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NEW ANTENNAS A GOOD CALL AT BRONCO GAMES »business, 6B

Air Force Academy sees rise in sex-assault reports. »1B

MILLER DUMERVIL BAILEY

1st Pro Bowl 2nd Pro Bowl

BRONCOS NAMED TO PRO BOWL

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IN TER IM R A T E R EQ U ES T

NATION & WORLD Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

SYRIA SETS UP FALSE IMAGE, ACTIVISTS SAY

Vision check

Residents of the Syrian city of Homs said the government pulled some of its tanks from the streets shortly before Arab League observers arrived. »16A

BREAK OUT THE BUBBLY

Early in his tenure, the mayor has escaped big controversy, but 2012 promises decisions that will test how he leads. By Jeremy P. Meyer The Denver Post

Next year will make clear one thing: how Denver Mayor Michael Hancock leads. Is he a leader who reaches into his gut to pull out decisions based on his convictions? Or is he a leader who relies on consensus, committees and recommendations from task forces? So far, Hancock has not been forced to make many controversial decisions; after being sworn in July 18, he has spent most of the past five months filling out his administration. “We’re calling 2012 ‘The Year of Decisions,’ ” Hancock said in a recent interview. Matters on his plate for 2012 will be weighty, carrying with them political implications and possible controversy. He’ll be faced with choosing to impose a trash fee on Denver residents, deciding whether to ask voters in November to support a milllevy increase for city services, negotiating contracts with public-safety unions and figuring out what to do about a library system that has asked either to be given a dedicated revenue

The economy may be in a funk and consumer spending in a slump, but there’s one glass that seems to be more than half full — flutes of champagne.

HANCOCK » 10A

»FOOD, 1D

Some of 2012’s leadership-defining issues

Public safety

Stock show

Budget changes

The city must negotiate contracts with public-safety unions. Hancock has already made some tough decisions — including hiring Police Chief Robert White. White is transforming the department after a project that saves $8 million and increases officers in “line-of-duty functions.”

The future of the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is an open question, with ideas ranging from doing nothing to expanding current facilities to building a new complex. The mayor has already decided to pull Denver out of a state Regional Tourism Act application with Aurora.

In late January, Hancock will be presented with a report recommending how the city can cut costs and raise revenues. Some recommendations already have been revealed: charging a fee for trash service, raising property taxes and cutting costs in the government.

(clockwise from top) Denver Post file photos by Craig F. Walker, Aaron Montoya, Joe Amon and Andy Cross

“They can stay connected to resources, like if they’re trying to get a bed for the night or a job interview.” Christina Mijares, who works at the Urban Peak shelter

Homeless teens dial into safety net with cellphones By Colleen O’Connor The Denver Post

A cellphone can provide a crucial safety net for teenagers who are homeless, according to a new study published in the Journal of Urban Health.

Critics say the utility needs to prove hardship for it to skip months of public hearings. By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post

Consumer advocates, some of Colorado’s biggest companies, senior citizens and utility regulators are opposing Xcel Energy’s bid for a no-hearing, interim $100 million electricity-rate hike. The challenges — in filings with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission — contend that Xcel has failed to prove the financial necessity of the increase and that the figure is too high. Xcel, with 1.3 million customers the state’s largest utility, is seeking a $142 million rate increase, a process that will take months. But citing a 2010 law, Xcel wants the utilities commission to rule in January on an interim hike without public hearings. “The interim increase just isn’t justified,” said Steve Merrill, an advocate for Colorado AARP, a senior-citizens organization. “This shouldn’t be put on the backs of ratepayers without a full review.” Xcel officials say the delay in awarding rate increases, known as regulatory lag, makes it difficult for the company to get the full return on its investments and impairs its financial standing.

N EEN A N P R O J EC TS

MOM KILLED IN McDONALD’S PARKING LOT

Adoption Alliance» A Denver-area adoption agency that specializes in placing special-needs children is closing after 22 years. »1B

Users unite against Xcel

XCEL » 13A

DENVER & THE WEST

A mother of three was shot to death outside of a McDonald’s in Parker as her children waited inside. »1B

» denverpost.com/weather

“I’m lost without it,” said Dakota Labarr, 19, during lunch hour at the Urban Peak shelter in Denver, which serves homeless youth. His smartphone was stolen last week, and with it much of his social network has vanished. PHONE » 13A

INS I D E Business » 6-8B | Comics » 7-9D | Contact The Post » 2B | Lottery » 2B | Movies » 6D | Obituaries » 4-5B | Puzzles » 7-8D

Like others at Urban Peak, Tamika Aumiller, 20, can use a cellphone to connect with family, caseworkers and jobs. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Engineer’s license put on hold By Eric Gorski The Denver Post

Citing public-safety concerns, a state board took the unusual step Tuesday of suspending the engineering license of a former Neenan Co. employee who worked on school buildings across Colorado. The state Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors voted unanimously to suspend Gary Howell’s license until a hearing on his case. The board also will issue subpoenas today to Howell and Neenan seeking documents related to the troubled Meeker Elementary School construction project. “It was appropriate for the board to take action on this sooner rather than later,” said chairman William “Bud” Starker of Starker Construction in Wheat Ridge. “I think we acted in accordance to the rules and kept paramount the safety of the people of Colorado while providing due process for the respondent.” Howell’s lawyer, Bryan Kuhn, disagreed, saying he hasn’t even been informed of any accusations.

MediaNews Group

NEENAN » 13A


NEENAN Dec28