Off Limits

Rocky mountain hype: Little could Fort Collins fourth-grader Kari Neuman have known when she proposed making John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" the official state song that she was putting a match to a powderkeg of positive karma just waiting to explode all over Colorado. In recent days, the Denver Musicians Association, which represents 1,100 professional tunesmiths around the state, has joined in the group hug, officially endorsing the plan to immortalize the wayward aviator's ode to alpine spirituality. "We find it to be definitely not sappy," says DMA Web editor Ken Davies in response to concerns that the famously upbeat Denver may actually have been a Muppet in disguise. Union president Pete Vriesenga adds that he's already gotten "a very positive response" from Governor Roy Rumor, along with a letter from the newshounds at Channel 7 saying they're willing to assist in a promotional campaign. Fans from around the globe have also piled on, flooding the DMA's Web page with pro-Denver fan mail, such as this zinger, directed at nobody in particular: "It's the Nineties, sir--if you can't support the obvious need for the change to 'Rocky Mountain High,' perhaps the government really is full of dinosaur mentality!"

Considering the number of state legislators who, like Denver, claim to have been able to "talk to God and listen to the casual reply," "Rocky Mountain High" would seem to be a shoo-in at the statehouse. (Of course, in the case of Charlie Duke--who recently claimed that a booming voice in the wilderness told him to clean up his act and quit being mean to Bill Clinton--the reply wasn't all that casual.) But the pro-Denver forces may have a slight problem: So far, nobody's actually gotten around to introducing an honest-to-God bill. And unbeknownst to most of the John Boy contingent, there's already a movement afoot at the capitol to replace A.J. Fynn's venerable "Where the Columbines Grow" with yet another song: "The Colorado Song," a feel-good anthem popularized by Up With People (whose grinning legions actually are Muppets). That proposal, ironically enough, was generated by another elementary-school class from Fort Collins, and it could lead to a full-scale battle of the bands on Capitol Hill. All of which could force more discriminating observers to lend their support to another state song: The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place."

Pissin' and moanin': Could it be? Did Smilin' Bob Peiser finally turn that smile upside down last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court? It sure looked like it during a bathroom break in the Western Pacific Airlines proceedings, when Smilin' Bob turned to an associate in the men's room and, in a rare moment of less than total optimism, complained about the media glare surrounding Westpac's financial implosion. "Can you imagine going through that every day?" Peiser asked his urinal buddy. "It was like the paparazzi. I felt like Princess Di and I'd just gone through a French tunnel."

Well, Smilin' Bob's been known to cozy up to a few millionaires, all right, but unlike Princess Di, he wasn't snuggling in the backseat at the time his company hit the wall. Instead, Peiser was firmly at the controls last week when Westpac did a final belly flop onto the DIA runways. And shortly after bemoaning his plight in the men's room, Peiser was back in the courtroom of bankruptcy judge Sidney Brooks, hobnobbing with the battalion of lawyers that had packed the chambers to plant a collective goodbye kiss on Westpac's brightly painted tail. The mood was oddly jovial as the lawyers picked over the airline's carcass, but things weren't so chummy out at the airport, where an information blackout was in place and passengers who'd bought into Westpac's claim that prosperity was just around the corner were left holding their bags. So where will "turnaround specialist" Peiser spread his brand of good cheer next? Nobody knows, but one thing's certain: Smilin' Bob will be flying somebody else's friendly skies when he leaves town.

The lawyers' club: Though the case of crooked Cherry Creek estates lawyer Michael Dice has been getting all the attention of late--geez, all the poor guy did was steal from clients who in some cases suffered from mental illness--he's not the only prominent local barrister to recently have his hand slapped for financial improprieties. A less publicized local case involves Denver attorney Ronald L. Rudman, who not so long ago was being lauded in national headlines for his part in helping America's millionaires stash their cash in offshore trusts. The whole point of that Denver-based effort, which led Rudman and former partner Barry Engel to woo clients on Mediterranean yacht cruises and draft their own sweetheart legislation in the sunny Cook Islands, was to help rich people put assets out of the reach of would-be creditors. Engel has never been accused of any wrongdoing, but his and Rudman's efforts did draw criticism from attorneys back in 1993, who said the practice could be abused by white-collar criminals; Dice himself even condemned the practice, saying, "My problem with this is it doesn't pass the smell test."

But according to a decision handed down December 8 by the Colorado Supreme Court, Rudman had already done a pretty good job of stinking things up in another part of his practice. In that decision, the court suspended Rudman from the practice of law for three years after finding that he took $36,000 in bearer bonds from the estate of a former business partner who had committed suicide, cashed them in, pocketed the proceeds and then lied about it when the man's elderly mother started asking questions. The best part of Rudman's scheme, though, had to be his clever way of deflecting the angry mother's inquiries: He ordered a paralegal in his firm to "investigate" what had happened to the bearer bonds--the bonds Rudman had already sold, that is--and then billed the dead man's estate $1,920 for the bogus research project.

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