Pat and Annabel Bowlen
Corporate Welfare King and Queen
Years ago, when Canadian millionaire Pat Bowlen started angling for a new stadium, one with deep revenue streams and luxury boxes that he hadn't already sold off, image consultants warned that he'd have to ditch the fur coat if he wanted to appeal to the people. Reluctantly, the Great Patsby shed his skins--but he didn't exactly strip himself bare when opponents of a new stadium demanded that he reveal the financial status of the family companies that own the Broncos. There was only one thing people needed to know, Bowlen said: An owner, any owner, couldn't make it with a team playing at Mile High Stadium (even if that team had managed to win the Super Bowl after a season in such unacceptable surroundings), and if he didn't get a new facility, he might have to sell the Broncos--say, to the Texas billionaire who conveniently stepped up to the plate a few days before the November election.
Score! Three days later, Bowlen had himself a taxpayer-subsidized stadium with exactly two more seats than Mile High--and a team suddenly worth a reported $100 million more than it had been before the vote. In fact, the only thing inflating faster than the Broncos' value was wife Annabel Bowlen's lips. In appreciation for all the hard work local boosters had done on her hubbie's behalf (from the Denver Post's ethics-defying donation of $10,000 to the pro-stadium campaign to the legislature's land-grab of revenue-rich Park Meadows for the stadium district), fresh-from-childbirth Annabel took to wearing a cheerleading outfit at the most unusual times, including a society event this fall, where she volunteered to perform a cheer of gratitude--and perhaps drop her uterus on the stage.
Wisely, Bowlen intercepted her offer.
John and Anne Paulk
Ex-Gay Poster Children
There they were, smiling sickly from the cover of the August 17 Newsweek as though they'd just called for a wet cleanup on aisle nine at Kmart. A summerlong campaign subsidized by several national religious-right organizations managed to turn John and Anne Paulk, Colorado's newest fun couple, into America's sweethearts, former gays who had found God, heterosexuality and fulfillment in marriage. Not bad for a former drag queen and $80-an-hour hooker (and that's just John Paulk, aka "Candi" from Columbus) who hooked up with lesbian Anne in California, got hitched and then moved to Colorado for a job as a "homosexuality and gender analyst" with James Dobson's Focus on the Family, along with a post as chairman of the board of Exodus International, the umbrella organization for "ex-gay" ministries, and a regular gig traveling the country, preaching about how "the term 'gay Christian' is an oxymoron."
On the cover of Newsweek, John gripped Anne like a carry-on at DIA--but neither his sports coat nor her bridesmaidlike dress, and certainly not their grimaces, could counter what one ex-"ex-gay" said to Westword of the couple: "Sleeping in the garage doesn't make you an automobile."
Vikki Buckley and Ric Bainter
Secretary of State and Wannabe
He helped write the campaign finance reform law that's proven to be a full-employment act for lawyers foolish enough to attempt to understand it. She's helped attorneys pile on the overtime by doing the impossible: interpreting Amendment 15 in a way that's even more confusing than the original law.
No one in state government collected as much bad press this year--and earned it--as Secretary of State Vikki Buckley. The former welfare mom and longtime aide in Natalie Meyer's office gained the top slot after Meyer retired--and promptly began dismantling the top-notch reputation for efficiency and farsightedness the office had enjoyed under Meyer. Although the complaints started shortly after Buckley took over--the bingo industry, which Buckley is supposed to regulate, provides her most ardent fans; corporate filings that once appeared on the computer within three days now take three times as long to show up--they reached their peak this fall when her own staffers joked about their bungling of initiative petitions. Buckley called a press conference to answer her critics...and after declaring her accessibility, cut off the conference mid-session, just after her campaign manager managed to pose a question.
Yes, the hits kept on coming, but they didn't make a dent in Buckley, who easily won re-election. But then, her opponent was none other than Ric Bainter, the author of Amendment 15, whose reform measure is so soundly hated by political operatives that they'd rather endure another four years of Miss Vikki than reward Reformer Ric with an elected office.
Public Service Company of Colorado
Alleged Utilities Company
Public Service Company of Colorado deserved to find a lump of coal in its stocking this Christmas. And that bit of fossil fuel probably would have doubled the energy supply PSC managed to send to Highlands Ranch after the temperatures dropped to zero in mid-December. But if residents of the southern suburbs were cold during PSC's repeated power outages, they had only themselves to blame--for daring to move here from California without consulting PSC first. The damn state kept growing so fast, the utilities company whined, that it was hard to keep track, and so what if all those hookups PSC was supplying to those new developments should have been a clue that demand might soon exceed supply?
