Interview

Fortress Press

Amber Cantorna was raised in a devout Christian family in Colorado Springs -- the daughter of an executive at the powerful Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian ministry, Focus on the Family. She was homeschooled, deeply involved with the church, and a firm believer in the religious values espoused by the organization. This included Focus' stance on the topic of marriage, which Cantorna characterizes as being "strictly between one man and one woman, and that was not to be debated -- that was a very black-and-white issue. And the LGBT community was seen as destroying the family unit." 

Longtime NPR host Robert Siegel is retiring after 30 years as a co-host of All Things Considered.

During his wide-ranging career, Siegel has covered some of the most historic events in modern U.S. history, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. One of his many reporting projects brought him to Greeley, Colorado in 2003, where he delved into the fascinating story of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian writer who lived in the city in 1949. Qutb’s writings would later form the theoretical basis for many of the radical Islamic groups of today, including al Qaeda.

COURTESY OF SENATE PRESIDENT KEVIN GRANTHAM

Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham is term limited and sat down with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland to discuss his focus for his final legislative session.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Lawmakers head to the gold dome on Jan. 10 to begin Colorado's annual legislative session. Here are highlights from statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland's interview with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville about his priorities.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran is heading into her final legislative session as a lawmaker. She talked to statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland about her goals when the session starts up on Jan. 10.

Here are some highlights from statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland's interview with her.

Courtesy Gov. John Hickenlooper's Office

Colorado lawmakers return to the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, to begin the annual legislative session. For term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, he'll soon be delivering his final state of the state address.

Here are highlights from statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland's interview with him.

Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain

Of all the works of art that have been inspired by or created in Colorado Springs, perhaps none is more famous than the song, "America the Beautiful." It's a patriotic song nearly as recognizable and beloved as the National Anthem itself.

But despite the song’s popularity, the woman behind those famous lyrics is less well known. A new book called Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea, by author Melinda M. Ponder, examines the life of poet Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote the first draft of "America the Beautiful" while teaching in Colorado Springs in the summer of 1893. Ponder spoke with 91.5 KRCC about how Bates' experience in Colorado Springs shaped her patriotism.

Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute

 

This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival in Colorado Springs. It’s the longest continuously running women’s film festival in North America. Between Friday night and Sunday, viewers can catch dozens of films at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and in venues across the Colorado College campus.

Courtesy Darrell Hammond

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Darrell Hammond is the featured speaker at the 9th annual Heroes of Mental Health luncheon, taking place Thursday, November 2. The comedian is perhaps best known for his impressions of Bill Clinton and Sean Connery, and he also played Donald Trump and Al Gore on the sketch program. 

After President Trump tweeted that the U.S. military would no longer “allow or accept” transgender people to serve, troops on the ground were left with uncertainty. Military leaders say the policy won’t change until top Pentagon officials figure out how to implement it.

Emma Shinn is a 41-year-old Coloradan and veteran. She served in the Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in 2014. When she served there was a ban on transgender people. Last year, she transitioned.  

Flickr User: Pictures of Money / Creative Commons

Things are in limbo after Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell delayed a vote on the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. A group of 13 senators crafted the bill after the House passed their version of a health care bill in May to replace what is also known as Obamacare.

Based on what's in the Senate bill right now, Bente Birkeland spoke with Joe Hanel of the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute to break down what the numbers could mean for residents and the state's budget.

Jeffrey M. Foster / Courtesy UCCS

It's been slightly more than a month since Dr. Venkat Reddy officially took over the top spot at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, but he's no stranger to the school.  He's spent 25 years there, starting as a finance faculty member, serving as Dean of the Business School, and shepherding online education for the University.  

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Despite some setbacks, Colorado lawmakers are praising the now completed 2017 legislative session.  Lawmakers avoided major funding cuts to hospitals and took a step toward jump-starting condominium developments, but they failed to send a measure to voters that sought to raise the state's sales tax to fund road infrastructure repair.

Bente Birkeland spoke with Democratic Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran about some of the major pieces of legislation that passed through the Democratic House and Republican Senate.

John Nowak / CNN

Comedian W. Kamau Bell uses humor to probe the dark corners of American culture. As host of the CNN show, "United Shades of America," he’s interviewed everyone from inmates in San Quentin prison to members of the Ku Klux Klan, exploring the racial, political, and socioeconomic forces that shape life in America. He also has a new book out, "The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell," hosts three podcasts, and is on a national stand-up comedy tour.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Earlier this month, Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Nick Coltrain won the First Amendment Award in the Society for Professional Journalists' Top of the Rockies contest for a battle with Colorado State University. He wanted to know if there were inequities in pay between men and women.  He discovered there were, but only after a lot of work. The school provided him with a printout of all the information—150 pages of an Excel spreadsheet—rather than the files themselves.

