Local news roundup with the Colorado Sun - 9/28/22
We touched base this week with our colleagues at the Colorado Sun to learn more about the news they're covering. Reporter Michael Booth spoke with KUNC's Beau Baker about the stories the Sun is featuring.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Beau Baker: Let's begin, Michael, with State Representative Tracey Bernett. The Democrat from Boulder County is facing questions about her residency after she changed her voter registration address last year. What's the story here?
Michael Booth: The redistricting required by every decade census is really stirring up some trouble in Colorado politics this year, or at least the way some politicians have handled it is stirring up that trouble. Jesse Paul reports that Boulder County Democrat and State Representative Tracey Bernett's status is now being questioned by some Republicans. Bernett's district boundaries changed, and she bought a new home almost a year ago that is inside the boundaries of what would be her new district. But Republicans are asking officials to investigate whether Bernett actually spends time there or lives there, [or] whether she's actually stay[ing] in her older home in the old district. Remember, these questions have also tripped up Democratic State Senator Pete Lee of Colorado Springs. He was indicted by an El Paso County grand jury on suspicion of lying about his residence before voting in the 2020 presidential primary. The Republican has also been caught up in residency questions this year. In Bernett's case, she has refused to discuss details of her residency with the Colorado Sun.
Beau: Are there any real repercussions that Bernett is facing here?
Michael: It's complicated because one window for challenging someone like Bernett has already closed. The ballots are set, and the time to challenge [it] with the secretary of state is already gone. But Bernett could face questions from Boulder County prosecutors who could look at whether any laws were violated.
Beau: Gotcha. Moving on. Colorado has a new universal preschool program. It's launching in the next school year. There's concern from some childcare providers that this program might do more harm than good. Michael, what are they worried about?
Michael: A lot of people were excited about Colorado moving to provide universal preschool for its children in the next school year, and they're still excited. But Erica Breunlin reports that the big expansion of daycare and education time also requires a new kind of provider workforce or new skills and new requirements for the workforce that's already there. And it's coming at a time [when] Colorado and many other states already have shortages for the places where preschoolers can safely play and learn. Erica spent time with existing daycare providers who now have to decide whether to get the training and facilities they need to become a sanctioned preschool provider. It's not as simple as adding a few new books on your bookshelf. If providers decide they can't add preschool levels to their mix of kids, their parents may take them to another daycare. So there's definitely going to be some rearranging and sorting out who the daycare and preschool providers will be for Colorado's children in the next few years.
Beau: Is there a sense of the types of providers that the state program would be a good fit for versus ones that might opt out of it?
Michael: Well, state officials say they are working hard to set the rules of universal preschool to both encourage existing providers to take on preschool and to get existing schools to add preschool programs. One key to this, of course, that they say they're well aware of, is setting the state payment rates at levels that ensure the providers a living wage.
Beau: And it gives me great pleasure to wrap up our conversation today with some environmental news that's actually good. Michael, Colorado's state fish is on the up and up. What's the latest from Parks and Wildlife?
Michael: It's certainly a rare thing these days in environment [coverage] when we can report some unqualified success. That's not to say all this wasn't complicated. The state hasn't treated the greenback cutthroat trout very well over the decades, despite it being the state's official swimmer. For decades, officials thought it was actually extinct. But a few years ago, wildlife officials found a breeding population of greenbacks in Bear Creek, up the hill from Colorado Springs, and worked very hard to protect it. Kevin Stimpson wrote about the complex process of shocking the fish, extract[ing] their eggs and sperm, returning [them to] local waters, and carefully hauling that reproductive material up to a hatchery near Leadville. And once they get the fingerlings from those hatcheries, volunteers have to carry them in backpacks and water tanks up the hill. They put them in Herman Gulch, a popular hiking spot off I-70 near Eisenhower Tunnel. And now they find that those fish there are reproducing on their own, which is a big landmark or watermark in recovering the population from its threatened status.