Off Limits

Dig, we must: With this week's balmy weather, the immobilizing snow of two weeks ago has melted into memory--a very bad memory.

Mayor Wellington Webb's press secretary, Andrew Hudson, was sitting in the State Capitol on Wednesday, December 18, two days after the snow hit, when he got a page from Rick Sallinger. The Channel 4 reporter had just been by Webb's house near City Park--and the walks weren't shoveled! Channel 4 planned to air a live shot from the mayor's home on the five o'clock news, Sallinger said.

Hudson, whose boss had left town for Washington, D.C., before the first snowflake fell Monday morning, jumped into action and got rid of the offending evidence before Sallinger returned to the scene. "As I would do for anyone, any neighbor I knew was out of town, I went over to shovel his walk," Hudson modestly explains. "It was no big deal. It took fifteen minutes." And in answer to another Sallinger salvo, those fifteen minutes came from his lunch hour.

Hudson previously flacked for the flakes at RTD, an agency that had considerably more trouble shoveling out from under. On Monday evening, as the snow piled up, so did visitors to our formerly fair city, waiting at the Market Street Station for the much-touted shuttle to DIA. And waiting, and waiting. Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., no DIA bus showed. Nor did anyone from RTD to explain the situation.

For that matter, RTD officials remained unaware of the problem until it was brought to their attention the next day by a reporter who'd run into one of the weary travelers taking solace at a nearby bar after he'd missed his plane. He'd heard rumors that the airport buses had been shifted to Boulder routes to keep our neighbors to the north happy, but that wasn't the case, according to RTD spokesman Scott Reed. "One driver ran the wrong route and missed the Market Street Station," Reed says. The driver then repeated the error--resulting in a "substantial gap of three hours and fifteen minutes." The driver will be disciplined, he adds. (How? Make him sit through a board meeting?)

RTD didn't know about the stranded airport passengers--or any number of snafus across the snowbound district--because the agency had shut off its automatic vehicle-locator system. Normally, all vehicles are tracked by that system, Reed explains, and if they're off-route for five minutes, an alarm sounds to dispatch. On December 16, though, the alarms were ringing constantly--so RTD manually disabled the system.

A pity it can't shut up its boardmembers the same way.

Speech! Speech!: When Democrat Tim Wirth left the Senate, he told why in a whiny essay for the New York Times Magazine. Republican Hank Brown gets to make a more dignified departure in Lessons and Legacies, a new book that contains farewell addresses from all but one (Bob Dole) of the fourteen senators who retired last year. Brown, a lawyer who took accounting classes while in D.C. so that he could better understand the budget, is the only one of the thirteen senators to include charts in his long goodbye.

Bombs away: On December 15 the Denver Post published a special section stemming from its six-month investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing that made much of a second Ryder truck and the involvement of "at least one person the government hasn't charged in the case." Although the piece didn't answer the question in its own headline, "Who Bombed the Murrah Building?," it created plenty of fallout.

At the Rocky Mountain News, reporters--when they weren't busy crabbing that their own paper should have devoted six months to a similar project--complained there was little new in the Post's. (For example, the federal indictment alludes to others who might have been involved in the bombing.) At the Post, reporters carped that the Associated Press hadn't given the piece enough attention--and even hinted that AP reporter Steve Paulson had put his own name on Post work. Not true, says Colorado AP bureau chief Joe McGowan. "We had a piece by Steve Paulson ready to go, which advanced the story," he says. "We decided to include a portion of the Post [project]." That inclusion was about three paragraphs, he recalls, and the information was properly credited to the Post.

Look out below.


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