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U.S. Supreme Court rules online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax

June 21, 2018 - 9:17am

WASHINGTON — States will be able to force shoppers to pay sales tax when they make online purchases under a Supreme Court decision Thursday that will leave shoppers with lighter wallets but is a big win for states.

More than 40 states had asked the high court to overrule two, decades-old Supreme Court decisions that they said cost them billions of dollars in lost revenue annually. The decisions made it more difficult for states to collect sales tax on certain online purchases.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to overturn those decisions in a 5-4 ruling. The cases the court overturned said that if a business was shipping a customer’s purchase to a state where the business didn’t have a physical presence such as a warehouse or office, the business didn’t have to collect the state’s sales tax. Customers were generally responsible for paying the sales tax to the state themselves if they weren’t charged it, but most didn’t realize they owed it and few paid.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the previous decisions were flawed.

“Each year the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the States. These critiques underscore that the physical presence rule, both as first formulated and as applied today, is an incorrect interpretation of the Commerce Clause,” he wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

In addition to being a win for states, the ruling is also a win for large retailers, who argued the physical presence rule was unfair. Large retailers including Apple, Macy’s, Target and Walmart, which have brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, already generally collect sales tax from their customers who buy online. That’s because they typically have a physical store in whatever state the purchase is being shipped to. Amazon.com, with its network of warehouses, also collects sales tax in every state that charges it, though third party sellers who use the site to sell goods don’t have to.

But sellers that only have a physical presence in a single state or a few states have been able to avoid charging customers sales tax when they shipped to addresses outside those states. Online sellers that haven’t been charging sales tax on goods shipped to every state range from jewelry website Blue Nile to pet products site Chewy.com to clothing retailer L.L. Bean. Sellers who use eBay and Etsy, which provide platforms for smaller sellers, also haven’t been collecting sales tax nationwide.

Under the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, states can pass laws requiring sellers without a physical presence in the state to collect the state’s sales tax from customers and send it to the state.

The National Retail Federation trade group, said in a statement that the court’s decision was a “major victory” but the group said federal legislation is necessary to spell out details on how sales tax collection will take place, rather than leaving it to each of the states to interpret the court’s decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts and three of his colleagues would have kept the court’s previous decisions in place. Roberts wrote that Congress, not the court, should change the rules if necessary.

“Any alteration to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress,” Roberts wrote in a dissent joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

The case the court ruled in has to do with a law passed by South Dakota in 2016. South Dakota’s governor has said his state has been losing out on an estimated $50 million a year in sales tax that doesn’t get collected by out-of-state sellers. Lawmakers in the state, which has no income tax, passed a law designed to directly challenge the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision. The law requires out-of-state sellers who do more than $100,000 of business in the state or more than 200 transactions annually with state residents to collect sales tax and turn it over to the state.

South Dakota wanted out-of-state retailers to begin collecting the tax and sued several of them: Overstock.com, electronics retailer Newegg and home goods company Wayfair. The state conceded in court, however, that it could only win by persuading the Supreme Court to do away with its physical presence rule. After the decision was announced, shares in Wayfair and Overstock both fell, with Wayfair down more than 3 percent and Overstock down more than 2 percent.

The Trump administration had urged the justices to side with South Dakota.

The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair, 17-494.

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Meet the Pueblo Owlz. Minor League Baseball team owner to move club to Colorado.

June 21, 2018 - 8:55am

PUEBLO — A Minor League Baseball team is moving to Colorado from Utah.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports the owner of Utah’s Orem Owlz announced Wednesday that he will move his team to Pueblo. The team is an advanced-rookie affiliate with the Los Angeles Angels.

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Jeff Katofsky says the team will be renamed the Pueblo Owlz and debut in June 2020.

Katofsky says his team’s lease in Utah was up and he saw an opportunity to start a youth program in Pueblo. He wasn’t taking his team anywhere without the youth program aspect of Pueblo County’s Youth Entertainment and Sports project.

The plan includes construction of a $25 million multi-purpose stadium and six new baseball fields at the Runyon Sports Complex. Details on the stadium’s location are not been finalized.

The project also calls for the construction of three hotels.

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Denver Broncos sign rookie Bradley Chubb to four-year contract

June 21, 2018 - 8:45am

The Broncos signed first-round outside linebacker Bradley Chubb to a four-year contract Thursday.

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Chubb’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, tweeted at 10:15 a.m. that the deal was signed.

Chubb will be the third top-10 pick to sign, joining Indianapolis guard Quenton Nelson (No. 6) and Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen (No. 10). Of the Broncos’ 10 draft picks, only third-round tailback Royce Freeman remains unsigned.

Per the NFL’s contract slotting system, Chubb’s four-year contract is expected to be worth $27.5 million, including a $18.1 million signing bonus.

Chubb began the offseason program as the second-team strong-side linebacker and first-unit defensive end in the nickel package. But Chubb was elevated to full-time starter recently when Shane Ray injured his wrist and had surgery.

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IRS claims owners of Fort Collins international aluminum company hid millions in Scotland, Switzerland

June 21, 2018 - 8:42am

Federal attorneys have sued the owners of a Fort Collins international aluminum conglomerate claiming they hid more than $3 million of assets in banks in Scotland and Switzerland to avoid paying taxes.

U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer sued Stephen Thomas Brown Sr., 82, seeking $1.74 million in back taxes and penalties. Troyer’s office also sued Stephen Thomas Brown Jr., 60, and his stepmother, Margie Garrigues Brown, 68, in separate lawsuits seeking $218,397 in unpaid taxes and interest from each of them.

The federal Foreign Bank Account Report statute requires citizens to report assets kept in foreign banks outside the U.S. to the IRS.

