This year’s Best of Boulder County is our biggest — and most exciting — ever!
And it’s no wonder. Boulder County residents came out in force this year to support their favorite restaurants, businesses, performers and more. With the biggest voter turnout in Boulder Weekly history, it’s clear readers take this contest seriously. But with so much interest in the contest, we’re often asked, “How does voting work?” and “Where can I get a ballot?” and “Why did you leave out the BEST sandwich shop in town?”
Boulder Weekly’s online-only voting system helps make Best of Boulder the most fair and accurate reader poll in the county. By forgoing paper ballots and allowing only one vote per email — and per computer — it’s almost impossible for one candidate to “ballot-stuff” their way to a win. (And it saves paper, too!) In fact, our readers even chose the candidates. Businesses with a sufficient number of write-in votes in 2010 were automatically added to the 2011 ballot, meaning some of last year’s newcomers are now walking away with third-, second- or even first-place honors. Democracy in action!
So check out the tongue-in-cheek “staff picks,” and all the results as voted by you, our readers. And if you don’t see your favorite hair salon or place to dance, be sure to vote for them next year!
BEST REASON TO EAT BLUE CHEESE
Republicans going after unions in Wisconsin
Some people have short memories, or haven’t read the history of why unions were created in the first place. Today, when gigantic corporations hold even more power than they did when unions arose, you’d think people would appreciate that common workers might want to band together from time to time to ensure they aren’t abused by their rich overlords. Colorado history, for instance, has several compelling reasons to support union rights, from the Colorado National Guard killing women and children during the Ludlow coal miners’ strike of 1914 to the various state leaders we’ve had who have been anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic — even Klan members. The protections of the state’s civil service system were set up to keep public workers from being fired based on politics instead of performance. It’s hard to swallow Wisconsin right-wingers’ complaints about the reasonable salaries paid to public servants, like teachers, when you look at the bonuses being paid to the CEOs of major banks.
MOST ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
City of Boulder and the MMJ industry
A healthy relationship makes both parties stronger, happier and more robust than they would be alone. Then there’s the city of Boulder and its relationship with the beneficial and lucrative medical marijuana industry. We hate to meddle in domestic affairs, but somebody has to stop this cycle of abuse. When the city of Boulder keeps taking, taking, taking — thousands in sales tax revenue and exorbitant licensing fees — and then slaps on harsh, almost punitive ordinances, we can almost hear city officials saying, “I don’t like when I have to do this, but you just don’t leave me a choice.” City of Boulder, it’s time to take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror and admit you have a problem. If you don’t love the MMJ industry enough to support it and nurture it, let it go find someone who does. Don’t keep dispensaries and wellness centers locked in this twisted relationship. And the MMJ industry? We know it’s hard, but no one deserves to be kicked around. Stand up for yourself, and tell the city that you can only give so much and you deserve love, too, dammit. We suggest blasting Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” if you need to get your nerve up.
BEST ‘GET RICH QUICK’ SCHEME
Be a CU head football coach
While Dan Hawkins might not be a play-making genius, an inspiring leader or even all that likeable, the man sure does know how to make a quick buck. In five years as CU’s head football coach, he amassed millions in base salary and incentives, all without racking up a single winning season. The cherry on top of that abysmal record (if cherries were bitter, heartbreaking disasters that made grown men cry) is that infamous Nov. 7 game at Kansas. Somehow the Jayhawks managed to come back from a 28-point deficit in the last 12 minutes of the game. Correct our math here, but it sounds like they were racking up almost a field goal a minute. Hawkins was such a terrible coach — but such a savvy businessman — that he even convinced the university to pay him $2 million just to go away. If any of us mere mortals were that bad at our jobs, we’d be lucky to get our last paycheck, let alone a buyout. So let’s all take a lesson from Danny’s playbook, sign on as head coach at CU for a few years, run the program deep into the Colorado soil, and then hold out our hands. Hey, it worked for him.
BEST MUDSLINGING OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON, D.C.
Boulder’s West TSA debate
People take their leisure seriously in Boulder County. Threaten a person’s favorite trail or beloved pastime and you’d better be ready for a tantrum of epic proportions. Your intelligence, political views, morals and even your personal hygiene may well get called into question. Folks take this shit seriously. And right now, one of the bitterest debates is between mountain bikers and hikers. For dedicated mountain bikers, though, they aren’t hikers. They’re old, entitled fogies, resenting anyone younger than them, anyone having more fun than they are and anyone who can balance on two wheels. And for hikers, they aren’t mountain bikers. They’re reckless, irresponsible, self-centered thrill seekers, tearing up pristine open space, rutting trails and disturbing wildlife (and probably murdering children while they’re at it). Compromise is a four-letter word, and anyone who doesn’t get exactly what they want in terms of trail usage feels like they’ve suffered an attack on their God-given personal rights. At its worst, it’s the kind of hyperbolic vitriol we’d expect from Rush or Glenn talking about Planned Parenthood or immigration. We’d suggest a wrestling match to settle the trail debate, but then there wouldn’t be anyone left to enjoy them.
