Sentinel Blogs

Aaron Cole

Managing Editor for the Aurora Sentinel, An Opinion on Everything

COLE: Not your Fatherland's football game Aaron Cole

COLE: Not your Fatherland’s football game

Near the end of the second half, in the waning minutes of a tie game, a curious voice pipes up over the drone of chatter and forks colliding with knives collecting straggling bits of gravy.

“So what happens now?”

Three voices reflexively answer, albeit slight variants of each other.

“Overtime. Two, 15-minute halves. PK’s after that if no one scores.”

If conventional wisdom dictates that Americans have a limited appetite for soccer, someone forgot to tell everyone at Helga’s German restaurant in Aurora. Granted during a World Cup final, in the middle of a German restaurant, you’re likely to find a few scholars of the sport — probably akin to asking Home Depot shoppers how far apart wall studs should be spaced. But appetites are why most people are here anyway. Potatoes cover the bar. Gravy covers the potatoes and everything else, maybe except for the beer. If watching the World Cup requires nearly three hours of concentration, that easily spans one meal. Helga’s can serve you the caloric equivalent of three, on the same plate.

I don’t get the feeling that Milton Hunholz counts calories in the same way I do. Which is not to say the Aurora man (who is a dead-ringer for actor Bill Murray’s quasi-famous brother Brian) is a big man. The rancher, who lives in Aurora and raises cattle in Watkins on his family farm, says he eats Helga’s food 3-4 times a week and I get the feeling he doesn’t count leftovers.

Hunholz is friends of the family: Helga, her brother and their mother, who died a few years ago. He can remember going to Helga’s many years ago, when it was a Hoffman Heights restaurant that collected native German-speaking Aurorans in the tiny dining room with 12 tables. Back then, Helga’s was a place that German immigrants in Aurora could gather over bowls of goulash. Now, nearly 100 people crowd the restaurant near the Town Center at Aurora transfixed to the television broadcasting Germany vs. Argentina in the world’s most-watched sporting event. Swarm or not, Hunholz says the family atmosphere is the same now as it ever was, evidenced by the regulars that cycle in and come to shake his hand on the way to their seats.

“Doesn’t take long when everyone comes in, has good beer and good food. You get to know everybody,” he says.

For that reason, Hunholz is the best navigator for my three hours of fandom for Die Mannschaft, German beer, German food and the transmogrification of a potato into 12 different foodstuffs.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am personally a fan of Italian soccer. Long ago when I covered sports, I divorced myself for personally rooting for any team because I thought it mattered. Now, as I get older, I understand that my news judgment is neither clouded nor consequential if I “root” for a team in a bar for three hours in a game that has less consequence than a U.N. resolution. The short of the long: No one cares.)

Pointing to the empty hooks above the bar, Hunholz shows me where regulars hang their steins. Considering very few of them are up I’m guessing that it’s mostly a familiar crowd today.

“I know some of these people, not a lot though,” he says.

I stand corrected.

“There’s just a lot of people here,” he replies.

Oh, gotcha.

There’s no referendum on whether soccer can survive in America at Helga’s. Tim Andre, the manager, is equal parts host and cheerleader in a German soccer jersey. Donald Ellis, who lives in Aurora, waxes on whether Germany benefits from taking the game to penalty kicks — the most-fair and least-fair way of deciding a game in all of sports right now. Soccer is alive, it’s way beyond surviving.

Hunholz is more than a casual fan of the game, he knows the intricacies even if he doesn’t know some of the players’ names. When German striker Miroslav Klose, the most prolific goal scorer in World Cup history, exited the game for likely the final time in his career, Hunholz’s big, weathered hands clapped the loudest.

When Manuel Neuer, Germany’s outstanding goalkeeper, sent another goal kick into sub-orbit, Hunholz paid attention: “Maybe the Broncos could sign that guy.”

But as my guide, Hunholz navigated the game, his history and his lifelong connection to Helga’s for 117 minutes, paying close attention to details like what beer I should drink, throughout.

Then, as Germany scored the winning goal, in the 11th hour of the final game, Hunholz stopped being my lone guide and started hosting the group of people who had come to shake his hand earlier.

“So, what now?” I ask.

“We get another round. Want one?”

Next time.

Aaron Cole

CD-6 WATCH: Candidate events open to the public for May 19-27

Representative Mike Coffman, Republican:

None scheduled. Coffman will be appearing at a Veterans parade on Saturday, but it is not an official campaign event. The parade will be in Downtown Denver at Civic Center Park and begins at 11:30 a.m.

