Sentinel Blogs

Aaron Cole

Managing Editor for the Aurora Sentinel, An Opinion on Everything

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.”

Anyone brave enough to say mental illness doesn’t effect everyone now?

There’s no question that the alleged gunman who killed 12 and injured 58 more was severely, very mentally ill. Stockpiling weapons, ammunition and the creation of a circus-like madhouse of booby traps and incendiary devices isn’t “crazy,” it’s mentally ill. The question now is what are we going to do to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

One of the less-reported provisions in the often-hammered Affordable Care Act is that in addition to access to health insurance, everyone needs to have access to affordable mental health care. If anyone disagrees now with the importance of mental health care, and that it should be accessible to everyone all the time, you’re one of the few now.

That’s because we all can see now the hurt, shock and horror that one very sick individual can impose on a town of more than 300,000 people. Denying the right to affordable mental health care doesn’t cut it anymore, and ensuring that people vaccinate themselves against deadly infectious diseases  should be mentioned in the same breath as ensuring that people have a professional to talk to when they’re feeling depressed. Both diseases have very severe consequences for the rest of us now.

Similarly, dismissing the shyness and social discomfort of a few people we talk to everyday won’t do. We all know why it’s important to speak up now. Hundreds of people have had their lives changed forever because too many people perhaps dismissed the actions of a single person as just being “weird.”

We owe it now to each other to talk about mental illness and depression. Depression happens to everyone. Some illnesses, such as schizophrenia, don’t manifest themselves until our early 20s. Others strike much later in life. We need to make sure that anyone who needs help can walk into any hospital in the U.S. and ask for mental care as if their arm was broken.

It’s sad to think that so many Aurora families now are missing pieces because of one very mentally ill man. Demystifying mental illness and removing the social taboo from talking about it may go a long way in helping families in the future.

Its tough enough showing how accessible health care to all people is important for society as a whole, but we should all clearly see now how mental health care is just as important.

And everyone should have it.

Reach Managing Editor Aaron Cole at or at 303-750-7555.

I’ve gotten a lot of calls from media worldwide are asking the same question over and over today: “What’s Aurora like?”

As someone who grew up in this suburb — the last stop east before Kansas City and little brother to Denver to the west — it’s an easy question to answer, this is what Aurora is like:

It’s a city of more than 300,000 people who likely would give everything they had to prevent what happened last night.

It’s a city that has more sunny days than Miami beach but would love to get rid of the black cloud hanging over the city right now.

It’s a city that hears the constant joke, “Well, it is Aurora,” but stopped laughing today.

It’s a city that more character than anywhere else I’ve ever lived, and still has unbelievable flaws.

It’s a city full of common sense, but struggles with senselessness.

It’s a blue-collar city that has done tragedy before and can’t believe it has to do it again.

Aurora isn’t like anywhere else I’ve ever been. That’s why I choose to be here, over and over again.


The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is the kind of car you buy when you’re a 25 year old who carries more mountain bikes than responsibility, and your idea of a vacation is turning on the air conditioning in your apartment in July. “Adventure” might not be its middle name — it’s “XV,” the letters, not 15 — but the Crosstrek certainly sounds like an running shoe and requires just as much agility to pronounce it.

From here on out, we’ll just call it the Crosstrek and make it easy on ourselves.

Yes, I know it looks like a taller Impreza, and according to its skeleton, it mostly is. The Crosstrek, however, is two inches wider (track), three inches higher, four inches taller and seats five adults. The idea for the Crosstrek is similar to the idea for the Outback Sport that was discontinued in 2011. According to Subaru spokespeople, the nameplate wasn’t discontinued due to flagging sales, rather it was changed to avoid any confusion with the bigger Legacy-based Outback.

And it shows. Considering that the Outback is getting bigger and more expensive, a natural niche for a less expensive, outdoorsy-type vehicle came along in Subaru’s lineup.

Consider this: The Crosstrek’s ground clearance is 8.7 inches, higher than a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Land Rover LR2 and the distance I can jump.

Along with having a prodigious stance, the Crosstrek also features a higher spring rate, increased damping, strengthened steel, bigger brakes and bigger cooling hosiery to cope with the inevitable trail you will climb in the taller Impreza. Missing from that roster, though, is a beefier engine to help you climb those trails. The Crosstrek features the same 2.0-liter, horizontal four-cylinder engine found in the Impreza.

