Bad Dads

In January, Colorado Springs police were called to a local McDonald's on a report of a man who'd passed out drunk in the children's play area, where his two kids were playing. And while that's something most fathers would probably like to do, it isn't really appropriate. When the cops arrived, they identified Joshua Alger, 28, and determined that he had a warrant out for his arrest — on a charge of obstructing police. At that point, they say, Alger began fighting with them and ordered his kids to "bite the officers' faces off." After a wrestling match in which one officer was kicked in the face, the cops eventually tasered Alger. He was charged with assaulting a police officer.

Transportation Safety Administration employees busted a man and his daughter in September when they tried to go through security at Denver International Airport with a loaded .22. Although the gun was inside the girl's purse, police also charged her father, 44-year-old James Mueller, who said he gave the gun to his daughter for protection.

Grand Junction dad Jack Duke, 27, was arrested in October and charged with teaching his six- and seven-year-old daughters how to smoke pot. Staffers at Nisley Elementary called the cops after the six-year-old tried to start a fire with a Bic lighter and a wad of toilet paper. According to police, the girl told administrators that "when she doesn't feel good, she smokes 'weed' with her dad, and her dad blows the smoke in her face."

Last January, Raul Gaucin-Valenzuela and a friend put on a couple of bandannas and broke into a house to beat someone up. They might have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for a couple of meddling kids: Gaucin-Valenzuela's kids, who happened to be at that house and identified Pops — despite the bandanna.

School's Out

In September, University of Colorado senior Julien Lounis demanded that the school reimburse him for the $401.40 he'd spent to travel to California to watch the Buffs take on the University of California, Berkeley, a game in which CU was crushed 52-7. "With high hopes of at least a good game, I was truly disheartened and disappointed with the football program's effort," Lounis wrote, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. "Unless you can provide an explanation as to why we consistently perform so poorly, I would like to be reimbursed for my trip." CU wasn't amused, and declined to pay Lounis back.

In April, a group of students from Leadville High School asked Lake County sheriff's deputy John Ortega what it felt like to be tasered. The students, who were attending a job fair, promised to sign release forms if Ortega would agree to taser them. They did and he did — tasering 34 kids on their legs. Ortega, who was subsequently charged with child abuse and reckless endangerment, ultimately resigned from the force.

Southern-style chicken, collard greens and peach pie. That was Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite meal, and the reason that Denver Public Schools decided to offer it to students in January. But the menu also furthered stereotypes about black people, according to a parent who complained. After a brief furor, DPS withdrew the menu and apologized for what it called a "well-intentioned but highly insensitive" attempt to honor King.

Mann Middle School in Colorado Springs doesn't allow students to wear crosses or rosaries outside of their clothing, in keeping with a school-district policy inspired by local gangs that use the images. The ban led to protests in September, not just from the family of a cross-wearing thirteen-year-old boy who threatened to sue the school district, but from the ACLU and a Washington, D.C., law firm. The district eventually clarified its policy, saying that crosses could be worn openly but that rosaries had to be worn underneath a student's clothes.

Animal Instincts

Kitchi the river otter is either brilliant and free — or dead. In March, Kitchi and three other otters broke out of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs and went on the lam. While the other otters were recaptured, Kitchi was not. Although zoo officials were still finding signs of Kitchi weeks later, they eventually gave up the hunt.

A ten-year-old miniature dachshund named Spork caused an uproar in March after the dog bit a veterinary tech at a Lafayette animal hospital, causing serious damage to her face and lips. The dog's owner was cited for having a vicious dog, despite a state law that exempts dogs that bite animal-care workers, and the story went national, frustrating city officials in the Boulder County town. A judge eventually issued a deferred judgment for Spork, meaning he wouldn't have to be caged or euthanized as long as he didn't bite anyone else for six months.

"The white one wants my flesh." Zombie attack? No, those were the words of Lafayette cyclist Erich Toll, 47, who has had an ongoing dispute with another man and his two dogs — Olivia, a small, white American Eskimo, and Mars, a boxer — near a trail in Boulder County open space. In September, the tension came to a head when the dogs charged at Toll and he pepper-sprayed both of them, along with owner Peter West, 66. Toll said he had fallen and was still clipped to his bike and used the pepper spray in self-defense. The police said Toll was within his rights to do so; they fined West $55 for having a dog at large.

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