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Wilson Chandler exercises player option for 2018-19 with Denver Nuggets

June 24, 2018 - 11:26am

Wilson Chandler has exercised his $12.8 million player option with the Denver Nuggets for the 2018-19 season, two league sources confirmed to The Denver Post Sunday morning.

Chandler’s decision puts some financial strain on the Nuggets, who this summer are aiming to sign star big man Nikola Jokic to a max contract and make a run at re-signing unrestricted free agent swingman Will Barton. Starting shooting guard Gary Harris‘ lucrative contract extension also kicks in this season ($16.5 million for 2018-19), while last week veteran forward Darrell Arthur exercised his player option worth almost $7.5 million. Those salaries, combined with potential upcoming moves this summer, mean Denver is in danger of dipping into the luxury tax.

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Chandler is coming off a season in which he posted his lowest scoring average (10 points per game) since 2011-12 and also averaged 5.4 rebounds per game. Though Chandler’s offensive numbers sputtered, he provided solid defense on the wing and the flexibility to play both forward spots.

Denver selected forward Michael Porter Jr., who is coming off back surgery, 14th overall in Thursday’s draft. Other potential options to get minutes at small forward next season include Juancho Hernangomez, who is entering his third NBA season and was not in the rotation in 2017-18, and Torrey Craig, who is a restricted free agent after signing a two-way contract last summer.

The next major contract domino for Denver is Jokic’s max deal. As of Sunday morning, one league source told The Denver Post that the Nuggets had not yet declined their $1.6 million team option for Jokic for 2018-19 but “will” do so, making him a restricted free agent and eligible to sign a max contract with Denver.

“Nikola’s going to be here for a long, long time,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said following Thursday’s NBA draft. “I think whatever we do, we’re going to ensure he’s here as long as possible. When that moment happens, we’re going to talk to Nikola and his brothers and his representation. He’ll be in Denver for a long, long time. He’ll be buying (a home) here.”

Free agency officially begins July 1.

Denver Nuggets’ 2018-19 salaries

Team option

  • Nikola Jokic: $1.6 million (expected to decline in order to sign to max contract)

Unrestricted free agents 

  • Will Barton
  • Devin Harris
  • Richard Jefferson

Two-way contracts

  • Monte Morris (signed through 2018-19)
  • Torrey Craig (restricted free agent)
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Cool temperatures Sunday up to 15 degrees below the seasonal norm

June 24, 2018 - 9:07am

Sunday’s expected high of 70 to 72 degrees is several degrees cooler than the seasonal normal of 85 degrees for this date.

The metro area should see scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms Sunday, while the Eastern Plains can expect stronger storms, National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin said.

The rest of the week should dry out and warm up, he said. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s Tuesday, rising to the upper 90s Wednesday and Thursday.

Official rainfall counts taken at the Denver International Airport show that the metro area has only had 4.89 inches of rain since the start of the year, which is below the normal of 7.09 inches by this time of year.

But Fredin said northeastern Colorado has done really well with rain. For example, Akron has seen 11.13 inches of rain when it normally only sees 8.18 inches by now.

Additionally, the metro area has been able to avoid the hail that’s fallen in places like Longmont, Fort Collins and Greeley.

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Fire consumes main lodge of Estes Park’s Marys Lake Lodge hotel Saturday night

June 24, 2018 - 7:27am

More than 50 firefighters tackled a blaze overnight at Marys Lake Lodge in Estes Park, limiting the spread of the flames to the main lodge.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Investigators were scheduled to arrive at the lodge on Sunday at 7 a.m. Although the fire is out, firefighters are expected to continue putting out hot spots over the next couple of days.

Reports of the fire first came in around 8:10 p.m. Saturday. Firefighters evacuated 230 people from the lodge. There were no major injuries. After putting a significant amount of water of the flames, the fire was declared under control at 1:21 a.m. Sunday.

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Estes Valley Fire Protection District had called for additional back-up, which ranged from Loveland Fire Rescue Authority to the Estes Park Police Department.

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Colorado schools get $400,000 in grant funding for suicide prevention but many say much more is needed

June 24, 2018 - 5:00am

Colorado schools will soon divide $400,000 into small grants to pay for suicide-prevention training for all campus employees, including teachers, front-desk attendants and custodians. The training, supporters say, is designed to bolster the fight against a rising tide of suicides by youths.

But a more comprehensive suicide-prevention measure that backers say would have done more to help troubled teens was nixed by Colorado lawmakers during the 2018 sessions. The proposal was attacked largely over a provision to lower the age from 15 to 12 that children could get therapy without parental consent.

“I just didn’t see any good reason for this bill to be killed, no reason,” said state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Commerce City Democrat who, with state Sen. Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, co-sponsored the failed measure, House Bill 1177. “The argument was that we were taking away parents’ rights and we were breaking down the fiber of the family.

“But we all know kids are the master of disguises, and if we don’t think these kids are hurting, then we are missing the story.”

The school training grants — from $5,000 to $10,000 for each campus — will be available in January and must be used to train all school personnel on the warning signs of impending suicide attempts, diffuse crisis situations and connect troubled people to mental health services.

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The grants were authorized through Senate Bill 272  which was co-sponsored by Republican Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton and Democrat Nancy Todd of Aurora. It got bipartisan support and passed just before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates in Colorado saw a 34.1 percent increase between 1999 and 2016.

In Colorado, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. And it’s mostly because youths today face unprecedented pressures from modern society and social media, Shannon Hawley said.

Hawley, a former gang member who tried to commit suicide by cop in Greeley, began a suicide-prevention group after three Greeley teens killed themselves in a span of a week in March.

“I believe our youth are under so much pressure to try and fit in,” Hawley said. “Always after the latest fashion trying to be like their rich music idol. Trying to be part of something by taking part in a foolish online challenge.”

Hawley said suicide-prevention training should not be limited to teachers and others who deal with particular age groups. “Nor should we put an age requirement on our youth seeking counseling,” Hawley said. “Suicide does not discriminate on age. We have 10- and 11-year-old babies who are taking their own lives.”

The grants will be especially useful in Colorado’s rural school districts, which don’t have ready access to school therapists and counselors, officials say. The suicide rate among rural Coloradans ages 15-19 is double the rate of their peers in the state’s more urban areas.

“I think this will be a huge lift for them, and it will provide resources that otherwise would be lacking,” said Jon Widmier, executive director for student services in the Jefferson County School District.

HB 1177 would have called for suicide-prevention training for a wider group of people who interact with kids, including camp counselors, clergy and recreation-center employees. It also would have created a “youth-friendly, culturally sensitive” website that highlights mental health resources in Colorado in addition to lowering the age of consent to see a therapist on a confidential basis.

But the bill was killed in the Republican-controlled Senate over additional concerns that the measure could lead to violations of federal reporting requirements, Michaelson Jenet said. The measure would have gone toward providing needed help to the youngest students who are thinking about suicide as a solution to their problems,  she said.

“I only wish I could have had the same kind of support offered under this bill,” said Michaelson Jenet, whose son attempted suicide when he was 9. “I couldn’t find the support to help my kid, and I want other kids to have more options”

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment gets $539,000 in state money for suicide prevention for all age groups, as well as $736,000 from a five-year federal grant to reduce youth suicide in eight Colorado counties. Those counties are Delta, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Mesa, Montezuma, Pueblo and Weld.  Attorney General Cynthia Coffman also started a $173,000 effort that will analyze the trends and patterns in youth suicide behavior in four counties with the highest rates of youth suicide: El Paso, La Plata, Mesa and Pueblo.

The school grants are important because they will be seed money for larger efforts aimed at suicide prevention in schools over the next several years, said Sarah Brummett, director of the office of suicide prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Metro-area schools districts, including Jefferson County Public Schools and Denver Public Schools, have their own far-reaching suicide prevention programs. At DPS, the Signs of Suicide curriculum — taught in sixth and ninth grades — focuses on supporting students to identify warning signs of depression and reporting to a trusted adult, say officials.