Stephen Brown Sr. incorporated an aluminum company called Matrix Investment Corporation in Fort Collins in 1982. Matrix extracts, processes and sells aluminum products to retailers. According to online business analysts, Matrix wholesales T-squares, triangular drafting scales, graphic tools and calibrated triangles. Matrix has annual sales of $4.2 million.

Matrix is the parent company of several subsidiaries called Esteban Cafe in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala, the lawsuit says.

Stephen Brown Jr. owns 43 percent of the business. He and his father incorporated Beeston Limited in the Isle of Man in 2003. In late 2004, Stephen Brown Jr. deposited $2 million in the Bank of Scotland, court records say.

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The Browns would incorporate other businesses including Bayer Limited and Rushdene in 2005. They purportedly sold Rushdene on July 29, 2005, for $8 million, the lawsuit says. Rushdene hired the Browns as independent contractors. In 2008, the Browns sent two invoices totaling $600,000 on behalf of Matrix, the lawsuit says.

But a year after the sale of Rushdene, the business opened a bank account at Union Bank of Switzerland, (UBS), in Zurich, Switzerland, in the names of Stephen Brown Jr., Stephen Brown Sr. and Margie Brown, the lawsuit says. Another account for Beeston was set up at UBS. The accounts for Beeston and Rushdene exceeded $3.7 million in 2008 and $3.1 million in 2009, the lawsuit says.

“Mr. Brown Jr. intentionally failed to disclose to his federal income tax return preparer the existence of the Rushdene and Beeston accounts, his beneficial
interest therein, his effective control over transactions therein,” the lawsuit says.

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Colorado Classic announces men’s teams for this summer’s tour

June 21, 2018 - 8:03am

Four UCI World Tour teams are among the 15 men’s teams that will compete in the Colorado Classic bike tour Aug. 16-19, including the team whose roster includes Boulder’s Taylor Phinney and Golden’s Alex Howes.

Phinney and Howes ride for EF Education First-Drapac, which will be joined in Colorado by UCI World Tour teams Trek-Segafredo, Mitchelton-Scott and Team LottoNL-Jumbo. That doesn’t necessarily mean Phinney and Howes will race here, though. Rosters will be announced later this summer. Phinney is on his team’s provisional roster for the Tour de France, which begins July 7.

In addition to the World Tour teams, five UCI Pro Continental teams are coming, including Hagens Berman Axeon, Holowesko/Citadel, the Israeli Cycling Academy, UnitedHealthcare and Rally Cycling. Four UCI Contintental teams — Aevolo, Elevate-KHS, Jelly Belly, Silber Pro Cycling and the 303 Project — round out the field along with Team Rwanda Cycling.

“We are excited to have such a competitive field — including four World Tour teams — for the second annual Colorado Classic,” said David Koff, chief executive of RPM Events Group, said in a news release. “With increased demand for teams from a crowded international race calendar, our ability to attract high-caliber teams is a true testament to Colorado’s attraction as a world class cycling destination.”

The women’s lineup will be announced later.

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Philadelphia Phillies fan injured by flying hot dog launched by Phanatic

June 21, 2018 - 7:48am

PHILADELPHIA — It was a flying frankfurter and not a foul ball that left a baseball fan with a black eye in Philadelphia.

Kathy McVay says she was at Monday night’s Phillies game when the team’s mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, rolled out his hot dog launcher. McVay was sitting near home plate and, she says, all of a sudden a hot dog wrapped in duct tape struck her in the face.

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McVay says she is suffering from a shoulder injury, so she was unable to swat the hot dog away.

She left the game to get checked out and was diagnosed with a small hematoma.

She told WPVI-TV she doesn’t plan legal action.

The Phillies apologized to McVay on Tuesday and the team has offered her tickets to any game.

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XXXTentacion’s death: Suspect arrested in shooting of slain rapper

June 21, 2018 - 7:28am

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A suspect has been charged in the shooting death of rising rap star XXXTentacion, authorities in Florida said Thursday.

Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, of Pompano Beach was arrested shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said in a news release sent Thursday morning. Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, 20, who went by the stage name pronounced “Ex Ex Ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,” was gunned down Monday as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership near Fort Lauderdale where he was planning to make a purchase.

Authorities said the rapper was ambushed by two suspects. His attorney, David Bogenschutz, said Tuesday that investigators told him XXXTentacion had visited a bank shortly before the shooting and possibly withdrew cash to buy a motorcycle at Riva Motorsports in Deerfield Beach.

He was exiting the dealership in his luxury BMW electric car when he was shot.

Williams is charged with first-degree murder without premeditation, a probation violation and for not having a valid driver’s license. He was being held without bond in the Broward County Jail on Thursday.

Court records show Williams has been charged previously with several felonies, including grand theft auto, domestic violence, cocaine possession and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. It does not appear, however, that he has ever done prison time for these charges and some of them were dropped. Williams does not appear in the Florida Department of Corrections offender database.

An attorney for Williams isn’t listed on jail records.

No further details were immediately available.

Associated Press writer Curt Anderson contributed to this report from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Airlines ask U.S. not to fly detained immigrant children on their flights

June 21, 2018 - 7:23am

By Justin BachmanBloomberg

American Airlines and United Continental asked the U.S. government not to fly immigrant children separated from their families on their aircraft as President Donald Trump said he was abandoning his “zero tolerance” border-enforcement policy.

In joining critics of the U.S. detention of the youngsters, the carriers highlighted a central mystery in the political and human-rights crisis: Federal officials weren’t saying how the children were being ferried from near the U.S.-Mexico border to a network of facilities in 17 states.

“Based on our serious concerns about this policy and how it’s in deep conflict with our company’s values, we have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents,” United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz said Wednesday in an emailed statement. Southwest Airlines issued a similar statement.

Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines said they wouldn’t knowingly transport migrant children away from their families. Delta Air Lines applauded Trump’s order to end the separations, calling them “disheartening.”

Airlines said, however, that they didn’t know if the government was transporting immigrant children on their flights. Most major airlines have contracts to transport federal employees, but that doesn’t mean they know who’s being flown on any particular flight.

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“These airlines clearly do not understand our immigration laws and the long-standing devastating loopholes that have caused the crisis at our southern border,” Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said via Twitter.

It’s “unfortunate” that the airlines “no longer want to partner with the brave men and women of DHS,” he wrote. The department didn’t respond to a question asking how the detained children are transported.

The conflict came as Trump signed an executive order to prevent children from being separated from their families when the government detains immigrants at the border.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CFA said it was asking airlines how its members will be notified if separated children are on flights and for guidance on how to respond in such situations. The union, the largest for U.S. flight attendants, said it “condemns any action to purposefully separate children from their parents.”

The policy of separating children from their families when they’re arrested for illegally crossing the border drew fierce criticism around the world. Pope Francis condemned the family separation policy as “contrary to our Catholic values.” British Prime Minister Theresa May called it “deeply disturbing” and “wrong.”

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Australia gets crucial draw with Denmark at FIFA World Cup 2018

June 21, 2018 - 7:14am

SAMARA, Russia — Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick gave Australia a 1-1 draw against Denmark on Thursday and new life at the World Cup.

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Christian Eriksen scored in the opening minutes for Denmark, which has gone unbeaten in 17 straight international matches. But Jussuf Poulsen’s handball after a video review set up Jedinak’s opportunity in the 38th minute.

Going into the tournament, No. 36 Australia was the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12.

With a loss to France in the opener, a defeat Thursday would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance to the next stage. Denmark, meanwhile, won its first match against Peru.

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Bear destroys Subaru in Steamboat

June 21, 2018 - 7:07am
Matt Stensland, Steamboat TodayA bear broke into a Subaru Outback in the Tree Haus neighborhood just outside Steamboat Springs on Sunday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Residents are being reminded to lock their car doors after a black bear broke into a Subaru Outback and destroyed it.

“It’s the worst one we’ve ever seen,” said Custom Color owner Dave Mihaich, who, over the years, has done work on cars that were damaged by bears.

Mihaich said this is the first car he has seen this year with bear damage. “The stink in there alone is ‘wow,'” Mihaich said. “It’s not even drivable. It’s a mess.”

He estimated the damage at nearly $17,000, which totals the car. The insurance company will likely put the car out for salvage.

It is not unheard of for a black bear to break into a car in search of food in Steamboat, especially a Subaru. Bears are able to slip their paws behind the Subaru handles to open the doors. In this case, the only food-like item in the vehicle was a container of sugar-free mints.

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Last year a bear ripped the bumper off a doughnut delivery vehicle in Steamboat. There weren’t any doughnuts in the Ford Focus at the time, but the smell of the baked goods proved too tantalizing for the bear.

Read the full story on SteamboatToday.com.

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Gold medalist Red Gerard nominated for “Best Male Olympian” ESPY award, voting open online

June 21, 2018 - 7:06am

Four months after his scintillating Olympic gold medal slopestyle run, Silverthorne teen snowboarding sensation Red Gerard is still receiving plaudits for his performance at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

On Wednesday, ESPN announced that the soon-to-be 18-year-old Gerard is nominated for the “Best Male Olympian” ESPY award.

Gerard is nominated along with his fellow American gold medalists, including halfpipe snowboarding legend Shaun White and two-time Olympic freeski halfpipe gold medalist David Wise.

Voting for all ESPY awards is now open at ESPYS.com and will remain open through the ESPN live broadcast of the show on Wednesday, July 18, at 6 p.m. MST. The show will be hosted by Danica Patrick and will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

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Gerard rose to sudden stardom internationally back in February when he became the first Olympic gold medalist for the United States at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Gerard won the gold by piecing together a creative and nearly-flawless run through Bokwang Phoenix Park’s video game-like slopestyle course, defeating silver medalist Max Parrot and bronze medalist Mark McMorris, both of Canada. And Gerard’s gold medal-winning run through the course came on his third and final attempt after failing to register a strong run on his first two attempts down the course. Gerard scored a 87.16 on that final run, which was cemented with four rotations on his final jump — a triple cork 1440.

Read the full story at The Summit Daily.

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The Spot newsletter: The final sprint to next week’s primary election, Denver Post governor’s race debates, an immigration uproar and much more

June 21, 2018 - 6:39am

Welcome back to The Spot, where The Denver Post’s politics team captures what’s happening this week — from the Colorado legislature to Denver city hall, with a stop through the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Sign up for The Spot newsletter for a weekly rundown of Colorado politics.

We are just days away from this year’s primary elections, and it feels a bit like the world is about to implode.

Maybe that’s just because I’m bleary-eyed from our two nights of governor’s race debates earlier this week, or maybe it’s the mountain of campaign news that keeps growing by the minute. That towering peak comes despite what’s looking to be a low turnout for the June 26 contests (there’s still time to vote!).

Beyond the campaign craziness, Denver and Aurora could soon be a lot quieter as the airport train’s horns days are now numbered, Denverites will likely have an easier time getting tipsy at the city’s parks in the not-so-distant future and those Lime scooters are going bye-bye (for now).

The Trump administration’s (disappearing?) policy of separating immigrants crossing into the U.S. illegally from their children created a uproar in Colorado across the political spectrumfrom our congressional delegation to the GOP candidates for governor.

A lot more has happened, but you’re just going to have to read the awesome newsletter below to find out about it.

