Riddle Me This

And conditions don't get much more adverse than they are at the secretary of state's office, where disgruntled employees who complained bitterly last year about Buckley's bad management now have added Riddle's bad performance to their laments. He's a whiz on computer solitaire, says one worker who pulled him off a game to ask a question--but that doesn't mean he's remotely qualified to do computer work for the state. "Some employees just don't want to give a full day's work for a full day's pay," Riddle responds. "I can justify my existence for every hour I've been there."

Even though his committee will be reviewing Barba's audit, Linkhart says there's not much they can do now, since elected officials are allowed to issue sole-source contracts. "We may look at legislative changes to stop this excessive flexibility," he adds. "I don't think elected officials should have different standards from other officials." Appointed officials can't issue such contracts unless their recipients are uniquely qualified.

Riddle certainly qualifies as unique. He's as profane as a sailor on shore leave, as volatile as those plutonium triggers they once made at Rocky Flats. And his half-life at the secretary of state's office promises to be almost as long.

Maybe he'll finally find the time (at $4 per minute) to return calls from Civic, the "Boulder technogeeks" (as Riddle terms them) who were so frustrated by the secretary of state's slow pace in putting up campaign-finance information that they set up their own Web site--beating Riddle's amateurish effort by almost a year.

Maybe he'll find the time to update Buckley's "happy surfing" Web site on other developments in the office. For example, it still lists Bill Compton as head of the elections division--but Compton was one of many employees who fled the office over the past few years. (He's now with the Denver Election Commission.)

Maybe Riddle will even get a minute to chat with Mike Shea, director of the Central Indexing System, the database financial information that was once part of the secretary of state's office--until the legislature got so fed up with Buckley that the CIS became its own agency in July 1996. In a harsh audit of her office issued last summer, Buckley's work with the CIS came in for particular criticism. Her solution? Assign Riddle to review the external and internal needs of the CIS system.

He completed that task without ever contacting the head of the CIS. "I have not talked to Mr. Riddle except for maybe two minutes in early May in Biloxi, Mississippi," says Shea, who was there for the International Association of Corporation Administrators convention when Buckley, who hadn't attended before, showed up with Riddle. "I introduced myself. He seemed surprised to see me--almost as surprised as I was to see them."

That's Sam Riddle--the man of the hour.

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