“We have, fortunately, a little bit stronger safety net in DPS that helps us identify and get help to anyone who needs help,” said Eldridge Greer, associate chief of student equity and opportunity.

He doesn’t know yet if the district will ask for a portion of  $400,000. But, Greer said, the funding would be a key supplement to any suicide-prevention program. “It’s a good start,” he said.

Categories: All Denver News.

NFL Summer Series: Which teams have a true No. 1 tailback?

June 24, 2018 - 5:00am

Editor’s note: One in a four-part summer series.

Is the NFL re-emphasizing the running game?

Last year, nine of the top 10 teams in rushing offenses made the playoffs, including the final four: Jacksonville (first), Philadelphia (third), Minnesota (seventh) and New England (10th).

And in the last three drafts, a tailback has been selected among the top four: Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (fourth in 2016), Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (fourth in 2017) and the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley (second this year). From 2009-15, only one tailback – Cleveland’s Trent Richardson (second in 2012) – was drafted in the top four.

But that doesn’t mean every team is sinking big-time resources (draft or free agent money) into the position.

The Denver Post’s NFL Summer Series kicks off with a look at each team’s tailback situation:


New Orleans: Last year, Mark Ingram was fifth in the league with 1,124 yards rushing and second with 12 rushing touchdowns. And Alvin Kamara rushed for 728 yards and was second among NFL tailbacks with 81 catches and first with 826 yards receiving. Kamara will have to carry the load during Ingram’s four-game suspension to start the year.


Atlanta: The Falcons used a fourth-round pick on Devonta Freeman in 2014 and he made the Pro Bowl in 2015-16 after consecutive years of 11 rushing touchdowns (1,056 and 1,079 yards).

Buffalo: A six-time Pro Bowler, LeSean McCoy eclipsed 10,000 career yards in 2017. McCoy is durable (seven years of at least 15 games), shifty (4.6 yards per carry) and effective in the passing game (441 catches).

Chicago: Jordan Howard, a former fifth round pick, has finished second (1,313 yards) and sixth (1,122) in rushing in his two years. He has a career 4.6-yard per carry average.

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Dallas: Elliott led the NFL in carries (322) and rushing yards (1,631) as a rookie, but missed six games for suspension last year (983 yards). It’s a big year for Elliott, who will have to carry an offense that is without receiver Dez Bryant (released) and tight end Jason Witten (retired).

Jacksonville: Fournette’s per-carry average wasn’t great (3.9), but he reached 1,040 yards in 13 games. The Jaguars led the league in rushing attempts and then they signed left guard Andrew Norwell in free agency to help Fournette.

Kansas City: Kareem Hunt won the league rushing title as a rookie last year (1,327 yards) and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt. The third-round pick also had 53 catches.

Los Angeles Chargers: Melvin Gordon didn’t have much rookie success (no touchdowns in 184 carries), but has developed nicely, rushing for 2,102 yards and 18 touchdowns the last two years.

Los Angeles Rams: The 10th pick in 2015, Todd Gurley has 786 carries for 3,296 yards and 29 touchdowns. An All-Pro selection last year.

Pittsburgh: A three-time Pro Bowler, Le’Veon Bell is the league’s best two-dimensional back. He led the league with 321 carries last year (after skipping training camp) and had a whopping 85 catches. He continues to wait for a long-term deal.

Philadelphia: Some may disagree here, but Jay Ajayi is a No. 1 back. He rushed for 1,272 yards (4.9 average) for Miami in 2016. He gained 873 yards for Miami/Philadelphia last year.


Arizona: David Johnson has No. 1-type qualities, but only one year of No. 1-type production. He was a back-up in 2015, a Pro Bowler in 2016 (1,239 yards rushing/16 touchdowns) and limited to one game last year because of a wrist injury.

Minnesota: A second-round pick in 2017, Dalvin Cook won the Vikings’ starting job and averaged 88.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry before he tore his ACL in Week 4.

New York Giants: New general manager Dave Gettleman passed on a quarterback (Sam Darnold) because he believes Barkley can make an instant impact as a rusher and receiver.


Houston: Lamar Miller has seasons of 268 and 238 carries with the Texans, but only 3.9 yards per carry and eight touchdowns.

Seattle: The Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round. He led FBS last year with 2,027 yards.

Tennessee: Former second-round pick Derrick Henry subbed for DeMarco Murray in 2016-17 and is expected to start this year. The Titans signed Dion Lewis (New England) in free agency to play on third down.


Broncos: Devontae Booker will likely take the first snap of training camp, but third-round pick Royce Freeman could get the Week 1 start. Rookies David Williams and Phillip Lindsay are also in the mix.

Baltimore: Alex Collins averaged 4.6 yards per carry and Buck Allen was at 3.9. The Ravens are expected to use them again as a tandem.

Carolina: Christian McCaffrey had a team-high 80 catches last year and carried 117 times. The Panthers signed C.J. Anderson after he was cut by the Broncos.

Cincinnati: A three-back rotation is a two-back rotation after Jeremy Hill went to New England. Joe Mixon (626 yards) and Giovani Bernard (105 carries) return.

Cleveland: Acquired from San Francisco, Carlos Hyde has gained 988 and 938 yards the last two years and Duke Johnson (74 catches in 2017) and second-round pick Nick Chubb join him to form a rotation.

Detroit: Former second-round pick Ameer Abdullah failed to reach 600 yards in any of his three seasons. Enter second-round rookie Kerryon Johnson (who should start) and veteran LeGarrette Blount (who should be a bruiser).

Green Bay: Coach Mike McCarthy said last week the Packers will be a running back “by committee.” The committee is Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.

Miami: Frank Gore is the fifth-leading rusher of all time (14,026). Kenyan Drake led the league with 444 rushing yards in Weeks 13-17 last year.

New England: The Patriots have had only three individual 1,000-yard seasons since 2005. This year’s depth chart will be rookie Sony Michel and veterans James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden and Mike Gillslee.

New York Jets: Starter Bilal Powell turns 30 in October and newcomer Isaiah Crowell was Cleveland’s starter the last two years.

Oakland: Marshawn Lynch enters his 11th year and Doug Martin his seventh.

San Francisco: The 49ers signed Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $36.9 contract. McKinnon is 5-foot-9. His back-up is Matt Breida (105 carries last year).

Tampa Bay: Second-round pick Ronald Jones should be the starter. Peyton Barber and Charles Sims are strictly role players.

Washington: Second-round pick Derrius Guice could be a steal and Chris Thompson is a third-down back.


Indianapolis: The Colts will lean on Marlon Mack (second year) and rookies Nyheim Hines (fourth round) and Jordan Wilkins (fifth round). Yikes.


June 24: Each team’s tailback situation.

July 1: Expectations for first-round picks.

July 8: Ranking the league’s top cornerback duos.

July 15: Bold prediction for all 32 teams.

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NFL Journal: Finding new naming rights deal complicated for Broncos

June 24, 2018 - 5:00am

The newly-named Broncos Stadium at Mile High is noticeable for the thousands of commuters who drive each day on Interstate 25 because the facility hugs the freeway’s west side.

Also noticeable is the lack of signage attached to the outside of the stadium.

That will change before the Broncos open the season Sept. 9 against Seattle, but the current look is emblematic of the team’s problem. The lack of a naming rights deal has robbed the franchise of millions of dollars that could be invested back into the stadium.

Invesco Field became Sports Authority Field became Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The team said last week it is continuing to search for a naming rights partner. The Broncos assumed the contract in August 2016 and still have no deal.

“That’s not normal,” said Irwin Kishner, a partner and chairman of the Sports Law Group at Herrick, Feinstein LLP. “Most of these naming rights deals are done in a much more condensed period of time.”

Herrick, Feinstein LLC has consulted team owners on stadium construction and naming rights deals in the NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS.

