By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Shortridge's son, David Howard Shortridge Jr., has a legal history much more extensive than his father's. Colorado Bureau of Investigation records show that between 1973 and 1983 he was arrested more than a dozen times--for larceny, burglary, assault, possession of marijuana and other crimes.
But by far his most serious offense was the killing of eighteen-year-old Thomas David Noskoff in December 1979. Noskoff and Shortridge were roommates in an Aurora apartment, and the problem, Noskoff's family remembers, was that the younger Shortridge, then 24, turned out to be a freeloader. For several weeks, the family members say, David had failed to pay Tom for his share of the rent and other living expenses. "My son was paying all the bills," says Noskoff's father, Tom Sr.
On the night of Sunday, December 9, according to Noskoff's family, Tom began to pester David for the money he owed him, and the pair began to argue. Shortridge, Noskoff's family says, jumped in his truck and tried to drive away. Tom grabbed Shortridge to prevent him from leaving. When Tom reached for him, Shortridge picked up a nine-inch butcher knife off the truck's dashboard and plunged it into Noskoff's heart.
"It was cold-blooded, as far as I'm concerned," says Tom's sister Renee, now a resident of Eugene, Oregon. "My brother never would have hurt him."
The following October, Shortridge pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to four years in prison.
David Shortridge Jr. could not be reached for comment, and his father refuses to discuss his son's conviction. But Shortridge says his son's problems have no bearing whatsoever on the RTD race. "My son's not running for office," the elder Shortridge says. "I am."
David H. Shortridge Sr. seems to have a criminal past as well--a past he has taken steps to conceal. According to records on file at Boulder County court, Shortridge was charged in 1975 with "pandering"--soliciting two women, one a Metropolitan State College student, the other a Denver police officer, to work for him as prostitutes.
Police affidavits filed in connection with the case say that Shortridge asked the student to work as a prostitute "on several occasions" between April 1974 and March 1975. "In return he would give her money and a place to stay," the affidavit says. In April 1975, the affidavit says, Shortridge also propositioned Denver vice cop R.B. McCall, saying that "if she would give him all the money she earned as a prostitute, he would take care of her."
The affidavit and other records are filed in Boulder County District Court as part of an unrelated civil case in which Shortridge sued the city of Cripple Creek and four other parties following an incident involving an allegedly unpaid bar tab at the Palace Hotel. They indicate that in January 1977 a jury found Shortridge guilty on two misdemeanor counts of arranging for prostitution, but they do not indicate what Shortridge's sentence was. The original Denver County Court file has been destroyed and is not available for review.
Shortridge denies the criminal papers refer to him. "It's not true," he says. "I have no sealed record."
Records on microfilm in Denver District Court indicate otherwise. In February 1980, they show, someone named David H. Shortridge petitioned a judge to seal his criminal file for pandering from public view. The request, written on Shortridge's behalf by attorney Howard Mullen, notes that "the petitioner suffers from the disease known as retinitis pigmentosa." The petitioner's date of birth, the records say, is March 5, 1936--the same as that of Shortridge the RTD candidate. And the signature of the defendant in the criminal case appears to match the signature recorded in a number of Shortridge's civil suits.
The Shortridge charged with pandering claimed his file should be sealed because he wanted to get a job with the federal government helping to rehabilitate others who suffered from his eye disease. "The petitioner is an exemplary citizen," the request reads, "and not a danger to the peace and safety of the community."
Jon Caldara, David Shortridge's opponent in the RTD race, says that if elected to the board, he will propose increasing the use of minivans throughout the city of Boulder. That, he says, will boost the RTD's efficiency, make things more convenient for riders and reduce air pollution, since the buses can run on natural gas.
Caldara, who runs a Boulder stage-lighting company, admits he's a political outsider with no experience in elected office. "I'm not a politician," Caldara says. But he says traffic has gotten so bad in Boulder that the city needs strong representation on the RTD board and that he is ready to take on the job. "I don't believe RTD is serving Boulder well at all," Caldara says. Caldara refuses to discuss Shortridge's controversial past. "That's his own business," he says.
Shortridge, meanwhile, says that if elected, he would propose the creation of a new route that would connect Nederland to Lyons and other small towns like Raymond and Peaceful Valley, which currently have no direct access to RTD. "That way, we'll have a route that goes the whole circle here in the mountains," he says. He also says RTD should promote trails and bike paths and revamp the bus-route system in Boulder to make it easier to get across town.