Off Limits

Billy, don't be a hero: Funny how GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Owens can't seem to remember just what he was doing back when every other young man in America was sweating bullets about being sent to Vietnam. Funny, too, how Owens openly acknowledged to Westword in March that his being a student in those days helped keep him out of the military ("Life of the Party," April 9) but then told the Denver Post that he hadn't used his status as a book-learner to stay away from the front. Maybe Billy figured us pinkos to be fellow travelers on the subject of student deferments but was afraid all those shotgun-toting farmers and ranchers who subscribe to the Post would object to the fact that he took part in pro-war demonstrations during his school days while not volunteering to pick up a rifle himself. According to the Post, Owens, a former Boy Scout, lied to reporter Mark Obmascik, claiming he hadn't had a student deferment. When federal records proved otherwise, Owens told Obmascik he must have forgotten. Probably the memory lapse was brought on by post-traumatic stress syndrome--Owens, after all, spent a lot of time breathing Charlie Duke's fumes up at the statehouse.

Speaking of noxious odors, get a whiff of the Post's coverage of its own David Algeo, the business reporter whose arrest on charges of felony sexual assault on a child (the 42-year-old pled guilty last week to having sex with a fourteen-year-old girl he met over the Internet) has been largely ignored by his own paper. Though Westword and Channel 4 have run stories on the reporter's arrest--and the Rocky Mountain News printed a full-length story after Algeo's guilty plea--the Post's coverage has consisted of a two-paragraph blurb at the bottom of last Tuesday's Metro Digest. Maybe the paper figured if it kept things short, it could skip the part about Algeo telling his young victim he worked for the Rocky.

By the way, no such deception took place this past Friday, when Westword reporter Tony Perez-Giese--the man who, irony of ironies, wrote our story about Algeo's arrest--was popped himself by Denver's finest outside the Bluebird Theater on East Colfax. The charge against Perez-Giese, who proudly displayed his Westword press pass before being dragged downtown: disobeying an officer's order to disperse. Instead of turning tail as commanded, Perez-Giese stuck around to watch officers haul in a couple of rowdy music lovers--and one hapless soul who couldn't get his bicycle unlocked in time--outside the Jesus Lizard concert.

At press time, meanwhile, the Post had yet to offer readers so much as a blurb about its latest scribe to be reeled in by the boys in blue. That would be sports columnist Woody Paige, who earlier this month fell prey to the state's "Hot Friday Nights" drunk-driving campaign. Paige's day of reckoning came July 10, when he failed a breath test at a roadside checkpoint on South Santa Fe Drive and was issued a summons for driving while ability-impaired. "He was a very, very nice person who did not give us any problems," says Douglas County Sheriff's spokesman Bernard Harris. "We checked every fifth car," adds Harris, and Paige's 1995 Mitsubishi "happened to be the one we checked."

The Woodman, though, says he was targeted because he made the mistake of pulling over when he saw the checkpoint sign--and because a female officer on the scene loudly accused him and his passenger, an attractive blonde who told officers she was a drug and alcohol rehab counselor, of trading places in the front seat. "She was shouting that out: 'They switched places! They switched places!'" says Paige.

The 52-year-old Mouth from the South admits to having half a bottle of wine during dinner but denies any attempt to conceal the fact that he was driving (he was in the driver's seat, not the passenger's seat, when the whip came down). "If you saw my car, you'd see it's impossible for anyone to change positions in that car," he says. "I have a two-seater." Looking back, he says, he should have told the "lady officer" who accused him of scrambling over his passenger, "Let's try and do that."

Paige's account and that of the cops differ on a few other points. Woody says he wasn't arrested; police say he was. Paige says authorities eventually allowed his passenger to drive him home; an officer who spoke to Westword says the comely rehab counselor blew over the limit on the Breathalyzer, too, and that a friend had to come get the two.

The attitude of cops on the scene was, "'This one's a trophy. This one's a keeper,'" says that same officer. Other authorities, though, seem to have a soft spot for the Woodman, who's scheduled to appear in court August 19. A woman answering the phone at the Douglas County Court last week seemed downright piqued that Paige was about to get some pub. "How many of you people are gonna call about this?" she demanded angrily. "The Denver Post's called four times!"

Must be working really hard on that story.


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