At a time when many things have to be altered, the 2020 OHL Priority Selection went ahead in much the same way that it always has.
The London Knights added 16 new names to their family, many of which come with hefty hockey connections.
In total, the Knights drafted four players whose fathers played at least at the major junior level, two went on to the National Hockey League and they also rolled the dice on a forward who some hockey experts believe could be the best player in the entire draft in Frank Nazar. London landed him in the fifth round.
The sons of Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith, former NHLer Steve Dubinsky and former Sarnia Sting standout Jon Sim came before and after that selection and that says nothing of the Knights’ first two selections that sat back-to-back on London’s master draft list.
London general manager Mark Hunter called the name Ben Bujold of the Kanata Lasers at number 19 and then three picks later landed defenceman Jackson Edward of the York-Simcoe Express with the second selection of the second round.
Knights associate general manager Rob Simpson says Bujold was a player who impressed the organization every time they watched him play.
“We’re extremely excited to have Ben. He is quick and fast and always has the puck on his stick. His work ethic is exceptional and he can make plays.”
980 CFPL colour commentator Jim Van Horne believes London fans can think back to some of the qualities a player like former Knights captain Chris Tierney brought to the ice when they picture the kind of player Bujold could develop into. Tierney currently plays just a little farther east from Bujold’s hometown of Richmond, Ont., with the Ottawa Senators.
The next name the Knights had down was Edward, who Simpson says brings all kinds of dimensions to the team.
“He’s a big six-foot, one-inch defenceman who skates very well. He can transport the puck out of his own end… and has a good combination of offence and defence to his game.”
Team personnel decorated screens through Zoom as opposed to seats in a war room making sure COVID-19 precautions were followed and some things ended up working out better that way.
“It was kind of funny,” laughed Simpson. “If guys got talking too much or got too argumentative, you were able to mute them out.”
That’s a feature that doesn’t exist under normal circumstances when everyone is in the same place.
Next came Colton Smith who, after his dad was named Senators head coach, moved to Ottawa and actually played on a line with Bujold as part of the Kanata Lasers.
Simpson says Smith is one of the best goal scorers in the draft.
Their fourth pick not only brought London a father-son connection, but it also brought a Mark Hunter connection to a player who used to play for him when Hunter was the head coach of the Sarnia Sting.
Landon Sim is the son of Jon Sim who recorded back-to-back 56-goal seasons with Hunter in 1995-96 and 96-97. Sim went on to play 469 games in the NHL.
Jon Sim is from Nova Scotia and was able to play in the OHL because when he was in major junior there were no teams in the Maritimes in the QMJHL. Landon Sim has been playing in Nova Scotia but made the decision to declare to be eligible to play in the OHL because his father had done so.
Like his father, Landon Sim is not a big player but he oozes skill and determination just like his dad.
For the third-straight selection, the Knights found bloodlines when they nabbed Brody Crane, whose dad Derrick played for London from 1990 to 1993 before being moved to the Ottawa 67s and Windsor Spitfires.
Brody is from Union, Ont., and is committed to Penn State but Simpson says he is a local player who has “skill and breakaway speed and a physical dimension to his game. With him being a local player we are hoping to be able to recruit him for the future.”
The Knights had a second pick in the fourth round and landed a defenceman who many feel could have gone much higher in Isaiah George.
“We had him rated very high up,” admitted Simpson. “He is a puck-moving defenceman. He breaks the puck out of his own zone very well. He has great gap-control and can really skate and has skill.
Then came a player to watch in round five. He may not be a Knight right away. He has many options as far as his future path is concerned but, according to Simpson, the Knights felt they have to give Frank Nazar one more option.
“He is committed to the USNTP but he could very well be the first overall pick. He is an exceptional player with talent and skill. He makes plays and has explosive speed. One of his favourite players growing up was Patrick Kane and we’re hoping he can one day follow along in that same model and be a London Knight after the program as well.”
The son of former Sudbury Wolves winger Terry Chitaroni was drafted two picks after Nazar. Mason Chitaroni played minor midget in Sault Ste. Marie this past season.
In the sixth round, London selected goaltender Owen Flores of the Chicago Young Americans. He was one of two goalies the Knights drafted. Owen Willmore of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs was the Knights 14th round pick.
