Off Limits

Stupor bowl: Not so very long ago--three weeks, in fact, right before the Broncos were to face off against the New York Jets in the playoffs--Mayor Wellington Webb again refused to make any wacky wagers on the outcome of the game. While other politicians were betting Rocky Mountain oysters against New York strips, Webb stood firm. Although those cross-country bets make good copy, Denver's mayor said he thought they jinxed the game.

Wrong again. At last weekend's U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in Washington, D.C., Webb let himself be talked into making a very public wager with the mayor of Atlanta on the outcome of the Super Bowl. Which, as you may have heard, Denver won. As a result, City Hall will soon accept delivery of a package containing a case of Coke, peaches, peanuts and two slabs of ribs. With cries of "three-peat" ringing in his head, Webb has abandoned that "silly superstition," says spokesman Andrew Hudson. And to fend off the sort of silliness displayed by the Broncos in their will they/won't they parade stance last week, the city's planning to negotiate such agreements well in advance of any future wins.

Already working well in advance were Denver's dailies, which had their bogus extra editions ready before the Super Bowl even ended--earning the Denver Post a can't-buy-that-kind-of-publicity shot on Fox as the clock ran out. Nor could you buy the kind of publicity lavished on both the Post and the Rocky Mountain News a few minutes later: as the Official Riot Fuel of Super Bowl XXXIII.

Oh, never mind, then: If the National Enquirer had simply understood that Boulder investigators were looking for bear, rather than bare, facts, photographer Stephen Miles might never have been hauled into this whole JonBenet Ramsey mess. Instead, in a November 1997 cover story, the Boulder resident was labeled a pedophile--based on nothing more than the fact that he'd been busted almost a decade before for possessing photographs of a naked sixteen-year-old boy, pictures that Miles himself had taken--and tagged as John Ramsey's primary suspect in the killing of his daughter. Miles sued both the Enquirer and John Ramsey (talk about strange bedfellows!) for defamation; in December Ramsey was excused from the suit. And last week U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer dismissed the case altogether, granting the Enquirer's motion for summary judgment.

Meanwhile, the hunt continues for the most notorious bear in Colorado history. In just a few days, a Particular Santa Claus Bear, as he's referred to by the Boulder District Attorney's Office, has eclipsed the fame of both Glory, that Beanie Baby All-Star slut, and globe-trotter Magellan T. Bear (a Colorado grade-school mascot now living in the Smithsonian after assorted adventures). On January 28, Boulder DA Alex Hunter put out an APB for information on a bear that appears in police pictures of JonBenet's bedroom. "The bear is about a foot long, with torso and face covered in furry white fabric," the announcement states. "It is wearing a red long-sleeved bolero jacket (the bear's chest and stomach are exposed; there are no buttons) and pants, trimmed along all the edges, including the cuffs, in material that looks like curly lamb's wool. Also trimmed with this material is a red Santa hat. A half-inch wide black belt is strapped around the bear's stomach, and attached to the belt with a shiny gold loop is a brown pouch about three inches long."

Hunter forgot to add that the bear is reclining in a suggestive, post-cigarette pose on the twin bed in JonBenet's room.

Yes sir, Office-er: No sooner had John Stone taken over as Jefferson County sheriff January 12 than he started issuing orders. For starters, he's decided to change the name of the agency he was elected to head from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

As Stone, who'd worked for the Lakewood Police Department before serving as a Jeffco county commissioner for twelve years, explains it: "First of all, it's not a department of the county, it's a separate office. You don't call the treasurer's office the 'treasurer's department.' It functions differently from a county department. Police departments are departments of city government; the sheriff's office is an independent office. It's more of a traditional thing with me...I'm just basically putting it back to its traditional name."

But some law enforcers also think it makes them sound more important. "It goes back to six or seven years ago--there was a big push by the National Sheriff's Association to change the names because they are, in fact, elected officials," says Captain Frank Henn of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office. "The larger organizations are more apt to change to 'office' because it's more expensive to change letterhead, cards, etc.--so while they're changing, the smaller ones tend to keep 'department.'"

Sheriff Stone pledges there will be no cost to Jefferson County taxpayers. "We'll use up the paper that has 'department' on it--same with any of the decals--so we'll do it with no cost to the county. That was a consideration. We'll be weaning out all the 'department' and change to 'office' once existing stock is used up."

As for more permanent items, well, yes, at some point they'll need new steenkin' badges.


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