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Panorama: Zeroed Out

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Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, December 17

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Ground Zero: The Economy
Yesterday, the Federal Reserve made history by cutting a key interest rate to its lowest level ever–around zero. That’s according to myriad news sources, including The Associated Press (via The Denver Post), which reports that the Reserve’s chairman, Ben Bernanke, seeks to “contain a financial crisis that is the worst since the 1930s and a recession that is already the longest in a quarter-century.”

Thirty-four percent of Denver residents believe 2009 will be a tougher year than 2008, according to a local survey for the December Country Financial Security Index (via the Denver Business Journal). Fifty-seven percent of Denverites say their “overall level of financial security was fair or poor, compared with 46 percent in October.”

Denver isn’t alone. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found 66 percent of Americans, up from about 50 percent last year, are worried about maintaining their standard of living. Nearly two in ten report that someone in their household lost a job recently, and more than 25 percent say their pay or hours were cut.

One good thing: Prices are falling, down by 1.8 percent in the West, according to Consumer Price Index statistics cited by the Journal.

May Un-Resignation: What’s Really Going On?

State Representative Mike May unexpectedly retired last week and then yesterday suddenly rescinded his retirement, according to The Denver Post. The Parker Republican says he is peeved at how outsiders are trying to influence who will replace him as House minority leader.

“I will remain the representative of House District 44 and will continue to serve as minority leader until this situation has been resolved, as long as that may take,” May wrote in a statement, declining further comment or any details about which outside sources are attempting to exact influence and how they’re trying to do it.

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Representatives David Balmer and Frank McNulty were battling to replace May for the job, according to the Rocky Mountain News. In November, May won a fourth term and had said he wanted to step down to tend to personal business.

Rail Away
As the Vail Daily reports, trains capable of speeds up to 300 miles per hour are part of a study that aims–actually more like hopes–to bring rail service from Denver to the ski country. Imagine traveling between Denver International Airport and Grand Junction, hitting all the relevant places in between.

But before you get too excited, big hurdles remain: cost, affordability, and determining whether there are enough riders, according to Harry Dale, chairman of the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. The agency, which is studying east-west and north-south routes, should be ready to share its findings in June of 2009, the Denver Business Journal writes. Several kinds of trains are under consideration–from elevated Maglevs that hit 300 miles per hour to, on the slower end, diesels that hit 130 miles per hour.

An I-70 route would include DIA, downtown Denver, Golden, Black Hawk, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction. An I-25 route would run from Fort Collins in the north to Pueblo in the south.

The Latest News Dude to Get the Axe
Newspapers aren’t the only media outlets struggling. Television newsrooms are also making cuts, and a few familiar anchors are simply disappearing from television screens. The latest casualty is Steve Kelley, the familiar host of Fox 31’s “Good Day Colorado,” a local morning show. As The Denver Post noted last week, Kelley had been working for Fox without a contract since July. He won’t be replaced.

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Yesterday, Kelley spoke to Westword about his ouster: “It’s like a death,” he says. “You go through these phases–from shock through disbelief and anger to bargaining and, finally, acceptance.” Kelley, who left KOA/850 AM to join the Fox show three years ago, would like to stay in the media biz. He joins a line of local axed anchors that includes News2’s Ernie Bjorkman, who signs off at the end of the month, and 9News’s Bob Kendrick, who left last week.

A few months ago, Fox 31 and News2 were part of a merger that resulted in layoffs as operations were combined. At least News2’s former news director, Carl Bilek, was lucky enough to find another job. He’s been hired at 7News, Westword reports.

Boulder Really Bikes
When real estate agent Matt Kolb arrives to show a house, he doesn’t jump out of a Hummer; he hops off his bicycle. He lives in Boulder, after all, which is one of the “top-five bicycle-friendly cities in the world,” writes this NBC Field Notes blog. Real estate firm Pedal to Properties has partnered with Community Cycles to provide low-cost bikes and maintenance in the city–even free bikes to needy volunteers–in an effort to get polluting cars off the road. Some cyclists even brave the winter rides, using studded snow tires.

Once you’ve got your confidence up, and your bike tuned–and the weather clears up–you might want to bike Boulder’s Four Mile to Gold Hill and Sunshine Canyon, according to PezCyclingNews, a favorite local ride with a steady and difficult 11-mile climb, little traffic, and a “screaming” downhill return.

Pro-Bowlers Marshall and Cutler
Broncos’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler were named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday in a vote by fans, coaches, and peers. Marshall was named a starter for the February 8 All-Star game that takes place after the Super Bowl in Honolulu, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

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Cutler and New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre are backups to the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning. The two Broncos are newbies to the American Football Conference’s roster. Cornerback Champ Bailey and center Casey Wiegmann were named as alternates.

Audiodose: The state Legislature, which convenes next month, will be “fraught with financial uncertainty” given the difficult economy, and lawmakers aren’t sure how bad things will get before they improve, according to this report by KUNC.

Artdose: Time’s Person of the Year is President-elect Barack Obama, and the art adorning the magazine’s cover should appear familiar to 5280 readers. One of artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obamas also graced 5280’s August cover, commemorating the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The Boston Globe’s Political Intelligence blog takes a shot at Time, 5280, and others, calling Fairey’s campaign art “Propaganda of the Year.”

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

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