London took centre Jonah Aegerter of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies in the seventh round and centre Andy Reist of the Waterloo Wolves in the ninth round.
The Knights went back to NHL bloodlines in Round 10 with defenceman Aiden Dubinsky. His father Steve played for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues.
In the past, Thunder Bay has brought London players who became captains like Danny Bois and Joel Scherban. In the eleventh round on Saturday, it gave the Knights forward Jack Pineau.
London drafted winger Nate Dowling of the Windsor Jr. Spitfires in the 13th round and closed their selections by taking centre Nicholas Yearwood of the North York Rangers.
With the National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended indefinitely, the Charlotte Hornets’ American guard has given small ball new meaning. He has turned to mini-basketball at home, making a shot all the way from his balcony to his driveway.
BIANCA WALKDEN TAKES ON WASHING MACHINE CHALLENGE
The British taekwondo world champion executed a different kind of strike, sending a football into a washing machine off the wall.
SOFA SO GOOD FOR MAX WHITLOCK
The British Olympic pommel horse champion performed a routine on his sofa and enjoyed a soft landing.
KANE WILLIAMSON GETS CAUGHT
The New Zealand cricket captain was dismissed in his own backyard by his dog. Sandy seems well trained.
RENAUD LAVILLENIE IMPROVISING
No equipment? No problem.
The French Olympic pole vault champion’s exercises include squatting while carrying his wife, doing skullcrushers while carrying his daughter, and weightlifting using tyres.
EQUIPMENT WORKOUT WITH JAZZ CARLIN
No use for your swimming equipment because pools are closed?
Do not worry, as the British double Olympic medallist demonstrates exercises you can do with fins and floats.
FOGNINI RACKS UP HITS
Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini has an accomplished sparring partner at home in wife Flavia Pennetta, the retired 2015 US Open champion. The couple traded volleys, with a clothes rack as a makeshift net.
APRIL ROSS SETS HERSELF UP
Beach volleyball for one? World champion April Ross shows how it can be done – with a wooden board.
CARLA REBECCHI’S CHILD’S PLAY
What is better than watching an Olympic hockey medallist practise her dribbling with some castle buckets? Watch the Argentinian play with her daughter.
DOUGLAS COSTA’S PET MOVES
With Serie A matches suspended, Juventus’ Brazil winger protected the ball from his dog.
Duke Health announces coronavirus decontamination for N95 masks
Duke Health has formulated a technology that decontaminates medical masks for re-purposing. FOX Business’ Ashley Webster with more.
At 3:38 a.m. Wednesday morning, the New England Patriots' team plane departed from an unusual locale: Shenzhen, China. On board the Boeing 767, in the cargo hold that used to be home to Tom Brady's duffel bags, were 1.2 million N95 masks bound for the U.S.
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Video and pictures of the event show workers in masks and full-body suits at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport loading box after box of the scarce and valuable personal protective equipment onto a red, white and blue plane emblazoned with the Patriots logo and "6X CHAMPIONS."
PATRIOTS COACH BILL BELICHICK TACKLES CORONAVIRUS WITH MESSAGE TO FANS, HEALTH CARE WORKERS
The plane was permitted to be on the ground in China for a maximum of three hours, people familiar with the matter said, and the crew was required to stay on the plane while a ground crew loaded the cargo. It took 2 hours and 57 minutes. On Thursday, that plane will land somewhere more familiar: Boston Logan International Airport.
The story of this remarkable delivery, based on documents and interviews with people involved in the operation, is a window into the frenzied scramble by states to acquire life-saving equipment needed to battle the coronavirus pandemic. The process involves not just tracking down goods, but also tapping intermediaries and calling in favors to navigate a dense global bureaucracy that the pandemic has virtually paralyzed.
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: EASTERN AIRLINES FLYING STRANDED AMERICANS HOME
As the country and the medical system have grappled with responding to the virus, one of the greatest pressure points has been the shortage of N95 masks, critical equipment to protect against its spread. Demand has significantly outpaced supply, putting health-care workers and patients at even greater risk.
