Sentinel Blogs

Littwin: Until the fire next time

cops

The armored cars were rolling, the Walgreens was burning, the tear gas was flying, the glass everywhere was shattering.

And every bit of it — every good-on-TV moment of it — was entirely predictable.

Michael Brown — the unarmed black teen, as he’ll always be known — was killed by Darren Wilson — the white cop, as he’ll always be known. And the white cop was not indicted by the grand jury, even though grand juries nearly always indict — but with one obvious exception.

No one could have expected otherwise. Fivethirtyeight.com provided the numbers. In 2010, federal grand juries heard 162,000 cases — and all but 11 returned indictments. This was a state case, but you get the idea. And then there’s this: From 2008 to 2012, Dallas grand juries reviewed 81 police shootings — and returned only one indictment.

There were no surprises. A mother cried. A father asked for restraint. And yet the image of the night was the split screen on CNN, showing Barack Obama on one side asking protesters not to throw bottles at cops and, on the other, protesters in the streets throwing bottles at cops. 

In this battle, the streets won.

It made no sense that St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch had waited until 8:30 p.m. to make the announcement, a time when cities are more inclined to explode. The timing seemed like a provocation — although it almost certainly wasn’t. It was, I’d guess, just another in a long series of missteps, starting with McCulloch, a figure little trusted in the African-American community, refusing to recuse himself and name a special prosecutor.

This is a story we’ve seen before. Different names, different places, different circumstances, different DA, different jury. Same story.

What was different was that McCulloch released the grand jury testimony — grand jury testimony is usually kept secret — and we could read what Wilson had to say.

You could almost guess. If a cop fears for his life or fears for anyone’s life, he can legally use deadly force. And so we read on. Wilson said he had feared for his life when Brown had punched him twice while Wilson was still in the car. He said he “felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.” Brown was 6-foot-5, 285 pounds. But Wilson is 6-4, 210, and the only one of the two who was armed, the only one of the two trained for confrontations like this.

When they tussled, Wilson pulled out his gun, and Brown, he said, went for it. Twice, Wilson said, he tried to pull the trigger, but the gun wouldn’t fire. Finally, Wilson got off two shots, and Brown took off running. And even though Wilson said he was afraid of Brown — who, he said, looked like a “demon” — he raced after him because, yes, he said he thought Brown was a danger to anyone he might encounter.

And then when Brown turned around and, Wilson said, raced toward him, he shot his gun five times. He shouted, he said, for Brown to go to the ground, and when he didn’t, he shot and he shot and he shot.

And in the final charge — some witnesses said it was a charge; some said Brown was surrendering  — Wilson said, “At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him. And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.”

He would run through the bullets, until he didn’t. Until he fell. And until he lay there for 4 1/2 hours before they took him away.

And before a majority-black community with its nearly all-white police force became another chapter in a long story.

Before the story became about the militarization of police. And before it became about rapidly shifting demographics (also known as white flight). And before it became about police forces failing to reflect their communities.

And before it became about state and local officials who seemed to have no notion how to calm the situation back in August, and who seemed to have no better idea how to calm the situation Monday night.

And before it became about the first black president speaking in his measured way from the White House on the night of the grand jury announcement, saying we have to accept the jury’s decision whether we agree with it or not, praising those cops who face danger every day, and finally getting to the obvious point that minorities have ample reason not to trust the police, that they have their own stories and that “communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.” 

After Obama’s statement, a reporter asked the president whether he would go to Ferguson. Obama said he’d have to see how things went.

It’s pretty clear already how things were going. The armored cars were rolling, the Walgreens was burning, the tear gas was flying, the glass everywhere was shattering.

And calm would eventually prevail. Until the fire next time.

Photo courtesy Great Divide Brewing co.

“Winter beer” is a lousy category. That presupposes there’s a “summer beer” category and that’s really not a thing either. There’s good beer and bad beer, and most “winter beer” is bad beer. It’s the season that bludgeons you with over-malted, potpourri-smelling, banana-bread beer, because for some reason you’re looking to dull your mind, body and tastebuds for 4 months until winter lifts and you can shave your hibernation beard.

