National Western Stock Show CEO Pat Grant may have forgotten to brief some speakers before they addressed the town's moovers and shakers at last Friday's Boots 'n Business Luncheon. Denver has the "best" Stock Show facilities, said one of the honored rodeo stars of "yesteryear." Echoed National Western announcer and emcee Boyd Polhamus: "You don't know what a gem you have here."
But Grant would like that gem to get a $48 million polish, courtesy of the Denver taxpayers who could vote on a Stock Show facilities bond issue as early as next November. For starters, Grant suggests, the city could tear down the fifty-year-old Coliseum, which the National Western rents for $1 a season (and with that hip new signage, the space is looking better than it has for years); the city could then expand the buildings on the north side of I-70 to make up for the disappeared Coliseum. (Stock Show tip for 2002: Beer is more expensive at the Coliseum than it is at the facilities north of I-70, for reasons unknown.)
Grant didn't wait for the Stock Show to gallop into town to reveal his edifice complex, however. Studying the pro-jail donations for last fall's failed ballot measure, Luchia Brown, one of the leaders of Citizens for a Better Denver, says she expected to find the usual "who's who of construction companies" and other businesses that benefit from big building projects. The surprising standout? A $10,000 donation from the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. Howdy, pardner.
Pedal power: For Governor Bill Owens, alternative transportation means riding in the back of a state-owned car rather than driving himself each day from his Aurora home (where he and his family still live) to work at the State Capitol. But Colorado cyclists, tired of being left in the political dust, would like to change that -- despite the advice of a gubernatorial advisor in the Office of Policy and Initiatives, who told them not to bother trying.
Last year, Bicycle Colorado, in conjunction with several smaller cycling organizations, launched a postcard write-in campaign to convince the governor to consider a $16.6 million bike path as part of a proposed $630 million plan to improve transportation along the Highway 36 corridor. The effort, called Build the Bikeway, found support in several communities along the route. "As a tax-paying citizen and voter, I believe the Bikeway would be a tremendous asset to our area, benefiting residents, employers, and businesses along the U.S. 36 corridor," read one of the cards. "It is a good use of my tax dollars."
Owens wasn't buying it. "As Governor, one of my top priorities is the improvement of Colorado's infrastructure," he responded this past June to one of his postcard pen pals. "In this instance, I am concerned about spending an estimated $16.6 million of taxpayer funds on a bike path that will only serve a limited segment of the population. Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as I have discussions regarding the proposal on U.S. 36."
Since then, though, any gubernatorial thoughts of the bicycle riders have been sidetracked. At a December meeting between Jason Hopfer, one of the guv's top advisors, Martha Roskowski, executive director of Bicycle Colorado, and Neal Lurie, head of Build the Bikeway, Hopfer apparently suggested that it was high time for bikers to hit the road. (Hopfer did not return a phone call from Westword.) As Roskowski reported in her organization's newsletter, after Hopfer acknowledged that Owens had received over 1,500 postcards supporting the Bikeway, he told the bike path supporters, "You can stop sending them now -- we got the message."
But rather than stop, Roskowski plans to pick up the pace. "I replied that if the governor had reconsidered his position, we'd be happy to convey the news to the bicycle community," she says. "It was a very cordial conversation. He said, 'Stop sending postcards,' and we said, 'Fat chance.'
"Our best weapon is all the people out there who would like to see a connection between Boulder and Denver," she continues. "We are never going to get Governor Owens to agree that a bike path is a good use of state funds. But we can make it enough of an issue for him and bring it up again and again until we wear him down to the point where he says, 'Okay, it's not worth opposing a stupid little bike path that is only worth $16 million.'
"Intentionally and specifically opposing the bike path is not a good idea politically at this point," she adds, pointing out that Owens is up for re-election. "Elected officials always tend to listen more carefully when they are on the campaign trail. So no way we are going to stop sending postcards. That's our muscle."
And the group may not have to rely on postcards for long. In March, Bicycle Colorado will move its offices from Salida to Denver, where it will be closer to the Capitol...and the ears of politicians heading out on the campaign trail.
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Guys and dolls: Bobble Head dolls are the latest sports memorabilia craze. They're being handed out by the handful at pro-sports venues and sold even faster by collectibles stores and other retailers. But in Denver, athletes who are honored this way seem to be cursed, as if the Bobble Heads were some kind of terrible voodoo dolls.
Take Terrell Davis, for example: The once-sainted Broncos running back has suffered a number of terrible leg injuries and a strip-club scandal, and may be on his way out the door in Denver. Then there's Brian Griese, who missed a big chunk of this year with a concussion that had the Broncos quarterback's actual head so bobbly he thought he was Tonya Harding for several weeks. Denver Nuggets player Antonio McDyess? Hasn't played a game yet this season. And, of course, no one in Denver will ever forget Dan Issel, who was issued a Bobble Head on the same night he cursed out a fan ("Go have another beer, you Mexican piece of shit"), thus ending his not-so-glorious tenure as the Nuggets' head coach. Former Nugs coach Doug Moe is set to be bobblized on January 16; he must be shaking in his high-tops.
In this election year, though, doll makers are missing a real market: political-figure Bobble Heads! Although Jesse Ventura has one, most pols don't -- which doesn't mean they shouldn't (they already have reputations for wobbly stances). U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Colorado's former attorney general, surely merits a doll for her handling of a 1996 class-action lawsuit (currently on trial in Washington, D.C.) alleging that Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs badly mismanaged $10 billion in trust accounts. Then there's Lieutenant Governor Joe Rogers, who, despite garnering national attention as one of the highest-ranking black elected officials in the country, couldn't even keep that job (which requires doing next to nothing). Rogers, always on the outs with Owens, his boss, has said he will seek some other form of elected office -- much to Owens's head-bobbing satisfaction, no doubt.