The 2007 Hall of Shame
External Malicious Attackers
For a while we were tempted to blame Paciolan, the company that handled the online sales, for the ticket-buying fiasco that left Colorado Rockies fans with almost no chance of scoring World Series tickets for anywhere close to face value. We even thought about faulting those cocky Boston Red Sox players, who during the Series looked like they were having more fun sweeping the Rockies than a dorm full of college coeds in a Girls Gone Wild video. We really wanted to hold Rockies management responsible — not just for making a deal with Paciolan, but also for fielding faceless, subpar teams for years and then screwing us when the team actually played well. And by God, how we wanted to blame Rockies spokesman Jay Alves, after his jaw-droppingly insincere press conference in which he did some blaming of his own: an "external malicious attack," he alleged, was responsible for crashing the ticketing agent's computer system. In the end, though, we decided to keep a straight face and lay the guilt directly on those mysterious External Malicious Attackers. We don't know who you are, but you must be there, right? Jay said so.
Scott D. Clark
A man whose brutality was matched only by his bluster, 26-year-old Scott D. Clark was arrested in September in a St. Paul, Minnesota, Embassy Suites Hotel and accused of ripping the head off a duck — one of several birds that lived in a pond in the lobby, entertaining guests. Clark, an auditor with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Denver office, reportedly told stunned onlookers that he was hungry. And as if that weren't enough, he then tried to supply his own room service by taking Daffy's bloody body up to the fifth floor, where hotel security caught up with him. (They allege he was drunk, if you can believe that.) When police arrived, Clark asked if he was in trouble. "Yes," he was told. "Why?" he replied. "Because I killed it out of season? Big deal, it's just a fucking duck." Clark then went on to threaten police, telling them he worked for the federal government and would have their jobs. Instead, it's likely that Clark "had" his own job: The agency has suspended him pending the outcome of the case. If convicted of felony cruelty to animals, Clark could face two years in jail, a $5,000 fine — and a lot of angry ducks.
Gustavo "Skippy" Castanon
Even more savage, perhaps, than tearing off the head of a fuzzy little duck reared in a hotel lobby pond is taking a full-grown basset hound around the back of an animal shelter and holding a PB&J party — hold the J. The true meaning of Man's Best Friend became clear in September when shelter volunteer Gustavo Castanon was arrested and charged with being Dog's Worst Friend. An employee had spotted the 34-year-old Denver man, who was half naked and using peanut butter to coax a basset hound into giving him a blow job. Castanon pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced to two years' probation. He was also ordered to stay away from animals.
"Oh, yes, it's ladies night/And the feeling's right/Oh, yes, it's ladies night/Oh, what a night" went the lyrics to the 1979 Kool & the Gang tune. Steve Horner probably can't sue the disco funksters, but this one-man, one-note band did try to knock the kool out of Denver, suing bars and nightclubs (along with the media outlets that promote them, including Westword) for "ladies' night" specials that he says discriminate against men. "I will now make it a point to visit as many ladies' nights as I can every week. I'll have my rights violated, then I'll sue them in county court and collect my $500," said Horner, who's compared himself to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. A self-described anti-feminist agitator, Horner won some and lost some (including his suit against Westword), while others were thrown out of court. "Now I know how black people in the early part of the last century felt about being cheated out of their civil rights," he said.
Personal-injury lawyers certainly don't fall on the list of most-loved professions. In fact, they're hated nearly as much as traffic cops and journalists. But Andrew Speaker, who spent weeks at National Jewish Hospital in Denver being treated for a dangerous and contagious form of tuberculosis, managed to incur the wrath of actual countries, as well as the airline passengers who could have been exposed after Speaker traveled overseas, despite having been diagnosed and warned about his disease. Who was told what, and when, is still a matter of dispute, but eventually Speaker's TB was identified as a less contagious form and he was released from his involuntary quarantine here. But not before he gave Denver a new slogan that boosters might want to use: "People told me if I was anywhere but Denver, I'll die." Thanks, Andrew, for making this city ground zero for another international incident.
Duane "Dog" Chapman
It was a ruff year for Duane "Dog" Chapman, the former Denver bail bondsman and controversial star of his own A&E Network reality show. Chapman found worldwide fame with the 2003 capture of Andre Luster, convicted rapist and heir to the Max Factor fortune who'd fled to Mexico, and briefly ended up in jail himself in 2006 when the Mexican government accused him of kidnapping Luster (those charges were dropped in November). When his book, You Can Run But You Can't Hide, hit shelves over the summer, it was soon headed for bestseller status. But the stress of being famous for far longer than his fifteen minutes must have gotten to Dog. In October, his son Tucker released a recorded conversation in which Dog repeatedly used the word "nigger" to explain why using that word would be bad for his career. He was right. Though Chapman apologized several times, always in agonizing, mullet-headed fashion, his show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, was canceled. Fans rallied outside the A&E building in New York City, and the leader of an African-American organization promoting fatherhood forgave him, but neither was enough to get this Dog a bone. Have we heard the last from the bounty hunter? Probably not, but we wish we had.
How do you pile on a guy who's already been convicted of nineteen counts of insider trading and sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay back $52 million in illegal gains and a $19 million fine? Simple: You just keep in mind the tens of thousands of employees and investors who lost jobs, retirement savings or dignity while former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio unloaded his stock in advance of Qwest's near-collapse, and hope the three-judge panel now considering Nacchio's appeal keeps them in mind, too. When he was in power, Nacchio ran a company routinely blasted for poor service, dismal employee relations and questionable business and accounting practices. After he was forced out in 2002, it was revealed that he'd sold $52 million in stock at the same time he was pumping up the money-bleeding company to investors.
It takes a special kind of politician to inspire ire in the opposition as well as in his own party, and former Jefferson County treasurer Mark Paschall has that gift. So when Paschall, a four-term state representative before becoming Jeffco's treasurer, was indicted in January for offering an aide a $25,000 bonus in return for a cut of the money, his former Capitol colleagues could only laugh. Seriously, they laughed. "I'm saddened by this event," Republican senator Steve Johnson laughingly told Rocky Mountain News reporter Lynn Bartels. "But I don't think a lot of us are surprised." Others interviewees were less kind, including Democratic senators Lois Tochtrop ("Mark Paschall always wanted his picture on the front page. He finally got it") and Bob Hagedorn ("He looks good in county orange"). The right-wing conservative left behind a string of ill-advised, illogical and just plain ill headlines from his clashes with Jeffco commissioners and his legislative days. But that last, cheeseball act is probably how people will remember him most.
Until more sleaze spills out at Paschall's trial, now slated to start in February. Looks like 2008 is off to a sinfully shameful start.
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