Best of Boulder County 2011

Boulder Weekly Staff

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

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


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.


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.


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.


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 …


Colorado prisons

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.


Tom Tancredo

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.


Local wildfires

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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.


DREAM Act fails to pass

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?


Aliens/UFO sightings

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).


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.