Off Limits

Charlatan's web: Boulder is big, big, big in the national news again, and the murder of JonBenet Ramsey is just one of the subjects being scrutinized--albeit a major one. Hard on the heels of Ann Louise Bardach's Ramsey article in Vanity Fair comes the current People cover, with a picture of JonBenet and the headline "Mom & Dad Under Suspicion," as well as major segments on the network news that continue to provide face time for the likes of Peter Boyles, Chuck Green, Carol McKinley and Craig Silverman. They're talking not just about the recently released search warrants, but also about the fallout over last week's Channel 7 series on the Haddon, Morgan and Foreman law firm and its "Web of Influence." Although Julie Hayden's report ticked off just about everyone mentioned in it, the garish graphic of a spider web with the law firm at the center apparently tickled Hal Haddon enough that his voicemail message welcomed callers to the "spider's web."

Considerably less cool was attorney Dan Caplis, who, after complaining about Hayden on Boyles's show Tuesday, admitted--sort of--that he'd helped convince attorneys Bob Miller and Dan Hoffman to offer their services to the Boulder Police Department and get tangled in that same web. ("We have only one duty here," the attorneys announced in a statement released Monday, "to provide counsel to the police officers seeking the murderer of an innocent, six-year-old child." And they assumed that duty only because they were asked to do so by the Boulder police---a statement backed by Chief Tom Koby.) Still, the firm's influence is so strong, according to the October 6 Time article "Deadlock in Boulder," that Boulder cops' "strongest suspicion" is that "Hunter is partial not so much to the Ramseys as to their lawyers." If Hunter is a "midsize fish" in Colorado politics, the magazine notes, "Haddon is a whale."

In fact, that issue of Time is awash with Colorado stories. There's an article on Terry Nichols, now on trial for his alleged role in the Oklahoma City bombing. (No mention is made, however, of the fact that Nichols defense attorney Michael Tigar has been working out of Haddon's law office.) And the cover is devoted to Promise Keepers, the brainchild of Bill McCartney back when he was still the coach of the University of Colorado football team--and not yet a leader of men "hot for Jesus." Seven years after McCartney founded the group, Promise Keepers boasts $87 million in annual revenues--and promises to gather upwards of half a million men in Washington, D.C., for this weekend's "Stand in the Gap."

Meanwhile, another Boulder export, the folks from Soldier of Fortune magazine, a group of men hot for--well, just hot--will be hosting SOF's annual trade show and convention in Las Vegas. Among the planned activities: an auction of guns loaned to Los Angeles police officers during a February shootout with bank robbers including Larry Phillips Jr., who used to visit his father in Denver. One day the father-and-son crooks went to a north Denver video arcade where, Larry Phillips Sr. told Rolling Stone, they played a bank-robbery video game and "Larry told me that if it ever came down to him getting busted--going to jail for the rest of his life--he'd rather die."

And he did, in last February's shootout.

I think I smell a rat: October is Rodent Prevention Month, according to Denver mayor Wellington Webb. "From the earliest civilization to the present time," reads the mayoral proclamation, "rodents have posed one of the most persistent challenges to humankind." Third only to opening an airport and answering reporters' stupid questions, no doubt.

The mayor devoted October to vermin at the request of the rodent-control industry, which claims that Denver ranks in the top ten cities for mice problems, says spokesman Andrew Hudson. And which rats would the city like to exterminate first? "Peter Boyles?" he replies. "I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Maybe the city should designate a Bad Headline Month."

Coincidentally, here's one: The front page of the September 25 Rocky Mountain News bannered the JD Edwards employee stock deal with this headline: "200 new millionaires." And apparently one less old one, since directly below was a photograph of a mourning Dinger and a mug of minor-league pitcher Doug Million, the Rockies' top amateur draft pick in 1994 who'd died the previous day after an asthma attack.

Another stupid media trick was revealed in Canon City last week, at a Department of Corrections tour of the spot where Gary Davis is slated to die sometime after October 11. Asked for the dumbest question ever posed by a reporter, DOC spokeswoman Liz McDonough told of a Denver radio personality who asked if he could lie on the gurney and see what it felt like. No, she said. But then, it was not yet Rodent Prevention Month.


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