By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Shame was the name of the game in 2005. Just when it seemed this state's bad behavior had gotten as low as it could go, the bottom dropped out -- or, in the case of Bob Dougherty, the Home Depot party pooper, the bottom stuck smack in the forefront of the nation's collective, squeamish conscious.
This was the year when Colorado's longest-running scandals got new legs. At the start of 2005, who would have predicted that the University of Colorado's troubles were just beginning? But as it turned out, football-recruiting scandals and Chaucerian interpretations of the word "cunt" couldn't hold a candle to the tempest in a tepee that was Ward Churchill. And at the end of 2005, we were even treated to a surprise guest appearance by Jumpin' Joe Nacchio, who'd returned to town from his cushy New Jersey exile to answer to 42 federal counts of alleged insider trading at Qwest.
In the months between, everyone was minding someone else's business -- and making a lot less money doing it than Nacchio had. The Denver Police Department refused to hand over yet another batch of "spy files," including their surveillance of a Denver couple whose suspicious behavior consisted primarily of watching the cops' suspicious behavior. The FBI was caught spying on a hippie-kid collective whose primary mission was fixing up old bikes. And three locals -- now known internationally as the Denver Three -- were tossed out of President George W. Bush's public town-hall meeting on Social Security reform in March by a still-unknown figure who took offense at a bumpersticker on their car and has been identified only as a "White House host committee staffer." And definitely an idiot.
But most of the bad behavior this year was no secret. It was shameful, it was public, and it was all ours -- until it went national. This place is a dump!
Look out below! In November, Colorado became the butt of the joke when 57-year-old Bob Dougherty of Nederland went public with his very personal trauma.
In October 2003, suffering from a "sour stomach" and desperate to take a load off, Dougherty had rushed into the restroom at a Home Depot in Louisville. Finding the toilet-seat-cover dispenser empty and without a moment to waste, he sat right down -- and discovered he couldn't get up. Someone had covered the toilet seat with a fast-drying glue, which quickly adhered to Dougherty's rear -- and wouldn't let go.
When Dougherty cried for help, store staffers thought it was a prank. "They just let me rot," he complained. But now the joke's on Home Depot, because Dougherty has filed suit against the company and is looking for up to $3 million to assuage his hurt and humiliation -- which included paramedics having to unbolt the seat from the toilet and carry it out still attached to Dougherty as they transported him to the hospital. At one point, paramedics couldn't find a pulse; Dougherty, who already had a bad ticker, claims to be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
But at least Home Depot didn't accuse him of shoplifting the toilet seat, as it did when a carpenter in Massachusetts mistakenly pocketed a pencil.
Dougherty's rear-guard action made him big national news. "I knew I'd find some way out of this mess," he told Katie Couric. "Males are problem-solvers. You know us guys, we don't need a road map."
No, but one might come in handy the next time you need to swab down a toilet seat.
Before August 29, few people had heard of Michael Brown, a lawyer with friends in very high places. Five years before, Brown had been thrown from his cushy job as commissioner of judges and commissioners at the Colorado-based International Arabian Horse Association, and fell upward to a job as legal counsel with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, then headed by Brown buddy Joe Allbaugh, who'd run George Bush's 2000 re-election campaign. After Allbaugh moved on -- to run a consulting company -- Brown moved up again and became head of FEMA himself. Which was where he was when Katrina hit, come hell and a lot of high water.
Sure, Mother Nature was a bitch this year -- but Brown didn't even put up a fight. While the levees overflowed, he chatted via e-mail with an aide. "Can I quit now? Can I go home?" he asked, as hundreds of thousands of people were losing their own homes. He wrote about finding a pet-sitter, about his on-camera wardrobe choices. "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit," he wrote about an hour later. "I am a fashion god."
Bush apparently liked that blue Nordstrom number, because on September 2 -- at the height of the flooding -- he assured his appointee, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."
Ten days later, Brownie was out of that job.
He now plans to start a Colorado-based business, specializing in crisis consulting and managing disasters.
Takes one to know one.
For over a year, Silvia Johnson had been the most desperate housewife in Arvada, holding countless parties in her home on a suburban cul-de-sac for students from Arvada High School, which her oldest child attended, and where the party favors included alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamine. And, in the case of a half-dozen males ranging in age from fifteen to seventeen, sometimes sex with the hostess herself.