By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Television provided a happier ending for the city later in the year, when cable magnate Bill Daniels donated his $7 million "Cableland" mansion to Denver and suggested it be used as the mayor's residence. The rambling Hilltop home would have made quite the love nest for Mayor Webb and his First Lady of Love, Wilma, who could have celebrated her appointment to a cushy Department of Labor sinecure at the sunken bar or tickled the keys on the pink baby-grand piano. Her Majesty, who appeared on the couple's Christmas card in a pose that suggested her butt was about to be ignited by a roaring fire, could have cooled her caboose in the pink Jacuzzi or gone channel-surfing on the 64 built-in big-screen TVs. However, Wellington said ixnay on the artypadpay.
Not everybody in city government kept their noses so clean. Gary Lane, Denver's manager of theaters and arenas, and Jeff Krump, his director of marketing, were placed on administrative leave for allegedly playing pranks on a co-worker that included setting her trash can on fire, putting water in her briefcase and hiding her keys in the men's bathroom. But Webb somehow managed to stay above the fray. He continued his campaign to clean up the town, announcing Eliminate Rodent Month in Denver in September; Douglas Bruce could not be reached for comment. More important, the mayor's staff also succeeded in ferreting out the biggest stink yet at City Hall: four dead squirrels in a heating duct, slowly being digested by maggots.
An even heartier odor pervaded the federal courthouse, where a jury managed to convict Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing despite distractions that ranged from a blubbering newspaper reporter to defense attorneys who sometimes seemed as mentally challenged as their client.
As the trial got under way, Colorado Springs staged a "mock explosion" to test its response to possible terrorist attacks. But the biggest shock waves in the courtroom came from Rocky Mountain News reporter Lynn Bartels, who, her own paper revealed, regularly cried like a baby during testimony. Bartels may have been moved to tears by the legal maneuvering of defense lawyer Stephen Jones, whose greatest hits included the quizzing of a Kansas restaurant owner about an order McVeigh allegedly placed for Chinese food. Jones began by asking the man to explain what moo goo gai pan is. "Maybe you never eat Chinese food?" responded Yuhua Bai incredulously.
Jones was even sharper while questioning Eldon Elliot, the owner of a body shop where the Ryder truck used in the bombing was rented. Asked if it was raining the day McVeigh picked up the truck, Elliot said, "A real light mist." "Coming out of the sky?" asked Jones. "It usually does," responded Elliot. The defense provided the coup de grace with testimony from a British forensic pathologist who backed its theory that a mystery leg found in the rubble might have belonged to an unknown terrorist by telling jurors how he once cracked a case after finding an Irish bomber's penis in the wreckage.
Nearly as exciting as that unforgettable image was the long goodbye afforded Colorado's own Gary Davis. The state spent $237,000 on Davis's execution, and for the state's media outlets, it was worth every penny.
The News and the Denver Post went to court to fight over which paper would get to witness the execution, and local TV stations immediately dispatched reporters to witness executions in other states so they could brief viewers on what to expect when the sex-crazed Davis was sent to the big adult arcade in the sky. One radio reporter was so curious, he asked prison officials to let him lie down on the gurney to be used for the lethal injection. Workers resisted the urge to let him try out the lethal cocktail of sodium pentothal as well.
Davis, on the other hand, got whatever he wanted before checking out. The galloping gourmet asked for a last meal of cantaloupe and ice cream--chocolate and vanilla, in little cups--and was allowed to scarf all he could hold.
Equally appropriate for a last supper were the toxic burger patties cranked out by a Hudson Foods plant in Nebraska. Colorado became ground zero for the tainted-meat scare after sixteen residents ingested the E. coli bacteria, but thanks to the News, the public did not have to wait long to get an answer to the critical question of just when Burger King would reopen. "Many in the metro area were opting for chicken or fish," the paper reported after the fast-food emporium quit serving meat in the wake of the scare. The masses were put at ease, though, when the News ran, in big type, the unforgettable headline "Burger King to sell beef today." It was a revelation second only in emotional impact to another News headline, which told readers everything they ever wanted to know about the bottom line of a Liberian guerrilla: "General Butt Naked trades bullets for Bible."
The Post did its best to keep up, enticing readers with in-depth stories such as one listing in great detail the odoriferous items found in the city's main sewage plant. And for the most part, the year's journalistic output was comparable.