Massachusetts' quest to acquire these masks was a tense, weekslong saga that began with the state's governor and winded through embassies, private partners and the U.S.'s most successful football franchise. After a layover in Alaska and an anxious process to win approval from Chinese officials, the plane was given permission to land in China to collect the masks.
"I've never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome," said Robert Kraft, the Patriots' owner. "In today's world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us."
The effort began with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who was concerned about the state's mask supply and, two weeks ago, believed he had struck a deal to acquire more than a million of them from a collection of Chinese manufacturers. But officials had to figure out how to get them shipped out of China at a time when unusual cargo shipments out of the country can be especially tricky.
"I just have to get them here," he told a longtime friend.
NFL TEAMS PUTTING CORONAVIRUS CLAUSES IN FREE AGENT CONTRACTS: REPORT
That longtime friend was Jonathan Kraft, Robert Kraft's son, who holds two jobs that became highly relevant to the proceedings. Jonathan Kraft is the chairman of the board at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the country's most renowned facilities. He's also the Patriots' president, and the team had something it thought might be of help: a giant airplane.
There were tough questions to resolve. Robert and Jonathan Kraft first had to check if the plane were ready and able to make such a lengthy journey on such short notice. There was also the fact that the team's Boeing 767 is a passenger plane built to carry Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, not massive stores of cargo.
Then, most critically, they had to secure permission to land in China — a delicate feat during this global pandemic. Even if they received the proper permits, they were worried the pilots would be required by China to quarantine for 14 days before returning.
The primary issue was the simplest: getting the right to land the 767. Gov. Baker, the U.S. State Department, Robert Kraft and others sent letters to China's general counsel in New York requesting the special permits. The letters, dated March 24 to 30, ask for waivers to allow the humanitarian mission and state that no member of the crew would leave the aircraft.
By last Friday night, the crew had moved to Wilmington, Ohio, because the plane needed an avionics upgrade for the international trip. The mission received waivers from China to land and do so without quarantining — nobody would be on board besides the necessary flight crew — but they were told the crew still needed visas. So the entire group scrambled to a local pharmacy and took pictures for the application. The pictures were flown to New York to be taken to the Chinese embassy, and then flown back to Ohio. Huang Ping, China's counsel general in New York, proved to be a major ally in the effort and get the rush jobs done, including by opening the consulate over the weekend to get the visas processed in time, people familiar with the matter said.
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Next, the plane headed to Alaska. The only breaks the crew took from then on were for mandatory rest and downtime. As a precaution, the crew included maintenance people and spare parts so they could solve any potential issues in China without people on the ground.
In addition to handling the logistics and the plane, the Kraft family had agreed to pay $2 million, or approximately half the cost of the goods. The order of 1.7 million N95 masks was produced by various manufacturers across the country. "What we needed," said Jim Nolan, who spearheaded the logistics as the COO of Kraft Sports and Entertainment, "were boots on the ground to gather the goods and get them to the right place."
They needed even more than that: the products needed to be counted, inspected and then quickly ushered through customs. Through intermediaries, people familiar with the matter said, they were connected to executives at Chinese tech giant Tencent, who pledged a crew of more than a dozen people. Over the course of several days, the Tencent team mobilized to inspect and aggregate the masks. Some facilities had less than promised and were still waiting on the production to be complete. The crew stayed with the goods overnight to make sure nothing happened to them before taking them to the Shenzhen airport and shuttling them through customs.
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By early Wednesday morning on the East Coast, the Patriots' 767 had landed in Shenzhen from Alaska. It stayed grounded for 2 hours and 57 minutes — just within the three-hour window the crew was given. Because cargo wasn't allowed on parts of the passenger plane, only 1.2 million of the masks fit. The rest, which is being held securely by Tencent, will be transported shortly on another shipment.
The plane headed back to Alaska, and then Boston. But that wasn't the last stop for some of the masks. Robert Kraft, despite his franchise's historical acrimony with the New York Jets, has always held a soft spot for New York. He attended Columbia University, has a residence in the city and said he was especially moved when the two teams played in the first weekend of games after the 9/11 attacks, when the Patriots were led out of the tunnel by a Patriots' player whose family members served in the New York City Fire Department and were being cheered on the field.
Kraft added that he has been moved by the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the last several weeks. And that gave him an idea.