Fresh news: President Donald Trump has chosen Colorado’s next U.S. attorney, and it’s Republican Denver attorney Jason Dunn. What will that mean for marijuana and immigration enforcement?

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostFrom right to left Donna Lynne, Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston and Jared Polis during a Democratic party governor’s race debate at the University of Denver on Monday, June 18, 2018. ROLL CALL COLORADO: THE STATEHOUSE & BEYOND Helen Richardson, Denver Post fileJared Polis, at 25, on the campaign trail as he ran for the State Board of Education. Denver Post/Denver 7 governor’s race debates

The Denver Post’s politics team joined forced with Denver7 to host gubernatorial debates earlier this week in what represented the candidates’ final face-off ahead of next week’s primary election. You can watch the debates/read our recaps below. (Here’s who is running for governor.)

  • The Republicans running for governor made it clear they are big fans of Donald Trump — but not necessarily all of his policies and actions.

DENVER & THE SUBURBS
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Jury rules for ski resort in Vail avalanche death

June 21, 2018 - 6:31am
Courtesy photoA family supplied photograph of Taft Conlin, who died January 22nd, 2012 in an in-bounds avalanche on the Prima Cornice run at the Vail Resort.

EAGLE — A six-person jury ruled Wednesday, that Vail Resorts had closed the upper Prima Cornice run on Vail Mountain’s front side before an in-bounds avalanche killed 13-year-old Taft Conlin on Jan. 22, 2012.

Taft’s parents, Dr. Louise Ingalls and Dr. Stephen Conlin, had sued the ski company for negligence, saying the company did not close the run properly and violated Colorado’s Skier Safety Act.

Doug Lovell, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, praised the verdict while expressing sadness for Taft’s family and friends.

“Vail Resorts agrees with the ruling today by jurors of the Eagle County District Court and believes this was a thoughtful and well-reasoned decision, consistent with Colorado law. Nonetheless, we are also aware of how difficult the trial has been for everyone involved, and we remain deeply saddened by the tragic events of Jan. 22, 2012, and for the family and friends of Taft Conlin,” Lovell said in a statement.

Ingalls said the parents wanted to make skiing safer. “That’s been our goal since starting this six years ago,” she said.

She suggested skiers take avalanche classes and carry gear. The same day Taft died, an in-bounds avalanche killed Christopher Norris at Winter Park ski area.

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The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that under Colorado’s Skier Safety Act, in-bounds avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing. That narrowed this case from wrongful death to claiming Vail Resorts was negligent when ski patrollers closed Prima Cornice’s upper gate, but not the lower gate.

Read the full story on VailDaily.com.

 

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How software and algorithms might ease Colorado traffic along U.S. 36 and I-25 toll lanes

June 21, 2018 - 6:00am

Toll lanes along U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder and a nearby segment of Interstate 25 will get a high-tech upgrade starting this fall as part of a test to more effectively relieve traffic tie-ups and provide more reliable travel times for motorists.

If it works in those heavily traveled stretches of highway, so-called dynamic tolling that sets prices based on traffic volume and speed could be rolled out to various other highway corridors in Colorado where similar toll lanes are currently being built or are in the planning stages, such as the Central 70 project in Globeville, the Gap project on I-25 south of Castle Rock and the soon-to-be expanded C-470 in Douglas County.

“This is the most technologically advanced way to respond to what is going on out there on the road,” said David Spector, director of the Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise, a division of Colorado Department of Transportation and the state’s tolling authority. “If the goal is actually managing congestion, the best way to do that is responding to traffic volume.”

This U.S. Department of Transportation map shows where the dynamic toll lanes along U.S. 36 and Interstate 25 are planned.

On Wednesday, the CDOT tolling authority board voted to begin a trial run of new roadway technology to monitor road conditions on U.S. 36 and a small portion of I-25 in downtown Denver starting this fall, with the hopes that it will get a permanent nod by 2020.

Dynamic tolling, which will be used alongside free general-purpose lanes, employs sensors and other measuring devices to gauge how much traffic is on the road at any given time and at what speed it is moving. If the system detects a slowdown in the managed lane, tolls go up to dissuade drivers from making the situation worse. When the managed lanes are moving freely, tolls decrease.

Drivers are alerted to the price of using the managed lane by overhead signs before they enter the lane.

Advocates say it’s a more precise congestion-management approach than what is in place now in the managed lanes between Denver and Boulder, where toll rates are set according to the time of day (rush hour versus off-peak travel periods, for example). They say rates people pay under the new system will be similar for the most part to what drivers pay now, with the current cap of $15.76 on a one-way trip for those using transponders, and $23.64 for those charged by license plate number, remaining in effect.

Thad Noll, a board member of CDOT’s tolling authority, said dynamic tolling is no different than the demand-based way many business sectors, including airlines and hotels, set fares or rates.

“This is a new thing in the transportation world,” he said of CDOT’s foray into the technology. “But I think this is a growing pain we’ll get through.”

CDOT executive director Michael Lewis said dynamic tolling is a more accurate way of measuring traffic conditions and responding in a way that helps alleviate lane crowding, something that will become even more critical as the state continues to grow.

“If you use fixed pricing, you can’t adjust for real-time conditions,” he said Wednesday. “What this is about is squeezing out the best reliability on these corridors that we can.”

The I-70 Mountain Express Lane through Idaho Springs uses a form of dynamic tolling, Spector said, but the changes in toll rates in that corridor are made manually by state transportation employees as they observe traffic building from a control center. True dynamic tolling, he said, is automated and uses software and algorithms to more precisely anticipate traffic patterns as they unfold.

