said abortion was a private matter between a woman and her physician. 

Justice Harry Blackmun, who was a Nixon appointee with solid conservative cred, wrote the majority opinion on Roe in 1973, which was supported by seven justices on the conservative court.

So, what happened?

Phyllis Schlafly, the woman who spent her cynically brilliant career undermining career women, created the anti-feminist, anti-gay rights, anti-equal rights, anti-choice movement and embedded it in the Republican Party to replace the anti-Communist fervor that had energized the party for 30 years and was seriously running out of gas.

For all those who say the anti-choice political movement is based on some kind of holy moral high ground, I say don’t be ridiculous. It was a political organizing strategy. Read the history. 

It has never been about morality. It’s about making something as complicated and important as life-and-death health policy utterly simpleminded and transactional. It’s about exploiting gullible people for purely political ends. 

It’s fundamentally and flamboyantly anti-women.

But before we let the much-anticipated decision by the Trump court majority send us screaming into the night, let’s look closely at what the next frontier in women’s reproductive rights could hold.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

It could lead us closer to Hillary Clinton’s long-ago goal of making abortion universally “safe, legal and rare.”

Much of what could be the future for reproductive rights is already here and has been demonstrated to save lives, save taxpayers’ money and reduce abortion rates in Colorado. It also would further empower women, to the horror of the pussy-grabbing Trump crowd.

One of the most impressive programs is the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, funded several years ago by a private foundation to test the theory that access to safe and effective contraception could reduce the need for abortions and improve public policy.

The program provided training for health care providers, support for family planning clinics and access to contraception, including long-acting reversible contraceptives that are out of reach financially to many women.

Over the demonstration period, the program cut teen births and abortions in half, reduced public assistance costs by $70 million, reduced births to women without high school diplomas by 38%, decreased births in rapid succession and increased the average age of first birth by 1.2 years. 

It was an unequivocal success and, despite objections from Republican legislators who were loath to give up their cunningly anti-women political weapon, eventually cooler heads prevailed and it won funding from the state.

Another clear measure of the success of pro-choice policies in Colorado is their impact on the infant mortality rate.

In states where reproductive health care is most restricted, infant mortality rates are significantly higher than those of Colorado. The rates are 8.3 in Mississippi, 7.6 in Louisiana and 7.5 in Arkansas, for example, and 4.7 in Colorado. 

But while Colorado offers a few moderate reproductive health care policies of which we should be very proud, a post-Roe America will require aggressive action.

Since we know that abortion has been around as long as pregnancy has and will always be with us regardless of the fate of Roe (c’mon, instructions for it are even described in the Bible), more and more states will have to step up to ensure women’s rights are respected and that women won’t be left to die in unsafe procedures.

More women will seek online sources for mifepristone and misoprostol to terminate pregnancies. It isn’t as comforting as getting services in a clinical setting, but the drugs are readily available and a whole lot better than the methods prescribed in the Bible. 

We can expect a vast suite of services for women to emerge to fill the gap if medical professionals are no longer allowed to provide full reproductive health care. 

Picture a modern underground railroad – with digital outreach.

And we can count on highly motivated activists to mobilize the 70% of Americans who support abortion rights to get states to pass legislation to guarantee access to full reproductive health care, and make contraception affordable and much more widely available.

It will take a while, I’m sure, and women’s lives surely will be sacrificed in the meantime, but it will happen.

Count on it.


Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com. 

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  • Nicolais: This isn’t 2016 all over again. Here’s hoping for less drama at the polls.
  • Opinion: Progress is slow on reducing Colorado’s air pollution, but there are signs of movement
  • Opinion: Congress must pass Dream and Promise Act to protect immigrants

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/01/abortion-supreme-court-roe-opinion/

Nicolais: This isn’t 2016 around again. Heres wishing for much less dramatization at the surveys.

Colorado News

Four years ago, my brother and I headed to the Ship Tavern in the Brown Palace to watch election results roll in across the country. We didn’t want to attend a “victory” party for either side and knew we could get good Scotch at the bar.

