Funny business with a new 9News anchor

We have a question for the investigative team at 9Wants to Know: What happened to new morning business reporter Jason Martinez?

It sounded like a big deal when 9News, an NBC affiliate, hired Martinez earlier this month to replace longtime Denver fixture Gregg Moss, since the newcomer had honed his chops at news powerhouse KTLA in Los Angeles. Martinez's first day on the job was Wednesday, December 16 — but he hasn't appeared on Channel 9 since. What's more, Martinez's introduction and bio have been pulled from the 9News website. What's up with the disappearing act?

Mark Cornetta, 9News general manager, wouldn't discuss Martinez with Off Limits. "I'm not going to comment on employees," he said.

Maybe not on ex-employees, either. The day of Martinez's first Denver broadcast, Cornetta and other 9News employees received an e-mail accusing Martinez of being a "sick individual" with a "sex addiction." The e-mail, which was from an address that no longer exists, included lurid messages that Martinez had supposedly sent to KTLA colleagues.

Turns out that in September, Martinez had also disappeared from his weekend anchor gig at KTLA after just nine months, and without explanation. "Befuddled by his sudden disappearance from the air," the Los Angeles Daily News wrote, "Martinez's fans and friends have written to his Facebook page to ask about his whereabouts." On October 2, Martinez responded, posting the following Facebook message: "Jason Martinez is thankful for his family, true friends and fans for their support. Yes, I have resigned from KTLA. Don't believe any of the rumors out there. None are true. I will be back soon doing the job that I love."

But will it be at Channel 9? Martinez couldn't be reached for comment, and that Facebook page is now down.

Stormy weather: Rocky Mountain SER, a thirty-year-old Denver nonprofit that provides training and jobs for disadvantaged segments of the population, is protesting a decision by the Governor's Energy Office (GEO) to award a $9 million weatherization-services grant to another nonprofit, saying the state used faulty information to make the decision.

On December 1, the energy office — created by Governor Bill Ritter in 2007 to help foster the state's new-energy economy — announced that it had selected Veterans Green Jobs, a ten-month-old Boulder nonprofit, to weatherize nearly 1,800 low-income homes in Denver and Jefferson County. That's a lot of caulk — and the award provoked a lot of talk at Rocky Mountain SER. In a letter to GEO director Tom Plant, SER asked him to reconsider, pointing out that his office had skipped the public-comment portion of the bid process, and that their organization had offered to weatherize 2,400 homes rather than the 1,700 in the Veterans Green Jobs bid. The goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant was to weatherize 2,500 homes, says Brandee Caswell, an attorney with Faegre & Benson, which is representing Rocky Mountain SER. "Do you want to spend $9 million weatherizing 700 fewer homes? That doesn't make sense in terms of getting your bang for your buck."

Caswell is concerned that there may have "some sort of pre-selection going on here," she says, and suggests that Veterans Green Jobs understated its bid by $389,386 "because of errors in the spreadsheets they submitted."

The lucrative grant became available because of $80 million that the Recovery Act will provide to Colorado for weatherization services over three years. The state plans to use the money to help 10,000 low-income households reduce their utility bills.

On Friday, GEO held a belated public hearing to discuss the contract, and on Monday, Veterans Green Jobs spokeswoman Kirsten Maynard first deferred to GEO's December 1 announcement, but later added that "Veterans Green Jobs has been selected to continue moving through the GEO's Region 9 bid process. Our understanding is that the Region 9 weatherization contract will be awarded to the winning bid in early 2010."

And although Off Limits contacted the GEO office to get some clarification, spokesman Todd Hartman didn't return calls.

Knit wits: Denver's spent decades trying to convince the rest of the country that everyone in this town doesn't walk around singing the tunes created by John Denver, a man who a) wasn't born in Denver (he hailed from Indiana) and b) wasn't born John Denver (his birth name was Henry Deutschendorf). But in all the national coverage of Colorado's booming medical marijuana industry, that song just keeps coming up.

And naturally, when Good Morning America unveiled the window devoted to Denver on Times Square last year, the background music was "Rocky Mountain High." Denver's also spent decades trying to convince people that the city isn't in the middle of the mountains — but skiing was front and center in that display, which cost Visit Denver $50,000 to create and is currently residing in the window of the former Virgin Records space in the Denver Pavilions. But it also includes what's now some good, old-fashioned nostalgia, since the Winter Park Ski Train in the Phil Anschutz era is also prominently featured. (A new Rio Grande Scenic Ski Train is slated to start trips to Winter Park on December 27, Amtrak willing.) One thing that didn't make the trip from Times Square to the Pavilions: the holiday sweater that Mayor John Hickenlooper wore when he cut the ribbon on the window and subsequently cut up with the GMA team. "No, he is not giving up his sweater for the holiday display," says mayoral spokesman Eric Brown. "With cold weather coming, he says he's going to use it to warm his slender torso."

Besides, his sister knit that sweater for him.

Scene and herd: On Saturday evening, we experienced another downtown Christmas moment — this one so precious it could have been straight out of Home Alone 2.

An apparently homeless man sat down at one of the five anyone-can-play pianos placed around the city as part of the Downtown Denver Partnership's "Your Keys to the City" initiative; this one was at the corner of 16th and Arapahoe streets on the 16th Street Mall.

While a few wide-eyed children gathered around, the man played several Christmas tunes, including the upbeat theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas. For a minute it felt like a scene from a black-and-white movie about hope and overcoming odds and realizing that we're all the same, even though we're different.

But then some adult said something about Santa, and the kids scattered. The little commercialized punks.

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