Meete best winter beers around right now simply because it’s still a beer first.

Yes, it’s a little maltier. It’s also a little stiffer at 8.7 percent ABV. But it’s still a beer, and the hops still fight their way from the bottom of the rich amber beer all the way to your nose. It’s tasty and doesn’t reek of cranberry-pine-wreath-gross like other winter beers. (I swear, some brewers look at winter beer like Sandra Lee looked at Kwanzaa Cake.)

Pro-tip: Great Divide’s tasting room in Downtown Denver is seriously small considering the size of their operation. It’s still a great place to taste all their beers, but their growlers are the best/worst deal in the world. For beers below 9% ABV, a growler fill is $11 — a seriously good deal for 64 oz. of fresh beer like Hibernation. For beers above 9% that cost doubles to $22. Not awesome. (I’m almost positive the threshold is 9% and if it is, you should just go right now. I’ll wait for you to get back.)

WHAT: Great Divide’s Hibernation Ale

WHERE: Although Great Divide’s beers can be found just about anywhere, Hibernation Ale is a bit tougher to spot. Any bigger liquor store should be carrying it by now and beer specialty stores should have it. Of course, you could always go Downtown and get a growler.

WHY: It’s a winter beer that doesn’t get all stupid with the flavors of Christmas/Kwanzaa/Thanksgiving/Chanukah. Pure and simple, it’s a malty, hoppy ale that works well. It’s still balanced, completely drinkable (although not really sessionable, too much alcohol) and doesn’t assault your mouth for hours afterward.

WHAT IT REMINDS ME OF: Hard to say really, but if you can follow me here through my ACT comparison, Hibernation Ale is to winter beer as Dale’s Pale Ale is to American Pale Ale. It’s amplified and potent, but still balanced and enjoyable.

PAIR IT WITH: Beef and barley soup. Seriously hearty, but it’s still a soup and you won’t need to take a nap afterward. The Hibernation Ale stands up and holds its own too.

Store manager's Anthony Butler and Brendon Taylor stand in front of Starbuds, the third pot shop to officially open in Aurora.

Starbuds, located on 1408 Del Mar Parkway, is officially open for business, making the shop the third retail marijuana store be operating in Aurora.

This is the first retail pot store in northwest Aurora.

The store opened at 9 a.m. Saturday, said store manager Anthony Butler. He said Starbuds has so far seen 84 customers. “They’re mostly local,” he said  compared to the tourists he mostly sees coming into a Starbuds location on Brighton Boulevard in Denver.

Assistant Manager Brendon Taylor said both plant and edible products sit behind the counter in the store.  “We’ll open a jar, bring it over, let the customer smell it, and package it up for them,” he said. 

The other retail marijuana stores open in the city are Terrapin Care Station at  11091 East Mississippi Ave. and Euflora at 6260 S. Gun Club Road.

Ginger enjoys a spot on a couch Nov. 10 at DMK Rehoming. The shelter DMK is not able to take in all of the pit bulls relinquished by owners who live in city limits. In November, Aurora voters upheld the city’s nearly decade-long pit bull ban by a 2-to-1 margin. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Far be it from me to let banned dogs lie.

Like so many voters and poltical-ad victims in Aurora, I was counting the hours until Election 2014 finally exploded and became nothing but psychological shrapnel. But the war against common sense isn’t over by a long shot, especially when it comes to pit bulls.

For years, about nine of them, ever since the Aurora city council approved a ban on owning pit bulls in the city, we have been regularly hounded by people from all over the country, furious about the prohibition. I’m not talking, call-the-editor-and-give-him-a-piece-of-my mind-verbal-wrestling, I’m talking about vicious, foaming-at-the-mouth attacks from humans who make their scary dogs look like Hello Kitty.

