Off Limits

Hard of hearing: The voters have spoken, but apparently RTD didn't listen--because on Thursday, attorney Walter Gerash is scheduled to be in U.S. District Judge John Kane's courtroom, pleading the RTD board's already lost cause. In September Kane had issued a preliminary injunction against RTD's hastily adopted limitations on donations to RTD's own Guide the Ride campaign. Although Kane's move meant corporate fat cats could keep pouring money into the pro-Ride kitty, the ballot measure got creamed on election day. Still, RTD decided to move full speed ahead on its campaign-donation fight--to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. The next stop, though, is Kane's court, where the prelim ruling could be made permanent.

Since Guide the Ride derailed, of course, some people consider the matter a moot point. That's among the reasons Ed Ramey, the ACLU attorney who brought suit against the board's campaign limitations on First Amendment grounds (hey, everyone has a right to buy an election), filed a "suggestion of mootness" with Kane on Monday, asking that the case be tossed out. But Kane rejected his motion, and both sides are set for trial at 9 a.m. November 20. Court-watchers suggest that contemptible behavior--potentially illegally contemptible behavior--by certain boardmembers caught the judge's eye; all Ramey knows is that despite Guide the Ride's failure, "something's not moot."

And while the court actions climb, so do the legal fees. Ramey's ticket is already $31,000; Gerash and company have billed $50,000.

Perhaps the RTD board can hold an auction to cover their attorneys' fees, as alleged artist Peter Schmitz did last weekend to help pay his own Gerash bills. People would probably pay a lot more to see boardmembers Jon Caldara and Ben Klein kiss and make up than they would to own a Schmitz painting.

Pull up! Pull up! Western Pacific Airlines boss Bob Peiser does his best to put a happy face on his company's bankruptcy in his latest "Peiser Gram"--the name slapped on the messages Smilin' Bob records each week for employees and anyone else willing to waste eleven minutes of their existence listening to him blather on about how being broke is actually a good thing. Among the pearls of positive thinking strung together by Peiser last Saturday: There are still "five pretty serious" (could he have meant seriously deranged?) investors thinking about dumping 10 or 20 million bucks down the Westpac rathole; it's okay that the company lost a whopping $21 million in the third quarter of 1997 because revenues were actually up during that period; things would be a lot better if the company, which moved to Denver from Colorado Springs this fall, would just stop getting so much "negative press"; and, best of all, the airline's "Can-Do Spirit Program" is alive and well, encouraging workers--officially known as "internal customers"--to stay peppy even as they lay bets on whether they'll get paid that week. "I want to continue to make this a fun place to be," chirps Smilin' Bob, "and an airline we can be proud of."

Yep, there's nothing like being a bankrupt airline at one of the nation's most expensive airports. But for a less friendly view of Westpac's skies, talk to longtime local aviation consultant Mike Boyd. "They're burning the furniture to stay alive," says Boyd about Westpac, whose descent into cartoonlike fantasies may have been presaged when it painted Bart Simpson on the tail of one of its 737s. "They're dead. They're finished. They're done." Boyd says even he thought Westpac could last a year in DIA's big pond by slurping up United's chum; instead, he notes, "it took them ninety days to find the bankruptcy court." Unless somebody bearing a big wallet and wearing a "kick me" sign decides to dump big bucks into the airline real soon, adds Boyd, Smilin' Bob's got "maybe two months" before his Can-Do company crashes and burns. Less charitable analysts are predicting a final nosedive by December 1. But Peiser says he'll have landed new financing by Friday's bankruptcy hearing.

If you want to hear Bob Peiser speak for himself, dial 1-888-527-0000. All those zeros at the end of the number are no accident: According to Boyd, they represent Peiser's marketing IQ.

Snow-lo contendere: The Denver cops want four-wheel-drive vehicles for better travel during lousy conditions--and they deserve them. But still, they managed to do all right on the night of October 25, when most residents were still snowed in and snuggled up in front of Saturday night TV. Armed with a list of addresses of scofflaws who'd missed court appearances, cops knocked on doors and rounded up a bushel of bad apples. "We knew everyone would be home tonight," one cop told a curious passerby.

 
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