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Sep 16, 2021

Axios Denver

It's Thursday, and the news floodgates are open wide. We break it all down for you below.

🌤️ Today's weather: Sunny with increasing clouds. High 91°.

  • Don't look now, but the mountains could see 3 to 8 inches of snow Monday into Tuesday, OpenSnow forecaster Joel Gratz says.

Today's newsletter is 937 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Attorney general is now the top cop for police

Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly, left, and Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson face pressure amid new state investigation. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado attorney general is demanding that the Aurora Police Department overhaul its entire operation after a damning investigation found prevalent racism, excessive force and other illegal practices within the agency.

Why it matters: The first-of-its-kind order, announced Wednesday, is possible thanks to a far-reaching police accountability measure that expanded the attorney general's powers to investigate practices within local law enforcement agencies.

  • The law gives the state's top prosecutor a role akin to the civil rights division in the U.S. Department of Justice and take legal action to enforce changes.

State of play: Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, said he is seeking the cooperation of the Aurora police and city officials but made clear he would go to court to obtain a consent decree if they can't reach an agreement.

  • The overhaul will include an independent monitor to enforce the order, which may extend as long as five years.

No other law enforcement agencies are currently under investigation. Weiser did not elaborate on whether he will use his authority to address similar concerns in other agencies.

Context: The attorney general's office initiated the investigation soon after the law's passage, prompted by the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of Aurora police in 2019. Weiser credited demonstrators for demanding action after initial investigations cleared officers.

What they're saying: Advocates behind the police accountability law don't want Weiser to stop with Aurora.

Keep reading

2. Denver’s budget bounces back despite pandemic
Source: The City and County of Denver; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

The proposed $1.49 billion budget Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled yesterday includes big bucks for public projects, recovery from cuts made this fiscal year, and investments addressing homelessness and preventing crime.

  • The suggested figures approach pre-pandemic levels, with revenue growth at $97.5 million, up 7% from 2021.
  • Be smart: The city’s revenue remains two years behind where officials projected it would be before the coronavirus changed everything.

Here are seven numbers to know from the mayor's proposed 2022 budget:

  • $1.49 billion: Total spending for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts Jan. 1. It's a 14% increase over the previous year, when the city was pushed to close a roughly $200 million gap as the pandemic wiped out Denver’s sales and use tax.
  • $200 million: Proposed investments in transportation and mobility, parks and recreation projects, and city facilities, including $10 million to modernize the Denver Public Library’s Central Branch.
  • $190 million: Funds focused on housing stability and homelessness resolution, including down-payment assistance programs and homeownership counseling, as well as housing options like motel rooms, tiny home villages and safe outdoor spaces.

Read the rest, plus what's next

3. Nuggets: Anderson to face censure vote

Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images

🔎 Sexual misconduct claims against Denver school board member Tay Anderson were found to be unsubstantiated, but the board will consider censuring Anderson on Friday for "unbecoming" behavior revealed in a new third-party-investigation report. (Chalkbeat)

🍾 Gov. Jared Polis married his partner, Marlon Reis, in a private ceremony Wednesday on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, marking the first same-sex wedding for a sitting governor. (Axios)

🚨 The city of Arvada paid $100,000 to settle a police excessive force lawsuit and went to great lengths to keep the deal secret from the public, public records reveal. (Denver Post)

🏀 Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon has agreed to a four-year, $92 million contract extension with the team. (ESPN)

4. The Tesla takeover in Denver
Expand chart
Data: IHS Markit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

This statistic probably won't surprise you: The Denver metro area ranks 15th for the number of Teslas on our roads.

Why it matters: The adoption of the high-end electric vehicles speaks to the area's tastes — here's looking at you, Boulder, home to a Tesla police car.

  • It's also an indication of broader interest in electric vehicles, which are "taking center stage" at the Denver Auto Show this week.

By the numbers: The Denver metro area counted nearly 14,000 Teslas at the start of April, a report from IHS Markit shows.

  • Of all Colorado EV sales in 2020, Tesla made up 52%, while other brands collectively comprised 48%, said Tim Jackson, CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
  • The competition is only increasing as more electric vehicles enter the market, he added.

The intrigue: Colorado Springs ranked 25th in terms of growth in Tesla registrations.

5. Hot homes: 5 for sale starting at $500K

1575 N. Ogden St. Photo: LIV Sotheby's International Realty

The Denver Metro real estate market spent this summer on fire, and now we're left to wonder whether the cooling temperatures will spread through the city's housing stock.

  • Until we know the answer, here's a collection of homes for your viewing pleasure.
1575 N. Ogden St. — $725,000

Why we love it: Nestled in a tree-lined street, this townhouse sits within walking distance of some of the city's most popular restaurants and parks.

  • Neighborhood: North Capitol Hill
  • Specs: 3 beds, 3 baths, 2,250 square feet
  • Notable features: Updated 1907 property with radiant floors. Remodeled kitchen with exposed brick and cozy breakfast nook.

See our other picks

6. Where to celebrate Oktoberfest

A stein-hoisting competition at Seedstock Brewery in Denver. Photo courtesy of Seedstock

Find your stein, it's time for the annual Oktoberfest celebration.

The official party in Munich is canceled, but local breweries will carry on the tradition with a helles lager festbier and the traditional Märzen amber lager.

What's happening: Denver Oktoberfest — the area's largest festival, now in its 51st year — will take place Friday through Sunday for the next two weekends.

  • Expect live music, stein hoisting, keg bowling, costumes and bratwurst. Details.

Cities and breweries in the Denver area and beyond are hosting their own celebrations. (Click links for more info.)

What we're cooking:

🍅 John is using tomatoes from his garden to make this great summer recipe from a Colorado chef.

🌶️ Alayna is broiling up this snack with all the shishito peppers she got in her produce box from this restaurant.

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