Best Job by a Short-Term Mayor 2011 | Bill Vidal | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Hand-picked by John Hickenlooper to serve as deputy mayor while he ran for governor, and then to move up to mayor for the last bit of Hickenlooper's second term, then-Manager of Public Works Bill Vidal had big shoes to fill. So far, Vidal's not only found those shoes a comfortable fit, but picked up the pace, mapping out an ambitious agenda for his six months in office — starting with juggling remaining staffers for maximum efficiency, then moving on to clean up controversial cases still outstanding in the police and sheriff's departments. At the end of March, new Manager of Safety Charley Garcia fired the two officers involved in the DeHerrera beating in LoDo; next up, Vidal's administration will tackle the death of Marvin Booker at the Denver jail. A native of Cuba who spent time in a Pueblo orphanage, Vidal has a fascinating backstory — but we're more interested in seeing what he does next.

After Andrew Romanoff was term-limited out of his position in the Colorado House, he explored becoming Colorado's secretary of state, a job vacated by then-newly elected congressman Mike Coffman. He didn't get the job. Next he explored becoming a U.S. senator, a job vacated by newly appointed Obama cabinet member Ken Salazar. He didn't get the job. Then he challenged the man who did, Michael Bennet, in last year's primary...and lost. "In my own career," Romanoff says now, "I've sought opportunities in which I believed I could make the biggest difference." Finally, he made a move that could lead to the biggest difference yet: He left politics for a job with Lakewood-based International Development Enterprises, which makes agricultural training and technology available to the world's poorest people — one billion of whom live on a dollar a day or less. And that makes him a winner.

No, Denver's Ghost Historic District isn't haunted — unless it's by the specter of real-estate agents flocking to a neighborhood in "Denver's only ZIP code that hasn't seen a market dip since 2007." That's according to This Old House magazine, which just touted the area in northwest Denver bounded by West 29th Avenue, West 32nd Avenue, Lowell Boulevard and Irving Street that was recently added to the city's historic roster as one of the country's "great neighborhoods." The district's tree-lined streets are filled with great old houses — Denver squares, bungalows and Victorians, some dating back to when developer and real-estate agent Allen Ghost purchased the area in 1887 and turned it into a streetcar suburb, touting its "unsurpassed" location. Today the location is still unsurpassed, with a host of shops and restaurants just a few blocks away in still-hot Highland.

Though beset with controversies, including the departure of the original architect, Steven Holl, as well as being marooned in a disjointed complex that also includes a tacky shopping-center-style post office and a bombastic, Mussolini-style jail, the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse is clearly a masterpiece. All the credit for that success goes to Keat Tan, the building's principal designer and a partner in the Denver architecture firm klipp. Tan also did the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, which is just blocks from the courthouse, and these two buildings alone make a strong case for naming Tan as one of Denver's premier architects.

The architecture at Stapleton is a mixed bag, with much of it having a throwaway character. But not the FBI Field Office that opened last summer: It was built to last. The building, which was privately developed and is being leased to the FBI, was designed by Chicago's Skidmore Owings and Merrill, which also did the Air Force Academy as well as many oil boom-era skyscrapers in the city. Though made almost entirely of reflective glass, the Field Office is very secure — as might be expected, given its function — because believe it or not, those big window-walls are bomb-proof. But the building is also quite chic-looking, something that can only rarely be said about the G-Men and G-Women working inside.

Four years after voters approved a hefty package of civic improvements, the Better Denver Bond Program is finally paying off like a born-again bookie. The bond issue has yielded a new rec center in Stapleton, a new greenhouse at the Denver Botanic Gardens and makeovers of several libraries, with a new police crime lab still to come. But perhaps the most impressive new addition is this airy, light-filled, 26,000-square-foot temple of books and media on the way to DIA, in an area underserved by the libraries of surrounding Aurora. Loaded with aviation-themed features (from a real cockpit for kids to propeller-shaped benches to the aerodynamic ceiling panels), the Green Valley branch is bright, huge, technologically savvy — and ready to take off.

Did you ever wonder why the City and County of Denver has no county fair? Every podunk county in the state has one, for crying out loud! And though we still boast the National Western Stock Show in Denver — at least for now — where do prize-deserving pie-makers and urban chicken-keepers get to show off their hard work and wares? The new Denver County Fair, of course, which is shaping up to be the most unusual rustic fair you'll ever see (the inaugural edition hits town at the end of July). Put together with enthusiasm by promoter Dana Cain and artist Tracy Weil, the Denver County Fair will address the urban lifestyle while dressing it up in rural clothes, offering such offbeat events and attractions as a skateboard rodeo, a funky sideshow, a new-age pavilion, competitions for backyard chicken and goat farmers, cheeseburger cook-offs and much more.

Wynkoop Brewing

Flash back a hundred years and there's a good chance you'd see horses pulling carts loaded with beer from Denver's breweries to its saloons and restaurants. Now, thanks to the Wynkoop Brewing Company, you can see the same thing today. The brewpub, co-founded in 1988 by now-governor John Hickenlooper, began delivering kegs and cans of its handcrafted suds to accounts around downtown last April via horse and carriage as a way to bring back some of the Queen City's storied beer culture. And in January, the Wynkoop's hired rig delivered beer and the governor himself to his own inauguration at the Fillmore Auditorium. Now, those are some hoof prints that will be hard to fill.

The goal of the inaugural Colorado Gives Day, a 24-hour online charity bonanza powered by the Arvada-based Community First Foundation, was to raise $1 million for 536 local nonprofits. The foundation pledged to pick up the credit card transaction fees, ensuring that 100 percent of the money went to charity. But as it turns out, the original goal was too modest: In one day in December, more than 18,700 people gave over $8 million to more than 500 nonprofits, proving both the generosity of Coloradans and the power of the Internet.

"Everybody's a photographer" goes the lament often voiced by grizzled newspaper shooters regarding the wave of iPhone shutterbugs jostling for elbow room at concerts, conferences or even traffic accidents. And while quantity may not always correlate with quality, the digital age means that you can find a picture of almost anything out there. Enter, a blog that relies on its users to submit pics of graffiti, street art and creativity in unusual spaces around the city. While there are few beautifully composed images, the subjects of these pictures are often overlooked. It's worth a daily visit, if only to see what might have already been painted over and forgotten.

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