Axios Denver

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Welcome back! It's Monday.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Denver members Liz Gelardi and Lynne Griffin!

🏀 Situational awareness: The Denver Nuggets are looking to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole in their second-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves after losing 106-99 Saturday. Game 2 is tonight at 8.

Today's newsletter is 840 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: No encampment sweeps on Auraria Campus

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the Auraria Campus in Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Denver police won't sweep the growing pro-Palestinian encampment at the Auraria Campus as long as it remains peaceful, chief Ron Thomas told a civilian watchdog group on Friday.

Why it matters: The chief's statements show a changing strategy for the agency, which last week, together with the sheriff departments, assisted Auraria police in arresting roughly 40 people at the encampment.

  • Thomas made the decision to deploy officers last week after the campus requested assistance, he said.

The intrigue: The campus asked him again to send police to the encampment after more tents were erected following Friday's arrests, but he declined.

What they're saying: "I've been explaining to [campus] leadership ... that we absolutely aren't going to just go in and sweep out this peaceful protest just because they're occupying a space on your campus that you'd like to use for something else right now," Thomas said.

  • He said Denver police would only get involved if illegal activities like assault or property damage take place.
  • Campus administrators say the encampment violates their camping ban.

Between the lines: No use-of-force reports were filed by Denver police after last week's arrests, Thomas said, as most people were detained for trespassing.

Yes, but: Law enforcement was observed shoving protesters last week, and people arrested said they felt officers were "fighting" with students and being unnecessarily aggressive.

What we're watching

2. 🏔️ Charted: A "lucky" avalanche year

The line chart shows the annual number of avalanche fatalities in Colorado from 1951 to May 1, 2024, with 2024 showing a below-average low at 2 after 11 in 2023.
Data: Colorado Avalanche Information Center; Chart: John Frank/Axios

A year after near-record avalanche deaths, this winter offered a welcome reprieve.

By the numbers: The Colorado Avalanche Information Center recorded more than 5,000 avalanches that caught more than 100 backcountry travelers.

  • Only two slides resulted in fatalities — well below the prior season's 11 deaths and the five-year average of nine.

What they're saying: "Just like any year, some people got lucky this winter," the center's deputy director, Brian Lazar, told the Colorado Sun.

Tell a ski buddy

3. Denver leads nation in living-wage jobs

A bar chart showing the U.S. metro areas with the highest and lowest True Rate of Unemployment in 2023. The measure shows the share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage).
Note: Share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage); Data: Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity; Chart: Axios Visuals

Denver is seeing low levels of unemployment — in stark contrast to areas with large numbers of low-wage jobs, such as El Paso, Texas; Fresno, California and New Orleans, new data first shared with Axios shows.

Why it matters: A strong labor market signals a healthy economy, spurring more consumer spending and less reliance on social welfare programs.

Zoom in: The unemployment rate in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro was 16% in 2023, well below the national rate of 23%, according to the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity's proprietary True Rate of Unemployment.

  • The region also ranked as the national leader for living-wage jobs.

Flashback: Denver leaders voted in 2019 to raise the city's minimum wage on an incremental basis. As of this year, it's now $18.29 and $15.27 for tipped food and beverage workers.

Yes, but: Denver's rising labor costs have caused some cash-strapped businesses to close their doors for good, particularly in the restaurant industry.

How it works: LISEP's True Rate of Unemployment measures the proportion of workers looking for a full-time job that pays a living wage — and who are unable to find one.

What they're saying: "Local communities investing in infrastructure, housing, and future-oriented industries consistently outperform those more reliant on low-wage jobs," LISEP founder Gene Ludwig said in a statement.

Share this chart

4. Mile Highlights: Wolverines set for reintroduction

A young wolverine. Photo: Philippe Clement/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

🐾 A bill to reintroduce wolverines in the state is headed to the desk of a supportive Gov. Jared Polis after it passed in the Colorado House on Friday, Alayna reports.

🐘 Jefferson County Republicans plan to reschedule a fundraiser for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem that was canceled Saturday after national outrage over her killing a puppy prompted death threats. (9News)

😲 Researchers discovered fossils from a new mammal species near Colorado Springs that's believed to be 65 million years old and an ancient relative of modern hoofed mammals. (CBS4)

💿 RiNo-based Vinyl Me, Please fired and is suing its former CEO and CFO, alleging the two misused company money. (BusinessDen)

🏆 Be a Local News Champion

Illustration: Andrew Caress/Axios

Calling all local news enthusiasts! We aim to be your go-to source for timely, relevant stories that impact our community.

Help us continue our mission to keep you informed by becoming an Axios Denver member today.

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Join the club and make a difference!

5. Alison Roman: "Clams are for Tuesdays"

Alison Roman appears on "The Late Show" with host Stephen Colbert in March 2023. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

Alison Roman — famed chef, food writer and recipe creator — launched her new Solicited Advice tour in Denver this month and dished out words of wisdom in response to live questions from the audience.

Denverites asked her about life, love and, of course, food. Here's what she said:

🍴 Which local restaurants she tried: La Diabla and Reunion Bread, which she said makes the tastiest pastel da nata she's ever had. "Zero hyperbole ... This is the gold standard," she wrote on Instagram after the show.

🥾 Three things that scream "Denver:" Hiking, pickleball and craft beer.

ğŸ‘Ž Food trends to ditch: Restaurants with impossible reservations, and phones at the dinner table.

🤢 Worst ingredient: Green bell pepper. When asked if there is "a place for [it] in this world," her answer was simple: "No."

🌡️ One trusty kitchen tool: A Thermapen. "You'll buy one and never need to buy another one again. It's also kind of chic-looking."

🐚 Unconventional opinion: "I would like to normalize cooking clams on a weeknight because they require almost no technique. … Clams are for Tuesdays."

❤️ Relationship advice: Long-distance relationships can "1,000%" be worthwhile as long as "you are having fun and it makes you happy."

More Alisonisms

Our picks:

🌴 John is taking time off.

ğŸŽ™ï¸ Alayna is listening to this "We Can Do Hard Things" podcast episode about the importance of having fun.

ğŸŒž Esteban can't believe today marks two years since the release of his favorite Bad Bunny album, "Un Verano Sin Ti."

Thanks to our editor Ross Terrell and copy editor Bill Kole.