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Off Limits

Summit chanted evening: Shortly after the annual Cinco de Mayo debacle on Federal Boulevard last month, the Safe City's Youth Commission delivered to Mayor Wellington Webb, the Denver City Council and assorted "decision-makers" a report on its recent "Youth Summit." The results were not exactly of Sermon on the Mount caliber. On the issue of curfew, for example, the commission determined that youth need "fun alternative things to do." There was also this penetrating observation: "Often, when youth get stopped for curfew, the police make them walk home. People wondered about their safety in this situation." As opposed to, say, their safety before the police stopped them?

But the peak performance came in the summit's assessment of "allowable cruisin'." The summiteers promised that "Youth would agree to put away guns, not throw signs, if police showed cultural sensitivity and less harassment. Basically, the youth were suggesting they could try to change some of their behaviors, if the police would do likewise."

Age before duty.

G whiz! The first clue as to the disorganization of that other summit, the upcoming meeting of all those world leaders in Denver, was that officials couldn't even figure out what to call the confab. The second clue was the national media mess over a wedding dislocated from a building that now won't be used for the meeting. And the third was the defection of the kind of people that Denver Summit of the Eight planners could really use, experienced political organizers such as Paul Weissmann and Liz Adams.

If anybody would understand disorganization, it's Weissmann, the laid-back 33-year-old Louisville bartender who's run in Democratic circles his entire adult life--first as a campaign worker, then as a successful candidate for the Colorado Senate, then as part of the cast of thousands angling for the U.S. Senate seat eventually captured by Republican Wayne Allard last November. Weissmann has seen disorganization before, but never anything like the Denver Summit of the Eight. "There's just way too many people in charge, and none of them are really communicating," Weissmann says.

He learned this when he was volunteering as a coordinator of other volunteers and interns. Several times, Weissmann says, he'd send a volunteer out, only to get a call from the volunteer saying he'd been told he wasn't needed. "It was pretty frustrating," Weissmann adds. So he simply stopped going to the Summit planning office, located in the old motor vehicles building at Sixth Avenue and Acoma.

The Republican Adams, a former Senate aide and Department of Health and Human Services staffer in D.C., encountered the same frustrations. She was willing to volunteer three days a week, but after watching State Department officials and local representatives snipe at each other and get nothing done, she finally decided she'd had enough. "It just wasn't worth my time," she says.

Still, both Adams and Weissmann assume the show will go on. "It's like a wedding," Weissmann says. "The only people who know the ring boy went in the wrong order are the people in the wedding party."

Making air waves: Boulder residents may rank the JonBenet Ramsey murder low on their list of concerns (on a recent poll, it tied with "water supply" issues), but it's still right up there in the rest of the country. A three-part series on "JonBenet Ramsey and the Culture of Child Abuse" rated the cover of the June 10 Village Voice, of all things. "JonBenet's murder," writes Richard Goldstein, "brings to the surface both our horror at how effectively a child can be constructed as a sexual being and our guilt at the pleasure we take in such a sight." Meanwhile, the fact that a finalist for the job of police chief in Reno, Nevada, had once served on the Boulder Police Department was cause for hours of yuks on a Reno radio talk show last week--even though the poor schmoe is currently chief in St. Joe, Missouri, and hasn't been near Boulder in years.

Fame is the name of the game: As Denver Post columnist Chuck Green contemplates becoming a paid "consultant" on the Ramsey case, it's unlikely anyone in the national press will misidentify him as "Chuck Grant" again. Sadly, though, another Denver journalist is now suffering through the indignity of being named incorrectly in William Safire's column in the New York Times Magazine Sunday. It's Peter Blake who writes political columns for the Rocky Mountain News, not Peter Black.

Maybe the media is color-blind.

 
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