Be afraid. Be very afraid: Bill Owens has yet to take office, and already people are raining on his parade. For starters, there's Tracy Rogers, former office manager for his brother, lieutenant governor-elect and student-loan scofflaw Joe Rogers, who this week announced that he'd officially severed all political and professional ties with bro Joe, citing "major irrefutable and unsolvable ideological and personal differences." Tracy Rogers says he plans to change his political affiliation back to Democrat and set up his own political action committee, Redemption 2002. In the meantime, he reminds us that "the smallest voice can make the biggest difference--so let your voice be heard." Are you listening, Joe?
And then there's that pest Geraldo Rivera. According to a report from the governor-elect's task force on health, welfare and institutions, the new administration faces some high-profile problems. Not only is the local press reporting on "issues about Youth Corrections" and the Colorado Mental Health Institute, the committee warns, but NBC's coming to town for a Geraldo-narrated program on mentally ill youth and adults serving time in Colorado prisons.
Take heart, Bill. Maybe the former Jerry Rivers will come up as empty as Al Capone's vault.
The real Y2K problem: Saturday's Denver Rocky Mountain News contained a telling correction. "A headline on page 1A Friday describing 1999 as the last year of the 20th century was technically incorrect," the paper grudgingly conceded. "The 20th century actually ends on Dec. 31, 2000. Still, many people around the world plan to celebrate the new century as 1999 turns into 2000."
Many people including those mathematical wizards at the News, who had a lot riding on the result. The next day, editor John Temple introduced the paper's massive "Colorado Millennium 2000" project, a shared venture with Channel 4 that promises to unload a forest full of trivia before the next century comes close to starting. For example, on Sunday we learned that on the last day of 1899, newsboys hawked special-edition copies of the paper for a nickel--which is about five times what a copy costs home subscribers today.
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The next century actually starts about 104 Mike Rosen News columns from now. The conservative KOA-AM/850 talk-show yakker has abandoned his longtime berth at the Denver Post in favor of an every-Friday space in the competing tabloid. "I didn't think I was being appreciated there," says Rosen of the Post, "and after fifteen years of generally affable relations, Dennis Britton's treatment of me was unacceptable." He's talking, of course, about the Post's executive editor, who's inspired an entire Web site (http://members.aol.com/empirvoic/diary.html) devoted to mocking the paper's management. And Rosen's more than willing to join in, having been "dissed by Dennis." Citing a new policy that prevents opinion-writers from endorsing election issues or candidates--essentially, from offering opinions--Britton killed two of Rosen's columns this fall, one about Tom Tancredo, the Republican who triumphed in the Sixth Congressional District, and one about the Jeffco school-bond vote. Meanwhile, Rosen points out, "the news pages were rife with supposedly objective news stories favoring one candidate or issue."
Adding insult to injury, Rosen was told--via editorial-page editor Sue O'Brien--that Britton no longer wanted his column to run in the Colorado Springs Gazette or the Pueblo Chieftain, since the Post, allegedly Colorado's only statewide paper, competes in those areas. So on Saturday, Rosen accepted an offer from the News--for no more money, he points out--and told the Post so long.
The newly reconstructed Britton Go Home page, which made its debut Monday night, includes a real interview with "freeloading phony" Rosen, as well as a phony interview with new Post publisher Gerald Grilly and a phony Britton diary. "January 4," reads one entry. "Hit the ground running: Thirteen minority hires accepted this morning. If only the rest of the bastards in the city room would make it as easy to replace them as Jack Kisling did." Kisling, of course, was the veteran Post writer who died two days after Christmas. Before that, he was subjected to assorted ignominies by Britton--including the killing of his column and the enforcement of an edict that Kisling work at the office rather than at home, which meant dragging an oxygen tank along. But through it all, Kisling was invariably cheerful, uncomplaining--and a treasure to read. He'll be missed.
And now a few words from Jack: Two months before his death, Kisling signed a copy of his one novel, the out-of-print The Crow Flies Crooked, originally published in 1966. "Enjoy now," he wrote. "Don't wait for the movie.