Off Limits

Camp followers: Back when the Resolution Trust Corporation was still trying to clean up the S&L mess, Bruce Pederson and Jacqueline Taylor were two of the loneliest people in town. Whistleblowers who ratted on the RTC even while they were employed at the Denver office, they were assigned to an otherwise empty floor and left to work without support or furniture.

So when the two attorneys were tapped to head the new regional office of the private Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, they quickly furnished themselves with a cause: $275,000 worth of furniture that U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service official Paul Camp bought for his Lakewood offices--even as his division is running a $2 million deficit and laying off more than a dozen employees. "Taxpayers should not have to support 'shopaholic' bureaucrats," says Pederson.

Can't you hear the whistle blowing?

Tall stories: The "Verbatim" section in the current issue of Time features a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, allegedly taken down verbatim when the aging author visited town two weeks ago to plug Timequake. Vonnegut vowed this book will be his last--but said that if he were to write another, it might focus on the religion-like cult evolving around the late Princess Diana. Personally, Vonnegut doesn't see Di's appeal. As Time quoted him: "She's too tall, for one thing. I don't know why people are worshipping this twit...Don't you think you've all gone loony?"

Not as loony as the Rocky Mountain News reporter who heard "tweed" when Vonnegut actually said "twit"--to a roomful of local fans. But it was the erroneous News quote, whittled down from a longer story, that ultimately quaked Time readers.

If far from tweedy (that description is much more appropriate for Camilla Parker Bowles), Princess Diana was undeniably tall. The same cannot be said for Republican representative Scott McInnis, who finally announced this week that he won't be challenging Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell after all. But other top GOPs could have predicted that long ago. In fact, Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson--whose congressional investigation is keeping sometime Colorado governor and current Democratic National Committee chairman Roy Romer very busy--did when he came to town for a fundraiser this summer. Sizing up McInnis for a possible run against Campbell, the tall Thompson said that McInnis simply didn't measure up to the job. "He's too short to be a senator," Thompson told a local politico.

Campbell himself takes some hits--although not for his height--in the current issue of George. The political mag edited by John F. Kennedy Jr. names Campbell one of the five worst-dressed men in Washington. According to George, Campbell's duds--which once earned him a salute from Banana Republic--are "how the West was lost."

Let's see what Dottie Lamm does with that.

More essential reading: Judging the big-newspaper category--reserved for dailies with circulations over 100,000--in this year's Colorado Press Association awards should be a snap. Only three Colorado dailies boast circulations that large, and one, the Gazette of Colorado Springs, resigned from the CPA last year over a matter of principle (the organization refused to consider free papers worthy of full membership). After that, the CPA contacted both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, asking whether they'd be willing to allow Westword into their division. Both dailies protested; the Post, sniffed editor Dennis Britton in a letter to the CPA last summer, was perfectly content to compete with only the News.

But that was before the CPA got involved in the dispute over Post reporter Kevin Simpson's seven-year-old seat at the Gary Davis execution and acceded to current Department of Corrections director Ari Zavaras's suggestion that the lucky media witnesses be chosen all over again. The Post went to court to secure its property rights (and won)--and soon a dictum came down that the Post would not be entering the CPA's editorial contest this year.

And once again, the cheesy stands alone.

Butt seriously, folks: Gary Davis didn't get his last cigarette--Colorado's prisons are smoke-free, thanks to a suit filed several years ago by an inmate claiming he suffered from secondhand smoke. And not even a prisoner's final request can change that status--sometimes death can be such a drag.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Liz McDonough did get to take a cigarette break the night Davis was extinguished--but then, she could step outside.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.