OFF LIMITS

Guv, American-style: Even before Bruce Benson did his petulant Ross Perot imitation last Thursday, presenting incumbent Roy Romer with a bowling trophy and pulling out of any future debates because "we want to go back to our game plan and play by our rules," the Colorado governor's race had attracted the attention of the New York Times. Last week the paper offered this analysis of the candidates: "Mr. Romer, a centrist with roots in rural Colorado and a style that has always been successful among working-class voters as well as Denver liberals, could be damaged by an anti-incumbency mood. Mr. Benson, an amiable businessman from the moderate wing of the Republican Party, has been embarrassed by incidents in his past: drunken driving convictions and a bitter divorce."

Actually, Benson--now a get-tough-on-crime candidate who's looking less amiable by the second--pleaded to lesser charges on those drunk-driving arrests. And Romer, who's distancing himself from the "liberal" label, has his own recent embarrassment: the high-speed chase between Greeley and Fort Collins ten days ago, when Romer huddled on the floor while state trooper Steve Stevenson, even at speeds of well over 100 mph, was unable to shake a mysterious red Chevy--much less attract the attention of a single law-enforcement vehicle.

Apparently, the roads around Greeley are a good place to experience life in the fast lane. Heading south to Denver from that same Greeley debate, a Republican insider going the speed limit was stunned to see a Mercedes convertible, looking very much like the one described in the Benson divorce papers and occupied by two people who looked very much like Marcy and Bruce Benson, zooming past at warp speed.

Plaint by numbers: "The auditor's office is a newspaper research office instead of an accounting office," said Wellington Webb on Peter Boyles's radio show last Friday. Webb should know--he used to be the city auditor, a post that traditionally keeps as close an eye on the incumbent mayor as it does on city finances. Now, of course, Webb is Mayor of Denver--a job he rates as the second-toughest in the country, right after President of the United States. (Gee, we thought the number-two slot went to Heidi Fleiss's appointments secretary.)

These days, reporters are beating down auditor Bob Crider's door to learn what the city has paid to outside attorneys. Channel 7's John Ferrugia, who's been in the lead on this one, has focused his attentions on the firm of Irizarry and McCall, hired by the city attorney's office to fight a lawsuit filed by Concrete Works of Colorado. Although that suit, aimed at Denver's minority-contracting program, doesn't involve airport contracts, the city is paying Irizarry and McCall's bills with funds earmarked for the airport. And that revelation has prompted yet another airport-related probe, this one by the Federal Aviation Administration.

While Denver dukes it out over DIA, the new Colorado Springs airport is opening on budget, on time, on October 22. And also unlike Denver, Colorado Springs actually waited until the airport was really going to open before it scheduled a modest celebration. (Denver, on the other hand, held its Gala Grand Opening last November.) Among the Springs' first departing passengers: a hundred teddy bears, complete with backpacks, travel diaries and tags instructing whoever finds them to send the bears back to Oak Creek Elementary School next April.

Just don't count on routing them through

 
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