Off Limits

No parking zone

One was basically booted out of city government; the other got out while the getting was good. But the last place former parking czar John Oglesby and former mayoral mouthpiece Andrew Hudson expected to cross paths last week was in Washington, D.C. Hudson was there on assignment for his new post, touting the wonders of water for the Denver-based American Waterworks Association; Olgesby was there for a D.C. parking contract -- continuing the consulting work that he'd done while in the city's full-time employ.

The Denver Department of Public Works has yet to plug the opening left by Oglesby's departure. And while he may be gone, he's far from forgotten -- particularly in LoDo, the neighborhood that took the hardest hit when Oglesby revealed his surprise "world-class" parking plan in January 2002 (much to the dismay of Hudson and his then-boss, Wellington Webb). More than one political pundit has noted that in John Hickenlooper's "Change" ad, the candidate's meter-reading foe bears a marked resemblance to the Ogled one.

Sorry, really wrong number: Last weekend, Denver answering machines filled quickly with calls from last-minute pollsters and ardent candidates for everything from mayor to auditor to election commissioner to city council representative. Still, one caller was particularly persistent in his efforts to reach out and touch someone. Manny Flores left a recorded message at the homes of three Off Limits colleagues, who spent several befuddled minutes trying to figure out exactly what district the dark-horse candidate was stumping for, and why the hell he kept asking them to vote him in as alderman. Isn't Denver stuck with the much less cool-sounding "councilman"?

Name that mustache: Match the famous Denverite 
with their stiff upper lips.
Name that mustache: Match the famous Denverite with their stiff upper lips.

"We deserve an alderman that works for us. I'm asking for your vote tomorrow in the runoff election," Flores told all three, adding that he'd been endorsed by the Sun-Times and the Tribune.

Hmmm. Even more confusing. Flores wanted runoff support even before the May 6 votes had been counted?

And then the light dawned. Alderman. Sun-Times. Chicago! Some poor sap was wasting his war chest trying to convince Denver voters to elect him into the Windy City's First Ward seat.

Even worse, it turned out that by the time Flores left his messages in Denver, he was already preparing his inauguration speech. Chicago's runoff election was held April 1. No joke.

"We did automated phone systems, but from all my knowledge, we haven't had anything in operation since March 30," Flores spokeswoman Haydee Caldero said when we related our tale of two cities' screwup. She promised to make some connections and then let us know what had gone awry but never did. Then again, what does she care about Denver voters?

9News cares -- plenty. On Saturday, one household with close ties to Off Limits got three separate calls from the station's election poll, each one featuring Adele Arakawa's pre-recorded voice wanting to know which mayoral candidate that household would be selecting, with the promise of results appearing on the evening news. Our source happily touch-toned in his answer -- John Hickenlooper -- each time, with the knowledge that he was single-handedly skewing the results.

Not that Hickenlooper needed the help. His own volunteers were on the phones in force -- and how. Reaching the same home that had earlier been besieged by Arakawa, they demanded to know that they could count on the call's recipient to vote for the beer man on May 6 -- and wouldn't take "No," or even "I don't know," for an answer. Obeying the tough, taped Adele was one thing; taking guff live was another. Finally, the prospective voter offered the one answer Hick's troops couldn't refuse: He hung up.

Bag it: Even voters who opted not to go for Hickenlooper or city auditor wannabe Ed Thomas had to be pleased with the campaign souvenirs the candidates delivered to their doors this week -- personalized pooper scoopers. On Monday, the polybags protecting the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post came bearing a vote-for-Hickenlooper message; Thomas's reminder to vote arrived the next day. "Both papers have sold those bags for years, but I think this was the first election where candidates have taken advantage of that opportunity," says Denver Newspaper Agency spokesman Jim Nolan.

These are two candidates who'll pick up where your dog left off.

Idol thoughts: Ditching a stodgy conference in a St. Louis hotel, an Off Limits informant stumbled into a high school prom that had glommed on to the popularity of American Idol by choosing "A Moment in Time" as its theme. We were willing to bet that Denver teens were opting for reality themes this year, too. But had we put down real money, we'd be busted. Broke. Lacking cash to even buy a yearbook.

It seems that Denver Public Schools students weren't yet ready to face reality -- or at least what passes for it on TV. Instead, they all took romance:

Abraham Lincoln: Romance in the City

East High School: Drifting Under the Moonlight

North High School: In the Still of the Night

South High School: Night Out on the Town

West High School: City of Magical Dreams

P.S. 1: Whispers in Manhattan

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