Andrew Romanoff, Democrat:

Romanoff is scheduled to speak at Eritrea’s 23rd Independence Day Anniversary, 7 p.m. May 24 at 4610 E. Alameda Ave., Denver.

Aaron Cole

CD6 WATCH: Coffman’s immigration proposal may likely die in House

Aurora Representative Mike Coffman has been hard on the campaign trail talking immigration, but one of the cornerstone positions — a path to citizenship through military service — may be on its last legs this session.

Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor signaled that a similar measure, the ENLIST Act sponsored by California Rep. Jeff Dunham, wouldn’t be included on a routine defense bill.

That means Coffman’s act, the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act, will likely meet a similar fate in Congress this summer, unless a miracle happens. Coffman has been loud in his support of that bill, which offers legal status to children brought to the U.S. by their parents. The comprehensive Senate bill is languishing in the House at the moment even though Obama and the administration have said they’d be willing to compromise on some components of the proposal for weeks now.

Coffman said he believes that Congress can tackle immigration this summer piece by piece, but it appears that conservatives facing a primary challenge won’t have any of it.

It’s possible that Coffman and Dunham’s bill may come up on their own for a vote, but without leadership backing, it’s likely that they’ll fall if they come up.

Coffman, Dunham and Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez have planned a rally on the Capitol steps in D.C. tomorrow.

COLE: Dog and Tancredo in Aurora, a dream matchup Aaron Cole

COLE: Dog and Tancredo in Aurora, a dream matchup

Dog the Bounty Hunter is busy these days. 

When he’s not runnin’ down outlaws with his wife, Beth, he’s stumpin’ for Tancredo in the only Aurora bar fit to handle Dog — The Stampede.

Suggested donation is $100, unless you’re sporting long hair and sunglasses, brother.

Link: Reception with Dog the Bounty Hunter

Aaron Cole

Events this week for Congressional District 6 Candidates

Mike Coffman — Republican

10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17 — One-on-one meetings at Bemis Public Library, 6014 S. Datura St., Littleton. Open to the public. 5 minutes for each meeting.

Andrew Romanoff — Democrat

Public events planned for Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17, but details have not been released yet.

Aaron Cole

COLE: Dear Dad

A letter to my dad on Father’s Day:

You know, your carbonized, barbecued chicken could have put someone’s eyes out this year. If it weren’t for the hideous Tabasco tie that I gave you when I was 13, your weaponized poultry missile would have been the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. Now it’s just a close second.

I don’t mind your constant whistling while you cook either, but could you at least whistle a song from the last 20 years? I think you’re whistling a Bee Gees tune, but it could be Black Sabbath for all I know. And if it is Black Sabbath, that’s totally not cool, Dad. No one thinks you’re hip for that.

The point here isn’t to make you feel bad. I just wanted to talk.

Since last Father’s Day a lot has happened that I have to thank you for. Remember when you told me that when it comes to women, “the best you can hope for is crazy?” Well, you were right. And it also said a lot about your relationships, too. Remember when you told me “things aren’t half as bad as they seem, and the sun always comes up tomorrow.” You were right about that, too. Even your sage, “on vacations: take twice the money and half the clothes” advice paid off for me this year.

You were right so many times, but not as often as you gave yourself credit for. I’m in my 30’s now and I’m beginning to realize that the world is equally hilarious and tragic and completely full of itself. You were all of the above, Dad.

I don’t envy the role of single parent that you played most of my life. I don’t have any children yet, but I’m deathly afraid that if I do have kids, I’ll end up a single dad like you shopping for Batman underwear at Kmart on a Friday night.

You always said your role in life was to raise my brother and me. You were wrong. Your role in life was to grow up yourself, and then to teach us how to be adults.

But you won’t believe how much I love you now for that.

You wouldn’t believe what I’ve accomplished over the last year. You wouldn’t believe how I’ve picked myself back up after falling down, and you wouldn’t believe how much your hometown has changed. (Marijuana is legal now!)

You know what I can’t believe? I can’t believe you’re still gone. It’s been more than four years now since you died. Memories of you are fading faster than snow in the mountains in a hot summer.

There are some things I can’t forget. For instance, prostate cancer started so early for you that when I turned 30 last year, my annual physical should come with parting gifts of a cigarette and a handshake.

I can’t forget your Bee Gees whistle. Or was it Black Sabbath? Probably Fleetwood Mac. I think you had a thing for Stevie Nicks.

