Best of Boulder 2013: Staff Picks Get Political

Longmont mayor Dennis Coombs
Photo courtesy of the city of Longmont

STAFF PICK: Politician Who Got His Start in Brewing


right? Did you actually think we were going to choose Gov. John
Hickenlooper? These two brewpub owners are in the middle of a face-off
over Longmont’s voter-approved fracking ban, and we happen to come down
on the side of the little guy, local control and citizens’ rights to
have a say in the health and safety of their communities. In the battle
of politico brewers, Dennis Coombs wins hands down.

STAFF PICK: Energy Drink


this one takes the cake as one of the worst, most misleading publicity
stunts we’ve seen all year. When our governor, John Hickenlooper, told
a congressional committee in February that he drank fracking fluid to
demonstrate how safe it is, it turned out that the version of fluid he
was drinking was not actually the toxic brew that’s being used in
wells in Colorado. It was a new, safe-to-drink version that is too
expensive for companies to use. Maybe when he doesn’t get re-elected,
Frackenlooper will wake up and smell the methane.

STAFF PICK: Environmental Moment


governor said they couldn’t do it. The oil and gas companies said they
couldn’t do it. Industry trade groups like COGA went to unbelievable and
even questionable lengths to stop them from doing it. A bunch of old
crusty former Republican mayors said they shouldn’t do it. The industry
hired consultants and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to
buy the election to prevent them from doing it. But the people said no, no to fracking in
their city, not now, not ever. They stood up to the unprecedented
pressure being applied to them and they won. They stood up for their
health, their children’s health and their property values. It was an
amazing stand and it was this year’s best environmental moment for
Boulder County and one of the best for the planet.

STAFF PICK: Fastest $4 Million Profit


Remember the Daily Camera building,
that last, great, redevelopment opportunity near the Pearl Street
Mall? Well, a funny thing happened on its way to getting redeveloped,
namely, somebody made a cool $4 million without doing much of
anything at all. Here’s the play: In 2009, a bunch of regional big
hitters like Randy Nichols, Stephen Tebo, Richard Foy and the like were
all bidding about $8 million to buy the building. Then suddenly, they
all pulled back their bids at about the same time and walked away from
the deal. Then, a year later, Karlin Real Estate of California bought
the building for $9 million. Then, in 2012, just two years later,
having never redeveloped a single brick, Karlin turns around and
resells the Camera building for $13 million, a $4 million
profit. The buyer, believe it or not, was Nichols Partnership, a
company owned by Randy Nichols, who had pulled his $8 million dollar
bid just a few years before. We don’t know if any of the other local
developers are part of the Nichols’ deal, but Karlin made a lot of
money in a short time by doing very, very, little. Seems like the Camera’s parent company got taken to the cleaners on this one.

STAFF PICK: Place to Go Hunting


A late-night shooting
in a quiet neighborhood; a defenseless victim; cops out of control;
community outrage. Take a sad, all-too-common story in today’s news,
and then hilariously Boulder-ize it, and you’ve got Mapleton Elkgate.

At its heart, of
course, the story isn’t funny. Boulder cops allegedly broke the law and
killed an adult elk out of season in a residential neighborhood. Alert
residents on Mapleton Hill recorded the cops posing with the
dead animal and taking it away, leading to an investigation and,
eventually, to the cops’ resignations and to charges from the Boulder
County district attorney.

The funny part? Take
your pick: A Facebook page in memory of “Big Boy” has almost 1,000
“likes.” Residents have proposed a statue of an elk. Boulderites held a
candlelight vigil, calling the shooting a “murder” and a “tragedy.”

We don’t mean to
offend by calling these things funny. But when you’re faced with
Facebook comments about the officers like “I would go to the elk’s
memorial before ever going to theirs!” we laugh because otherwise we
might cry.

STAFF PICK: Exiled Political Gadfly


Boulder has its share of gadflies who like to harass our city
officials, and often it’s warranted, but only one of those activists
actually got run out of town. Seth Brigham, who had the gall to
question city council members about their inability to properly fill out
their financial disclosure forms, got slapped with a restraining order
that, thankfully, a judge struck down. When he went off his meds and
displayed some inappropriate behavior, instead of treating this mentally
unstable man with compassion, authorities arrested him and threw him in
the hoosegow. If it happened to us, we’d relocate to Milwaukee too.

STAFF PICK: Nanny State


was a no-brainer. Nearly every city and town in Boulder County looks
like a more progressive bastion of independence and freedom than Boulder
these days, thanks to a number of bizarre moves by City of Boulder officials
over the last few years. Our taxpayer-funded and elected government in
Boulder has been trying to crack down on bars even when there is no
proof of any liquor law violations, require people to get permits to
exercise their constitutionally protected right to protest, make life
harder for the homeless by ticketing them for sleeping in town,
over-regulate marijuana and even support CU’s heavy-handed,
military-style effort to shut down our public university in order to
squelch free speech on 4/20. What a difference a few years of misguided
government can make. Please come back, Boulder. The world still needs
what you once were.

STAFF PICK: Sighting


annual animal sightings around Boulder follow a pretty predictable
pattern — as do the responses from the public. There’s the spring return
of prairie dogs, which had better inspire an “Aww” or you’re a monster;
the January-to-July nesting period for cliff-dwelling raptors, which
blocks access to numerous climbing areas; and the osprey pair that nests
at Boulder County Fairgrounds and is popular enough to have a live
video feed.

But the best sighting of the year has to be the North American River Otter, spotted
by an Open Space and Mountain Parks wildlife surveillance camera along
Boulder Creek March 7, 2013. The endangered mammal was photographed at
night, chowing down on a fish. Driven to local extinction by hunting and
pollution early in the 1900s, the otter’s on its way back on the
Western Slope. Here’s to hoping this is the first of many sightings on
the Front Range.

STAFF PICK: Attempt to Get in a Taylor Swift Song


it comes to lyrics, country superstar Taylor Swift really only has one
trick in her bag. Heartbreak, namely her own, is Swift’s favorite
subject to sing about, and given her fame, beauty and wealth, there are
many men out there dying for the chance to inspire a new hit.

But when Crocs founder George Boedecker got
arrested on a DUI charge in August 2012 (to which he eventually pled
guilty), he took celebrity-chasing to a whole different level. When
officers found his Porsche Carrera parked askew with one wheel on the
sidewalk, he told them his girlfriend had been driving the car and had
gotten out and left him. He told the officer his lady friend was “really
fucking famous,” and then asked, “Do you know who Taylor Swift is?”

makes Manti Te’o look like a total gentleman. At least Te’o claimed to
be in love with his imaginary girlfriend — Boedecker tried to make his
a patsy. One thing we know for sure: She will never, ever, ever write a
song about that imaginary experience.

STAFF PICK: Made-up Riot


In March 2013, Tyler, The Creator, of
rap group Odd Future, was scheduled to play a free show at the Fox
Theatre. Crowds, estimated to be in the thousands, started lining up for
tickets at 3 p.m., and at around 6 p.m., things started getting unruly.
A Jimmy John’s employee got punched in the face, bottles might have
been thrown. Cue the Boulder Police Department, which responded to the
“riot situation” by sending 75 officers, some in riot gear, to the
scene. (Tyler, for his part, did his role to help calm the situation by
tweeting out gay slurs.) But judging by all accounts, a riot it was not.
It’s tough to tell what exactly warranted all those cops from BPD —
wouldn’t 15 have done the trick? It’s not like a herd of elk was
marching on the Hill or anything.