Good morning, Boulder. 🌄 In this edition of BRL Today, John Herrick reports on proposed local gun reforms one year after the King Soopers shooting — and why they’re taking so long. Plus five can’t-miss Boulder Arts Week events, rising Covid cases in Boulder County, warmer weather for the weekend and more. See you on Friday! ✌️

– Jezy, managing editor

Gov. Jared Polis speaks during yesterday’s memorial ceremony at the Glen Huntington Bandshell in downtown Boulder, one year after 10 people were killed in a mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers. Credit: Harry Fuller

Quickly

🌤 Warming up: Expect mostly sunny skies and highs near 53 today. It’s the start of a warming trend that should last through weekend and into Monday, with temperature forecasts in the low-to-mid 70s.

🚮 Debris removal moves ahead. Boulder County Commissioners unanimously approved on Tuesday the agreements and paperwork needed to begin its Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) program for homes destroyed in the Marshall Fire. “The Commissioners also approved a $60 million contract with DRC Emergency Services, LLC, (DRC) which will be responsible for completing debris removal work for property owners who have opted into the program.”

⚖️ Motion to intervene in debris cleanup case. Marshall Together, a nonprofit representing people affected by the Marshall Fire, has intervened in the debris removal contract lawsuit brought by former FEMA director Michael Brown. From the motion to intervene: “The delay in debris cleanup is adversely affecting the safety of children at schools and playgrounds downwind of the fire damage. … [It] is increasing the opportunities for toxic ash to be transported away from the burn area, via snowmelt and rain runoff, into sewers and local waterways. The chromium found in the ash in particular is a concern.”

🏠 Rebuild better: Marshall Fire-affected residents can connect with experts from EnergySmart, Boulder County’s residential energy advising service, for expert guidance on rebuilding high-performance, energy efficient homes and understanding available Xcel incentives. Learn more here.

⛰️ East Boulder Subcommunity Plan: Got thoughts on redevelopment on the east side of town? Join a virtual community meeting on Mar. 30 at noon to discuss the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan and 55th & Arapahoe Station Area Master Plan. Share your feedback through April 4.

❤️‍🩹 South Boulder healing grants: As residents continue to recover from the King Soopers tragedy, the Community Foundation says “there are still over $130K South Boulder Healing grants, which invite proposals for community healing events, projects, programs, classes and services in South Boulder.”

🥾 Trail updates: The Picture Rock Trailhead and northern trails at Heil Valley Ranch are open again. Same goes for Bitterbrush and Nighthawk trails at Hall Ranch. Antelope and Nelson Loop are still closed.

🗓️ Juneteenth state holiday: The Colorado Senate voted 32-1 to pass a bill making Juneteenth, the day on June 19 commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, the 11th state holiday. Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling was the only lawmaker to vote against the measure.

Top Stories

One year after the King Soopers shooting, why hasn’t Boulder passed new gun control measures?

In the months after last year’s mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers in South Boulder, state lawmakers passed more changes to Colorado gun laws than in any year since 2013, when they passed universal background checks and a large-capacity magazine ban. 

Many of the new changes were a direct result of the March 22, 2021 massacre in which an alleged gunman opened fire inside the supermarket and killed 10 people. 

The alleged gunman purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol, widely considered an assault-style rifle, from a gun shop in Arvada despite having previously pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, according to court records. So state lawmakers expanded background check requirements to bar people with misdemeanor assault convictions from purchasing a gun. 

Just 10 days before the massacre, a Boulder County District Court judge suspended the city’s 2018 assault-style weapons ban due to a conflict with 2003 state law. So lawmakers amended the law to allow local governments to pass gun ordinances more strict than state gun laws. 

Even so, Boulder has yet to reinstate its ban on the possession, transfer or sale of assault-style weapons.

In fact, more than a year after the shooting, the city has not enacted any new gun regulations. 

One reason is because the city is seeking to work with other local governments across Boulder County — including Superior, Lafayette and unincorporated Boulder County — to pass a range of reforms at the same time. 

5 can’t-miss events during Boulder Arts Week 2022

The idea behind the city’s Boulder Arts Week is pretty simple, says program manager Abra Allan: build more awareness around the local art scene in Boulder by making it more accessible to people across the community. But with Covid-19 restrictions lifting after a tough couple years for artists and venues, the mission is taking on a new shade of urgency. 

“We feel like now is a really important time to remind people to get out there and buy a ticket to that event,” Allan says. “Support local artists, so we can continue to be this incredible, thriving arts community here in Boulder.”

Residents feeling restless after years of canceled gigs and shuttered arts spaces will have plenty of opportunities to follow Allan’s advice when the citywide culture bash returns this weekend, March 25–April 2. From live music to figure-drawing workshops, film screenings and more, you’ll find something for every taste across the nearly 100 events comprising Boulder’s biggest arts event of the year.

“This is really a win-win,” Allan says. “You get out and experience the arts and do something that’s really going to fill you up, while supporting the arts and arts organizations that are going to allow Boulder to continue being the really cool and creative community we all know it to be.”

With that in mind, here are five events on the Boulder Arts Week calendar you definitely won’t want to miss.

Become a BRL Community Sponsor

BRL Picks

🏠 Co-op call. Boulder Housing Coalition has openings at all of its co-ops this August. Monthly rent starts at $540 with a one-year lease. “We each have our own private bedrooms rooms, but share meals, buy organic (mostly) vegetarian food together in bulk, and meet weekly to practice consensus decision-making and restorative conversations.” Apply here.

🚲 Bike train(ing). Want to start a bike train in your community or school? Join BoCo Youth Transportation for an introductory training session on Wednesday, April 13, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Get more info here and register here.  

⚕️ The art of medicine. “How does Hydrogen Man, a woodcut made by Leonard Baskin in 1954, relate to an illustration of the circulatory system from Andreas Vesailus’ 1555 anatomical text?” Explore these questions and more with an exhibition of works at the CU Art Museum tracing the connection between art practice and medical knowledge, on display through April 29.

🗓️ Persian New Year. Celebrate Navruz, the Persian New Year, at the Boulder Teahouse on Sunday, March 27. Dancing, music, authentic Persian food and more are on the menu. Small plates and confections will be served all day, along with a four-course Persian dinner from 5 p.m. until close. Reservations are recommended: 303-442-4993.

Covid-19 Updates: March 23, 2022

  • 57 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 12% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 0 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 58% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.
  • Cases tick up. From BoCo Public Health: “We are seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Boulder County.” Zero patients with Covid-19 are in Boulder County’s intensive care units, according to federal data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What We’re Reading

📖 How have donations related to the King Soopers shooting been spent? “The Colorado Healing Fund has distributed all but $570,000 to other nonprofits, including more than $3 million for victims and victims’ families. The Community Foundation has distributed all of its money to other nonprofits, including $957,000 intended for victims.” [Denver Post]

ICYMI from BRL

🇲🇽 ‘It takes them home’: Latino history exhibition tells local stories of pride, pain and perseverance. Family narratives come to life in Voces Vivas: Stories from the Latino Community in Boulder, Past and Present, on display at the Museum of Boulder through February 2023. 

⚖️ What’s at stake in a former City Council candidate’s First Amendment lawsuit? The implications go beyond Boulder politics. The legal back-and-forth sets the stage for a court battle expected to carry on for a year or more. The outcome could have major implications for First Amendment protections under a 2019 Colorado law designed to discourage lawsuits known as SLAPP cases, according to lawyers interviewed for this story. 

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Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.