The year’s five top stories: Big Bird, Al Gore and credit unions

What do Big Bird and Al Gore have in common? They draw readers to the site in droves. Ditto marijuana and Bank Transfer Day. Here are the five most read stories of the year.

5.) The people want their Big Bird. They want their Car Talk. They want their NPR and PBS. It seems that whenever budget talks get tense in the nation’s Capitol, some fiscal conservative makes a play to defund public broadcasting. This past year was no exception.

Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn
led the charge to save taxpayers the $450 million a year that goes to public broadcasting and then turned around and filmed a television spot supporting Rocky Mountain PBS.

4) When Al Gore spoke in Aspen last summer, he didn’t pull any punches, calling out corporate polluters and congressional climate change deniers alike.

You can listen to 90 seconds of his off-the-cuff speech here.

The former vice president’s remarks and our coverage of them stirred up a hornet’s nest nationally, with a Fox News talker saying the speech was evidence of Gore’s “dementia.”

3) The story of Bill Smith, a name we made up for Chaz Moore, a Colorado Springs high school student, caught the fancy of more than just Colorado Independent readers.

Smith has a rare disorder that causes his whole upper body to go into convulsions that can sometimes last for hours. He spent much of the year in hospitals and missed most of a year of school before his doctors recommended cannabis. Today if he sucks a cannabis lozenge when he feels an attack coming on the severity and length of the attack is greatly reduced.

We wrote about Smith numerous times throughout the year, but the story that made the top 10 was one in which we reported that his school, which had already forbidden him from bringing his medicine to school, had gone a step further and told him he couldn’t come back to school after taking his medicine.

The school district later relented and said he could come back to school after medicating.

As Smith’s fame grew with television interviews and speaking engagements, he allowed his real name to be used, and the name Bill Smith is now used as something of a rallying cry for medical cannabis users.

2) When the Montana House voted to repeal that state’s voter-passed medical marijuana laws, people in Colorado noticed.

We took that as a sign that what happens in other medical marijuana states could affect what happens here and that people who care about medical marijuana laws and their implementation in Colorado also care about how such laws are handled elsewhere.

When Montana dispensaries were raided by the DEA, we took a look at what those raids meant for Colorado and we’ve continued to keep a close eye on Montana and marijuana policy nationally.

1) Hands down, the most read story of the year was “14,000 Coloradans move $100m into credit unions.”

As we like to say in this business, it went viral in a big way, getting Facebooked like crazy. The Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Denver movement touched a nerve in this country and in Colorado. People aren’t happy with corporate America or with banks that are too big to fail and they began voting with their money even before Bank Transfer Day.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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