Off Limits

Beware of geeks bearing gifts: Where do you want to go today? Well, if you're Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, we know where you don't want to go: down to the Denver Public Library to read a children's story to a bunch of future customers. A group of local kids had been scheduled to hear Billy Boy spin a yarn during his forthcoming visit to Denver, all part of Microsoft's continuing association with America's libraries. Instead, Gates's people bailed out of the arrangement, reportedly worried that they could see a repeat of an embarrassing incident in New York City where Gates was skewered by the media for using children as publicity props during a similar doggie-and-pony show at that city's public library. (Or perhaps Gates's handlers thought their fearless leader, subjected to a smear campaign from a pie-throwing Belgian during a recent European trek, might get pelted with Little Debbie snack cakes by an enraged preschooler.)

It's not that the philanthropists at Microsoft don't care about Denver's next generation: The computer giant has a sponsorship arrangement with the DPL that includes the donation of services and equipment, along with a few dollars. But how sad the poor tykes will be to learn that the country's richest man can't take time away from his busy schedule to share their story time. After all, the possibilities for driving home a lesson about the importance of reading--in between surfing the Net and playing Murder and Pillage 2000 on mommy and daddy's PC, of course--would have been endless. America's cuddliest billionaire could have read The Little Monopoly That Could. He could have charmed the urchins with a few chapters from Willy Wanker and the Bundled Browser. Or he might have drawn chuckles with an effervescent rendering of that old favorite, Ramona the Justice Department Pest. Alas, for now, the young'uns will have to forgo their brush with greatness. But at least Billy Boy will get some good pub.

You won't have Feddie Pena to kick around anymore! No, sirree, Denver's former mayor wasn't taking any guff this past Monday during his resignation press conference when an uppity--and none too articulate--reporter from United Press International dared ask him if he'd been indicted or "had heard of any sort of indictments that are in the works." In a rare display of pique, Pena made a Feddie case out of it, dressing down poor Neal Augenstein and making him stand up and identify himself so the whole class could see how dumb he was. Then the outraged Feddie instructed Augenstein to "tell his superiors" that those are the sort of questions that "often try to embarrass public officials." Whew! That's really telling 'em! We haven't seen Feddie so P.O.'d since he learned that the highly unstudly Esai Morales had been hired to portray him in the TV movie about the trials and tribulations of his bulemic wife, Ellen Hart Pena, instead of the mucho mas macho Lorenzo Lamas. Whether everybody's favorite token cabinet member will head home to Denver following his farewell press conference--since dubbed the "Chuckers" speech in honor of Ellen's former pastime--is anybody's guess. But we know one thing: He won't be blowing town on ValuJet, the budget airline whose safety practices he so vigorously defended after one of its stone-age DC-9s made an unscheduled landing in a Florida swamp. It was after Feddie's own Federal Aviation Administration found ValuJet to be an unsafe carrier--in contradiction to the boss man's public claims--that he began his own slow death spiral into the thankless job of energy secretary. We'll leave the runway lights on for you at DIA, Feddie.

Boulder gets bolder: Sure, the cops are still scratching their heads (and other parts of their anatomy) over that JonBenet Ramsey thing, but at least the jail's cracking down on the criminal element. According to paperwork now being distributed at the Boulder County Jail as part of that lockup's "Productive Day Program," prisoners are being required to sign "inmate contracts" in which they promise--in writing, so this is serious!--to behave themselves at all times. Among other things, the contracts stress that "Quality Control Inmates" (that's QCI's for all you greenhorns out there) will be drafted to ride herd on any bad boys in the bunch. "I will follow any reasonable instructions from the QCI," inmates must vow. Also, detainees must give their word that "if homework is assigned, I will complete it on time." And the critical component in the get-tough program: "Under no circumstance will horseplay be tolerated in the work area."

Sure, it may be tough love, but the message is now clear to scofflaws around the metro area: If you do the crime in Boulder, cuz, be ready to pay the price.

Sunny daze: The former Boulder supercop originally assigned to head the Ramsey investigation, John Eller, is understandably eager for a change of climate. Eller, who left the Boulder force earlier this year, is now one of 31 candidates for the police chief's job in sultry Key West, Florida, where the cops spend most of their time hauling drunken tourists out of the surf and working crowd control at the gay pride festival. And speaking of the Ramseys and dudes who like to party, what do "Papa" John Ramsey and Bill Clinton have in common? An appearance in Tuesday's New York Post column by gossiper Cindy Adams, who connects the dots between the two--through the Haddon Morgan & Foreman law firm, with a brief detour past Roy Romer, sometime Colorado governor and full-time chair of the Democratic National Committee. Not only do attorneys at Haddon Morgan & Foreman represent Ramsey, Adams points out, but they also pop up numerous times in "The Special Committee's Whitewater Report: The Arkansas Phase." For example, the Haddon firm filed Clinton's income-tax returns for every year from 1981 through 1992 and in 1978 even cut a check for "reimbursement of interest pd." to the late James McDougal himself.

"To understand Hal Haddon's power," writes Adams, "consider the millions of barrister-solicitor-mouthpiece-advocate firms in America Bill Clinton could choose to handle his tax records vis-à-vis the Senate Whitewater committee. The prez of the U.S.A. disses the whole load of D.C. or New York legal flunkies on his payroll for some barrister's firm all the way the hell out in Denver, who nobody's ever heard of."

Well, not exactly. A decade ago, Haddon, a big supporter of Gary Hart, was even being touted as a potential attorney general if his candidate won the presidency. Instead, Hart sank with the Monkey Business--and Haddon kept a relatively low profile until Ramsey raised it back up. Could the Clinton-Haddon-Ramsey connection account for "why the gov isn't removing District Attorney Alex Hunter from the JonBenet murder investigation?" muses Adams.

Asked, but not answered.

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