Best Reason to Toast the Legislature 2008 | SB 08-082 | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Join us in raising a glass to state senator Jennifer Veiga of Denver, for proposing the repeal of Colorado's longtime ban on Sunday liquor sales. The measure not only made it through both houses (it's currently awaiting Governor Bill Ritter's signature), but lawmakers even moved up its effective date to July 1. And so, on July 6, 2008, thirsty consumers could finally be able to rest easy on the purported day of rest — and purchase full-strength alcohol at liquor stores across the state. The continued existence of Colorado's teetotaling blue laws had long mystified residents and visitors alike, who had to remember to secure their wine, whiskey and wheat brews by midnight Saturday or else settle for a case of crappy 3.2 beer from the supermarket on Sunday. While a second bill that would have let grocers enter the alcohol market died, now that drinkers have gotten a taste of libation liberty, they could soon be demanding the whole bottle. Drink up!

Best Route Between Downtown and North Denver — After 11 P.M.

20th Street

It's late at night, you've had a few too many to drink downtown, and if you're smart enough to leave your car in LoDo, then you're also smart enough to steer clear of the narrow, dark sidewalk that runs along 15th Street over I-25. So how to get home? Pick up 20th Street at Wazee and stagger past Coors Field, over the train tracks and the highway, and emerge on the other side at Central. (If you've been drinking in Highland, do the reverse.) An added benefit of this clean, well-lighted route is the view it affords of the Denver Skatepark — as long as watching all those spinning wheels doesn't send you spinning, too.

Best Route Between Downtown and North Denver — Before 11 P.M.

Highland Pedestrian Bridge

When a new, $8 million pedestrian bridge opened over I-25 at what would be 16th Street, it seemed to offer a quick, safe way for people to move between downtown — via LoDo, the Millennium Bridge and the Platte Valley — and Highland, at the edge of north Denver. But the convenience of the bridge comes to a crashing halt at 11 p.m., because the route runs through public parks in the Platte Valley — and Denver curfew rules close the parks at that hour.
Mega-developer Forest City was not interested in preserving historic architecture as it built out its new-urbanist fantasy on the site of the old Stapleton airport. But that put Forest City on a collision course with preservationists over the fate of Hangar #61, which was designed by the premier mid-century architectural firm of Fisher, Fisher and Davis. Constructed in 1959 to shelter the corporate plane of the Ideal Basic Cement Company, the little hangar is an expressionist wonder, with a set of four intersecting hyperbolic arches carried out in thin-shell concrete. And now future generations will be able to enjoy it, because at the end of last year — and after years of efforts spearheaded by artist David Walter — Colorado Preservation took over ownership of the building with the promise to stabilize it and to find the best future use for it.

Best Show of Dignity From a Newly Convicted Felon

Don Vito Margera

It wasn't a happy Halloween for Vincent "Don Vito" Margera, a fixture on the MTV series Viva La Bam. Despite the legal assistance of Pamela Mackey, the attorney who helped Kobe Bryant skate away from a trial in Eagle County, on October 31 Margera received two guilty verdicts in relation to a 2006 incident at Colorado Mills — and upon learning of his fate, he let loose with an epic tantrum. According to a Rocky Mountain News account, he hit the floor screaming lines like this: "Jesus! I can't spend the rest of my fucking life in jail! Just fucking kill me now!" Margera was eventually helped to his feet, but left behind a memento of his reaction — a miniature Hershey's candy bar. Sweet reaction, dude.

Best Soundtrack for the Democratic National Convention

"Voice of My Beautiful Country"

René Marie started singing early, but she didn't decide to pursue music full-time until after she turned forty. A decade later, she picked up and moved to Denver, where she quickly became a valued voice on the scene. And now Donald Rossa, the brains behind Dazzle, would like to make sure that she's heard not just in this city, but around the world. He's proposing that Denver honor both jazz, an original American art form, and René Marie, an original artist, by having her perform her "Voice of My Beautiful Country" — which puts the lyrics of "America the Beautiful," "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" to different melodies, including that of "The Star-Spangled Banner" — at the Democratic National Convention this August. Hear, hear!

Best Term-Limited Veteran in the Legislature

Ken Gordon

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon may be term limited, but he's not going out quietly. A former public defender, he started representing the interests of Denverites long before he was elected to the Colorado House in 1992, and even won a Best Pro Bono Attorney award in the Best of Denver 1988. Now in his last year in the Colorado Senate, he continues to tackle tough issues, including fighting district attorneys around the state to establish standards for how long DNA evidence should be kept — and perhaps even win a new trial for Clarence Moses-El, who was convicted of rape twenty years ago and whose attempt at an appeal was stymied when a rape kit and other evidence was tossed in 1995. But Gordon's not all about blood and guts; he's also leading the charge to improve Colorado's voting systems, pushing measures involving everything from redistricting to all-paper ballots to letting voters rank candidates. "Ken is more interested in the details of election policy than most people would care to admit," his website admits — but then, he narrowly lost a race for Colorado Secretary of State in 2006, when long lines kept many Denverites from the polls. But our vote's in: There are no limits to Ken Gordon's talents (his comic campaign ads were classics), and we'll be sorry to see him leave the legislature.
Alan Gionet served as a Channel 4 staffer for several years in the'90s, before he left for a chief-anchor job in Jacksonville, Florida. He recently returned to Denver, better than before: more comfortable and commanding, with a gravitas that had previously seemed just beyond his grasp. At the anchor desk, he handles hard news and happy talk with equal aplomb, and his "Good Question" segments, in which he answers viewer inquiries, is far less cheesy than it could be, thanks to his relaxed manner and steady intelligence. This is one anchor that shouldn't be dropped anytime soon.
When Channel 7 lured Jayson Luber away from KOA radio and Channel 9, it seemed like an odd — and expensive — move. After all, people don't tune into newscasts just because of the guy in the helicopter, do they? But Luber has proved to be a valuable addition to the station's news team, providing practical information in a clear, knowledgeable manner whether he's floating high above a traffic catastrophe or in the studio, giving drivers alternate-route suggestions with assistance from his handy telestrator. You can get there from here — if Luber is showing you the way.
While other local morning shows seem like pale, perky imitations of Channel 9, the longtime ratings Goliath, Channel 2's morning program dares to be different. Host Tom Green is the designated curmudgeon, wielding a dry wit that does more to get you going than a pot of coffee, while Natalie Tysdal serves as his good-natured, long-suffering foil. Add in mold-busting weathercaster Angie Austin and the often-bizarre tomfoolery of Chris Parente, and the result is an eye-opening change of pace from the same old same old.

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