Who Had the Worst Week?

So, who won the week?

  • Lydia Prado of the nonprofit Lifespan Local was named the 9News Leader of the Year.
  • The Colorado Rockies may be an inept dumpster fire that owns fourth place in our five-team division, but one day a year optimism reigns: Opening Day. Everyone is a Rockies fan today.
  • If you are a fan of road rage, good news! A new state law that allows bicyclists to roll through stop signs will no doubt further anger a subset of drivers convinced that bikes are the root of all road evils.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • Facebook may have rebranded as Meta, but some things never change. The Washington Post outed the company this week as being responsible for a behind-the-scenes smear campaign against competitor TikTok. The details are wide-ranging, but the bottom line is that Facebook/Meta remains evil.
  • The City of Denver seems to have some ambivalence about “the Mayor of Pickleball.” Denver Parks & Rec filed a complaint with the Denver Police Department, and DPD arrested the 71-year-old man on charges of vandalism causing damage in excess of $10,000. The Denver District Attorney’s Office, however, is refusing to file charges and is encouraging mediation to resolve the issue.
    • Speaking of the Denver Police Department, Chief Paul Pazen has been mentioned as a potential candidate for Denver mayor, but you have to think last week’s $14 million federal jury judgement against the DPD for its handling of the George Floyd protests, combined with a recent brutal report alleging he was “paralyzed” about how to respond to the protests, has ended those ambitions.
    • Perhaps more embarrassing than the $14 million judgement itself was the Denver Police union’s response. President Nick Rogers, literally wearing camouflage cargo shorts and a beard bundled up in rubber bands, held a “press conference” alleging that downtown Denver would have been destroyed like Kyiv, Ukraine, if not for the heroic actions of officers.
  • The Will Smith-Chris Rock Slap Heard ‘Round the World” was an embarrassing situation on all fronts, and there were three clear losers: Smith never should have gone on stage to confront Rock; Rock never should have made a joke about someone’s medical condition; and the Academy never should have allowed a comedian to mock one of its members live from the stage.
    • How bad was Slapgate for Smith? O.J. Simpson released a video saying that he thought Smith was wrong to have hit Rock.
    • Smith issued an apology on Monday, and if you were under the impression that Rock also issued an apology, you were duped.
  • Verizon customers are getting spam text messages from an unlikely source – themselves.
  • Hate groups remain prevalent in Colorado, according to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • If you had any doubts that wildfire season in Colorado has expanded to year-round, the December and now March fires in Boulder County and Estes Park should put that to rest. Can’t say I’m excited about what July will bring.
  • The actor Bruce Willis has retired after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disease that impacts cognitive abilities.
  • The St. Peter’s Peacocks were the Cinderella of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, but one week after losing to the University of North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Seton Hall hired the team’s head coach away.
  • Denver’s street sweeping program resumes today, and it is expected to generate about $7.7 million in tickets for Denver drivers who fail to move their parked cars from city streets on designated days.

So, who won the week?

  • Colorado Springs was named ninth on a list of “best-performing” cities nationally, ahead of Denver which ranked 14th. The report noted that Colorado Springs is now a top destination for tech workers and recent college graduates.
  • The public may be able to ride RTD for free in August under legislation working its way through the statehouse. The proposed pilot program attempts to address air emissions during Denver’s hot, often-smoggy summer.
  • Young women are starting to out-earn their male counterparts in certain markets, reversing a trend that has existed since, I don’t know, caveman days. Women in San Diego now earn 105% of their male peers and those in New York City and Washington, D.C., earn 102%.
  • The US Men’s National Soccer Team qualified for the 2022 World Cup, rebounding from their failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament.

‘Westword was accidentally included on all of the emails’

Five Points real estate has become a soap opera over the past year, no more so than the situation that forced the historic Welton Street Cafe to close last week. A real estate development company, the FlyFisher Group, has been the source of most of the controversy, and the fact that it is a Black-owned company that is behaving in a manner some Black businesses and advocates describe as predatory makes it an even more sensational story.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh at Westword reported on the situation today, and his story included a phrase that is every PR person’s nightmare: “Westword was accidentally included on all of the emails.” From the article:

Westword reached out to both Burkett and his lawyer, Kim Ritter, for comment. Ritter forwarded that email to Burkett, who then forwarded the email to Sarah Cullen, a local public relations professional (at SideCar PR) who is serving as a spokesperson for Burkett, with this question: “Sarah any thoughts on this?”

Cullen’s response to Burkett and FlyFisher Group chief of staff Karina Tineo: “Happy to provide the ‘we don’t respond to active lawsuits’ comment like last time. Or we can let him know you’re traveling and ask for questions to see what he has and is focusing on.”

Westword was accidentally included on all of the emails. “First, [the FlyFisher Group] has not filed any lawsuits. Second, I am out of town and third we do not comment on ongoing litigation,” Burkett wrote in an email back to Cullen.

If You Can’t Beat Them … Orchestrate an Elaborate, Behind-the-Scenes Smear Campaign

I would describe it as unbelievable, but we’re talking about Facebook Meta, which makes it completely believable. From Taylor Lorenz and Drew Harwell at The Washington Post:

“Facebook parent company Meta is paying one of the biggest Republican consulting firms in the country to orchestrate a nationwide campaign seeking to turn the public against TikTok. The campaign includes placing op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook, and pushing to draw political reporters and local politicians into helping take down its biggest competitor.” …

“Employees with the firm, Targeted Victory, worked to undermine TikTok through a nationwide media and lobbying campaign portraying the fast-growing app, owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, as a danger to American children and society, according to internal emails shared with The Washington Post. … Campaign operatives were also encouraged to use TikTok’s prominence as a way to deflect from Meta’s own privacy and antitrust concerns.”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • Minutes after setting up at Denver’s Union Station for a report on escalating crime at the transit hub, CBS4 reporter Kelly Werthmann and an undisclosed photojournalist were accosted and the cameraman was assaulted. Construction company Kiewit became collateral damage in this story because the man who committed the assault – likely someone experiencing homelessness who was wearing donated clothing – had a jacket with a Kiewit logo on it.
  • The Central Park Recreational Center and “the Mayor of Pickleball” are locked in a dispute over permanent pickleball lines on multi-use courts. The latest twist involves the Denver Police Department and felony charges of vandalism totaling more than $10,000.
  • Despite threats from REI, Patagonia, North Face and others that they would boycott any Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah, the show’s organizers announced that it will leave Denver after this year and relocate to Salt Lake City. Visit Denver officials estimate the economic impact of the trade show at $40-60 million annually.
  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek ‘s strategy of trying to stay out of politics has backfired spectacularly as a revolt led by employees against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation has put the company in the spotlight. Employees engaged in walkouts and March Madness announcers at ESPN (which is owned by Disney) started several games with two minutes of silence in protest. Chapek’s contract is up for renewal in a year, and how he handles this crisis may be what determines whether he stays at Disney.
  • Speaking of Disney, the theme park apologized for a performance by a Texas high school cheerleading squad that included “the team dancing and chanting ‘scalp ’em Indians, scalp ’em’ ‘ while performing moves that appear to appropriate Native American culture in a parade at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park.” If only there had been some clue that the Port Neches-Grove High School Indianettes might perform something controversial.
  • NFL QB Deshaun Watson has pending civil lawsuits from 22 women alleging sexual abuse, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Cleveland Browns from signing him to a five-year, $230 million, fully guaranteed contract.
  • Kanye West may have five Grammy nominations this year, but Recording Academy executives are concerned enough about his increasingly erratic and abusive behavior that they won’t allow him to perform at the televised awards ceremony.

So, who won the week?

  • Denver media experienced a euphoric moment when two of its very favorite things intersected: a disaster and the Denver Broncos. Coverage of a relatively small fire at Empower Field received a surprisingly large amount of coverage.
  • Approximately $13.5 million of the $436 million philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is giving to Habitat for Humanity is designated for its Denver chapter. It is Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver’s largest single donation in its history. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains also received a record $20 million donation from Scott.
  • The Denver Nuggets extended head coach Michael Malone’s contract, giving him a chance to set the franchise’s all-time wins record. He currently is third (309 wins), behind Doug Moe (432 wins) and George Karl (423 wins).
  • Former soccer star David Beckham handed over control of his Instagram account that has more than 71 million followers to a doctor in Ukraine to highlight the conditions in the country and the “amazing work” medical teams are doing. Beckham is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • “Denver police suffered a ‘total leadership failure’ amid the George Floyd protests in 2020, and chief Paul Pazen appeared ‘paralyzed’ about how to respond,” according to new documents obtained by Axios Denver.
  • Frank “The Strong Arm” Azar again finds himself in need of a talented lawyer. Months after suing his accountant, and then suing a second accountant he hired to fix his first accountant’s mess, Azar is suing an out-of-state lawyer whom he says is using Google ads to illegally poach clients.
  • College basketball fans in our state had a humbling week, going 0-3. The Colorado State men’s team’s March Madness experience lasted only two hours as the Rams were beaten by the University of Michigan Wolverines in the first game of the first round of that tournament. Meanwhile, the University of Colorado men’s team could only make the NIT tournament and then lost its first-round game to St. Bonaventure. And, finally, the University of Colorado women’s team lost its first-round game in the NCAA tournament today.
  • The Denver Broncos’ off-season moves have created a media frenzy, and The Denver Gazette got a little too caught up in it when it erroneously reported the Broncos had signed free agent linebacker Chandler Jones. He actually has signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.
  • Gig economy workers at Uber and Lyft say that high gas prices may be the breaking point for drivers who were already operating on razor-thin margins.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbia University as the second-best university in the country, but a professor in the school’s math department says its a fraud and that the university is gaming the system.
  • As it heads into this year’s tax season, the IRS is hiring 10,000 employees to help it get through 23 million returns it still hasn’t processed from last year.
  • CNN is an HR dumpster fire. Former anchor Chris Cuomo filed a $125 million lawsuit against the news network alleging that he was wrongfully terminated by Jeff Zucker, who has since resigned following the disclosure of his inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

So, who won the week?

  • Coors has restarted its brewery tours that famously come with free samples.
  • Denver Film’s Sie FilmCenter has re-opened and increased the programming available to movie fans.
  • ESPN is determined to make Monday Night Football the biggest game of the week, and it has lured announcers Troy Aikman and Joe Buck away from FOX to make it happen.

