Denver news in 5 minutes: What you need to know today, Dec. 26

A dispatch from Urban Peak youth shelter on Christmas morning, a community activist pursuing a prominent council seat and important animal news.

staff photo
Snow covers the banks of a creek near Eldora in Boulder County, Colorado. Snow-covered pine trees stand on both sides of the creek. Between 1935 and 1950. (Donald Kemp/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/K-187)  five points; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite

Snow covers the banks of a creek near Eldora in Boulder County, Colorado. Between 1935 and 1950. (Donald Kemp/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/K-187)

Welcome back. I hope you got what you needed out of Christmas. Today, we’ve got the news you need, including a dispatch from Urban Peak homeless youth shelter on Christmas morning, a community activist pursuing a prominent council seat and important animal news involving birds and deer.

Politics

The urban-rural divide in Colorado is also a political divide, and it’s growing deeper and wider. John Frank has an in-depth look at the differences between red and blue Colorado and what they mean for our state as the Denver Post continues its “Colorado Divide” series. (DP)

Community activist Candi CdeBaca has filed to run for the District 9 council seat held by Council President Albus Brooks. This large and diverse district includes downtown Denver, Five Points, Globeville and Elyria-Swansea. Gentrification will be the major issue in that race. (Denverite)

Corey Hutchins has a close look at U.S. Rep. Jared Polis’ campaign for governor. The congressman from Boulder needs to pitch his big ideas for state government as fiscally responsible and reach out to moderates and independents. (Colorado Independent)

Taxes

Colorado’s booming economy is set to trigger another mandatory cut to property tax rates in rural areas, due to the ways the Gallagher Amendment interacts with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. That has folks on the left and the right talking about something that was once unthinkable: asking voters to amend the constitution. Brian Eason does a really good job of breaking down the policy and the politics. (DP)

Colorado brewers are getting a break under the recently adopted GOP tax bill. Adrian has that story. (Denverite)

Animals

For 118 years, the Audubon Society has conducted its Christmas Bird Count. This extended exercise in citizen science provides the raw data that tells us how birds in Colorado are changing their behavior in response to climate change — and how they’ve already changed it in response to Denver’s urban development. Kevin tromped across Chatfield State Park with birders to bring you this story and the beautiful photos that go with it. (Denverite)

Parts of Colorado Springs have as many as 20 deer per square mile, compared to two to three deer per square mile in natural wooded areas. The City Council there is thinking about allowing urban hunting, but not everyone is convinced. Conrad Swanson reports. (Gazette)

Homelessness

The Laundry Truck has washed more than 25,000 pounds of clothing for homeless people in Denver since the mobile laundromat launched in April. Kevin has this story about the importance of clean clothes and the work it takes to provide them. (Denverite)

The staff and volunteers at Urban Peak try to provide the essential holiday sensations for the homeless young people they serve, but for many residents, Christmas comes with mixed feelings. There are memories of the families they’ve left, hopes for where they want to be, gratitude for gifts and discomfort with being the object of charity. Kevin brings us this one too. (Denverite)

Reading

What did Denver Public Library users read and watch in 2017? Adrian crunched the numbers. (Denverite)

Getting around

An RTD working group probably won’t recommend cutting the EcoPass program. Alex Burness breaks down the debate over the pass programs amid the transit agency’s revenue struggles. (Camera)

Christmas

The tradition of tracking Santa at NORAD in Colorado Springs began with a mistake. A phone number in a Sears newspaper ad was one digit off and patched callers through to the red phone, the direct line that warned of an imminent attack. The family of Col. Harry Shoup, the man who answered that red phone, made a little boy cry and then tried to make it right, shared their account with StoryCorps a few years back. Bryan Bender looks inside the Department of Defense’s outreach and propaganda initiative born of a typo. (NPR, Politico)

Hundreds of volunteers from JEWISHcolorado participated in the Christmas Mitzvah Project. They did everything from sorting toys at Ronald McDonald House to spending time with seniors to preparing meals for homeless people. In some cases, their efforts let Christian volunteers and staff members from social service agencies spend the holiday with their own families. Tori Mason reports. (4)

Christmas morning 1979 found Connie Krieger stranded on a mountaintop in Rocky Mountain National Park. Along with her father and sister, she had survived a small plane crash, but she wasn’t sure she would survive the storm that followed. She got the miracle she needed, and this year, she finally met her rescuers. Gary Shapiro has this amazing story. (9)

 Snow

Ski resorts got their Christmas wish of a lot of snow, and driving conditions remained good on Monday. Michael Konopasek reports. (31)

But! Avalanche danger is high after all that new snow got dumped in the mountains. People traveling in the backcountry should be conservative. Jesse Paul reports. (DP)

CDOT may start enforcing its chain law more frequently — and not just against drivers of tractor trailers. Marshall Zelinger has that story. (9)