Off Limits

Hawaii, uh-oh: While the rest of us shiver in the December chill, our tax dollars are working overtime keeping a dozen state officials warm--in Hawaii. One of the beached bureaucrats, state representative Nolbert Chavez, a Democrat from Denver, even bragged at a recent neighborhood meeting that he'd be enjoying a honeymoon with his new bride at the same time he was officially attending the annual confab of the Council on State Governments. But the newlyweds had to shell out for an airplane ticket for Chavez's wife, Judy Montero, the longtime aide of Denver City Councilwoman Deborah Ortega who's now chief flak for in-the-rough Denver parks manager B.J. Brooks. (If Montero plays a few rounds of golf and compares notes with Brooks, maybe she can write off her expenses.)

The state's other hula-whoopers include Senator Ken Chlouber, the Republican from Leadville who races mules in his spare time; Representative Mark Paschall, the Arvada Republican who bedevils Envirotest full-time; and Adams County Democratic senator Joan Johnson. When these fellow travelers aren't running after freebies, they're chasing after higher office: Both Chlouber and Paschall have said they would like to be in the U.S. Congress, and Johnson is interested in a run at Colorado Secretary of State. (If she's really interested, she'd better hurry back home--presumably tanned, rested and ready--in time for this Saturday's state Central Party Committee meeting in Colorado Springs.)

Senate Majority Leader Jeff Wells and Republican senator Ray Powers both hold leadership roles within the Council of State Governments (Wells is the CSG's national chairman), which explains not only their current junket to Hawaii, but also previous travels to other warm climes. For example, the pair visited Costa Rica earlier this year on a trip funded by the CSG and tobacco-industry lobbyists. The CSG is also ponying up part of their expenses for the Hawaii excursion, but since Colorado pays $83,000 each year for the privilege of belonging to the CSG, what goes around comes around.

The rest of the beach bunnies: senators Frank Weddig, Terry Phillips and Bill Schroeder, and representatives Frana Mace, Doug Lamborn and Shirleen Tucker.

Book 'em, Dano. Then have Kono sit on 'em.

The Thill of it all: Although Julie Hayden's scoop for Channel 7--Nathan Thill's chilling, on-camera confession to the shooting of Oumar Dia--may not do much to save KMGH's lousy ratings, the reviews are already in at City Hall.

Manager of Public Safety Butch Montoya recently laid down the law at the Denver jail, changing a decades-old open-door policy in the process. While inmates are still allowed to talk to the press, reporters can't bring in cameras or tape recorders without getting prior approval from jail officials. As John Simonet, head of the jails and a former manager of safety himself, explains the new rule, permission will be granted unless the equipment could somehow jeopardize a lineup or destroy a high-profile case.

Thill's, perhaps?
Montoya used to be all for press access--back when he was news director at Channel 9 (which filmed an interview with Thill, too, but only after Hayden had already gotten his confession). But that was several years and many high-profile crimes--and controversial recordings--ago. In fact, on Tuesday the ACLU filed suit against the city, seeking the release of the Denver Police Department's internal investigation of Gil Webb's arrest, including the Channel 2 videotape that captured what looked like a cop's kicks to Webb's head. The department caught bloody hell when that videotape was first released, although Jeffco DA Dave Thomas, called in by Denver DA Bill Ritter to conduct an independent investigation, subsequently declined to file charges against the officers.

Another city policy change in the wake of this Autumn of Violence: Citizen ride-alongs with Denver cops in District 6 have been canceled through the end of the year. Except, of course, if the citizen happens to be National League MVP Larry Walker, who cruised LoDo with SWAT team member Jamie Smith last Saturday night.

The ball's in their court: Alleged artist J.T. Colfax was scheduled to be back in court this week on charges of setting a fire in John and Patsy Ramsey's mailbox earlier this year. During the intervening months, in which he's enjoyed Boulder County's hospitality, Colfax has gotten a jailbird's-eye view of law enforcement activities. He reports that for a recent undercover drug bust, the code phrase was "How 'bout them Broncos?

 
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