Columbia University Professor Challenges Own School’s USN&WR Ranking

Anemona Hartocollis at The New York Times: “Everyone knows that students buff their résumés when applying to college. But a math professor is accusing Columbia University of buffing its own résumé — or worse — to climb the all-important U.S. News & World Report rankings of best universities.”

“Michael Thaddeus, who specializes in algebraic geometry at Columbia, has challenged the university’s No. 2 ranking this year with a statistical analysis that found that key supporting data was ‘inaccurate, dubious or highly misleading.'”

“In a 21-page blistering critique on his website, Dr. Thaddeus is not only challenging the rating but redoubling the debate over whether college rankings — used by millions of prospective college students and their parents — are valuable or even accurate.”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • The HOA for Green Valley Ranch has filed an astonishing 68 foreclosure notices for unpaid fines associated with basic covenant violations such as paint color, basketball hoops and trash cans left in the street. The foreclosure notices represent 57% of those filed in all of Denver over the past year. City officials are so concerned about the issue that they have scheduled a community meeting to offering resources to homeowners.
  • Two prosecutors in the Denver City Attorneys Office resigned and a third was suspended after emails and chat messages showed them “disparaging their bosses, boasting about how little they were working during their stay-at-home phase of the pandemic, confessing to misusing a criminal records database and reveling in causing a co-worker to suffer a ‘nervous breakdown.’”
  • Denver drivers spend an extra 41 hours in traffic annually due to congestion. The bright side? That’s a little more than half of what drivers in New York City and Los Angeles spend.
  • The Colorado Classic bike race has showcased Colorado to an international audience, but unless it finds a $3 million title sponsor it will have to shut down.
  • Speaking of bicycles, Denver’s oldest bike shop – Turin Bicyclesis closing after 51 years due to increased rents and continued disruptions to the global supply chain.
  • Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the 2022 season after gambling on NFL games last season. The $1,500 in bets he placed will cost him $11.1 million in lost salary.
  • Ryan Coogler, the Hollywood director of movies such as “Black Panther,” “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station,” was handcuffed by police when employees at a Bank of America branch mistook his request to withdraw cash from his checking account as an attempted robbery.
  • Women’s basketball star Brittney Griner may be a political prisoner in Russia. She was arrested in Moscow on alleged drug violations and her fate is now dependent on a Russian justice system that is unlikely to do an American any favors.
  • Texas has successfully positioned itself as a business-friendly state, and companies such as Toyota, Oracle, Tesla and Apple have relocated or expanded their operations there in recent years. But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s move to classify care for trans teens as “child abuse” is getting push-back from businesses such as Johnson & Johnson, Macy’s, Apple, Meta, Google, Ikea and REI.

So, who won the week?

  • The Broncos traded for star QB Russell Wilson, and the winners of that trade are numerous. Broncos GM George Paton made a career-defining move and Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett now has a quarterback capable of competing in the division. Meanwhile, the Bowlen kids likely saw the value of the franchise increase in the months before its sale now that it has a true “franchise quarterback,” and Broncos fans can start dreaming of playoff wins rather than just hoping it finds its way to a 8-9 record.
  • 9News is one of the big winners from Denver DA Beth McCann’s decision to drop second-degree murder charges against security guard Matthew Dolloff. He was the unlicensed security guard working for the news station during the 2020 protests when he shot and killed a man who confronted and threatened a 9News reporter and then attacked Dolloff. A trial would have dragged 9News back into the story and created another wave of anti-media and anti-9News threats.

Great Moments in Social Media

When International Women’s Day rolls around, social media is flooded with posts from companies touting their commitment to women.

In the U.K., though, large companies are required to disclose their gender pay gaps using actual payroll data. So, of course, there is now the Gender Pay Gap Bot that shares that pay gap in response to any company that posts about their support for IWD (h/t to my colleague Kathleen Deal).

‘Brad is an Idiot’: Denver City Attorneys Mocked Bosses, Confessed To Loafing While Working From Home During Pandemic

Brian Maass at CBS4: “Three veteran prosecutors with Denver’s City Attorneys Office used an internal city email and messaging system to repeatedly disparage their bosses, boast about how little they were working during their stay-at-home phase of the pandemic, confessed to misusing a criminal records database and reveled in causing a co-worker to suffer a ‘nervous breakdown’ according to disciplinary documents obtained by CBS4. Two of the three lawyers resigned during a disciplinary investigation and the third was suspended but returned to her job.” …

“Attorneys Eric Reece and Kristina Bush resigned during the investigation into their conduct. Emily Reisdorph was suspended without pay for 15 days and has resumed working for the City Attorneys Office.  All three worked in the Prosecution and Code Enforcement Section of the office. Reece was a Senior Assistant City Attorney as was Reisdorph. Bush was an Assistant City Attorney.” …

“When a Black female attorney named Kimberly resigned from her job with the City Attorney’s Office, the group named their online chat group “Kimberly Killers” and reveled in the woman’s apparent ‘nervous breakdown.’ Learning of what happened, Bush wrote to the others, “That’s the best news I’ve heard since quarantine. I feel so satisfied by this. I’ve been humming all morning. She then sent a message with a gif patting herself on the back. Reisdorph responded, ‘You can’t take credit for that all on your own. We pushed her too far… we sent her into a nervous breakdown.’ Bush boasted, ‘Because really, this is our doing.’ Administrators in the City Attorneys Office termed the conversations ‘racially insensitive.'”

So what happened to attorneys Eric Reece and Kristina Bush following their resignations? Reece is now an associate attorney at the Denver law firm Sutton Booker, and Bush is an associate attorney at Robinson & Henry in Highlands Ranch.

In Memoriam

Randy Blauvelt, who held a number of senior communications positions in Denver with organizations such as Rocky Mountain PBS, the American Humane Association and First Nations Development Institute, has passed away. He was 67 years old.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • Former Loveland police officer Austin Hopp faces up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree assault during the arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia.
  • Two months after the devastating Marshall Fire, debris clean-up for Boulder County homeowners has not yet started due to a lawsuit over the selection of a controversial company.
  • Westword continues to publish mug shots of individuals arrested for – but not convicted of – crimes, despite widespread acknowledgement of the damage it can do to people’s lives and the disproportionate impact on people of color. Even worse, Westword is using the mugshots as clickbait on social media.
  • A disagreement over subpoena power between Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien and the Denver City Council has gone nuclear.
  • United Airlines must pay $2.3 million to two flight attendants whom the airline fired for watching an iPad during a break. The pair’s attorney successfully argued that United’s disciplinary system was nonsensical and applied inconsistently.
  • She may be the greatest women’s tennis player of all time, but Serena Williams is still fighting the same indignities that affect other people of color.
  • Major League Baseball cancelled the first two series of the season – or “MLB has canceled the Rockies first 5 losses of the season,” as CPR’s Vic Vela put it – when owners and players were unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
  • A JetBlue pilot was removed from the cockpit and registered 0.17% on a breathalyzer, more than four times the limit allowed by the FAA. I’m not sure what’s scarier – a drunk pilot or the fact that the FAA allows pilots fly when they register 0.04% on a breathalyzer.

So, who won the week?

PRWeek Releases 2022 Salary Survey

PRWeek released the results of its annual salary survey and the results show that it was a good year financially for the PR industry.

The median annual salary for public relations professionals increased from $100,000 to $110,000, a 10% increase that is the largest percentage increase since 2017:

Graphic: PRWeek

Agency public relations professionals saw salaries grow double digits on average regardless of title, with senior account executives seeing the largest percentage increase (25%):

Graphic: PRWeek

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • 9News’ parent company TEGNA reached a deal to be acquired by a hedge fund, in a move that cannot portend good things for the station or its staff members.
  • Following two settlements totaling $825,000 this week, the City and County of Denver has now paid more than $3 million to individuals who were injured by police during the George Floyd protests in 2020.
  • The metro Denver area has not seen temperatures rise above freezing since Monday, and the forecast calls for those sub-freezing temperatures to remain until tomorrow.
  • Investors in an Idaho Springs resort project that would connect the historic Argo Mill (EPA Superfund sites can be historic, right?) to a city park via a 1.2-mile gondola sued when they realized their money had disappeared from an escrow account. Put more succinctly: their money is gon-dola.
  • Five weeks after relocating from California to accept the position as president of the Northern Colorado Owlz minor league baseball team and the Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC soccer team, Rosalind Aguilera is out. Aguilera and owner Jeff Katofsky apparently butted heads over a lack of resources, which Aguilera said was “a mess.” If you are an employment lawyer in Fort Collins, you’ll want to jump on this one right away.
  • Golfer Phil Mickelson lost sponsors KPMG and Amstel Light after he said he was willing to work with Saudis on a golf super league even though “they killed [Washington Post columnist Jamal] Khashoggi and … they execute people over there for being gay.”
  • For a moment, it appeared Applebee’s was the official sponsor of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
  • Crain’s NY reported that 5WPR’s Ronn Torossian is using a news site he covertly owns to praise his clients and attack his enemies. If true, it would be an enormous ethical violation, not to mention run afoul of FTC rules.
  • Bald eagles have made an amazing comeback in the U.S., but a new study found that 46% of them suffer from chronic lead poisoning. Researchers blame lead bullets used by hunters that fragment and remain in animal carcasses that are scavenged by the eagles.

So, who won the week?

  • DIA unveiled a list of new restaurants that would rival any food hall in Denver. Maria Empanada, El Chingon, Rosenberg’s Bagels, Mercantile Dining & Provision and Cholon are among the restaurants that will open over the next year.
  • The union representing RTD workers says it is close to finalizing an agreement that would give 25% raises over three years to its members.
  • A week after learning that the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade would return to downtown for the first time in two years, the organizers of Denver’s annual Cinco de Mayo Festival announced that it too would return this year.
  • The Little Nell (Aspen), Hotel Jerome (Aspen) and the Broadmoor (Colorado Springs) topped U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 list of top hotels in Colorado. And the Four Seasons, the Ritz-Carlton, the Art Hotel Denver and the Oxford Hotel topped the list of Denver-area hotels.

