Playtime got a little more complicated in July, when the Colorado Department of Human Services notified all daycare centers in the state that they would have to stock dolls representing at least three different races. The rule was one of many new ones instituted by the agency — and certainly the most controversial.

Public servants who made us cringe

A well-fed group of Colorado lawmakers voted in January to end free breakfasts for poor children attending public schools. The Joint Budget Committee decided that $124,000 was too much to pay to help feed 56,000 of the state's neediest kids. "As a family guy myself with children and grandchildren, I take a very strong responsibility to earn money to feed my own family," Colorado Springs Republican Kent Lambert told a local newspaper before popping a doughnut in his mouth. (Okay, we imagined that last bit.)

Two undercover Colorado Springs cops on an alleged "stakeout" of a Hooters restaurant blew their chances of busting the place for serving beers to already-intoxicated patrons when they ordered a couple of beers themselves. Although the department tried to cite both the restaurant and an eighteen-year-old waitress there, prosecutors were forced to drop both cases because the judge had been told the cops weren't drinking when, in fact, they had been.

"They're supporting the same BS protests going on on Wall Street. The typical 'Tax the Rich' 'Eff the Cops' anarchist crap!"

"Yeah. Denver protesters are too pathetic for us to have anything like that, though."

The above was just one of many exchanges between Denver cops over over a squad-car-to-squad-car text-messaging system, talking about the Occupy Denver protesters who began camping out at Civic Center Park in September. It was released as part of 31 pages of inter-car communication that were turned over to the public in December. While most of the texts were routine, a few didn't meet "the standard of professionalism expected by the Denver Police Department," a DPD spokesman said by way of an apology. Still, he defended the banter to news media outlets as "understandable.... It is important to note that while not a defense for inappropriate behavior, many Denver police officers have now endured months of having to leave their families to come into work early, giving up their days off, and silently tolerating hours of taunting and abusive actions by some protesters."

State senator Suzanne Williams, who sponsored a 2010 law requiring children under the age of ten to be buckled up in vehicles, caused a head-on crash in Texas in late December 2010 that resulted in the death of a pregnant woman in the oncoming car. In addition, investigators later determined that none of the passengers in Williams's car — her son and two grandsons — were wearing seat belts. In fact, both her son and three-year-old grandson were ejected from the car; law enforcement officials believe Williams retrieved her grandchild and placed him back in his car seat before an ambulance arrived. Williams was cited for driving on the wrong side of the road. She rejected pressure from colleagues to resign, but was denied a position as chairwoman of the Senate transportation committee in January.

It's always good to hear about public-school teachers who give their students a little extra time and effort. Unfortunately, 31-year-old Mountain View High instructional coach Courtney Bowles chose to do so by having sex in a Loveland park with a sixteen-year-old student at the school. In January, police arrested Bowles after finding her naked atop the boy — who she claimed was twenty years old. Bowles, who was married, later pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and was sentenced to ten years of intensive sex-offender supervised probation.

It may have been cold outside last January, but things got heated inside the State Capitol when Centennial Republican representative David Balmer let his passion for the subject of redistricting (so sexy!) get the best of him during a conversation with Democratic senator Gail Schwartz. In fact, Balmer made so much "boisterous noise" and so many "hand gestures" that a sergeant on the Senate floor asked him to leave. Balmer later apologized for his behavior, but was still banned from the Senate floor for the rest of the 2011 session.

New Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler — who regulates election laws and campaign-finance rules as part of his job — got off to a great start this year when it was revealed that he was still working for his old firm, the Hackstaff Law Group, which happens to specialize in the same things: a massive conflict of interest. Gessler explained that his new job — the one he campaigned for on other people's money — didn't pay enough, and so he'd wanted to supplement his $68,500 income with a little moonlighting.

Ellicott District 22 Board of Education treasurer Stefanie Dickinson, 37, was arrested in September and charged with sexting a fourteen-year-old boy she'd spent time with earlier in the year. Police said Dickinson, who resigned from her position on the school board shortly after her arrest, sent explicit messages to the boy. A month later, Dickinson was arrested again; this time, she was charged with having sex with another teenager in 2008.

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