The Big Cheese

Making book on the Webb legacy.

He forgot to take it global, even though just days before, the city's parking manager had done his best to remind everyone that Denver was now international, with a proposed new 7 a.m.- 11 p.m. parking plan in keeping with the city's "world-class status."


While city departments are in a hiring freeze (and parking manager John Oglesby is still frozen out of every public meeting), one office got a cheese delivery. In March, Denver's Office of Television and Internet Services was able to add a new, eighteen-month "transition position" and hire Dreux DeMack to fill it.

DeMack is now responsible for devising plans for OTIS's coverage of next May's elections -- and for producing a documentary about Denver from the '90s through today, a period that conveniently overlaps Webb's entire mayoral term. Working title: Denver: A World-Class City. Working budget: a rumored $200,000.

OTIS has made a documentary before; the one-hour Imagine a Great City took Denver from its founding in 1859 through the end of the '80s, when Peña ran out of road. For this second documentary, just over a decade will fill an hour. "Nothing has been more exciting than the last ten years," explains executive producer Byron West -- who should know, because she's been with the city for 23 years. The documentary should be completed by March 2003 -- two months before the next city election, which will replace not just Webb, but at least ten councilmembers. And so, it will capture the end of an entire era, West says: "It's not just about the mayor."

University of Colorado at Denver history professor Tom Noel has signed on to help, West adds, as has historian Barbara Gibson. But while Gibson did see an extensive, early outline of what might be included -- "How long is this documentary?" she remembers wondering -- she hasn't heard back from West's office.

Which could be a good thing, because as the new head of the LoDo District, Gibson might have other ideas for how Webb's final years in office should be remembered. With a gold-plated parking meter, for example, since LoDo businesses aren't happy with the plan Webb announced this week. (Over LoDo's protests, the meters went up to $1.50 an hour, but at least the hours of enforcement remained a less global 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.)

Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt has already been interviewed for the documentary. But the interview wasn't taped, which makes her wonder just how inclusive World-Class will be.

"At the end of a twelve-year reign, Wellington Webb has clearly left his footprints all over the city government, all over the city," she says. "It's kind of sad that he doesn't have more confidence in his legacy."

A former Peña staffer, Barnes-Gelt had never heard of Imagine a Great City, much less seen it.

To ensure that the second documentary reaches a wider audience, why not book nonstop showings of Denver: A World-Class City in Webb's mini-me office at the new library?

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