So, with the agreement of Gov. Baker, they pledged to send 300,000 of the masks on to New York.
Sport has some basic rules. Put the ball over the net. Stay on your feet. Bradbury, the Australian, did the second and it took him from last to first. In the men’s short track 1,000m speed skating event, Bradbury was in fifth place. Then the top four skaters got in a tangle in the end, all fell and Bradbury skated past them and over the finish line. Then, fittingly, he said: “I don’t think I’ll take the medal as the minute-and-a-half of the race I actually won. I’ll take it as the last decade of the hard slog I put in.”
2 RULON GARDNER, OLYMPIC WRESTLING, 2000
Aleksandr Karelin once carried a fridge up to his flat. He reportedly weighed 7kg at birth. He won three successive Olympic super heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling gold medals (1988, 1992, 1996) and had not lost a bout in 13 years and was nicknamed “The Experiment”. A fourth Olympic gold in 2000 was a formality because he was fighting a relatively unheralded Wyoming farmboy named Rulon Gardner. But Gardner somehow, incredibly, prevailed, and later said: “I kept saying, ‘I think I can. I think I can.’ But it wasn’t until it was over that I knew I could.”
3 NIGERIAN FOOTBALL TEAM, OLYMPICS, 1996
In the semi-finals, the Nigerians played a Brazilian team which had Ronaldo, Bebeto and Roberto Carlos. Nigeria trailed 1-3. In the final, the Nigerians played an Argentinian team which had Hernan Crespo and Diego Simeone. Nigeria trailed 1-2. Yet the African team won both matches, the semi-final 4-3 and the final 3-2, on their way to a miraculous gold. In Nigeria that night, wrote The Guardian, some bars ran out of beer.
4 BUSTER DOUGLAS, HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING, 1990
In Mike Tyson’s 35th fight, Michael Spinks lasted 91 seconds. In Tyson’s 37th fight, Carl Williams was down in 93 seconds. So it was appropriate that in Tyson’s 38th fight, Buster Douglas was a 40-1 outsider. But Tyson was not in perfect shape and Douglas was unafraid. Despite being knocked down in the eighth round, Douglas knocked Tyson down for the first time ever in the 10th round and won. “I knew he would break,” Douglas told The Independent years later, “if I kept on hitting him. And what did I have to lose?”
5 BORIS BECKER, WIMBLEDON, 1985
The son of a German architect had a beautifully-built serve which he used to knock down people and history. When the tournament began in 1985, Becker was world No. 20 and not widely known; when the tournament ended, he had become, and would stay, unforgettable. The 17-year-old had style, power, joy and timing. His 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 win in the final over Kevin Curren made him the youngest champion on those lawns, the first German man to win there and the first unseeded player to grab the men’s singles.
6 HINAKO SHIBUNO, BRITISH OPEN GOLF, 2019
She had never played a tournament outside Japan. She had never played in an LPGA event. She had never been at a Major. But Shibuno, a cheerful presence who was dubbed “Smiling Cinderella”, won the British Open at Woburn by a single shot. When asked by a reporter how she would spend her winnings, she replied: “Could you tell me how much I won?”
You could say quarterback Chris Streveler has not forgotten his roots.
Streveler was signed by the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals after helping the Winnipeg Blue Bombers end their Grey Cup drought last season, but on Wednesday he took to Instagram Live to answer questions for football fans in Winnipeg.
Well over 200 people logged on to the livestream to see a shirtless Streveler entertain for more than two hours, much like he did during the Grey Cup parade.
It was still well before noon in Arizona, but that didn’t stop Streveler from chugging several beers like he had just won the cup.
“Just chugging beers on a Wednesday morning,” Streveler exclaimed before putting back a cold one while wearing a Bombers T-shirt.
As the beers kept flowing, eventually the shirt came off.
“Just pounding beers with no shirt on,” he said. “Dude, it’s quarantine life. No one cares how you look.
“The PR (public relations) guy for the Bombers is freaking out right now.”
Streveler was asked by one young Bombers fan if he’d come back to the Bombers if he’s cut by the Cardinals.
“I’m really hoping I make Arizona,” he said. “That’s the plan, but I’d love to come to the CFL. I love the CFL. I love Winnipeg. I’d love to be back, but sometimes with the business and stuff, you never know what’s going to happen.