I also can’t forget your departure. If you could have seen it, you would agree with me: Patient-assisted suicide is another word for death with dignity.

But I loved your carbonized chicken drumsticks. Wet leather never tasted so good to me than it did with you. Fake smiles when you received terrible gifts were still the best. Your bald head made for an easy target when it came to jokes and bird poo. I’m sure you remember when that happened — both times.

You taught me so much, both by your actions and inactions. Great books have been written with less insight to the human condition than you gave to me before you left.

There are things that I can’t say to you now that I wish I would have when you were alive. Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for your patience dad. Thank you for the most you ever spent on me — your time. Thank you for loving me enough to let me fall flat on my face, then the pats to know that you still love me and everything will be alright tomorrow morning.

You’re still my dad. And that calls for more than one day to celebrate.

Happy Father’s Day.

Aaron Cole is managing editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at or 303-750-7555.

Aaron Cole

COLE: Background check bill underscores failing of legislative process

How does a bill that the president would sign, 80 percent of Americans agreed with and more than 50 percent of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of, die?

A parliamentary procedure called cloture.

The universal background check for gun buyers ate lead thanks to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s agreement (who voted against the bill, by the way) to apply the cloture rule to the bill. Application of that rule would bar any Senate filibuster (a geezer word for “temper tantrum”) but more importantly in this case: it would also bar amendments. You know, like amendments to universal background checks like suspending its effective date, gutting funding or outright porking it to death.

To recap: A law most Americans supported was killed not because it didn’t have enough votes to pass, but rather it didn’t have enough votes to jump over a parliamentary procedure.

At its heart, parliamentary procedure is a mechanism for legislative bodies to rule by majority with respect of the minority. Not the other way around.

Aaron Cole

COLE: Fox News and I agree for the first, and probably only, time

Coming out in favor of reporter shield laws is about as controversial as reaffirming a “pro apple pie” stance. Saying news organizations deserve the right to protect sources isn’t risky at all.

That’s the way it should be. News reporters should be allowed to shield whistleblowers and courageous sources willing to put it all on the line to make the public aware of wrongdoing. Without shield laws, Enron might still be in business (probably not) and Nixon might be on Mount Rushmore (again, probably not).

Right now, in a courtroom in Centennial a judge and reporter are going over those very shield laws all over again.

Holmes judge Carlos Samour and Fox News reporter Jana Winter might be drawing their lines in the sand. Samour might ask Winter to reveal the source who told her what was allegedly in the notebook James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist. Winters might tell Samour to fly a kite. And she might go to jail because of it.

To be clear, I stand with Winters on her right to withhold the name of her “law enforcement” source. I don’t know the methods she used to dig out that source — and after having a front row seat to the national media circus called CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — I’m not sure I want to know anyway. Her story that Holmes may have included disturbing images in his notebook in no way has tainted any jury, anywhere, any time. There’s very little doubt Holmes murdered 12 people and injured dozens more, the only question is what kind of mental state he was in before that time. Reporting that Holmes mailed a school notebook doesn’t change the case one iota.

But this is an important routine to revisit every now and again. Reporters need reminders that “anonymous sources” don’t apply to merely gossip. There are real consequences to keeping quiet about who said what, when and where. If a source is facing jail time — or worse — for opening their mouth, reporters must be willing to face the same and respect their bravery. That kind of source is worth protecting because it underscores a very important tenet of our democracy:

The public has a right to know.

Aaron Cole

COLE: Dear Obama and Romney, I’m not listening anymore

Dear Presidential Candidates,

As an officially unaffiliated voter in Arapahoe County, Colo. with a household income that’s slightly on the wrong side of average for the nation, I think you’ve been talking to me. I hear I’m in your wheelhouse because I’m looking for a president that’ll give Americans a better fiscal foothold and ensure equal rights for every biped with a pulse and self-aware thoughts. Also, according to your staffers, I’m white and 30, which means I have a high likelihood to vote on a regular basis — but I don’t like to see things that way.

I’m bringing a thirst for a better balance sheet and more equal rights for all. In exchange, I’m willing to pay what I owe in taxes and listen to people I don’t agree with. In the past, I’ve voted for Republicans (fiscally irresistible), Democrats (Gore, maybe) and Ralph Nader. The last one was a phase in college, and I lived in Utah anyway.

As an officially unaffiliated voter in Arapahoe County, Colo. with two eyes I’ve also noticed your campaign ads running on every TV channel, website and running-horse Kinescope in a 20-mile radius. I think I even saw an attack ad on the back of my Apple Jacks this morning.