And that’s what unleashes their attack. It’s when you say that pit bulls are scary because they’re dangerous. What that elicits from the most diplomatic of the pit bullies are ludicrous pictures of pit bulls snoozing with bunnies or being used as blankets by human infants that look to be days or hours old. If you think taking a picture like this is a good idea, you need to be aware that any credible veterinarian or pediatrician would tell you not to do such a thing with any dog or cat, because all animals can be unpredictable around a human infant.

That’s the crux of the argument they don’t understand. Everyone gets that there are “bad” pet owners, and that any dog breed that is abused or neglected can become a serious and deadly problem. All kinds of dogs bite and kill people and other pets every year.

But what these pit bullies can’t seem to grapple with is the fact — not the smudged math, hyperbole or outright lies — that of all of the hundreds of dog breeds living in hundreds of millions of American families, pit bulls are responsible for an overwhelming number of human deaths, despite the fact they are a relatively rare breed of dog. And the one consistent thing that is regularly reported by a pit-bull owner that maims or kills a human or another pet, is that it was totally unexpected. The pit bull that clamped its amazing jaws down on the neck of another dog or a small child and shook it until it was dead, had never done anything like that before.

I absolutely agree that there are lots of pit bulls with sweet dispositions and faces that just make you go, “awwwww.” What makes these dogs scary is not their appearance, but the fact that they are as or more unpredictable than all dogs, and when the go off, they’re exceedingly injurious or even lethal.

The whole thing is a lot like gun control, realizing that all guns can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But unlike that issue, this is akin to understanding that guns that inexplicably and unpredictably just start going off in the hands of even responsible owners are a real problem in a crowded city.

I, like most Aurora residents, understand that a yappy, snarling Chihuahua charging at me or my own dog is a serious threat. But I’ll take my chances with the raving Chihuahua over a 50-pound pit bull any day.

So many of you agree with me on this, like 75 percent of you, that I really thought my days of being called a “racist” a “hater” a “deviant genocidal monster” a “fear monger” and even, a “lynch-happy slave hater” were finally over. But the cards and letters just keep right on coming. Now, it’s a threat to have state lawmakers force pit bulls back into communities that don’t want them. Threats to sue and sue and sue to get their way. Threats that make you wonder about the psychological stability of people all over the country incensed by Aurora’s ban, which is about the same as every other pit-bull ban in the metro area.

“Pit bull dogs will be on the earth long after you are being ate(sic) by worms and your soul burning in hell,” Bob Cronk commented on a recent story at AuroraSentinel.com. It’s surrounded by similar comments where other pit bullies physically threaten those who insist on the bans. The rhetoric is as frightening as an berserk dog.

“The KKK has a similar dream…and Hitler did, too,” another pit bully says about pit-bull bans.

To one woman who gets in pit-bullies’ faces about what she calls “mutant dogs” and “garbage breeds,” pit bully Pam Loken said, “you are a total piece of crap….how I would love to wrap that leash around your (f******) throat…..it scares me to say it, but I don’t think it would bother me a bit, to remove a piece of trash like you…you are a sadist!”

It’s over, folks. The only issue left is whether there needs to be better enforcement, so save your snarling for the that story.

Reach editor Dave Perry at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

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Literally once someone asked what beer they should try over the weekend. After the initial surprise of being tabbed as a functional alcoholic friend with one particular benefit, I was honored to tap my encyclopedic (my word, not theirs) of beers and spew something that vaguely resembled a recommendation.

Since then, I’ve picked up the banner of telling people — whether they ask or not — what beers they should try.

Consequently, I’m pleased to announce to you what beer you’d like to have this weekend. Because I’m solid like that.

Without further adieu:

WHAT: Upslope Brewing Co.’s Thai Style White IPA

WHERE: Initially, I found the can in a brewer’s pick 12-pack, but it has since been replaced. I’ve seen it available as a six-pack, but availability is limited. Plenty of stores still have the IPA, but it may be worth calling ahead instead of just showing up. P.S. They’re mostly gone because people like me are drinking all of them.