Boulder’s MAPRagency Rebrands as Comprise

Boulder’s MAPRagency has unveiled an extensive rebrand that includes a new name — Comprise. The firm made the change to better communicate the firm’s full range of service offerings that include public relations, digital marketing and creative services.

“When people thought about our old brand, PR was often the only service that came to mind and our other areas of expertise got lost entirely. Plus, the ideals tied to our old name no longer matched our company’s personality,” said Jennifer Stevens, Comprise’s vice president of digital and creative services. “From a new name to alignment with our brand’s identity and evolved product and service offerings, there are many reasons to undergo the challenging but rewarding process of rebranding an organization. In our case, the new name and look describe our evolution within the shifting media landscape for the last three-plus decades.”

Hedge Fund Strikes Deal to Acquire TEGNA; Will 9News Suffer the Same Fate as The Denver Post?

What would 9News be without Kyle Clark, Kathy Sabine, Marshall Zelinger, Nicole Vap, Chris Vanderveen, Kim Christiansen and Jeremy Jojola? Sadly, we may find out now that news has broken that the hedge fund Standard General LP, pending regulatory approvals, will acquire 9News parent company TEGNA for $8.6 billion. Twelve years ago, The Denver Post was acquired by another investment firm, Alden Global Capital, and it cut the Post’s newsroom by approximately two-thirds – from 250 journalists in 2010 to fewer than 70 by 2018. Is 9News facing a similar future?

Some of the most visible and respected (and compensated) television journalists in Denver may become free agents in the coming months and years, which has the potential to completely reshape television news in our city. If I am the GM at CBS4, Fox31 or Denver7, I am preparing to open my wallet to poach as many of the 9News journalists as I can in an effort to end 9News’ ratings dominance.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • The International Olympic Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Russian Olympic Committee put 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva in a no-win situation, and the result was a meltdown on an international stage. The gold medal favorite tested positive for a banned drug, but was allowed to compete in the women’s singles competition while a full review is conducted. Valieva placed fourth after a shocking performance that saw her fall twice, and the tears and agony that followed were almost unwatchable. This tragedy is now what will define the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
  • The woes at DIA continue. Denver auditor Tim O’Brien released a report that found that the airport’s “process for selecting operators for its restaurant, bar, retail and passenger service locations isn’t fair and the incentive program the airport offers concessionaires should be ended.”
  • Denver is officially the worst city in the country for car theft.
  • NBA legend and broadcaster Charles Barkley accused Denver Nuggets fans of being “whiney” when they complain that Nikola Jokic doesn’t get the respect he deserves as the reigning league MVP.
  • If you are waiting for your new luxury vehicle, it may be longer than expected. A massive cargo ship carrying 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys is on fire off the coast of the Azores. The ship was due into a Rhode Island port on Wednesday.
  • Kanye West is a walking train wreck in the best of circumstances, but even he recognized his stalky behavior toward his ex, Kim Kardashian, this week signaled he was spiraling. He offered a rare apology.
  • Russian Olympic speed skater Daniil Aldoshkin flipped the bird to the sparse crowd following his team’s gold-medal win in Beijing. He later apologized.
  • The Dallas Cowboys reached a $2.4 million settlement with four members of its cheerleading team to settle allegations that the team’s former head of PR, Richard Dalrymple, spied on them.

So, who won the week?

  • There is one more Coloradan at the Winter Olympics than we realized. Northglenn Police Detective Jackie Spresser is a hockey referee in Beijing.
  • Bellco and parade organizers announced that the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place for the first time since 2019. The parade will begin at 9:30 am at 19th and Wynkoop on Saturday, March 12.
  • It may be hard to imagine given the snow we’ve had in February, but Red Rocks concert season is just a few months away. This week, we learned Gary Clark Jr. and Bonnie Raitt are among those on the schedule.
  • The Super Bowl on NBC averaged 112.3 million viewers, a 16% increase over last year. Also good news for NBC was that its Olympics coverage immediately following the Super Bowl averaged 24 million viewers, the single biggest ratings night for the Beijing games so far.

Quote of the Day

“(Saudis are) scary motherf—ers to get involved with. They killed (Washington Post reporter Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson, acknowledging he has no principles beyond making money and rationalizing why he would join a Saudi-backed breakaway golf league to rival the PGA Tour.

Denver7 Says the Quiet Part Out Loud

There’s no question that litigators use media coverage to squeeze their targets – they hope that negative media coverage of an organization they are suing puts them in a position that they will settle a case faster and more favorably. That is why litigators have the same set of investigative reporters on speed dial, often initiating a story before the lawsuit has even been filed and served.

But usually that relationship is implicit, which is why it was surprising to see Denver7 acknowledge the game openly:

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • Colorado funeral homes have so badly bungled their jobs – illegally operating a body-brokering business out of a funeral home, for example – that state legislators have had to introduce a bill to expand oversight and inspections. I’d do my best not to pass away before the end of the legislative session in May.
  • Colorado’s own Mikaela Shiffrin has experienced the thrill of victory while winning gold medals at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, but the 2022 Olympics have been about the agony of defeat. She suffered DNFs in her first two events – going off the course in the first 11 seconds of the first race and the first 5 seconds in her second.
  • Starbucks, the darling among progressive coffee drinkers, finds itself in an awkward battle with union organizers.
  • Up to 40 of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are expected to fall out of orbit after they were launched last week in the midst of a geomagnetic storm. The storm prevented the satellites from maneuvering into their proper orbital positions.
  • The Washington Football Team Commanders are the NFL’s biggest dumpster fire. This week’s development is that the team hired outside lawyers to investigate yet another group of allegations of sexual harassment against owner Dan Snyder. The NFL then had to quickly step in and announce that it, not the Washington franchise, would investigate the claims.
  • Adidas had quite a week. First, it was forced to cut sponsorship ties with soccer star Kurt Zouma after a video appeared on Snapchat of him drop-kicking and slapping his cat. Then, several days later, Adidas released a curious Instagram ad touting its new line of sports bra that featured a series of bare breasts presented Brady Bunch-style.
  • The IRS has given up plans to use controversial face-recognition technology after an intense public backlash.
  • Tesla seems intent on joining Uber and Facebook in the PR Disasters Hall of Fame. After numerous issues with build quality, long service waits and questionable “self-driving” capabilities, the state of California filed a complaint against the electric automaker alleging racial discrimination and harassment.
  • Russia finds itself in the midst of yet another doping scandal now that Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old figure skater prodigy, has tested positive for a banned substance. The award ceremony scheduled for Tuesday night still has not taken place while an appeal is considered.
  • Speaking of the Beijing Winter Olympics, NBC is dealing with TV ratings that “aren’t just bad – they’re historically terrible.

So, who won the week?

How Desperately Does 9News Want Byron Allen to Buy the Denver Broncos?

Last fall, I questioned whether 9News could get “Aldened” after reports surfaced that entertainment mogul Byron Allen was working with investment firm Apollo Global Management to finance an acquisition of TEGNA, 9News’ parent company. As I wrote at the time, “If you are a 9News employee, or someone who just values journalism, you can’t be comfortable with the idea that Apollo might do to TEGNA what (investment firm) Alden has done to the Denver Post – bleed it to near death to maximize the return on investment.”

This week, we learned that Allen may have a new trophy in sight – the Denver Broncos. But there are some problems, including that Allen’s net worth is just 11% of the roughly $4 billion it would take to buy the Broncos. Additionally, NFL rules require the controlling owner to purchase outright a minimum 30% stake in the team (no leveraging the acquisition). That means Allen is still short $750 million of accomplishing that.

These facts may be why 9News assigned Broncos public affairs staffer “Broncos Insider” Mike Klis to cover the story with kid gloves rather than Jeremy Jojola, Marshall Zelinger, Kevin Vaughan or any of its other hard-hitting investigative journalists. I don’t want Allen and a equity fund anywhere near 9News either.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • RIP Streetsblog Denver. The news site focusing on transportation and mobility issues in our city has been on life support for more than a year, and the plug was finally pulled this week. Founder David Sachs, who now calls Barcelona home, penned a farewell column calling on media to better cover issues between cars and pedestrians/bicyclists.
  • From the “any publicity is good publicity” file: The Boulder International Film Festival, apparently desperate for attention, has invited Alec Baldwin to be its first-ever “guest programmer” for its event in March. Baldwin remains under investigation related to the death of a production assistant on the set of his movie, “Rust.”
  • Denver Broncos executive John Elway was named in a lawsuit filed by Black head coach Brian Flores alleging a pattern of discrimination against coaches of color in the NFL. In the suit, Flores says that Elway and Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis arrived for Flores’ head coaching interview in 2019 “completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before.” Elway has strongly denied the allegations, but this is not a good look for him, especially as he is trying to join one of the bid groups attempting to buy the Broncos.
  • Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher for prospective home-buyers, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors announced that the number of homes on the market right now is at an all-time low.
  • If you are a well-paid administrator in Denver Public Schools, you should be updating your resume right now. Superintendent Alex Marrero told Chalkbeat that he is reducing the number of administrative positions and that some executives will need to re-apply for their positions.
  • CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker.
  • Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended as co-host of “The View” despite apologizing for comments she made that the Holocaust wasn’t about race because it involved “two White groups of people.” In her apology, she acknowledged, “… it is indeed about race because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race.”
  • Oakland University in Michigan mistakenly notified 5,500 applicants that they had received full scholarships to attend the school.
  • The pandemic continues to hit Americans hard, and now it has come for …. our chocolate milk?

So, who won the week?

Quote of the Day

“…in 2019 Mr. Flores was scheduled to interview with the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos’ then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before. It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”

Brian Flores’ federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants specifically, and the NFL generally. The Broncos have denied the allegations.

Who Had the Worst Week?

So, who won the week?

