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Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Monday, July 21

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FasTracks Plan Derails

Though four years ago voters approved a sales tax to support a $4.7 billion plan to build the vast FasTracks Denver rail network, the Rocky Mountain News reports that RTD now admits it cannot deliver everything it promised. Rising construction and fuel costs have elevated the price tag to $6.1 billion–and rising. RTD has yet to say what it will do, but a few options include pushing back the deadline to complete the system, cutting back on rail lines, and asking voters for more money. This isn’t great news for the commuters practically hypnotized at the wheel on clogged stretches of interstate during lengthy rush hours. A Brookings Institution report released on Sunday anticipates that 2.6 million more people will populate the Front Range in the next three decades, helping to propel Denver’s national influence as a Western hub. That is, if local and federal governments address myriad concerns, including a lack of decent transit.

Joan Fitz-Gerald’s Counterinsurgency

Joan Fitz-Gerald has launched a counter-offensive after Jared Polis, her fellow Democratic opponent for Congress, criticized her for taking donations from two major mining companies: AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont. Both have faced accusations and violations of environmental and human rights. Now Fitz-Gerald says Polis is personally invested in a mutual fund that includes mining companies with “spotty records on the environment and human rights,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. Specifically, Fitz-Gerald questions why Polis has between $100,001 and $250,000 in Evergreen Precious Metal Holdings. Mary Alice Mandarich, Fitz-Gerald’s campaign manager, complained that a Polis spokesman had pledged in April that Polis would divest himself of such stocks. Robert Becker, Polis’ campaign manager, says the attack highlights “Fitz-Gerald’s financial idiocy”–Polis divested from individual stocks associated with controversy but not from mutual funds, which he can’t control.

Logos on Parade

When Democrats descend upon Denver next month, they’ll receive a welcome bag brimming with yet-unknown goodies. But the slick black bag, which will feature a huge AT&T logo on one side and a Coca-Cola logo on the other, is starting to generate some debate on its own. Demconwatchblog.com has images of the bag, which prompted this sarcastic post at Salon.com: “What’s most striking about the Convention bag–aside, of course, from its stunning design–is how the parties no longer bother even trying to hide who it is who funds and sponsors them.”

What’s Next? Blogaroo at the DNC?

Markos Moulitsas was happy as happy could be over the “liberal blogapalooza” that wrapped up four days of excitement in Austin, Texas, this weekend. Next stop, Denver, for the Democratic National Convention. “Yep, the way it’s looking, we might actually win this thing,” Moulitsas, founder of the influential DailyKos.com, tells The Washington Post, speaking of Democrat Barack Obama’s chances of becoming president. Job Number 1 for the “Netroots” (the nation’s liberal blogger/activist corps) is getting Obama elected–quite a coup if you think about it. “Five years ago liberal bloggers made a name for themselves at a time of defeat; Republicans controlled not just the White House but both houses in Congress. They craved a fight, and President Bush was their punching bag,” The Washington Post reports.

Focus on McCain

Back in February, James Dobson seemed so upset about the possibility that Republican John McCain could be president that he almost pouted, saying he wouldn’t be voting for a presidential candidate. The Focus on the Family patriarch cited McCain’s support for embryonic stem-cell research and his opposition to tax cuts for married couples. Dobson also expressed revulsion for McCain’s “legendary temper” and his use of “foul and obscene language.” But  Dobson may vote for McCain after all. “If that is a flip-flop, then so be it,” he tells the Associated Press. Dobson explains in his radio broadcast today that McCain’s support for smaller government and his seeming understanding of the “Muslim threat” are forcing him to reconsider. Of course, Dobson, an evangelical conservative who lives in Colorado Springs, doesn’t think much of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. Last month, Dobson alleged Obama had distorted the Bible in a 2006 speech.

Golden, But Not Bald

Last week was certainly a PR win for the Army, which is seeking to expand Fort Carson’s Piñon Canyon training grounds in southeast Colorado. The Army grabbed a slew of positive headlines stating things such as the military “only wants 100,000 more acres,” versus its initial 418,000 proposal, all to the wincing agony of opposed ranchers and their allies, who assemble under the banner of “Not 1 More Acre!” Then an unusual sighting happened–that of a rare, partial-albino golden eagle with a six-foot wingspan. If not some sort of good omen, it was definitely the counter-PR hit of the week for expansion opponents, featured on 850 KOA radio. In the aftermath, some bloggers have suggested that the potentially endangered bird might somehow clip the Army’s wings. But a simple check of the state’s endangered species list shows that the only eagles protected in Colorado are of the bald variety.

Douglas Bruce Claims the Lead in “Political Theatre”

Alleging his political detractors are out to get him, the headline-grabbing, tax-hating Douglas Bruce, a conservative state representative, says the sexual harassment complaint filed against him in May was dismissed for a lack of evidence. The author of the equally revered and detested Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights said all he did was look at a female lobbyist and smile, calling the entire mess “political theater,” according to The Denver Post. Bruce cites a letter clearing his name but has so far refused to share it with the press. Meanwhile, back on his proverbial ranch in Colorado Springs, Bruce is clashing once again with city officials over the condition of his properties. This time, the city has declared a fourplex he owns to be dilapidated, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Videodose: In Case You Missed It: Schaffer and Udall Debate

Candidates for Senate Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer debate the war in Iraq, health care, oil shale, the Roan Plateau, and more on 9News.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.85, Western Convenience at 7603 W. 13th Ave. (via www.gasbuddy.com)

Weather Today: Afternoon thunderstorms and 95 high/61 low
Weather Tomorrow: Afternoon thunderstorms 97 high/66 low

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