Off Limits

Snit happens: News flashes from Washington, D.C., last week said U.S. Representative Diana DeGette was fightin' mad when big bad Bill Clinton failed to give her a pat on the head during a White House ceremony about the plight of uninsured children. After Free Willy failed to note that DeGette had drafted legislation widening the Medicaid safety net for kids--allegedly, he wasn't quite sure who that brunette bombshell he'd introduced to the crowd was--Colorado's Princess Diana reportedly did a slow burn about the perceived snub. As a result, later that day White House flunkies rushed to call Colorado reporters and remind them that, yes, DeGette has actually done something besides eat, sleep and breathe since leaving Colorado for Washington.

DeGette spokesman Jamin Spitzer, though, says reports of his boss's pique are exaggerated. "Nothing really happened," insists Spitzer, who especially wants it known that Free Willy does know DeGette--well enough, in fact, to have invited her aboard Air Force One last summer when he jetted west to attend the Summit of the Eight. ("He had his cowboy boots on all day," DeGette told reporters at DIA upon deplaning from what must have been a wild ride.) But though Spitzer is eager to quell the dark tale of DeGette's victimization at the hands of the macho establishment, it isn't the first time reports have circulated suggesting that she doesn't appreciate being dissed by The Man. Despite the free plane ride to town last summer on Free Willy's 747, she reportedly got her knickers into a sailor's half-hitch after Clinton's advance staff forgot to reserve her a seat on the stage for his big arrival speech in Littleton. (Lies, says Spitzer, vicious lies.)

Spitzer also describes as a "non-issue" the cold shoulder the freshman congresswoman got from the Denver Broncos in January, when Pat Bowlen didn't allow her in his private box at the Super Bowl and organizers of the team's victory rally at city hall neglected to reserve a place for her on the dais--all because she was a woman, sniffed the Princess. "The issue's gone," says Spitzer. "There's nothing to worry about." Okay, we'll stop worrying. But if DeGette does, just maybe, feel a little defensive at times, she at least comes by it honestly. After all, as the successor to Pat Schroeder (last seen on TV's Politically Incorrect vigorously defending a woman's right to get pregnant while a rap star on the panel made jokes about his "johnson"), she has a lot of righteous fury to live up to.

Buffed up: Beleaguered crimefighter Tom Koby isn't the only one worried about Boulder's image these days. Just ask Bobbi Barrow, executive director of institutional relations for CU-Boulder and the mastermind behind the school's new "Minds to Match Our Mountains" slogan. According to Barrow, the slogan, now being used on the school's recruiting materials, official publications and radio ads, is part of an effort to convince people that CU isn't just a place where juvenile delinquents go shredding on the slopes when they aren't rioting over their right to do beer bongs in the dorms.

Over the years, CU "has been perceived more as a party school than as an academic institution," acknowledges Barrow, who insists that "the reality is the reverse." The administrator notes that the school has a number of nationally known scholars (in addition to the NCAA's top-ranked Molotov Cocktail Drill Team!) and adds, "The concern is that we let people know that not only do we have mountains here, but we also have academics." The slogan--make that the "positioning statement"--is the first official catchphrase for the university, which up to now has somehow managed to limp along without one. And like the "Minds to Match Our Mountains" adage or don't (does it mean CU profs really do have pointy heads?), when it comes to taxpayer-funded marketing campaigns, it's a far sight better than the dingy "Colorado's Fair" moniker a consultant recently suggested as the new name for the Colorado State Fair. Thankfully, fair organizers quickly shoveled that suggestion into the manure pile.

Also recently relegated to the state's scrap heap was a hot new advertisement for the Colorado Tourism Board. Last week the board announced a $1.2 million summer marketing campaign, set to begin this month and targeted at leisure travelers who read upscale national publications. Tourism boosters had to go begging to the legislature to come up with the dough for the ads, but they swore the state would see results. No one expected to see results this fast, however: One of the ads has already been pulled, because of its suggestion that a visitor to Colorado could find "seashells and arrowheads." Take those trinkets home with you, Elmer, and "the kid inside you" could also be found in violation of the law, for pilfering protected antiquities.

That's better than aiding and abetting suicide, though. Qwest Communications International, the long-distance maverick started by billionaire Phil Anschutz, just rolled out its own $50 million ad campaign in the private sector. According to the Wall Street Journal, one TV ad features a man named Bob perched atop a building while a policeman urges him not to jump--until Bob reveals that he works for "a big long-distance phone company."

"Then jump!" shouts the policeman.
You go, Phil.

Here comes the judge: Denver DUI lawyer Brent M. Martin, charged with a laundry list of crimes after he knocked back a few drinks, climbed into the cockpit of his gold Lexus and rear-ended a county court judge's Nissan last summer on University Boulevard, decided not to let a jury decide his fate last Thursday. Instead, Martin cut a deal with prosecutors by pleading guilty to drunken driving and no contest to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. In exchange, the district attorney's office dropped charges of failure to give aid, possession of marijuana and child abuse (Martin's five-year-old daughter was in the car with him at the time of the accident). He will now be investigated by the probation department and sentenced by County Court Judge Larry Bohning.

During a short hearing last Thursday, Martin, his lawyer, the prosecutor and the judge all spent a small eternity explaining for the record how they all knew each other, how they all knew Judge John Marcucci (whose car Martin unknowingly plowed into), and that they all were still comfortable in their respective roles despite what could be seen as numerous conflicts of interest. See? The system does work.

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