NBC Lowering TV Ratings Expectations for Beijing Winter Olympics Amid COVID, Human Rights, Timezone Concerns

Claire Atkinson at BusinessInsider: “NBCUniversal is slashing its TV ratings expectations for the Winter Olympics by as much as half, according to three senior marketing sources familiar with the numbers. The media giant, which paid $7.75 billion for TV and digital rights to the Olympic Games through 2032, retooled its estimates after pushback from marketing partners disappointed with the ratings of the Tokyo summer Olympics. “

“Ad agencies are being told to expect a six rating at Beijing — half what the audience guarantees were for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to one media agency executive. … One ad executive said NBCUniversal was under pressure to reduce its ratings expectations rather than face the possibility of having to give advertisers make-good ads, as NBCU reportedly had to do after Tokyo, when it had its lowest Summer Olympics ratings ever.”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • The 2021-2022 ski season could be a tough one for Colorado resorts, according to data released by Vail Resorts that show an 18.3% drop in skier visits to its resorts this year compared to the same period in 2019-2020.
  • The Colorado State Patrol says at least 672 people died in traffic crashes on Colorado roads in 2021, the most in nearly two decades. Officials blamed impaired driving, excessive speeds and distractions behind the wheel as the leading causes of accidents, and noted that approximately one-third of those who died were not wearing seatbelts.
  • Denver attorney Frank “the Strong Arm” Azar found himself in need of his own lawyer when he sued both a CPA who he says screwed up his tax return and the CPA he then hired to fix the first CPA’s work.
  • King Soopers and organizers of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Marade awkwardly faced off over the grocery store’s sponsorship of the event during a union strike that would no doubt have been supported by the civil rights leader.
  • Speaking of Dr. King, the FBI saw him as a communist threat and surveilled him with phone taps and bugged hotel rooms, among other activities, which is why its tweet commemorating MLK Day this week felt pretty self-serving and hollow.
  • After trying and failing to participate in the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic learned that the upcoming French Open also has banned non-vaccinated tennis players. He currently is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 major tournament wins, and desperately wants to own the record alone.
  • Historians have decided that notary Arnold van den Bergh is the likely culprit who ratted out Anne Frank.
  • It’s been a rough week for the University of Michigan. Its president, Mark Schlissel, was fired for having a relationship with a subordinate and the university agreed to pay $490 million to settle allegations that a doctor who worked with football players and other students sexually abused them.
  • The NBA’s Golden State Warriors distanced itself from minority owner Chamath Palihapitiya’s statement that “nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” the largely Muslim minority community that has faced widespread human rights violations in China’s western Xinjiang region. He added, “You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you care — the rest of us don’t care.” That will not play well in the Warrior’s hometown of San Francisco.

So, who won the week?

M&M’s Characters ‘Millennialized’

Candy manufacturer Mars announced that the iconic M&M’s characters are getting personality makeovers – and the results demonstrate the lengths that agency marketing teams will go to spend every dime of the client’s budget. The efforts are described as “a modern makeover for a more dynamic, progressive world,” which is code for making them more millennial-friendly. Among the changes:

  • The green M&M has ditched her go-go boots in favor of “cool, laid-back sneakers to reflect her effortless confidence.” Also, the green and brown M&Ms may be lesbians now.
  • The brown M&M’s heels have been “lowered to a professional heel height.”
  • The orange M&M will now lean into his anxiety and the red M&M will no longer bully his peers.

If you are looking for some consistency among all these changes, fear not – the yellow M&M is still an idiot.

‘Fifty years in, Tattered Cover is still having growing pains’

Kyle Harris at Denverite: “Few businesses have grown with Denver like Tattered Cover. The independent book chain has dominated the city’s literary scene for more than half a century. Over the past 20 years, it has kept its doors open — barely — as online retail has battered brick-and-mortar shops. Three new owners, who took over Tattered Cover in December 2020 under the name Bended Page LLC, have been betting on their ability to not just save the iconic independent book chain from bankruptcy, but to turn it into a lucrative, 21st century business.” …

“Yet some staff members — new and old alike — are raising concerns about the new direction and how they’re being managed. They say the store is growing too fast and becoming too corporate, old-timers are being pushed out, staff are overworked, wages are too low and they criticize new CEO Kwame Spearman’s management style.”

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Apologizes for Comments on Officials, and Even Uses the Words ‘I’m Sorry’

It was bad enough to lose a playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers, but Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott compounded the disaster by praising Cowboys fans who threw bottles and other trash at the officials as they left the field. Prescott has built a reputation for being a classy player, which made his comments even more surprising.

We all knew an apology was coming, but given the state of the world I expected it to be the “I apologize if anyone was offended” variety. Instead, Prescott owned it and even used the all-too-rare phrase “I’m sorry:”

“I deeply regret the comments I made regarding the officials after the game on Sunday” Prescott said. “I was caught up in the emotion of a disappointing loss and my words were uncalled for and unfair. I hold the NFL Officials in the highest regard and have always respected their professionalism and the difficulty of their jobs. The safety of everyone who attends a game or participates on the field of a sporting event is a very serious matter. That was a mistake on my behalf, and I am sorry.”

At Least They Haven’t Threatened to Rebrand as ‘Martin Luther King Soopers’

King Soopers and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Marade organizers found themselves in a bit of an awkward standoff yesterday. The grocery store chain, which is in the midst of an ongoing union strike, was the corporate sponsor of the parade honoring a man who was solidly pro-union. Something had to give, and the result was a race to claim the moral high ground.

Marade organizers struck first by formally removing King Soopers as a sponsor, although it was done at the last minute which meant it was largely symbolic. Organizers also tried to return the sponsorship money to King Soopers, but grocery store representatives were having none of it. They refused to accept the money, saying that Marade organizers should keep it despite cancelling the sponsorship “because love should always be bigger than hate.”

How far will this very public spat go? Unfortunately, we’ll never know because the Marade has already come and gone.

World’s Richest Man Holds World’s Biggest Grudges

Rebecca Elliott, Justin Scheck and Drew FitzGerald at The Wall Street Journal: “A partner at law firm Cooley LLP got an unexpected call late last year from a lawyer for one of the firm’s most famous clients, Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., with an ultimatum. The world’s richest man wanted Cooley, which was representing Tesla in numerous lawsuits, to fire one of its attorneys or it would lose the electric-vehicle company’s business, people familiar with the matter said.”

“The target of Mr. Musk’s ire was a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer whom Cooley had hired for its securities litigation and enforcement practice and who had no involvement in the firm’s work for Tesla. At the SEC, the attorney had interviewed Mr. Musk during the agency’s investigation of the Tesla chief executive’s 2018 tweet claiming, wrongly, to have secured funding to potentially take the electric-vehicle maker private.”

“The probe resulted in a settlement in which Mr. Musk agreed to resign as chairman and pay a $20 million fine. He also agreed to have a Tesla lawyer review in advance tweets about certain topics, including the company’s financial results, sales numbers and proposed business combinations.”

“Cooley has declined to fire the attorney, who remains an associate at the firm, the people said. Since early December, Tesla has begun taking steps in several cases to replace Cooley or add additional counsel, legal documents show. Mr. Musk’s rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX, has stopped using Cooley for regulatory work, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • If you are a Colorado Rockies fan, more Monforts involved with the team probably isn’t what you are looking for. Regardless, Sterling Monfort, the son of the Rockies’ owner Dick Monfort, has been named the head of the team’s pro scouting department. An anonymous MLB scout is not impressed.
  • The Sierra Club has threatened to suspend its 20,000-member Colorado chapter, citing “years of unresolved conflicts between the Colorado leadership and executive committee and volunteers.”
  • Pauletta Tonilas is the best communications leader RTD has had in decades. That is why the agency’s new policy requiring media to seek advance permission and obtain liability insurance in the amount of $10 million prior to shooting in RTD-controlled spaces (including Union Station) was so surprising. Media immediately went nuts, and RTD and Tonilas quickly walked back the policy, describing it as a misunderstanding.
  • Approximately 17,000 union employees at King Soopers in Colorado and Wyoming are on strike, and there is no obvious resolution in sight.
  • Five days after accepting the position of news editor at Westword, Helen Thorpe resigned, saying that the job “was not the right fit in terms of tempo.
  • Living through a pandemic the past two years has been hard enough. Now imagine your name is “Kovid.”
  • He’s out … he’s in … he’s out again. Tennis star Novak Djokovic‘s eligibility to play in next week’s Australian Open remains in question after the latest decision to cancel his visa. No doubt lawyers on both sides will be working overtime this weekend as Djokovic hopes to take the all-time men’s major wins record with a tournament win. If he is ultimately allowed to play, it may require him to tune out boos and derogatory comments that aren’t usually associated with tennis.
  • The Golden Globes took place last weekend, and if you didn’t notice, you aren’t alone. The quiet awards season has Hollywood worried about the bigger ramifications.
  • The U.S. government has accused 16 nationally respected universities, including Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Notre Dame, CalTech and Yale, of antitrust violations for allegedly working together to determine financial aid awards for students.

So, who won the week?

  • Pat Bowlen’s children won a legal victory that paves the way for them to sell the Denver Broncos in a deal that is expected to net them approximately $400 million each.
  • Estes Park is included on The New York Times’ list of 52 places to go in 2022.
  • Colorado’s own Mikaela Shiffrin won her 47th women’s World Cup slalom this week, the most of any skier ever in a single World Cup event.
  • Poet and activist Maya Angelou became the first Black woman to have her image on the U.S. quarter. Civil rights activists note that the flip side still has a slave-owner on it.

Quote of the Day

“Sterling (Monfort) has earned a reputation as a diligent, hard worker, but I think he’s out over his skis. I mean, Dick Monfort owns the club so he can promote his son if he wants to. But Sterling’s only been doing this for eight years and if his dad wasn’t the owner, I don’t know if he would be hired in the industry. For me, this is another example of the Rockies only looking inside their own organization.”

A veteran MLB scout on the Colorado Rockies’ decision to name owner Dick Monfort’s son as the leader of the team’s pro scouting department.

In Memoriam

When I was 23, I got my first public relations job in Denver at a firm named Darcy Communications. One of the big bosses was Rendall “Rendy” Ayers, and I liked him immediately. He was funny, good-natured and thoughtful, and he always had time to answer questions from someone who was still learning the nuances of the job. His world was big, and he would regale everyone with tales about his beloved kids Sydney and Reed, “old” Denver, tennis, his Porsche and CU Buffs sports, among many, many other things. I struggle to remember a time when he wasn’t smiling and laughing – at one of his own jokes or stories or at someone else’s. Rendy was one of the good ones. He passed away this weekend at the age of 84.

