Axios Denver

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Hello, it's Wednesday! Let's get you smarter, faster.

  • Today's weather: Another sunny day, with a high of 95ยฐ.

Situational awareness: State Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) has been indicted on one count of providing false information about his residence โ€” a felony.

Today's newsletter is 941 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Police chief asks public to help curb crime

A police chief in full uniform stands near a lectern in a dimly-lit room while addressing member of the press.
Denver Police chief Paul Pazen at a press conference in December 2021. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver police chief Paul Pazen on Tuesday urged the public to contact their elected officials with their concerns over rising crime rates.

Driving the news: Pazen said the city has recorded 60 killings so far this year, and is on pace to not only exceed last year's total (96), but also break Denver's all-time high of 100 homicides, set in 1981.

  • The police chief said homicides are having a disproportionate impact on African American, Asian American and Latino residents, who make up 85% of murder victims in Denver.

What he's saying: Pazen blamed repeat offenders for driving the city's crime rates up, and said it will take the collective effort of residents, legislators, judges and prosecutors in concert with law enforcement to curb criminal activity.

The intrigue: Some of Pazen's comments at the virtual event hosted by the Denver Gazette echo a frequent refrain from Republicans. GOP members are criticizing Democrats out for passing laws which they claim have contributed to a rise in crime.

By the numbers: Property crimes are up 54% overall, while violent crime rose 22% in Denver, per data collected by the department and shared by Pazen. The rates measure changes between 2019 to 2021.

  • Murders have spiked 52%, while aggravated assaults are up 35% and robberies jumped 10%.

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2. Colorado is a battleground for the inflation bill

Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (left) and John Hickenlooper pitch the "Inflation Reduction Act" at City Park on Tuesday. Photo: John Frank/Axios
Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (left) and John Hickenlooper pitch the "Inflation Reduction Act" at City Park on Tuesday. Photo: John Frank/Axios

Democrats call it "the most important climate legislation in the world."

  • Republicans label it a tax hike.

State of play: The battle to define the $740 billion tax, climate and health care package is taking center stage in Colorado, where U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents going into the midterms, is seeking re-election.

  • Democrats consider the reconciliation deal โ€” known as the Inflation Reduction Act โ€” their answer to voter concerns about inflated prices, climate change and rising health care costs.
  • Republicans are decrying the measure as out-of-control spending that will only increase taxes.

Why it matters: How voters ultimately view the legislation could become a defining factor in November's midterm elections.

Zoom in: Bennet joined Colorado U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper and advocates on Tuesday in Denver for a "celebration" of the bill's Senate passage.

  • Bennet and others defended the tax hikes in the measure, saying they would only impact the wealthiest companies and individuals. Teachers pay more in taxes than some of these businesses, the senator said.
  • The bill's advocates highlighted extended health care subsidies, caps on prescription drug costs for seniors and efforts to incentivize a transition away from fossil fuels.

What they're saying: "This bill is going to be hugely popular with the American people," Bennet said.

Keep reading ... The other side

3. Denver sheriff suspended for hitting inmate

Illustration of a spotlight shaped like a police badge.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A sheriff's deputy was suspended in late July for inappropriate use of force after hitting an inmate at the Downtown Detention Center in the head multiple times, according to records obtained by Axios Denver.

State of play: A review from the city's public safety department found that Denver deputy sheriff Michael Pablo violated department rules on use of force when he struck an inmate approximately 17 times with his fist in September 2021.

  • Pablo claimed that he hit the inmate out of fear for his own safety after he had been verbally combative.
  • But the safety department said the deputy should have known that strikes above the neck are not permitted unless deadly force is warranted. Because the inmate wasn't deemed a threat, Pablo should not have continued punching.
  • Pablo began serving his unpaid suspension on July 27.

Between the lines: The deputy, who has worked at the department since 2014, was given a 42-day suspension, but under an agreement with the city's public safety department, which oversees discipline, 17 days were held in abeyance.

  • This means those days won't be served, as long as Pablo doesn't break department rules over the next two years.

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4. Nuggets: Broncos sale OK'd

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III poses for pictures with fans after practice on July 30. Photo: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

๐Ÿˆ As expected, NFL owners on Tuesday approved the sale of the Denver Broncos to the Walton-Penner family. The authorization comes two months after the group announced plans to buy the franchise. (CBS Sports)

๐Ÿšผ Menstrual products and diapers won't include any state sales tax, thanks to a new law that goes into effect Wednesday. (Denver Gazette)

๐Ÿ’ณ A temporary fee reduction for registering new businesses led to more than 10,800 filings with Colorado's Secretary of State office last month. The cost was cut from $50 to $1. (Newsline)

๐Ÿš‘ Aurora Fire Rescue will begin using a new sedative, droperidol, after they stopped using ketamine when a state probe found the substance was incorrectly used on Elijah McClain in 2019. (9News)

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๐Ÿ’ผ See whoโ€™s hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Public Health Epidemiologist at Elbert County Public Health.
  2. Global Epidemiology Researcher at Center for Disease Analysis Foundation.
  3. Lift Technician at Lifeway Mobility.

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5. Everyday Pizza offers plant-based pies

Everday Pizza's offerings. Photo: David Williams, courtesy of Everyday Pizza

Melty cheese might take center stage at most pizza parlors, but not at Denver's newest joint, Everyday Pizza.

Details: Sam and Tricia Maher โ€” the owners of the popular plant-based menu at South Broadway's Somebody People โ€”ย opened a vegan Neapolitan-style pizzeria in the Ballpark neighborhood Aug 2.

  • Most ingredients are sourced locally, meaning the menu changes seasonally. And the dough, pastas and "cheeses" โ€” made from nuts โ€”ย are crafted in-house.

๐Ÿ• Alayna's thought bubble: As a cheese queen, I was surprised that I didn't miss it even a little on the onion pie โ€”ย which includes the root veggie five different ways, plus almonds, green olives and a generous drizzle of cooked wine ($17). Yum!

๐Ÿ• Gigi's thought bubble: The name of the eatery โ€” a nod to the song by Sly and the Family Stone โ€” gives diners a hint that music is an essential ingredient at the new pizzeria, setting a lively backdrop. While they're still in season, don't miss the crushed tomato pie with San Marzano, basil and almonds. It's simple but utterly delicious.


Our picks:

โ˜• John is writing from this favorite place on Pennsylvania Street, which is now a popular remote work spot.

๐ŸŒด Alayna is on vacation.

๐Ÿœ Esteban finally tried (and loved) the pork ramen at this Congress Park spot.

Last chance! Tell us how you'll spend your taxpayer refund.