Frank Sullivan is a staunch party man. At a fundraiser last year, the District 8 precinct captain and longtime Democratic foot soldier refused to let Jan Tyler, a Republican candidate for the Denver Election Commission, even speak. (He says he told her, "Hell, no. This a Democratic Party, and you're not a Democrat.")
So it's no surprise that Sullivan is hopping mad at Mayor Wellington Webb, who last month appointed former chief of staff Stephanie Foote to the posts of public works director and deputy mayor, which means that she'll step into the mayor's sizable shoes if he leaves office for any reason -- say, to take a job in Al Gore's presidential administration. Unlike Webb and the rest of his cabinet members, any one of whom could have been named mayor-in-waiting, Foote is a Republican.
"I haven't the faintest idea why the hell he did that," Sullivan says. In fact, he's so disgruntled over the city's Republican heir apparent that at last month's Denver Democratic Executive Committee meeting, he suggested that the committee officially admonish the mayor. His protest came at the end of the meeting, however, when some people had already left and others were grabbing their coats and hats, so the committee didn't take any action. But a month later, Sullivan's still talking about taking action.
"The proposal I will make," he says, "will be something along these lines: 'We, the executive committee of the Democratic Party, are displeased with your choice of a Republican as deputy mayor and would ask you to reconsider your decision.'" Sullivan, whose district is made up of neighborhoods around City Park, said he doesn't want to censure the mayor; he simply wants Webb to learn, in a public fashion, that some Democrats are unhappy with the call.
Sullivan admits that he's been unhappy with the mayor before -- back in 1991, when his son, John Sullivan, wasn't selected to serve on the Denver Election Commission because Webb's appointee to the commission didn't vote for him and "the mayor didn't call me to say, 'Frank, I can't do it, and here's why.'" But he insists that his current feelings stem strictly from a mayoral decision that makes no sense to a "partisan" and "committed" Democrat.
Webb's press secretary, Andrew Hudson, points out that Republican Bruce Alexander served as deputy mayor under Webb from 1991 to 1993 and describes Foote as an "incredibly talented person who understands city government well." And even some members of Sullivan's committee agree. "Clearly, [Webb] trusts her and respects her and values her dedication to public service for the city," says Lois Court, who serves on the committee and, it should be noted, is an employee of the mayor's Office of Neighborhood Response. "She must carry out his vision. So from that standpoint, I personally have no trouble with her being appointed." But Landri Taylor, the former chair of the committee, disagrees. "As a member of the Denver Democratic party, it behooves us to voice our opinion that we want Democrats in all positions."
Still, Sullivan may have to get comfortable with the idea of a Republican deputy mayor -- and soon. He missed his chance to submit a resolution admonishing the mayor when the deadline passed last week. According to committee chairwoman Sharron Klein (wife of former RTD board chairman Ben Klein), Sullivan's proposal was due ten days before the next meeting, set for February 15.
I thought I saw a puddy tat
Elephants and donkeys aren't the only members of the wild kingdom that don't get along. On February 3, the same day that Ocean Journey celebrated its one millionth visitor, one of its two Sumatran tigers, either Bali or Java, caught an unsuspecting brush-tongued parrot, known as a lory, by surprise, mashing the fiery red bird up against a wall in a smear of feathers and bird parts; the gigantic cat then picked up the dead lory in its mouth and paraded around for several minutes before staff members herded it out of the bewildered public's view. Only a few telltale red feathers remained, floating on the surface of the tigers' swimming pond. "That's an expensive toy," one Ocean Journey volunteer quipped after the incident.
Lories, which come in many sizes and colors and are native to Indonesia's rainforests, cost upwards of $250 each; and the aquarium has -- make that had -- seventeen of them flying freely inside the exhibit. Classified as endangered or threatened depending on their type, Ocean Journey's lories were purchased from a breeder in the United States and introduced into the exhibit at the end of October to increase its "biodiversity."
"Lories are basically small- to medium-sized brightly colored parrots that are very active and noisy, especially while eating," according to an October press release issued by Ocean Journey. "They are typically eight to twelve inches in height and weigh less than a pound. These characteristics, along with their physical location, should make them easy to pick out from Ocean Journey's other avian residents!"
Aviculturists at the aquarium tried to keep the birds away from the tigers by putting bird feeders on another side of the exhibit, says spokeswoman Robin Morgan. But "apparently one of them flew into the tiger habitat and landed right next to the tiger...It didn't make it." Ocean Journey will take measures to prevent it from happening again, she adds.
Even if the tigers have developed a taste for expensive parrot-meat entrees, at least they won't be able to get into the fish tanks for dessert. The fish there are having enough problems as it is: Ocean Journey CEO Jim Hekkers told the Denver Post last month that as many as 2,000 fish died in the first few months of the aquarium's existence. And employee complaints (including one about a fish that picked apart a ray bit by bit while a wedding party was posing for pictures in front of the tank) eventually led to a now-concluded investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This place beats the Discovery Channel any day.
More exciting than any TV show is the drama set to play out at the State Capitol, where lawmakers will be spending a lot of time thinking about what should and shouldn't be posted on walls. A bill requiring Colorado public schools to post the Ten Commandments in every classroom was passed by the Senate Education Committee last week. Sponsored by Senator John "Call Me Moses" Andrews, the bill would also require schools to begin each day with a moment of silence.
The CityGrille, a favorite hangout of many state legislators, has taken note by uncovering a posting of its own -- one that violates three of the Ten Commandments, tempts a fourth, and could, in some cases, dance at the edge of two others: A framed collage consisting of about a dozen nudie pictures that had been covered by an oversized Rocky Mountain News restaurant review is now back in full view above the urinal in the men's bathroom.
If you have a tip, call Jonathan Shikes at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail email@example.com.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.