WHY: Because it’s not really an IPA. The Thai flavors and bright citrus punch harder than the hops and it’s not being a jerk about it. I love hops, I really do, but anyone can dry hop a Coors these days and call it craft — and a lot do. The Thai Style is floral without being hoppy, bright without being a summer seasonal and spicy without being dorky. (Chili beers are just dorky, sorry.)

WHAT IT REMINDS ME OF: Any citrusy IPA. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed was on my list not too long ago ago, and like the Thai Style, I’m sure it’s going away as the colder months progress.

PAIR IT WITH: Asian food (not too spicy) consumed on your couch. You don’t even have to wear pants if you don’t want to.

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Imagine you live in a place where dozens of college students, packed in a bus, disappear one day from a backwoods part of some southern state.

And then it turns out that leaders of a nearby town ordered local police to kidnap the students and turn them over to murderous gangs. The worst you can think of happens after that.

Can you just imagine how the rest of the state, and the rest of this country would react?

So add to this calamity, a country wracked by endless unemployment, pernicious poverty, and raging drug-gang wars that frequently end up with executed and even beheaded innocents all over the country. The topper? Entrenched government corruption from the dog-catcher on up.

What would you do if you lived in such a place, and after the federal government investigated the kidnapping for weeks, exposing endless tales of sadistic corruption, they shrugged?

You would move. I would move. The wheels are coming off in Mexico, and we need to help them, or they’re increasingly going to be coming here. I would.

Millions of Mexicans feel like the war against everything there is a losing battle.

They even have a meme and hashtag for the hopelessness. “YaMeCansé” or “I’ve had enough.” It’s close equivalent here is, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

The Mexicans are mad as hell, and they should be. Things are very bad, and it’s not just the hand-wringers who say the rule of law is failing all over the country.

Before you say, “too bad, so sad” and move on to tonight’s TV sitcom lineup, think it through. All over the world, refugees head for the border when things get bad enough. And when bus loads of college kids get murdered at the hands of the government, and nobody seems to be outraged enough to do something about it, things have gotten bad enough.

The Mexican attorney general told the country that after weeks of investigation, it looks like the 43 missing students, learning to be teachers, were kidnapped, murdered, incinerated, and what was left was dumped in a river. Allegedly, the mayor of Iguala and his wife saw the students as activist troublemakers and wanted them out of the way to keep them from spoiling their own political plans.

You’ve seen the trouble that  a few careless or incompetent cops can cause here. Imagine if American police were systemically in cahoots with roving drug gangs.

The Mexican government has essentially lost control of large parts of the country, and it will only be time before a new wave of Mexicans come looking for sanctuary, and they won’t be heading south. Who can blame them?

But knowing how Mexicans emigrating from their country without credentials sends so many in this country right over the edge, it really is time to solve the immigration problem here, and help solve the chaos in Mexico. Like so many troubled places in the world, the problem is bewildering, and the solutions will be, too.

But if you think it’s ridiculous that we would go out of our way to get involved in thorny problems in Mexico, rest assured that unless we do something, now, those problems will soon be ours.

— Dave Perry, editor

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I’m going to be talking about Colorado’s most wholesome and conservative lawmakers, Focus on the Family and politicians now pushing for family values.

You better have the children leave the room.

After the mid-term political battle of the century, control of the Colorado Senate went to the GOP on Saturday when they won 18 seats against 17 for the Dems. So the GOP will be running the show in Colorado’s upper House for the next General Assembly. The Dems held onto the House, and as we all know, Gov. John Luckylooper barely won a second term.

It was an ugly election. Lots of name calling. Lots of half-truths and plenty of lies. That part was politics as usual.

So this is where everyone sets aside their fabrications, their pasts and their hard feelings and lets everyone re-invent themselves.

U.S. Senator-elect Cory Gardner is now a new-ideas moderate, anxious to find the middle ground on immigration.

Yup. Gov. John Hickenlooper? He got the message that Colorado politicians can get hurt playing with gun laws. We’ll see.

And the new boss of the Colorado Senate, GOP state Sen. Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs? He’s ushering in a new era of non-partisan leadership under the gold dome, intent on putting Colorado back on the right track, if you know what I mean.

