- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, June 6, on the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame:

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Mayor John Suthers, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and other state, national and community leaders will gather at 10 a.m. Friday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the country’s premier U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame.

The $75 million project is likely a game changer for Colorado Springs, establishing an anchor for development of downtown’s neglected southwest quadrant. It builds on our region’s tourism industry by leveraging the community’s role as host to the Olympic Committee, the Olympic Training Center, more than two dozen Olympic team governing boards and dozens of past, present and future Olympic heroes.

The Olympic museum in Colorado Springs makes sense, like the Country Music Hall of Fame belongs in Nashville, Tennessee, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame belongs in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Private donations will fund much of the museum’s costs. The attraction is expected to spur other development that should enhance downtown’s retail, lodging and dining scene. It is an easy development to applaud.

But this is Colorado Springs, so a chorus of cantankerous negativity is always in fashion.

Whenever media report on the museum, advocates express their anticipation of 350,000 annual visitors. Naysayers denounce the goal, predicting it will flop.

“The estimate of attendance seems grossly overstated,” wrote a recent Gazette reader in a comments thread.

A caller to The Gazette said: “That would be nearly 1,000 visitors a day! Not a chance.”

It may sound optimistic, even for a region that draws tourists from around the globe. It is not. Research shows the goal may not be a stretch and could be conservative.

USA Today’s list of the “20 most visited museums in the United States” shows the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington tied for first, with each drawing nearly 7 million visitors annually. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis finished 20th, with a draw of 1.25 million.

We won’t suggest the country’s Olympic history will compete with natural history or the culture’s fascination with flight. We would do well to attract 10 percent of the attendance at the nation’s top museums. Our museum meets its goal at 5 percent of those totals. Ambitious, yes; impossible, no.

Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science draws nearly 2 million. That means the Olympic museum meets the attendance goal by doing 17 percent as much business.

The Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Center, memorializing the founder of Getty Oil, draws 1.6 million. The Nashville-based Johnny Cash Museum, commemorating a lone performer, draws more than 200,000, and attendance is growing at 30 percent each year. Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame attracts nearly 500,000.

If tourists care so much about Getty, imagine their interest in Muhammad Ali. We suspect teachers will bring busloads of children to learn about the iconic life of four-time gold medalist Jesse Owens and other inspirational Olympians. Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps, Dorothy Hamill and others could each draw tens of thousands. Don’t forget reality star Caitlyn Jenner, who set a world decathlon record while winning the gold as Bruce Jenner and becoming the symbol of health during the ‘70s fitness craze.

Olympians help define our past, present and future. Properly run and promoted, the Olympic museum could surpass the ambitious goal of 350,000 annual visits.

Nothing worthwhile is easy, and the museum represents Olympic-sized efforts by a distinguished list of leaders and volunteers.

Friday’s groundbreaking showcases our community’s full potential as Olympic City USA, an identity other communities would dearly love to own.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2s4YmDD

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The Denver Post, June 5, on Denver International Airport redevelopment plan:

When Denver International Airport opened 22 years ago, it did so, to ridicule, 18 months behind schedule and 50 percent over budget. More recently, and to lesser extent, rising costs bedeviled DIA’s new hotel and transit center. Such history is worth keeping in mind when considering the airport’s plan to enlist a private firm to help it avoid similar embarrassments in its proposed massive redevelopment.

Kim Day, DIA’s chief executive, tells us she is ready to spend more than $1 billion on the redo. She wishes to hire Madrid-based Ferrovial Airports - known for its work in turning around London’s Heathrow Airport - for a public-private partnership that also would see Ferrovial managing a greatly expanded concessions area for 30 years.

Full details of the contract remain in flux, as officials on both sides engage in negotiations. But what we’ve seen so far of plans Day is touting to Denver City Council members strikes us as worthy of serious consideration. Of course, we should all await judgment until the final contract is available to review.