And don’t even get us started on the dog debate …
BEST PLACE TO HAVE A BABY
When Boulder Weekly discovered that pregnant women in prison were not just monitored by a guard during labor and delivery, but also shackled to their hospital beds, it struck us as overkill. Editor Pamela White wrote a story about it, then removed her journalist hat and took matters into her own hands, taking an active role in the passage of state legislation outlawing the practice. The package of stories we wrote won a Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) award, and White was subsequently presented with the SPJ’s Keeper of the Flame award for lifetime achievement. Not to toot our own horn too much, but we’re kinda proud of this one. It sort of fits with that whole mission to give voice to the voiceless and all. While women in prison aren’t exactly in the lap of luxury while giving birth now, at least their health care bill is paid for and they aren’t chained to the bedpost like animals.
BEST HICKENLOOPER SUPPORTER
The 2010 elections were a national disaster for Democrats. Despite the fact that the opposition party had so recently overseen the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the Democrats suddenly found themselves poised to lose big in November. On the state level, Republicans threatened to take control of a Senate seat and the governorship — but not if everyone’s favorite crazy conservative, Tom Tancredo, had anything to say about it. For reasons mainly unknown — perhaps he felt disgusted after the Republican primary came down to a bumbling Tea Party candidate with a loose grasp of campaign finance laws and a former Congressman who all but admitted to plagiarism — Tancredo decided to become an American Constitutionalist and run as a third-party candidate, all but handing the election to now-Gov. John Hickenlooper. Tancredo, frighteningly, came in second with 36.7 percent of the vote, and Republican Dan Maes only won a measly 11.2 percent. Had Tancredo siphoned 1.3 percent more of the vote from Maes, the Republicans would have lost major party status in Colorado. So, Republicans — hate Hick? Thank Tom Tancredo.
BEST REASON TO BUY A HUNKY FIREFIGHTER CALENDAR
Whether it’s buying a fundraising calendar full of courageous, bare-chested firefighters or paying a special tax for a fire district, now is the time to support our local blaze-battlers. We’ve had a pretty dry spring, which means we are again facing high fire danger. The Fourmile fire last September and the handful of other conflagrations we’ve seen around the county since then have been devastating to residents in the foothills and a warning for us all. But there have been some silver linings. Our multi-agency emergency response team has ironed out the kinks and is ready to roll. The outpouring of support from county residents strengthened our sense of community, and many of us have learned more about how home insurance works! Check your coverage, cut down all of those bushes that are too close to your cabin, and don’t throw a lit roach out the car window.
BEST SCHOOL SPIRIT
Susan Osbourne’s resume goof
The University of Colorado Boulder can’t get any love. Boulder Mayor Susan Osborne took some heat this year after a reporter revealed that she hadn’t bothered to list CU on her city bio, despite holding both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the university. What school did Osborne list? New York’s Vassar College, where she completed the first two years of her undergrad degree before transferring to CU. It was probably an honest mistake, but then she made this head-scratching statement to the Camera: “I feel as though it’s where my allegiance is,” she said. “The reality is it’s the college that I claim as my own. But my actual B.A. degree is from Boulder.” Really? Her allegiance is to a school where she spent two out of (we’re guessing here) 10 years of her collegiate education? That’s some mighty school spirit for the mighty Vassar Brewers — or perhaps an indication that even successful CU grads don’t care to associate themselves with the school. And that’s a problem even a $785,000 branding study can’t fix.
BEST REASON TO HATE RELIGION
Civil unions bill shot down
Colorado came so, so close to being only the eighth state in the union to pass a law legalizing civil unions. Two Democratic, openly gay legislators, Rep. Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman, proposed a bill in the Senate to give same-sex couples the same rights as married, heterosexual ones. The bill breezed through the Senate with a 32-13 vote and fell into the laps of the House Judicial Committee, where Republicans had gained control after winning a one-seat majority in the House in the 2010 elections. The religious Republicans on the committee voted along party lines to squelch the bill before it had the chance to be voted upon by the General Assembly, where it had a solid chance of passing. Thanks to those six Republicans, our state laws continue to treat gay couples as second-class citizens. Maybe next year our legislators will vote to put Colorado on the right side of history, instead of on the side of hatred and bigotry.
MOST GLARING VEHICULAR HOMICIDE
CU chancellor throws journalism school under the bus
When CU-Boulder’s strong and fearless leader, Phil DiStefano, announced last August that the journalism school would be undergoing a “discontinuance process,” it didn’t pass the sniff test. Still doesn’t. Seems some influential donors/advisory board members got to him, maybe even other persons of influence within the CU administration. Either way, the politics-driven move sabotaged the journalism faculty’s months-long work to create a new curriculum. It also sent a negative and confusing message to current and prospective students, and it was yet another example of the university telegraphing the outcome before going through the motions of faculty review (see Ward Churchill). And while the chancellor never threw his full-bodied support behind the struggling school, the coup de grace was his statement at a February press conference: “I don’t think we have what I would consider to be a first-rate journalism school.” Ouch. What an asshat! We miss the good old days when it was the faculty — not donors, administrators and politicians — who held the most power at a university and had control over what was best for the students.
