Gary Barnett, the still-on-paid-leave-for-two-more-weeks coach of the University of Colorado football team, finally got to sing Tuesday before the panel investigating whether CU used alcohol or sex (as if the two were ever independent of each other) in the Buffs' recruiting program.
"There is no question in my mind that inappropriate behavior occurred," Barnett told the commission, which is supposed to report back to the CU Board of Regents by April 30. "There is no question that the behavior of the ten young people involved was the result of their own poor decisions and under the influence of alcohol."
Those ten young people include at least four football players, along with three women who've sued CU in federal court, charging that they were sexually assaulted after a December 7, 2001, recruiting party -- and that the school failed to provide them with equal protection under the law. But any "inappropriate behavior" by players doesn't mean that his department acted inappropriately, Barnett continued. "I can't live their lives for them."
No, the Buffs have someone else assigned to do that: Officer Don Spicely, a thirteen-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department who for several of those years has been a liaison between the BPD and the football team.
"We have no evidence or reason to believe Officer Spicely did anything wrong," BPD chief Mark Beckner said shortly after the cop's name surfaced in the CU scandal. "We know Officer Spicely as a dedicated, proud officer who takes his responsibility seriously. He is very disturbed by the speculation and innuendo that has occurred."
"Officer Don Spicely's assignment at that time (2001) was as a liaison to the CU football team," explained a January 29 statement released by the City of Boulder. "This assignment (held by many different officers over the years) dated back to the 1980s, when relationships between the police and CU athletes were strained. As we do with many other community groups, neighborhoods and other agencies, we actively pursue the development of working relationships with the University of Colorado and segments of the student population to address problems and issues. This is a central component to the policing philosophy we embrace in Boulder, often referred to as Community Oriented Policing. As expected, Officer Spicely had developed a close working relationship with the football team and the coaches, which served us well in resolving issues."
Except that in Boulder, nothing is ever resolved. Not JonBenét Ramsey's murder, and not the investigation into CU's recruiting policies. On Thursday, the co-chairs of that panel will ask the Board of Regents for more time, since their probe has been hampered by such problems as a promised tip line that has yet to be installed and key witnesses who have yet to testify. Witnesses like Officer Spicely -- sounds like an R-rated version of Officer Friendly, doesn't it? -- who has retained a lawyer and has thus far successfully avoided appearing before the commission.
Here's how his testimony could go -- if his speech were written by Stephen Sondheim to the tune of "Gee, Officer Krupke" and the CU football team were as well-behaved (not to mention athletically gifted) as the gang members in West Side Story:
Dear kindly Mister Spicely
You gotta understand
When we're recruiting nicely
It just looks out of hand
'Cause CU's known for parties
The girls here all are drunks
Golly, Betsy, naturally we're punks...
Gee, Officer Spicely
We're very upset
We never had the lovin'
Every CU guy should get
We ain't like the Air Force
We're trained for the score
Deep down inside us there is more...
Dear kindly Joyce and Peggy
The media treats us rough
With all their ink and airtime
They don't honor a Buff
To get those juicy headlines
Like Nebraska, they attack
Goodness gracious, when will Coach fight back?
Right! Officer Spicely
Since you're always there
These boys don't need a stripper
They need a coed's sweet care
It's just their high spirits
Put a flag on the play
So go tell Chief Beckner it's okay...
Dear Officer Spicely
We're down on our knees
'Cause that's where girls can give
a guy a blow job with ease.
Dear Officer Spicely
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Spicely...
Room to Glow
At the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability conference in Washington, D.C., late last month, Wes McKinley, the foreman of the Rocky Flats grand jury and co-author of the book The Ambushed Grand Jury, received a Whistleblower Award "for ongoing work to educate the public on the environmental threat of nuclear weapons production." Jacque Brever, a former Rocky Flats worker and FBI informant who'd testified before the grand jury, also received a Whistleblower Award from the nonprofit, "for risking her life and career by blowing the whistle on environmental crimes at Rocky Flats and continued efforts to protect the public from its contamination."
But for both Brever and McKinley, as well as his co-author, attorney Caron Balkany, the real prize had come a week earlier, when Congressman Mark Udall -- whose district includes the former nuclear-weapons plant -- sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, asking them to look into the book's claims that environmental crimes at Rocky Flats had been covered up by the Justice Department. Considering that Udall's predecessor, David Skaggs, had stymied an attempt by the grand jurors to testify before Congress at the last second, this looked like a major bureaucratic breakthrough.
"I am writing to ask if your agencies have examined these allegations and if so, what has been done to address the cleanup of materials and areas that relate to these allegations," Udall wrote in a letter dated March 16, shortly after the book's release stirred up renewed questions over the Justice Department's twelve-year-old settlement with Rockwell International ("Toxic Shocker!" March 11).
Citing the confidential nature of grand jury proceedings in his response to Udall, EPA regional administrator Robert Roberts declined to deal with some of the book's charges, including the alleged midnight burning of toxic waste, noting that "a report summarizing the buffer zone sampling results will be available in late 2004. Although this investigation was not done because of the alleged illegal incineration activities discussed in this book, this type of sampling and analysis, and subsequent cleanup if needed, will assure that the site will be safe for a refuge worker and all those that visit the refuge. The incinerator itself has been removed and disposed of as radioactive waste."
CDPHE executive director Doug Benevento took on two of the book's allegations. "With respect to the claims concerning the use of the incinerator, the department is confident that the comprehensive soil sampling that has occurred and continues to be conducted at the site would identify any dispersed environmental contamination from an incinerator in this building," he wrote. Brever, who believes she was involved in that illegal incineration, has also charged that toxic wastes were sprayed on portions of the site; according to Benevento, "a corrective action decision/record of decision for the west spray fields was issued in September 1995, and No Further Action was warranted."
The U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife will soon take over the Rocky Flats site from the Department of Energy and turn it into a wildlife refuge; the department is taking comments on the proposal until April 26 at http://rockyflats.fws.gov. But Roberts has already offered this assurance to Udall: "We are confident that once all remediation activities are complete and the remedy is operating properly and successfully, that the site will be safe for the refuge worker and all that visit the site."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
In drafting the legislation that made the refuge possible, Udall and Senator Wayne Allard pushed for some public access, and aide Lawrence Pacheco says Udall is confident that the cleanup in the buffer zone will be at "the highest level." As for other allegations in the book, "Our office has encouraged the sources for those accusations to go to the EPA and the health department, so that they can continue to vigorously go about the cleanup process."
And with that, the whistleblowers' hopes that Udall would help unseal the secrets of Rocky Flats fell flat. "Perhaps you are unaware that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refused to consider our comments," McKinley and Balkany wrote Udall last week. "Despite receiving copies of The Ambushed Grand Jury, no one from any health agency, EPA or CDPHE has asked us to provide the information about the location of some of the contamination we discuss in the book. In light of your request, however, Jacque Brever, who worked in plutonium operations at Rocky Flats for ten years, will be glad to accompany you and any health officials you choose to Rocky Flats, in the presence of the media, to show the places where she is aware that contaminated wastes were dumped in areas proposed to be open to recreation.
"Appropriate personal protection gear would be required."