Great Moments in Stunt Marketing

Arby’s claims that its new spicy sandwich (the “Diablo Dare” that comes in chicken or brisket) is so hot that it will only sell it served with a fire retardant – a free vanilla milkshake. The sandwich gets its heat from ghost pepper jack cheese, hot seasoning, fire-roasted jalapenos, a hot BBQ sauce and a chipotle bun.

Who Had the Worst Week?

So, who won the week?

Tennis Star Novak Djokovic’s Aussie Open Vaccine Exemption Creates Outrage in the Country

The Australian Open’s decision to grant superstar Novak Djokovic a COVID-19 vaccine exemption to play in this month’s tournament has divided Australians and resulted in calls for a boycott from local officials and fans.

CNN reports, “One of Melbourne’s most famous former Australian Football League (AFL) stars, Kevin Bartlett, tweeted that Australians had been ‘taken for fools.’ While one of the city’s prominent emergency physicians and former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Stephen Parnis, said the decision sent ‘an appalling message’ to the public.”

Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most all-time grand slam wins with 20, but getting number 21 in Australia may be incredibly difficult if Aussies in the stands turn on him. It would not be surprising to see him withdraw rather than face relentless boos from the crowd.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • CBS4 reported that the top attorney representing Denver International Airport, Scott McCoy, resigned after being accused of “slapping one of his subordinates multiple times during a holiday party Dec. 16. The incident was apparently witnessed by DIA’s CEO Phil Washington and numerous other of DIA’s top level executives, according to sources familiar with the incident.”
  • Denver only made it a couple of hours into 2022 before it experienced its first homicides of the year.
  • The BBC is under fire for interviewing lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz about the guilty verdict in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell without disclosing – or seemingly even knowing – that Dershowitz represented the man at the heart of the Maxwell trial – Jeffrey Epstein.
  • English soccer start Daniel Sturridge was ordered to honor a $30,000 reward he publicly offered for the safe return of his missing Pomeranian, Lucci. When a local security guard found and returned the dog, Sturridge thanked him but claimed there was no reward. A court ruled otherwise.
  • Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t exactly been a role model for responsible COVID-19 behavior, and the theatrics continued this week when he and FOX sideline reporter Erin Andrews conducted a socially distant post-game interview and subsequently shared a maskless hug as soon as the camera turned off.
  • A Florida man, River Rosenquist, thought it might be fun to pet one of the tigers at the Naples, Fla., zoo. It went exactly like you thought it would.

So, who won the week?

‘Brands Walk Fine Line With Olympic Pitches Amid Criticism Over Beijing’

“Advertisers are treading carefully when it comes to peddling their products and services during February’s Beijing Winter Olympics, which have been shrouded by criticism over China’s human-rights record,” Suzanne Vranica at The Wall Street Journal reports. “Some brands are considering not including any references to the host city in their Olympic marketing efforts, according to advertising and marketing executives. Others plan to run non-Olympic-themed ads during the Games. Some are turning to public relations outfits for help to navigate the politics that have surrounded the event.” …

“Mark DiMassimo, founder of ad firm DiMassimo Goldstein, said some of his clients are considering running evergreen ads rather than create specific Olympic-themed commercials for the 17-day event, which is set to start on Feb. 4 and be broadcast in the U.S. by NBCUniversal. … Optimum Sports, a sports-marketing firm, said it has been advising brands to make sure their Olympic ads focus squarely on promoting the athletes. ‘The safest area for any brand supporting the Games,’ said Jeremy Carey, Optimum’s managing director, ‘is to say this is about the athletes.’”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • Denver travelers can expect DIA construction headaches for another six or seven years under a plan to complete the Great Hall Project proposed by DIA CEO Phil Washington. The new plan will add a little more than $1 billion to the project, giving it a total price tag of $2.1 billion.
  • Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman of the Colorado First Judicial District (Jeffco and Gilpin counties) managed to redirect some of the outrage directed at her boss, District Attorney Alexis King, when she shared a Facebook post of a trophy she received for obtaining a 110-year sentence for runaway trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.
  • Despite Colorado’s historically dry fall, Douglas County commissioners approved a holiday fireworks display that quickly devolved into a series of brush fires. Firefighters were able to get the fires under control before they caused damage, while Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock noted, “Personally, in my opinion, the firework displays were not a great idea.”
  • Less than a week on the job as interim president of the University of Louisville, Lori Stewart Gonzalez presided over the school’s winter graduation ceremony. Unfortunately, during her speech she accidentally referred to the school as its arch-rival University of Kentucky. After realizing her mistake, she joked, “If anyone has a job application I could fill in after tonight, bring it up here.”
  • Facebook was named the “Worst Company of 2021” in a survey conducted by Yahoo Finance. “Those surveyed have a ‘litany of grievances’ toward Facebook, including but not limited to concerns over censorship, reports about Instagram’s impact on mental health, and privacy.”
  • Colorado’s highway system “ranks 37th in the nation for its overall condition and cost-effectiveness, according to the latest annual report from the Reason Foundation, a libertarian organization.” In fairness, we face climate challenges many other states do not.
  • The NFL’s New York Giants appear to be inadvertently trolling their own fans. The team, which currently is 4-10 and in last place in their division, wanted to do something to thank fans for their continued support during the team’s historically bad five-year run (they are a combined 22-56 since 2017). The result: season ticket holders will receive a free medium Pepsi at this Sunday’s game. For the record, it’s the “medium” that makes this art.

So who won the week?

Runaway-Trucker Prosecutor Somehow Manages to Look Even Worse by Showboating After Excessive Sentence

If you thought the backlash to the 110-year sentence that First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King obtained against the runaway trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos couldn’t get worse, you would be wrong. Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman, who prosecuted the case along with a colleague, shared a Facebook post of a trophy she received after obtaining the verdict – a semi truck brake shoe with a gold plaque.

District Attorney King quickly distanced herself from it, saying “The post was in very poor taste and does not reflect the values of my administration. We have addressed it internally.” Meanwhile, James Colgan,, Aguilera-Mederos’ defense attorney, called the gift “unprofessional.”

Tristan Gorman, the legislative policy coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, told The Denver Post, “It obviously flies in the face of the prosecution’s ethical obligation to seek justice rather than a conviction… It’s just bragging rights about a trial win, where people on both sides, their lives were either ended or forever changed. The tone of it seems almost like the prosecutor is treating it like a game she won.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Colorado craft breweries are reeling after Ball Corp. announced it could no longer fill aluminum can orders smaller than one million units.
  • Colorado First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King obtained a “grossly excessive sentence” of 110 years in prison for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, the runaway trucker who killed four people on I-70 in 2019. The judge in the case had no alternative sentencing options based on the charges King brought. After the public backlash, King quickly backpedaled and now says she would “welcome” a reconsideration of the prison term.
  • It has been one of the most interesting and challenging years in most of our lifetimes, and inexplicably Time Magazine decided that Elon Musk deserved its “Person of the Year” honor. It did not go over well.
  • Car manufacturers have long looked jealously at the way tech companies have used subscriptions to grow what’s called monthly recurring revenue (MRR). MRR is the reason you now pay monthly for a subscription to Office 365 rather than buying the software in a one-time transaction. Toyota has joined the fray and now wants drivers to pay an $8/month charge to use the start feature on their cars’ key fobs.
  • We don’t pay teachers nearly enough, but the least we can do is not rub their noses in it. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in South Dakota when a local hockey team sponsored a “Dash for Cash” that pitted 10 teachers against each. As you might expect, the backlash was swift.
  • Bros’, a Michelin-starred eatery in Italy, was the subject of the most brutal restaurant review since The New York Times took down Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant.
  • The decision to kill off the Mr. Big character on the first episode of the “Sex and the City” reboot (sorry for last week’s spoiler, Jenn Beck) may make more sense after new reports that multiple allegations of sexual assault were leveled against actor Chris Noth.
  • Urban Meyer may have been a college coaching legend, but his tenure as an NFL head coach lasted less than a year.

So who won the week?

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The El Paso County Sheriff’s office violated the gentleman’s agreement that you don’t overtly politicize Santa Clause when it tweeted a photo of St. Nick applying for a concealed carry permit. The Second Amendment crowd has defended the tweet, but we’ll see how they feel when someone like NARAL tweets a photo of Santa taking his granddaughter to get an abortion. Speaking for most of us, keep Santa out of your culture wars.
  • Better.com CEO Vishal Garg learned the hard way what a backlash to stupidity feels like when he fired 900 employees over a mass Zoom call. In the three-minute video meeting, Garg told employees, “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off.” He later explained that the employees were “stealing” from their colleagues and customers by being unproductive.
  • Singer Billie Eilish may have 97 million followers on Instagram, but her recent “can’t-miss” book has sold only 64,000 copies in seven months. At least Eilish was on the receiving end of the advance. The publisher, Grand Central Publishing, invested well over $1 million in the project.
  • Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against Boise State University professor Scott Yenor after he made misogynistic comments about women in the workplace at the recent National Conservatism Conference. In what I can only imagine was a cadence similar to that of Andrew “Dice” Clay, Yenor said, “Every effort made must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade.”
  • In what researcher’s say is a sign of the hidden toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, “American adults’ blood pressure rose markedly in 2020 compared with the year before.” The largest increases were found in women.
  • Pro tip: When you have just killed someone, even inadvertently, listen to your lawyers and try to keep a low profile. That’s the advice that actor Alec Baldwin ignored when he appeared in a disastrous interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. The public reaction to the interview was so bad that Baldwin deleted his Twitter account.
  • Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was convicted of staging a hate crime, and faces the very real possibility of serving jail time.
  • Peleton isn’t happy that Mr. Big died of a heart attack while riding the ubiquitous exercise bike in the reboot of “Sex and the City.” The company quickly responded blaming lifestyle factors – specifically “cocktails, cigars and big steaks” – for the fictional character’s death.

So, who won the week?