“But after the season I was pretty adamant about coming back to Winnipeg. I love it there.”
Streveler had a number of his ex-Bombers teammates on the stream. Lucky Whitehead, Brandon Alexander, Nic Demski, Jake Thomas, Mike Miller and Stanley Bryant all made brief cameos.
Streveler also had his sister and “Nana” join in on the fun, and even convinced his Nana to take a shot.
“I think I might make this a weekly thing,” Streveler said. “I think I’m addicted to Instagram Live now.
“I’m just trying to have fun with you guys. I know this is a tough time for people for real.”
Streveler added that he’d be back in Winnipeg at some point this summer to watch the Bombers.
Canceled sporting events causing ripple effect for workers, vendors
Fox News Headlines 24/7 sports reporter Jared Max discusses the ‘huge’ economic impact of sporting events being canceled or suspended due to coronavirus fears.
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Wimbledon was canceled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.
Britain imposed a nationwide lockdown just over a week ago, and the All England Club announced after a two-day emergency meeting that the event it refers to simply as The Championships is being scrapped for 2020. That hadn’t happened since 1945.
SPORTS BETTORS CHANGE STRATEGY DURING CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWN
Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.
Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.
Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer surely spoke for many with a one-word message on Twitter: “Devastated.”
Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men’s and women’s professional tours would be suspended until at least July 13, bringing the number of elite tennis tournaments affected by the coronavirus to more than 30. The top tours already had been on hold through June 7. Lower-level events on the Challenger Tour and ITF World Tennis Tour also are called off through mid-July now.
A sign outside one of the main gates to Wimbledon as it is announced the Wimbledon tennis Championships for 2020 has been canceled due to the coronavirus in London, Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.
“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars,” club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a news release, “but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”
Wimbledon joins the growing list of sports events called off completely in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics — which have been pushed back 12 months — and the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.
APOLO OHNO: CORONAVIRUS COULD CHANGE HOW OLYMPICS, SPORTS ARE EXPERIENCED
SINGAPORE – Former national judo captain Gary Chow has been barred for 24 months from all competitions, events and programmes organised or sponsored by the Singapore Judo Federation (SJF), potentially ruling the three-time SEA Games medallist out of next year’s event in Hanoi.
This was announced by the national sports association (NSA) in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning (April 1), following a Feb 21 report by the SJF Ad Hoc Disciplinary Committee (DC). The independent three-member DC comprised Chia Min Chong, Chris Holland and Ho Han Ming.
According to the four-page report published on SJF’s website, the DC had taken Chow to task after he had withdrawn from the 2019 SEA Games squad a day before the Singapore National Olympic Council’s (SNOC) selection meeting on Aug 1 for the biennial event.
Chow, who won a silver and two bronze medals in judo at three editions of the Games (2013, 2015, 2017), then switched to a different sport. He subsequently won the sambo men’s 82kg class silver at the Nov 30-Dec11 Games in the Philippines.
When contacted by The Straits Times, the 29-year-old declined to comment on the matter.
The DC report noted that in July 1 and Sept 20 emails to SJF high performance manager Azfar Ali, the athlete had raised concerns about his judo preparations for the SEA Games and had said that “he had been unsuccessful in trying to find the motivation and drive to compete”.
In its “findings of fact”, the DC said that Chow had on July 1 last year represented to SJF that he would train full time in judo if his application to join Sport Singapore’s (SportSG) Spex Glow scheme was successful. The scheme disburses grants to athletes for loss of wages.
In his email to SJF on July 31 informing it of his withdrawal from the judo squad, Chow had also copied SportSG and the SNOC without prior notice or consultation with them, said the report. He was reported to have made the 11th hour pullout to join the 2019 SEA Games sambo squad.
In its findings, it also said that the judo federation had borne certain costs for Chow’s preparations for the Games as he had competed in some international competitions, and that he was aware that his pullout “could have an adverse impact on the morale of the Singapore judo team”. His actions also made it difficult for the SJF to find a replacement for the 81kg category for the Games, resulting in the NSA being unable to field a four-man team for the team event.
The judo squad won a silver in the men’s 100kg and two bronzes in the men’s 73kg and 90kg at the SEA Games last December.
