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If you’re looking for innovation in Colorado’s share of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, you’re likely to be disappointed in what some transportation officials are calling “a jobs bill.” Most of the $520 million in new spending headed this way will be pumped into much-needed and “shovel-ready” paving projects and repairs for bridges and interchanges that have been put off for years in the face of shrinking federal and state highway budgets.
Environmentalists and unarmed national park enthusiasts got a bit of a reprieve Tuesday when the new Obama Administration issued a memo halting further progress on a series of controversial midnight regulations pushed through in the waning days of a lame duck Bush White House.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein wasn't the only Senate committee chief surprised by an Obama Cabinet pick. New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who runs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, "never got official notice" that Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar would be nominated to head the Department of Interior, or that scientist Steven Chu would be tapped as secretary of energy, the Los Angeles Times reports Monday in an article about tension between the new administration and Congress. Bingaman's committee staff "pestered aides on the Obama transition team for clues" and eventually "(ferreted) out the names through their own efforts."
Even as Republican state lawmakers gear up to make Colorado a more oil-shale-friendly business climate, a group of national and regional environmental groups Tuesday announced their intent to sue the BLM over so-called “midnight” leasing regulations pushed through by the Bush administration.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his name as the nominee for commerce secretary because of a federal grand jury investigation into allegations a company tied political donations to state contracts, NBC's Andrew Mitchell reported Sunday afternoon. "Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact," Richardson said in a statement first reported by Mitchell. "But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process."
Colorado could wind up with a Salazar in President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet after all. The Denver Post and Reuters are reporting Monday that Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar is "the leading contender" to be secretary of the interior after earlier removing himself from the list of top possibilities. A source with Obama's transition team told the Denver Post last week, "It appeared that it was all but up to Salazar as to whether he wanted the post."
Wednesday's news that U.S. Rep. John Salazar has won a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu is the Obama administration's pick to head the Department of Energy narrows the possibility Colorado will be sending anyone into the next cabinet. Don't count Coloradans out, however, as the unfolding Illinois governor scandal might dislodge a Chicago schools superintendent from contention as education secretary, smoothing the way for Denver Superintendent Michael Bennet's nomination.
Are there any prominent Colorado Democrats not under consideration for Obama administration appointments these days? The state might not have been "ground zero" for the presidential election — Ohio, Virginia and Florida took over that role after Colorado started leaning solidly Blue in mid-October — but to hear the chattering class chatter, the state has lately become an epicenter for second-tier cabinet picks.