I kissed my wife goodbye, reassured my fretting step-daughter that Donald Trump would not win, and headed out. Obviously, she had a better grasp on the situation than I did.

I still remember sitting in the plush leather chairs, sipping on a single malt, eyes glued to the various television screens as election results began tilting the election to Trump.

Mario Nicolais

A two-point win in Florida.

Edging out Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by less than 50,000 votes.

Michigan teetering into Trump’s column by just over 10,000 votes.

And, finally, just over 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, sealing Trump’s victory.

Going into Election Day, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Clinton would trounce Trump, declare an early victory, and become the first female president. Polls and professional prognosticators agreed, the outcome was not in doubt.

That made Election Night 2016 with my brother, Teo, one of the most shocking moments in my life. Utter disbelief seems to be an understatement. The memory falls somewhere between Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson and Sept. 11 stamped into my mind’s registry of startling events.

Fast forward to Election Day 2020.

The only talking heads not adopting a cagey wait-and-see approach to election predictions are those who have tossed out a marker hoping to capitalize on an “I called it” moment.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Democratic operatives have adopted “Remember 2016!” as a battle cry while feverishly working to turn out voters during a pandemic and amid apathy bred by polling data showing Joe Biden blowing out Trump. The idea that the same overconfidence in the electoral result could lead to a second Trump term of office has likely induced multiple ulcers among progressive activists.

However, it is difficult to ignore the overwhelming electoral lead Biden currently appears to have over Trump. The Real Clear Politics “no toss up states” map, based on aggregated state-by-state polling data, puts Biden at 345 electoral college votes to Trump’s 193. Wining requires 270.

Refrain: “But 2016!”

The biggest difference between 2016 polling and 2020 polling is the ability of pollsters to re-weight their polling samples and change methods of contact to reach voters missed four years ago. That makes it much less likely that so many polls will miss by such wide margins.

And the underlying dynamics play differently this year than four years ago. Biden is not nearly as unpopular as Clinton; fewer voters were undecided heading into the election; unprecedented absentee and early voting has favored Democrats. Most importantly, Biden’s leads in specific states have been larger and steadier than Clinton’s ever were.

The resulting paths to victory present a very narrow set of circumstances for Trump to repeat his 2016 electoral feat. He essential needs to run the table among swing states, including those where he has trailed by 5-plus points throughout the entire year.

It isn’t impossible for Trump, just highly improbable. At least outside any prolonged legal battle over absentee ballots in states like Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.

Because 2020 is 2020, I will not be back at the Ship Tavern this year to watch as commentators begin tallying Electoral College votes into columns. With my step-daughter now in Idaho and my brother in Massachusetts, I will not be making ill-fated assurances in person either.

What I will be doing, though, is sitting on my sofa sipping on a good whiskey (Laws from the San Luis Valley is my current go-to) and watching returns pour in. As the blue and red tallies slowly build, I’ll be hoping for a little less late night drama and an early bedtime.


Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com. 

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  • Nicolais: This isn’t 2016 all over again. Here’s hoping for less drama at the polls.
  • Opinion: Progress is slow on reducing Colorado’s air pollution, but there are signs of movement
  • Opinion: Congress must pass Dream and Promise Act to protect immigrants

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/01/donald-trump-biden-election-politics-opinion/

Point of view: Progression is sluggish on minimizing Colorados air contamination but there are indicators of motion

more news https://northdenvernews.com

A sparsely attended Zoom meeting does not seem the likeliest place in which major shifts in Colorado’s future take place. However, in September, that is exactly where the state adopted first-in-the-nation rules to reduce air pollution and marked a new approach in how this state confronts its air quality problems. 

For years, Coloradans have suffered from worsening air pollution. Denver residents and visitors also experience the 10th most polluted city in the country for ozone emissions, according to 2020 data by the American Lung Association. 

Tracy Coppola

Our children suffer, too. Each summer, children in Colorado suffer 32,000 asthma attacks linked to the state’s large oil and gas industry.  

But despite the clear dangers, progress on reducing air pollution across the state has been slow. The oil and gas industry is a major contributor of greenhouse gases and air pollution – yet also holds vast power in the state. Such power plays have blocked Colorado from adopting tighter restrictions on its emissions. 