Chief among Day’s interests in the partnership is avoiding the kind of overruns and delays of DIA yesteryear. Her plan would require that Ferrovial pay for most unexpected overruns. Delays would be penalized, while an early finish would be rewarded. In return, Ferrovial will obviously make a profit on the deal. But with that would come the peace of mind that an expert in the business is on the hook for making it all work according to DIA’s expectations.

After 22 years, DIA could use some remodeling. In addition to fixing or replacing aging equipment, airport officials want and need to revamp the TSA security areas, and little wonder. Given that screening for guns and explosives doesn’t take place until passengers enter the primary security areas on the main floor, bad actors could cause major harm there. Further, any renovation that speeds and humanizes the TSA process, which the renovations intend to provide, would be welcome indeed.

Contemporary changes in ticket check-in, such as digital boarding passes delivered to passengers’ phones, make recasting airline ticket lobbies an obvious need, and Day’s plans for modular ticketing areas can be more easily adapted as technology evolves.

Rethinking the Great Hall also must account for the fact DIA sees a lot more passenger traffic than expected. The facility was built to handle up to 50 million passengers a year, and is seeing closer to 60 million annually. The expectation when it was built was that 60 percent of passengers would be on layovers catching a connecting flight. Turns out, 65 percent of DIA’s traffic is coming from passengers who start or end their trip here. Those extra passengers are a good argument, then, for expanding the concessions areas available. The Great Hall renovation is expected to be able to handle 80 million passengers, and without physically expanding the facility.

The contract would allow Ferrovial to be repaid with interest for construction and design costs and through a 20 percent slice of concessions profits (concession revenue last year edged $65 million) and other airport payments; the airport would help offset the expense by raising the nearly $12 enplaned passenger fee it charges to airlines by $1, a figure that remains near or below that of other busy airports.

DIA operates without support from Denver taxpayers, but Day needs City Council approval to move ahead, and members are expected to take up the request in late July.

Certainly presentation of the actual contract could change how council members should view the plans, but as far as big-picture ideas go, this easily passes the test.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/2rwyOxG

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(Boulder) Daily Camera, June 3, on University of Colorado’s handling of domestic violence allegations:

For a few brief, shining moments, it looked as if the University of Colorado Board of Regents might do the right thing. Unlike their football coach, athletic director and Boulder chancellor, they seemed determined not to ignore allegations of domestic violence against a former assistant football coach.

They hired the smart, tough lawyers from Cozen O’Connor who investigated the Baylor University sexual assault scandal and said they would release the lawyers’ report when it was done. That was more than three months ago. Since then, they have retreated to a series of closed-door meetings, hired former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar to help manage the fallout, and reneged on their pledge to release the investigative report.

Late last month, they finally shirked their responsibility altogether, passing the buck to university President Bruce Benson to decide how to handle the failure to abide by the school’s domestic violence reporting requirements. Never mind that Benson was in charge when the case was mishandled by Phil DiStefano, the chancellor; Rick George, the athletic director; and Mike MacIntyre, the football coach. Never mind that DiStefano’s double standard was on full display as he claimed ignorance of his obligations after harshly disciplining faculty for infractions under the same sexual misconduct policy.

The regents directed Benson “to outline any necessary changes to university policies and procedures, specify how training and education will be enhanced, and recommend appropriate action for CU employees involved.”

The rumor making the rounds at CU is that the muckety-mucks will lay the blame at the doorstep of the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, the office to which DiStefano, George and MacIntyre should have reported the allegations against former assistant coach Joe Tumpkin but did not. If the school ends up blaming the OIEC for failing to “train” those top officials well enough to do their duty, it will be a whitewash worthy of Tom Sawyer.

DiStefano will have gone from the chief enforcer of these policies against members of the philosophy department to the poor guy who didn’t know the rules. If anyone believes that, we have an underpass to campus we are willing to sell.

The more intriguing question is why the regents would abandon their apparent initial determination to actually hold high-level officials accountable. One possibility surfaced last week when a Daily Camera open records request produced a notice of claim from the alleged victim in the Tumpkin domestic violence case. The notice from New York attorney Peter Ginsberg suggested a lawsuit seeking at least $3.7 million in damages is on the horizon if the parties don’t reach a settlement first.