Subaru made waves when it announced 18 months ago that its newer edition of the Impreza wouldn’t emulate the current trend toward increasing horsepower in the rest of the automotive industry. Instead, they’d retreat from the gaudy horsepower figures that the rest of the sedan market seems to be so infatuated with.

Here are the Crosstrek’s figures: 148 horsepower, 145 ft.-lbs. of torque and 3,150 lbs. of curb weight. Subaru gleefully announced that the new Impreza shed 150 lbs. over the last generation, but the Crosstrek found it. Acceleration happened at a leisurely pace at sea level and, considering that the engine doesn’t benefit from forced induction, some of that horsepower will likely be sapped in mountain states like ours.

That’s not to say that the Crosstrek suffers from “the itis” in everyday driving. Rather, the Crosstrek’s impressive fuel economy figures may be put to the test when it comes to driving in and around foothills.

And speaking of those horsepower figures, the 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway come into play quite quickly. That’s because among the Crosstrek bests all of its chief competition (the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman and Hyundai Tuscon) by at least 3 mpg. Two of those three are turbocharged, and the last, the Hyundai, sells out faster than Justin Beiber concerts.

Therefore, the Crosstrek is built to occupy a sweet spot for Subaru: not too big, not too fast and not too expensive. Starting in at a five-spot under $22,000, the Crosstrek is probably the most affordable all-wheel drive compact ‘ute on the market.

Since the Crosstrek starts at the “premium” trim level, it’s tough to talk about standard equipment. Still, the car comes equipped with a standard 6-speaker stereo system, all-wheel drive, roof rails that can carry up to 150 lbs., 5-speed manual transmission and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Oh, and about those wheels, they’re real and they’re fantastic.

Also, I can’t imagine they’ll stick around long because they make the Crosstrek look like a cross-trainer. So if you’re into the whole urban assault look, better get a Crosstrek soon. The effect of the alloys is magnified 10-fold when paired with what I like to call “Road Cone Orange,” or in Subaru parlance “Tangerine Orange Pearl.”

(Quickly: Both models of the Crosstrek I drove were orange, and that’s actually a color I could live with every day, unlike a lot of other special edition colors).

Along the lines of the cross-trainer, let’s talk a little bit about the interior of the Crosstrek. To put it diplomatically, Subaru has been accused of making cars that are a little too much like a cross-training shoe. That’s to say that you don’t mind being in the car, but you don’t spend a whole lot of time admiring its stunning interior either.

The Crosstrek is a perfectly comfortable place to be, but you won’t be confusing the cloth-equipped premium model with the lobby of the Bellagio any time soon. In fact, my only real gripe with the Crosstrek is that it feels perfectly exactly like an Impreza.

There’s no special plastic to let you know that you’ve paid $1,000 more for the taller, more rugged model. I’m not asking for fatigue-clad seats or a pistol-gripped shifter, folks, but molded plastic in the dash wouldn’t kill anyone, would it?

Despite the fact that the same engine as the Impreza powers the Crosstrek, it’s also geared relatively the same (the CVT is actually manageable, and the first and last gears of the manual have been lengthened a little). That makes the Subaru soft roader very pleasant to drive, especially considering the newer Impreza chassis might be one of the best small car chassis on the market today.

My guess is that the fuel economy and capability will win over the younger set looking to get up a mountain without worrying about how quickly it happens. It doesn’t hurt that the entry price is appealing to 20-somethings who can’t afford to even pay attention.

These kids think they know everything.

Let me first preface this entire thing with: I like the New York Times enough to pay too much to have it delivered to my home every weekend.

Having said that, dance critic Alastair Macaulay’s description of the Statue of Liberty from his bedroom window may be more esoteric than poetry written in Sanskrit.

Passages like:

I often visit the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which is less than 10 minutes from my place.

dot the well-written story printed two days ago, but I’m wondering why in the hell it’s there in the first place. It’s like NPR and the NYTimes got together to make the most boring story baby ever spilled into newsprint.

Perhaps that’s a little recherche even for you, NYTimes.