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. In the space of a Zoom meeting, Colorado’s air quality regulators began to modernize this undemocratic dynamic by approving a limit on pollution from old-fashioned gas-powered engines used in oil and gas development. This advances the state’s 2019 acknowledgement of its responsibility to regulate the oil and gas industry, and not cheerlead for it.  

Unsurprisingly, industry representatives went to work yet again, trying to persuade regulators that clean and healthy air for Coloradans is not worth the cost or effort. While the state eventually made some compromises – it decided against forcing oil and gas companies to swap their outdated engines in favor of cleaner electric engines – thankfully, regulators did not back down in forcing industrial polluters to reduce emissions. 

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

This is an important, positive shift for our state. Colorado is now demanding tighter emission standards for gas-powered engines that help drill for oil and gas and move it through pipelines. These dirtier, older engines make up nearly 20% of oil and gas engines in the state and contribute disproportionately more carbon and other emissions. 

Carbon emissions find their way into almost every corner of Colorado. Even our national parks – areas that most people think of as relatively untouched and protected – suffer the consequences. These treasured and celebrated lands and surrounding communities are changing as we speak from the effects of emissions and the real impact of climate change. 

Colorado is already one of the fastest-warming states in the country, and higher temperatures will lead to even more severe droughts, heat waves, and wildfires, such as the devastating Cameron Peak fire. Shorter snow seasons also threaten Colorado’s thriving outdoor recreation economy. In Rocky Mountain National Park, climate change has doubled the rate that trees have died from drought, bark beetle infestations, and record-breaking wildfire. 

The damage also stems from nitrogen oxide emitted from oil and gas facilities, which penetrates deep into soil, surface waters, and plants, and has been contaminating fragile ecosystems like Rocky’s for decades. Nitrogen oxides also create ozone pollution and haze, plaguing community health and dimming landscapes.

For years, the whining of industry in this state has hampered real action that would return air quality to normal, safe levels, and reduce air pollution that fuels climate change. 

Back in 2016, a signature-gathering effort was launched to put measures on the ballot that would have allowed local communities to regulate nearby oil and gas developments, and prevent new oil and gas infrastructure and its dangerous emissions being developed within 2,500 feet of places such as schools and hospitals. In response, the oil and gas industry launched a $50 million ‘decline to sign’ PR campaign to slow the effort. 

Just a year later, the industry deployed an army of representatives to kill a bill that would have prevented oil and gas operations within just 1,000 feet of high-occupancy buildings such as schools.  Industry was back at it again in 2018, spending over $40 million to defeat Proposition 112.

However, there’s hope. On top of the new regulations recently adopted, Colorado regulators are poised to vote on a new setback rule on Nov. 6, and hearings for the state’s regional haze rule start on Nov. 19.  

If Colorado continues this new course in prioritizing clean air and forcing industries into replacing outdated technology and moving to cleaner alternatives, the benefits will be enormous for the state.  


Tracy Coppola of Denver is the Colorado program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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  • Nicolais: This isn’t 2016 all over again. Here’s hoping for less drama at the polls.
  • Opinion: Progress is slow on reducing Colorado’s air pollution, but there are signs of movement
  • Opinion: Congress must pass Dream and Promise Act to protect immigrants

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/01/coppola-pollution-opinion/

Opinion: Congress should pass Dream and also Guarantee Act to protect immigrants

more news https://northdenvernews.com

There are 14,520 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in Colorado alone, which does not even cover the young immigrants who were unable to receive DACA this year for a variety of reasons. Undocumented youth make up an integral part of our Colorado communities. 

Due to the inconsistency and uncertainty of the DACA program, these young immigrants have been in limbo for far too long. I have personally felt an immense amount of uncertainty about my future during these last few months of COVID-19, and because of this I am able to empathize with a feeling of not knowing what is around the corner. 

Elliotte Enochs

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of these past few months cannot compare to the amount of uncertainty our immigrant youth have had to deal with throughout their lives. Immigrant youth have been at the whim of our constantly shifting political environment for far too long.

