Year in Review: The 2013 Hall of Shame, part two
Every year, we bring you the best examples of the worst behavior that we can find from the past 365 days of news stories. And from secessionists to bigoted bakers to Tom Martino and Mother Nature, there was plenty of shame and shmuckery to go around in this year's Hall of Shame.
We selected the ten most egregious offenders of common decency for your reading pleasure, and served up the first five Hall of Shamers yesterday. Here are the rest.
Matt Russell and Tom Heckert The Denver Broncos weren't supposed to have a rocky off-season between Peyton Manning's first and second year here. Sure, the pathetic loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the first playoff game of Number 18's era was disheartening, but it was surmountable. As was the loss of Elvis Dumervil during Faxgate. But then came the drama over star linebacker Von Miller, who ended up being suspended for six games for a variety of pot-related infractions. And following that: the arrests of not one but two front-office executives (close advisors to executive vice president John Elway), both accused of driving drunk. Matt Russell was the first to have his case become public -- and the most egregious scofflaw, as well. The director of player personnel was booked on July 6 after police said he hit two other vehicles in Breckenridge, including a police car, and injured an officer. Russell, who was celebrating the big 4-0, registered a 0.246 percent blood alcohol content, which is normal for most fans at a game, but three times higher than the legal limit for driving. Tom Heckert, meanwhile, had been popped on June 11 in Parker, registering a high blood alcohol content. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns exec had only just been hired as director of pro personnel by the team in May. Both men were suspended without pay in July -- Russell indefinitely and Heckert for one month -- and asked to get treatment. The team had kept Heckert's arrest quiet until after the story about Russell broke. Team officials later apologized, but denied that they had a problem with drinking culture in the front office.
Memorial-crashing gun activists Coloradans love their guns -- more than life itself, it often seems. That ethos was on display loud and clear in July when the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other pro-gun groups decided to crash a one-year memorial for the victims of the Aurora theater shootings by reminding everyone how great guns are. One gun-rights activist told the Denver Post that some of the members of her group planned to bring sympathy cards and that she wanted people to see that "gun owners are not all bad, crazy people, and we do care even though we oppose the legislation that has passed." Perhaps there would have been a better way to do that, however, than to show up at a memorial for the families and friends of people who were injured and killed in a gun massacre. Granted, the memorial also served as a platform for members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, who read off the names of thousands of gun-violence victims from across the country, including the students killed at Sandy Hook. But it was still a poor choice.
Craig Brittain The practice of posting naked pics of your ex online got a name in 2010, and in 2013, "revenge porn" got a face in Colorado: Craig Brittain of Colorado Springs. His website, Is Anybody Down, allowed people to anonymously upload pictures, usually nude photos, along with information about the person pictured. Modeled after another notorious site, called Is Anyone Up? (which was shut down during the course of an FBI investigation), Brittain's site also provided victims of the revenge-porn site with a link to a service called Takedown Hammer, which offered to facilitate removal of the images -- for a price: $200 to $300. While Brittain tried to distance himself from Takedown Hammer -- otherwise he could have been accused of blackmail, which is illegal -- it appears that he was on the receiving end of at least some, if not all, of the money, according to news reports. After coming under intense scrutiny from both the public and law enforcement, Brittain disabled the site in April, alternately saying he was remorseful and disappointed. But according to other reports, he transferred his material to another site, then disabled that one as well and briefly tried to start an Indiegogo campaign giving people the chance to pay to keep him from continuing to produce revenge-porn sites. What an altruist! In May, he said he was putting it all behind him in order to become a private investigator and to write his autobiography.
Tom Martino Tom Martino's reign of error hit yet another low point the weekend before Christmas, when the radio personality -- currently with KHOW-AM 630 after three decades in the business -- was arrested and charged with punching his wife, Holly, in the face and giving her a bloody nose. Police said the two had argued in their car; Holly was taken to a hospital. Martino, a businessman and consumer "advocate" who actually makes people pay to appear on his referral list, is known locally as "The Troubleshooter," but the troubles have primarily been his own in recent years. In February, he settled a dramatic two-year-long personal bankruptcy case -- in which he'd been accused of moving assets into his wife's name (charges that were later shown to be unfounded) -- for $3.6 million; the bankruptcy was brought on by a series of real-estate and other business problems. Aggressive, irritating and litigious, the sixty-year-old Martino has always liked to confront people on and off the air, whether in court or in Burger King parking lots, as was the case in 2009, when Martino lured a Westword reporter to the lot and tried to confront him about a story he'd written regarding Martino's questionable involvement with a product named Efusjon. In the case of the confrontation with his wife, Martino released the following statement after his release from jail: "Holly and I remain deeply in love and committed to each other and to our family. The incident that happened Friday night was a foolish mistake. We were both drinking too much. We got into an argument that escalated over a struggle for a cell phone. We were both inadvertently injured, and we were not trying to hurt each other. My over-reaction was uncalled for. I am ashamed of my behavior. I should've walked away. I also believe alcohol was a major catalyst. We are dealing with our issues through professional Christian spiritual counseling, with mutual love and support. We advise anyone dealing with these struggles to seek help before there is an incident."
Mother Nature "Colorado couldn't catch a break this year," reads a section of Washington Post writer Dennis Mersereau's December 23 roundup of "The 5 top U.S. weather stories of 2013." And he couldn't be more right. From the horrific Black Forest, Royal Gorge and West Fork fires and the flooding that devastated parts of fourteen counties and took at least nine lives, to the unseasonable below-zero freeze that gripped the state even before winter officially set in, Colorado felt the brunt of Mother Nature's wrath in 2013. In fact, two of the top five events in Mersereau's story were from Colorado. The Black Forest fire, ranked number three, was "the most destructive fire in Colorado's history, burning over 14,000 acres of land and destroying over 500 homes," he wrote. And the floods were number two: "Right on the heels of their massive wildfires and record heat, the eastern half of the state experienced an incredible period of intense rainfall that led to devastating flooding. Boulder saw over 17 inches of rain by the end of the deluge, giving the city 85 percent of its yearly rainfall in less than two weeks." Of course, the real stories were much more personal, and more tragic than any list could relate. No doubt about it: In 2013, Mother Nature was a real bitch. For more from 2013, read this week's cover story, "Total Recall: Year in Review"