“The conduct of Mr Chow in connection with his withdrawal, in particular the manner and timing thereof, was conduct unbecoming, in particular taking into account his position as a Spex carded athlete who had competed in three SEA Games and as captain of the squad,” said the DC.
With these findings, the DC had recommended to the SJF executive committee to “withhold any form of support for Mr Chow in connection with the sports of judo (including designating Mr Chow as ineligible to participate in competitions, events and programmes organised or sponsored by SJF) for a period of 24 months from Dec 31, 2019”.
It also observed that while the athlete should have the freedom to choose whether to participate in any sport at any time, the timing and manner of his withdrawal allowed him to use the judo team’s resources “until the last practicable timing before switching to qualify for the SEA Games sambo squad”. Given the significance of the Games and his role as captain, he should have consulted with SJF his intention to withdraw “as opposed to presenting SJF with a fait accompli at a very late stage for the SEA Games 2019 cycle”.
The DC’s recommendations were taken up by the SJF, which announced its decision on Wednesday. Its president Yeo Chin Seng declined comment when contacted by ST.
As a result, Chow will not be able to compete in next year’s SEA Games in Vietnam if judo is contested there, as the SJF website states that its selection criteria for the Games includes two selection trials, with the ineligibility ruling the judoka out of the competitions.
Mark Chay, chair of the SNOC Athletes Commission, told ST that Chow had spoken to him on whether to make the switch from judo to sambo. While he said the SJF’s 24-month ban was surprising, the former national swimmer added: “The first course of action, if he wants to, is to appeal to the association. If there is no such route for appeal, he can approach the SNOC Athletes Commission and we can understand the matter from both sides. What matters is that the athlete has a voice and had fair representation.”
It was two weeks ago to the day that the governor announced the state’s first two known cases of the coronavirus. Don’t panic, Jared Polis said at a news conference. He was asked whether Coloradans should change their daily routines. “I don’t plan on changing mine,” he said.
I attended that news conference, because I cover the governor and because I happened to be in the area. But I figured I was just pitching in on a story that would mostly fall to our health reporters. I had other things to worry about on the statehouse beat: the expected signing the death penalty repeal, the introduction of the public option, the effort to create a statewide paid family and medical leave program — and a few dozen other important bills working their way through the legislature.
As recently as early last week, I was still in that mode. By last Wednesday, I was paying much closer attention, as it became obvious that the Capitol would probably shut down because of the coronavirus. By Friday, it was clear to me that I, like most every other reporter in this state, was going to have to transition full time to the coronavirus beat.
So, here we are. This newsletter is brought to you by a Denver Post politics team spread out in kitchens and living rooms, processing the latest developments with shock and horror like the rest of you, trying to keep sane and keep pace with this virus and the seemingly unlimited ways it affects all the stuff we typically write about.
In this week’s newsletter, Saja Hindi writes about the state legislature, which paused its work right in the middle of crunch time, with hundreds of bills on the vine, and which may or may not be able to get much done the rest of the year. Justin Wingerter checks in on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, which amid this outbreak has some key dates coming up, and several candidates who’ve been stressed over what is now a nearly impossible task of gathering petition signatures. And Conrad Swanson writes on a new normal for Denver politics.
We’re working nonstop to stay on top of this, but now, more than ever, we need readers to stay in touch. Tell us what you’re seeing, hearing, feeling or wondering, wherever you may be. It’s difficult — not to mention dangerous — for us to get out and report on the ground as we typically do every single day, so please, if there’s a person or community or angle you think we need to be paying attention to, get in touch at [email protected]
To support the important journalism we do, you can become a Denver Post subscriber here.
You can send tips, comments and questions to me at [email protected] or to the other Post reporters below.
A Colorado House member learns she has tested positive for COVID-19, while a would-be colleague dropped out of his state House race after contracting the virus.
Capitol Diary • By Saja Hindi
Priorities in a pandemic
Colorado’s lawmakers are still trying to figure out what their next steps are during the coronavirus pandemic and the pause of the session, but they haven’t given up on all of their big priorities.
