Off Limits

Elected and public officials have it rough. They're cooped up in the stodgy State Capitol or some city administration building all day, and if they do get any exercise, it's usually hopping from one chicken-fried-steak fundraising luncheon to the next. Even if these meals are free (well, free for them, anyway), the calorie count can add up fast. So what's a weight-watching politician to do? The answer, of course, comes from a higher source. Since it seems that no one in Colorado could do the people's business in the first four months of this year without invoking a loftier authority, Westword has designed two exercise programs based on the examples of our God-fearin' leaders. Those who successfully complete the training may advance to the ultimate place (not THAT place!) this August to test their new skills. State officials may not know their way around the separation of church and state but, dammit, these holy rollers can surely find time for the separation of church and plate.

1) Capitol Calisthenics: Hell, those morning prayers in the statehouse all session sure were dull. A better way to wake up and get the blood flowing would be to preach to fellow lawmakers for thirty minutes a day with fire-and-brimstone speeches about SB 114, which would have mandated the posting of the Ten Commandments on the walls of every public school. Insisting that such a proposal isn't unconstitutional but rather "educational and civic" may not be hard at first, but eventually the strain is sure to make you burn. Republican senator John Andrews sheared thousands of calories by following this program. Like many busy people, though, he gave up on his regimen (and SB 114, which he killed for lack of support) in mid-February.

2) Cardiovascular Consecration: Nothing gets the heart racing like worshiping false ideals, so if you can thump a Bible hard and fast without wearing down, this workout program is for you. Governor Bill Owens, Mayor Wellington Webb and DPS superintendent Chip Zullinger got together to flaunt their faith muscles just last Thursday at the thirteenth annual Colorado Prayer Luncheon, where they read passages from the Good Book, pursed their lips and wagged their fingers at anyone who dared to suggest that religion doesn't belong in government. Was that the sweet aroma of sweat in the air -- or was it just political piety we smelled?

3) For the honed of the holiest, there's Jesus Run 2000. On August 19, Highlands Ranch-based Jesus Run Incorporated will hold a 5K fundraiser, which organizers say will draw 2,000 religious runners. The goal is to raise $50,000 in order to promote -- that's right -- Jesus Run 2001, which will include a marathon, a half marathon, a 10K and a 5K, says race director Rob Sigmon, adding that Jesus Run 2000 is "an exciting prelude to an annual event with an eternal impact." Colorado's public officials will no doubt want to sign up now.

The emperor's dirty laundry

The Boulder Valley School District hired a new superintendent last week, and what better place for a man known as King George than the Republic of Boulder?

The King, George F. Garcia, retired last summer as superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District, where he had reigned since 1991. (His wife, Queen Mary Garcia, resigned as superintendent -- or, as the Tucson Weekly calls her, the Leona Helmsley -- of the Sunnyside Unified School District, next door to Tucson, last year as well.) George un-retired, however, when the BVSD last week offered him $150,000 a year for three years, a $23,000 raise over his Arizona salary. BVSD school-board president Stan Garnett glowed about Garcia in Boulder's Daily Camera when the appointment was announced, calling him a "remarkable person" and declaring, "I really believe that Boulder Valley is going to fall in love with him."

But all is not well in the kingdom where Garcia abdicated the throne. According to Tucson Unified school-board member Rosalie Lopez, Garcia had some accountability problems. "I have seen less than a grand performance in the area of being responsive to parents," Lopez says. "He is not prompt about getting back to them. He subscribes to the theory that if you wait long enough, perhaps the complaints will wither away." This won't come as good news to Boulder parents who are already angry with their school district for its lack of response to their concerns on several issues, including a budget shortfall and the consolidation of several schools ("Honor Rolled," April 6). "If Boulder only knew," Lopez adds. "If they [BVSD school-board members] wanted somebody to turn that district around...boy, if they had called me, I would give them a set of questions to ask him. What were they thinking?"

No matter. Lopez says Garcia is a master at spinning uncomfortable issues. "Even in the worst of times, his communications department can put a spin on something and local media lap it up."

If you have a tip for Off Limits, call Jonathan Shikes at 303-293-3555.


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