During a phone interview on Friday, Kishner discussed several components of a Broncos naming rights agreement.

The Broncos moved into their current home in September 2001. Since then, 12 NFL stadiums have opened, not including the Los Angeles Chargers’ temporary home. Does the age of the stadium impact the value of the naming rights?

“Sure,” Kishner said. “The most value from a naming rights deal is always associated from the beginning (of the stadium’s life). It loses a little bit of value or luster after the stadium was called something else for a period of years.”

So what could the Broncos command? Sports Authority’s contract with the Broncos in 2011 was for $150 million over 25 years ($6 million per year).

“Would it be unheard of for a team like the Broncos to get somewhere in the $100 million range for (a 10-year contact)? I think that’s totally reasonable,” Kishner said.

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The pool of potential partners for the Broncos to wade through is significant. Twenty-four stadiums currently have a naming rights contract, but only two (the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field) are with companies among the top 20 of this year’s Fortune 500. And the Ford family has a controlling interest in the Lions.

Who would be a fit for the Broncos?

“You’re looking for financial companies – all of the large banks, insurance companies and car manufacturers,” Kishner said. “Those are the ones that usually fit the nicest.”

An additional layer unique to the Broncos is that the “Mile High” label will be attached to the stadium regardless of the corporate sponsor. The Broncos could secure a deal to call it Aetna Field or UPS Stadium and the public will still refer to it as “Mile High.”

“That’s a problem,” Kishner said. “You have to have a very robust strategy to overcome that.”

By announcing a temporary name for the stadium, it seems likely the earliest a new partner would be involved is the 2019 season.

“The fact it’s been going on (for nearly two years) indicates there is some friction between the potential value the Broncos see for the deal verses what the third-party sponsors see,” Kishner said.

Around the league

Top 10 for Miller. Broncos linebacker Von Miller has been named one of the top 10 players on the NFL Network’s top 100 list. The final 10 will be revealed Monday. It will be Miller’s seventh appearance on the list (2012-18) and his third top 10 (ninth in 2013 and second in 2017). The rest of the top 10 in alphabetical order are Pittsburgh tailback Le’Veon Bell, New England quarterback Tom Brady, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and tailback Todd Gurley, Atlanta receiver Julio Jones, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz.

Deploying their personnel. Good stuff from the website Football Outsiders, which released its analysis of how teams varied their defensive packages. The Broncos ranked fifth in base (41 percent of the snaps), last in nickel (five defensive backs – 27 percent) and fifth in dime (six defensive backs – 30 percent). The Broncos were an outlier in how much they used dime – the league average was 13 percent and 11 teams used it on fewer than three percent of the snaps.

Broncos bond. The Broncos’ rookies have been together since early May, staying at the same hotel and practicing and attending community events together. “The bond has been amazing,” linebacker Bradley Chubb said. “When we first got here and got on the bus, nobody said a word. Nobody was talking. Now to see us interacting like we’ve known each other for 10 years, it’s cool to see. A lot of guys are becoming good friends.”

Brady’s blind side. While Brady stayed away from the entire offseason program except for mandatory minicamp, the Patriots started to figure out who will play left tackle. Nate Solder signed with the New York Giants in free agency. The candidates are Trent Brown (ex of San Francisco), LaAdrian Waddle (a fill-in right tackle last year) and first round pick Isaiah Wynn (who might end up starting at left guard).

Recognizing young talent. Last week, put together a team of the best players who will be under 25 years old in Week 1. The Broncos and 16 other teams were not represented. AFC West players recognized were Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill, defensive tackle Chris Jones and kicker Harrison Butker and Los Angeles Chargers guard Dan Feeney and defensive end Joey Bosa. New Orleans led with four players (tailback Alvin Kamara, left tackle Ryan Ramczyk, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams).

Bears offense intriguing. When Chicago visits the Broncos for two practices in mid-August, it will bring an offense that will present a test. Receiver Allen Robinson is coming off an ACL, but has No. 1 potential. Tight end Trey Burton got big money ($18 million guaranteed) to leave Philadelphia and tailback Jordan Howard has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in both of his years. New coach Matt Nagy will call the plays and is tasked with improving an offense that has ranked 23rd, 23rd, 28th and 29th in points the last four years (all last-place NFC North finishes).

Key dates. July 27 – Broncos report to training camp; Sept. 1 (2 p.m.) – Roster must be cut to 53 players; Sept. 2 (11 a.m.) – Practice squad of 10 players can be signed; Sept. 9 – Broncos opener vs. Seattle; Oct. 30 (2 p.m.) – Trade deadline; Jan. 5-6 – Wild Card playoffs; Jan. 12-13 – Divisional playoffs; Jan. 20 – Conference title games; Jan. 26 – Senior Bowl; Jan. 27 – Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.); Feb. 3 – Super Bowl (Atlanta).

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For Denver apartment builders, luxury still king despite demand for workforce units

June 24, 2018 - 5:00am

The Radiant sure draws the eye.

The team behind the lustrously namedluxury apartment building now consuming the 2100 block of Welton Street this week celebrated topping out on its 18th and final floor. The sizable project is expected to begin welcoming the first renters into its 329 units next June, developers say.

A block over, the Alexan Arapahoe Square project is on pace to deliver another 355 luxury apartments to Five Points by February, according to its website.

The two big builds make up a small slice of the apartment market being constructed in the city, and they are part of a trend playing out in Denver and nationally: developers building luxury apartments at a much higher rate than apartments attainable for lower-income earners.

Denver’s seemingly astronomical rent growth since 2000 finally appears to be slowing down. Apartment List tracked a 1 percent year-over-year increase in median one-bedroom rent in the city last month, down from a 7.3 percent jump between May 2015 and May 2014. That is leading some city leaders to wonder when developers will shift their focus from the high-end to creating more moderately priced products.

“I am concerned about an oversupply of luxury,” City Councilwoman Robin Kniech said this week. “I think there is this vague hope out there that if developers overbuild luxury, they will lower prices.I don’t see any evidence that is a likely outcome. You may need to offer more incentives to get folks in, like a month of free rent.”

During a panel held during the National Association of Real Estate Editors annual conference in Las Vegas last week, Suzann Silverman, editorial director of Multi-Housing News, said luxury construction accounts for 90 percent of new apartment building in the U.S. today.

Denver planning officials have issued 74 construction permits for multi-family projects so far in 2018. A Denver Post analysis of the listing and promotional websites for 15 apartment projects approved this year showed seven are being marketed as “luxury” and just one is as “affordable.” Overall, the metro area is expected to see 10,000 to 12,000 new apartments delivered this year, according to the Apartment Association of Metro Denver.

Part of the issue, according to industry veterans, is location.

“In the workforce area, demand is extremely robust. There is a lack of supply,” Robert Hart, CEO of real estate investment company TruAmerica Multifamily, said during the Las Vegas panel discussion. “The problem is all the new supply that’s being built, 85 to 90 percent of it has been built in the CBD — the central business district — and it has been primarily built for the renters by choice.”

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Hart’s company focuses on buying properties that need renovating in what he calls “first ring” cities just outside the urban core. In January, TruAmercia announced it closed on a $126.5 million deal that netted it an apartment community outside Seattle and the 319-unit Montair apartment complex at 8901 Grant St. in Thornton.

The developer of the Radiant does not share the concern that Denver has an overbuilt luxury market. It sees a construction market that is going to slow down in the coming years, providing it with ample opportunities.

Scott Johnson, mountain states division president for Lennar Multifamily Communities, acknowledges that apartment occupancy in Denver dipped slightly early last year, but the city still saw a record number of new units open and a record number of new units absorbed in 2017. With a local housing market that continues to run away from buyers, it’s a good time to keep building apartments for developers who can afford to, he said. Lennar announced this week that it will break ground next year on two 17-story apartment buildings in the Golden Triangle neighborhood, adding another 600 units.