The Capitol is closed to the public indefinitely and the legislature is on hiatus until March 30 — which likely will be extended. In the meantime, the Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to take up the question of whether the 120-day legislative session has to run consecutive days or if lawmakers can resume the session later this year. Parties have until Tuesday to file briefs with the court.
Regardless, lawmakers have to return to pass a budget and the School Finance Act. Although Democrats, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, will have to abandon some of their plans for the year with significant changes in the economic forecast due to the coronavirus pandemic, they aren’t letting go of everything.
“Right now, we’re in the mode of looking to make a lot of cuts, so adding new spending, if it’s discretionary, if it’s not immediately connected to the pandemic, it’s just not likely to happen,” House Speaker KC Becker told reporters on a call this week.
But there are some exceptions, and that includes figuring out a paid family and medical leave program — assuming they have enough time to get that passed. Many say the pandemic underscores exactly why the state’s workers need such protections.
Another priority bill they haven’t totally dropped is one proposing a hybrid public insurance option. The fiscal note suggests it won’t be expensive — though also not free, Becker said, and cutting health care costs for consumers remains a priority.
“The cost to implement that bill is a whole lot less than the savings people would realize,” she said.
Still, she acknowledged that hospitals are busy with the pandemic. Even before the closures began to mount and economic impacts became more clear, hospital executives argued that this wasn’t the time to implement a plan that they believe would have unintended consequences to operations. Proponents of the measure argue that hospital profit margins are soaring while consumers struggle to pay for care.
No final decisions have been made, according to House Democrats, and until that happens, hospital groups are continuing to run ads against the proposal.
More Colorado political news
The coronavirus pandemic could cost the state budget more than $800 million.
Gov. Jared Polis’ handling of the pandemic earns mostly praise.
A declared state of emergency gives the governor more power. Here’s what he can do.
The fate of Democrats’ mental health bills is unclear, but advocates say they’re now even more important.
#COSen 2020 • By Justin Wingerter
John Hickenlooper’s use of a federal fund to pay for his ethics defense is the focus of dueling ads online and on-air this month.
“Eighty-thousand dollars meant to help Colorado’s economy, treated like a slush fund,” states one of the many ads from Unite for Colorado, a dark-money conservative group that bought $550,000 in TV and radio time last week and has dropped $40,000 on Facebook.
As The Postreported in November, Hickenlooper is represented by a private-practice attorney being paid $525 per hour from a federal fund meant to help the state’s economy in 2003. As ThePost reported in January, the “essential services” fund was routinely used by Hickenlooper and his predecessor for nonessential expenses and remains in use 17 years later.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group, released a television ad responding to the Unite for Colorado ads. “Cory Gardner’s special-interest allies are attacking John Hickenlooper with smears called ‘politically motivated lies,’” that ad states, citing a Post editorial about the ethics case. The ad then pivots to footage of President Donald Trump twice saying Gardner has “been with us 100%” during a recent rally in Colorado Springs.
Then there is Colorado Ethics Watch, which has spent a few thousand dollars on Facebook to share articles and two ads about Hickenlooper’s spending from the federal fund. (The group should not be confused with a former group by the same name, which shut down in 2017.)
Side note: On Monday, the Independent Ethics Commission rescheduled a hearing in Hickenlooper’s case from March 24 to April 28, citing federal recommendations against gatherings of 10 or more people. This further delays a resolution in the 17-month-old case.
An assembly opening
Last week, when Democratic candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding vowed to remain in the U.S. Senate race and win over Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff delegates, it looked like an impossible task. Then two things happened that made it appear less than impossible.
First, Spaulding showed up at the Park County Democrats’ assembly on Saturday. The weekend before, she had 9% of support in Park County, but she left Fairplay with 22%.
Two days later, Hickenlooper bowed out of the caucus and assembly process, freeing up his delegates. Spaulding’s campaign quickly issued a press release urging any former Hickenlooper delegates to now support her. She will need 30% of total delegates to do so April 18 to get on the June 30 primary ballot.
“Even in Logan County, we were able to get a delegate going forward to the state assembly from there. So, we are having some success and need to just keep doing the due diligence,” Spaulding said in an interview Wednesday.
