OFF LIMITS

Everybody's talking: With all the new radio shows cropping up, is anyone left to listen? That lord of discipline, Horace Mann vice principal Ruben Perez, now chats about education issues Sundays on KHOW (on weekdays, Denver Public Schools has consigned Perez to campus). At the Independence Institute's tenth-anniversary dinner last Thursday, Perez drew the biggest round of applause, even though there were other luminaries in the crowded banquet hall, including twenty Colorado legislators and Attorney General Gale Norton. KOA talk-show host Mike Rosen, one of the institute's first senior fellows, emceed and also picked up the annual David D'Evelyn Award for Inspired Leadership; the conservative talker is unlikely to win prizes for his quip that Perez could become the first "senor" fellow. But then, this is not a group that prides itself on political correctness. For that, you can tune into KOA on Sunday nights, where old-time liberal Gary Hart hosts "Heartland."

The most unlikely blabber, though, surely must be former aviation director George Doughty, who fled Denver mid-DIA construction for a job at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania. Doughty will wing his way back to Denver to provide "expert" analysis on DIA's opening for KOA and KTLK. "I agreed to do it on my time, because I thought it would be a kick," Doughty told his new hometown paper. "Mr. Doughty knows the airport project from both the inside and outside," says KOA producer Laurie Parsons. "He's not only extremely knowledgeable, but he can speak with a high degree of candor." Just how high remains to be seen--several of the dozen investigations into DIA are delving into what happened during Doughty's watch.

Place your bets: Money talks, too, of course. Most of the deep-pockets people who poured their dollars into the 1991 mayoral race haven't yet decided which of the four Democrats to back this time around, but some folks down in New Orleans are already gambling on Wellington Webb. The mayor's war chest includes at least $6,500 from Louisiana interests, chief among them Metro Riverboat Associates, which donated $1,000. Metro Riverboat, controlled by prominent black businessman Norbert Simmons, can afford to dole out money to politicians; it will operate one of fifteen riverboat gambling palaces about to open around New Orleans. Simmons and ex-partner Vernon Shorty plunked down $550,000 in a partnership with the giant Bally Corp., which invested $70 million in the project--but guess who wound up with controlling interest? Simmons and Shorty, the only minority owners of a riverboat license. Shorty's no longer part of Metro Riverboat, however. Suffering from bad publicity after a medical-care company he co-owned had to pay the federal government a $1 million fine in a Medicaid case, he sold his share in Metro Riverboat to Simmons--for a cool $5 million, according to published reports.

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Webb's Louisiana connections don't end there. His campaign reports indicate that he paid a Ben Jeffers $350 for "consulting." Who's Jeffers? Chief of staff for Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, who appointed Simmons to the state Board of Regents and the Louisiana Airport Authority and also lobbied hard to get Metro Riverboat its gambling license.

Timing is everything: Gee, is Pat Bowlen trying to get a new stadium? Nothing like announcing a new Broncos coach to steal thunder from what was certainly the major news story of the day: that DIA will open February 28, by hook (to rescue stranded luggage) or crook (to be determined).

 
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