  • It finally snowed in Denver.
  • Woodland Park native Nichole “Vapor” Ayers was one of 10 people selected to become a NASA astronaut from a pool of more than 12,000. Ayers graduated from the Air Force Academy and currently flies F-22 Raptor fighter jets for the Air Force.
  • Tiger Woods will make his first return to competitive golf next week when he joins his 12-year-old son in the PNC Championship that allows pro golfers to team up with family members. Woods was in a brutal car accident in February that many thought would end his hopes of playing competitively.
  • Journalists across the country are cheering the news that Lee Enterprises – publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News, among others – rejected an unsolicited offer from vulture capital firm Alden Global Capital. Among the journalists cheering loudest are those at The Denver Post, who have been subjected to Alden’s draconian ownership tactics.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • RTD said it would partner with the TSA and the Guardian Angels to increase security around Union Station downtown after the union representing RTD workers complained of unsafe working conditions that included open drug use, vandalism and violence. 
  • Denver Police Officer Dewayne Rodgers has been fired after allegedly watching a gunshot victim bleed out rather than provide first aid.
  • CNN suspended anchor Chris Cuomo following reports that he was more engaged in protecting his brother, disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, than originally understood. The new allegations include that Chris used his position as a CNN journalist to seek intelligence about what other media outlets were planning to report about his brother.
  • An Austrian surgeon was fined $3,000 and paid $5,700 in damages after he amputated the wrong leg of a patient. Clearly, there is no Frank Azar equivalent in Austria.
  • The NFL suspended oft-troubled Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown for three games after it determined that he submitted a forged COVID-19 vaccination card to get around rules for unvaccinated players.
  • Actor Joshua Malina, most noted for his roles in “The West Wing,” “Sports Night” and “Scandal,” penned a column in Variety lambasting Warner Bros. for considering Mel Gibson as director of a fifth movie in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise. Malina said that Gibson is “a well-known Jew-hater” who has a well-documented history of spewing wildly racist and anti-Jewish language.
  • Colorado State fired head coach Steve Addazio after he went 4-12 over the past two seasons. His termination means that CSU now owes former head coaches Addazio and Mike Bobo more than $6 million in remaining guaranteed money.

So who won the week?

WTA Shows Other Leagues What Leadership Looks like

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is doing what no government or other sports organization, including the NBA and the IOC, will do: Hold China accountable for its human rights abuses.

Following concerns about the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view after making allegations of sexual assault against a former high-ranking Chinese government official, the head of the WTA announced that all of its tournaments would be suspended in the country until it was clear Peng was safe.

“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation,” said WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Dr. Nickie Bell, the assistant superintendent at the Cherry Creek School District, pleaded guilty to animal neglect for driving 32 miles from her home and dumping her very-much-alive eight-year-old dog in a dumpster. A construction worker found the dog clinging to life the next day. Now, more than 3,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the school district terminate Bell, arguing she can’t be trusted with kids.
  • The last person a director should ever cast in a historical drama is Matt Damon. Action hero? Sure. Down-on-his-luck Bostonian? Yep. But medieval French knight? Nope. Nevertheless, otherwise accomplished director Ridley Scott did just that and, of course, “The Last Duel” is officially a flop. Scott, however, diagnosed what he believes is the real problem: “Millennials who were brought up on these fucking cellphones.” Not sure if that’s a dig at attention spans or media consumption habits, but either way he’s in denial.
  • Aurora police union president Officer Doug Wilkinson has been suspended for an email he sent to his membership stating that if Aurora wants its police force to mirror the community, “we could make sure to hire 10% illegal aliens, 50% weed smokers, 10% crackheads, and a few child molesters and murderers to round it out. You know, so we can make the department look like the ‘community.’” 
  • Journalists at publications such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News are fearing the worst after Alden Global Capital announced a takeover bid for parent company Lee Enterprises. Alden is the hedge fund that has turned The Denver Post into a shell of itself.
  • The city of Aurora continues to deal with juvenile gun violence. A middle-of-the-street shootout between a 17-year-old and a former police officer was the third incident in a week. The week’s tally: One dead, 10 injured.
  • The new “Nu” Coronavirus variant has spooked scientists, politicians and investors alike. Today, light post-holiday trading still saw U.S. markets decline 2-3%, and a host of European countries quickly reinstated travel restrictions.
  • Waiting for a FedEx package from a friend in Alabama? You may be waiting longer than expected after officials found 300-400 packages dumped in a ravine.
  • Bloody hell … The United Kingdom Wine and Spirit Trade Association is warning Englanders about a potential holiday liquor shortage.

So who won the week?

  • Colorado Rockies broadcaster Jenny Cavnar will host a new national show on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel starting Monday. 
  • Kyle Clark’s commentary on how the media fails to hold politicians like Lauren Boebert accountable went viral and resulted in Clark appearing on Rachel Maddow’s national MSNBC show.
  • The now 49-year-old woman who became famous as the face of Afghanistan when her haunting portrait was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine has been granted refugee status by Italy and is living in Rome.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Unusually warm weather in Colorado has forced Steamboat and Telluride to delay the opening of their ski seasons. And with no snow in the forecast through Thanksgiving, meteorologists predict the city of Denver will set a new record for the latest snowfall recorded, breaking the current record of Nov. 21 set in 1934.
  • An annual report measuring recycling state by state found that Colorado ranks in the bottom 20, a stunning development for a state that thinks of itself as an environmental leader. We only recycle 15% of our trash, compared to the national average of 32%.
  • Speaking of discouraging news, a first-ever national study on lead levels in kids found that an estimated 72% of Colorado children under age 6 had lead detected in their blood, well above the national rate of 51%. Children from Black-or Hispanic-majority communities were disproportionately affected.
  • Colorado Public Radio is conducting a bracket-style challenge to identify the state’s favorite Christmas carol, and it is already off to an inauspicious start. Due to a glitch, CPR disclosed that votes for “O Come, All Ye Faithful” didn’t register for part of the voting window. Ironic for a media outlet that is more likely to cover #StopTheSteal protests than start them.
  • Denver Public Schools Board member Tay Anderson has sued his accusers who made unsubstantiated accusations against him for $1 million, a move that keeps the story alive longer and exposes him to the threat of legal discovery.
  • As if heavy rain and flooding wasn’t bad enough, the combination has forced scorpions from their hiding places and into houses in the Egypt. So far, more than 500 people have been hospitalized with scorpion stings.
  • Expectations were high when the Los Angeles Rams traded for QB Matthew Stafford in the off-season. While the team is 7-3, they have lost two straight, and the pressure may be mounting. So much so that Stafford’s wife, Kelly, threw a soft pretzel at a fan in the stands who was heckling her husband.

So who won the week?

  • Casa Bonita’s new owners – “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker – have given hope to generations of fans that the iconic restaurant may survive. This week the restaurant announced two promising things: 1) that it has hired three-time James Beard-nominated chef Dana Rodriguez as its executive chef, and 2) that it is retaining the 50-plus current Casa Bonita employees while the restaurant is closed and paying them to volunteer at local nonprofits.
  • Reese’s made national headlines with its Thanksgiving Pie – a comically large 3.4-pound, nine-inch diameter peanut butter cup. Reese’s offered 3,000 of the pies via its website, and they sold out in two hours.

Casa Bonita Selects Feed Media for PR Support

The bankruptcy and resurrection of iconic restaurant Casa Bonita, now owned by “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, has been quite the media story over the past few months. Casa Bonita has now retained Denver’s PR agency Feed Media to help provide strategy and direction to future media and social media coverage. One of Feed’s first assignments was this week’s announcement that the restaurant has hired three-time James Beard-nominated Denver chef Dana Rodriguez as its executive chef.

SE2 Takes Principled Stand Against Facebook

“Until Facebook institutes meaningful changes that contribute to our collective good, we will no longer recommend to our clients that they spend money on its products, including paid promotion of their content on Facebook or Instagram. Furthermore, SE2 will no longer spend its own money on Facebook’s platforms. (In just the past two years, our own spending on Facebook platforms totaled over $15,000.)”

SE2’s Eric Anderson, Susan Morrisey and Brandon Zelasko in a blog post announcing the firm’s new policy

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • In a story that you won’t see on 9News or any other Denver TV station due to professional courtesy, former 9News reporter Kristen Aguirre has sued the station, alleging racial and disability-related discrimination.
  • The University of California Hastings College of the Law, the state’s first law school and home to a number of prominent lawyers including Vice President Kamala Harris, is dropping the name of its founder, Serranus Clinton Hastings. The decision follows the commission of a report that determined that Hastings profited off the killings and displacement of Native Americans in Northern California.
  • A Colorado Business Committee for the Arts study found that the pandemic wiped away nearly a decade’s worth of growth in Denver’s art community. That impact totals nearly $1 billion in economic losses over the past year and a half.
  • In what appears to be a soccer version of a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding situation, Paris Saint-Germain’s Aminata Diallo was arrested by French police following an attack in which two hooded men beat her teammate on the legs with iron bars. Diallo then replaced her injured teammate in the line-up in a game that preceded her arrest.
  • We’re still two weeks away from Thanksgiving, but KOSI 101 has already started its annual holiday transition to 24-hour-a-day Christmas music. KOSI program director Jim Lawson said, “We’ve had listeners asking us to change to Christmas music since Labor Day.”
  • Erratic CEO Elon Musk offered to let Twitter followers decide if he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla, but news reports noted that a sale was inevitable given that he has a $15 billion tax bill coming due.
  • Students at Armstrong High School in Pennsylvania have been banned from the school’s hockey games after they targeted an opposing female goaltender with vulgar and sexist chants. Armstrong’s principal said he was “disgusted” that parents and security guards did nothing to stop the chants.
  • Westword noted that part of the current substitute teacher shortage in metro Denver schools could be that people can “sometimes make more money serving burgers at In-N-Out than doing the often difficult, consistently stressful work of educating the next generation of metro residents.” 

So who won the week?

  • The Welton Street Cafe has struggled during the pandemic, in part because its current building in Five Points has had significant HVAC issues. But the iconic restaurant announced that it has signed a new lease in a different building one block north of its current location, giving hope that the 35-year-old restaurant will continue its run for years to come.
  • Denver homeowners can expect home values to remain high as a new report found that demand for homes continues to outstrip supply.

What Impact Could Stan Kroenke’s NFL Legal Woes Have on the Avs, Nuggets, Rapids & Altitude Sports?

As the owner of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) – a holding company that in turn owns the Altitude Sports network, Ball Arena and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, among other things – Stan Kroenke wields outsize influence in Denver’s sports community.

Despite this presence locally, it is his ownership of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams – and the franchise’s relocation from St. Louis to L.A. in 2016 – that is causing the biggest headlines and headaches for the billionaire mogul. Prior to relocating the Rams, Kroenke signed an indemnification agreement with the NFL protecting the league and fellow owners from legal fees and judgments from any suit filed by St. Louis related to the team’s departure.

