Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 26, 20175min510

Did you catch a local friendly face in Elle magazine back in January? OK, I saw it on Twitter today. There’s state Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver right there in a big-time international fashion magazine.

The piece is called “Why I ran,” a first-person narrative she shared with writers Mattie Kahn and Nana Agyemang.

You can read it here.

This isn’t totally old news. In January Herod was known as a freshman lawmaker who also was the state’s first openly gay African-American woman to serve in the legislature.

She also won by the largest margin of any Colorado lawmaker, challenger or incumbent, last November.

People don’t think of her first as a trailblazer or even a local face in Elle (I would tell people forever, even strangers, I was profiled in Elle … “Hey you, on the corner, did you know I was profiled in Elle? I was. Want to see it?”), These days folks think of Herod as one of the most effective lawmakers under the gold dome after a single 120-day session. Period.

Her very first bill, a tax checkoff to help homeless youth, passed a divided legislature. She co-sponsored it with Sen. Bob Gardner.

In fact, she co-sponsored four bills with the conservative Republican from Colorado Springs, quite possibly the oddest friendship since Elton John and Eminem.

She sponsored 10 bills this session, and five went to the governor, including all four with Gardner. She had Republicans co-sponsors on eight of her 10 bills.

That’s true at the same time she became the third member of the Doghouse Democrats, those who aren’t afraid to rattle the caucus’ orthodoxy. She joined Reps. Joe Salazar of Thornton and Jovan Melton of Aurora on the growing caucus of rabble rousers.

And before Trump was even in office in January, she was out front taking down his Obamacare repeal. And most Republicans still like her.

Reading it now versus January gives you a sense of a person who sees an opportunity and makes the most of it. That’s who Leslie Herod is.

Some politicians try to impress with status. Herod uses work ethic.

Herod was in charge of her household when she was 12. She helped rally overlooked minorities at the University of Colorado, and she was one of the three co-founders of New Era Colorado, an effective and thriving group for young progressives.

“We need more voices here, more kinds of voices,” she told Elle. “Too many people who serve don’t think about how not having fertility coverage impacts women and families and our pocketbooks. They don’t think about how LGBT people are real people, and we just want to love and want to build our families like everyone else. They don’t understand how race and oppression shapes communities. Until you’re sitting at that table and bring it up, they just don’t acknowledge it.”

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The Associated PressMay 26, 20175min220

DENVER — The Latest on a fatal oil tank fire in northern Colorado:

1:45 p.m.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says two deadly northern Colorado oil and gas explosions in recent weeks are unrelated.

The governor is a former geologist and says he agrees with local investigators who say that the two deadly incidents aren’t related.

A Thursday fire at a gas well battery in the town of Mead killed one worker and burned three others. The cause was under investigation.

That fire was a just few miles north of a home that exploded April 17, killing two people. The home explosion was traced to a leaky gas well.

Hickenlooper says that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Thursday’s blast.


11:35 a.m.

Two Colorado lawmakers are calling on the owner of an oil tank facility that was the scene of a fatal explosion to cooperate with state investigators to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

House Majority Leader KC Becker and Rep. Mike Foote, both Democrats, said Friday that the fire that killed one worker and injured three others was unacceptable — especially coming after a fatal house explosion in the region blamed on a natural gas pipe leak.

Foote says the industry and government “have an obligation to treat these incidents not as isolated or freak accidents.”

Anadarko Petroleum Co. says it’s investigating what caused Thursday’s blast in Mead, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Denver.

An April 17 house explosion in nearby Firestone killed two people. Investigators blamed it on natural gas from a severed pipeline linked to an Anadarko-owned well.


11:15 a.m.

The oil tank battery that caught fire Thursday in Mead was not in operation when it caught fire Thursday, killing one and injuring three.

That’s according to the owner of the site, Anadarko Petroleum Company.

The company has not identified the workers. Anadarko says they were “finishing projects associated with a facility upgrade.” The company didn’t elaborate.

Anadarko says it is investigating what caused the fire.

An oil tank battery is a collection of tanks that receive crude oil production from a well.


10:15 a.m.

Colorado’s governor says it’s too soon for the state to take any action in response to a fatal oil tank explosion in Thursday.

The explosion at an oil tank battery in Mead killed one worker and injured three more.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is resisting calls from an environmental group to temporarily shut down all Colorado gas wells owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The company owns the site of Thursday’s explosion and another well that caused a fatal home explosion in Firestone. Two people were killed in that blast.