Here’s the rub, fellas: I know you’re talking to me, I’m just not listening anymore.

When you burn the bridge of credibility, it takes a long time to build it back.

Barry (you send me e-mails using my first name, and we’ve been to the same events a few times, so we’re like best friends and stuff):

Remember the first time we started talking? You said lots of things about closing Gitmo, not compromising even if it meant you’d be a one-term guy, and reigning in a financial regulation system that’s on shakier footing than a blind-drunk Wallenda brother. Now your guys are running an ad that all-but says “Romney killed my wife?” What happened?

You want me to listen? Tell me how I’m paying into a retirement system that’ll have something left when I retire — hopefully before “Terminator”-type end days. Tell me how you plan to get weirdos from Arizona to Vermont to work together instead of yelling like Nancy Grace?

Oh yeah, and considering my proximity to the place where 12 people died (about a block or so), I’d like to hear how you plan on preventing people from raining bullets down on each other in horrific ways in the future.

Until then, no more one-on-one conversations on TV. I’m not giving you more of my money until you tell me how you and every other candidate will stop spending unlimited amounts of other people’s money.

(And quit suggesting yourself to me on my Facebook. That’s for looking at pictures of exes and groaning at stupid e-cards, buddy.)


Man, remember when we had the same jacket on at the same time? Remember how embarrassing that was? No? It was in Salt Lake City in 2002. You were handing coats out like cookie samples at the grocery store and I gobbled one up. You wore it because you ran the Olympic games, and I wore it because I was a lousy college kid who played Playstation through most of the month of February.

Anyway, I’m not listening to you talk about health care anymore. I know some chronically sick poor folks that need help 24/7, and I’d cut them a check personally if I could. I don’t expect business to solve health care problems because they’re businesses. I expect humans to solve health care problems because we’re human. The first rule of business is to stay profitable; the first rule of being human is to stay alive.

Also, I’m not listening to you tell me what I should be doing with my money either. Just like I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, you don’t know what it’s like to be middle class. I wasn’t born that way and neither were you.

(And I’m not downloading your app. An app that tells me who your VP pick first is about as useful as an app that tells me when you have a bowel movement first. I really don’t care.)

Want me to listen? Answer me when I ask you about treating everyone fairly under the law— and I mean everyone, and about moving jobs from places like Punjab back to places like Pittsburgh.

You’re telling me that Obama and his folks are free-riding mooches? C’mon man, we wore purple together. I can’t take anything you say seriously after seeing you in a coat like that.

As an officially unaffiliated voter in Arapahoe County, Colo. I’m staying officially unaffiliated until I hear talk worth listening to.

(cc: Ann Romney’s cookies and Michelle Obama’s garden)

Reach managing editor Aaron Cole at or at 303-750-7555

Aaron Cole

COLE: Southern fried CEOs and politics

see-ee-oohz R stoopid.

Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy doesn’t only serve a lot of fried chicken, he also shared the mental capacity of one when he got on a radio show broadcasting from the middle of nowhere and spewed politics instead of Chick-fil-A sauce.

This, of course, should surprise no one.

That’s because considering the average age, income level, ethnicity and social circles of most Fortune 500 CEOs, it’s a reasonable guess that Cathy isn’t alone among his peers when it comes to his political views. He wouldn’t be the first powerful CEO of a multi-billion dollar business to come out and say something stupid, nor will he be the last. (See Welch, Jack vs. women).

Until the composition of C-suite executives looks more like America and less like the member’s list at Augusta, viewpoints like Cathay’s will be common — whether spoken or unspoken.

But if there’s a race to the bottom when it comes to collective intelligence, politicians take the tape — by a nose. A recent wave of councils, mayors and city sanitation workers have taken to the airwaves to denounce Chick-fil-A and halfheartedly ask them to leave their town and come back when they’ve had a chance to think about things.

Mayors of Boston and San Francisco, councils in Philadelphia and others have said to Cathy that his buttery buns, fried chicken and pickles won’t be welcome unless he changes his mind. That’s the wrong move.

If politicians were in charge of dictating which businesses were welcome based on the actions of their CEOs, we probably couldn’t get much in the way of food, drinks, cars, services, shopping, tires, radios … you can see where I’m going with this. Instead, moves like the Jim Henson company’s and others are the appropriate response: Don’t like it, don’t play with them.

We can’t legislate taste or intelligence. We can only say, “This is how the world works now. Learn to be tolerant or we’ll leave you behind.”

In other words: “Ketchup.”