I truly believe that human rights are a nonpartisan issue. All humans should be treated with basic dignity and respect, and when those are called into question, our Congress should immediately take action to find solutions. 

I have been organizing meetings with my members of Congress’ offices to discuss how they can best do this for undocumented immigrant youth in our communities. While my Congress members hold similar views to mine regarding immigration reform, I want to call on them to do even more.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

In order to hold our legislators accountable, I joined the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Advocacy Corps, which allows me to work with my Colorado community on urging my members of Congress to pass legislation that prioritizes the needs of undocumented immigrants. Now more than ever, we must advocate for the undocumented immigrants of Colorado through COVID relief bills and accessible pathways towards citizenship.  

The American Dream and Promise Act (House Bill 6) would create a pathway towards citizenship that currently is not available through the current DACA program for many of the undocumented youth in our communities. 

The DACA program ensures young immigrants are not deported, are able to work and study in the United States, and are able to obtain drivers licenses. Unfortunately, even with these features, the program still has its limits. It needs to be renewed regularly by going through a paperwork process as well as paying a $495 fine. This renewal has previously been required every two years, although recent drawbacks have resulted in this process becoming annual. 

This process already requires many hurdles that might result in undocumented youth not being able to receive DACA, and with the recent developments, this restricts the opportunities of many young people who know the United States as home. The recent restrictions also mean that the government is not receiving any new applications for DACA. 

House Bill 6 has passed the House and is currently sitting in the Senate. It is incredibly important to create a pathway to citizenship through passing the Dream and Promise Act within the first 100 days of the new Congress.

I am currently working with my Congress members — Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet — on finding ways to pass the Dream and Promise Act. I have been lucky in that all of my Congress members support this legislation. 

While this is true for me, many of my colleagues participating in the Advocacy Corps across the country haven’t seen the same bipartisan support towards this act from their senators and representatives. Many of their senators are divided rigidly along party lines.  

In a time of constant threats from the Trump administration, now, more than ever, it is incredibly important for Republicans to be taking a stance in support of the needs of immigrants. In this sense, it seems that Cory Gardner might be an exception as he has shown support for this bill. The issue is that simply promising to vote yes on House Bill 6 is not enough in Mitch McConnell’s Senate, as you can only vote yes if a measure comes to a vote. 

I urge Sen. Gardner, as one of the Republicans who support this, to take a more active role by asking Sen. McConnell to bring the Dream and Promise Act to a vote in a timely fashion.

It is urgent that legislation that prioritizes the needs of undocumented youth passes Congress as soon as possible. The needs of our community members are not partisan, and those who consider the United States as home are much more than political pawns and deserve that respect.


Elliotte Enochs of Wheat Ridge is an Advocacy Corps organizer through the Friends Committee on National Legislation focusing on immigration reform in Colorado.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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  • Nicolais: This isn’t 2016 all over again. Here’s hoping for less drama at the polls.
  • Opinion: Progress is slow on reducing Colorado’s air pollution, but there are signs of movement
  • Opinion: Congress must pass Dream and Promise Act to protect immigrants

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/01/daca-dream-promise-immigration-opinion/

Expecting a bust a Colorado coal community of Craig obtains an unexpected increase

get headlines https://thecherrycreeknews.com

If there was one thing everyone agreed on in Craig back in early March, it was that predicting a future without coal was impossible.

Two months earlier, the operator of the Craig Station power plant said it would close one of its units by 2025, and the other two by 2030. The coal-fired plant is the economic engine of this city of 9,000 in northwest Colorado. The move by Tri-State Generation and Transmission threatened 300 jobs tied directly to the plant and over 400 more who worked for it indirectly, for instance as truckers or railroad workers. Two coal mines feeding the plant would also close down.

But that wouldn’t be a full tally of the losses.

Jennifer Holloway, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said they started listing the businesses in town that would be impacted —hotels, restaurants, health care and child care providers —

“and we just stopped, because it’s going to be everybody.”