Cadman. Hmmmmm. Cadman? Sound familiar? It might if you’re from Aurora and still aching over the Aurora theater massacre. It might sound familiar if you’re part of the Focus on the Family fiasco, or if you’re an observer of politicians who stick their feet in their own mouths about putting their fists inside the dorsal orifices of other politicians.

Oh, yeah. That Sen. Bill Cadman.

He was the voice of Republicans in the state Senate in January this year when he talked about goodwill, bi-partisanship and how Democrat-led legislation caused a “visceral” upheaval that led to two well-deserved recalls in southern Colorado. There, Republicans politically lynched two state legislators for supporting two mild gun-control measures. In his opening session remarks in January, Cadman said Democrats risked the end of their world with their gun-control antics. Ironically, the two Republicans who prevailed in the recalls lost their very brief legislative careers to Democratic gun-control proponents. History can be so fickle. But Cadman said the recall was momentous.

“When President Abraham Lincoln said a house divided cannot stand, he was talking about government,” Cadman said in his remarks to the Senate. “When Jesus said it, he was talking about kingdoms in heaven and on earth, government, I think they were on to something.”

Ummm. OK. Cadman hated gun control, said that Democrats wouldn’t bend to the GOP will, and implied the crazy northeast Colorado secession stunt was justified. If this is sounding like Cadman’s leading the state Senate bodes ill for Aurora don’t worry, it gets worse.

During the 2013 legislative session, as the state was still struggling with the aftermath of the Aurora theater shooting, Cadman and others appeared at a Denver Post forum focusing on the shooting and the Legislature’s response. Cadman clearly bristled when Tom Sullivan started asking questions about some lawmakers’ objection to gun and ammo restrictions. Sullivan’s son was killed during the shootings. He’s been a force for the government to do something ever since. Just after the forum, Sullivan approached Cadman to give him a collage of photos of his dead son, an effort — ill-advised or not —to put a face with the tragedy.

“I know what he looks like,” Sullivan said Cadman snapped at the ploy. The interchange made national headlines.

Of course it wasn’t the first time Cadman’s inopportune remarks made news. During a state House session in 2005, then state Rep. Cadman and another lawmaker got into it on the floor over a bill allowing families of soldiers killed in action to don special license plates. When the bill’s sponsor offered amendments, Cadman called them “garbage.” So the lawmaker called Cadman garbage. So Cadman said, “If you try that again, I’ll ram my fist up your ass.”

Ohhhhh, yeah. That Cadman. Goodness. This from a man tied tightly to the Colorado Springs think-tank-political-action-committee-mega-church Focus on the Family. You know, the Focus on the Family that supports sexual reorientation for “sick” homosexuals.

First Cadman tried to deny the incident, even though practically the entire House pretty much heard him. Then he refused to back off his curious threat. That only made the situation worse. Cadman’s critics sent him advice and products associated with his fist-shaking tirade. Then newspapers got into the fracas.

“What is shocking is not only Cadman’s reluctance to express regret but the fact that he wasn’t absolutely mortified by what he’d stooped to say,” the conservative Op-Ed page of the Rocky Mountain News said. “It would never occur to most people to use such an expression even in private, no matter how incensed they were over an affront, let alone utter such words in public before other elected officials.”

Worried yet?

If that Focus on the Family thing rang a distant bell, let me remind you that 1. Cadman is an avid fan. 2. His wife, Lisa, works there. 3. They regularly try to force the Legislature in Colorado and other states to enact laws that force schools to teach creationism, to not teach sex-education and to forbid schools from teaching kids that homosexuality is neither a sickness nor a sin.

Focus on the family’s mission? “Nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide.” And in the Colorado Legislature.

So it’s time to set all of this aside, and get onto some re-inventing. It’s time for a clean slate, allowing Cadman a fresh opportunity to put his money where his mouth is, rather than where his foot has spent so much time over the past 10 years. I his own words, “On Opening Day of 2015, will we look back and say we made history or repeated it?”

