Off Limits

That takes the cake: The sordid details continue to pile up in the sorry saga of Spicer Breeden and Peter Schmitz--the two occupants of the car that killed Rocky Mountain News reporter Greg Lopez on St. Patrick's Day. After popping into several LoDo bars early last week, Schmitz, facing vehicular homicide charges, headed off to Germany for his father's funeral. Meanwhile, the catering bill from Breeden's memorial service--$1,929 from Hummel's Bakery--has yet to be paid, according to documents released in Denver probate court, where a judge last Thursday upheld Breeden's eleventh-hour scribble giving everything to pal Sydney Stone. Breeden left behind $33,000 in unpaid credit-card bills when he committed suicide; among the charges was $92.10 rung up February 29 at Santa Fe Books and Video, an adult bookstore in Englewood.

Drive, he said: It could be weeks before public officials quit looking over their shoulders for Paula Woodward whenever they start their cars. (Where was she last St. Patrick's Day, anyway?) But the debate over whether Woodward had a duty to dial 911 when she saw Denver Housing Authority head Sal Carpio drinking and driving reached an all-time low during last Friday's snowstorm, when a talk-radio caller wondered if the occupants of a Channel 7 van filming an icy stretch of road didn't have an obligation to warn motorists that dangers lay ahead? (In a word: No.)

At Friday's Housing and Urban Development ceremony featuring HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros--who knows something about personal laundry getting a very public airing--and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, Webb referred to Carpio's current stay at an alcohol treatment center. "Every individual and every agency at some point in time...has difficulties," he said. "But the way I was raised, you don't throw people away." In the city he runs, however, it sometimes happens--witness the parks department employee who, after three years of exemplary performance, showed up for work one day in 1995 acting drunk and was immediately taken to Denver General Hospital, where she tested at almost twice the legal limit for drunk driving. A few weeks later she was fired--despite the fact that at the time, she was the primary witness in a criminal rape trial. Even though the employee, a recovering alcoholic, claimed it was stress that caused her to drink that day, "there can be no exceptions," the parks personnel director testified at a Career Services hearing. Except, perhaps, in the case of Carpio, who is currently on leave. And after suing the city, the parks employee got her job back last month.

I never promised you a rose garden: Denver Post editor-in-chief Dennis Britton was not pleased. As he noted in an e-mail to his troops last Thursday, some disloyal Post employee had called Don Knox, business editor at the Rocky Mountain News, to warn him that News scribe Kerri Smith was interviewing at the Post, which had recently acquired Bill Husted and sports columnist Adam Schefter from the News. Perhaps that disloyal employee should ask Knox for a job, Britton suggested; after all, he had plenty of openings. (In addition to Smith, the business section recently lost two other reporters.) This is a "newspaper war," Britton reminded his employees, "not a garden party."

Just a few hours later, the war had another casualty: Neil Westergaard, who'd risen through the ranks at the Post to become Gil Spencer's managing editor, then his heir apparent--only to be supplanted when the Post hired Britton. Westergaard stayed with the Britton regime six months, then exited Thursday with a resignation letter--read by Britton--that was a class act all the way.

More Post toasties: An unexpected upside of the Park Meadows big ad buy is that second section in the front of the Post, usually filled with good wire-service stuff--including the San Jose Mercury News stories on the Contra-crack connection that inspired Webb's request that the U.S. Conference of Mayors support his call for an independent investigation.

And although the Post last month eliminated the Caring Connection and Community Shares from its employee-giving campaign, leaving United Way a virtual monopoly on the paper's civic-minded workers, where there's a will there's a way: Post employees now can make donations through the Denver Media Credit Union to Community Shares and its 69 member nonprofits--one of which supports union organizing and greatly offended Post management.

 
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