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Panorama: The Paper Chase

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Mile-High Headlines for Monday, December 15

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The Battle Ahead for Denver’s Dailies
As the Denver Business Journal noted over the weekend, The Denver Post has moved to renegotiate its labor union contracts in hopes of cutting expenses by $20 million. MediaNews Group Inc. CEO and Post publisher William Dean Singleton made the request at a meeting with union representatives on Friday, a day after Moody’s Investors Services downgraded his company’s rating to a “substantial risk” of default on almost $1 billion in debt.

Indeed, these are “dark times for newspapers everywhere in the developed world,” according to Britain’s Independent, and as The New York Times notes, Singleton “expanded his newspaper empire at the worst possible time.” The Times report, writes the Columbia Journalism Review, “shows that MediaNews has underinvested in the paper’s Web site, which is an area whose readership is more Web-savvy than any other.”

Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain News, which faces closure in January if E.W. Scripps Co. can’t sell the paper, isn’t going down without a fight. Several Rocky journos have created a website–iwantmyrocky.com–to rally readers concerned with the loss of straight-shootin’ journalism. And the Rocky itself offers a collection of links to “what others are saying” via its website.

It’s Cold–and Dangerous

The temperature dropped from nearly 60 degrees to subzero within 24 hours over the weekend, as an Arctic airmass turned Colorado into an ice fortress all day yesterday, a record-setting trend that will end today when temperatures climb to the relatively toasty mid- to upper-teens, according to 7News. In other words, Brrr!

The conditions are a matter of life and limb for Denver’s homeless population, and the Denver Rescue Mission has gone into overdrive, adding 100 cots to its existing 200 beds, according to 9News.

The weather even spawned what the State Patrol describes as slow-speed chases involving suspected crooks, according to the Rocky Mountain News–including one that ended in a death. One pursuit, which hit high speeds of only around 40 mph because of the adverse road conditions, lasted for six miles and involved several law-enforcement agencies in Larimer County, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

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Meanwhile, neither wind nor snow stops Boulder’s John Schwenker from riding his bicycle to work every day–the kind of spirit the city encourages, according to Boulder’s Daily Camera.

And for those frustrated by high energy bills, look up Spencer Bockus and Akeena Solar, a Los Gatos, California-based solar panel installation company–with offices in Colorado–that’s part of a fast-growing trend in energy alternatives, according to The New York Times.

One Salazar Still in Play
Turns out Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet isn’t the
last Cabinet contender standing after all. Although U.S. Representative John Salazar didn’t make the cut for President-elect Barack Obama’s administration, his younger brother Ken still might.

Reuters is reporting that Obama is “close to naming a secretary of the interior” and that the job will likely go to U.S. Senator Ken Salazar. A source cited by The Denver Post also confirms Salazar, a former environmental lawyer, is under consideration to head the department that leases public lands for oil-and-gas drilling.“The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said at the time it appeared that it was all but up to Salazar as to whether he wanted the post,” the Post writes.

Last week, John Salazar’s prospects for leading the Department of Agriculture dimmed when he was given a prestigious seat on the wallet-controlling House Appropriations Committee.

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Polis Calls Out “Panhandlers”
“The din of clattering metal echoes through the halls of our capital: panhandlers! Erstwhile captains of the automobile industry, having foregone their Learjets, now don the tattered rags of beggars as they seek congressional approval for a $34 billion bailout of the Big Three automobile companies.”

That’s the opening volley by Jared Polis, a Democrat, in an editorial for The Wall Street Journal that was published last week. Colorado’s incoming Second Congressional District representative argued that “something is wrong” with a picture in which congressional offices pore over “business” plans submitted by Ford, GM, and Chrysler.

The U.S. Senate rejected the $14 billion rescue plan for the auto industry, but the Bush administration might yet intervene by tapping some of the $700 billion meant to salvage the shaky financial sector, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

The left-leaning Daily Kos chided Polis for falling in line with conservatives, and ColoradoPols likewise notes that Polis’ proposal came “out of the Republican play book.”

Stopping the Crackdown
A Weld County judge has ordered a local sheriff and district attorney to stop their “unorthodox” sweeps of undocumented immigrants suspected of identity theft, questioning whether the officials have the legal authority to do what they’re doing.

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That’s according to The Los Angeles Times, which reports that in October, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and District Attorney Ken Buck embarked upon “Operation Numbers Game,” peeking at thousands of federal income tax returns in a Greeley tax preparer’s office that primarily serves Latino clients. A search of 1,300 names of people suspected of stealing or falsifying Social Security numbers has resulted in the arrests of 35 people. Activists have criticized the operation as targeting people who honestly try to pay their taxes.

Meanwhile, roughly one million migrant workers from Mexico are leaving Colorado for the holidays as part of an annual migration but “have no intention of returning,” according to 7News, citing fewer job opportunities and various crackdowns on illegal immigration.

Broncos Blew It
The Denver Broncos failed to wrap up the American Football Conference West title yesterday in a 30-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. That, coupled with a last-minute win by San Diego in Kansas City, leaves Denver a week away from clinching the division when Buffalo comes to town, according to USA Today.

Yesterday, Denver needed to slow down “the most prolific running back tandem” in the National Football League–DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart–and largely did but couldn’t stop the pass, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

Pollster: As calls persist that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich resign after he allegedly tried to give away President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat for personal favors, The New York Times looks at the most crooked states in the country. Colorado ranks 31 (that’s 44th per capita), and a survey of news journalists covering state government finds Colorado among the least corrupt states.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $1.34, Bradley, 5160 W. 65th Ave. (via www.gasbuddy.com).

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