Craig residents packed a school auditorium to offload their concerns before a visiting advisory committee to the Office of Just Transition, a state effort to ease the pain of Colorado workers and communities affected by the worldwide decline in coal. Their union jobs were disappearing; their health care benefits were going away for good. There was a mental health crisis in full boil.

Days later, another profound shock hit the community — this one without warning. In Craig, as in other communities across the country, the national spread of the coronavirus shut down schools, restaurants and businesses. Craig Memorial Hospital — the city’s other big employer — experienced a precipitous drop in revenue as non-essential procedures were called off.

Craig looked doomed.

But the year’s surprises didn’t stop there. Perhaps the biggest surprise over the last few months is the way that Craig has adapted to the shocks of 2020. Some people in the town see a lesson in resilience that is as applicable to the decline of coal as it is to a global pandemic.

A time to grieve

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help” is a message that the largely conservative community of Moffat County is primed to reject out of hand.

Wade Buchanan, head of the Office of Just Transition, had the unenviable job of delivering precisely that message without using those words.

He was only partly successful.

“We’re here to help you think through what your future should and can look like, and we’re here to figure out how the state can be helpful in that process,” Buchanan told a crowd of several hundred Craig residents who had assembled on March 4.

His office, created last year by state legislation, has a mandate to protect workers and usher in new economic development to the areas of Colorado hardest hit by the closure of coal plants and mines. Despite promises from the Trump administration to revive the nation’s coal communities, competition from low-cost natural gas and a shift in demand for renewable energy have decimated the industry.

Many people in Craig put the blame squarely on policies coming out of Denver, where Gov. Jared Polis has set a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.

The visit to Craig from an advisory committee to the Office of Just Transition — made up of legislators, labor department officials, union representatives, economic development experts and affected workers and community leaders — was a chance to express that view.

Residents of Craig, Colorado, packed a March 2020 meeting to talk about a future without coal. (David Cornwell, Special to The Colorado Trust)

“The people of Denver are doing nothing about the CO2 they are creating with tailpipe pollution. They create more tailpipe pollution than this plant does, and they are doing nothing about it. Less than 4% of Denverites use mass transit that we just spent $6 billion on,” Craig resident Ran MacDonald said. “Somebody’s got their priorities wrong.”

(It’s actually $7.5 billion. And while 40% of downtown Denver employees commuted by public transit in 2019, the 4% number was about right for the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area combined. That was before the pandemic, of course. Now ridership is much lower.)

The meeting was meant to give the advisory committee ideas for supporting a future without coal. But the people of Craig weren’t done grieving an industry that had fed the town for decades. What new industry or economic initiative could ever match what the union jobs at the coal mines and power plant provided here?

Allan Brown had dropped out of college and accumulated $30,000 in credit card, student loans and other debt when he went to work as a coal miner in 2011. He started at $18 an hour, but quickly found that he could work nearly unlimited overtime, while his wages quickly rose.

“You can make a damn good living at $30 an hour,” said Brown. That, plus the vacation time, make a huge difference in a person’s quality of life, he said. “I don’t know any other companies around that will pay $35 to $50 an hour.”

And then there are the benefits. In a time when many Americans worry about premiums, copays and other health care expenses, Amanda Ott, who is married to a coal miner, said she paid no health care costs at all for her family of five.

Rip the rug away, and you could expect things to fall.

Jade Wilhite, who works in human resources at the coal plant, saw it firsthand.

“I’ve had tears. I’ve had concerns. We’ve had people acting differently than they normally do,” said Wilhite. “Relationships are breaking down.”

It’s not just workers who were affected, either.

Nurse practitioner and Craig resident Janelle K. Hoaglund said community members’ health was impacted by stress and uncertainty. (David Cornwell, Special to The Colorado Trust)

“We don’t think about the mental health impact,” said Janelle K. Hoaglund, a psychiatric nurse practitioner working at a private practice in Steamboat Springs. She worried about kids who were watching their parents struggle with the uncertainty of not knowing where they would work, or whether they would have to move.

