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Politicians in Training
In September, light-rail proponents gearing up for the November 2 election printed 125,000 campaign fliers -- but instead of showing a light-rail car with its unsightly overhead wires, the flier pictured a high-tech, streamlined commuter "bullet" train. The incorrect graphic insulted -- but vindicated -- commuter-rail advocates who said they'd been "blown off as heretics" for claiming that their type of train would be a much less expensive (not to mention more attractive) way to solve I-25's traffic woes.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Over a two-day period in September, RTD buses were involved in three accidents. A driver for an RTD contractor slammed into a light-rail train at Kalamath and West Colfax, injuring seven people. The next day, a 16th Street Mall prototype shuttle ran over a transient who'd darted in front of the vehicle, and a seventy-year-old retiree in training to be a bus driver careened over a sidewalk and through a pile of decorative rocks before crashing into two parked cars, injuring five passengers and a pedestrian.
On January 1, police reported that the city's four-week-old photo-radar program had nailed 13,579 drivers for speeding -- an average of 485 tickets issued per day.
In October, trauma surgeon Dr. Gene Moore of Denver Health Medical Center declared that the metro area was experiencing an "epidemic" of pedestrians killed by cars. The cause of the crisis? Growth and traffic congestion.
Bicyclist Shahram Moghadamnia was ticketed for harassment after he reached through a side window and tried to grab the driver of a Jeep that had turned in front of him at a Golden intersection. The driver happened to be talking on the phone with a police officer looking for aggressive drivers and road rage; the officer determined that Moghadamnia had been speeding downhill and that the near-collision wasn't the motorist's fault.
In October, it was reported that as many as twenty private pilots had tried to land at Denver International Airport, mistaking it for nearby Front Range Airport and causing several DIA jetliner takeoffs to be aborted. The confusion apparently stems from the sad fact that both airports have a Runway 26.
A True Visionary
In February, Denver architect and former city planner Ron Straka proposed that the playing field at Mile High Stadium be preserved even after the rest of the facility was demolished for the new stadium. Noting that this was the site of "countless indelible moments of sports history where many memorable athletes performed," Straka suggested that "it should be preserved as a permanent open space. It would provide a place for tailgating and rallies on game days, a green relief in a sea of asphalt." Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said he liked the concept -- but it was not included in final plans for the stadium.
Authorities in Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties were on the lookout in March after a rash of burglaries at veterinary clinics. The thieves were stealing ketamine, which vets use mainly to anesthetize cats for declawing. According to the DEA, ketamine produces a hallucinogenic high in humans that lasts around an hour. "If people saw what cats look like when they wake up from it, they'd never take it," said veterinarian Guy Newton.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
In January, Representative Scott McKay, a Republican from Lakewood, called the cops on his wife, Jean, after she allegedly sprayed a bottle of dish soap in his mouth during an argument over his swearing. (The charges were dismissed in May.) In August, Jean filed a complaint claiming that hubby "threw a trash can at her, spit in her face, twisted her big toe and twisted her nose." Police, however, saw no visible signs of injury and refused to press charges; McKay speculated that his wife had made the report in retaliation for her January arrest.
Rockies pitcher Pedro Astacio was arrested in August for hitting his estranged, pregnant wife in the face; he pleaded innocent in September. A trial is scheduled for January.
Gregory Garth Hearn, a former elder at Conifer Community Church, in October pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl. Some members of the congregation accused the pastor and church elders of supporting Hearn and ignoring the girl's family.
Also in October, officials at Ascension Episcopal Church insisted that someone must have hacked into their phone line after more than $1,100 worth of calls to Creative Opportunities, a Florida phone-sex company, were billed to the phone in the church's daycare center. But Creative Opportunities president Ginger DeCarlo was certain someone at the church was making the calls. "They're like junkies. They can't stop calling," she said.
In November, Rifle city councilman Jim Beveridge was convicted on animal-cruelty charges for shooting five magpies with a pellet gun. The birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; Beveridge said they'd been eating his dog's food, damaging his home and defecating on his cars.
Jerry Numon, the 52-year-old principal of a Morgan County school, was already on administrative leave because of his arrest record -- which included charges of, but no convictions for, second-degree assault, larceny and being a fugitive -- when he was arrested in March on suspicion of sexual assault on a student.