“We don’t see the same supply numbers coming in the next couple years,” Johnson said. “Construction costs have gone up so much relative to rents. I think we’re in a period where we are going to see starts slow down.”

The city is rolling out new tools to combat a lack of affordable rental housing. On Monday, the City Council will hold its first reading of a measure that would put $1.18 million toward the Lower Income Voucher and Equity program. Using a combination of city, employer and nonprofit dollars to subsidize rents, the program will help people at risk of being priced out of Denver move into available apartments volunteered by property owners. Of the 40 properties that offered to participate in the program during its exploratory phase, about half were newer than 5 years old, said Laura Brudzynski, the city’s manager of housing policy and programs.

Kniech said early discussions are being had now about how the city can be ready for the next economic downtown. If the market softens, Denver officials want to be ready with investment dollars that could help partners buy rental properties and ensure affordability long term. She said there is another factor of the economy that could help: If wages grow in proportion to housing costs.

“Our Colorado employers need to respond to the low unemployment and worker shortages and they need to raise wages if they expect to have a workforce that can afford to live here and meet their needs,” she said.

Categories: All Denver News.

Tommy Smith scores in stoppage time, Rapids beat United for the first win since April 14

June 23, 2018 - 8:41pm

COMMERCE CITY — Tommy Smith scored in the seventh minute of stoppage time to give the Colorado Rapids a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United on Saturday night.

The 28-year-old defender has two career MLS goals, both in the last two games.

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Minnesota’s Miguel Ibarra tapped in the rebound of Darwin Quintero’s to open the scoring in the 20th minute. Edgar Castillo tied it in the 50th with a rising blast into the far corner from the edge of the box.

Ibarra ran onto a through ball from Quintero on the right side and tapped a cross to a charging Christian Ramirez for an empty-net finish that put Minnesota (5-9-1) back on top in the 65th minute. But Joe Mason answered in the 74th, slipping behind the defense and chipping a first-timer over the head of goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to make it 2-all.

Ibarra was given a straight red card in the 77th minute for violent conduct.

Colorado (3-9-3), which snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 2-2 tie with Chicago on June 13, won for the first time since April 14.

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Oregon State beats Mississippi State 5-2, plays Arkansas in CWS finals

June 23, 2018 - 8:32pm

OMAHA, Neb. — Kevin Abel and Jake Mulholland combined on a four-hitter, Tyler Malone hit his third home run of the College World Series, and Oregon State survived some ninth-inning drama to beat Mississippi State 5-2 on Saturday night to reach the best-of-three finals against Arkansas.

As they did in 2006, when they won the first of two straight national titles, the Beavers came back from losing their CWS opener to win four straight and make the finals.

Abel allowed three singles, walked three and struck out five in seven innings as Oregon State (53-11-1) held down Mississippi State’s offense for the second straight day. Beavers pitchers gave up five hits in a 12-2 win Friday that forced the Bracket 1 final rematch.

Mulholland pitched a perfect eighth and retired the first two batters in the ninth before running into some trouble. He walked two in a row, Luke Alexander singled in a run and Mulholland plunked pinch hitter Tanner Poole to load the bases for Jordan Westburg.

Westburg, who hit a grand slam against North Carolina two games ago, grounded out to end the game.

Mississippi State (39-29) mostly shut down an Oregon State offense that came into the game batting .377 and averaging 10.8 runs in four games in Omaha.

Five of the Beavers’ eight hits in the game came in succession in a five-run third inning after Bulldogs starter Ethan Small (5-4) got two quick outs. Adley Rutschman and Michael Gretler had RBI singles before Malone’s three-run homer barely cleared the fence in right center.

Malone, who hit five homers in five straight games in mid-April, had no more until his three-homers-in-four-games binge in Omaha.

Oregon State held the Bulldogs scoreless for eight straight innings spanning two games until Rowdey Jordan’s RBI single in the third accounted for the Bulldogs’ lone run.

OSU coach Pat Casey lamented Friday that the Beavers had yet to get a quality start through four CWS games. Bryce Fehmel’s four-inning outing against Washington had been the longest.

Abel (6-1) gave them what could only be called a high-quality start.

He retired the first six batters he faced, striking out three of them, and took a one-hitter into the fifth. A base-running blunder by Jake Mangum got Abel off the hook in the fifth, and an inning-ending double play got him out of trouble in the sixth when the Bulldogs had runners on second and third with one out.

In Abel’s previous CWS appearance, he pitched four innings of one-hit, one-run relief against Washington. In his only start of the postseason, he allowed three hits in eight shutout innings against LSU in the regionals.

The Bulldogs played from behind in four of their eight wins in the NCAA Tournament and had made comebacks in 21 of their 39 wins this season.

There was to be no rally Saturday in what was their sixth elimination game since the regionals started.

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Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal, the Chicago White Sox’s first-round draft pick, was 15 for 15 on stolen bases this season until catcher Dustin Skelton threw him out at second in the seventh inning. Madrigal got a good jump, but Skelton put his throw on a line to second baseman Hunter Stovall, who put the tag on in time on a close play.


Arkansas vs. Oregon State on Monday night in the opener of the best-of-three CWS finals. The Razorbacks are playing for their first national championship and will be appearing in a title game for the second time. They lost to Cal State Fullerton in 1979. Oregon State is in its third finals and going for its third championship.

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U.S. moves 100 coffins to N. Korean border for war remains of American soldiers who have been missing since 1950-53

June 23, 2018 - 8:23pm

SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S. military said it moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to prepare for North Korea’s returning of the remains of American soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War.

U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Col. Chad Carroll also said Saturday that 158 metal transfer cases were sent to a U.S. air base near Seoul, South Korea’s capital, and would be used to send the remains home.

Ahn Young-joon, Associated Press fileFILE- In this May 14, 1999, file photo, U.N. honor guards carry a coffin containing the remains of the American soldiers after it was returned from North Korea at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea. South Korean media reported that the U.S. military plans to send 215 caskets to North Korea through a border village on Saturday, June 23, 2018, so that the North could begin the process of returning the remains of U.S. soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

North Korea agreed to return U.S. war remains during the June 12 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. While the U.S. military preparations suggest that the repatriation of war remains could be imminent, it remains unclear when and how it would occur.

Earlier Saturday, Carroll denied a report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that U.S. military vehicles carrying more than 200 caskets were planning to cross into North Korea on Saturday. He said plans for the repatriation were “still preliminary.”

U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement later in the day that 100 wooden “temporary transit cases” built in Seoul were sent to the Joint Security Area at the border as part of preparations to “receive and transport remains in a dignified manner when we get the call to do so.”

From 1996 to 2005, joint U.S.-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains.

But efforts to recover and return other remains have stalled for more than a decade because of the North’s nuclear weapons development and U.S. claims that the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of former President George W. Bush was not sufficiently guaranteed.

U.S. officials have said earlier that the remains are believed to be some or all of the more than 200 that the North Koreans have had for some time. But the precise number and the identities — including whether they are U.S. or allied service members — won’t be known until the remains are tested.

The transfer of remains is usually done in a somber, formal ceremony, and that is what officials said was being planned.

Richard Downes, executive director of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs, said last week that he had been told the North may have the remains of more than 200 American service members that were likely recovered from land during farming or construction and could be easily returned. But he said the vast majority have yet to be located and retrieved from various cemeteries and battlefields across the countryside.

More than 36,000 U.S. troops died in the conflict, including those listed as missing in action. Close to 7,700 U.S. troops remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, and about 5,300 of those were lost in North Korea.

The last time North Korea turned over remains was in 2007, when Bill Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador and New Mexico governor, secured the return of six sets.

According to Chuck Prichard, spokesman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, once the remains are turned over, they would be sent to one of two Defense Department facilities — Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska — for tests to determine identification.

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Kiszla: It’s only a matter of time before Avs replace Semyon Varlamov with Philipp Grubauer as No. 1 goalie

June 23, 2018 - 7:19pm

Even the winner of the Hart Trophy knows the NHL picked the wrong guy for most valuable player. Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils took home the hardware. But asked who would’ve earned his vote for MVP, Hall picked Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon.

