Off Limits

Harass is on the line: A lawsuit filed last week in federal district court won't be the October surprise of this year's Senate campaign, but it does target Democratic candidate Tom Strickland's vulnerable flank: the powerful law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Strickland. If there's an important issue in Colorado, the firm has its fingers in it--and all too often, critics say, it's making a grab for the wrong side. That's partner Steve Farber representing Ascent in its talks with Denver about the Pepsi Center; partner Norm Brownstein's father-in-law owned the Globeville property that was tapped for a BioWaste medical-waste incinerator, a scotched 1989 deal that spilled over into Strickland's campaign when it turned out that, contrary to his initial denials, the candidate had attended hearings and consulted on the matter.

None of those partners are named in legal secretary Cynthia Zavala's sexual-discrimination case lodged against the firm and her former supervisor, Steven Sommers, who, judging from the October 15 complaint, runs through secretaries faster than Hillary Clinton runs through hairdos (although Zavala lasted three years at The Firm before she was terminated).

Zavala's case has been assigned to the courtroom of Colorado's newest federal judge, Walker Miller. That's the Greeley attorney who once represented the son of a friend, retiring Senator Hank Brown, in an assault case. Brown, even though a Republican, is an old buddy of Brownstein and Farber: He was their fraternity brother at the University of Colorado.

Born to run: Nationally, the Colorado Senate race has been tagged as a "presidential copy." Monday's Washington Times noted this parallel universe under the headline "Slick Hipster Dogged by GOP Veterinarian." But Strickland managed to take a breather from the dogfight with Wayne Allard last week in order to catch some of Bruce Springsteen's show--only to find two teens in his seat. He asked a security guard to get them to move. If only getting rid of Allard were so easy.

Colorado's most notorious Springsteen fan, Governor Roy Romer (who once missed an appointment because he was so distracted driving to the Boss's music), is still surrounded by rumors that he, too, was born to run. The most recent: that Romer has his eye on a 1998 Senate bid. Why else, one local politico asks, would the governor, after all these years, finally get tickets to the North Denver Democrat dinner?

I ink, therefore I am: Anyone who thinks newspaper writing lacks creativity obviously doesn't read the semi-annual stories published by Denver's dailies touting the latest circulation studies, which always put the most glowing possible--and sometimes impossible--interpretations on their own numbers. But the glow on Denver Post owner Dean "Dinky" Singleton's face at the Damon Runyon awards banquet Saturday was reflected in the next day's paper, which announced that the Post's daily circulation had overtaken the News's for the first time in seventeen years. Veteran San Francisco columnist Herb Caen, one of this year's award recipients (the other was Molly Ivins, the Texas columnist the Post dumped two years ago), had an explanation for that: "I bought three Posts--and that closed the gap."

It might have been losing the circulation war, but in the early Eighties the Post had a winning stable of artists--including Bonnie Timmons, who provided the inspiration and illustrations for hit sitcom Caroline in the City (and later made syndicated gossiper Marilyn Beck's column over a reported Emmy snub when the show won an award for graphic design).

Fellow Post illustrator Buddy Hickerson left Denver and returned to his native Dallas, where he syndicates his own hit, The Quigmans cartoon (see page 110), and continues to do freelance illustration (including for Westword). But the hometown boy recently made bad: Executives at the Dallas Morning News were shocked--shocked!--to find that Hickerson had dared to make fun of the Republican presidential team in a recent cartoon. Specifically, he called Bob Dole and Jack Kemp "dorks." The News has suspended Hickerson's cartoons--even those non-political in nature, which means most of them--until at least after the election. "I knew the rules about the comic page," says Hickerson. "You're not supposed to do direct political assaults in the comic page. It was just kind of a stupid thing on my part; you tempt fate.


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