However, ESPN reported that four years and millions of dollars in legal fees later, Kroenke is now trying to narrow the scope of that indemnification. That concerns his fellow owners because St. Louis has been on a roll legally and the idea that it could be owed multi-billions of dollars in real and punitive damages is becoming more likely. A sports legal analyst said recently that a potential judgment “could wipe out a minimum of half of Stan Kroenke’s net worth.

Which begs the question: what would happen to Kroenke’s Colorado assets if he was hit with such a judgment. Would the teams and stadiums immediately go up for sale? KSE has been in a three-year stalemate with DISH and Comcast over carriage rights to Altitude Sports, and as a result has been subsidizing the money-losing network. Would that continue?

GFM, Turner Lead Colorado PR Firms on Outside Magazine’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

Outside Magazine released its 2021 Best Places to Work list, and Colorado companies again dominated. In fact, 26 of the 50 companies selected are based in Colorado. Below is the list of public relations, advertising and digital marketing firms that Outside recognized:

5. Fortnight Collective, a Boulder advertising agency
10. Booyah Advertising, a Denver digital marketing agency
17. GroundFloor Media, a Denver public relations and digital marketing agency
19. Parallel Path, a Boulder digital marketing firm focused on health and wellness
42. Turner, a Denver-based public relations and digital communications agency

Among the Colorado firms recognized in the honorable mention category were:

  • Backbone Media, a Carbondale brand marketing and public relations agency
  • Egg Strategy, a Denver marketing strategy firm
  • SRG, a Boulder brand consulting and creative services agency
  • TDA_Boulder, a Boulder advertising agency
  • Verde Brand Communications, a Boulder media and digital marketing firm
  • WorkInProgress, a Boulder advertising and public relations firm

Industry Pub Names Fox31 the Fourth-Worst TV Station to Work For in America

FTVLive, an inside-baseball publication that covers the industry of television news, has named Fox31 as the fourth-worst TV station to work for in America.

Explaining its ranking, FTVLive said it “often hears from staffers at the Denver station and their complaints are numerous. Many feel that managers play favorites and if you are not sucking up to the boss, you are on the outside looking in. ‘It should be about the job you do and not how much you kiss ass,’ said one station employee told FTVLive.”

Celebrity Activists Pressure Edelman to Drop Fossil Fuel Clients

More than 100 influencers and celebrity activists have signed an open letter to Edelman protesting the firm’s representation of ExxonMobil, Shell and “organizations that deny climate change and promote the agenda of the world’s worst polluters.” Signatories include Amy Poehler, David Cross, Amy Schumer, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Milla Jovovich.

Edelman has been on the defensive about fossil fuel clients for several years, and earlier this year CEO Richard Edelman described his firm’s work for ExxonMobil as economic in nature. “We do not talk about any opposition to climate legislation and our work is to do with job creation, economic opportunity and land access,” he said.

Denver’s Top Parking Enforcer Voids 21 Tickets on His Own Car, Claims Secret Program to Test His Ticket-Writers

Brian Maass at CBS4: “A CBS4 Investigation has found Denver’s Director of Right of Way Enforcement, Jonathan Featherston, received 21 parking citations on his personal car in 2021 and 2020. He ordered every one of the citations canceled, with Featherston now explaining that he received the tickets while he was engaging in a secret ‘mystery shop’ campaign to test how well parking agents were doing in handing out parking tickets.”

“The curious practice came to light when a whistleblower in the Right Of Way Enforcement division noticed what Featherston was doing and filed a complaint in September with the city Board of Ethics, suggesting Featherston was engaged in ‘questionable ethical conduct,’ using his public position for private gain.”

“In his ethics complaint, which was obtained by CBS4, a supervisor under Featherston- noted that he believed what Featherston had done might amount to fraud. ‘Employees who receive a parking citation shall pay their citation, go before the parking magistrate or schedule a court date to contest their citation’, wrote the employee. None of that occurred with Featherston’s tickets – instead he just ordered them dismissed. The employee called Featherston’s actions ‘unethical conduct by a higher ranking DOTI (Department of Transportation and Infrastructure) official. The type of conduct found has resulted in disciplinary action and/or termination with past employees.'”

Photo of Jason Alexander as embattled NYC parking commissioner Marion Sandusky in the movie, “The Paper.” This is who I imagine Jonathan Featherston to be. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver residents continue to mourn the loss of the fabled Denver Diner that was located at Colfax Ave. and Speer Blvd. And this week’s news that banking Goliath JPMorgan Chase purchased the building and plans to convert it into a bank branch didn’t help.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has claimed for months that he has been “immunized” against COVID-19. It turns out that what he meant was that he received a homeopathic treatment to try to raise his antibody levels. The MVP candidate has now tested positive for the coronavirus and is ineligible to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.
  • The air rage epidemic may be spreading. A Southwest Airlines pilot is accused of assaulting a fellow crew member at a Doubletree hotel bar over a dispute about wearing masks. The pilot was cited for assault and battery.
  • Zillow announced it will stop buying and flipping homes and will cut its workforce by 25% after it purchased too many homes at higher prices than it now expects to sell them. The company reported it lost $304 million in Q3.
  • Italy and Croatia are fighting a wine-related trademark war over the name Prosecco.
  • Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was cut by the team and faces up to 26 years in jail following a car wreck that killed a 23-year-old woman. Ruggs III was reportedly traveling 156 mph and had a blood alcohol level of 0.161.
  • Actor Chris Pratt is facing criticism for an Instagram post that appears to throw shade on his ex-wife, actress Anna Faris, and his own nine-year-old son who was born prematurely and has faced health issues throughout his young life.

So who won the week?

The Business Impact of COVID on PR Agencies

From Aleda Stam at PRWeek:

“Interpublic Group agency Golin saw revenue from healthcare work rise 18% year to date. The agency’s healthcare practice and Virgo Health, Golin’s healthcare communications agency, brought on 33 new employees in 2021 just to handle the extra work.” …

“FleishmanHillard saw a similar jump of 15% in revenue year over year from its healthcare practice and won close to $30 million in new client work before Q4 2021, according to Anne de Schweinitz, Fleishman’s global managing director of healthcare. Healthcare is the firm’s largest individual practice at almost a quarter of the work the agency does.” …

“Edelman’s healthcare practice accounts for 21% of the agency’s global revenue — or more than $176 million annually — according to Kirsty Graham, Edelman’s global chair of health. The practice also grew 19% in revenues year over year in 2021.”

Who Went Where

  • Lauren Noser joined GroundFloor Media as director of Communications. She previously was a senior policy and advocacy coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado. GFM also promoted Amy Moynihan to the position of vice president.
  • Mikayla Ortega was named PIO for the Denver Office of Emergency Management. She previously was a senior assignment editor at KMGH/Denver7.
  • CenterTable added Diana Harper as assistant editor and creative services coordinator.
  • 104West Partners hired Kiley Hayward as a director to help lead the agency’s newest accounts. Hayward previously served as a managing supervisor at FleishmanHillard and also spent time at Porter Novelli and Edelman.
  • Linhart PR announced it has added Drew Howland as an account executive, and Sari Winston and Alicia Whitman as account associates.
  • CBS4 promoted Kristine Strain to the role of news director. She previously was assistant news director and she replaces Tim Wieland, who was promoted to general manager. The station also added reporter Marissa Armas who previously worked at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque.
  • Fox31 added Talya Cunningham as co-anchor to its 4 pm weekday newscast. She previously was with WRIC-TV in Richmond, Va.
  • The Colorado Sun added Tatiana Flowers as its reporter covering social and economic inequality issues.
  • Colorado Community Media added Kristen Fiore as its West Metro editor.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Facebook is such a sketchy company that it decided it needed an alias. Meet Meta.
  • A New York woman was shocked – SHOCKED! – to discover that strawberry Pop-Tarts are not as healthy as she was led to believe. Despite sugar and corn syrup being two of the first three ingredients listed, it was actually the inclusion of pears and apples that sent her to her nearest class-action attorney. She wants $5 million.
  • An unnamed and lost hiker in Colorado declined repeated phone calls from search and rescue emergency personnel because he or she thought the unknown numbers were robocalls. Clearly people would rather die than hear about extended car warranties.
  • Researchers at George Washington University purchased food items from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle, all of which contained trace amounts of industrial chemicals called phthalates. These harmful chemicals are linked to a host of health problems ranging from fertility issues to learning and behavioral disorders in children. Bon appétit!
  • Former Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville was forced to resign as head coach of the Florida Panthers because of his knowledge and inaction related to a sex abuse scandal while coaching the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
  • Florida police authorities acknowledged they lost track of fugitive Brian Laundrie when they mistook his mother who was wearing a baseball cap for him while surveilling his home. A North Port Police Department spokesperson said, “No case is perfect,” while Laundrie’s mother likely said something like, “What the hell? I look just like a guy?”
  • Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston offered its chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer position to a Black man, then rescinded it four days before he started because he was “too sensitive about race issues.” Ahhh, Texas.

So who won the week?

  • The venerable bookstore Tattered Cover celebrated its 50th birthday. It you have a minute, jump on Amazon and order it a gift.
  • Spanx founder Sara Blakely sold her company for $1.2 billion. To thank her employees, she purchased each two first-class airline tickets anywhere in the world, and threw in $10,000 per employee in spending money.
  • The “Rickroll” became a thing again for a minute when a prankster posted a sign in the Highlands advertising that a joint Meow Wolf/Casa Bonita pop-up was planned. Alas, the QR code on the sign took you here.

Quote of the Day

“What’s the biggest threat to the future of local TV newsrooms? The long-term challenge may be how to build a sustainable model around a new generation of consumers who will never watch a linear newscast at 5, 6, or 11. But news directors and their bosses are increasingly concerned about a more immediate problem: the pipeline of talent for both sides of the camera is drying up.”