And while the major breakdown arrived with the summer's heat wave, Colorado had nothing to complain about compared to, say, residents of Texas--home of PSC's new partner--who suffered through weeks of temperatures well into the hundreds. So when the mercury in this state started climbing toward triple digits, PSC reminded us of what a bunch of wimpy whiners Coloradans have become. If we dared to turn on that air conditioner, PSC warned, we might so overload the grid that the city would suffer through a series of rolling brown-outs. Merely pulling an ice cube from your refrigerator could endanger entire sections of the map, a compliant media echoed. So the Front Range sweltered. The next day, PSC had the gall to take out full-page ads in the dailies congratulating consumers for pulling together.
Hey! Next time save those advertising dollars and hire some better prognosticators, ones who could look at PSC's account rosters and recognize that growth is actually occurring. Or better yet, buy them a one-way ticket on an RTD commuter bus attempting to head down I-25 at rush hour.
El Paso County Commissioner
Houdini himself couldn't have escaped from the tight spot El Paso County Commissioner Betty Beedy seemingly found herself in this fall, after all five liberals in Colorado Springs launched a recall effort against the motormouth for the embarrassing statements she'd spewed across the state--and then repeated nationally on ABC's pajama party of a talk show, The View, last July. The audience booed as host Meredith Vieira clicked off some of Beedy's headline-grabbers: single mothers who receive child support and date are "sluts"; gays and lesbians are "pedophiles"; Colorado Springs shouldn't name a highway after Martin Luther King Jr. because he was an adulterer. From that introduction, Beedy went on to joust with an attorney from a national organization that fought Colorado's Amendment 2 and made this astute observation about gay rights: "It's not like the race issue, where we can look at her (View co-host Star Jones, who is African-American) and know that she's different--she's different than the white, normal American."
And so, we can only hope, is Beedy, who despite her unusual outbursts (or perhaps because of them--let's face it, she represents El Paso County) handily survived the recall effort. Her next campaign: to bring back the lost Victorian art of draping pianos, so that their shamefully naked legs do not shock visitors to her parlor.
Let's see, which was more creepy: Listening to alleged business reporter Keith Weinman take a commercial break from the KOA morning report to pitch mattresses last year, shortly after he'd been charged with stalking his wife? Or telling a Channel 9 reporter this fall that no matter what the police reports might say, and despite the fact he'd just racked up another charge for assaulting his wife, he wasn't a batterer--he and his spouse were just "very physical" people.
Twenty years ago Colorado was in the forefront of the fight against domestic violence--but you'd never know it from the treatment Keith Weinman's received. Even after his stalking charge--reported by employees of an auto dealership appalled by what they'd seen of the Weinmans' relationship--went public, both KOA-AM/850 and Channel 4 kept Weinman on salary and on the air. And when he disappeared from view this year--following a reported suicide attempt after his wife showed up at a hospital with battered ribs--neither outlet addressed the issue until others forced them to.
Weinman goes on trial next year in Boulder.
Boulder District Attorney
Almost two years ago, longtime Boulder district attorney Alex Hunter looked into the TV cameras and spoke directly to the murderer of JonBenet Ramsey. "We will find you," he said. Silly us, we thought that meant that not only would a murderer be found, but that Boulder's DA would actually charge him or her. Wrong.
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If Boulder's overall ambience is laid back, Lady Justice is comatose--and the only reason she's still around at all is probably because she cut a deal with Alex "Monty Hall" Hunter, who's renowned for his liberal use of plea bargains (only 7 percent of his criminal cases have gone to trial). Only Hunter could make former police chief Tom Koby look hard-charging; when Koby's replacement, Mark Becker, said the cops had done all they could and urged Hunter to send the Ramsey case to a grand jury, Hunter spent two days looking at the cops' evidence and promised an answer in a few weeks. A few months later, he was on vacation in Alaska when a former police investigator and former Ramsey friend Fleet White both went public with their concerns that the DA's office was doing nothing, and would do nothing. Governor Roy Romer reeled Hunter back in for a confab with other metro DAs--and as a result, the Ramsey case finally went to a grand jury in September.
More than three months later--and fully two years after JonBenet was found murdered--that grand jury has yet to hear from either John or Patsy Ramsey.
Still, that doesn't mean there have been no charges filed in connection with the JonBenet case. Hunter has managed to strike deals with at least three minor characters in this Boulder soap opera. Know who they are? Go to www.westword.com to take our JonBenet Trivia Challenge.