“Thanks, Hallsy,” MacKinnon said.

But, as it turns out, MacKinnon did not go home from the NHL awards empty-handed. The Avalanche got him a parting gift far nicer than any trophy. Colorado now has a brand-new goaltender, fully capable of helping MacKinnon win the Stanley Cup.

Philipp Grubauer was signed Saturday to a three-year contract worth $10 million, barely 24 hours after Colorado obtained him in a trade with Washington at the NHL draft.

“We’re excited to have two No. 1 goalies,” Avs general manager Joe Sakic said.

But make no mistake: Grubauer was acquired to be the team’s No. 1 goalie of the future. And let me add: The sooner the better.

At age 30, Semyon Varlamov is yesterday’s news. Yes, Varlamov was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2014. But in the ensuing years, it seems as if he has spent as much time battling injuries as making saves.

During the season that saw the Capitals win the Stanley Cup, Grubauer led the champs in goals-against average (2.35), save percentage (92.3) and shutouts (three). He was the starter for the team as the playoffs began but was replaced after two games by Braden Holtby, whose stellar play during the postseason made Grubauer expendable.

What MacKinnon needs more than the Hart Trophy is more talent in the Colorado locker room. John Tavares would have been a nice addition, don’t you think? But Grubauer is a nice consolation prize.

Tavares, the grand prize of NHL free agency in 2018, is reportedly set to meet with five teams and listen their sales pitches to leave the New York Islanders, which drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009. Toronto, San Jose, Dallas, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Kings have earned an audience with Tavares, according to a report in The Athletic.

Tavares doesn’t fit with the slow rebuild embraced by the Avs, who have followed Sakic’s patient approach back to respectability. But during his appearance at the NHL awards in Las Vegas, MacKinnon made it clear he wants a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

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“Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later,” MacKinnon told me. I like the impatience. I like the best player on the Avalanche holding his team to the same championship expectations that this city places on the Broncos each and every year.

At the relatively young age of 22, MacKinnon is ready to lead a deep playoff run now. By acquiring Grubauer, the Avalanche is no longer at the mercy of Varlamov’s unreliable health. The move announced a new phase in Colorado’s long climb back to elite status in the league.

Who’s the most valuable pro athlete in Denver? You have four great choices:

Von Miller, Broncos linebacker

Nolan Arenado, Rockies third baseman

MacKinnon, Avalanche center

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets center

I’m voting MacKinnon.

Broncomaniacs will insist it is Miller. He owns a Super Bowl ring. But the NFL is a league ruled by quarterbacks, not linebackers.

There’s not a better glove in baseball than Arenado. And there’s thunder in his bat. But he lacks the power to attract free agents to Denver.

And Jokic makes passing the basketball into an art form. But his personality is more suited to be Robin than Batman. And Jokic has yet to establish himself as an all-star in a star-driven sport.

Which pro athlete in Denver has the best chance to bring the city its next championship?

Again, I vote MacKinnon.

Here’s betting NHL players would love the chance to chase a championship Cup alongside MacKinnon.

In Grubauer, the Avalanche has a sturdy and talented goaltender built for a championship run.  With MacKinnon thirsting for a drink from the Cup, it leaves us hungry for more.

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Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave – and would do it again

June 23, 2018 - 6:04pm

LEXINGTON, Va. – Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening – nearly 200 miles from the White House – when the choice presented itself.

Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned just off Main Street in this small city in the western part of the state.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders had just walked in and sat down, the chef informed her.

“He said the staff is a little concerned. What should we do?” Wilkinson told The Washington Post. “I said I’d be down to see if it’s true.”

It seemed unlikely to her that President Donald Trump’s press secretary should be dining at a 26-seat restaurant in rural Virginia. But then, it was unlikely that her entire staff would have misidentified Sanders, who had arrived last to a table of eight booked under her husband’s name.

As she made the short drive to the Red Hen, Wilkinson knew only this:

She knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.

And she knew – she believed – that Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked in the service of an “inhumane and unethical” administration. That she publicly defended the president’s cruelest policies, and that that could not stand.

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson said. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

When she walked into the restaurant, Wilkinson saw that there had been no mistake. The Red Hen is no bigger than some apartments, and the group table was impossible to miss: Sanders in a black dress, her husband, three or four men and women of roughly similar ages, and an older couple.

“They had cheese boards in front of them,” Wilkinson said. Like any other family. The kitchen was already preparing the party’s main course. Wilkinson interrupted to huddle with her workers.

Several Red Hen employees are gay, she said. They knew Sanders had defended Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from the military. This month, they had all watched her evade questions and defend a Trump policy that caused migrant children to be separated from their parents.

“Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,” Wilkinson told her staff, she said. “They said ‘yes.’ ”

It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served – that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.

All the same, she was tense as she walked up to the press secretary’s chair.

“I said, ‘I’m the owner,’ ” she recalled, ” ‘I’d like you to come out to the patio with me for a word.’ ”

They stepped outside, into another small enclosure, but at least out of the crowded restaurant.

“I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion,” Wilkinson said. “I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.

“I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.’ ”

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press fileIn this June 14, 2018 file photo, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders smiles as she wishes President Donald Trump a happy birthday, during the daily briefing, in the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.

Wilkinson didn’t know how Sanders would react, or whether Trump’s chief spokeswoman had been called out in a restaurant before – as the president’s homeland security secretary had been days earlier.

Sanders’ response was immediate, Wilkinson said: ” ‘That’s fine. I’ll go.’ ”

Sanders went back to the table, picked up her things and walked out. The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said. But they didn’t, so the servers cleared away the cheese plates and glasses.

“They offered to pay,” Wilkinson said. “I said, ‘No. It’s on the house.’ ”

At the end of the shift, Wilkinson said, staff members left the usual overnight note in the kitchen for the morning manager: a problem with the credit card machine. Restock vodka and tequila.

If you’ve ever heard the term “to 86 someone,” it comes from the restaurant industry – code to refuse service, or alternatively to take an item off the menu.

“86 – Sara Huckabee Sanders,” read the note, below the reminder to buy more Pellegrino.

One of the servers photographed the whiteboard before going home Friday. He had posted it to his public Facebook wall by the time Wilkinson woke up Saturday. For all the angst that evening, Wilkinson said, everything had taken place with decorum. She had been polite; Sanders had been polite; the press secretary’s family had been polite as they followed her out the door.

Not so much the rest of the world, as it discovered Red Hen waiter Jaike Foley-Schultz’s Facebook post: “I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner asked her to leave.”

A fountain of alternately celebratory and outraged comments gushed from Foley-Schultz’s Facebook wall into the Red Hen’s social media accounts, then its Yelp review page.

Five stars: “Thank you for refusing to serve a person who lies to the American people for a living.”

One star: “They made some snide remark about a ‘spit souffle’ for the Florida nazi.’ ”

Between the fury and fawning of 2,000 people who almost certainly had not eaten at the restaurant, the Red Hen’s Yelp reviews almost instantly averaged out to two-and-a-half stars. Another Red Hen in the District of Columbia was at pains to make clear that it had no affiliation with Wilkinson’s place.

And that was before Sanders confirmed the story in a Saturday-morning tweet, including the restaurant’s name and location.

“I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” the press secretary wrote. “Her actions say far more about her than about me.”

Wilkinson had no regrets about her decision.

“I would have done the same thing again,” she said “We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”

As she headed out the door to a weekend Main Street festival she had helped organize, she sounded hopeful that the Red Hen could open for business as usual Saturday night. Yes, she had seen calls for #MAGA protests on Facebook. “But this is a small enough town, and we’re known,” she said optimistically. “This is not going to be a giant surprise to anyone.”

The day brought surprises of its own.

By Saturday afternoon, reporters and photographers loitered outside the restaurant, as did people who had wandered over to gawk.

