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Panorama: Last Cabinet Contender Standing

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Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, December 11

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Ag Post Out
It was just yesterday that potato-farmer-turned-congressman John Salazar received a glowing recommendation for the job of national agriculture secretary from his little bro, U.S. Senator Ken Salazar. Senator Salazar reportedly told President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team that John, who represents the Third Congressional District, would be a “wonderful” choice, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

But now, it appears evident that John will accept an appointment to the House Appropriations Committee–the panel that decides how to allocate federal dollars–“signaling” that he’s no longer in the running for the ag job, according to The Denver Post. An official announcement is expected to come today, according to a spokesman for John Salazar.

Whoever gets the job should consider the thoughts of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times, who says that perhaps the position should be renamed “secretary of food.”

With John Salazar out of the picture, one Coloradan remains on a short list for a possible appointment to the Obama administration: Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, who’s reportedly being considered for education secretary.
DIA’s Paradox
You’d think fewer passengers in tight economic times might speed up the waiting game at Denver International Airport. But DIA has dropped to 19th place “for getting airplanes in the air on time,” according to Bureau of Transportation statistics, the most recent available (via the Denver Business Journal). The airport was ranked seventh in terms of timeliness just one year ago. Airports in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, D.C., Boston, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Los Angeles, to name a few, have moved ahead of DIA.

A separate Journal story notes that DIA’s 21-month streak of increasing passenger numbers has ended. There were roughly 2,700 fewer passengers compared to one year ago. The number of flights declined as well, down 3.6 percent from last year.

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DIA is the nation’s fourth busiest airport, but who knows where it ranks in terms of holiday cheer. Probably not too well, according to the Rocky Mountain News, which quotes DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon, who admits this year’s decorations are somewhat “shopworn.”

One More Notch in the Olympic-Bid Belt
Next March, Denver will become the first city in North America to host Sportaccord, a newish international sports convention that attracts all sorts of Olympic muckety mucks. The Denver Business Journal reports part of Denver’s lure is its “sports town” image–eight professional teams and its designation of having been the only city in the nation ever to host five All-Star Games within nine years. Sportaccord began in 2003 and allows various major sporting groups to operate more efficiently by meeting at the same time and in the same place.

The Journal did not say whether the event will help Governor Bill Ritter in his possible bid to bring the 2018 Winter Olympic Games to Denver. But the Examiner notes that a 165-member contingent of Denver leaders, including Ritter and Mayor John Hickenlooper, are visiting Vancouver, Canada, this week to attend a program that will provide “a chance to learn about what it would take” to bring the games here. Ritter has said he wants to see if Chicago is awarded the 2016 games before making a decision.

“No Kill” Animal Shelter Faces Charges
Attorney General John Suthers has filed a civil complaint against the family that runs the Colorado Humane Society in the wake of a 7News investigation last year, which found more than one dozen dead animals, including pets, tossed into a Dumpster over a six-week period. A 14-month investigation by Suthers’ office names Humane Society executive director Mary Warren, her husband and director of development, Robert Warren, and her daughter and director of operations, Stephenie Gardner.

Legal Newsline reports that the 27-page complaint, filed in Arapahoe County District Court, alleges that Warren was approving euthanasia for large dogs that were taking up too much space or were unlikely to be adopted. Mary Warren told 7News that she had no knowledge of dead animals in an interview last year and said animals were cremated, but 7News reporters found apparent violations of state regulations, specifically several animals, including dogs.

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Melo’s Amazing Night
Here’s one more reason the post-Allen Iverson Denver Nuggets rule: Carmelo Anthony. During the team’s 116-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night, Anthony scored 45 points, 33 of them in one quarter.

Teammate Chauncey Billups says Melo’s performance was “the best I’ve ever seen,” according to The Denver Post, which notes the last time the NBA saw such a performance was back on April 9, 1978. On that day, the Nuggets’ David Thompson scored 73 points, including 32 in one quarter, setting a record that stood for several hours.

Later that day, the Spurs’ George Gervin scored 33 points in a single quarter. Melo tied Gervin’s record and has nudged Thompson to second place for best franchise performance in a single quarter.

Sakic’s Ice Follies
Warning to those with herniated discs: Don’t try to operate snowblowers. Hire someone to help you. That’s the lesson this week from Joe Sakic. The Avs captain broke three fingers in a bizarre snowblower incident and will be sidelined for three months, according to Reuters.

On Tuesday, Sakic underwent surgery to repair his fingers and tendon damage caused during the accident at his home. Sakic has struggled with injuries all season. The 39-year-old, in in his 20th league season, has appeared in just 15 games this year, scoring only two goals.

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Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $1.35, Western Convenience, 10515 S. Parker Road (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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