Axios Denver

Picture of the Denver skyline with DEN written across it.

October 28, 2021

πŸ‘‹ Welcome back! It's Thursday, and we're grateful you could join us.

  • Today's weather: It's a bit warmer. A high of 63Β° with all sun and less wind than yesterday.

πŸ—³ Don't miss: If you're like most people and still holding on to that 2021 election ballot, don't fret.

  • We'll send you a special voter's guide edition of the newsletter on Saturday that will get you smarter, faster on this year's ballot.

Today's newsletter is 935 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Colorado headed "very much in the wrong direction"

Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Colorado has the lowest number of hospital beds available right now compared with any other point in the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials said Wednesday.

Yes, but: It's still unclear what Gov. Jared Polis' administration will do to address the worsening situation.

Threat level: The rate of coronavirus cases nationwide is declining, but Colorado leads the U.S. in per capita case increases over the past two weeks.

  • State public health officials cautioned that rising positivity rates indicate more hospitalizations to come.

And the situation is taxing the state's health care system.

  • An estimated 1,191 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Colorado, ticking toward December's high of 1,847, when bed capacity was greater.
  • The highest hospitalization rates are in El Paso, Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, according to state data.

What they're saying: "We are continuing to move very much in the wrong direction," Scott Bookman, the state's COVID-19 chief, said at a briefing.

Share this map … and what to watch

2. November ballot tests conservative strategy

Illustration of the Colorado flag with a checkmark and box instead of a C and the sun.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The 2021 ballot represents an experiment for conservatives' latest electoral strategy in Colorado.

State of play: Down and out, holding little power at the state level and unlikely to get it back, Republicans and their big-moneyed allies are pushing two ballot measures that will determine whether they can stay relevant in Colorado politics.

  • The conservative theory being tested this November is whether the state's voters remain right of political center when it comes to fiscal issues β€” that is to say, we're stingy with our money.

Context: In 2020, conservatives won two ballot measures that cut income taxes and required voter approval of large fees despite being swept out of office in the 2018 election by a Democratic wave.

What's new: This year, the same conservative dark-moneyed group, Colorado Rising Action, is back with two more ballot measures:

  • Amendment 78 would require lawmakers to allocate all money received by the state, including federal dollars, grants and legal settlements, currently passed directly to specific agencies.
  • Proposition 120 would reduce property taxes for lodging and multifamily housing, and possibly other properties depending on legal rulings to come.

What they're saying: Michael Fields, Colorado Rising Action's director, said, "We plan on doing a couple ballot initiatives every year."

The other side: Scott Wasserman, president of the liberal Bell Policy Center, said the organization's "goal is to blow things up. Their goal is to create problems for the party in power."

Go deeper … and read our 1-minute ballot guides on Amendment 78 and Proposition 120

3. Charted: Colorado's premiere schools

Data: U.S. News; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

U.S. News & World Report has released its rankings of the best elementary and high schools in Colorado.

Context: Schools are ranked on a combination of state-required test results, graduation rates and college readiness.

Key takeaways: All but one of the top-ranking elementary and high schools reside in metro Denver: The Vanguard School (#7) is in Colorado Springs.

  • KIPP Denver Collegiate High School (#8) has the highest percentage of minority students of any of the top schools, at 99%.

Of note: High Peaks Elementary School in Boulder (#9) was also one of six state schools to receive top honors as a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School, a recognition of academic performance or progress among underserved student groups.

Be smart: While these lists are fun, don't read too much into them. Several factors affect performance, including educational equity and resources available to parents, students and educators.

Share the rankings

4. Nuggets: News cereal-sly worth your time

Illustration of a bowl of cereal with gold nuggets in it instead of cereal.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 The Colorado judiciary is sitting on a pair of contracts to investigate allegations of misconduct within its ranks β€” eight months after the chief justice promised the outside inquiry. (Denver Gazette)

🚰 Denver Water is increasing its rates in 2022, and homeowners may pay up to $16.08 more per year, depending on where you live. (Denverite)

πŸ›‚ The U.S. State Department issued the first passport with an X listed as the gender after a prolonged legal battle led by Dana Zzyym, an intersex Colorado resident. (AP)

🏠 Rent in Denver is beginning to mirror prices on the East and West coasts, jumping nearly 21% over the past year. At the start of October, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,690. (Denver Business Journal)

🚩 Ball Arena and the Paramount Theatre will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of an event for all attendees, staff and personnel ages 12 and older. (Fox31)

5. Get in the holiday spirit at Red Rocks

People attend a drive-in movie theater screening at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images
People attend a drive-in movie theater screening at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Nothing says the holidays in Colorado like "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

  • This year you can see the movie β€” including the film's footage from Summit County β€” on the big, big screen at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

What's new: The venue is going all-in on the holidays with its "Film on the Rocks" series, running Nov. 26 through Dec. 12.

  • Other classics that will show in the lower south parking lot include "The Polar Express," "Home Alone" and "Die Hard." Full lineup.

Mark your calendars: Tickets go on sale Friday. It's $59.50 per car, with snacks included.

6. 😎 You know what time it is

Illustration of neon signs with the days of the week. Lights go out one by one and "weekend" flashes.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Halloween weekend is upon us at last. Here are some of the most haunting happenings around the metro:

πŸŽƒ Head to Hudson Gardens in Littleton all weekend to check out Magic of the Jack O'Lanterns, a dazzling display of 5,000 hand-carved and candlelit pumpkins.

πŸ§Ÿβ€β™‚οΈ Catch a performance of Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" at Vintage Theatre Productions in Aurora all weekend.

πŸ‘» Don your best costume at the 12th annual Paranormal Palace on Saturday in the McNichols building, where you can compete to win $2,000 in a costume contest. Tickets start at $75 and include an open bar.

πŸ•Ί Get your groove on at Poka Lola Social Club for its Zombie Disco Halloween Party on Saturday.

πŸ’€ Bring your dead face and join the Zombie Crawl through LoDo, where bars will be slinging discounted drinks and shot specials.

More weekend events

Our picks:

🎧 John is listening to this podcast on why this part of the pandemic feels so tough.

πŸ™ˆ Alayna is laughing at this Onion article mocking Denver's drinking habits and celebrating her birthday tonight at this swanky spot.