Trish Zornio, who also fell well short of 30% during the March 7 round of caucuses, could benefit from Hickenlooper’s maneuver as well. She criticized Hickenlooper and Romanoff on Monday, calling the latter an unexciting 53-year-old lawyer who has lost two federal races.
Romanoff, meanwhile, continues to take victory laps after cruising through the caucuses. His campaign told supporters Tuesday that “our people-powered campaign just drove Andrew’s leading opponent out of the Democratic assembly,” referring to Hickenlooper’s decision.
Another side note: Dave Goldfischer, a University of Denver professor who made a longshot Senate run, formally ended his candidacy Monday. “But I got to talk to and listen to a lot of Coloradans, and many responded to my message. So it was a great experience,” he told The Post this week.
More Senate race news
Senate candidates ran into a crucial signature-gathering deadline Tuesdaywith varying success. They’re blaming coronavirus and, in one case, even going to court.
Three Coloradans in Congress, including Gardner,met with a constituent with coronavirus March 11. Two are self-quarantining as a result, but Sen. Michael Bennet is not.
Playboy, which you can buy for the articles, wrote this one about Gardner.
Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson
Changes at Denver City Council
Denver City Council will continue to meet despite the coronavirus pandemic, Council President Jolon Clark told The Denver Post.
Things will look a little different, however.
Council is an essential part of Denver’s government, Clark said. The group is required to meet by city charter and is not currently allowed to participate in weekly meetings remotely.
The group did, however, approve a new ordinance Monday allowing Clark to cancel meetings during times of emergency. The group must meet again next week for a second vote on that new law before it’s finalized.
If Denver’s agencies and departments need extra money — and they will — as costs climb to combat the virus, that process will move much faster with council’s approval. In addition, the council is needed to continue existing contracts that provide government services such as maintaining the city’s homeless shelters. Those contracts also keep people employed during these economically uncertain times, Clark noted.
Some business, though, can likely wait.
While council can’t video conference in, Clark said the group is considering whether the entire body needs to be present for meetings or if a simple quorum of seven members could arrive in person to meetings. That way if members are exposed to the virus — which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 — the entire group won’t get sick.
Such a move would limit agenda items before the body to noncontroversial requests and laws. Meetings moving forward will likely have robust consent agendas.
So contentious zoning requests, for example, can be pushed until a later date, Clark said.
Council canceled public comment for its Monday meetings in an attempt to reduce crowds and limit potential exposure, and some regular committee meetings have been canceled, as well.
More Denver and suburban political news
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock ordered bars and restaurants to close to dine-in services Monday morning. Shortly after, Gov. Jared Polis issued a similar order for the entire state.
A number of Denver agencies are shifting their services online in an attempt to encourage social distancing. The city’s Human Services department is among them.
The Regional Transportation District’s ridership is dropping dramatically, but services still won’t be cut.
The Denver International Airport is preparing for the possibility that domestic flights will be halted.
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A thriller about snowmobiles and survival is being filmed in Grand Lake.
The movie tells the story of a couple, played by Ashley A. Williams and Vernon Davis, who go on a snowmobile trip near Grand Lake to rekindle their relationship. During the tour, they witness the murder of their guide and must fight to stay alive in a brutal landscape.
“Wrong place, wrong time,” Director Steven C. Pitts said of the plot as the crew prepared for filming Tuesday. “It’s basically a survival story.”
The film, called “Red Winter,” is being shot in Grand Lake for the next two weeks before wrapping up in Denver. Producers for the project are Errol Sadler, Marcus Smoot and Colin Floom.
While the crew has not yet determined how the movie will be distributed, Pitts hopes for it to be released by next winter. It might also feature a couple local faces as extras in the movie.
Read more on Sky-Hi News.
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St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo says teammate Jay Bouwmeester is in good health some seven weeks after having a cardioverter defibrillator implanted in his chest.
Pietrangelo said he and his teammates have occasionally stopped in to see Bouwmeester while the NHL is on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. He said he’s pleased to see Bouwmeester taking walks through their St. Louis-area neighbourhood.
Saying “Bow’s good,” the Blues veteran defenceman provided the update Tuesday during an NHL video conference call featuring Central Division players.
The 36-year-old Bouwmeester has been ruled out from returning to play this season, including the playoffs, after he collapsed on the bench during the first period of a game at the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11.