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Public Eye



The much-ballyhooed Joint Operating Agreement between the state's two largest newspapers is complete -- and after reading last weekend's Saturday Rocky Mountain News and Sunday Denver Post, they seem like one big, unhappy family.

The JOA ostensibly co-joins the business side of the two newspapers, leaving what the two papers promise will be independent editorial voices.

As part of the JOA, the newspapers agreed that the two papers would publish independently Monday through Friday. On Saturday, the Rocky, which bowed to the Post after experiencing $60 million in losses, will publish one paper. The Post got the big prize -- the Sunday edition.

However, the agreement calls for each paper to get one editorial page in the other paper's pages on their respective days off -- and this is where it might get fun. In last Sunday's Post, the Rocky introduced a "Talk Back" media forum where readers are encouraged to offer criticism of both newspapers and other news outlets.

Columnist Greg Dobbs used the space in part to bash Post columnist Chuck Green, who was busy blustering in another part of the paper about how the Rocky screwed up and "lost" the newspaper war -- and about how thrilled he is to have the Garfield the Cat cartoon back in their Sunday paper.

Dobbs pointed out that just last week Green unfairly and inaccurately attacked the Rocky when he wrote a column claiming that the News once spiked a story about a sexual harassment lawsuit that had been filed against advertiser Jake Jabs. The Rocky, of course, had done no such thing, which forced the Post to run a correction the next day. Green subsequently wrote that he had been "somewhat" wrong, but Dobbs didn't buy it. Noting that it is far from the first time Green has had problems with his facts, Dobbs noted that: "Wrong is wrong. Accurate is accurate."

But the truly most bizarre offering of the weekend was the lead "news" piece in Saturday's Rocky -- a long flowery, gushing narrative about rich socialite Sharon Magness. It was a "rags-to-riches story" about the "luckiest woman in the world" and the story included just about every clich ever uttered.

The Rocky claimed it was the first in-depth interview ever conducted with cable magnate Bob Magness' widow, and we're talking a very shallow pool. We learned, for example, that there are advantages of being perceived as a dumb blonde, that Sharon Magness has gotten liposuction (because "I want to be the best I can be") -- and that her daily exercise regimen includes 45 minutes on a treadmill and 20 minutes of weight training.


This week, the Colorado House of Representatives killed one of two remaining growth-related bills in a session that Colorado lawmakers had gone into vowing to tackle the state's unrestrained sprawl.

The move came just after Democratic Senate President Stan Matsunaka predicted that the two bills -- one has passed the House, one the Senate -- would ultimately be combined by lawmakers from both chambers.

But by killing Senate Bill 148, which would have required Colorado communities to craft plans on how to deal with growth, the only bill still alive is House Bill 1225 -- which was written by the state's developers' lobby and passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The bill actually encourages sprawl and would prohibit cities from restricting growth. It truly is growth planning as only developers could envision it.

It's unclear as of this writing how or if the Senate will adjust the proposal and make it more palatable to us regular people. Perhaps they'll just kill it, leaving Colorado once again without any uniform way to control unrestrained sprawl.

Not surprisingly, the Colorado Environmental Coalition -- which sponsored last November's failed Amendment 24 -- was quick to attack the House's action this week.

"Rather than answering citizen calls for responsible growth legislation, House lawmakers passed a 'Just Say Yes to Development Bill' and then killed the Senate's compromise growth bill," said CEC Executive Director Elise Jones. "In effect, the House has said it's the developers' way or the highway."

Steve Burkholder, the mayor of Lakewood, echoed Jones' dismay.

"The current version of HB 1225 is not growth management legislation. It is a developers' bill of rights to ignore local and regional planning," he said.

But what did Jones and Burkholder expect? Does anyone actually believe that the Legislature would do what it promised it would with regard to tackling sprawl? When it comes to potentially angering the powerful developers' lobby -- and biting the developers' hands that feed their campaign pockets -- who is kidding whom?


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