Poll faulting: If it's summer, it must be time for the City of Denver to go after Channel 9 again. Last year Mike Musgrave, then manager of the Denver Department of Public Works (and now one of the handful of mayoral appointees whose post-election resignations have been accepted by Wellington Webb), subpoenaed Paula Woodward and assorted KUSA-TV employees, seeking the unedited tapes from Woodward's May 1994 series on public works loafers--and racking up tens of thousands of dollars in outside legal fees in the process. This year it was the Denver Election Commission's turn for a bad case of subpoena envy. In early May Channel 9 aired a series showing how easy it is to place bogus names on the city voting rolls--which Woodward had managed to do more than a dozen times, including signing up her cat, Harley Davidson. (In a previous Woodward expose, the pet had earned a degree in Christian counseling from the local University of Notre Dame de Lafayette.)
Although Woodward had consulted with both Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter and Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton before going ahead, the Denver Election Commission wasn't amused by her antics. Former state legislator Jerry Kopel, at the time one of Denver's three election commissioners, terms Woodward's work an "unnecessary exercise" that was "totally worthless in terms of Colorado law." According to Kopel, there were only three ways to get the sixteen fraudulent names off the commission's rolls: one was for the people who put them there in the first place to sign an affidavit asking that they be removed (Channel 9 had sent a letter, but that wasn't good enough, he says); the second was to let the names remain on the books until 2001, when they'd automatically be deleted after the registered voters failed to vote; and the third was to issue a citizen's challenge.
Which Kopel did after leaving his spot on the commission July 1. The commission responded by subpoenaing three Channel 9 employees to appear at a hearing last Wednesday. News director Dave Lougee got the news from his dog, who started barking at 6:15 a.m. when the process server showed up at his door (your tax dollars at work). But it was the station's attorney who actually attended the hearing, and pointed out that, unlike cabinet-level positions in the mayor's office, the Denver Election Commission doesn't have subpoena power.
Oops. The hearing ended with all agreeing that the names--including one that had been added when the commission misspelled one of Woodward's fakes--could go. Residents have five days to appeal the decision, but as of Monday, Harley Davidson was holding his peace.
Dork territory: Once again Denver proves it is the Sally Field of cities, getting all excited about the possibility that Hollywood might set up shop at Stapleton (as was reported--and reported--last week). But before local officials get too excited, they might want to take a gander at Steven Seagal's latest, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, in which a terrorist takes over a passenger train that ol' Stoneface just happens to be on. The movie company filmed on location here last fall, as is evident from several skyline shots and the interior of the restaurant Seagal's character, a former Navy cook and special operative, supposedly runs--which bears a suspicious resemblance to the Wynkoop Brewing Company (watch out for Seagal's curried-fruit recipe). Not shown, however, is the scorched earth left in Gore Canyon after filmmaking grew so heated that the grass caught fire, endangering several homes in the process.
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