Coltrain's struggle to convert the printouts into something he could analyze prompted a battle about the public's right to access data. On April 25, a senate bill to require electronic records be made available where possible advanced by a 7 to 6 vote in the House Finance Committee.

Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

Left-of-center candidates made out well in this month's Colorado Springs City Council election. Progressive favorites Richard Skorman, Yolanda Avila, and Jill Gaebler beat their more conservative challengers, and left-leaning David Geislinger was elected following an unopposed campaign. Together, along with at-large representative Bill Murray, these four could comprise a new, more liberal majority on Colorado Springs City Council. 

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Colorado's $28.6 billion budget is nearing the end of its legislative journey. Each year, the six-member, bipartisan Joint Budget Committee crafts a balanced budget before sending it to the House and Senate for amendments. The JBC then has to reconcile those changes.

But in most cases, they go back to the original budget they spend months writing. This year, the House and Senate have added about 30 amendments to the so-called "long bill."

Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith [LC-DIG-highsm-11937]

Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River is a new book from David Owen, a staff writer with the New Yorker magazine and author of more than a dozen books.  His latest takes him on a journey across the west following the Colorado River: the dams, reservoirs and pipelines that help quench the thirst of seven states and parts of Mexico. 

Republican state Sen. Ray Scott could help define one of the most often used phrases of 2017: fake news. 

The battle centers around an opinion column published in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel about Senate Bill 40, a bill to increase access to public records. The column implies that a scheduled hearing was postponed because Scott -- who serves as assistant majority leader -- didn’t support it. 

91.5 KRCC

It is unclear how the Trump administration's freezing of grants and awards from the Environmental Protection Agency will impact programs in Colorado.

We talked with Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com and Luke Perkins from the Durango Herald about how politicians are reacting—and working together—in the face of potential funding losses.

Lawmakers have introduced the first set of bills of the legislative session-over 200 so far. As part of our capitol conversation series, Kristen Wyatt with the Associated Press and Joey Bunch with ColoradoPolitics.com talk about what proposals stood out to them.

KIRK SIEGLER / KUNC

The first few days of Colorado's 2017 legislative session provided glimpses into the next few months as legislative leaders and the governor outlined their plans and priorities.

Hickenlooper file photo

Governor John Hickenlooper is entering his second to last legislative session as governor. He said he's very aware of his time in office being limited, and that colored his discussion of his goals for the upcoming legislative session.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Democratic Sen. Lucia Guzman, representing Denver in District 34, is the only legislative leader returning to her role, but it's something she didn't expect. Guzman said Democrats fully anticipated winning the majority in the Senate, but after the November election they are still one seat shy. The GOP holds a 18-17 seat advantage.

Courtesy of Kevin Grantham

Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham will lead the state Senate in 2017, where his party held onto its one-seat majority. Grantham is from Cañon City and represents District 2.  He says he's the first rural senate president in over four decades.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Republican Patrick Neville is only serving his second term in office, but he recently rose to the highest position in his caucus--House Minority Leader. Neville's selection comes as a surprise; Rep. Polly Lawrence, who has served in the legislature since 2012, was considered the heir apparent.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Democratic Representative Crisanta Duran will serve as the top lawmaker in the state House of Representatives next session, leading the 65-member chamber as speaker of the house. She will also be the first Latina to serve in that role in state history.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

With increasing populations and out-of-state travelers, there are more drivers on Colorado's roads than ever before. Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, shared some important takeaways on the new reality for Colorado motorists unless more money is found to fix roads and bridges, and build new road projects.

One of the first items on President-elect Donald Trump’s to-do list when he takes office will be to nominate a Supreme Court justice. While campaigning, Trump released a list of possible nominees, which included three judges from Colorado: Chief Judge Timothy Michael Tymkovich and Judge Neil McGill Gorsuch, both serving on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justice Allison Hartwell Eid of the Colorado Supreme Court. 

Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

There are few who understand the dynamics of modern presidential politics better than David Axelrod. As Chief Strategist for President Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012, Axelrod helped define presidential campaigning in the digital era. He also worked closely with President Obama as Senior Advisor in the White House from 2009 to 2011. He now runs the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, and is a Senior Political Correspondent for CNN and host of the podcast, The Axe Files

 

Axelrod was in Colorado Springs this week to speak at Colorado College, and KRCC’s Jake Brownell interviewed him about his time in Washington and the legacy of the president he helped put into office.  

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