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Seeing Red

For better or worse, KHOW's Scott Redmond has people talking.

Such criticism leaves Redmond unfazed, as does the prospect of future rants against him. But for the sake of his supporters, he hopes message-board habitués display some decorum.

"I constantly get calls from people who really, really disagree with me, and we put them on the air; we don't attempt to block those people out," he says. "But there are rules in every aspect of life. I mean, cheap shots aren't even allowed in football. So give us your best -- but make it fair."

Crack reporting: On January 1, Denver Post reporter Howard Pankratz wrote about an incident of attempted fraud that Jose Vasquez, a staff attorney for Colorado Legal Services, described as "really horrific.... We don't see cases this egregious." As it turns out, Vasquez was correct in more ways than he knew. According to Westword staffer David Holthouse, the victim in the matter -- Callie Ayers, age 92 -- spent part of last year selling crack. Holthouse knows, because while he was researching "Between Rock and a Hard Place," a September 5, 2002, report about the crack trade on the 2700 block of Downing Street, she twice asked if he was interested in making a purchase. Her stock line: "Sugar, are you lookin'?"

Attempts to reach Ayers for this column were unsuccessful. But she is described in court papers obtained by the Post as developmentally disabled, with a third-grade education, and she has no criminal record. The same cannot be said for her grandson, Morris Ayers. According to Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's office, he has a lengthy rap sheet and pending court appearances in regard to several allegations, including distribution and possession of a Schedule 2 controlled substance.

These were typical of Morris's extracurricular activities, Holthouse says. Two or three days a week between Memorial Day and early August, he visited the section of Downing where Morris shared a house and attached beauty parlor with Callie and Evelyn Whitner, 71, Callie's daughter, who is also reported to be developmentally disabled. During that span, he saw Morris dealing crack on a regular basis, unmolested by anyone other than a neighbor, Mary, who was disgusted by what was happening to the area.

This brand of commerce was temporarily interrupted in June, when Morris was busted for barring access to the home by a zoning inspector. As Holthouse reported in September, the inspector phoned the cops, who arrested Morris after finding what appeared to be crack in the building. Weeks later, this specific legal difficulty went away because the substance was actually "woo," a type of bogus crack that's a blend of soap and dried breadcrumbs. But before his brief incarceration on the charge ended, Morris apparently introduced his grandmother to the world of sales. "She would sit at the barred window of the abandoned beauty shop doing hand-to-hand transactions through the window," Holthouse says. When she first asked Holthouse if he was "lookin'," he identified himself as a reporter and noted that the police suspected her and her grandson of selling drugs. "She said, 'No, oh, no,'" he recalls. "Then, a few days later, she asked me again, and I said, 'Remember, I'm the Westword reporter.' After that, she wouldn't talk to me."

Doubtless to her regret, she did speak to bail bondswoman Phyllis Brandt. Pankratz's story notes that Callie wrote Brandt a $1,000 check as bond for Morris. Court documents say Brandt subsequently told Callie that the cops would seize the property unless she signed it over to her until after Morris's case was settled -- a statement that was false on every level. As such, DA spokeswoman Kimbrough says, Brandt was formally accused of one count of theft from an at-risk adult on December 18. A Class 3 felony, it's punishable by four to twelve years in prison.

In telling this tale, Pankratz says, he was unaware of Holthouse's article, adding that "it comes as a great surprise to me that a 92-year-old woman would be selling drugs." Less shocked were the residents of Downing Street, who began phoning Holthouse after the publication of the January 1 Post. Mary, who refers to Callie as "Grandma Crack," was particularly unsympathetic. As she told Holthouse, "I'm not saying it's right for some bail bondsman [sic] to screw an old lady out of her house. But I am saying that what goes around comes around."

The eyes have it: On January 10, the Denver Post printed a correction about a purported error in "Women Celebrate Capitol Gains," a Diane Carman column published the previous day. But readers with a certain theological bent may feel this admission of guilt was unnecessary.

In trying to capture the moment when Lola Spradley officially became Colorado's first female speaker of the house, Carman wrote the descriptive clause "With TV cameras and the eyes of her proud mother trained on her beaming face...." Unfortunately, Spradley's mom has been dead for many years, but that doesn't mean she wasn't watching Lola from her perch on a cloud in one of the tonier subdivisions in heaven. So start sending in those angry letters to the editors, true believers. Not only are the people at the Post liberals, they're heathens, too!

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