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Panorama: Focus on Palin, Ballot Bash, and More

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Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, September 3

Palin’s Evangelical Connection Coming into Focus

No wonder James Dobson was so impressed with John McCain’s vice presidential pick. Sarah Palin, as the Rocky Mountain News notes today, has been on Focus on the Family’s radar for about two years–back to a time when she supported a measure in Alaska to outlaw gay marriage, which was backed by Focus Action, Dobson’s Colorado Springs-based evangelical organization’s political arm. Yet it wasn’t until she became governor in 2006 that Focus expressed interest in Palin, according to Kevin Clarkson, an Anchorage attorney who does work for the Alliance Defense Fund. According to The New York Times, an unknown Palin injected such issues as gay marriage and abortion into an otherwise po-dunk-as-usual mayoral race back in 1996 in Wasilla, Alaska, shocking her opponent. No meeting scheduled has been publicly announced (yet) between Dobson and McCain/Palin when the two travel on Saturday to the Springs. Enthusiasm for Palin among some conservatives is strong–Ronald Reagan in the 1976-1980-era strong, according to a column in The Los Angeles Times.

Teenie on Board
Teenagers are four times as likely as older drivers to get into a crash, and Randy Fischer, a state representative from Fort Collins, says it’s a dangerous situation. He wants to let drivers know when teens are on the road by requiring them to display a triangular decal stating “Young Driver” on their cars, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The plan would be the first in the country, according to 9News, and each decal would cost $1 or $2. If this sounds fuddy-duddy, it’s not. The idea came from J.R. Lopez, a Fort Collins high school senior who says other drivers honked and shouted at him when he first hit the road; perhaps they’d have been nicer if they knew he was a young ‘un. Nancy Spence, a state senator from Centennial, wants to know if teens who don’t display the decal will be ticketed. Probably not–at least yet. Fischer wants to test the idea first to see if it cuts down on accidents. The topic created some debate on the Rocky’s website when readers were asked, “Good idea? If so, how about people convicted of DUI being forced to put a warning sticker on their cars? What about drivers OVER a certain age?”

Mustard Gas Shells Causing Colorado-Defense Department Rift
Because the feds seem to be dragging their feet when it comes to properly disposing of 2,600 tons of mustard gas shells dating to World War II, Colorado has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to compel the Defense Department to get to work within nine years. The shells are housed in igloo-shaped buildings at the Pueblo Chemical Weapons Depot and need to be destroyed by 2012 under a 181-nation chemical weapons treaty, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Yet a state health official alleges the hazardous weapons that cause skin blistering and internal bleeding, among other deadly effects, are in “indefinite” storage. However, the military’s current plan calls for the agents to be destroyed no later than 2020–a violation of the treaty. Four igloo buildings “contain 26 containers of leaking chemical munitions, more than 500 overpacked containers,” according to the state’s lawsuit, reported in this Denver Post article.

Trail Going Cold in Search for Prosecutor’s Killer
The search for Sean May’s killer has hit a dead end, and police now want “additional help from the public” to nab the suspect who gunned down May, a top Adams County prosecutor, one week ago at his West 36th Avenue home, according to the Rocky Mountain News. After gun shots rang out, the suspected attacker, an Anglo or Hispanic man in his early 20s–with a mustache, goatee, white T-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, and tennis shoes–was seen fleeing north from May’s home. An extensive manhunt turned up nothing. May’s wife is pregnant with the couple’s first child, and a public funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Buell Theatre, 950 13th St., according to The Denver Post.

The Never-Ending Ballot
Responsible voters beware. You’re facing a lot of homework in the coming weeks. You’ll be sifting through the longest ballot in the nation if the conservative FacetheState.com blog has done its homework well. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office could certify 18 or more initiatives and amendments for the ballot, according to The Denver Post. The latest is Initiative 82, which seeks to safeguard some affirmative action policies and to unravel the opposing Amendment 46 should it pass. And that’s just a hint of the confusion to come on a ballot that will be rife with pro-labor and anti-union measures–everything from health insurance to union dues, according to a summary in The Pueblo Chieftain. Don’t forget about all the candidates.

What Made Up Sakic’s Mind?
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic was ready to retire from professional hockey, but then something happened leading up to last week’s announcement that he’d play a 20th season. “I really started to train in July,” he said (via Fox31), even though he wasn’t into it. Sakic feared he’d pull a Brett Favre: retiring and then going through the hassle of un-retiring. “You see what happened to him. I’m actually glad that I did take my time. If I was forced to make a decision back in May or June, I probably would have retired.”

Melo’s Golden Dreams
The Denver Nuggets weren’t exactly golden last season–more like rusty-tin-can-in-the-gutter. Despite the additional setback of losing all-league defensive center Marcus Camby in the off-season, forward Carmelo Anthony, gold medal dangling from his neck following the Beijing Olympics, is optimistic about the upcoming season, promising Denver will be a championship “contender,” according to the Rocky Mountain News.

Videodose: Seven questions for the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony in a news conference yesterday in Denver (via the Rocky Mountain News). Of his Olympic medal, Melo says, “This is my most important piece of hardware that I’ve won in my life so far.”

Pollster: Barack Obama’s visit to Denver last week for the Democratic National Convention appears to have helped his presidential campaign. He’s got the bump, leading Republican John McCain by eight points in a CBS poll. He’s a bit less ahead in several other polls, according to AOL News’ Political Machine, which notes the Republican convention could treat McCain as nicely, bringing the horse race back to neck-and-neck.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.61, Sinclair, 2101 South Holly Street (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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