People who showed up to the meeting had plenty of ideas for new industries here. How about hosting an agricultural research center with a focus on low-water farming? Manufacturing carbon fiber? Improving the riverfront and promoting Craig as a destination for outdoor adventure? Making use of the subsidies available for solar energy development?

Kendre DiPietro, a power plant engineer, offered a whole list of them herself: Improving the rail connection between Craig and Steamboat Springs to support passenger trains; making use of the water rights owned by the power provider, rather than selling them to the highest Front Range bidder; rehabilitating the land now occupied by the power plant so that it’s clean, usable and attractive.

Still, she wasn’t sure how realistic this would be. “It’s all expensive,” she told me later.

It was hard to know whether all this spitballing would lead to something. It was hard to know if the city would survive at all.

Craig Station, March 2020. (Kristin Jones, The Colorado Trust)

The shocks of 2020

The Candlewood Suites hotel in Craig is precisely the kind of place most likely to be affected by the closure of the coal plant, and the people who work there know it.

Craig has never been much of a tourist destination, despite the pretty landscape and Moffat County’s 2 million acres of public lands. The visitors who stay at Candlewood Suites are mostly contractors at the power plant and other kinds of visiting workers who like that the rooms have kitchens, and don’t mind that there’s no breakfast.

When the pandemic hit, a lot of the staff was furloughed right off the bat.

Kimberly Davis, the front desk manager, was one of them. She took a furlough voluntarily because of health issues that made her nervous about being in the hotel. “I felt like it was the best choice to make at the time,” she said.

For nearly two months, she stayed home and helped her 11-year-old son with remote schooling. She came back the day after Mother’s Day, when she finally felt safe to do so. When she returned, the dynamic at work felt different.

“Everybody’s stressed to the max,” she said. “It’s the things [guests] are complaining about that we’ve never seen. People are nervous, scared, stressed. I got tanked [in a guest survey] because somebody didn’t have a bar of soap in his room. It would have taken five seconds to request one and we would have run down five. We’ve had to re-educate our front desk staff about being empathetic.”

Late in the summer, four people died by suicide in Moffat County, the Colorado Sun reported. Some are blaming the twin crises of the coal industry decline and the pandemic.

Amid all of that, Davis doesn’t know exactly what to make of another strange fact of this year: business is booming.

“I’m having a record year this year,” she said, “which is unbelievably ridiculous because of what’s going on.”

MORE: Northwest Colorado gets a gigabit broadband boost from U.S. Department of Agriculture

New construction on a high-speed internet connection and road work brought a whole slew of workers in. Work that was scheduled at the power plant in March and April was put off until the late summer and early fall. Elk hunting season has started, and the hotel has been turning people away.

And there are signs that this isn’t just a fluke. In June, international hotel group Valor Hospitality bought the hotel from Mars Hospitality. Valor has previously focused on urban markets like Cape Town, South Africa and Brooklyn, New York, and saw its venture into the Rocky Mountain area, including the Candlewood Suites in Craig, as “targeted on immediate needs as we fight back post-COVID-19,” the company’s press release said.

The Moffat County Tourism Association has been trying for years to make the area’s natural secrets a little less well-kept. (Wild horse herds of the Sand Wash Basin, anyone?) Early on, the pandemic brought the lodging revenue that funds the tourism association down to virtually zero, said Tom Kleinschnitz, who heads the association. Dinosaur National Monument’s timed reservation system — a response to the coronavirus — put up an immediate roadblock.

But in recent months, as airplane travel has atrophied worldwide, the area has seen an influx of regional tourists seeking remote locales and new adventures that they can reach by car. Browns Peak Wildlife Refuge has brought in a record number of visitors, said Kleinschnitz.

Sales taxes are actually up. Real estate prices are increasing.

The local feeling has ranged from “bottom of the pile” to “sometimes feeling like we might be ok,” said Kleinschnitz.

“Right now, I’m feeling good about our future,” said Andrew Daniels, CEO of Craig Memorial Hospital, where revenue has recovered since the early days of the pandemic. “We’ll be break-even by the end of the year. I wasn’t sure we would be in business back in March.”