“Boo, Red Hen!” and “Yay, Trump!” were shouted, alternately, from the windows of passing cars. A Lexington resident had brought by a bouquet of flowers and a hand-lettered sign that read, “Democracy requires principled gov’t. Thank you Red Hen!!”

Meanwhile, Stephen Russek of Natural Bridge, Va., told a reporter: “I’m not crazy about everything Donald Trump does, but what they did to that woman in this restaurant is disgraceful.”

Chris Roessler, would-be customer, stood outside in confusion. He and his wife had booked an evening reservation, and just received an email canceling it.

“We would like to avoid exposing our patrons to any potential unpleasantness from outside entities,” Red Hen management had written – around the same time that fans of President Trump were doing their best to troll the restaurant’s phone line with fake reservations.

Unaware of the Sanders incident, Roessler said, he had walked to the restaurant to ask for answers, but no one would open the door.

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Florida attorney general confronted by protesters at Mr. Rogers movie over the Republican’s stance on immigration, health care

June 23, 2018 - 5:28pm

TAMPA, Fla. — Protesters confronted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at a showing of a documentary about children’s TV host Fred Rogers, and they questioned the Republican’s stands on immigration and health care.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Bondi received a police escort Friday when several members of Organize Florida confronted her as she left a Tampa theater after seeing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about Mr. Rogers. The demonstrators questioned Florida joining a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act and Bondi’s general support of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

This is at least the third time a Republican official has been confronted at a public place in recent days over the president’s immigration policy that separated parents entering the country illegally at the Mexican border from their children. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders left restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area after facing friction there.

Bondi protester Maria Jose Chapa said was an impromptu demonstration after someone spotted the attorney general, who has a national following as a contributor on Fox News and as a friend of Trump. Video shows that as Bondi and her companion left the theater surrounded by officers, Chapa followed her yelling.

“What would Mr. Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi!” Chapa hollered. Another person shouted at Bondi, “You’re a horrible person!” Onlookers stared agape as the procession moved past.

Bondi told the paper in a phone interview Saturday that the demonstrators’ actions didn’t comport with the lessons taught by Mr. Rogers.

“We were in a movie about anti-bullying and practicing peace and love and tolerance and accepting of people for their differences,” Bondi said in interview. “That’s what Mr. Rogers is all about. We all believe in free speech, but there’s a big difference there.”

When the Times asked Chapa if the documentary’s star would have handled the situation the same, she replied, “I’m not Mr. Rogers. I don’t have the poise or temperament of Mr. Rogers.”

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told to leave restaurant because she works for President Trump

June 23, 2018 - 5:14pm

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was booted from a Virginia restaurant because she works for President Donald Trump, the latest administration official to experience a brusque reception in a public setting.

Sanders tweeted that she was told by the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, that she had to “leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left.” She said the episode Friday evening said far more about the owner of the restaurant than it did about her.

“I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” Sanders said in the tweet from her official account, which generated 22,000 replies in about an hour.

The restaurant’s co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post that her staff had called her to report Sanders was in the restaurant. She cited several reasons, including the concerns of several restaurant employees who were gay and knew Sanders had defended Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from the military.

“Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,” Wilkinson told her staff, she said. “They said yes.”

Wilkinson said that she talked to Sanders privately and that Sanders’s response was immediate: “That’s fine. I’ll go.”

Employees at the restaurant told The Associated Press that Wilkinson wasn’t available for further comment.

Lexington, located in the Shenandoah Valley and a three-hour drive from the nation’s capital, is politically a spot of blue in a sea of red. It sided with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, by a 2-1 margin. It’s the county seat of Rockbridge County, which went with Trump by a similar margin. And it is home to Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.

Sanders’ treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion with people on both sides weighing in, including her father, Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate.

Daniel Lin, The Associated PressPassersby gather to take photos in front of the Red Hen Restaurant, Saturday, June 23, 2018, in Lexington, Va. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from the Virginia restaurant because she works for President Donald Trump. Sanders said she was told by the owner of The Red Hen that she had to “leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left.”

“Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate,'” Huckabee said in a tweet, quickly generating 2,000 replies in about 30 minutes. “And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds.'”

On Yelp, a responder from Los Angeles wrote: “Don’t eat here if you’re a Republican, wearing a MAGA hat or a patriot.”

But many were also supportive of the restaurant owner’s actions.

“12/10 would recommend. Bonus: this place is run by management who stuck up for their beliefs and who are true Americans. THANK YOU!!!!” said a comment from Commerce City, Colorado.

Tom Lomax, a local business owner, brought flowers to the restaurant Saturday afternoon as a show of support. He called Wilkinson a “force of nature” and “one of the biggest drivers of the downtown.”

“We support our own here, great little community we have,” he said.

Brian Tayback, of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, and Brandon Hintze, of Alexandria, Virginia, walked by the restaurant during a visit. Tayback said he believes the owner made the right decision.

“They’re taking a stand against hate,” Tayback said.

Dave Kurtz, who lives near the Red Hen, came to the restaurant wearing a T-shirt supporting the president that says: “Get on board or get run over.”

“I want to see why they would do that,” Kurtz said, adding he had planned to eat at the restaurant but doubts he will now. “She’s a paying customer. She’s just coming in here to have dinner.”

The separation of families trying to enter the U.S. at the southern border has intensified political differences and passions that were already at elevated levels during the Trump presidency.

Earlier in the week, Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, cut short a working dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington after protesters shouted, “Shame!” until she left. A few days earlier, Trump aide Stephen Miller, a key adviser on immigration, was accosted by someone at a different Mexican restaurant in the city, who called him “a fascist,” according to the New York Post.

The Trumps don’t get out a lot socially in Washington and Trump often dines at BLT Prime in the Trump International Hotel or at Trump properties elsewhere when he does go out. He’s talked about getting out more, but some have questioned whether he would be welcome at some establishments in the city.

Ari Fleischer, who was a press secretary for President George W. Bush, tweeted Saturday: “I guess we’re heading into an America with Democrat-only restaurants, which will lead to Republican-only restaurants. Do the fools who threw Sarah out, and the people who cheer them on, really want us to be that kind of country?”

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Kickin’ it with Kiz: Are Nuggets crazy to think Michael Porter Jr. will ever be more than a pain in the … back?

June 23, 2018 - 4:46pm

The Nuggets spent a lottery pick on Michael Porter Jr., a guy who had to have back surgery as a teenager. No one gets better after back surgery. No one.

Marvin, living in Ostend, Belgium

Kiz: For the story of Porter to have a happy ending, it will require patience by the Nuggets. There’s no reason to rush him on the court. Give Porter a redshirt season, if necessary. Anyone who has dealt with an aching back understands your concern. But Philadelphia waited on center Joel Embiid to get healthy. And that turned out pretty good.

I think the Broncos stadium should be called: Casa Bonita Field at Mile High.

Anthony, Denver

Kiz: Now there’s an inspired idea, especially because we know Casa Bonita is a bulletproof business, unlike previous companies cursed by slapping their name on the stadium. But I do worry: Might the cliff divers pose an accident risk for distracted drivers on Interstate 25?

Taylor Hall of New Jersey beating out Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon for the Hart Trophy was East Coast bias. Unfortunate to see, but that’s the reality.

Christopher, Durango

Kiz: When traffic is at a standstill at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on what old-timers call the Valley Highway, it’s hard for me to believe we live in the lost time zone. Denver can’t play the ignored cowtown card any longer. So while it could’ve made for great clickbait, I didn’t write MacKinnon got jobbed by East Coast bias, because I don’t believe that was the case. If he can make a habit of 100-point seasons, there will not only be a Hart Trophy in MacKinnon’s future, but quite possibly a Stanley Cup, as well.

As I read your column on the Humboldt Broncos it reminded me of the late Dick Connor. He was able to tell a wonderfully human story in the midst of a sporting event. I note you often do the same. Connor was my favorite sportswriter; I miss his caring and humor. Now we have you to remind us of valor and caring. Thank you and keep on keepin’ on.

