It's been a bad year for a lot of people: laid-off workers, numerous Chrysler dealers, newspaper publishers--the list goes on. Yet despite the carnage on Wall Street, executives leading Colorado's biggest publicly traded companies still received an average annual raise of 5.2 percent for 2008. That's according to a Denver Post probe of millions and millions of dollars in executive compensation at the state's 50 most valuable companies--only three of which posted positive returns to shareholders. Actually, the majority of the companies' shares were down by 40 percent. Kenneth R. Feinberg (pictured), the White House's new special master for compensation, laid out a plan to maintain the status quo for executive pay last week, according to The Washington Post. While the high rollers appear to be doing well, Colorado state employees will soon find out when they will have to take their forced, unpaid "vacations" to help ease budget problems (via The Denver Post). In California and elsewhere the so-called furloughs aren't really the picnics some employees had envisioned, writes The New York Times. Meanwhile, those looking for help putting food on the table are finding the local food pantries scrambling (via the Post).