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Panorama: Post Mortem?

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Mile-High Headlines for Friday, December 12

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Financial Woes at the Post
Last week, the E.W. Scripps Co. announced that it would shut down the Rocky Mountain News in January if it cant find a buyer. And prospects that some mogul or company will come forward to rescue the state’s oldest newspaper remain bleak, as Westword notes.

Now consider financial troubles at MediaNews Group Inc., the parent company of 54 daily newspapers, including The Denver Post. Moody’s Investors Services has downgraded the Denver-based company’s credit rating to a “substantial risk” of default, according to Editor & Publisher.

MediaNews didn’t appreciate E&P’s comparison with the Tribune Co., which filed for bankruptcy this week, and stated, “All newspaper companies are facing credit downgrades” (via the Denver Business Journal). MediaNews also says it is in “compliance with all debt covenants, as has always been the case, and expects to do whatever is needed to stay in compliance during these difficult times.”
A Stimulating Idea
Mayor John Hickenlooper says Denver will hasten $700 million in planning and construction projects–a move intended to save taxpayers money while stimulating the economy. Among the projects are three libraries, a police crime lab, an animal shelter, the widening of Federal Boulevard, and renovations to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Boettcher Concert Hall, according to The Denver Post.

“I think as long as we’re willing to roll up our sleeves and put our shoulders into the wheel, we can turn this economy around,” Hickenlooper said during a news conference that the Post says “tried to put a happy face on the gloomy economic outlook.”

Hickenlooper was joined by Governor Bill Ritter and a large number of business leaders seeking to draft a stimulus plan for Denver within two months, according to the Denver Business Journal. Leaders encouraged Coloradans to take actions such as spending their tourism dollars in the state and shopping at local stores.

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Oil and Gas: Can’t Live Without ‘Em
A new forecast from the International Energy Agency predicts that by the end of the year, people will have used less oil than they did the year before. The last time that happened was in 1983, “when the world’s developed economies were struggling on the tail end of a recession,” according to Wired.com.

The market conditions could mean “more gridlock” for Colorado’s oil-and-gas industry acquisitions, according to The Associated Press (via CBS4). During a panel, Ward Polzin of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., an energy investment firm, said conditions in the state are unlikely to change any time soon, as oil demand shrinks.

The news comes amid new regulations for the industry, which a spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association denounces as expensive and burdensome, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report. Next month, the state Legislature will review the rules, which establish protections for public water supplies, require the industry to notify neighboring landowners of proposed developments, and allow state health and wildlife officials to chime in on proposals.

Extra Homework
About one-third of the students entering Colorado colleges and universities must take at least one remedial course to get up to academic snuff, according to a report by the Colorado’s Commission on Higher Education (via the Denver Business Journal). Two-year colleges skewed the average: More than half the students in two-year institutions require remedial study. The rate for four-year institutions is 20.8 percent.

Still, Governor Bill Ritter responded by saying the state “can and must do better.” He has proposed an increase for higher education spending this year–$2.89 billion versus $2.77 billion last year, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Yet that’s a smaller increase than the prior year. Moreover, with Referendum C expiring in 2010–a measure that put the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights on temporary hold–“higher education will likely take a hit in state funding,” the Coloradoan writes.

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Broncos Thinking Play-offs
The Denver Broncos go on the road Sunday to face the Carolina Panthers, as both teams hope to clinch their first berth in the play-offs since 2005. And although Carolina is 10-3, they need a win more than 8-5 Denver, according to The Associated Press (via NFL.com). If Carolina loses, it will be out of sole possession of the National Football Conference’s South Team. The Broncos, who are perched atop the American Football Conference’s West Division, need just one more win–or a San Diego loss–to clinch theirs.

Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain News has been doing all kinds of polling lately to discern the Broncos’ four greatest players ever. The results are finally in: John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, and Randy Gradishar.

Avs’ Foote Ready
The Avalanche might have lost captain Joe Sakic for three months to a bizarre snowblower accident, but at least Adam Foote is on his way back to the ice. He was practicing yesterday and could play in tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Foote has missed nine games because of the back and knee injuries he suffered after he was struck from behind by Los Angeles’ John Zeiler.

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

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