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Off Limits

The yolk's on us

Colorado lawmakers heading into the State Capitol last Thursday morning for post-election caucus meetings were hastily redirected to the building's side entrances by a power-washing custodial crew, out cleaning up the evidence of some free-speech activity by disgruntled voters who'd splattered the Capitol's front facade with several dozen eggs. Two officers had been dispatched the night before to handle an estimated thirty protesters, according to Sergeant Jim Gilbert of the Colorado State Patrol, which provides security for the building; he was unsure whether the demonstrators were Democrats frustrated over the federal results that hatched another Bush term, or a flock of Republicans despondent over their party's loss of both the Colorado House and Senate. But he knows for a fact that the protesters left one final comment on the West steps, where the famous mile-high marker is now imbedded. "It seems they also, uh, helped out with some urination," Gilbert says.

Piss isn't partisan, though, because the only government employees who got the message were the Capitol janitors who had to clean up the mess.

Street dreams: Katherine Cornwell got her fifteen seconds of fame at last Friday's premiere of the documentary Colfax Ave at the Bluebird Theater. But she should have gotten at least fifteen minutes, because this city planner is the rock star of Colfax redevelopment.

In Colfax Ave, filmmaker Michael Jacobsbriefly shows Cornwell discussing Blueprint Colfax East, a plan that city officials and Colfax-bordering communities from Broadway to Colorado Boulevard have been working on for more than two years. The 45-minute flick then spends much more time dissing the proposal, suggesting that it's designed to chase off the hookers and homeless and replace them with $250,000 condos. To make his case, Jacobs trots out a star-studded local cast, including Dallas Malerbi, president of Save Our Section 8; University of Colorado at Denver political science professor Tony Robinson; Harold Chapman, a formerly homeless man who's a regular at homeless-commission meetings; Denver Police Department District 6 commander Deborah Dilley; songstress Nina Storey; and even theater manager Jim Norris.

The movie may depict her plan as The Death of Colfax as We Know It, but Cornwell has been busting her ass to save the "boulevard of broken dreams," putting together a 205-page document that will guide future development while keeping the spirit of Colfax alive. Sure, it includes some bizzaro concepts -- such as rebranding various strips with very urban-development-speak names -- but Cornwell clearly has a deep understanding of the grittier elements of Colfax so beloved by the film fans who filled the Bluebird.

"Chamberlin Heights are $250,000 condos," Cornwell admits, "but the street needs some of that. The question is, how do you address needing those plus having condos that are subsidized at Section 8 or at such level that ordinary people can afford them? Colfax has to retain the local businesses, and it has to have affordable housing. If we don't get that, then we've failed. If you only have Starbucks and Einsteins, you kill the street."

Denver City Council approved the plan in June, and while the necessary rezoning is in progress, Cornwell has set her sights on West Colfax Avenue, between Federal and Sheridan boulevards. She starred at a community meeting there last Thursday, although her audience wasn't nearly as large as that at the Bluebird the next night, with two oversold, aisle-seating-only shows. "We've been getting pretty good outreach, but we're concerned about getting input from enough renters and Spanish-speaking people," she says.

"In a lot of ways, the issues of East and West Colfax are very similar," she continues. "The biggest challenge for West Colfax is how you can get more people living there to increase the base for retail and take advantage of transit. This is a corridor that will have a five-minute, non-auto commute to downtown. FasTracks is totally changing the dynamics for that area. But it is also one of the last strongholds for affordable housing. So the challenge will be retaining net numbers -- and I'm talking very, very low-income housing, people making under $7,000 a year and living in five-bedroom units -- while increasing density and not changing the neighborhood character or quality of life."

Is that all?

Scene and herd:While 17,500 Colorado grocery-store workers await news on whether the national union will accept their contract vote, a vestige of the last strike goes unnoticed at the Safeway at 26th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. By the driveway, embedded in the grass, is a granite marker with a Winnie the Pooh engraved in the upper left corner, a rose in the upper right, and these words between: "In memory of Jackie Novak and Juanita Ramsey. In a picket line they stood, one beautiful summer day, when a car came off the street and took their lives away. They were showing their faith in what they believed, not knowing at all they would soon be received in the hands of our father in heaven above, watching and waiting, now wrapped in his love." The memorial, set in stone in May 1996, was dedicated by Safeway co-workers and friends.


What's So Funny?
By Adam Cayton-Holland

Citizens of the Mile High City, it is time to remove your duct tape and plastic sheeting. Come out, come out from your underground shelters, you weird mole-people. No longer must we cower in makeshift bunkers, hoarding food, bottled water and pornography in preparation for the next big terrorist attack. A new day has dawned for Denver. Let us commence living life as we did before. Take your children to the park, gather in large crowds, feel free to be openly hostile to any and all Muslims who cross your path. We're in the clear now: Denver has dropped from number 9 to number 39 on the federal list of high-risk sites for terrorist attacks!

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