Mile-High Headlines for Tuesday, December 9

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Lose a Job, Get a Job
The latest study to warn that Colorado is headed for recession comes from the respected Richard Wobbekind, of the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. He predicts the state will lose about 4,000 jobs next year–and that’s only happened seven times since 1939, when data was first tracked, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report. Unemployment could hit 6.5 percent by the end of 2009.

Level 3 Communications Inc. announced it would lay off 450 of its North American employees–about 8 percent of its domestic workforce–and the company’s Broomfield headquarters, which employs 2,000 people, is expected to take a large number of the cuts, according to the Denver Business Journal.

In a wise piece for The New York Times, David Carr cautions those with jobs against falling prey to viral economic fears, noting “there have never been so many ways for the fear to leak in.”

And there are jobs to be had: The U.S. Census Bureau has just opened an office in Colorado to prepare for the 2010 head count. As such, the feds are looking to hire 8,000 temporary workers, according to 9News. Speaking of census data and the economy, despite unemployment being down between 2005 and 2007, it appears many of the jobs weren’t so hot. The percentage of workers in poverty went up, according to The Denver Post.DPS Super Bound for Ed Dept?
Jonathan Alter, the Newsweek columnist who first reported that President-elect Barack Obama would run for office, is now betting that Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet will be the next secretary of education.

The Rocky Mountain News reports that Alter puts “money” on Bennet, who is on a short list that includes Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Arne Duncan and Paul Vallas, head of New Orleans’ public schools. Bennet was coy and declined comment, according to the Rocky. In recent years, Bennet tried to take on the school most symbolic of failure in Denver: Manual High.

After shuttering it for poor performance and sending Manual’s students elsewhere, the “former corporate turnaround artist” and friend of Mayor John Hickenlooper learned many students did not show up for orientations elsewhere, as The New Yorker reported (registration required). After many in the community came to view him as a “liar and a racist,” Bennet and his staff went door to door in an effort to prevent students from dropping out.

Death for Sir Mario Owens
Sir Mario Owens grinned chillingly at the mothers of his two victims during proceedings yesterday that ended with a judge sentencing him to death by lethal injection.

That’s the account from the Rocky Mountain News, which reports that Arapahoe County Assistant District Attorney John Howard told the court that Owens acted “coldly, calculatingly and completely without conscience or a scintilla of mercy or remorse” after gunning down Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, in 2005, as they sat in their car in Aurora. Marshall-Fields was scheduled to testify against Owens during a murder trial in which Owens was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

Owens’ execution, scheduled for March, has been stayed pending a routine review by the state Supreme Court, according to CBS4. He will become Colorado’s second death-row inmate, joining Nathan Dunlap, who was sentenced for the 1993 murder of four people at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. Dunlap is appealing that case, hoping his life might be spared by Governor Bill Ritter, as 5280 reports in “The Politics of Killing.”

Cherry Creek North’s Bright Holiday Idea
During this season, when the cantankerous masses descend on fluorescent-lit aisles of big square stores on the hunt for doorbusting deals, Cherry Creek North is offering something quite decent. Call it the soft sell. Yes, it’s a marketing campaign, but one meant to celebrate the magic of the season rather than the spirit of spending until it hurts.

As The New York Times writes, Cherry Creek North’s 320 stores, shops, galleries, and restaurants are participating in the “The Yuletide Project.” Ads don’t encourage you to buy things but rather simply to get in the mood. Moreover, plenty of events are planned in and around the stores: visits by carolers, candlelit evenings, free eggnog, cookies, even hayrides. As Christina Brickley, marketing and communications director, says about the campaign, look for “lots of white space and a simple tag line about the holidays.”

The Boy Versus the Coyote

Nine-year-old Tony Sandlin was snowboarding with his six-year-old brother, Vincent, at a golf course just behind their Erie home when a coyote closed in. Sandlin was bitten on his right arm but thwarted the beast by whacking it with his board, according to CBS News. The two boys then made their escape. Now Sandlin, who faced a series of rabies shots, is in the national spotlight, featured on CBS’ “The Early Show” to speak about the incident that took place late last week.

As Boulder’s Daily Camera reported, aggressive coyotes aren’t a new thing in Erie. Several small dogs have been targeted. A woman was bitten after she tried to wrestle her wee Maltese from a coyote’s jaws. The attack on Sandlin concerned authorities because it was apparently unprovoked. The coyote charged down a hill and bit him, then circled for a second run as Sandlin struck it.

Damn! He Was Good

Denver Broncos running back Peyton Hillis, the tough rookie who became the team’s unlikely leading rusher, is out for the season with a torn hamstring he suffered during Sunday’s 24-17 victory over Kansas City.

“It’s disappointing,” coach Mike Shanahan says (via The Denver Post). “He was a load. He was one of the few guys I’ve watched that would actually run over safeties.”

This must be some kind of record for injuries; Hillis became a tailback after four other running backs sustained injuries and a fifth was placed on injured reserve before the season started. The Broncos will now sign Cory Boyd, a seventh-round pick by Tampa Bay who was injured and waived in the off-season, from the practice squad to replace Hillis.

Ski Champ Dies in Plane Crash
Bryan Sax, a former national champion skier for the University of Colorado, died Saturday as the small plane he was in collided with another over the Florida Everglades. Sax, 37, was the national collegiate giant slalom champion in 1995, helping lead Colorado to a team victory in the event, according to Boulder’s Daily Camera. In all, four people were killed in the crash. Sax was in flight school.

Audiodose: Activists representing Navajo and Hopi tribes from Arizona protested in front of the Office of Surface Mining in Denver on Monday afternoon. The tribes want federal officials to delay an expansion of mining activity that could disrupt their water supplies, according to KUNC radio.

Videodose: Clarence Eckerson’s video on Streetfilms highlights the bicycle mecca that is Boulder, a city that holds a “rare” platinum rating from the League of American Bicyclists.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $1.38, Western Convenience, 10515 S. Parker Road (via

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