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The campaign to teach Denverites how to mind their manners around aliens suffers a few rude setbacks

We know how we're supposed to behave if we find a lost child, or encounter a tourist who needs directions, or are stopped by a cop. But what if we stumble into an alien? Are we ready to meet and greet people from other planets?

The Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission proposed by Jeff Peckman would give Denverites an out-of-this-world lesson in ET etiquette. According to the wording of the Denver ballot measure, the mission of Denver's Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission would be:

1. To obtain and provide the most accurate, complete, credible, and relevant information available to city government personnel and residents about extraterrestrial intelligent beings on Earth.

2. To assist residents and visitors in reporting sightings of, or interactions with, extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles, and refer them to the proper and most appropriate public or private service agencies.

3. To inform people of the implications of encounters with extraterrestrial beings or their vehicles.

4. To develop protocols for peaceful and diplomatic contact with extraterrestrial beings in the event of contact.

But Peckman, who pushed Denver's failed "Safety Through Peace" ballot measure several years ago, has recently suffered a few setbacks in his attempt to get an ET Affairs Commission on the next Denver ballot. He first floated the idea last year, then relaunched the campaign on May 9, with the goal of collecting enough signatures — close to 4,000 — by August, in order to make the November ballot. Instead, he wound up turning in the ballots to the Denver Election Commission on September 4, and even though he'd collected more than 7,000 signatures, a surprising number were suspect. "It's a mystery why so many were bad," he admits. But it's no mystery that he needs at least another thousand if the measure's going to make the ballot — any ballot.

And then came David Letterman's revelations of his all-too-earthly peccadilloes involving employees and interns. "I'm not sure I can milk that interview anymore," says Peckman, referring to his appearance on Letterman's June 10, 2008, show, when he discussed Stan Romanek's "alien" video. That Peckman clip is featured prominently on the ET Affairs Commission's campaign website, www.extracampaign.org. Perhaps too prominently.

Still, Peckman isn't giving up. He's handing out petitions all over town, speaking to history groups and Rotary clubs. His goal now is to get the proposal on the August 2010 primary ballot. The revised timeline is "a nuisance," he says, "but it gives us a long public education period." And with a public that's not known for great manners with fellow earthlings, Peckman's commission definitely has some work to do.

"But we have to do it," Peckman insists. "The future of the galaxy really depends on it."

Scene and heard: The Byers branch library on Santa Fe Drive could be closed and sold as part of Mayor John Hickenlooper's budget-crunching. Since Byers has fewer patrons than other branches and is only about a mile from both the Ross-Broadway branch and the Central Public Library, the Denver Public Library system offered it up as a sacrificial lamb.

Bah, says City Councilwoman Judy Montero, who compares the closure, as well as the planned privatization of the La Alma Recreation Center in the same neighborhood, to the Milagro Beanfield War, John Nichols's novel of how greedy corporate interests attempt to rob the New Mexican town of Milagro of its water, and therefore its cultural and historical soul.

But don't head to Byers if you want to check it out. That branch doesn't have a single copy of Milagro, despite the fact that it was a former One Book, One Denver selection.

 
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