Mile-High Headlines for Friday, September 26

Sign up here to receive Panorama every weekday morning–before it’s published on our blog.

The Chips Start to Fall in Colorado As Congress and President George W. Bush continue to look for common ground in coming up with a massive, $700 billion economic bailout for faltering financial institutions, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter predicts difficult economic times ahead. He announced the state would not hire any new employees and would not begin any construction projects, according to The Denver Post. For example, plans to spend $30 million on a full-day kindergarten school have been set aside. Ritter said during a press conference at the state Capitol yesterday that Bush’s national address earlier this week, highlighting a dire economic situation, hit home. Ritter said cuts were prudent given the possibility that state revenues could “begin to dramatically decline.” The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee has already warned that the state could face a $100 million shortfall this year. Institutions of higher education are immune from the freeze but must assess their own budgets in light of the governor’s concerns, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Prison Riot More Violent Than Originally Reported It turns out the racially charged riot involving 200 inmates at the federal penitentiary in Florence, which left two inmates shot dead by guards, was worse than prison officials first reported. The April 20 incident, which broke out as inmates celebrated Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s birthday, left six times more inmates injured than the U.S. Bureau of Prisons originally said, according to paperwork obtained by the Rocky Mountain News. In all, 30 inmates and a staff member were assaulted. U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, citing concerns for safety and the surrounding community, is demanding that the public be given answers. He sent a letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin, asking for documents surrounding the incident, which is still under investigation. Bureau documents obtained by The Colorado Independent from sources inside the prison show guards fired more than 200 high-powered rifle rounds and more than 300 pepper balls filled with chemical irritants. The bureau also confirmed to the Independent that a “lockdown” has been in place since August 10, when there was a violent outburst between two inmates.

Another T-Shirt Controversy After watching a report by CBS4 on controversial T-shirts circulating among Denver police officers, the Re-create 68 Alliance, which protested during the Democratic National Convention, cried foul. The shirt, featuring an officer wearing a badge, helmet, and baton, reads, “We get up early to beat the crowds.” It also commemorates “2008 DNC.” Westword’s blog, which reprinted an Alliance press release, also touched on the subject yesterday, noting that this isn’t the first time for such controversy between activists and police. CBS4 viewer Seth Barnett, a college student, contacted the station to complain about the shirts, calling them “a terrible representation of our city and its police.” Meanwhile, the Denver police detective who produced the shirts, Detective Nick Rogers, said he received no complaints until he was contacted by CBS4. Rogers said every Denver officer received a free shirt, and officers from other departments are clamoring to get one of their own. Palin to Return to Colorado for Coffee Money While Republican presidential nominee John McCain suspended his campaign this morning, leaving the question unanswered as to whether or not he’ll debate Democrat Barack Obama tonight, Sarah Palin is planning a return visit to Colorado. She’ll arrive on October 4 to raise money, according to the Rocky Mountain News, holding a “VIP coffee” that costs $25,000 per person to attend. A photo with Palin will cost you $2,500 and breakfast an additional $1,000. It doesn’t seem Palin will be around long. The fundraiser takes place at Centennial Airport, and there were “no immediate plans for a public event,” according to The Denver Post’s PoliticsWest blog. Westword’s blog waxes irreverent about the fundraiser: “Listening to Palin’s Rice Krispies snap, crackle and pop–$80,000… Passing Palin the cream–$150,000
… Sharing a sticky bun–Priceless.” While I’m on the subject of the Alaska governor, and in case you haven’t seen it, here’s video of Palin in a ceremony where a Kenyan bishop asks Jesus to steer the forces of “witchcraft” away from her. The video is making the rounds in mainstream news outlets, including some of Denver’s. Climate Center Survives Thanks to Clintons and Rockefeller Foundation Since 2004, the Center for Capacity Building has helped poor countries identify flood, drought, and other climate problems so they are less vulnerable. But last month, the center was stripped of its $500,000 federal budget at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, according to The New York Times, which notes shifting priorities and a lack of money. But thanks to former President Bill Clinton, who said he was tipped to the story by his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the University of Colorado in Boulder will keep the program alive via a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, according to Boulder’s Daily Camera. The center’s name will change to the Consortium for Capacity Building, because it aims to establish more foreign relationships. Michael H. Glantz, the consortium’s director, a political scientist who studies the societal impacts of climate change, was thrilled by the news, according to the Times, saying that with rising populations, poor parts of the globe are facing harsh weather threats amplified by global warming and use the information as a matter of survival. Now: A Good Time to Hit the Road…in Denver This weekend is expected to be the best to witness the Colorado fall in all its golden, orange, and red shades. The turning of aspen leaves in the high country is reaching its peak, according to experts cited by the Colorado Springs Gazette, and this could be your last opportunity to enjoy it, as a dreadful leaf-killing cold front might hit the higher elevations by Sunday. In case you’re aspened out already, map-making company Rand McNally, via its On the Road blog, has an interesting suggestion: Try out Denver Story Trek. The program, run by Historic Denver Inc. and the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, allows you to plan a visit to Denver’s historic sites, traveling however you please, using your cell phone to learn about where you are. By entering a code, you’ll learn more about the Black American West Museum, the Byers-Evans House Museum, Four Mile Historic Park, the Molly Brown House Museum, and more. One More Shot, George So frustrated Denver Nuggets fans (that’s you) and coach George Karl are on the same page: This season might just be his last. Several months ago, Karl, who has two years and $6 million on his contract, heard rumors that his job could be in jeopardy, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Now, Karl admits, if the Nuggets flop, flail, and fail like they did so often last year, he might not be around next year. The Rocky writes that “the Nuggets coach won’t go so far as to say it’s win in the playoffs or bust this season,” but if the team doesn’t deliver, he doesn’t know if “any of us” will be around beyond them. Pollster: Perhaps Democrat Mark Udall’s lead over Republican Bob Schaffer isn’t eight percentage points (which is what a poll indicated earlier this week). Perhaps it is much slimmer, suggests Rasmussen Reports (via The Denver Post), in a poll showing Udall ahead of Schaffer, 46 percent to 44 percent. Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.32, Western Convenience, 10515 S Parker Road (via