— Editor Dave Perry

Players and coaches of the Grandview volleyball team pose with the 2014 Class 5A state championship trophy they won with a three-set victory over Chatfield on Nov. 8, 2014, at the Denver Coliseum. The Wolves won their second straight state title and fifth overall in 10 trips to the championship match — all since 2003. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

With two Class 5A state championships already to its credit and a football team that could add another in the coming weeks, Grandview High School is rolling in the fall prep sports season.

The Wolves’ first 5A state championship came on Oct. 25 when Emily Supercynski and the softball team topped Fossil Ridge 6-2 to win the first softball crown in program history. The school added another of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s new-look state championship trophies Saturday night when the volleyball team swept Chatfield in front of a massive cheering section at the Denver Coliseum to complete a repeat bid and win the fifth overall state crown in program history.

Yet to be decided is the 5A state football crown, for which 11-0 Grandview is a major contender. Coach John Schultz’s Wolves won the Centennial League championship, finished the regular season undefeated — capping it with a victory over vaunted Valor Christian — and has marched into the quarterfinals of the 5A playoffs without surrendering a single point thus far. Grandview’s first and only state football championship came in 2007.

Additionally this fall, Grandview senior Nathan Graham finished  an Aurora-best fourth in the 5A boys state cross country race.

With only one sport left to be crowned, no other Aurora school can match Grandview’s championship haul. Regis Jesuit is on the only other city school remaining alive in the football playoffs.

Only the co-op gymnastics team based at Overland High School has won a state title this fall among Aurora schools and even a few members of that team were from Grandview.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

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For one reason or another, Utah has come up a lot in the last few days. Whether it’s Colorado gubernatorial candidates comparing the states to curious congressional races in the Beehive State, Utah’s hot. Clickbait real estate sites have even gotten on the bandwagon (albeit, with poor efforts.)

As a former resident and overall Utah fan, I felt the need to set a few things straight. Here’s A’s to all your FAQ’s about the state where avoiding bad words is a statewide sport. (Bonus points if you said, “What the eff?” or “Fudge that.”)

So is everyone Mormon?

No. In fact, Salt Lake City has more non-Mormons than Mormons. But no one acknowledges that because it would totally wreck the narrative that the church runs everything. People would also stop reading City Weekly immediately.

But there are a lot Mormons?

Oh yeah, drive 20 minutes in either direction of downtown and everyone is a member of the lodge. Well, except for Park City — but that’s a different story.

Why are they asking if my name is “El Dias”?

That’s “LDS” and it’s because the word “Mormon” doesn’t get used a lot. (Example: “Do people still cruise State?” Response: “Is Donny Osmond LDS?”) It’s short for Latter-day Saint and don’t capitalize the D.

Why not?

Because the uppercase D is a traditionalist movement in the church (read: polygamist.)

Oh yeah, where are those guys. Is it like “Big Love”?

Not really. It’s in Southern Utah and on reality shows only. The fundamentalists are easy to spot, they look straight out of “Little House on the Prairie” and look nothing like Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Why do you keep trying to sell me juice/phone service/pre-paid legal service?

Besides the Osmonds, multi-level marketing (read: pyramid scams) are Utah’s most prolific export to the rest of the world.

And emergency preparedness kits?

Utahns believe a massive earthquake will hit tomorrow. Or that the feds will turn on them for some reason. Anyway, they stock a lot of powdered milk in their basements. It’s a thing there for some reason.

And green Jell-O?

Yeah, green Jell-O. We don’t get it either.

I didn’t know fries had their own sauce?

They don’t. Fry sauce is just ketchup and mayo and it’s Utah’s second-favorite condiment behind ranch dressing on everything.

And you have your own In-and-Out Burger, too?

Yeah, but if you wait in that line you’re a sucker. Crown Burger (or Apollo Burger) owns because pastrami was made for burgers.

I don’t understand how pastrami burgers/funeral potatoes/ketchup and mayo/ranch dressing and everyone looks so good?

