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OFF LIMITS

Resign of the times: After an almost unbroken 35-year stretch at the Denver Post, columnist Tom Gavin's recent "retirement" seemed a tad abrupt. And so it was. Having already been eased out of his desk (the prime spot was turned over to Pulitzer winner and special-projects czar Lou Kilzer), last week Gavin was told he'd have to decrease the frequency of his column and start writing un-bylined editorials. Instead, he resigned (though the Post didn't use that verb in its fond farewell), choosing as his departing shot Sunday the immortal line of Porky Pig: "Thhhhhat's all, folks!"

Not quite. Says Post executive editor Neil Westergaard, "We asked Tom if he would help with writing duties. We got about that many words out and he said, `Absolutely not.' It's unfortunate...I'm sorry that he felt like his only option was to resign."

So, for that matter, is Gavin--but he saw no alternative. "The only way I would have continued would have been on the same basis," says the veteran columnist. "I'll miss the job."

And that's not all for the folks left behind at Denver's dailies. The rising cost of newsprint has crunched budgets across the country, and Denver is no exception. Next to go (and good riddance): the abysmal Colorado People, in the Sunday News, which was supposed to appeal to women (hence the often inexplicable choice of people profiled on the cover) but wound up interesting no one. When the magazine dies, the few features worth salvaging will move into the Spotlight section.

Pay as you go: The New York-based investment firm of Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co. recently sounded off in the Washington Post regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission's scrutiny of "pay to play," the time-honored--until the SEC decided to change the rules last spring--system in which firms made donations to political candidates in exchange for bond-underwriting business. Pryor, McClendon, of course, poured $30,000 into the 1991 mayoral campaign of Wellington Webb--before the underdog vowed not to accept such sizable contributions. So far, the firm has received $917,000 in commissions and fees from Denver (although partner Raymond McClendon did lose the DIA concession contract on which he was paired with The Paradies Shops, the controversial Atlanta concessionaire whose owner, Dan Paradies, last year was convicted of fraud in connection with deals at that city's airport).

But Pryor, McClendon officials told the Post last month that the firm has been unfairly criticized for its work in Denver. "If we wanted simply to `pay to play,' we could have gone to the person who was leading in the polls," chairman Malcolmn Pryor said of the donations to Webb. The firm supported him "simply because we thought he was a good candidate with a great future. The rest of the people in our industry supported the opposition--and in a very significant way."

And the Norm Early birds lost the worm.

Pay as you glow: Local cable magnate Glenn Jones, who's been featuring Newt Gingrich's lecture series on his Mind Extension University channel, isn't the only local fan of the new House Speaker. Over the past decade, four Denver families have each given at least $60,000 to Gingrich's war chest. Topping the local list: the Howard "Bo" Callaway family, which has given $110,000, and Charles and June Gates, at a flat $60,000. No rubber checks here.

 
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