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Media Roundup on Michael Bennet’s Senate Appointment

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Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, named U.S. Senator Ken Salazar’s replacement by Governor Bill Ritter over the weekend, is up for the job even though he’s never held elected office, saying “innovative thinking and pragmatic problem-solving” will mark his tenure, according to The Denver Post. And President-elect Barack Obama, who passed over Bennet for U.S. Education Secretary, says Bennet will be a “breath of fresh air.”

Bennet served two years as chief of staff for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who was at one point considered a front-runner for the appointment himself, notes The New York Times. Bennet also served as managing director of a Denver investment company and as a deputy attorney general in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Although he may earn more than $170,000 a year in his new post, when he arrives in Washington, he’ll be taking a pay cut, writes Face the State. At 44, he’s on track to be the youngest member of the Senate, notes FiveThirtyEight. And yet he’ll have a leg up in terms of seniority, despite a rule on appointments, according to The Washington Post.

Bennet gained popularity as a school reformer. In 2006, 5280 reported on his plan to save democracy, starting with Denver’s schools.

David Sirota at Open Left is disheartened by the appointment, writing it is an indication of the “fact that we are living in a Golden Age of American Political Aristocracy.” Meanwhile, a teacher opines to Mother Jones that while Bennet has potential for greatness, “true greatness would come from finishing the job that he has started [at the schools], and that is something we have not seen.”

The GOP is already targeting Bennet, who will face reelection in 2010, according to The Hill. In response, Bennet has already unveiled a campaign website, BennetForColorado.com, which is labeled “under construction,” as the Colorado Independent notes. It won’t be for long. The Rocky Mountain News writes that veteran political consultant Craig Hughes of RBI Strategy & Research will assemble Bennet’s campaign team.

How About Taxing Your Miles Instead of Gas?
Portland, Oregon, has installed global-positioning monitoring devices in 300 vehicles as part of a study that could lead to a tax on the miles people drive rather than the gallons of gas they dispense at the pump. The idea, which has fans in several states, including Colorado, could help states pay for deteriorating roads at a time when existing gas taxes are failing to do so, according to The Associated Press. And, as U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon notes, gas taxes just aren’t going to keep up as people turn to more fuel-efficient cars. But critics worry that the GPS systems required to make the plan work allow the government undue intrusion into privacy. Not only will the government know where you are, it will also know how fast you’re going and can even send you a speeding ticket without ever pulling you over, opines conservative blogger Richard Miller at MileHive. Although gas prices are down, don’t expect that to last forever, writes the Colorado Springs Gazette, quoting one expert who predicts gas in the $5-a-gallon range in the next two to three years.

Townspeople Destroy Fruitcakes
Quaint and quiet Manitou Springs, nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak, became a slaughterhouse for holiday fruitcakes over the weekend. The candied fruit-and-nut-laden desserts were fired from a cannon and a super slingshot, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. And about 100 people “simply used their arms” to trash fruitcakes they didn’t want, some sent from as far away as Kuwait and Australia for immediate disposal. Twin sisters Lucile Cole and Louise Martinez picketed in vain to “Save the fruitcake.” But please don’t send them to that champion hot-dog-eater from Japan, Takeru Kobayashi. He attempted to set a new record for fruitcake eating on Friday, but the “dense cake did him in,” reports Fox News.

Broncos Interviewing for New Coach
On Saturday, Broncos officials, including owner Pat Bowlen, were in New York to interview Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the first meeting with a candidate since head coach Mike Shanahan’s surprise firing last week, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Though there’s been talk that University of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is a candidate, he insists he’s not. That leaves four others, according to another Rocky story, including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, whom the team interviewed on Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island.

University of Colorado’s Bowl Woes Lead to Intervention
Last year, nine current or recent University of Colorado players “ran afoul of the law.” Add to that number several others in recent years, including a player suspended for being caught with an under-aged drinker. Head coach Dan Hawkins and his staff have had enough. It doesn’t help that CU didn’t qualify for a bowl game this year. The team will hire a new director to manage student-athlete wellness, reports The Denver Post.

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