At the Colorado Legislature, you often can't tell the players without a scorecard -- and fortunately, Rocky Mountain News reporter Lynn Bartels is there to keep score. When she's not breaking news (and there's been plenty this session), she's offering amusing, insightful play-by-play on the various wins and losses. Unlike Denver's sports-page stars, politicians play for keeps. But so does Bartels.
It took him long enough, but in the end, John Hickenlooper made the right decision. Disappointing those who wanted him to run for governor (and divide the Colorado Democratic Party in the process), he opted instead to complete a whole term (at least) as mayor of Denver, continuing to push the impressive, ambitious agenda that has already put him on the national political map. Today and tomorrow, the city; there's time enough for the world after that.
Democratic state senator Ken Gordon got his campaign for Colorado Secretary of State off to a rousing start with a quirky, hilarious Internet ad poking fun at other politicians' more memorable stunts, including John Hickenlooper's not-quite-free-fall to push Amendment C. But Gordon didn't stop at just jumping out of a plane; he also paid homage to former senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell with a horseback bit during which he warily asked of his horse's wrangler, "Why is he called 'Widow Maker'?" We don't know if this is how campaigns are won -- but it's sure what makes them fun.
We couldn't make up a story this outlandish. Ten years ago, former society scribe (for 87 days), artist and car-parker Ivan Suvanjieff decided he needed to do something to convince kids to stop the violence, and so started PeaceJam. Today he and partner Dawn Engle run a global operation out of an Arvada bungalow, organizing more than a dozen conferences for kids around the world each year and answering to a board of Nobel Peace Prize winners. The Nobels are all coming to Denver in September 2006 -- only Oslo will have seen a larger group of Nobel Peace Prize winners -- to mark the tenth anniversary of PeaceJam at a major gathering of thousands of youth from around the world. Give peace a chance -- PeaceJam did.

BEST COLORADO AMBASSADOR -- SENIOR DIVISION

Jack A.Weil

Sixty years ago, Rockmount Ranchwear's Jack A. Weil put the snap in snap-button shirts. And today, as the country's oldest working CEO at 105 (as of March 28), he's still full of snappy repartee. CBS News profiled Jack A. (his son, Jack B., works in the business, as does grandson Steve) earlier this year, following him through Rockmount's once-and-future headquarters at 1626 Wazee Street, showing its museum of Westernwear as well as its current lines, coveted by stars and working cowboys alike. But the real showstopper, as always, was Jack A., who had this reply to the reporter's question of how he wanted to be remembered: "I don't give a damn."
After 36 years in Aspen Park, the historic Coney Island hot dog stand is now an official resident of Bailey, where the giant stucco landmark will be open by summer. But should gentrification -- or one of those wildfires that always seem headed for Bailey -- endanger the hot dog's new home, we have the perfect placement for Coney Island's next incarnation: Tiny Town, just off U.S. 285 along South Turkey Creek Road. Frankly, we relish how majestic that building would look sitting by the tiny railroad, near all those diminutive dwellings. Hot dog!
With Union Station slated for a major overhaul, it looked like one of its tenants might have reached the end of the line. The Colorado Midland Railway, the oldest model-railroad layout in the country, has been tucked into the basement of Union Station since 1935, where it's been run by volunteers from the Denver Society of Model Railroaders. But a model railroad wasn't in the plans for Union Station's redevelopment -- not until one particular train buff jumped on board. The layout, which is open to the public for two hours on the last Friday of every month, is a particular favorite of John and Teddy Hickenlooper, and thanks to some mayoral maneuvering, this train will be pulling into the station for years to come.

BEST ESTIMATE FOR WHEN
T-REX WILL BE FINISHED

November 17, 2006

It was fun while it lasted. Not. Over the past five years, we've all had ample opportunity to get up-close and personal with T-Rex, the massive, $1.67 billion project designed to ease congestion and speed up traffic through the southeast metro corridor but in the meantime blocking roads and sending drivers off on thrill-ride detours. Still, if the pace of construction is any indication of T-Rex's ultimate success, we'll all soon be speeding along I-25 -- in cars or on light-rail trains. At of the start of the year, the project was 91 percent complete, with the last stretches in the seventeen-mile paving process scheduled for fall completion and the complete light-rail system slated to open on November 17, 2006. Keep your fingers crossed -- and both eyes on the road.

BEST ESTIMATE FOR WHEN THE DENVER ART MUSEUM ADDITION WILL BE FINISHED

November 8, 2006

Sometime in the next month or so, the wrappings will come off the Daniel Libeskind-designed addition to the Denver Art Museum, and while work continues on the interior, the exterior will be complete. But even before that, the DAM will announce an official opening date for the Frederic C. Hamilton building, as well as a schedule for the accompanying celebration. At this point, though, the museum will only say that the project is on track for a debut sometime this fall, as has always been the plan. We're betting on November 8, 2006 -- which, not coincidentally, is the day that the 2006 edition of the Farmers Almanac predicts that Denver will get its first major dump of snow. (Hey, things couldn't go smoothly forever.) Fortunately, those Libeskind angles will stand out even in a blizzard.

BEST ESTIMATE FOR WHEN WARD CHURCHILL WILL BE FINISHED

May 31, 2006

At the University of Colorado, Ward Churchill has outlasted athletic director Dick Tharpe, chancellor Richard Bynny, president Betsy Hoffman, even football coach Gary Barnett. But we're predicting he won't outlast current president Hank Brown. The committee reviewing Churchill's work is supposed to turn in its report by May -- and with any luck, by then the regents will have come to their senses and made Brown's interim appointment permanent. That, and a handy chunk of change (but less than it cost to get rid of Barnett) should be all it takes to make Churchill disappear from CU. He won't have any problem finding another public podium, of course. But at least Colorado will be able to close the book on one of its most unsavory chapters.

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