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Panorama: Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, July 30

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Can Denver Handle the Dem Convention?

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times raised questions about whether Denver, a “perennial booster town, has bitten off more than it can chew” as the host of next month’s Democratic National Convention. The Philadelphia Inquirer today reprints the article, which reminds us that the Denver 2008 Host Committee is as much as $10 million short and has canceled two dozen parties for delegates–among the myriad problems testing planners. Local independent pollster Floyd Ciruli calls the situation “an embarrassment,” and at a recent conference on Western issues, Mayor John Hickenlooper referred to the DNC as the “blasted convention,” saying, “If we’d known back then what we know now, we’d never have done it.” He quickly back-stepped, saying that would be an “incredible shame.” Meanwhile, some cash–more than $1 million, according to the Colorado Independent–seems to be coming to the host committee via two railroad companies. The left-leaning website notes that the donations arrive as efforts to create more oversight of the rail industry gain steam.

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DNC Gas Scandal Ends

Democratic National Convention officials abruptly stopped filling up their vehicles at city gas pumps yesterday, reports the Rocky Mountain News. The practice fell under scrutiny following outrage after the city’s public works officials conceded that convention planners were not being taxed for gas (40.4 cents per gallon). Later, it was revealed that planners were filling up before a fuel contract had been finalized. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says the practice was probably illegal. Late yesterday, a senior adviser to Mayor John Hickenlooper said convention planners had entered a contract with a private fuel supplier.

Courting Protest

Steven Hughes, a special agent for the Secret Service, justified plans to keep protesters away from delegates at the Pepsi Center during the Democratic National Convention by raising fears that something “catastrophic,” like a bomb or chemical attack, could happen. The statement was made in federal court during a hearing in which activist groups and the American Civil Liberties Union claimed that relegating protesters to a fenced-off area in a Pepsi Center parking lot and ending parade routes blocks from the arena will stifle freedom of speech, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

Whole Foods Market Merger Gone Wild

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The union of Whole Foods Market and Boulder’s Wild Oats Markets was again called into question yesterday when a federal appeals court ruled that a lower-court judge failed to consider the merger’s impact on customers. The New York Times reports that a 2-1 ruling sends the case back to a judge for a deeper consideration of the evidence. The Federal Trade Commission argues that the $565 million marriage of Whole Foods’ 194 stores and Wild Oats’ 110 stores would limit competition and increase prices for natural and organic foods. But, as the Times notes, the ruling “left unclear what would happen if the courts find against a merger that has, for all practical purposes, already occurred.” A lawyer for Whole Foods said in April that the company had already sold 35 of Wild Oats’ stores and closed 12 more, according to the Rocky Mountain News, which adds that another third of the remaining Wild Oats stores have been converted to Whole Foods outlets.

Not-So-Roadless Areas Coming to Colorado

When the Bush administration overturned a Clinton-era rule ensuring that the nation’s roadless areas would be protected, former Governor Bill Owens formed a committee to decide what to do with Colorado’s 4.4 million roadless acres. To the dismay of hunters and conservationists, the committee decided to permit road building on 218,000 acres, allowing for the expansion of mining, gas, logging, and ski operations in largely pristine areas. Durango Mountain Resort, for example, could expand by 90 acres, according to the Durango Herald. The change could also allow 97 new oil-and-gas leases on 87,000 acres of Colorado’s national forests, otherwise protected from drilling, The Wilderness Society tells Market Watch. The required three-month public comment process regarding the changes began last week through the Forest Service.

Rox Need a Miracle

As The Denver Post notes, “the math is sobering.” The Rockies have 54 games left and need to win 35 games to reach 83 wins, “an increasingly fair threshold to claim the National League West,” as they did last year. It doesn’t help, though, when the Rockies blow a three-point lead, which was the case versus Pittsburgh last night.

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Center Sensibilities

Veteran Kansas City Chief Casey Wiegmann has started 111 straight games, “the longest active streak among NFL centers,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. But that streak may end as Wiegmann now sports the orange and blue of his former Broncos rivals. In his way is Broncos veteran center Tom Nalen, who, though recovering from injuries, is expected to start in the September 8 season opener against Oakland.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.75, Safeway, 22771 E. Aurora Parkway Ave. (via www.gasbuddy.com).

Weather Today: Fair and 94 high/65 low
Weather Tomorrow: Fair 99 high/66 low

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