OFF LIMITS

Cherchez la femme: Nope, Denver's never had a mayor named Mary--as was readily apparent reading between the lines of the two dailies last week. For example, although the city has seen plenty of mayoral candidates in heavy pancake makeup, Mary DeGroot's lipstick is a first--as was Denver Post reporter Tracy Seipel's reference to the fact that the mayoral front-runner was "made up heavily for the cameras" election night. No word on Wellington Webb's makeup--but then, the incumbent canceled his planned television interviews when the returns turned against him. In Thursday's Rocky Mountain News story on how Webb can regain the lead, former state Democratic Party chairman Buie Seawell offered this sterling advice: "He has to force her down, show she has weak knees."

Just don't muss her lipstick.

The 70 percent solution: More required reading in the dailies included an annual write of spring--this year's take on the circulation-audit period that ended March 31. The News is "well-positioned," according to publisher Larry Strutton--but for what, exactly, is unclear, since the Denver Post just took back the Sunday lead after six years in second place and has also reached an all-time high for its daily circulation (302,125 compared with the News's 336,071). While the Post touts its position with charts, graphs and four-color photos of the new airport, library and ballpark, the News contents itself with pointing out that the only statistic that matters comes from a recent report on newspaper readership, which showed that 70 percent of Denver-area newspaper readers read the News.

It's not known how many of those understand it.

Charity begins at home: A few weeks ago Denver Post editorial-page editor Chuck Green sent a letter to local media organizations, wondering why they had such a lousy record of joining in United Way campaigns.

Two words, Chuck: William Aramony. When the former national director of a charity is convicted of stealing $600,000 from that charity, it tends to make potential donors skeptical--particularly when those potential donors work at jobs where they are paid to be skeptical and when the Aramony scandal is soon followed by news of a local United Way worker being ousted for alleged embezzlement.

And being skeptical does not necessarily equate with being Scroogelike, especially when workplaces have other do-gooder options. For example, there's Colorado's Partnership for Choice, a coalition of workplace giving federations that raises money for 141 local nonprofits, with an emphasis on women's, minority, health and domestic-violence issues. As of this week, though, the partnership has one less member: Mile High United Way pulled out. While six of the partners had experienced "a significant increase" in donations, United Way was the only one to suffer a decline--a condition the partnership suggested might stem from the Aramony situation. United Way, however, maintains that it can raise money more successfully on its own.

According to Greg Truog, executive director of Community Shares of Colorado, which helped pioneer the alternative giving concept (fighting United Way every step of the way), Mile High officials discussed a possible "restructuring" of the partnership program a few weeks ago. By last Friday, though, United Way had decided to pull out altogether. "It's been challenging for them to accept de-monopolizing the industry," Truog says, "even though they raised $24 million to Community Shares' $400,000.

 
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