Mile-High Headlines for Tuesday, December 16
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Salazar’s Environmental Test
On the brink of being named Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar will join what The Associated Press describes as President-elect Barack Obama’s “green team”–a “dream team” for environmentalists critical of Bush administration policy. Salazar, a first-term U.S. Senator, brings a farming and environmental-law background to the table. He’s also been a vocal opponent of federal efforts to open land in Colorado and surrounding states to oil-shale developers, as Grist notes.
And, it seems, he’s got some cleaning up to do. “Political meddling at the Department of Interior into the designation of imperiled species and habitats was more widespread than previously thought,” The Washington Post writes, citing a report that highlights 20 questionable decisions by federal officials. Seven of the rulings have already been revised, including restoration of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse in Colorado and Wyoming to “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act.
Homeless for the Holidays
A recent survey of 25 U.S. cities, including Denver, documented a rise in homelessness this year, a problem linked to the recession and the mortgage crisis. In Denver, homelessness is up 1 percent, which could be seen as good news, considering the average increase for cities is 12 percent, as the Denver Business Journal reported last week.
Now, Denver’s Road Home, part of Mayor John Hickenlooper’s efforts to end homelessness in our city by 2015, has launched a campaign to challenge common stereotypes that most homeless people are bearded panhandlers wearing Army jackets.
As The Denver Egotist notes, “recent studies estimate that people in Denver give more than $4 million each year to panhandlers,” although the truth is that most panhandlers aren’t homeless and most homeless people don’t beg on the streets. There are better ways to give, according to Denver’s Road Home.
Meanwhile, in the sad irony category, all those expensive, weatherproof vinyl tarps that boasted political candidates during the election are at least being recycled as quilts and distributed to homeless people via the St. Francis Center, according to TreeHugger.
The homeless will appreciate the helping hands. “For the first time in 20 years, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is laying off employees,” according to the Rocky Mountain News.
Going Downhill: Climate Change and Skiing
The future of Western ski resorts is somewhat bleak and will require quite a few more snowmaking machines, according to a study on global warming, co-authored by Mark Williams, a geography professor at the University of Colorado.
The Rocky Mountain News notes that in the years to come, ski areas will have to carve runs higher up in the mountains and triple their snowmaking capabilities–all at a time when water is becoming more scarce. Not only that, ski seasons will be shorter. Aspen Mountain will be better off than Park City, Utah, which faces the prospect of no snowpack at its base in about 90 years.
As the report was released, President-elect Barack Obama coincidentally introduced a team to carry out his efforts to reduce global warming. However, political, diplomatic, scientific, and economic challenges “could impede his plans,” according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, global warming still has its naysayers, including the editorial department of the Colorado Springs Gazette, which remains steadfastly unsure man is to blame for the problem. Thus the newspaper hesitates to support “onerous restrictions on the use of fossil fuels.”
‘Tis the Season for Spirits
“Christmas cheer may be downgraded to Christmas cheap,” The Denver Post writes, as more people decide to play Scrooge with booze. The economic downturn has finally trickled its way into Colorado’s liquor stores, where bargain bottles of St. Remy are moving faster than fancy top-shelf Armagnac. Forget spiking the eggnog with Grey Goose when Smirnoff will do. As for that cheery wine, it might be flowing from the plastic spout at the bottom of a box.
Although Jim Smith, president of Republic National Distributing Co., says sales appear as robust as ever, he’s “never seen an environment like this.” Argonaut Wine & Liquor co-owner Ron Vaughn sums it up elegantly: “People are going quantity rather than quality.”
And with that, keep in mind after the holiday party that the police have just started their annual crackdown on drunk drivers, according to News2. That’s why bars like the Cherry Cricket in Cherry Creek North won’t be cutting back. They’ll be offering free cab vouchers worth $5 to the tipsy in need.
The Deep Freeze: Day 3
Things, like car engines, make strange sounds, if any noise at all, in the Arctic wilderness that Denver has become this week. The record cold temperatures that struck over the weekend continued on Monday, and another record low might have been set this morning before a new storm system generates a bit more snow, according to 9News.
Kids across the Front Range, it seemed, got a case of freezy-fingers-and-toes syndrome when the school buses that were supposed to pick them up refused to start, according to The Denver Post, which reports a record low of minus-19 early Monday morning. Denver and Jefferson County were not immune, and in Cherry Creek about 100 of the nearly 300 buses wouldn’t start. Some kids waited up to an hour before their buses trudged in.
Prior to Monday, the coldest temperature on record for December 15 was minus-6 degrees, set in 1951, according to 9News.
The Arena Football League, to which the Colorado Crush belongs, has officially suspended its 2009 season, as has been rumored for about a week. According to Ed Policy, the league’s acting commissioner, “as a business enterprise, [the league] needs to be restructured if it is to continue to provide its unique brand of this affordable, fan-friendly sport,” writes the Denver Business Journal.
John Elway, CEO of the Crush, expressed disappointment but said the decision was “essential to reevaluate the current business model to ensure the livelihood of the AFL in the future.”
Another Win For the Nuggets
Reserve guard J.R. Smith scored a team high 25 points to help the Denver Nuggets in its 98-88 win at Dallas, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Though the team had an early lead, the Mavericks tied the score at 65-65 midway through the third quarter. But it was Smith, a favorite passing target of Chauncey Billups last night, who clinched the game. “Just took some open shots,” Smith said.
Audiodose: Coloradans are tightening their belts for the holidays, even when giving to charities. Yet as KUNC reports, at least seven nonprofits recently got a nice stocking stuffer–more cash.
Datageek: How do you measure up? Wages and salaries average $17.92 an hour in the Mountain West, which includes Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $1.34, Bradley, 5160 W. 65th Ave. (via www.gasbuddy.com).