OFF LIMITS

Clearing the air: Denver's weekly mayor/council meeting tackled a particularly tricky issue at the January 25 session: what to do with Paradies, the DIA concessionaire whose owner had just been found guilty of bribing Atlanta officials for deals at their airport. While councilmembers moved into executive session to discuss Paradies's Denver contract, a few reporters huddled outside with Mayor Wellington Webb in a "mini-press conference." That's when Rocky Mountain News photographer Linda McConnell remembered she'd left her coat in the meeting room, and Briggs Gamblin, Webb's press secretary, went to retrieve it.

At Gamblin's interruption of the closed-door kibbitzing, one councilmember joked that McConnell probably had a tape recorder stashed in her coat--a reference to a TV camera left running during a top-secret discussion of one of DIA's opening-day delays last year. But public works officials didn't consider it a laughing matter, and communications director Amy Lingg asked Gamblin to please check McConnell's coat.

Which an embarrassed Gamblin did.
Which led to an ugly third-floor shouting match between News reporter Brian Weber and Lingg--who was recently depicted in the News as being "not very forthcoming" with the media by PR guy Pete Webb.

Lest we forget, Webb, a subcontractor to Bechtel and no relation to the mayor, "will provide Opening Day media technical and logistical support services only." That's according to last month's "DIA Public Relations and Media Communications Roles and Responsibilities" memo from the mayor's office. Lingg "will operate as communication lead for DIA," the memo notes. And Gamblin "will serve to facilitate this cooperative effort by providing process direction necessary to accomplish overall coordinated public relations and media communications goals."

There are, however, still a few kinks to be worked out--as evidenced when Gamblin and Lingg handed out dueling Paradies memos before last Tuesday's very public public-relations spat.

They're outta here: Political consultant Rick White, of White & Cole Associates (the firm that brought you Nita Gonzales's last school-board campaign and the fight to get gambling into the Platte Valley, among other things), is headed to Washington, D.C., to join Kevin Marchman, the former head of the Denver Housing Authority who was recently named to a top job at HUD...Marchman himself was a protege of former Denver mayor Federico Pe¤a, whose seeming snub by President Bill Clinton at the State of the Union address has been the subject of much speculation. Although Washington is whispering that Pe¤a, along with forthcoming Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and even more forthcoming Attorney General Janet Reno, is on the outs, Pe¤a supporters have a simple explanation for Clinton's failure to greet his Secretary of Transportation: He literally overlooked him...Yaphet Kotto has given up on Conifer and now divides his time between Toronto and Los Angeles, where he's starring in Homicide. Kotto's most unusual role, though, remains his unlikely stint as political advisor to Norm Early's losing mayoral campaign.

 
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