The Denver Post's Non-ideological Columnists Make a Curious Debut

As noted in the December 13 Message, the Denver Post recently named two new metro columnists, Susan Greene and William Porter (pictured), whose charge is to write memorably about local doings without chaining themselves to any one ideological viewpoint. In their bows, which saw print on December 16 and 17, the pair went one for two in this respect, with Greene's piece offering a perspective very much in the tradition of former columnists Diane Carman, Jim Spencer and Cindy Rodriguez, all of whom leaned to the left. Porter, for his part, remained defiantly apolitical by profiling the fella known to Denver Broncos fans as Rocky the Leprechaun -- except that he neglected to mention the guy's green-hatted, pointy-eared persona.

Greene's column, "Village Makes It Hot For Scofflaw," focuses on residents of Peppersauce Bottoms, aka "The Village," a small community north of downtown Pueblo. Folks there were upset that Pueblo had spent just over ten percent of a federal grant set aside for flood control for that purpose -- and they also had gripes with a soot-spewing plant owned by Pittsburgh's LB Foster company that was operating without a pollution-control permit. Eventually, the citizens rose up against these oppressors, and Greene reports that LB Foster's Village facility is slated to close by year's end -- although the company says economic factors, not complaints from neighbors, led to the decision.

In some ways, this tale could be interpreted as populist as opposed to liberal. After all, the government doesn't wind up looking particularly good. Then again, big business also comes in for a predictable wallop, and the person who's credited with helping Bottoms dwellers to band together -- Margaret Montaño Mora -- is affiliated with the Colorado Progressive Coalition. Hmmmm.

Of course, this doesn't mean every one of Green's future columns will stick to the themes at the center of "Village" (whose headline echoes the title of a book by a certain Hillary Clinton). Still, her decision to launch a column that's supposed to be different from the politically oriented ones that preceded it with a salute to the Colorado Progressive Coalition is peculiar at the very least.

Porter's initial submission, "Tree Time, With Lots of Trimmings," goes in a very different direction, by spotlighting a nice man who sells Christmas trees to nice people. The results make the work of Rocky Mountain News softie Gary Massaro seem edgy in comparison. Stranger, though, is Porter's failure to identify the tree seller, Evergreen's Rocky Brougham, as Rocky the Leprechaun, a Broncos superfan who's second in prominence only to the ubiquitous Barrel Man. The name of Brougham's tree lot -- Luckylure -- should have been the first clue. Saving that, Porter could have conducted a Google search that would have led him to "Distance No Problem in Search For Perfect Tree," a December 1 item on YourHub, a site operated by the Denver dailies. Not only does author Karen Groves identify Brougham as Rocky (and describe him as "elfin"), but she includes a link to, which sports a complimentary quote credited to, yep, the Denver Post.

Next time around, Porter could use the luck of the Irish. -- Michael Roberts

Update, 12-17-07, 12:35 p.m.:

To underscore the apparently ideological nature of Susan Greene's first column, scope out this press release below, which is being sent out by the Colorado Progressive Coalition. In it, the CPC essentially annoints Greene as the successor to Diane Carman, identified as the "long-time liberal anchor for the Post," and makes it seem as if the organization packaged the column for her. That's undoubtedly a significant overstatement, and nowhere in her column does Greene imply that she's personally endorsing the organization. Nonetheless, the release is still embarrassing, particularly given the fundraising pitch that concludes it. Read on. -- MR

CPC Aggressive Progressive News David v. Goliath, Pueblo Style: Neighborhood Environmental Fight in the Spotlight New Denver Post Columnist's First Column on CPC Pueblo Campaign posted 12/17/07

Dear CPC Members and Friends:

When Susan Greene, The Denver Post's new columnist replacing Diane Carman, the long-time liberal anchor for The Post, went looking for a great first column to introduce herself to Post readers, she looked no further than CPC.

Choosing from dozens of possible subjects, Susan talked with CPC's Southern Colorado Director, Margaret Montaño Mora, and me about a David v. Goliath fight for environmental justice in a low-income Pueblo neighborhood. She then visited the community and heard from the residents how their quality of life has been degraded by an environmental scofflaw.

The rest you'll see below, from this Sunday's Denver Post. We hope that you, like us, will be inspired by the fight of Pueblo's Peppersauce Bottoms neighborhood against a big, unaccountable polluter. These are the "little" fights and victories that change peoples' lives and build a truly statewide progressive movement.

When considering your year-end donations, please give generously to CPC. Our work is visionary, rooted, statewide, and results-oriented, and we need you. Visit today to make a secure, tax-deductible contribution.

An added bonus: Thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, a long-time CPC supporter, any donation you make today will be matched 1:1, immediately turning your $50 into $100, $500 into $1,000!

Thank you for your investment in CPC and in building a progressive movement for Colorado's future.

With our best wishes for a peaceful holiday season and a progressive 2008,

Bill Vandenberg Co-Executive Director

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts