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Outfaxed

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Although he's often promised "more to come" than he's actually delivered, Zinna has drawn blood on occasion. He relentlessly pursued claims of office sexual harassment that eventually led to the resignation of two county supervisors. And he's been ferocious in his support of Susan Johnson, a county CPA who supplied a memo in support of BJC's lawsuit, was fired and then quickly reinstated, and has since filed an intent to sue various county officials, claiming harassment and slander.

Last spring, Zinna earned an award from Westword for "Best Online Gadfly." But his screeds were beginning to attract heat as well as readers. When the county commissioners approved a stiff hike in the fees to research and copy public records last spring, it was no secret that Zinna's increasingly voluminous requests had triggered the move. When he placed a graphic of a mushroom cloud over the Taj Mahal, to illustrate how Johnson's lawsuit would be "carpet-bombing" Jeffco administrators, Zinna was paid a visit by a Jefferson County investigator assigned to the FBI's joint terrorism task force. (The publicity boosted his hit count.) He's also come under fire for describing Marvin Heemeyer, whose suicidal rampage through Granby in an armored bulldozer drew national headlines, as a "brutalized citizen" driven to despair by bad government.

Zinna says he's missed only five county commissioner meetings in the past six years, a better attendance record than that of any official or reporter. But when he enters the Taj Mahal these days, he's immediately joined by an escort of two sheriff's deputies, who remain nearby wherever he goes -- even though he's never threatened to get physical with any of his foes. "It was just an attempt to intimidate me," he says. "But I'm not going away."

Zinna frequently relies on anonymous sources for his broadsides, but he says he takes pains to verify information before running it. He adds that he's had his share of kooks and just plain liars trying to use his website to settle a personal score. So he was understandably wary when he received the first fax from Pinky T last May, sent from an Albertson's store in Arvada.

The fax was riddled with accusations of sexual misconduct and cronyism in the county assessor's office. It mentioned an "interesting flyer that was being circulated at the May 1st Republican Assembly" -- an anonymous cartoon that attacked County Assessor Kevin McCasky, who is running for a county commissioner's seat. It also referred to two well-known county employees as, respectively, "Limp Dick" and "Pencil Dick."

I'm so glad that you are ripping the county, especially Boom Boom, Slick Dick and Uphill Tuthill...As a former employee of the county, it is disturbing to see how a person who does nothing and knows nothing can receive this kind of salary for the past six years. When I worked there, I worked my tight ass off while [Pencil Dick] sat and read the paper...

Don't we as county taxpayers deserve to know the truth behind these hidden secrets and the unqualified people who are being paid these outrageous salaries, before other appointees are paid for their Œspecial expertise'?

Please do not disappoint me and pass up this HARD evidence! Hope that you, Fonzie [sic] and I can have ŒHappy Days' in near future.



"From the very first fax," Zinna says, "I knew this person had access to inside information. He knew these people."

The timing of the fax was curious. Just five days earlier, McCasky had confronted Rick Sheehan at a public meeting over Sheehan's criticism of salaries and appointees in McCasky's office. According to Zinna's account of the showdown, posted on JeffcoExposed, Sheehan had been verbally thumped in the exchange: "It's clear that McCasky does not take kindly to attacks on his loyal staff and his office's stellar performance. Sheehan made a serious miscalculation by targeting McCasky in public, and Sheehan was later seen to be nursing a nasty ass-chewing that Coroner Carl Blesch quickly verified matched the Assessor's dental records."

Zinna was eager to hear more from Pinky T -- but not, he says, because he planned to report on the alleged crimes of Pencil Dick and Limp Dick.

"My goal was to draw this person out," he says. "I wanted to find out as much about this person as I possibly could. I had no intention from day one of printing those faxes, but I did want to know the identity of the person. I had a strong suspicion that he was up to no good."



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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast