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Off Limits

The return of Colorado as the center of the universe: Just when everyone seemed to be losing interest in JonBenet Ramsey (what with killer nannies and gift-from-God-and-a-few-fertility-drugs septuplets capturing the public's imagination), along came the white-wingers. Denver's "Ten Days of Rage," as Sunday's Denver Post dubbed the sorry events of November, made news across the country--with stories in the New York Times ("Denver's Violent Skinheads Are Back With a Vengeance") and references to Colorado as the Hate State (where have we heard that before?) popping up all over TV and radio. Denver hasn't seen so much overblown hysteria since the "Summer of Violence," which, as we were the first to point out back in August 1993, was actually less violent than the preceding summer, even if the 1992 victims weren't quite as telegenic as the 1993 models.

But if Denver was a "City on Edge," as the Rocky Mountain News's front page proclaimed last Friday, then why did a slew of citizens call Wellington Webb's office the preceding afternoon to complain that the mayor's live press conference was pre-empting Oprah?

Fortunately, the violence abated long enough to allow a pre-taped Jeopardy to air uninterrupted on November 19. This was the segment in which former congresswoman Pat Schroeder triumphed over comedian Al Franken and NBC yakker Jack Ford. Credit Schroeder's win to some lucky Final Jeopardy betting rather than any game-show expertise: Schroeder had difficulty pushing the button, as any Republican could have predicted from her twenty-plus liberal years in Congress. (Meanwhile, KMGH's Melissa Klinzing reports that an ill-fated Wheel of Fortune episode taped in Denver during the October blizzard and then pre-empted by coverage of the shooting of Denver police officer Bruce VanderJagt finally saw the light of day last week.)

And if this town's so full of rage and raw emotion, why was the Post downright prissy in its front-page story last Friday, in which it reported that Webb said he was "p- offed" by the "hideous, cowardly, scum-faced" things going on in Denver? Hey, if Mike Rosen's listeners can hear the mayor use the word "pissed," seeing the complete pee-word shouldn't kill Post subscribers.

Billions and billionaires served: Denver businessman and Los Angeles stadium builder Phil Anschutz gets mighty peeved every time the local business press refers to him as a "billionaire" (which he is: Forbes recently pegged Anschutz's net worth at $5.2 billion, which means that in Colorado he's topped only by John Walton, an heir to the $6.3 billion Wal-Mart fortune who lives in Durango). But apparently the Post's news department hasn't gotten the word: In its Sunday story describing the who's who that forked over $10,000 to eat with President Bill Clinton at Saturday's fundraiser at the Phipps Mansion, the Post used the b-word before Anschutz's name. And hey, what was the billionaire doing breaking bread with Clinton--much less giving bread to the Democrats--anyway? An ardent Republican, Anschutz once donated a fast ten thou to the pro-Amendment 2 campaign--back in 1992, the first time Colorado got tagged the "Hate State."

Oh, never mind. It turns out the billionaire wasn't in attendance, and the Post ran a correction on Tuesday.

Raising the roof: Even if National Image, the group trying to turn the old Denver DA's building into a Hispanic cultural center, manages to scrape up the required down payment to the city by deadline, its troubles are just beginning. After all, coming up with that first million has taken almost four years--it was late 1993 when Denver City Councilwoman Ramona Martinez urged the council to scotch a deal with a father-and-son loft-development team in favor of a Hispanic center--and the dilapidated building hasn't improved with age. Built initially as a courthouse in 1924, the structure was once attached to Denver's jail by a "Walk of Death."

While councilmembers ponder their own Walk of Debt, other ethnic groups are pushing for their cultural centers--without any subsidies from City Hall. Irish activists have their eye on a site in Capitol Hill, and the Asian Pacific Development Center is raising money to buy a building to house expanded human-service programs in Aurora. Although the APDC would have welcomed that city's help in purchasing the structure at 1544 Elmira Street, Aurora officials said they couldn't subsidize a center for a special-interest group.

Hmmm. Has Denver got a deal for them...

 
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