In the U.S. 36 and I-25 corridor between Boulder and Denver, concessionaire Plenary Roads Denver, which operates and maintains the highway under a public-private partnership arrangement with CDOT, will be installing radar devices and trip travel indicators and will use existing tolling equipment to measure traffic volume and speeds on the roadway.

Both U.S. 36 and I-25 have free general purpose lanes alongside the managed lanes for those drivers not willing to pay to use the road. But reliability in the general purpose lanes cannot be controlled nearly as easily as traffic flow in the toll lanes because there is no cost of entry.

Vehicles with three or more occupants can use managed lanes in Colorado for free.

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Nick Wood, assistant research engineer with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, said dynamic pricing in toll lanes is becoming more common throughout the United States, with systems already in place in Florida, Texas and Virginia.

“You can more nimbly respond to congestion with dynamic tolling,” he said. “Otherwise, you are more wedded to a fixed schedule.”

Capping the toll in Colorado will probably come as a relief for price-sensitive motorists. And CDOT is probably not looking for the bad headlines that hit the Virginia Department of Transportation late last year after it launched its dynamic tolling system on Interstate 66 outside of Washington, D.C., with no cap. Tolls escalated to as high as $40 for a one-way trip as congestion mounted. David Caudill, division administrator for tolling operations at VDOT, said tolls still go that high when traffic gets bad.

“If people really have to get somewhere, that’s going to weigh into their decision to pay,” he said.

The proof of dynamic tolling’s positive impact is in the data, Caudill said. According to a report published by VDOT in April, travel speeds on I-66 averaged 51.3 mph during morning commutes compared with 46.7 mph a year earlier. And afternoon commutes improved from an average of 47.9 mph to 55 mph under dynamic tolling.

Meanwhile, speeds and times of travel on parallel arterial roadways near I-66 weren’t negatively affected under the new system.

On Wednesday, tolling authority board member Rocky Scott asked Christian Guevara, Plenary’s vice president of operations, the question that many had on their minds about dynamic tolling: “So there will be more congestion if we don’t do this?”

“Yes,” Guevara replied.

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Denver officials, business leaders assess Brighton Boulevard project before opening

June 21, 2018 - 6:00am

When Harold Hill opened his farm-machinery business at 3100 Brighton Blvd. in the late 1940s, the street was a dusty, industrial strip populated with warehouses, a foundry and little else.

For decades afterward, the road went largely unchanged. As recently as 2016, Brighton was a two-lane street with no curbs or drainage infrastructure and less than a mile of sidewalks, barely a step above a gravel road in places.

At 2:30 p.m. Thursday, a who’s who of Denver officials will gather on the boulevard to celebrate the near-completion of a total overhaul of the roadway that kicked off in October 2016. The two-phase, $41 million project, expected to be 100 percent done in the spring, is expanding Brighton by a lane in each direction between 29th and 44th streets. It has added traffic signals, connected sidewalks and built raised, protected bike lanes on both sides of the street.

There is still concrete to be poured to complete the sidewalk and bike connections, public works officials say, but the city will cut the ribbon for Phase 1 anyway. From 4 to 7 p.m., once-desolate Brighton will host DJs, street art, food trucks and a scavenger hunt. It has gone from ramshackle to rowdy, from dusty industrial roadway to lifeline of the city’s thriving River North district.

“It was the ugliest road in Denver and it wasn’t working for us,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said this week. His office set the project in motion in late 2014 when it committed $47 million in the city’s 2015 budget to improve north Denver’s fast-changing neighborhoods, including $25.8 million toward the roughly 1.5-mile stretch of Brighton through RiNo. The project is the first domino to fall on a laundry list of neighborhood projects that includes improvements at the National Western Center and in neighborhoods soon to be battered by the Interstate 70 widening project.

“We knew this would give the city a chance to deploy some of its values around multimodal transportation,” Hancock said. “This was going to be probably the first place where we could develop a multimodal road from start to finish.”

For Rick Hill, whose Do-It-Ur-Self Plumbing & Heating Supply business has now taken over for his grandfather’s machinery dealership at 3100 Brighton, the transformation has been something to behold.

“It hasn’t been easy, but if you look at the improvements, this has been worth the wait,” Hill said last week in the still-dirt parking lot of his showroom and supply warehouse. “A year from now, everybody should be happy.”

Hill marvels not only at the public improvements — underground utilities and state-of-the-art, eco-friendly storm drainage — but all the private investment that has come to Brighton in the past handful of years. His business sits across the street from the 274-unit, $17.5 million apartment building approved for construction in 2015. 

“It’s incredible the money that has been laid down here,” he said. “This is one huge craps table.”

Since the middle of 2015, the city has permitted more than $55.8 million in commercial construction on Brighton between 30th and 38th streets alone, according to the planning department. The avalanche of private dollars fits nicely with the mayor’s hopes for the area.

“We kind of sensed that if we began to invest in the area, it would trigger a snowball effect of private investment,” Hancock said. “I could not be more pleased with what it has triggered in terms of commercial investment and interest in the area.”

Jamie Giellis, president of nonprofit neighborhood advocacy organization the RiNo Arts District, believes total investment along the roadway is much higher. She estimates that since funding was announced for the road project, at least $850 million in private projects have been built on Brighton. Giellis’ organization, through its tax-generating general improvement district, is committing more than $3 million to trees, natural grasses, lighting, benches and other street-scaping features that will be added to the Brighton corridor over the next 30 to 60 days, she said.

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Father and son developers Mickey and Kyle Zeppelin say the city didn’t turn its gaze toward the area now known as River North, until private-property owners started making a stink about the infrastructure there and RiNo Arts District formed and started attracting visitors in 2005. Mickey Zeppelin bought an eight-acre, former cab company hub just off Brighton on the west side of the South Platte River in 2000 and said he immediately began lobbying the city to do something about the state of the arterial street. In the years since, the Zeppelin family has been part of a grassroots neighborhood group they say pushed hard for bike and pedestrian features on the road.

