Denver news in 5 minutes: What you need to know today, Dec. 18

Purple faces, leaving the Republican Party, the drug company that got away and Denver’s best holiday lights. Among other news.

staff photo
Denver Tramway streetcar no. 330 as it travels south on North Broadway near Colfax Avenue in the Civic Center neighborhood circa 1940-1950. (Charles Alibi/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/Z-15630)

Denver Tramway Streetcar No. 330 as it travels south on North Broadway near Colfax Avenue in the Civic Center neighborhood circa 1940-1950. (Charles Alibi/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/Z-15630)

Welcome to the working week. We’ve got lots of news from around the Denver metro area, including a big Washington Post/60 Minutes investigation about the drug company that got away — it all started at a Brighton pharmacy. Plus, sexual harassment policies at the Colorado State Capitol, Christmas lights around town and the story behind those big purple faces you’ve seen on walls all around Denver.

Read on.

Being human

Andy talked to the man behind the giant purple faces that have been popping up around Denver. He’s an artist who goes by Belove and the faces belong to his son. Belove is creating the representations of black faces that he didn’t see when he was a child. They’re purple so that viewers have to engage with the image before they’ve placed it in a racial category.

I took it upon myself to say there is something I can do, to be the one presenting him,” he says. “And it’s hard because it felt really vulnerable — it still does. It’s your child.”

Andy has this lovely, thoughtful story, and you should read it. (Denverite)

Law and order

Some Colorado police departments are relaxing their standards when it comes to marijuana use in an effort to recruit more officers. Not Denver, though. “What I’ve stressed is if people are using it, come back in three years,” said the head of the Denver Civil Service Commission. “I’m blunt with people. People who want to be in public safety have to have higher standards.” Noelle Phillips has this story. (DP)

Investigators based out of the DEA’s Denver field office spent two years pulling together a case against McKesson Corp., the nation’s largest drug company. They believed the company was facilitating the transfer of addictive drugs to the illegal market. It started with a pharmacy in Brighton selling 2,000 pills a day, an amount you’d expect at a pharmacy in a large city next to a major hospital. The pharmacist is serving a long prison sentence, but the Justice Department never pursued the criminal charges for which investigators thought they had evidence. (WaPo/60 Minutes)

A woman (possibly intoxicated) led state troopers on a chase across three counties Sunday before they finally stopped her in Summit County. (AP)

Natives vs. transplants

Those born in Colorado increased their share of the state population ever so slightly, but they’re still a minority. Adrian crunched the numbers. (Denverite)

Names of things

What may be the first domino in the Stapleton name change debate has fallen. The Stapleton Foundation will drop the name of the former KKK mayor starting in the new year. (Denverite)

What if …

Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien said the city isn’t prepared to provide important services in the event of an emergency. From a bunker-like facility in the basement of the City and County Building, the city’s emergency manager has a different view: “If the finding is that we are not ready, then tell me what ready looks like.” (Denverite)


Ellen Roberts of Durango was the president pro tem of the Colorado Senate before abruptly resigning her seat in 2016. She was one of the most prominent women in the state Republican Party and considered a run for U.S. Senate. Now she’s not even a Republican. Marianne Goodland reports that Roberts changed her registration to unaffiliated last year. Roberts insists her decision doesn’t say anything larger about how moderates are treated in the party. (Colorado Politics)

The Colorado General Assembly is hiring its first ever human resources professional in the wake of numerous sexual harassment scandals there. Many people — from outside critics to Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran — also think they need an independent third-party to investigate claims. That’s what the New York Assembly does now, and it’s helped: “Everybody now knows it’s not going to be an inside job,” said Rick Rossein, a professor at CUNY School of Law, a specialist in employment and civil rights law and the author of the new policies. (Denverite)


Some people like a tasteful string of lights along the roofline. Others go all out. We’ve got a crowd-sourced map of the best home displays in the Denver metro area. (9)

When I first saw the news about the giant blue frame installed at Garden of the Gods, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Apparently thousands of people agree with me, and they’re signing a petition to remove the sign. Hugh Johnson reports. (Gazette)


Colorado’s largest privately held company, the engineering giant CH2M, is now owned by a publicly traded Texas firm. (DBJ)


There’s more There…  By which we mean the restaurant called There… has expanded. Now there’s gelato there. Ashley has that important news. (Denverite)