Hickenlooper told reporters Friday that it was too early for any government response pending an investigation into the Mead incident. He said, “Let’s see what happened first.”

The victims of the Mead explosion have not yet been named.

An oil tank battery is a collection of tanks that receive crude oil production from a well.


8 a.m.

A fatal oil tank battery fire in northern Colorado appears to be unrelated to a nearby home explosion last month caused by a leaky gas line.

Thursday’s blast in Mead killed one person and injured three others. All were working on a battery at the site owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.

The explosion happened less than 4 miles away from the Firestone neighborhood where an April 17 explosion killed two people. Investigators blamed that explosion on natural gas from a severed pipeline. Anadarko owns that well, too.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Department tells The Denver Channel that the two deadly incidents aren’t related.

Cpl. Matt Turner with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office tells the station that Thursday’s blast was “a completely separate incident all together.”

Thursday victims haven’t been identified.

The Denver PostMay 26, 20171min130

The 25 members of the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board need to overhaul their system for assessing the risk of and providing treatment for the state’s many incarcerated sex offenders.

Never has that been more clear than after reading how dependent the assessment and treatment system is on the use of lie detector tests, known as polygraphs.

The Denver Post’s Christopher N. Osher reported that Colorado has spent $5 million over seven years on polygraph tests for convicted sex offenders, used as a key part of determining whether these criminals should be eligible for release, and if so what supervision should look like. Often sex offenders are required to take multiple tests over the same subjects if they fail or have inconclusive results, with both the state and the criminals picking up the tab, and they regularly get tested as part of parole.

Read more at The Denver Post.

Returning power to the people has been a recurring theme of the Trump administration since the president delivered his inaugural address back in January.

When Congress rolled back the Bureau of Land Management’s new resource management planning rule in March, lawmakers cited diminished opportunities for state and local government input as a big reason.

“This rule would have given even more power to the bureaucracy in Washington when what we need is the exact opposite,” said Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah. “Reversing this rule is just one of many actions we will take to shift land management decisions back to the people who live in these areas and away from unelected, and in many cases unaccountable, bureaucrats.”

Read more at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Class of 2017, do you remember what the world was like when you started first grade? We didn’t think so. Your parents might not remember, either.

It was like this. In 2005:

• The average cost of a gallon of gas was $2.27. (As of this week, it’s $2.37.)

• Cars didn’t drive themselves, and Uber was still four years away.

Read more at The Loveland Reporter-Herald.

A Washington headline Wednesday asks “Is ‘Big Wind’ making people sick?”

“Everyone would be well served if Colorado led the way on the study of health impacts of commercial scale wind projects,” the article states, explaining Colorado’s aggressive embrace of wind turbines.

We know only this: The war on energy will not end. No new form of power goes unpunished. When new energy succeeds, it becomes a big new target.

That’s why they say “big wind,” as activists tilt at windmills.

Read more at The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 26, 20174min501

Colorado’s top tax collector is moving on, but it’s not clear where. The governor’s office announced this week that Barbara Brohl is stepping down in August as executive director for the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Six years on the job, Brohl oversaw the Department of Revenue’s taxation division, the Division of Motor Vehicles, the state lottery, horse racing enforcement, automobile Dealers, gaming, liquor and tobacco, as well as the recreational and medical marijuana.

“Barb has provided strong leadership to the Department of Revenue,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “We will miss her steadfast and guiding hand, but wish her much success in the future.”

Questions to the governor’s office and the Department of Revenue about why Brohl is stepping down and what she’s doing next didn’t get a clear answer, but it didn’t sound like anybody has hard feelings.

In the governor’s press release, Brohl called her work as a tax collector “the opportunity of a lifetime and absolutely the best job I have ever had.”

“I have had the luck, the pleasure and the honor of leading a phenomenal team through it all, without whom none of this would have been possible. We have been able to accomplish so much in the past six years and I am very proud of where this department is today.”

The governor’s office said Brohl would still be on the job until August, when Hickenlooper will have only 16 more months left in office himslf.

I asked the Department of Revenue for more details and got a lengthier statement from Brohl:

“In the past 6 years I have had the pleasure of leading the Department of Revenue, I have been involved in some of the most interesting subjects – I oversaw the implementation of new systems in Tax, Lottery, and DMV. We have improved processes, added new functionality, and elevated customer service as a core value,” she said.