The city created its River North Plan, its first neighborhood vision document in 2003. Top city planner Caryn Champine said that process was undertaken because the city “saw an opportunity for a new neighborhood right at the gateway to the city,” and wanted to  “reinforce the idea of creating a unique identity” for the area.

In the years since the city plan was first drafted, Zeppelin Development company has turned its eight acres into the 28-acre mixed-use Taxi development and invested heavily along Brighton Boulevard. Opening in 2013, the Source market hall was the first business of its kind in Denver, and brought droves of new visitors to Brighton with its mix of dining, retail and services in one wide-open space. Next month, the Zeppelins expect to open the Source Hotel, an eight-story, 100-room boutique that will bring hospitality to the Brighton corridor for the first time and doubles down on the success of its connected predecessor, adding 13 new market hall stalls.

“It’s a real main street and not merely thoroughfare to get to downtown,” Mickey Zeppelin said. “The metamorphosis isn’t just curb and gutter and a nice street, but really a place where people can walk and is really about community.”

Comida, one of the Source’s first and best-loved tenants, saw its business fall by $800,000 from October 2016 to last October, according to owner Rayme Rossello. She said the decline has forced her to cut staff, burn through her savings and borrow money from friends. Patience from the Source’s ownership group may be the only thing that has kept her in business.

“We used to do 500 customers on Saturdays, and now we’re lucky to do 200 or 225,” she said.

Not every business could weather the bottlenecks and shifting traffic patterns. Rebel Restaurant, tucked in a low-slung building at 3763 Wynkoop St., a block from the intersection of Brighton and 38th Street, has announced it will close in the coming months.

Owner and chef Dan Lasiy doesn’t lay the blame entirely on the roadwork. His restaurant served unique fare like pig heads and chicken hearts, used recycled dishes, was housed in a former biker bar and lacked big-dollar backing. Still, when the water is abruptly shut off at 11 p.m. on a night you’re supposed to be open until 2 a.m. — as Lasiy said happened one evening during construction — it doesn’t help. The Brighton project was one challenge too many.

“They show you pictures, renderings of what they want it to be, but you don’t know until you’re in the thick of it what this entire redevelopment is going to entail,” Liasy said. “I think people started to get frustrated with the amount of traffic down there and kind avoided the neighborhood altogether.”

Of course, now that the work is done many feel the neighborhood’s door will be flung wide open. Rick Hill projects his property, “the best corner on Brighton,” will have a new owner in 10 years, part of his retirement plan.

Josh Peebles, president of the RiNo branch of Collegiate Peaks Bank, predicts that the influx of bigger name companies into the neighborhood, such as Boa Technology which recently moved into a building on the Taxi campus, will accelerate with Brighton now nearly done. Collegiate Peaks has financed more than $100 million in projects in RiNo, Peebles said. After previously keeping at office in the Source, it opened a standalone building at 3655 Brighton Blvd. last month.

“Without the public improvements, from my point of view, it kind of kept some of the larger people out of the neighborhood a little bit,” Peebles said. “People want amenities no matter where they are. That’s why you see people building in downtown Denver and Cherry Creek. And River North has those amenities. They were just kind of hard to get to before.”

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No charges after stun gun used on suspect who later died

June 21, 2018 - 5:52am

PUEBLO — Prosecutors say police in southern Colorado did nothing wrong when they used a stun gun to subdue a man who later died.

The Chieftain reports officers were called Dec. 10 after 26-year-old Emanuel Miera was seen walking back and forth across Interstate 25 in north Pueblo. Police say he ignored their orders to get out of the road and then resisted arrest, prompting them to use a stun gun.

Miera’s lips started to turn blue, and he died at a nearby hospital.

An autopsy concluded that he died of combined drug toxicity that was aggravated by physical exertion and heart problems. His death has been ruled an accident.

___

Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com

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3 reasons why Denver canceled bid to host 2020 Democratic National Convention

June 21, 2018 - 5:00am

WASHINGTON — Denver was in the running to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but city and business leaders pulled the plug on the bid this week after they learned that the dates targeted for the affair would conflict with prior plans — including an event for a Fortune 15 company.

Had Denver decided to move forward, the city would have been on a shortlist of finalists, including Houston, Miami Beach and Milwaukee. And Colorado’s capital could have made a compelling case, as Denver hosted the same event in 2008 that saw the nomination of Barack Obama for president.

But Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made the call Monday to revoke the application after the tourism sector told him the July 13-16 dates picked by the DNC for the 2020 convention wouldn’t work — a timeline that city officials said was announced after Denver submitted its 1,000-plus page bid.

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“There are major commitments that cannot be moved without significant impact,” said Amber Miller, a city spokeswoman.

Those include three pre-planned events that are worth an estimated $45 million to Denver, said Richard Scharf, the president and CEO of Visit Denver, a tourism trade association group.

Scharf wouldn’t reveal specifics — citing a concern that publicity would damage business relationships — but he noted they included a Fortune 15 company, a Fortune 200 company and a group that “controls hundreds of millions of dollars of business travel.”

All three, he added, are repeat customers.

“If you kick them out of your city once, they are not going to forget that,” he said.

Even so, Scharf said the decision wasn’t easy.

“You can imagine the disappointment,” he said.

A key factor was space.

Scharf pointed out that the DNC was asking for 15,000 hotel rooms a night for the July 13-16 dates — a challenge because “June and July are our two busiest months of the year.”

The 2008 convention was held in late August and Denver was looking to host the 2020 event in mid-August.