BEST SHAMELESS EXPLOITATION OF A TRAGEDY
Ken Wilson’s plans to ‘clean up’ the Hill
There’s a dark political saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” After 20-year-old Todd Walker was shot during a botched armed robbery attempt on University Hill, Boulder Deputy Mayor Ken Wilson wasted no time. He wrote a letter to Boulder City Council calling for reforms that seemed more in line with his interests as a Hill homeowner than a concerned deputy mayor, including taxing Hill businesses that serve alcohol after 11 p.m., calling for community Hill clean-ups, discussing how to better enforce nuisance laws and reviewing the effect of budget cuts on police patrol. What does litter have to do with preventing armed robberies? How did the businesses three blocks away from the shooting contribute to Walker’s death? Wilson’s ideas seemed better suited to raising property values in his own neighborhood rather than reducing crime, making us think that maybe it’s time Boulder got a new deputy mayor.
BEST CITY FUNDRAISER
Boulder liquor license stings
It’s no secret that the city is hurting for funds. So what’s the best way to raise them? Set up a bunch of bars and restaurants in the hope that some of them will serve underage drinkers or serve drinks past the 2 a.m. curfew. Then the city can fine them and make them pay to get their liquor licenses back. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. Sure, it could hurt some of the smaller venues in the long run, especially if they can’t serve liquor for a set amount of time, but, hey, the city needs that quick cash to buy iPads for Boulder City Council members. Some of the “stings” consist of people coming into bars with expired IDs, fake IDs or no ID at all, so bar owners beware!
BEST CONTORTION ACT AFTER BEING BOXED IN
Beloved Pearl Street Mall performer Ibashi-I displayed perhaps his best act yet when he escaped deportation to his home country, the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. The busker, whose act involves folding his body into impossible positions and cramming himself into a 20-inch Plexiglas cube, had been ticketed a couple of times for possession of marijuana. Yawn. But during a 2009 layover in Puerto Rico on his way back from a trip to his homeland, a customs agent noticed the cannabis crimes. Ibashi-I lost his green card and was threatened with deportation despite his long residency here and the fact that he has American children. However, in March, after an outpouring of community support for the performer, an immigration judge canceled the deportation order. We applaud the judge for being so flexible, and we cheer Ibashi-I for another jaw-dropping performance. We’d also like to give him a tip. Keep your nose clean, because you’ve received your only mulligan.
BEST WAY TO KEEP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT POPULATION HIGH
DREAM Act fails to pass
There have been lots of complaints about the continued rise in illegal immigration and the high population of undocumented immigrants in the United States. So when an idea is offered to get that number down, you would think the complainers would hop on it without question! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when it came to the DREAM Act, a proposal that would create a path to citizenship for immigrant children who came to the United States illegally with their parents before the age of 16, graduate from high school, have “good moral character,” go on to college or join the military. But no, opponents want to shun these young people, who are willing to pay taxes, contribute to society and live a “moral” life. Nice move, Senators, because we don’t want those kinds of people living in our country, do we?
BEST REASON TO HANG OUT IN LAFAYETTE
Good ole Lafayette, Colo. Known for its coal mining history and annual Oatmeal Festival — and now its alien visitation. It seems like Lafayette is trying to give Roswell, N.M., a run for its “cool little alien town” title. In March, several residents recorded some eerie lights floating in the sky, forming a triangle. In the videos that spread across YouTube, the lights made no sound, were pretty still, didn’t flicker and after awhile, slowly moved northeast, eventually fading. What was it? A plane? A satellite? Aliens coming for a visit? Captain Kirk having a bit of engine trouble? The unidentified flying objects had the town buzzing with alien talk and extraterrestrial enthusiasts coming to town to investigate. There was no official word on what the lights were, so in the meantime, we’ll be staring at the Lafayette skies, cameras in hand, hoping for a return visit (cue X-Files theme music).
BEST CLEAN-UP CREW
Heaven Fest supporters
When the Bible-beating Heaven Fest crowd was preparing to descend on Longmont last August, local left-leaning rabble-rousers squawked about the anticipated impacts of the event, which was expected to bring upwards of 35,000 people to some farmland near Union Reservoir for live Christian music. Indeed, there was a lot of traffic, but by and large, the predictions about waterfowl being trampled to death and garbage floating in the lake did not come to fruition. The day after the event ended, a small army of volunteers were out walking the fields and the shores of Union Reservoir, picking up every discarded water bottle and Jesus pamphlet until the area was as spotless as a saint’s conscience. Boulder Deputy Mayor Ken Wilson should draft these people for his little University Hill clean-up project. Maybe they could convince some of those wasted college kids to adopt a sober, God-fearing lifestyle while they’re at it.