We are not victims

In August, the advisory committee to the Office of Just Transition submitted its draft plan for public comment.

The community meetings in northwest Colorado in March took on outsized importance because they were the last of their kind; similar meetings planned in Morgan County and Pueblo were scuttled due to the pandemic, said Dennis Dougherty, executive director of Colorado AFL-CIO and the chair of the advisory committee.

The plan calls for training and support, as well as assistance to replace lost wages and health benefits, for coal workers. For communities that are affected, it calls for investment in infrastructure, and the establishment of a statewide investment fund focused on coal communities.

The committee didn’t pare back any of its recommendations because of COVID-19 or the deep revenue cuts that have come along with it, said Dougherty.

“This is going to be a long-term process,” he said. “This is going to be multiple years. There are some people who think maybe there’s a quick fix to this, and there’s not.”

Dougherty said he hopes that because of the pandemic, people are “more aware of the fact that there is a need for a stronger social safety net. Some people are saying, ‘Nobody helped me when my job was automated or moved offshore.’ I empathize, but I also say, there should have been. We’re trying to figure it out so that doesn’t happen anymore.”

Colorado Northwestern Community College is poised to play a big role in the transition, said John Anderson, vice president of student affairs and head of the college’s Craig campus. The school is starting a cybersecurity degree program in response to demand from plant workers for tech offerings. It also expanded its nursing program. Both of those industries are ones that people could pursue anywhere—including in Craig.

Holloway, the head of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, is bullish on the city’s prospects. The worst effects of the pandemic have—so far—spared the city, she notes.

“When this first happened, I thought, shoot, we’re going to lose half our businesses,” she said.

But the miners and power plant workers are considered essential, and never stopped working. Several businesses in town were able to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program loans, part of the federal government’s stimulus efforts. The community raised money so that the city’s only real bar, Popular Bar, could start serving food and stay open amid statewide restrictions.

Though the college budgeted for a 20% decline in enrollment amid gloomy national predictions in March, that didn’t come to pass. While community colleges in the metro areas have been hit hard by the pandemic, enrollment here is down just 0.5%, said Anderson.

The chamber of commerce itself had some unexpected luck when the local marketing district gave its OK for a grant that allowed the chamber and the Moffat County Visitor Center to move into a 100-year-old building downtown, reimagined as a coworking space.

The board of the hospital — which expects to have to either contract or expand services outside of Moffat County as a result of the coal transition —has been noticing the positive trends, too, Daniels said.

“Before COVID, I don’t think people realized that rural was a great place to live,” he said. Now, more people are buying houses here: “Maybe it won’t be as bad as we thought. Maybe people will realize that rural has good broadband access and you can work remotely. Maybe that trend will continue and we won’t see a decline. It’s hard to tell. It’s unexpected.”

Crucially, there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 in the county.

“We’ve been lucky,” said Holloway recently. She knows how quickly that can change.

It’s the certainty that things can change that also brings her hope.

“When I talked to you in March, we were still seeing a lot more resistance in the mindsets of people. There was still a lot of denial, a lot of thinking that we can save coal. I think that’s changing,” said Holloway.

She said she bristled when, during a recent debate between Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and his Democratic challenger, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gardner brought up a conversation he’d had with somebody in Craig.

Gardner said the person asked him: “What did I do wrong to lose my job, for the government to tell me that I’m not worthy of this job?”

“I am so sick of us being portrayed as victims,” said Holloway. “We are not victims. The fact is our industry is changing. We need to change that dialogue to, ‘We have been successful at providing electricity — important, important work—and we can do that again’” in a different industry, she said.

People will undoubtedly move away from Craig, said Holloway. But the focus should be on keeping as many of them here as possible during the transition, while they work to build up the multiple industries that will have to step in to take the place of coal — tourism, yes, but also the community college and entrepreneurship.

“People are thinking beyond coal in Craig,” said Holloway. “I feel really positive about that.”


Kristin Jones, who previously reported for The Wall Street Journal and Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, is assistant director of communications at The Colorado Trust. This story was first published at coloradotrust.org on Oct. 29, 2020.

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