Yeah, Utah has seriously good-looking people. It’s bizarre. But spend enough time there and you’ll start to notice they all look the same. And somehow their last names are either Jensen/Young/Smith. Maybe the gene pool isn’t all that deep, yet.

That’s why everyone is so attractive?

Maybe. That and a lot of plastic surgery.

How do they pay for it?

No idea. But Utah’s “bootstrap conservative” economy is built on a lot of smoke and mirrors. Strictly speaking, a wealth of natural resources has boosted the economy way more than work ethic has. Want proof? Rush hour starts at like 3:30 p.m.

That sounds entirely pessimistic.

Yeah, it probably is. Actually, Utah has one of the smallest gaps in income equality because like the “Beehive State” lots of people are focused on family, church and work. In that order. There aren’t a lot of robber barons or people who want to be like one. Beehive = lots of workers, no one cares about being queen.

About Park City?

Oh yeah, Park City is basically a Colorado town. Very few people actually live there, and we’re not sure about liquor laws there.

How about those liquor laws?

Everyone is an expert, but it boils down to this: Getting drunk in Utah is about the same as getting drunk everywhere else. The beer’s not watered down; it’s actually pretty good if it’s local. But if you’re planning on getting a double Jack and Coke, keep driving away from the mountains to Nevada.

“Away from the mountains”?

Yeah, because Salt Lake is basically built into a mountain, driving west or “away from the mountains” is the only way we know where to go. That and the street grid system make it ridiculously easy. Yeah, and the Temple is the center because of course it is.

What’s the fascination with Sparta?

“Return with honor” is a Mormon missionary thing.

I heard you’re called Salt Lake Citians?

That’s the second-dumbest thing I’ve heard. It’s Salt Lakers.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve heard?

That all the gay people from California moved to Salt Lake to get back at them for Prop 8.

So it’s OK to be gay in Salt Lake?

Yup. You don’t even have to live in the Marmalade neighborhood.

Why is it called Emigration Canyon if the Mormons traveled through it to settle the Salt Lake valley? Shouldn’t it be Immigration Canyon?

Utahns don’t like the word “immigration.”

So where should I eat?

Anywhere with funeral potatoes.

Funeral potatoes?

Yeah, potatoes, sour cream, cheese, chips, more cheese. What more do you need?

Anywhere else?

In the land of chains, the Cotton Bottom, Red Iguana, Copper Onion, Lamb’s and The Pie are all worth a look. Market Street is even OK, too.

Does everyone ski?

We’re 15 minutes from the mountain. Wouldn’t you?

So winter is the best time ever?

Inversion, so no.

What’s inversion?

A weather phenomenon created by everyone driving their own car to work and mountains, altitude, temperature and black magic. But really, it’s terrible.

Is it like smoking?

Yeah. And you can’t do that in Salt Lake until you’re 19 for some reason.

 Don’t pronounce T’s?

Brigh-en, Lay-en. Yup. Leave ‘em out.

No lines for voting at Aurora's West Middle School at about 2 p.m. Nov. 4, 2014. Same story for most Aurora centers, according to county election officials.

6:50 P.M. About 75 people so far at Camp Romanoff, set up at Moe’s BBQ in Aurora. Mood is subdued so far.

4:55 p.m.: As Election Day nears an end, one of the local contests to watch will be the possible repeal of Aurora’s ban on pit bulls.

The 9-year-old ban has always been contentious, and city voters will be asked whether they want the city to scrap it.

Last week, just a few days before Election Day, a dog that witnesses described as a pit bull attacked a 15-year-old girl’s shih tzu, killing the smaller pooch right in front of its owner.

The attacking dog — which witnesses described as a brown and white pit bull named Bandit — has not yet been found, and police said they can’t say with certainty whether it was a pit bull.

Still, the incident grabbed some headlines just before the election.

Juliet Piccone, a local lawyer who has been a vocal critic of the ban, said the attack shows why breed bans don;t work.

In this case, Piccone, who is a member of Coloradans For Breed Neutral Dog Laws Inc., said the dog’s owner should be prosecuted, but the dog’s actions, not its breed, is the troubling element here.

