Dem bones: It's getting pretty lonely over at state Democratic headquarters. The offices at 770 Grant Street used to bustle with an executive director, a bookkeeper, a communications director, a constituent-relations specialist, a political director, an executive assistant and a secretary; now they look like the closing scene in Dr. Seuss's The Lorax. The last employee on the payroll, Trina Romero, was laid off last week with a month's notice, so at least there's still someone answering the phones. But not for long. There's even talk of the state party leaving the building it shares with the Denver Democrats and taking up residence in a smaller, less expensive space.
Doug Schroeder seems to be the sole survivor, and he's a political consultant who's served on and off with the state party for years--most recently signing on for a stint in January. At first Schroeder says his singular state is "usual when there's a change of leadership," but then he admits that while changes of leadership may bring new staff, temporary staff or staff upheavals, it's unusual for a leadership change to result in no staff.
"But that's because the executive director left in January to take a position with the Peace Corps," he allows. "It was decided not to fill the ED's position until the new administration." That, however, doesn't explain the exodus and non-rehiring of a communications director, a bookkeeper, a secretary, etc. And Mike Beatty, Governor Roy Romer's chief of staff and the new party head who replaced Howard Gelt earlier this month, isn't in town to provide any answers.
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Could a cash shortage be part of the problem? "Obviously, it would be cheaper not to refill the positions," Schroeder says. "It may have been a consideration." That wouldn't surprise sources within the party, where money problems have been a major topic of discussion for some time. "We coasted for a while after the '92 elections," says one veteran politico. "There was so much money pouring into the state during the last few months of the campaign, because Colorado was really a competition. But that money's gone now."
And off-years aren't great times to raise money. Especially when the Republicans enjoyed a romp--at least nationally--in the interim election. But if the Democrats want to forestall future Republican routs, shutting down an office is no way to do it.
Taken for a ride: Last week the announcement finally came--the new Elitch's will open May 27. That, of course, leaves the old Elitch's to dispose of--specifically, the two rollercoasters that aren't making the move from northwest Denver to the Platte Valley. According to Elitch's Jack Hoagland, Mr. Twister--a classic coaster that's a favorite of amusement-park buffs across the country--would make an ideal movie prop. Although he contacted the state film commission with the idea of pushing the park as a film set several months ago, Hollywood was slow on the uptake--but recently, word arrived that Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios might be interested in setting a Forties-era film in the abandoned park.
And that's just the start of the cinematic possibilities. For example, the Flume ride would make a swell setting for the next Friday the 13th sequel--unless, of course, the producers decide to go for a real horror show and use the BAE baggage system instead.