Patricia, Denver

Kiz: Long before I was employed at The Denver Post, I had the pleasure as a young journalist of sharing dinner with Mr. Connor at a steakhouse in Kansas nearly 40 years ago. At one point during the meal, he asked about my career aspirations. I hemmed, I hawed and sheepishly told Connor the goal was to become a sports columnist in Denver. “Well, I hope you’re not in too much of a hurry,” he joked, “because I like my job.” My career owes much to the generous guidance of Connor, Woody Paige and more sports journalists than I can count.

And today’s parting shot is a master plan for 21st century development in LoDo.

The Monfort family would be wise to give up on the Rockies, demolish Coors Field and build lofts on the site. After more than 25 years, it is reasonable to conclude the Rockies will never be a competitive major-league baseball organization.

Steve, Fort Collins

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Four future DU Pioneers selected in NHL draft

June 23, 2018 - 4:06pm

The Denver Pioneers had four future players selected in Saturday’s NHL draft, including the first two who went consecutively in the fourth round.

It marked the 17th consecutive season DU had at least one NHL draft pick.

Forward Ryan O’Reilly — the highest-rated Texas native in the draft — was taken by Detroit at No. 98 and defenseman Slava Demin went at No. 99 to Vegas. Demin, a California native who played in the junior-A British Columbia Hockey League the last two seasons, has signed with the Pioneers for next season but O’Reilly has deferred his enrollment until 2019-20. O’Reilly will play for the junior-A Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League next season.

Two other 2018 DU signees were drafted. Norway-born center Emilio Pettersen, who played the last two years in the USHL, was selected in the sixth round (167) by Calgary. And forward Brett Stapley of the BCHL went in the seventh round (190) to Montreal.

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Erie native Josiah Slavin, a forward who is the younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, was selected by Chicago in the seventh round (193). Slavin is committed to Colorado College, where his brother played two seasons before turning pro.

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Chambers: Nathan MacKinnon had no coast to lean on in Hart Trophy voting

June 23, 2018 - 3:58pm

Perhaps Nathan MacKinnon didn’t win the Hart Trophy because he was stuck in the middle, geographically speaking.

Among three finalists for the NHL’s top individual award, MacKinnon had Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils on the East Coast and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings on the West Coast.

Hall went on to win the award with 72 first-place votes and 1,262 points. MacKinnon was second with 60 first-place votes and 1,194 points, and Kopitar was a distant third with 11 and 551. Most ballots had Hall and MacKinnon, or MacKinnon and Hall.

The Hart Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, which is made up of 31 chapters — one chapter for each of the NHL’s 31 teams. Eastern teams have far more PHWA members in their chapters — particularly in Toronto, Montreal and New York.

Beginning this year, the PHWA has made its votes public, choosing the transparency route in a near-unanimous vote in January.

Transparency means accountability, and among 164 Hart Trophy ballots, I found only two cases where I questioned what the PHWA voter was thinking.

Steve Zipay of Newsday, which serves the Nassau and Suffolk counties of New York, went with Connor McDavid and Hall as his top two and didn’t even have MacKinnon on his five-player ballot. And Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty, an all-Los Angeles Kings blog, had Kopitar first and MacKinnon fifth. Hall didn’t make Matsuda’s ballot.

Make no mistake, McDavid, along with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Evgeni Malken of the Pittsburgh Penguins, each deserved Hart Trophy consideration. But not including Hall or MacKinnon on a ballot suggests the voter is voting from his or her heart or not doing the homework.

What did my ballot look like? Some can accuse me of being a homer. I had MacKinnon at No. 1, followed by Hall, Kopitar, Giroux and Kucherov.

Given that my top three became the three finalists, I believe I did my homework.

American made. Hockey is Canada’s pastime, but the European influence at the highest level has never been stronger. This weekend’s draft had a strong European flavor. But that doesn’t mean Americans are falling off the landscape. To the contrary, U.S. players and college hockey are climbing to unprecedented heights.

Let’s look at another PHWA vote, the NHL all-rookie team. It was announced Wednesday as part of the NHL awards show in Las Vegas, and it featured four Americans — four of the five forwards or defensemen. And each of those four players played college hockey.

Defensemen Will Butcher played at Denver and Charlie McAvoy at Boston University, and forwards Brock Boeser honed his skills at North Dakota and Clayton Keller at BU. The only non-Americans on the all-rookie team were Canadian center Matthew Barzal and Finnish goalie Juuse Saros.

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In the first round of the NHL draft Friday, seven NCAA players or recruits were selected. That’s down from the record-setting 11 college draftees in 2016, when Arizona’s Auston Matthews went No. 1 to Toronto, but still impressive.

Going seventh to Vancouver on Friday was Florida-born defenseman Quinn Hughes, a sophomore-to-be at Michigan. His younger brother, Jack Hughes, is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2019 draft.

The NHL is what it should be — an international game based in North America with strong U.S. and Canadian footprints.


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Unicorn Festival invites children, adults to kick-start imaginations

June 23, 2018 - 3:45pm

Three-year-old Natalie Sells and her mother, Tania, planned their hair and makeup for almost a month before arriving at Clement Park on Saturday morning near Littleton.

Natalie paired her braid and her bedazzled makeup with a mermaid costume. Tania modeled purple and pink hair and a unicorn jumper. Both completed their looks with matching unicorn horn headbands.

These were just two of many fanciful costumes that brought the second annual Unicorn Festival to life Saturday.

A celebration of imagination and all things mythical, the Unicorn Festival invited children and adults to step out of reality and into fantasy land, if only for a few hours.

Organizers Dana Cain of Dana Cain Events and Michelle Baldwin of Frolic and Vamp started Unicorn Festival in 2017 with hopes of creating “an environment of inspiration, magic and imagination that makes everyone feel great about life and the endless possibilities the world has to offer.”

According to Cain, this year’s festival hosted five times more attractions and activities as last, catering to the young and the young at heart.

Upon arrival, a gigantic pink blow-up unicorn welcomed guests as event organizers directed excited children — and in some cases equally excited adults — toward one of the many attractions laid out across the park.

“I came for me, but I borrowed my friend’s girls to come with me,” said Becky Palmback while waiting in line for the dragon blow-up slide — tiara and multi-colored wig accenting her excitement.

The rest of the crowd showed similar enthusiasm, sporting fairy costumes, knights’ helmets, tutus and fairy wings. One women even adorned a unicorn-themed T-shirt that read, “Being a person is too complicated. Time to be a unicorn.”

Horns were certainly abundant as families spent the afternoon touring the miniature castle and meeting and riding unicorns (that greatly resembled their horse cousins) before stopping by a food truck on their way to peruse the aisles of stalls.

“We’re getting older, but we still like this stuff,” said 10 year-old Josslyn Alcon, dressed to the nines in a homemade tutu.

Wandering from one activity to another, participants never knew who they might encounter. Captain Jack stumbled past stalls of unicorn merchandise as Prince Charming asked where he might find Cinderella. And every so often, one of the many Disney princesses (count them: Anna, Elsa, Moana, Merida, Belle, Repunzel, Snow White, Ariel, Jasmine) would escape into the crowd to chat and take pictures with fans.

With lemonade stands, book stalls and face-painting opportunities throughout the unicorn-mania, the Unicorn Festival was reminiscent of a simpler time, before the digital world saturated children’s entertainment.

“I think children are not children like they used to be,” said grandmother Janie Simmons. “They need a chance like this to use their imagination.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies players from the past return for the 25th anniversary team celebration at Coors Field

June 23, 2018 - 3:33pm

By 10:30 a.m. Saturday, an estimated 4,000 fans were lined up on the warning track at Coors Field, waiting to take selfies with Rockies players, past and present.

