THE POWERS OF PERSUASION

CRITICS KNOCK THE PERFORMANCE OF THE RTD'S BEN KLEIN IN HIS OTHER JOB AS EDGEWATER JUDGE.

Doug Shadoan's weenie-wagging hoochie-coochie, which he performed last August 17 while clad in a black dress and wig in front of his second-story Edgewater apartment window, earned him a $275 fine and a thirty-day suspended jail sentence for public indecency. Because he was already on probation for a Peeping Tom incident, the conviction should have resulted in a probation revocation hearing and possible jail term.

But Shadoan's conviction mysteriously disappeared in October, and with it the need for a probation hearing. And some Edgewater residents believe that Shadoan slipped off the hook with the aid of local gadfly Pauline York and her political pal, municipal judge Ben Klein, the new vice-chairman of the powerful Regional Transportation District.

York is a precinct captain for the Jeffco Democratic party and a person who several present and former city officials say is influential in local politics in Edgewater. She is a constant presence at council meetings, where she often makes comments for the record, either to congratulate the city or to complain about zoning or personnel matters. She has no official position with the city, but she recently signed on as a court volunteer, arranging community service for defendants convicted of petty crimes.

She also has been an outspoken supporter of Klein, who was hired as the city's judge two years ago. York, some residents note, personally collected well over half the signatures needed to put fellow Democrat Klein on the November ballot for the RTD board.

Klein, no stranger to controversy ("Life on the Edge," March 23), denies pulling any strings at York's request. He says these latest allegations against him stem from a personal vendetta aimed at York and himself by other residents of Edgewater, a municipality of 4,700 sandwiched between Denver, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge just west of Sheridan Boulevard. As for York, the judge maintains, "I can truthfully say she has not influenced me in any way." Nor, he says, has she ever tried to. Although he says that he knows she is active in Democratic politics (as is he) and that he sometimes uses her to translate in court for Hispanic defendants, "she has no more clout with me than any other person would. She has no more clout with me than the man in the moon. Nobody is going to tell me what to do, and if that's a condition of the job, I don't want it."

And yes, he says, "Pauline carried petitions around, but she cannot walk into my court and say, `This has got to be done.' That's all baloney."

York, who works as a process server, isn't saying anything--other than to direct questions to her attorney. "I don't think she's ever done that," York's attorney Fred Myers says of the accusations, and chuckles. "I doubt she has that kind of authority. But I won't let her comment."

Klein, a once-promising attorney and star in local Democratic politics, was a state lawmaker for eighteen years before his health and foibles caught up with him. In 1970 he was accused of falsifying billings, manufacturing evidence, attempted bribery and giving false testimony under oath. His license to practice law was suspended for sixteen years.

Then Klein missed the entire 1973 legislative session--due, he said, to mental illness. That spring he was indicted on charges of federal income-tax evasion. He was found guilty, but the judge who initially sentenced him to five years in prison later reduced the penalty to five years' probation.

In 1988 the state supreme court allowed Klein to get his law license back. Two years later Klein won election to the RTD board. And in 1992 he was appointed judge of Edgewater. Last summer, when Klein was seeking re-election to the RTD board, Pauline York came to his aid. Klein says he can't remember if he asked York to carry petitions or if she volunteered. Klein needed 250 valid signatures to get his name on the ballot. York, who was one of five petitioners (including Klein), collected 201 signatures. Klein himself collected only 31.

In August York read a letter to the Edgewater City Council, stating that Klein had asked her to put it into the record. Klein, the letter said, wanted to thank the citizens of Edgewater for their support and their signatures on his petition. Klein says he doesn't recall asking York to present the letter at the meeting.

Klein ran unopposed and was re-elected to the board in November, and his new term already has been fraught with controversy. He is among a rising tide of RTD members who are said to be poised to scuttle expansion plans for light rail, a stance that has raised the ire of other politicians.

Until the Shadoan case, most of Klein's rulings as Edgewater judge have passed without notice or comment--except for two. The first occurred after the arrest of Denver antique dealer Michelle "Myke" Johnson and her daughter for allegedly shoplifting a $7.50 can of paint from the Builder's Square store in Edgewater. The women claimed they had forgotten to pay for the paint and then got roughed up by Edgewater cops. The women demanded a jury trial on the shoplifting charges--the city's first jury trial in two years--but lost. They also lost their appeal, which included the claim that Klein had refused to allow as evidence pictures of Johnson's battered face. They have since filed notice of intent to sue the city.

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