So the regents may be covering their legal backsides, afraid that acknowledging the administration’s failures in the case will provide ammunition to Tumpkin’s alleged victim in court.

Another possibility is a fear of a loss of federal funding under Title IX, which appeared to be the motivating factor in DiStefano’s previous incarnation as a zealous enforcer of women’s rights when his targets were outside the athletic department.

In any case, the regents appear to have circled the wagons and lost their determination to own up to what happened here. In case anyone is tempted to buy an explanation that DiStefano, George and MacIntyre were insufficiently trained in their responsibilities, we repeat a couple of facts we first mentioned nearly four months ago:

Shortly after Stan Garnett was elected Boulder District Attorney in 2008, CU regent Michael Carrigan urged him to set up a task force with top CU athletic officials to make sure nothing like the football recruiting scandal of the early 2000s ever happened again.

“In the task force, which has been up and running since 2009, we often discuss the kinds of organizational issues that cases like this present and the obligations that everyone has in each position,” said Garnett, who is not prosecuting the Tumpkin case, which originates in the 17th Judicial District. He confirmed that both George and MacIntyre have participated in these meetings.

We are still waiting for answers to a dozen questions about this case that we posed nearly three months ago. But we no longer have much faith that CU has any interest in answering such questions.

The saddest part of this entire episode is that DiStefano, George and MacIntyre appear to have evaded their responsibilities for a pathetically insignificant reason - to allow Tumpkin to coach and call defensive signals in CU’s post-season bowl game. Their estimation of Tumpkin’s importance to their chances was evidently as off-base as their handling of the domestic violence allegations. They couldn’t have done much worse without him - the Buffs lost the game, 38-8.

More to the point, of course, is that no bowl game and no recruiting class - the other reason they may have wanted to keep the Tumpkin allegations quiet for as long as possible - is worth compromising a university’s integrity. Even after all the damage done by the earlier recruiting scandal, it would seem that CU never learned that lesson.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2rCicF1

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The (Cortez) Journal, June 2, on hemp farming in Colorado:

It is good to find simple solutions to what seem to be complicated problems.

That is the case with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature on Senate Bill 117, now a law that declares Colorado water rights-holders can use their water to grow industrial hemp for commercial or research purposes, even if that water is stored in a federal Bureau of Reclamation facility.

The bill provides an incentive - and needed security - for Colorado farmers to grow hemp, a once-popular American crop that was criminalized along with its cousin marijuana, even though hemp contains minimal amounts of marijuana’s psychoactive compounds.

A versatile crop, hemp is undergoing a renaissance due to its many uses in making fiber, fuels, textiles and soap, and for its growing and effective medicinal uses. It is no stranger to our continent. Jamestown colonists were ordered to plant hemp in 1619, and it remained an important crop in the American colonial period and well into the 20th century.

The reasons for hemp’s criminalization are the complicated part of the saga, and closely tied, hemp supporters maintain, to undue influence from the country’s petrochemical industry.

Both the bill’s Senate author and its House sponsor, Montrose Republicans Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Marc Catlin, used solid conservative philosophy in pressing for the passage of their legislation. Because Colorado legalized growing hemp in 2014, they argued, this is a states’ rights issue.

Colorado water rights are privately owned, Catlin explained at a ceremony for the bill’s signing in Cortez on May 21, so the federal government is overreaching its authority by declaring that water stored in a federal facility cannot be used to grow hemp.

We wholeheartedly agree with Gov. Hickenlooper, who said that “it does not make sense why (hemp) is illegal” in the eyes of the federal government. And with Sen. Coram, who believes that “hemp has a great future in Colorado.”

Does that future include Souhwest Colorado as well as the state’s vast farmlands east of the Front Range? Right now that is all speculation. But thanks to Coram, Catlin and the governor, we now have an opportunity to see.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2qXdUW2

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