Off Limits

Coors Booing Co.: The streets of Key West were packed over Halloween weekend with revelers celebrating the Coors Light FantasyFest. What's the Golden-based brewer doing hosting what was once South Florida's most raucous (read: public nudity and even sex!) gay event?

Proving that it's a company exhibiting "corporate leftism" and outpacing the laws "embracing sensitivity and diversity," according to Time. "It could be argued," the November 2 article by John Cloud argues, "that in the past decade, business has done more good for liberalism than any election in the same period." And no one has done more than Coors, where employees can choose between eight "resource councils," including one representing gays and another American Indians, and which has both a diversity task force and a diversity management group. "What's going on?" asks Time. "Though Coors' profits helped start the conservative Heritage Foundation and still keep right-wing causes afloat, the brewer has bottom-line reasons for behaving more like a commune than a company: its bad reputation with minorities and unions nearly devastated Coors in the early 1980s. A PR turnaround was urgently needed."

And one was skillfully executed by the third generation of Coors boys. They engineered a corporate makeover that took the brewery from the days of Smokey and the Bandit, when Burt Reynolds drove cross-country for a case of the precious if right-wing-sustaining stuff, to a touchy-feely family place that was among the first big businesses to offer same-sex domestic benefits. (And that by a unanimous vote of the board, including patriarch Joe.) While Joe, who co-founded the Heritage Foundation in 1973, continues to fund conservative causes from his California home, son Pete is all over TV, touting clear Rocky Mountain waters and how "Coors Cares."

At the same time Coors is being toasted by Time, though, Colorado's hometown hero--Coors Field, anyone?--is being roasted by gay groups still boycotting the company. Sustaining peripheral damage: the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which recently accepted a $110,000 donation from Coors to underwrite a "sexual orientation in the workplace" program. Leading the charge is California activist Michael Petrelis, who says GLAAD has gone from "watchdog to lapdog" and is demanding that GLAAD return Coors's money and observe the boycott. But without that money, responds GLAAD's Scott Seomin, the program, which recently trained a group of Los Angeles cops in sexual-orientation issues, might disappear. "We knew the decision would be unpopular with some activists," he adds. "We can't afford in this movement to be purists."

Corporate spokesman Joe Fuentes says Coors will continue to fund GLAAD and activities like FantasyFest, a parade so tame these days it wouldn't make a baby blush. "There's a core group that may never let go of the past," he says. "But there are a lot of groups out there who say, hey, we're going to judge Coors by who they are today, not who they were....If we screw up now, come get us."

We'll drink to that.

Boo-ha-ha: For Halloween horrors closer to home, you didn't have to look further than a modest bungalow in the 300 block of Logan Street, which was decked out with fake tombstones and real names. Among the nearly, if not dearly, departed: Pat Bowlen and Vikki Buckley.

Another ghoulish Halloween sighting: Former feuders and current RTD allies Jack McCroskey and Ben Klein looking positively transported Saturday as they hammered home a few Klein campaign signs. Klein, of course, is the last politician in Colorado to be declared sane--or at least sane enough to regain his license to practice law, which is not much of a test.

Pressing engagements: No truth to the rumor that Denver Post publisher Ryan McKibben will be working with Bill Owens, whose gubernatorial campaign he ordered the paper's editorial page to endorse. Instead, on Monday McKibben announced he's off to a new job with Western Colorprint, which publishes comics for Sunday papers. That announcement inspired the usual puffery in Tuesday's Post (McKibben had overseen the paper during "one of its most successful runs in history") and bluffery in the Rocky Mountain News (odd that the departure should come on the same day circulation figures showed "News' growth fastest in the U.S."). But our spies in Alaska, where new Post publisher Gerald Grilly led the Anchorage Daily News to a newspaper-war victory, reports that he's a "to-the-death competitor"--and one that the newsroom still talks about five years after his departure.

See you in the funny pages.

 
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