The official celebration of the club’s first 25 years drew icons Todd Helton, Larry Walker and Ellis Burks back to Coors, along with pitchers such as Jeff Francis,  Aaron Cook and Huston Street. The alumni turnout and the festive atmosphere left owner Dick Monfort with a big smile.

“It’s great that they want to come back and that they feel a strong tie to Denver and to Colorado,” Monfort said. “It shows that their stay here — in Helton’s case very long, in some cases a little shorter than that — was very meaningful to them. That makes you proud that you did something right along the way.”

Following are some thoughts and memories from players who returned for the 25th anniversary team celebration:

— Helton, on returning to the ballpark where he played 17 big-league seasons:

“It’s great to come back. The Rockies have done a good job with this, getting everybody involved. It’s a little weird coming back, not putting a uniform on or taking the field or taking batting practice. But it’s great to see all of the guys.”

— Walker, on the 1995 season when the Rockies, in just their third year of existence, qualified for the postseason.

“What jumped in my head as the first thing was pouring champagne on each other in ’95. If a player tells you he’s playing the game for a different reason, I’ll fight him. That’s the best feeling there is. Walk-offs, no-hitters, that’s great, but that’s individual.”

— Monfort, on Helton’s future ties to the organization:

“I got a chance to talk to Todd. He sort of wanted his space and his time to decompress from a great career. But now he is fully engaged and wants to be more involved, which is really cool.”

— Monfort, on the response he received from Clint Hurdle, the former Rockies manager, who’s now managing the Pittsburgh Pirates:

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“I got a long letter from Clint. Of course he wasn’t able to make it, but he was just saying how proud he was to have been a part of the organization, and he still has a piece of his heart here. So things like that make you feel good about what you have done.”

— Francis, on the warm reception he received Saturday:

“I’m kind of surprised, but a lot of people remembered me, which is cool. I’m fortunate to have pitched for a team at a time when we did some special things. (Francis was Colorado’s No. 1 starter in the Rockies’ 2007 run to the World Series.)

— Walker, on the stigma against Colorado players who put up big numbers at Coors Field; which could keep him out of the Hall of Fame:

“It’s like people saying, ‘Do you get tired of signing autographs or taking pictures?’ It’s part of the territory. You live with it, deal with it and accept it. I’ll talk about it as best as I can as I stumble to somehow say the right answers.

“As I say in some interviews, I agree with a lot of things they’re saying and I don’t agree with a lot of things they’re saying. I’m on both sides of the fence.”


Starting pitchers
Pedro Astacio
Aaron Cook
Jorge De La Rosa
Jeff Francis
Ubaldo Jiménez

Relief pitchers
Matt Belisle
Brian Fuentes
Huston Street

Dante Bichette
Charlie Blackmon
Ellis Burks
Dexter Fowler
Carlos González
Matt Holliday
Larry Walker

Chris Iannetta
Yorvit Torrealba

First basemen
Todd Helton
Andres Galarraga

Second basemen
DJ LeMahieu
Eric Young Sr.

Third basemen
Nolan Arenado
Vinny Castilla

Troy Tulowitzki
Walt Weiss

Note: Team voted by more than 3,500 fans via

Looking ahead

Marlins LHP Caleb Smith (5-6, 4.03 ERA) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (5-7, 5.20), 1:10 p.m. Sunday, ATTRM; 850 AM

Marquez might be starting to figure out confounding Coors Field, where he is 2-4 with a 7.45 ERA this season. In his last start in LoDo, Marquez picked up the win, pitching six innings, allowing four runs on six hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. He wasn’t dominant, but the right-hander was able to work his way out of trouble. He’s making his third career start against the Marlins, against whom he’s 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA. Smith certainly can punch out hitters. His 87 strikeouts lead all major-league rookies this season and are the most by a rookie left-hander in the first half of a season in Marlins history. He has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last 11 starts, posting a 3.28 ERA and .211 average against during that span. The lefty has a road ERA of 4.89 in eight starts, compared to a 3.13 ERA in seven starts at Marlins Park.
—  Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post

Monday: Off day

Tuesday: Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (5-1, 5.23 ERA) at Giants LHP Derek Holland (5-7, 4.48), 8:15 p.m., ATTRM

Wednesday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (7-6, 3.55) at Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (1-2, 3.20), 8:15 p.m., ATTRM

Thursday: Rockies RHP Jon Gray (7-7, 5.52) at Giants RHP Chris Stratton (8-5, 4.14), 1:45 p.m., ATTRM




Categories: All Denver News.

Bryan Shaw serves up a grand slam in the seventh inning as Rockies’ bullpen struggles continue in loss to Marlins

June 23, 2018 - 3:13pm

Now is the season of Bryan Shaw’s discontent.

The high-priced right-handed reliever, expected to be a keystone in the Rockies’ bullpen, served up a grand slam to Miami’s J.T. Realmuto in the seventh inning of the Marlins’ 6-2 victory Saturday at Coors Field. The loss ended Colorado’s four-game winning streak and dropped it back under .500 with a 38-39 record.

Realmuto’s swing on Shaw’s 2-2, 94 mph cut fastball was the exclamation point on Miami’s five-run inning that turned a pitcher’s duel into an bullpen mess for Colorado. It was the first grand slam Shaw has given up in his career.

“It was a good pitch, up and away. It was where we were trying to go, and Realmuto just hit it,” Shaw said. “He fought off some good pitches. We tried to elevate it. Maybe if we don’t try to elevate it and we throw something different there, there might be a different result.”

Shaw continues to say that he’s not that far away from the pitcher the Rockies need him to be. Asked if his cut fastball is working in Denver’s high altitude, he replied: “Yes.” Asked if the failures  this season are wearing on him, Shaw replied: “No, definitely not my confidence. Like I said, we got the pitch where we wanted to.”

After the game, however, manager Bud Black said a change might be in the offing in regard to when he uses Shaw during a game.

“We have some (relievers) coming back that might potentially be able to give Bryan a little step back,” Black said, referring to the pending return of right-hander Scott Oberg and lefty Mike Dunn, both currently on the disabled list.

Though Shaw has struggled for most of the season, he has really melted down this month, posting an 11.47 ERA in 11 appearances in June. Black said he has seen incremental improvements from Shaw, but so far they have not been enough.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Black said. “There have been some signs (of improvement) along the way, but there have been some setbacks, too, as far as performance.

“Really, it comes down to location, if you really boil it down. The ball has been up when it needs to be down and away to right-handed hitters.”

Black also theorized about why Shaw is struggling: “Whether it’s a combination of some mechanics that we are focusing on; whether it’s mental; whether he’s trying too hard to get this done, like a lot of players do when they come to a new team and they have a new contract and you are trying to impress. You are not quite loose and free. So we might have to take a step back here with Bryan.”

The defeat didn’t rest completely on Shaw’s shoulders. Starter Tyler Anderson, so good for most of the game, gave up three consecutive singles — to Yadiel Rivera, Bryan Holaday and pinch hitter Justin Bour — before Black summoned Shaw.

Starlin Castro hit an infield single to third baseman Nolan Arenado to load the bases. Castro was originally ruled out, but the call was overturned upon replay review. Shaw got Brian Anderson to ground out to second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who threw home to force out Holaday.

But then came Shaw’s fateful, cut fastball that Realmuto lined over the top of out-of-town scoreboard in right field.

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Shaw, who now owns an overall 7.57 ERA, has already served up eight homers this season, tying his career high set previously in both 2015 and 2016. Shaw, who signed a three-year, $27 million free-agent contract to join the Rockies, was lustily booed by many in the crowd when he left the mound.

Colorado’s offense, so hot of late, was cooled off by Marlins starter Trevor Richard, who was charged with one run on three hits and struck out eight in his six innings. All told, the Rockies were limited to four hits.

Gerardo Parra drove in both Colorado runs, scoring Carlos Gonzalez with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to tie the game 1-1, and then launching a solo homer in the seventh, his fourth of the season.

Categories: All Denver News.