Scharf said there was concern too that preparing the Pepsi Center for the Democratic National Convention could come in conflict with the possibility of a deep 2020 playoff run by the Denver Nuggets, which finished 46-36 this year and missed the postseason.

Asked about the other potential host cities with NBA teams, he said they could “backup options” that “we might not.”

The 2008 Democratic National Convention churned tens of millions of dollars through Colorado’s economy.

One analysis found that it brought an estimated 50,000 people to Denver, which helped generate a “$266.1 million regional economic benefit to Metro Denver, of which $153.9 million occurred within the City and County of Denver.”

For this and other reasons, civic leaders — especially Democrats — were excited about the possibility of the city hosting another convention.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, was one of several officials to register support.

“With a thriving economy, engaged citizenry and a great quality of life, Colorado is a perfect location for the Democratic Party,” he wrote in a letter backing the bid. “In 2008, Denver hosted the political convention of the century with a promise of hope and change in the election of the first black President of the United States.”

Not that there wasn’t controversy.

A lawsuit filed against the city for mass arrests during the convention took more than 1,100 days to settle.

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Denver Sports Omelette: Tim Connelly has landed some gems in the NBA draft over the years

June 21, 2018 - 5:00am

“With the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the Denver Nuggets select …”

We’ll finally be able to finish that statement Thursday night. At least, if Denver stays at that spot in the first round.

Remember what happened last year? The Nuggets picked Donovan Mitchell at No. 13 for Utah, then shipped the future Rookie of the Year contender to their division rival in exchange for Trey Lyles (who was a key reserve for Denver last season, particularly while Paul Millsap was out with a torn wrist ligament) and the 24th pick that became Tyler Lydon.

But this front office led by Tim Connelly has hit on some gems in the draft. In 2014, it made a trade with Chicago to land Gary Harris (and Jusuf Nurkic), then took star Nikola Jokic in the second round. It used its lottery pick on Jamal Murray in 2016.

The other notable whiff? Taking Emmanuel Mudiay seventh overall in 2015.

Connelly said during his pre-draft media availability that having an established core now makes personnel decision-making clearer. The Nuggets could use help in on the wing or in the backcourt, with starting small forward Wilson Chandler having until June 29 to exercise his player option for next season and versatile swingman Will Barton and veteran backup point guard Devin Harris both entering unrestricted free agency. They could also trade the pick in a package to unload the hefty salaries of Kenneth Faried or Darrell Arthur, two little-used forwards entering the final years of their contracts.

The Nuggets believe they have the foundation in place to snap their playoff drought. The roster sharpening begins Thursday night.

“We don’t want to put too much responsibility or expectations on a rookie, especially given our roster as it is,” Connelly said. “But we are trying to find a guy that we can continue to build with, a guy that fits our culture, a guy that could be another long-term piece.”

Gina Mizell, The Denver Post

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Scoreboard

MLB: Rockies 10, Mets 8
Full story | Box score

World Cup: Portugal 1, Morocco 0
Full story

World Cup: Uruguay 1, Saudi Arabia 0
Full story

World Cup: Spain 1, Iran 0
Full story

Must-Read AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostBroncos stadium. Denver Broncos get temporary name change to their football stadium

The Metropolitan Football Stadium District approved the Broncos’ request on Wednesday to temporarily rename their home as Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Read more…

John Locher, The Associated PressNathan MacKinnon. Kiszla: Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t win MVP. No big deal. Stanley Cup is trophy he really wants.

The Stanley Cup, however, is the trophy MacKinnon really wants. “That’s what we all play for,” said MacKinnon, before walking out into the neon glare of the Vegas strip. “And hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.” Read more…

Andy Cross, Denver Post fileTim Connelly Why drafting in middle of first round a tricky spot for Denver Nuggets

Recent reports and speculation suggest Denver could be shopping the No. 14 pick in order to move up, down or out of the first round. Read more…

 

Quick Hits

+ Vader dies at 63: Former WWE pro wrestler and Colorado Buffaloes football player passes away.

+ Journal: Bryan Shaw insists his troubles are fixable and Rockies manager Bud Black agrees

+ Denver Broncos 2018 training camp schedule announced

+ Former National League umpire Dutch Rennert dies at 88

+ Denver Nuggets’ Juancho Hernangomez named to Spanish national team roster

+ NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. throws out first pitch at Rockies game

Muhammad Ali’s Michigan home on the market for $2.9 million

+ If you don’t act now, you could miss the best fishing of the summer

Denver’s Alterra Mountain Co. to buy Utah’s Solitude Mountain Resort

The “Holy Grail” of baseball cards is coming to History Colorado Center

By The Numbers

50

You’ll want to know whether the hype on Luka Doncic is real and why Mikal Bridges and Zhaire Smith might be the draft’s two biggest sleepers. We’ve got you covered with a primer of the draft’s 50 top prospects. Read more…

Parting Shot Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press fileBurger King Whopper meal. Burger King says sorry for Russian World Cup pregnancy ad

Burger King says it’s sorry for offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who get pregnant from World Cup players. Read more…

Get in Touch

If you see something that’s cause for question or have a comment, thought or suggestion, email me at dboniface@denverpost.com or tweet me @danielboniface.

Categories: All Denver News.

Former Fed official says nation needs to remember lessons of last economic crisis

June 21, 2018 - 5:00am

Thomas Hoenig, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, took heat for arguing against easy monetary policy during the economic recovery that followed the financial crisis of 2008.

“I voted against the consensus several times and was not appreciated for it. It was not fun at all. It was gut-wrenching. But I was glad I did it,” Hoenig said at a forum Wednesday afternoon at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

In 2010, Hoenig argued that sustaining ultra-low interest rates would create a host of new problems, some of which are now starting to manifest. They include a surge in corporate borrowing, a lack of adequate savings and a big escalation in asset values.

