Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, spoke to reporters after a news conference where he and other senators called for the appointment of Roberta Jacobson as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. (Danika Worthington/Cronkite News)

Written Portfolio

Work program trains unemployed oil and gas workers in solar technology

Publication: Denver Post

DENVER — The coal industry has been painted with a bleak brush in recent years. Production has plummeted. Plants have closed. Jobs have been lost.

And while mining communities grapple with neighbors moving away, increasingly empty schools and fewer tax dollars, a separate industry is blooming: renewable energy.

National rhetoric pits the two energy producers against each other. But in Delta County, one organization is targeting unemployed coal miners in the hope of transitioning them into the solar industry — and leaving politics out of the conversation.

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Kate Paul: From “dirt poor” and covered in kidney guts to CEO

Publication: Denver Post

DENVER — Kate Paul came home from high school one day and announced that she was going to become a nun.

“Kathryn Ann,” said her mother, a registered nurse, “no daughter of mine will be a nun or a nurse. You have more potential than that. Get over it.”

“So that was the end of that,” joked Paul, who at nearly 70 is retiring for the second time.

She was at her most recent gig, president and CEO of Delta Dental, for 15 years, growing revenues 122 percent to $358 million. It was a job she took after her self-described “failed retirement” from Kaiser Permanente, where she had been president of western operations.

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Renewable energy, foreign money keeping the lights on in Nicaragua

Publication: Cronkite Borderlands Project

Cattle cross a field in Rivas, Nicaragua, in front of wind turbines on March 11, 2015. IC Power rents the land for Amayo from locals who still use it to ranch, Pentzke said. Danika Worthington/JMC 470

Cattle cross a field in Rivas, Nicaragua, in front of wind turbines on March 11, 2015. IC Power rents the land for Amayo from locals who still use it to ranch, Pentzke said. (Danika Worthington/JMC 470)

RIVAS, Nicaragua — Javier Pentzke rests at the base of wind turbine 17 watching paper-white blades chase each other against Nicaragua’s blue sky.

He pulls out his phone to take a photo of the sun poking between the spinning blades.

“I love to see the blades going right in front of me,” Pentzke said, imitating the sound of a turbine. “It’s kind of, I don’t know, it’s kind of relaxing — to me at least.”

The 263-foot tall machine and its 29 sisters at Amayo I and II wind farms contribute to a national electric grid that just 10 years ago regularly lost power for four to five hours a day to the 64 percent of the country with access to it.

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Salmon’s surprise retirement throws open the race for his House seat

Publication: Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Rep. Matt Salmon’s surprise announcement Thursday that he will not seek re-election to his seat in Congress shook up what was expected to be a sleepy campaign in a solidly Republican district this fall.

The Mesa Republican, who had no challengers from either party before his announcement, said he decided to step down after his latest two terms because he was no longer willing to trade time away from his family for congressional duties.

Political analysts said the announcement could open the floodgates to potential GOP candidates, attracted by an open seat in a district where there are more than twice registered Republicans as Democrats.

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Businesses use Pokemon Go to lure more customers

Publication: Denver Post

DENVER — Pokemon Go, the phone-based app that has people of all ages scurrying across town trying to catch virtual Pokemon at landmark locations, quickly became a cultural phenomenon after Niantic dropped the game in the U.S. on July 6.

And businesses have been paying attention.

Many have hopped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, some a bit literally, and used the game to market their own companies. In return, they’ve seen higher attendance numbers, more foot traffic and boosts in revenue. The fervor surrounding the game even birthed a Denver-based company in a week.

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McSally raises $3.2 million, but analysts still expect a tight race

Publication: Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Rep. Martha McSally’s aggressive fundraising gives her an edge over her competitors in the 2nd District House race, say experts, but they caution that the district will likely still be competitive come November.

The first-term Tucson Republican raised more than $3.2 million last year, topping all but a handful of House members, and had $1.9 million on hand at the end of the year, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

While $3 million is a lot for challengers to overcome, analysts say other factors, such as the eventual GOP presidential nominee and outside funding, could have a large effect in the district, which is almost evenly split between Republican, Democratic and independent voters.

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The economics of human rights: An unwelcome perception may hinder economic growth following same-sex marriage legalization

Publication: Phoenix Business Journal


PHOENIX — The legalization of same-sex marriage here is expected to provide a boost of millions of dollars a year for Arizona’s wedding and tourism industries. But the state’s negative image regarding civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community could hinder any positive business impact.

On Oct. 17, the state dropped its legal efforts to protect a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman after a federal court ruled it unconstitutional. That stopped an exodus of LGBT couples who were traveling to other states to take their vows.

It also stemmed the loss of money to local businesses, said
Drew Coleman, event producer with Life Design Event Planning and representative of, a blog and business that specializes in same-sex unions.

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Side bar: Next targets for gay-rights activists in Arizona: same-sex benefits, employment protections