“In addition, I was a named party in a U.S. Supreme Court case – DMA v. Brohl; the DMV implemented SB13-251 driver licenses and IDs for residents who cannot demonstrate lawful presence; and the Liquor Enforcement Division has begun implementation of SB16-197 – the most comprehensive liquor legislation since prohibition,” Brohl continued.

“Finally, I was responsible for the rollout of the first-in-the-world commercial regulatory system for recreational marijuana. I co-chaired the Governor’s A64 Task Force and helped to set the policy, direction, and strategy for recreational marijuana in the state. As a result, I have consulted with governments all over the country and the world as they evaluate their own drug policy, and was an invited panelist at the United Nations in Vienna.

“I love this Department so it is with mixed emotions that I have decided it is time for me to see what is next for me. I am very proud of what I have accomplished at the Department and I’m looking forward to what the universe will involve me in next!”

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 26, 20173min460

Congress is considering naming two peaks in southwest Colorado after two famous local climbers killed in an avalanche in Tibet in 2006, Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff.

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner with U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez have introduced a bill to designate two unnamed 13,000-foot peaks about 10 miles southwest of Telluride, bordering San Miguel and Dolores counties, as Fowler Peak and Boskoff Peak.

Both, fittingly, are great for climbing, as well as hiking.

“Part of the attraction of the peak naming proposal is the proximity of the peaks to each other, symbolizing the partnership in life and death of Charlie Fowler and Chris Boskoff, and that proposed Boskoff Peak can be seen from the Town of Norwood where they resided,” the Telluride Mountain Club states on its website .

A big coalition of outdoors groups are backing the designation: The Access Fund, the American Alpine Club, the American Mountain Guides Associations, the Colorado Mountain Club, the Mountain Film Board of Directors, Osprey Packs, Dolores County Commissioners, Telluride Ski & Golf Resort and the Wright Stuff Community Foundation.

“Not only were Charlie and Christine two of the most accomplished climbers in the world, but they also were integral members of our southwest Colorado community,” Bennet said in a statement.

“Throughout their careers, they were always giving back—mentoring students, advocating for human rights, and introducing people to their love of climbing. Naming these peaks in their honor will give them a permanent place in the outdoors and serve as a fitting reminder of their extraordinary lives.”

Gardner said Fowler and Boskoff taught many Coloradans to appreciate the outdoors.

“Naming two peaks in Southwest Colorado after these world-class climbers will ensure they are forever memorialized in Colorado history,” he said.

Said Tipton: “The spirits of Charlie and Christine will live on in these peaks for generations to come.”

Fowler and Boskoff were truly legendary climbers with scores of impressive summits to their individual credits. When they went missing, it was international news.

“The two are remembered not only as internationally acclaimed climbers, but also as mentors to school students and troubled youth,” San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May said in a statement. “Naming these peaks for them would serve as a perpetual reminder of the couple’s contributions to climbing, youth, and protecting the outdoors.”

For nine months out of the year, the majority of Grand Valley families are on school time. Daily lives revolve around school bells.

When the school year ends, as it did Wednesday, it’s a natural yardstick in time because it alters the established order of things. Graduating seniors especially can identify with the sense that a chapter has ended.

This fleeting “time out” — a moment to change gears and adjust to a new schedule and a new season — is well placed.

The last blast of wintry weather should be behind us. The Colorado General Assembly just concluded last week after striking some important compromises on issues critical to the state. The president is out of the country, providing a momentary breather from White House intrigue and hourly updates on investigations of Russian interference in our elections.

Read more at The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Steamboat TodayMay 25, 20171min150

Steamboat Springs High School students and staff celebrated their differences and their similarities during the school’s first-every Diversity Week May 15 to 19. The observance was kicked off with a school-wide assembly featuring a presentation by Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender athlete to compete on a Division 1 men’s college sports team.

The Harvard swimmer spoke about his journey and his struggle to “fit in,” and based on the response from students, which was demonstrated during the question-and-answer time after his speech, the young man’s words resonated with them.

We are proud of our local school district for being courageous in bringing a topic like this into the mainstream conversation and for supporting a student-led effort to educate people about different races, religions, genders and cultures.

Read more at Steamboat Today.