Wake-Up Call: Churchill loses a job, kids look for them

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When Ward Churchill faces off against the University of Colorado in Denver Chief District Judge Larry Naves's courtroom today, it will be the culimination of a controversy that dates back not just years, but decades.

It wasn't until January 2005, when a student publication complained about the then-CU professor's post-9/11 essay, that Ward Churchill became a household name -- and, in many cases, epithet -- around the country. But there had been concerns raised almost as soon as "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" was published in the days after 9/11. And CU's investigation of Churchill's policies and incidents of plagiarism, while certainly inspired by the uproar over "Chickens," came a decade after complaints about Churchill were first made to the university.

Was Churchill's firing in July 2007 a clear case of retaliation? Or was it CU finally doing what it should have done more than a decade before, when questions were first raised about Churchill's credentials? A jury may finally get to determine that -- if it can wade through the barrage from both sides. For more examples of just how ugly free speech can get, read the comments responding to "Trial Beat," Kenny Be's take on the Churchill circus.

Although Churchill will be in the center ring this week, there are plenty of sideshows. Another long-running saga, the federal restriction on stem-cell research, could finally see an end today: The White House will reportedly reverse the ban signed by President George W. Bush back in 2001. Kudos to Representative Diana DeGette, who's been in the forefront on this one.

But the economy is still everyone's primary concern. At 1 p.m. tomorrow, March 10, the state will hold a confab on how gas and electric utilities can benefit from the economic-stimulus package. It's at the Ritz-Carlton Ballroom, 1881 Curtis Street. Find more details at www.dora.state.co.us/puc.

At 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce hosts a panel on "The State of Small Business" at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1750 Welton Street. For more info, go to www.denverchamber.org. Wednesday also marks the kick-off of the Rocky Mountain Corporate Growth Conference, at the Inverness Hotel and Conference center, which includes a series of panel discussions on business in this environment. Learn more at www.rmcgc.com.

And for those just entering the business world, there's the Governor's Summer Youth Job Hunt, from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Colorado Convention Center. Call 720-865-5700 for details.

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