They Came From Denver!

What's really going on at those Denver Post "town meetings"? Westword investigates.

A retired part-time junior-college teacher chimed in with similar sentiments. A chill ran up my spine. I had stumbled upon Colorado Springs' liberal community! Both of them! Then a fellow from nearby Manitou Springs noted the "negativity from the clown newspaper here," referring to the Gazette. He blamed both the paper and the religious right for "polarizing" the community. (Memo to myself: Give the names and addresses of these speakers to Focus on the Family's Liberal Instigator Investigation Unit.)

I'd like to think that Britton was speaking to me--the representative of the religious right--when he gently responded to the fellow from Manitou by noting, "Dr. Dobson has things of value to say."

So did Britton. In explaining that newspapers do their best to cover all bases, he revealed something about the Post's personnel that I found quite shocking. "We are run by mostly human beings," he said. He apologized for the slip of the tongue and tried to laugh it off. But was it a slip? Was he implying that some Post staffers are actually aliens from another planet? I couldn't risk blowing my cover at the town meeting, or I would have pursued this potentially important news story. If it were true, I wondered, how would I write it? Maybe I would just join the invaders and write a press release on their behalf that said, "Resistance is futile, people of Denver!"

While half of my mind was piecing together this potentially significant story of alien intrigue, the other half was listening to the town meeting. Somebody was complaining about "growth." Colorado Springs, once a beautiful resort city of 50,000, has become an incredible mishmash of tract homes and shopping malls and twisted and confused streets. Traffic jams are monumental. One of the citizens asked managing editor Chavez to comment on how the Springs seemed to be turning into one giant "Levittown."

"Huh?" Chavez replied.
She distinguished herself: She's probably the only managing editor in the country who had never heard the word "Levittown." Britton had to explain to her that the citizen was referring to "ticky-tack" housing developments such as the famous postwar Long Island suburb.

I couldn't just sit back and let these groups of people--Post editors and concerned citizens--flail around without reaching some common ground. "How can a newspaper help solve these problems?" I asked Britton.

His explanation was wise. "We have very common concerns and interests and want to solve them together," he said. I thought to myself: It's a shame that more people aren't present to hear this discussion. Britton mentioned that he was still awaiting the arrival of a Post photographer. I hoped it was Brian Brainerd, the self-styled crusader who, when he's not clicking photos for the Post, hassles bums north of downtown. If the Post were smart, it would have assigned Brainerd to round up some of those bums and truck them to these town meetings. The one in Castle Rock, on May 11, drew fifteen people, and this one drew ten. I'm sure Brainerd could find more bums than that.

But Brainerd never showed up, and Britton finally called off the town meeting a half-hour early by saying, "Well, I'm going to end it now, because--well, just because I am."

One of his parting comments, however, caught my ear. He vowed that the Post would "cover education very cosmically."

You know, that alien angle may be worth pursuing.

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