Off Limits

A rocky week...

And anyway, what business is it of the auditor -- who spends more time dealing with financial concerns than social or political ones -- to comment about the practices of private companies? "Guns are important to him," says R.J. Ours, a spokesman for Mares. "Basically, it's something he had been considering for about a month and a half." After the Tucson dailies made their announcement, he adds, Mares decided to weigh in. As an elected official -- and one who has been rumored to be considering a bid for mayor -- Mares felt that no one else was stepping up to the plate on that specific issue, Ours says.

This wasn't the first time Mares has spoken out about guns, either. In April he asked the National Rifle Association -- headed by actor Charlton Heston -- to cancel its annual convention in Denver, which was scheduled to begin April 30, just ten days after Columbine. Although Mayor Wellington Webb made the same request, the NRA declined to cancel its annual meeting and instead scaled back other scheduled events. Judging from his remarks during the opening of the Arizona Legislature on Tuesday in Phoenix, Heston may not think much of Mares's current quest, either.

"Popularity is history's pocket change. Courage is history's true currency," Heston said of the pressure in many states to toughen gun laws. Lawmakers should be guided by the Bill of Rights, he added. "[Those rights] are not yours to take away. They're yours to guarantee. That is your job. Political correctness is just tyranny with manners." Before the speech, Heston had told reporters for the Citizen and the Star that he disagreed with their new policy. "I would say that verges on illegal, or it's legally insupportable," he said.

Most of the people who have written letters to the editors of the two Tucson papers also disagree with the policy -- something the powers that be at Denver's dailies may be aware of.

So far, neither one has responded to Mares.

What's my line?
As Colorado lawmakers prepare to grapple with gun issues in the new legislative session, rumor has it that one of them has been doing some wrestling of his own at CityGrille on East Colfax, just a block away from the State Capitol. The grill's famous hamburgers ("Law and Order Me a Burger," May 6, 1999) and friendly bartenders have attracted a devoted clientele to the small, cozy space, which has earned a reputation as the hangout of choice for assorted lobbyists and legislators.

And according to the first sour grape of the legislative grapevine, during a particularly convivial moment last fall, one politico engaged in a little parliamentary jousting with a mysterious woman in the CityGrille men's room.

"The legislators are only human -- of course they get wild and crazy," says one employee. "Not that I'm gonna tell you about it." And not that Westword reporters haven't tried to get the scoop: After the paper received several phone calls and e-mails demanding that we check out the rumor, three different writers used CityGrille research as an excuse to pad their expense accounts and wet their whistles.

No, not those whistles. After all, the small men's room doesn't exactly qualify as a romantic hot spot. At one time a couple of nudie pictures hung above the two urinals, but they've since been covered with a reprint of a flattering News article about CityGrille's burgers. And the lack of a condom machine should give pause to the unprepared. At the bar, jars of olives -- a reputed aphrodisiac -- are available to stir the appetite and fuel the libido, but the typical afternoon crowd would never be mistaken for the cast of Baywatch. Most Colorado legislators appear to be dressed for a meeting of the Podunk Chamber of Commerce, with ill-fitting suits and respectable red ties that are clearly intended to convey a message of sobriety. Chain-smoking lobbyists -- many of whom work for the tobacco industry -- share the bar with legislative staffers and Post columnist Chuck Green, another CityGrille habitué. Nothing more steamy than CNN and sporting events is aired on the TV above the bar. Still, a humidor behind the bar has a supply of cigars that would make Monica Lewinsky blush, and the lighting is subdued enough that after a few cocktails, even the most staid lawmaker might begin to look like Adonis.

Or the most questionable fellow resemble a Westword reporter. On Monday night, CityGrille owner Rich Salturelli reports, a pesky male claiming to write for Westword kept pestering lobbyists until Salturelli finally had to toss him out. Sorry, Rich, not one of ours: The guy's "all-American face" should have been everyone's first clue that he was completely bogus.

Which, by the way, is exactly how we'd label that Romeo rumor.

If you have a tip, call Jonathan Shikes at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail

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