Off Limits

Mud wrestling: Politics has taken a nasty turn in Glendale since the combative Tea Party won three city council seats last spring and proceeded to demolish the unpopular strip-club restrictions pushed by Mayor Joe Rice. Rice and the Party faithful have duked it out over taxes, lobbyists and such consuming local controversies as the proper minimum age of strippers, but lately the discourse seems to be getting a mite personal.

"The mayor has sent out a letter calling me a pornographer," sniffs Michael Dunafon, Tea Party co-founder. The letter, distributed at Rice's expense to local residents, is a two-page broadside titled "The Corruption of the Glendale Tea Party." It accuses the party of a "massive misinformation campaign," claims that it has treated Glendale tax revenues as its "own personal slush fund" and says the party "bosses" have cost the city hefty legal fees resulting from "reckless and self-serving decisions." Those same bosses, Rice adds, with heavy use of italics, "have direct business interests in the pornography industry." Dunafon, one of the bosses at issue, is co-owner of a parking lot used by the venerable Shotgun Willie's emporium.

But what seems to have prompted the letter is the Tea Party's relentless criticism of the mayor, an Army major in the Colorado National Guard, over his departure for the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth from August to December. Rice says he's been "ordered to active duty" and will return to the mayor's post next year, but Tea Party leaders have called on him to resign. "He seems to be spending a lot of time getting his picture taken in his uniform," Dunafon says.

Rice says the letter is "a cumulative response" to a barrage of mass mailings by the Tea Party. "I call it the other side of the story," he says.

God's gift to Colorado: Not satisfied by criticism of the evangelical Columbine memorial service that he helped organize in April, Governor Bill Owens has decided to further stir the state's holy waters as the honorary co-chair of a dinner sponsored by the Colorado Lutheran High School Association to raise money for a start-up Lutheran High School of the Rockies. (In yet another attack on Colorado's open space, the school is planned to be built on "what is now open prairie southwest of the intersection of Jordan Rd. and Main St. in Parker," according to the organization's newsletter.) On June 15, Owens will join Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney, the evening's keynote speaker, and Channel 9 afternoon news anchor Kim Christiansen, the Mistress of Ceremonies, in taking "a bold stand for Lutheran secondary education." In addition to being a strong supporter of charter schools, the organization points out that Owens has been identified by syndicated columnist and television commentator Robert Novak as "one of the country's ten up-and-coming leaders."

"We are thankful that the Lord has blessed the state of Colorado with a strong Christian leader who is willing to stand with us as the Lutheran secondary education ministry expands in the metro Denver area," reads the newsletter. "Bible studies, prayer vigils, personal prayers, prayer candles, prayer lists and the cross ministry are all essential parts" of the campaign for the new school--that, plus $1,000 per plate and the support of a loving God, er, governor.

High caliber learning: The Auraria Campus for Higher Education earned a dubious distinction when the May 28 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that weapons arrests there had increased dramatically from four in 1996 to fourteen in 1997. But the closing of Club America in the Tivoli student center in 1997 fixed the problem, and weapons arrests dropped down to six in 1998, says Lieutenant Gary Kasson of the campus police and security department. The club "attracted a lot of people from off-campus," he says. "There was some gang activity and other individuals over there, and lots of police calls, and that particular business was the main cause of the problems." The campus police eventually videotaped "an individual taking a gun from under the hood of a car" and showed the tape to Auraria's board of directors. Club America lost its lease soon after. "This is a safe campus, and we want people to know that they don't need to be fearful going to school down here," Kasson says. "We hope we've seen the end of our nightclub days."

Off Limits is compiled by Jonathan Shikes. If you have a tip, call him at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail denver-editorial@westword.com.

 
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