Twenty Years of Denver

1992: Voters pass Amendment 2, which bars local government from extending specific civil-rights protection to gays and lesbians. A national boycott of the "Hate State" begins and deeply divides the celebrities of Aspen. Only strong Democrats Barbra Streisand, who urges stars to stay away over Christmas, and Ethel Kennedy and her sons vacation elsewhere. John Denver and Cher both stick up for the human-rights record of the decadent little ski town, whose anti-discrimination policies, along with those in Denver and Boulder, prompted the vote in the first place.

In that same election, Douglas Bruce's TABOR amendment to the Colorado Constitution is approved--to much moaning from elected officials. It limits the amount of money the state can spend and collect through taxation without specific permission from the voters. Somehow Colorado survives.

Representative Ben Nighthorse Campbell is elected to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Tim Wirth; within a year he'll switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

Former California governor Jerry Brown wins the state's first national Democratic primary. Bill Clinton is the first Democrat to gain a majority of Colorado votes since 1964.

After he is fired from Phar-Mor for allegedly embezzling $10 million to fund the no-hope World Basketball League, Youngstown's Mickey Monus is bought out of his Colorado Rockies shares by partners Oren Benton, Jerry McMorris, Charlie Monfort and the Coors family. Phar-Mor declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Neil Bush pays $50,000 to discharge his liability in the Silverado debacle. M.D.C.'s David Mandarich is acquitted for his part in the political kickback scheme. Bill Walters, claiming to be flat broke, resurfaces in luxury digs in California.

The Brown Palace turns 100.
The Martin Luther King Jr. celebration gets out of hand when marchers confront taunting skinheads near the Capitol.

The special grand jury investigating alleged environmental crimes at Rocky Flats runs away; Westword breaks the story.

1993: Denver International Airport doesn't open. The highly touted automated baggage system develops a nasty habit of destroying luggage entrusted to it.

Voters discontinue funding for the state tourism board, so it's hard to tell if the Hate State boycott is having more of an effect on tourism than having no one there to answer 1-800-COLORADO. Even so, the state population grows by 3 percent.

Former mayor Pena is appointed to Clinton's cabinet as secretary of transportation; the boulevard leading to the airport is named in Pena's honor. Pat Schroeder scores a win with the passage of the Family Leave Act.

Presbyterian/Saint Luke's merges with Swedish Medical Center to become HealthOne. Then, after more than a century in business, Saint Luke's Hospital closes for good. Particulates in Denver's air do not exceed federal standards once this year.

May D&F becomes Foley's and closes the downtown store, abandoning the paraboloid. Another Denver institution, Gart Brothers Sporting Goods, is acquired by L.A. acquisition specialists Leonard Green & Partners.

Major League Baseball's first season opens in Mile High Stadium. After Eric Young's first-pitch home run, the season runs about as expected for the expansion Colorado Rockies. As that first pitch is thrown, however, Mickey Monus is being indicted on charges that he embezzled more than $499 million from Phar-Mor.

The Boys of Summer are followed by the Summer of Violence, as a few high-profile shootings send the city--and the media--into overdrive. But everything is quiet when Pope John Paul II brings his message of hope, love and dehydration to the youth of the world. The 16th Street Mall shuttle shuts down for the first time in history due to volume.

1994: DIA doesn't open--again--but the gala preview party goes ahead anyway, in Concourse A, to be occupied by Continental Airlines. Briefly.

Twenty percent of all people moving to Colorado come from California. In sheer numbers, however, the state ranks seventh in attracting Californians; Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona take it the hardest. On the other hand, California ranks second to Texas as the most popular destination for Coloradans getting out of Denver, baby.

US West is the nation's third-largest wireless company but won't provide cell phones for customers waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for service.

RTD's new and improved light rail follows the route of one of the nation's most extensive trolley systems, abandoned in 1950 in favor of federally funded highways. Old track is ripped up for new.

Lowry Air Force Base closes.
After several attempts by state lawmakers, it is now illegal to defame agricultural products in Colorado. Colorado voters approve term limits, making it impossible for vegetables to stay in the statehouse too long.

Although Jerry McMorris emerges as a voice of reason among Major League Baseball owners, the players go on strike; there is no World Series. A Time Zone weeps, but many fans turn in their Rockies season tickets in protest.

The Jersey Devils finally win a Stanley Cup.

1995: DIA opens at a cost of $3 billion--and counting. Continental soon reneges on filling its concourse, leaving United Airlines the dominant carrier. Fares rise accordingly--but soon a new Frontier Airlines takes to the skies from DIA, offering a low-fare alternative.

Wellington Webb wins a second term.
The largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, Columbia/ HCA, buys Aurora Regional and North Suburban Medical Centers from the for-profit Humana as well as the nonprofit Rose Medical Center and enters into a joint venture with HealthOne.

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