By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
part 2 of 2
Young people apparently had a bit more trouble relating to the Denver Public Schools, which began the school year with a week-long teacher's strike. The district never stopped learning, though, bringing in replacement teachers to show movies in the gym and dodge spitballs. State officials later determined that the district illegally paid 580 substitutes who never provided college transcripts.
The school board shelled out $40,000 to find a new superintendent, even though it didn't have to look any further than its own personnel records. Irv Moskowitz, a former DPS administrator, quickly established who was in charge in the district by overturning Horace Mann Middle School vice principal Ruben Perez's suspension of 97 alleged troublemakers. Perhaps the disciplinarian Perez was inspired by the University of Colorado's sweeping new firearms resolution, which forbade devices designed to "intimidate, harass, injure or otherwise interfere with the learning and working environment of the university." Among other things, the "resolution" made it possible to expel students for bringing slingshots to campus.
Unfortunately for CU president Judith Albino, the new rule didn't say anything about outlawing hunger strikes, which came back in style this year as quickly as disco music and bell-bottom pants. A coalition of minority students at CU staged a five-day hunger strike in an effort to get the school to form an ethnic-studies department that would hand out undergraduate and graduate degrees in minority affairs. Apparently lacking the stomach for a fight, Albino gave in.
And college students weren't the only ones hungry for knowledge. Angry about the state of Hispanic education in Denver, activist Nita Gonzalez lost 35 pounds in 27 days on her new Protest Diet. Eight hundred Hispanic kids themselves walked out of class in September, a move that lost some of its fizz when three times as many Hispanic students decided to just take the day off.
Life wasn't always a bed of roses out in the suburbs, either. Littleton high school officials blushed when one parent complained that co-ed showings of educational films on self-testing for breast and testicular cancer constituted "sexual harassment."
An even bigger stink loomed at Campus Middle School in Greenwood Village after a student brought an odiferous piece of tropical fruit to show-and-smell. The Castlewood Fire Department dispatched fifteen units to the scene after pupils reported being physically repulsed by the stench that emerged from the exotic durian sliced open during a geography lesson. The student body escaped unscathed, though two youngsters suffered anxiety-induced asthma attacks linked to the sewerlike aroma.
In a July episode of TV's Jeopardy, host Alex Trebek quizzed contestants with this answer: "Denver International Airport, which opened in 1994, replaced this airport." The question "What is Stapleton?" was good for $500, which Denver officials could have used to help pay for DIA's rapidly ascending delay costs. Also spotted in July: an electric sign at Stapleton advertising DIA's opening two months earlier.
Out at DIA iself, officials celebrated the arrival of the airport's 1 millionth visitor--a tourist who had come out to wander through the vacant terminal.
The local media did its best to pretend that DIA was open anyway. Channel 9's special DIA guide had already been distributed to area Burger King restaurants when Mayor "Whopper" Webb announced he was further postponing the airport's opening in March. The Post issued its own special section on March 6; the wily Rocky Mountain News backed out just in time, but got caught when it released a DIA tri-bute on May 8 featuring advertisements such as this one from Hensel Phelps Construction: "World Class Construction in World Record Time!"
Eight separate investigations raged at DIA, probing everything from cracks in the runways to allegations that the city failed to fully inform investors who bought the billions in bonds that financed the project. But after the smart-mouths at the New York Times dared to make fun of DIA in a mocking editorial, the Denver Post felt compelled to stick up for its hometown. "Yes, that's right, DIA is a modern wonder," retorted the Post, "and airport engineers expect the baggage system to be fully functional in the not-too-distant future." Later in the year, Webb announced the city would spend millions to build a low-tech baggage system as a backup to its still-not-working modern wonder.
Airport officials also had trouble debugging a giant water sculpture in the terminal that had been designed to shoot out jets of fluid in the shape of the Front Range Rockies but hadn't been designed with a drip pan. However, Post reporter Alan Katz was happy to serve as a backup. While on assignment measuring how long it took to reach DIA by cab from different parts of the city, Katz heard the call of nature and, discovering that the new airport's attri-butes include a location miles from the nearest Porta-Potty, asked his cabdriver to pull over on Pena Boulevard. He was ticketed by a cop shortly after christening the thoroughfare.
Former KNUS talkmeister Ken Hamblin hung up his local mike to pursue a career sticking out his tongue at a national audience--but not before a female co-worker accused him of pinning her down on a bench and simulating a sex act during a holiday party. Hamblin later accepted Lakewood prosecutors' offer of a deferred prosecution on a misdemeanor harassment charge, which will be wiped off the books if the Black Avenger can keep out of woman trouble until January 10. Also busted for plagiarizing a Rocky Mountain News article in his column for the Post, Hamblin announced he was writing a book on lazy Negroes and other social problems titled Please Don't Feed the Blacks.