In places like Denver, that run up in asset prices has left homes unattainable for many families.

Beyond the short-term shifts in rates and Fed policy pronouncements, Hoenig told his audience of mostly college students and faculty to also pay attention to deeper currents that are shaping the economy.

“It is important to think about more than what next month’s interest rate move will be. There are profound things affecting the U.S. and global economies as we speak,” said Hoenig.

Chief among those is an aging population, which has contributed to a halving in the nation’s rate of population growth.

Slower population growth means slower economic growth, which leaves a thinner cushion for policy mistakes, Hoenig said.

If things go right, Hoenig predicts the U.S. economy can expect to grow at an annual rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent in the years ahead. But any reduction in that rate, carried across a long period of time, will cut into the standard of living of Americans and their ability to accumulate wealth.

Hoenig oversaw the Kansas City Fed, whose territory includes Colorado, for two decades before facing mandatory retirement in 2011. He joined the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as vice chairman in 2012 and left earlier this year.

Whether the country has accumulated too much debt is a question up for debate. But he said the U.S. shouldn’t take for granted that the rest of the world will keep buying the notes and bonds it issues to fund deficit spending.

“Too much debt is debt that you can’t pay back,” Hoenig quipped.

The deficits now accumulating will be paid back via higher taxes later, or if the country continues to issue money, in the taxing effects of higher inflation.

“You are going to be taxed,” he told his audience.

As interest rates rise, that will lift the cost of the deficit and squeeze out other spending priorities, such as higher education, and hurt the nation’s competitive position.

When asked about the financial crisis of 2008, which he attributes in part to loose monetary policy that allowed for a speculative bubble, Hoenig said the issue isn’t that the country and policymakers didn’t learn important lessons. The problem is that people have already started to forget the lessons learned, he said.

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What a relief! Rockies’ bullpen holds off Mets for 10-8 victory

June 20, 2018 - 9:21pm

For what seemed like an eternity, there had been no relief in sight for the Rockies. But there certainly was Wednesday night in their 10-8 victory over the Mets Coors Field.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the overworked scoreboard, but Colorado’s bullpen saved a wild game in front of a boisterous crowd of 38,685. A corps of five relievers shut down New York from the last out of the fifth inning through the ninth, bringing some semblance of sanity to a game that featured 25 hits and 14 walks — nine of them by Rockies pitchers.

“That’s how you win games,” manager Bud Black said. “In this day and age, you need a bullpen to do what ours did tonight. From the sixth on,  we put up zeroes. That’s the expectation, and that’s their expectation. So it was good to see.”

It helped, of course, that Nolan Arenado, Ryan McMahon and Charlie Blackmon all mashed homers for Colorado. Arenado’s solo shot came in the first off Mets starter Seth Lugo, and Charlie Blackmon’s solo homer — a majestic rainbow to right field — arrived in the sixth. Sandwiched in between was rookie Ryan McMahon’s pinch-hit three run homer in the fifth that touched down in the Rockies’ bullpen beyond right field. It was McMahon’s first homer at Coors Field and Colorado’s second pinch-hit homer of the season, the other coming from David Dahl on May 29 vs. San Francisco.

Boxscore

“It’s been a long time coming,” McMahon said. “It obviously felt really good to come through for the guys tonight. I was just happy I could contribute tonight and happy that we got the W. And it felt really good to do it here for the first time.”

Right-hander Bryan Shaw began Colorado’s rescue operation by inducing a two-out, bases-loaded groundout by Todd Frazier to put an end to the Mets’ four-run inning. Had Shaw given it up like he’s so often done this season, the Rockies would have been in deep trouble. But Shaw did the job and ended up getting credit for the win.

Asked if it was important to know that Black trusted him in that situation, Shaw replied, “Absolutely. I know  Buddy has said this, too, that we need just that one little thing to go my way. And we got in the situation today where we got the groundball where we needed it. It was right to a fielder this time, not just out of somebody’s reach.”

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Following up Shaw, Harrison Musgrave, Jake McGee, Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis shut the door on the Mets. Davis notched his 21st save of the season and the 100th of his career.

Musgrave’s sixth inning was “a little dicey,” to use Black’s description. The Mets loaded the bases on a double by Dominic Smith and walks by Devin Mesoraco and Jose Reyes. Musgrave got out of the jam with help from Arenado, who pulled off a sweet double play on pinch hitter Kevin Plawecki’s grounder.

Rockies starter Chad Bettis struggled from the outset in an abbreviated outing that lasted just 4 ⅔ innings but gobbled up 97 pitches. The Mets scored three runs in the first, the big hit a two-run double by Mesoraco. Bettis’ woes out of the gate this season are reflected in his 8.75 ERA in the first inning.

“I think it’s happenstance, honestly,” Bettis said. “I look at that first inning tonight and I thought I threw quality pitches. It wasn’t up-middle, or top-of-the-zone middle. I was down in the zone, but it was just one of those things.”

By the end of his short night’s work, Bettis had been charged like a high-interest credit card:  eight runs on nine hits with five walks (one intentional). Some sobering numbers reflect Bettis’ mounting struggles. He’s winless at Coors Field with an 8.75 ERA in seven stars. On the road, he’s an all-star, going 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA.

“Not great command all game,” Black said of Bettis. “Chad shouldn’t be working deep counts. I think he’s a strike-thrower. That’s his trademark — throwing strikes and commanding the baseball. It’s just been a little bit off the last four or five starts.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rockies have allowed eight or more runs in each of their last nine home games, tied for the longest such streak in big-league history. Nonetheless, they have won two of the first three games vs. the Mets and look to clinch the series on Thursday afternoon.

Categories: All Denver News.