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Panorama: Cabinet Conscious

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Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, November 12

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The Next Election

Latino Power
Latino voters, it turns out, were an important part of Barack Obama’s victory last week. Now comes pressure to appoint as many as four Latinos to his 20 cabinet-level positions, according to the Washington Post, which notes that two-thirds of Latinos backed Obama, a critical play in winning states like Colorado. In addition to Senator Ken Salazar, Obama is also apparently looking at former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, who served during both Clinton administrations and is already part of Obama’s cabinet search team. Overall, the election was a milestone for Latino voters: They more than doubled their turnout in Colorado compared with four years ago, according to The Colorado Independent, and the reason appears to be immigration crackdowns. Latinos, unsurprisingly, are not happy with the GOP’s hardline stance on immigration, and (don’t tell Tom Tancredo) the party is now doing some soul-searching on the issue, according to AlterNet. A separate Post article highlights a desire for policy change from immigration advocates nationwide, who are calling on Obama to end worksite immigration raids and to offer the nation’s 12 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship within a year.

The Mortgage Crisis and the Greeley Connection
The Bush administration is offering yet another plan to bail out homeowners in trouble as the economy falters, but critics are again saying the plan doesn’t go far enough, according to many news organizations, including The Associated Press (via The Denver Post). One example of where the plan fails is symbolized by Laura Davis, a teacher’s aide from Colorado who fell behind on payments. She tried working out a plan with her mortgage company, according to ABC News, but the company refuses to help her unless she makes up the payments, so she’s leaving the house behind. Meanwhile, in Greeley, state regulators say five real estate brokers with Re/Max Optimum Group LLC and Landmark Real Estate were part of a “widespread” mortgage-fraud scheme, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report, charges denied by some of the accused.

Election Panel to Convene
Last year, some county clerks objected after being forced to switch to paper ballots in the presidential election cycle. So state lawmakers created the Colorado Election Reform Commission, which today will take another look at whether paper ballots are better than electronic voting machines, among other issues, such as how stringent post-election audits should be, according to The Associated Press. The meeting comes just as The Denver Post reports that more than 44,000 voter registrations were purged from election rolls in the months leading up to last week’s election–a higher number than previously reported. That left “at least several hundred people” with no option but to cast one of those provisional ballots that clerks work to verify in the days after an election. The majority of voters were purged, according to the list, because they died or because the registration was a duplicate. But the issue has “reignited” the debate as to whether names should be dumped so near an election, a practice that recently led to legal action against Secretary of State Mike Coffman.

Shock in Montrose
A 14-year-old boy walked into a high school in Montrose on Tuesday morning and coldly slit the throat of 17-year-old Mallory Haulman, leaving her gasping in a pool of blood, as others watched in horror. By nightfall, fellow teary-eyed students held candles outside a town hospital and chanted, “Mallory, we love you,” according to The Denver Post, which reports that Haulman, thankfully, was able to stand up and wave to the crowd from her window. The attack appears to be random, according to some reports, and the attacker was arrested shortly after the incident, which has school and community officials looking for answers. Haulman is the daughter of Montrose Daily Press production manager Denny Haulman and intensive-care nurse Alicia Haulman, according to the newspaper.

Deep Cuts at The Colorado Independent
The Colorado Independent, a progressive-minded website that has proven it can beat daily newspapers to big stories, is, as strange as it sounds, firing people to grow. Says David Bennahum, CEO and president of the Center for Independent Media, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that runs the site, “We are reorganizing to ultimately have more fulltime writers on the site.” That’s according to an e-mail interview yesterday with Westword, which verified PolitickerCO‘s initial reporting that two full-time staff writers and four part-timers were let go, leaving the site with three full-time editorial workers. Editor Cara DeGette is among those who will continue with the site–but as a senior writer, according to her response in Westword. DeGette’s words are apparently the last the Center for Independent Media will tolerate. Media hound Jim Romenesko has obtained a memo from the center’s deputy program director, Robin Marty, who threatens any employees who talk to the press with the possibility of being immediately fired. As Westword points out this morning, that’s a “mighty hard line” for an organization that by its own mission statement touts ideals such as freedom of speech and and an informed citizenry.

Algae in the Jets
You’ve heard of fuel made from corn, cooking oil, and sticks. If you want some real kick, try algae. Solix Biofuels of Fort Collins will do just that as it spends $15.5 million on operations for a large plot of land near Durango that will produce fuel for airplanes and diesels, according to the Denver Business Journal. An odd assortment of backers are helping to fund the project, including London-based I2BF Venture Capital, Fort Collins’ Bohemian Investments, Ignacio-based Southern Ute Alternative Energy LLC, Texas-based Valero Energy Corp., and Boulder’s Infield Capital. Algae is appealing because it quickly converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into a hydrocarbon fuel, holding promise as a clean-burner, according to this New York Times blog. Solix can already produce 1,500 gallons per acre per year in a Fort Collins test plot and hopes to soon yield up to twice that number per acre. Soybeans, which are currently the main source of U.S. biodiesel, reap just 50 to 70 gallons per acre.

Flats Worker Was a Fighter
Tom Haverty, an electrical engineer for Rocky Flats, passed away on November 7, following a “long brave fight with his metastasized colon cancer.” Haverty was featured in “Out in the Cold” by 5280’s Mike Kessler, who detailed the perils faced by workers at the former nuclear weapons plant. In the early 1990s, Haverty worked in “one of the facility’s hottest” places, building 371, where he moved radiation-detecting alarms. Such work was common at the site, which was rife with federal environmental and health-safety problems. Haverty died in his Walsenburg home with his wife, Terrie, by his side. A service is planned for 7 p.m. tomorrow at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 9371 Wigham Street in Thornton. Kessler’s story will appear in “The Best Magazine Writing 2008.”

Rapids Name Coach and Sign Pablo
Gary Smith is moving up fast. After joining the Colorado Rapids in February, and then becoming interim coach after Fernando Clavijo stepped down, Smith was named coach yesterday. As a player, Smith, from England, spent time with Fulham, Barnet F.C., and Colchester United. He also has coaching experience with Watford F.C. and served as a scout for the Rapids’ partner, Arsenal F.C. FC Rocky, a Rocky Mountain News soccer blog, looks at the cases for and against Smith. The team has also re-signed its captain, Pablo Mastroeni.

Broncos Ring a Bell
Tailback Tatum Bell returns to the Denver Broncos’ lineup and will even dress for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. He’s needed to replenish the Broncos ailing tailback corps: Michael Pittman, Andre Hall, and Ryan Torain are out for the season because of injuries, according to The Denver Post. In 2004, Bell was the Broncos’ second-round draft pick but was traded last year to Detroit in a deal that brought cornerback Dre’ Bly to the team. Bell, 27, was released by the Lions in September.

Audiodose: Conservationists are encouraged and oil-and-gas execs are concerned about how Barack Obama’s administration will craft policies for the use of public lands. KUNC radio takes a closer look at how the issue might play out in the Rocky Mountains.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $1.82, Pecos Sun Mart, 7170 Pecos St. (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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