The Denver Election Commission has finalized the ballot for the May 1election -- and one name is conspicuous by its absence. Jake Schroeder, who counts being the lead singer for Opie Gone Bad as one of his four jobs, will not be adding a fifth as a Denver City Council representative. He'd looked at a run for the District 7 seat, had hired staff and was raising funds when he decided to pull the plug last month. "I have a young family," he explains, "and after going through a couple of staff issues, I would have had to be away from them too much. It just wasn't the right time. It was disappointing on a lot of levels, but I've been very happy since I made my decision."
Schroeder's campaign site, www.voteforjake.com, explains that decision and endorses Shelly Watters, who also just won the top line of the ballot over the three other remaining candidates in District 7. But Schroeder still plans to do his bit for the city -- and then some. "Just by getting in the race, I think I raised awareness of my basic platform -- kids and the police," he says. That platform is reflected in his full-time paying gig with the Denver Police Activities League, and "I'll be able to get more done for PAL and city kids now than I would as a councilperson."
And then there's his coffee company, Jake's Joe; his weekly radio show on the Mountain; and his singing gigs, which include crooning "The Star-Spangled Banner" at all Avalanche home games. "How lucky am I, to do four cool things like that?" he asks.
Besides, Schroeder hasn't given up all thoughts of public office. A lifelong Republican, he changed to "unaffiliated" about nine months ago and hasn't yet decided how to register next. How politic! Although city races are allegedly non-partisan, it would be tough to run for the Colorado Legislature as a Denver Republican. Even a Denver Republican who makes a great cup of coffee and is one of this town's true celebrities.
The bottle of the bands: Too bad Schroeder wasn't in the Statehouse Monday to bring some order to the House hootenanny when representatives approved Senator Bob Hagedorn's proposal that "Rocky Mountain High" become a second state song. This despite the fact that the last stanza of the ditty penned in 1972 by John Denver (or Henry Deutschendorf, as we'll always think of the moppet-haired singer) ends with this: "It's a Colorado Rocky Mountain high/I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky/Friends around the campfire and everybody's high/Rocky Mountain high."
"Number one, whoever doesn't think this song refers to marijuana must be drunk," says Mason Tvert, the man who's pushing to make possession legal in this state. "It's widely known that John Denver did experiment with marijuana. In 1976, High Times magazine reported that he actually said, 'Sure I enjoy hashish. I use it. I have a lot of fun with the stuff. But it's like alcohol. You shouldn't let it get out of hand.'"
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Although Tvert's proposal passed in Denver, it failed statewide in November. "Given that more than two out of every five Coloradans -- and more than 50 percent of Denver citizens -- think that marijuana should be legal, it's too bad that the only time legislators want to talk about marijuana is when they talk about changing our state song," he adds. "We wish there could be some serious discussion."
And that discussion should come soon, or the consequences could be dire. "This sends a terrible message to kids," Tvert points out, "because as we all know, John Denver's music is a gateway to country music."
Scene and herd: On Tuesday, a James Bond impersonator made a guest appearance to tout the city's sale of bonds for the new Justice Center. Sadly, the spy guy was more along the lines of Pierce Brosnan than Daniel Craig. What were those guys smoking?
Friends around the campfire and everybody's high -- including Colorado's legislators. Because John Denver music is the gateway to country music!