Off Limits

No-tell hotel: Fred Kummer, owner of the Adam's Mark, got slammed by a federal magistrate for discriminating against employees at his St. Louis hotel; knocked down the I.M. Pei-designed hyperbolic paraboloid on the 16th Street Mall; gave Denver those odd, alien ballet dancers as a consolation prize; and is in the middle of an ugly dispute over allegedly stiffing subcontractors who worked on his hotel makeover, which received a $25 million subsidy from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority. So naturally, the city's about to send more business Kummer's way.

Since 1992, Denver has rented 21,245 square feet on the top floor of the original portion of the hotel, where it's stashed five Denver County courtrooms and assorted offices. Now Denver may move a sixth court over there: the environmental court, currently located in the basement of City Hall in what court administrator Matthew McConville terms the "least environmentally pleasant" space in the bursting-at-the-seams building.

McConville would like to see murder cases moved into that cramped basement area, once home to Denver's small claims court (apparently very small claims). As it is, murder suspects wind up in courtroom 108--with windows that face West Colfax Avenue, which pose a security risk--and are arraigned in the presiding judge's chambers.

Although the move was set for January 1, city council is still tweaking some of the details, which call for upping the $292,359 the city already pays Kummer each year. At a meeting two weeks ago, a few councilmembers objected to the deal, citing the subcontractors' dispute with Kummer's company, HBE. But Susan Barnes-Gelt, certainly no fan of Kummer's, says she had "no choice" but to approve the move. "The courts are so constrained in this building," she explains, "that my concern for the needs of the people here overtakes even my hostility to Fred Kummer."

When you lie down with dogs, you get lease.

First wives' club: Dottie Lamm does not want the 1998 Senate race to concentrate on the Denver Post columns she wrote over sixteen years--as Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell's operatives have suggested it will. And who can blame her? Much of their content, particularly in the early days, focused not on sticky political issues, but on treacly discussions of Lamm's role as a political wife: "A part of me seems to be dying, as I father, mother, organize and campaign--and at such a pace! I am successful, but there is no emotional space for me." But there was space in the Post for Colorado's First Lady's touchy-feely musings, which ultimately turned into Lamm's book, Second Banana. And Dottie wasn't talking about international agronomy.

A would-be first lady, Joyce Schuck, lamented the political spouse's lot in her 1991 book, Political Wives, Veiled Lives. Between journal entries dating from Steve Schuck's 1986 campaign for the Republican nomination for governor of Colorado, Joyce Schuck included interviews with wives of more successful candidates. (Steve Schuck lost the primary by 2,000 votes.) Linda Campbell, wife of then-representative, then-Democrat Ben Nighthorse Campbell, was unusually forthright in describing her distaste for political races. She "totally hated the campaign," she told Schuck, and kept a low profile. But since a woman is now challenging her husband, you can bet the consultants will be urging Linda Campbell to increase her visibility over the next year.

And the woman who's challenging Campbell? Years ago Dottie Lamm told Schuck she'd thought about running for office herself, "but probably not, especially since I'm trying to get the family out of politics."

She'd better hope she's a more effective campaigner. After Dottie Lamm uttered those words, Dick Lamm ran for the Senate in 1992 (losing to Ben Nighthorse Campbell in the primary), and last year he made a bid to get the presidential nomination from Ross Perot's party. (Dottie kept her Democratic affiliation.) The Lamms' daughter, Heather, has gained a reputation among the next generation of political activists. And although no Lamm has been in public office since 1986, Dick and Dottie still managed to pull in almost $450,000 in writing and speaking fees over the past two years, according to the Lamm campaign's recent filing.

As for Joyce Schuck, she's now in private life--and copies of her book were given away free at the Rocky Mountain Book Festival in Denver earlier this month.

Law and odor: In late September, cabdriver Daniel King was popped for illegally leafletting while handing out rabble-rousing fliers to fellow cabbies at DIA's holding area. But he's not the only driver concerned that proposed fare increases at the airport will cut back on cabbies' business--and they've got their engines revving for the next DIA taxicab meeting, slated for November 20 in the airport's holding-lot conference room. At the September 25 meeting--the third held jointly by Denver, the Public Utilities Commission and cab-company officials--cabbies were stunned to learn that the committee was proposing a new, fixed fare to downtown and the Denver Tech Center of $43, up $8 from the $35 now quoted by a few of the town's five cab companies. Although that price hike didn't make the Taxi Newsletter put out by DIA's Ground Transportation Department, it was noted in both a Yellow Cab newsletter and a September 26 memo from Colorado Transportation Services to its cabbies, which said the meeting "went well" and listed the new prices. But then, those prices reflect a $10 increase in the current CTS fare.

Last summer, shortly after he'd been suspended from practicing law by the Colorado Supreme Court, Denver attorney Michael Dice told Westword he'd like to discuss his case, "but it's a long story." Yeah, tell it to the judge. And Dice will: Last Thursday he was arrested and charged with felony theft for misappropriation of more than $200,000 from clients' accounts. Since Dice specialized in estate law, most of his clients were elderly or disabled...Peter Schmitz, the alleged artist who was in Spicer Breeden's car the night it hit the truck driven by Rocky Mountain News columnist Greg Lopez on March 17, 1996, beat a vehicular-homicide rap last spring. But his successful defense--led by Walter Gerash--racked up some hefty legal bills, and he's back in town from Germany this week for a benefit auction at the Chairman on South Broadway, where fifteen original signed paintings, as well as Schmitz's "Ethereal Cowboy," will be auctioned off. The estate of Breeden, who committed suicide two days after Lopez died, was auctioned off last month; although it included works by several artists, Schmitz's were not among them.

Pressing engagements: Rocky Mountain News publisher Larry Strutton recently sold his Cherry Hills Village home for $885,000, a figure that ranked the sale tenth in the third fiscal quarter for the six-county Denver area--otherwise known as the News's circulation center since the paper decided to focus on the Front Range eighteen months ago (it subsequently lost circulation both outside and inside that territory). "When you lose roughly an average of 15,000 daily circulation in your core market, the strategy seriously comes into question, doesn't it?" crows Kirk MacDonald, executive vice-president of the Denver Post. MacDonald and Post publisher Ryan McKibben were all fired up at the Brown Palace's cigar lounge Friday, as they celebrated their paper's record Sunday circulation of over 470,000 copies.

Not there to celebrate: Post reporter Alan Katz, who was fired for "insubordination" after he broke the paper's rules about writing for online services. But the paper jumped at the chance last week to tout Katz snagging the first annual Tim Wirth Chair Media Award from the University of Colorado at Denver ("Post Lauded for Series on Development") for last February's two-parter on "Building the Future" and "Developing the Future." Meanwhile, Katz's future includes a Newspaper Guild grievance filed against the Post for his ousting.

The final word on last Friday's high-speed chase, which netted two young scofflaws and also a ticket for Arapahoe County sheriff Pat Sullivan, who hit a car on his way to the scene, goes to Al Verley, the KOA helicopter traffic reporter who's never one to mince words. "Oh, boy, I'll tell you," he told listeners of his eye-in-the-sky report. "All the excitement down here. But they do have this guy stopped. And it wouldn't surprise me if they give him a couple of good belts. Give him a couple of good belts for me. They've got this idiot stopped.


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