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Getting Denver Ready for the DNC

Denver needs to raise a total of $55 million before the DNC hits town next August. And then there are the real challenges...

6) Why not wi-fi? Although much of the 16th Street Mall has wireless access, the promised wi-fi has yet to materialize in the Civic Center. And thanks to an extremely shortsighted, big-business-friendly move by the Colorado Legislature a few years ago, municipalities are technically prohibited from providing their citizens with Internet service, whether wired or wireless. But if Governor Bill Ritter can issue an executive order to make state government union-friendly, he can certainly pull the plug on this prohibition, opening the way for the wild, wired West.

7) You'd better shop around: A recent tourism survey had the 16th Street Mall edging out the Cherry Creek Shopping Center as the area's most popular shopping destination — and if you believe that, I've got a "pedestrian-friendly" bridge over I-25 to sell you around midnight. Have you tried buying a gift for someone you like on the mall? On a trek last week, a stalwart crew of souvenir hounds found bad T-shirts, a bag of candy shaped like elk droppings, a jar of candy shaped like rocks and a blow-up swimming tube with the head of a Bronco (go to www.westword.com for a complete shopping list) — but nothing Katie Couric is going to want to take home to the kids.

Nine months isn't time to birth an entire shopping renaissance for the mall, but for starters, Evan Makovsky and other developers should beg local artists to temporarily take over empty storefronts, which they can fill with affordable art and creative energy. Without any kind of subsidies, artists have transformed neighborhoods across this city; imagine what they could do on the mall with a little assist.

8) Taxi dance: Finding a cab at two in the morning is close to impossible — but it's not easy at other times of the day. One educator in town recently waited an hour for a cab, finally gave up, and vowed that the next time his school held auditions in the West, it would do so in a place where taxis are more plentiful. Death Valley, maybe. And ever the full-service mayor, a few months ago Hickenlooper wound up offering a ride to two tired, elderly vendors who couldn't find a cab at the Colorado Convention Center — where they'd gone for a taxicab convention.

9) Can we talk? A few years ago, Colorado had little money to market itself — but all that's changed. In 2005, Denver-ites voted for a hike in the lodging tax that last year poured another $4.1 million into the coffers of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. And in 2006, the state legislature earmarked another $19 million for the state's tourism marketing efforts. Which Colorado promptly used to hire an out-of-state company that came up with this oh-so-'80s slogan: "Let's Talk Colorado." And the Denver Partnership's "Elevate Your Urban" campaign for the mall isn't much better.

Can we talk about letting Colorado speak for itself? In this case, one good picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

10) Beer today, gone tomorrow: When all else fails, keep the free drinks coming. And get those liquor stores open on Sunday!


View to a Thrill

"What does Colorado look like to you?" That's what Denver International Airport wants to know — and no fair answering "Like the guy's butt I've been standing behind in the security line for the past hour." No, DIA wants serious answers — fifty words or less, please — from Coloradans for a show that will pair the winning statements with artists' interpretations. Entries should be submitted at www.flydenver.com/art; the deadline is November 26.

Since the show will be up through the DNC, it's time for some unconventional thinking!

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