Inside Denver - June 24th, 2019

Inside Denver (Jun 24th, 2019)

State pension loses $1.8B / Denver's illegal massage parlors / Colorado's lavender fields

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 After a wet weekend, it's starting to feel like summer. Expect highs in the upper 80s and a mix of sun and clouds.

1. Colorado's public employee pension fund lost $1.8 billion in value last year due to stock market volatility. The annual financial report, released Friday, showed a 3.5 percent drop in the PERA portfolio. PERA needs to grow 7.25 percent each year in order to cover its costs. About 600,000 state employees rely on the retirement fund. The pension has less than 60 percent of the money it owes for retirement benefits. Its debt increased to $31 billion in 2018. A legislative fix from last session lowered cost-of-living increases for retirees to 1.25 percent annually. Last year was the first net loss-year since the 2008 crash. — COLORADO SUN

2. The prosecution of a Denver couple for allegedly renting out a home they did not live in as an Airbnb shows the city is serious about its housing shortage, elected officials said this week. Stacy and Alexander Neir were arrested and charged with attempting to influence a public servant through means of deceit, a felony. Residents are required to live in homes they offer as vacation rentals, a protection meant to keep more homes available for long-term rentals in a city suffering from a lack of housing.  Mary Beth Susman, the District 5 councilwoman who pushed for tighter regulations on vacation rentals, said the Neirs' arrest was necessary to "let people know you can't do this." — DENVERITE

3. By the numbers: Gray wolf re-introduction

A group hoping to bring gray wolves back to Colorado may put the question of reintroduction to voters in November 2020. Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund got the OK from the Secretary of State to petition for Initiative 107. Gray wolves have been reintroduced to Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Wyoming in small numbers. The state's ranchers and big-game hunters are concerned that wolves would decimate herds of native and domestic animals. — COLORADO SUN

30-50: Number of wolves that would be introduced to Colorado's western slope initially

250: Likely maximum size of a wolf population that will be allowed in the state

5,500: U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimate of gray wolf population across nine states today

2 million: Gray wolf population at its peak in the United States

124,623: Number of signatures needed by Dec. 13 to place Initiative 107 on the 2020 ballot

4. Denver has twice as many illegal massage parlors as Nevada has legal brothels, according to an analysis by Rooster magazine. The analysis reviewed listings on a popular forum for so-called "mongers" — men who frequent massage parlors and share information online about location, price, experience and even specific sex workers. According to the site, there are 44 illegal massage parlors in Denver and three in Boulder. A separate investigation by KRDO in Colorado Springs found 36 massage parlors there.  — ROOSTER

On Tap

San Diego-based Modern Times Beer is now distributing in Colorado full-time, and Cerebral Brewing is doing a Tap Takeover on June 26, to welcome them to the Centennial state. 

Epic Brewing Company opened its RiNo Tap Room six years ago this month and plans to celebrate with beer releases, music, and other surprises at its 6th Anniversary Party on June 29.

On Tap is brought to you by Colorado Beer Girl. For a full calendar of events, visit her Facebook page.

5. At least five people have been killed in Colorado waterways, swollen with a historic spring runoff. Five rafting and boating deaths have been confirmed across the state, and a woman is missing after being seen in the Rio Grande. — COLORADO SUN

6. A herd of rare bison in Fort Collins is outgrowing its pasture after a busy birthing season. The initial herd of 10 "genetically pure" descendents of Yellowstone National Park bison now numbers 76, including 12 calves born this spring. — COLORADOAN

7. Two Colorado sandwich shops are duking it out over a sub. Cheba Hut, based in Fort Collins, sent a cease-and-desist to the original Quizno's in Denver to stop it from selling a "magic mushroom melt." Cheba Hut has had its magic mushroom sub on menus since 2003, according to the company. — THE KNOW

8Denver police are honoring the will of the people when it comes to magic mushrooms. No one has been arrested for psilocybin possession in the month since voters decriminalized psychadelic shrooms. Prior to its passage, about 50 people were charged each year. — WESTWORD

9. A jail cell, a ghost town and a drive-in movie theatre are among Colorado's more unique overnight offerings. Book your summer stay now in one of these offbeat repurposed hotels . — THE KNOW

10. You don't have to visit France for that perfect Insta shot in a lavender field: Just Colorado's western slope. The fragrant, picturesque plant has been growing in prominence over a decade-plus. Plan a visit this weekend for the Lavender Festival in Palisade. — COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO

Inside Denver is created by Shay Castle, a freelance journalist who has resided in/reported on the Denver metro for six years. Her work runs the gamut from investigations on state and local government to features on the World Championship of Massage (seriously). She enjoys beer, biking and maintaining a plucky Twitter account, @shayshinecastle.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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