“The breed should not be the issue. The issue should be, was there an irresponsible owner,” she said.

Also, Piccone said, she wouldn’t be surprised if the dog wasn’t a pit bull. In the case of a suspected pit bull that bit another dog at n Aurora dog park last summer, Piccone said DNA tests eventually showed the dog was not actually one of the restricted breeds.

Dog attacks are common, she said, and last week’s only grabbed attention because of the upcoming election.

Aurora City Councilman Bob Broom, who supports the pit bull ban, said he doesn’t think last week’s attack will have any effect on the election.

“Most people already voted,” he said.

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2:15 P.M. Aaaaaand, we’re back. ArapahoeVotes.com is back online. All the interactive features, such as where do I vote/drop-off-my-ballot/the-dog-groomed (just kidding) appears to be working. The site was down for more than five hours. Local county officials said the problem arose from the Florida company that manages the site. So far so good. Voting and drop-off at local voting centers appears to be light. No or very small wait times, according to the county’s website. There was just about nobody voting or dropping off ballots at West Middle School in Aurora at about 2 p.m.

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1:55 P.M. Lots of hand-wringing over at Arapahoe County Clerk’s office. The county’s wonderful voting website is, dead in the water. The Florida vendor who manages the site isn’t sure what’s wrong, and they have no ETA when ArapahoeVotes.com be back. Local Democrats said the outage wasn’t helping them lasso last-minutes votes. In the mean time, some election information, such as voter center locations and ballot-drop off sites is available at http://www.co.arapahoe.co.us/

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1:40 P.M.: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and it’s not over — or cheap to feed the hungry. Congressman Mike Coffman’s campaign is running to the finish line tonight, but stopped long enough to send out one more missive asking for support, and cash. “Our volunteers are out knocking doors, waving signs, and making calls until the last minute,” Campaign chief Tyler Sandberg said in his email. “Just $5 could help feed these hungry supporters and keep them going through the day and up until the last ballot is cast.” Could be several hours before we find out whether Team Mike Coffman or Team Andrew Romanoff gets to taste a little victory or crow tonight.

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1:15 P.M.:  Does Amendment 68 hold key to Arapahoe Park’s future in Aurora? — If voters say yes to Amendment 68 tonight, they can expect a massive expansion at the Arapahoe Park horse racing track.

Year-round table games and slot machines will join horse racing there to make the facility one of the state’s top gambling destinations. And projections call for more than $100 million in annual tax revenue to be funneled to Colorado schools.

But if voters say no? The future for the 400-acre, 10,000-seat horse-racing track just outside the Aurora city limits is murkier. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY BY BRANDON JOHANSSON

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NOON: Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall are both fishing for last-minute votes on the Auraria Campus in Downtown Denver. Free burritos, a raucous crowd have got a lot of students headed to the voting center nearby, students said.

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11:50 a.m.: With about seven hours left in Election Day, local voters hoping to check Arapahoe County’s election website are running into trouble.

The site, arapahoevotes.com, has been down off and on throughout the day.

As of about 11:45 a.m., the site — which includes details on where to drop off a ballot and how many ballots have been cast — remained down.

A county spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.

John Buckley, chairman of the Arapahoe County Democratic Party, said the website woes are troubling.

“It’s certainly not helpful,” he said.

Still, Buckley said, he is getting reports that Election Day turnout has been high so far, with 24-hour drop boxes around the county crammed tight with ballots.

Buckley said he is hopeful the Election Day turnout means a strong showing for Democrats similar to 2010, when many Democratic voters opted to cast a ballot on election Day rather than via mail.

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10:20 a.m.: Republican Mike Coffman was out early today, waving for votes as the clock winds down.

10 a.m.: No problems reported in either Adams nor Arapahoe counties. Voting and drop-off is reportedly light so far at Aurora area voting centers. The website at ArapahoeVotes.com, arguably the best county election website in the state, and maybe the country, is slow to load this morning.

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