Mile-High Headlines for Tuesday, September 2

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Nacchio’s Second Stand
Joe Nacchio, the former chief executive officer for Qwest, is in the midst of round 2 in the protracted legal battle over his insider-trading conviction. He’s facing a six-year prison sentence and forfeiture of $52 million in stock proceeds but is free on $2 million bail as he appeals the case. Oral arguments take place September 25, according to the Rocky Mountain News, and Nacchio’s defense team is expected to file paperwork maintaining that expert witness testimony was improperly excluded. The argument follows reasoning similar to that of the three-judge appeals panel that ordered a new trial after U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham “erred when he didn’t let defense expert witness Daniel Fischel testify” that the information Nacchio kept from investors was inconsequential. Meanwhile, the Denver Business Journal reports that prosecutors will argue Nacchio would have been convicted on 19 felony counts “even if a procedural error that excluded defense testimony had not been made.”

Focus’ Dobson Endorses McCain, But Another Evangelical Leader Is Wary
Maybe your response to Focus on the Family patriarch James Dobson’s long-denied, but finally granted, endorsement of John McCain was, “E-Yaaaaawwwn. Next.” Yes, Dobson’s dance has been quite tiresome, considering he was practically red-faced with concerns over McCain (alleging he has a foul mouth, bad tax policies, and so forth). But suddenly the rant is hard to find on Focus’ website, the sun is shining, and Dobson is blessing the McCain campaign. Thank Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a staunch opponent of abortion, whom McCain selected to be his running mate on Friday. As Dobson recently said, “A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer,” according to the National Journal. McCain and Palin will travel to Dobson’s stomping grounds of Colorado Springs on Saturday. Yet not all evangelical Christians are in a tizzy, including Richard Cizik, a leader with the National Association of Evangelicals, who was “stunned” by McCain’s choice of a running mate, according to this Christianity Today blog.

Dick Wadhams’ Exciting Weekend
It was a longish Labor Day weekend for Dick Wadhams, the ever-embattled and ever-battling chairman of Colorado’s Republican Party. Not long after he told the Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary that suburban “security moms”–who favor policies such as increased drilling for oil–would be decisive in determining which presidential candidate wins our fine state’s nine electoral votes, he’s defended John McCain’s surprise pick of a running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Shrugging off questions about her lack of experience, he tells’s Jeremy Pelzer, who is on the ground in Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention, that Palin not only rallies conservatives but could appeal to swing voters. He adds a dig: “She’s got more executive experience than Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined” (which is technically true). Palin is already mired in controversy. She’s the subject of an ethics probe, and her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is preggo, which for some raises questions about her family values.

DNA Debated
If you are an inmate in the Colorado Department of Corrections, open up and say, “Ahhh.” The state is going to swab your cheeks–even under your tongue, according to the Rocky Mountain News. It’s part of a routine statewide effort to help catalog the “genetic fingerprints of convicted felons,” DNA data, which is powerful enough to reveal the guilty and clear the innocent. Yet in some cases, samples are being taken many years after a conviction. For some law enforcement officials, the wait is too long and risky. As such, Denver District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey, among others, wants Colorado to join about a dozen states in swabbing suspects for DNA when they are arrested. But the idea is controversial, notes Cathryn Hazouri, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, who calls the plan to swab before a guilty verdict has been rendered a “definite violation of people’s privacy.” Meanwhile, prosecutors and Colorado’s chief public defender seem to be at confusing odds over a law that requires police to keep DNA evidence, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Frontier Will Cut Gates
Following Frontier Airlines‘ recent announcement that it would increase the number of frequent-flier miles needed to get free tickets, the airline is now cutting its gate capacity and check-in counters at Denver International Airport. The decision is part of the air carrier’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according the Denver Business Journal, which notes a new lease agreement with DIA. The airline will cut its 22 gates on Concourse A to 17 gates, pending court approval, “an important and positive step forward in our reorganization process,” according to Frontier President and CEO Sean Menke in a statement quoted by the Journal. The move helps Frontier settle $3.4 million in unpaid landing fees, rentals, and lease charges with DIA.

Autumn’s Entry: Taste of Colorado and a Cool Down
Half a million people scarfed down 50,000 ears of corn, 40,000 Henry VIII-style turkey legs, 35,000 ribs, 11,000 pounds of shrimp, 2,000 pounds of chocolate–and that’s just the tip of the gluttonous iceberg that was the 25th annual A Taste of Colorado celebration downtown this weekend, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Don’t forget the 40,000 balloons, part of what Patty Johnson, a tired but pleased marketing director, noted was Denver’s “unofficial end of summer.” In fact, fall is still three weeks away, but an “autumnal nip will be in the air this week as high temperatures on the Front Range could remain in the 60s and 70s accompanied by lows in the 40s and 50s for the next week,” according to The Denver Post, citing National Weather Service data. Enjoy it. September is the metro area’s nicest month. Severe storms are rare, and the ninth calendar month boasts the “highest percentage of sunny days and cool nights.”

CU-CSU Showdown Heads Out of Town
Although fans love watching the the Rocky Mountain Showdown between the University of Colorado and Colorado State University in the pro digs of Invesco Field, the game will be played in Boulder in 2009 and Fort Collins in 2010, according to The Denver Post, citing CU’s decision to exercise contractual options. This year’s grudge match took place on national television Sunday, with 69,619 fans packing the Broncos’ stadium, ending with a 38-17 CU win, according to the Post.

Rockies Winning Not Enough
The Colorado Rockies are playing well, defeating the San Francisco Giants in a Labor Day game by 4-0, according to The Denver Post. But with only 23 games left in the season, the team is still digging out of a hole–six games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the quest to win the National League West.

Audiodose: Colorado’s delegates convened at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul on Monday as Hurricane Gustav hit land near New Orleans. KRCC radio in Colorado Springs has interviews.

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