Andrew Heyward, Senior Research Professor, TV News at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The town of Morrison’s Police Department is like a piece of chewed gum stuck on the shoe that is Red Rocks – you’d be happier if it wasn’t there. But it is, and it is having a tough time hiring a police chief because no self-respecting law enforcement official will take a job where 98% of police activity is writing speeding tickets and nearly half of the town’s budget comes from those tickets.
  • Often-combative and provocative actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a crew member on his movie set using what was supposed to be a prop gun. No charges have been filed and investigators are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong.
  • The 185 TV stations in 86 markets that are owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group found themselves the victims of a ransomware hack that rendered their computer systems inoperable. In addition to disabling all electronic communications, it took down the on-air systems they rely on, resulting in meteorologists giving the five-day forecast using hand-drawn graphics on a whiteboard, for example.
  • It’s been a rough year for Robert E. Lee and a host of other confederate leaders who saw statues and other tributes to them removed. Now, however, it is the Founding Fathers’ turn to get nervous. The New York City Council has voted to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from its chambers, which surely is making a lot of eponymous counties and schools – including those in the metro area – take notice.
  • Life is an expectations game, and Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos made the mistake of getting our hopes up with their 3-0 start. Since then, they have gone 0-4. Fangio may survive to coach the rest of the season, but when he is fired – and he will be fired – it will be last night’s loss to the Cleveland Browns that sealed his fate.
  • Ahhh, Facebook. It’s the PR disaster gift that keeps on giving. This week, we learned that Facebook has so badly burned its reputation that it wants to walk away from its own name and start over. 9News’ Jeremy Jojola took suggestions for the new name, and responses included, “Facepalm,” “Ads & Birthdays,” “OK Boomer,” and “404 – Page Not Found.”
  • “The Freedom of Information Act is broken,” according to a First Amendment attorney. He was commenting on a FOIA response that came to a New Orleans reporter 12 years after he filed the request (and six years after he left journalism).
  • The metro area’s Tri-County Health became Bi-County Health and then Uni-County Health in a matter of weeks.

So, who won the week?

PR Agencies Responding to Employee Demands on COVID Vaccine Requirements

On the heels of Edelman’s announcement that receiving a COVID vaccination will be “a condition of employment” at the agency, PR Week spoke to agency leaders who noted that it is vaccinated staff members – not necessarily leadership – who are demanding policies requiring vaccinations for co-workers working from the office.

“’We are definitely seeing more and more the issue of employees not wanting to come back into the office if they are not assured everyone is vaccinated,’ David Fisher, counsel in the labor and employment practice group at Davis+Gilbert, says. He notes these employees may have children at home under 12 who can’t get vaccinated or are living with someone who is immunocompromised, and don’t want to become a breakthrough case that could infect them.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Hoity-toity private school Kent Denver made unexpected headlines this week when two former teachers at the school were arrested in a bizarre espionage scheme to sell nuclear secrets. Adding concern about the quality of education Kent Denver provides, the former teachers allegedly packaged the nuclear secrets in a peanut butter sandwich before handing them off to “foreign adversaries” who were actually undercover FBI agents.
  • Comedians have always pushed cultural boundaries and, relatedly, been lightning rods for criticism. Netflix is experiencing that with Dave Chappelle, whose latest Netflix special, “The Closer,” has been “criticized as transphobic by some LGBTQ+ advocates, artists and employees.” Adding fuel to the fire, Netflix suspended a trans employee who criticized the company for streaming the Chappelle special.
  • Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign less than one-third of the way through a 10-year, $100 million contract after a series of his racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails surfaced. Two days later, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter got caught up in the same email leak when his showed he gave sources drafts of his stories for them to edit – a journalistic no-no.
  • And the bad week for journalism wasn’t over. In addition to the Adam Schefter news, former “Today Show” anchor Katie Couric admitted that she covered up former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments opposing athletes who kneel during the national anthem. Couric said she was a big fan of Ginsburg and wanted to protect her from criticism from the justice’s liberal supporters.
  • Southwest Airlines built its reputation on being unlike other airlines – it offered budget pricing that delivered a great experience. Unfortunately, this week chaos reigned as hundreds of flight cancellations wrought havoc on the airline’s schedule, stranding frustrated passengers in cities across the country.
  • To paraphrase an old adage, if a goal is scored but no one can watch it because of a carriage dispute, does it matter? That’s the situation the Colorado Avalanche (and the Denver Nuggets, for that matter) face for the third straight year due to a fight among billionairesStan Kroenke’s Altitude TV and Comcast/Dish Network.
  • A year after acknowledging he received $1.1 million for speeches he did not deliver from a fund intended to help needy Mississippi residents … let me repeat that, from a fund intended to help needy Mississippi residents … an audit found that former NFL quarterback Brett Favre still hasn’t repaid all the money. The auditor said Favre will face a civil suit if he doesn’t repay the money with interest in 30 days.

So who won the week?

  • Local restaurants Frasca Food & Wine and Comal Heritage Food Incubator were recognized by The New York Times as two of the 50 best restaurants in the nation.
  • Star Trek actor William Shatner inspired generations of nerds to pursue careers in the space-related sciences, so it is fitting that he would finally – at age 90 – make a trip to space himself.
  • CBS4 promoted Kristine Strain to the position of news director, replacing Tim Wieland who was promoted to General Manager. Strain had been the assistant news director.

Quote of the Day

“Snow sports are already expensive enough that equity issues have been persistent, and financially disadvantaged families have long been unfairly priced out of access — something a Fast Tracks policy is sure to only make worse.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), objecting to Copper Mountain’s parent company’s plans to offer “Fast Tracks,” a $49 fee that would allow skiers to jump to the front of ski lift lines at the expense of the riff-raff who only buy the $119 daily lift ticket.

Could 9News Get ‘Aldened?’

Denver’s 9News is owned by TEGNA, a multi-billion-dollar media company that owns or operates nearly 70 TV stations across the country. TEGNA has been on the block – officially or unofficially – for more than two years, and reports now are that one of its largest investors, Standard General, is working with the investment firm Apollo Global Management to finance an acquisition of the media company.

If an investment/private equity firm owning media properties sounds vaguely familiar, that’s probably because of Alden Global Capital’s ownership of The Denver Post, among others. If you are a 9News employee, or someone who just values journalism, you can’t be comfortable with the idea that Apollo might do to TEGNA what Alden has done to the Post – bleed it to near death to maximize the return on investment.

Fans Shut Out for Third Straight Year as Avs & Nuggets Begin 2021-2022 Seasons

The Colorado Avalanche kick of their 2021-2022 season tonight with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. While the odds-makers have the Avalanche among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, the biggest news is that for the third straight year most Coloradans won’t be able to watch the team play (or the Nuggets, for that matter) due to the ongoing carriage dispute between Stan Kroenke’s Altitude TV and Comcast/Dish Network.

That the fight among billionaires – and resulting TV blackout – coincides with unusually successful periods for both teams is maddening. During a window of time when the Broncos are clearly below average and the Rockies can only dream of being average, it is a moment when the Avs and Nuggets could capture the attention of the state. Instead, they are out of sight and out of mind.

Former Denver Post Reporter/Current ESPNer Adam Schefter Under Fire for Journalistic Ethics Breach

On Monday, leaked emails from an NFL investigation into the Washington Football Team took down Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. This morning, additional email leaks are threatening the reputation of former Denver Post reporter and current ESPN information broker Adam Schefter.

According to one email to former WFT GM Bruce Allen, Schefter violated one of the cardinal tenets of journalism – giving a source editorial control over a news story. Prior to publishing an article about collective bargaining between the player’s union and the NFL, Schefter sent a draft of his article to Allen with the note:

“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked. Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. (I) plan to file this to ESPN about 6 am.”

Raiders Coach Resigns One-third of the Way Through a $100M Contract

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but emails live forever everywhere. That is a tough lesson that Oakland Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned the hard way when nearly a decade’s worth of racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails he wrote surfaced over the weekend. Facing an onslaught of criticism and a locker room full of large, athletic men who likely wanted to punch him, Gruden was forced to resign less than one-third of the way through a 10-year, $100 million contract.

Photo courtesy of SkySports

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Boulder Daily Camera took the extraordinary step of retracting a recent article on the impact of 9/11 on several Boulder residents after it investigated allegations that information and quotes in the article were exaggerated and/or fabricated. The reporter, April Morganroth, is no longer employed at the Camera or any of its sister publications.
  • Facebook seemingly subscribes to the Donald Trump approach to scandals – have so many of them that it wears down people’s ability to be outraged. This week, however, the company faced unprecedented scrutiny when a whistleblower shared secret inside information about how it knew that its platforms were detrimental to teen girls and democracy, among others.
  • The Denver Nuggets gave star player Michael Porter Jr. a $207 million contract in the off-season, but his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine is now creating headaches for the team. Per NBA protocols, he won’t be allowed to play games in California or New York, and will be required to eat, dress and travel separately from teammates and staff.
  • Many global billionaires had their underhanded financial dealings exposed this week as part of the so-called “Pandora Papers” that detailed how they avoid taxes and launder money using shell companies. They haven’t been this exposed since … the similar “Panama Papers” scandal in 2016 that appears to have done absolutely nothing to slow them down.
  • Former Ohio State University and current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer apologized for a viral video that showed a young woman grinding on him while at a bar over the weekend. Meyer was alone at the bar because his wife was … babysitting their grandkids.
  • University of Colorado football coach Karl Dorrell had to apologize after shoving a CBS4 photojournalist while leaving the field following last weekend’s loss to conference rival USC.

So who won the week?

Bawmann Group Celebrates 25 Years

Congratulations to Brad Bawmann and the team at The Bawmann Group as the agency celebrates its 25th anniversary. Brad shared his top lessons learned in a post about the milestone:

  1. Telling the truth matters. Being responsive matters.
  2. Some clients heed our counsel; others choose to disagree. Regardless, fierce conversations are crucial to achieving alignment and making progress.
  3. Work hard. Do great work. The money will follow.
  4. Culture is everything. I have more than once taken my eye off this “ball” and it cost me a foot of my large intestine, a debilitating bout of anxiety, and some poor financial decisions.
  5. Love what you do. I started TBG with the intention of working only with those trying to make the world a better place. Adhering to that filter has never let me down.

Dawn Doty Honored with PRSA Outstanding Educator Award

Most of us know Dawn Doty from her days as a partner at Linhart PR, where her clients included Chipotle, Crocs, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Southwest Airlines and the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 2016, though, Dawn joined the University of Colorado Boulder as a full-time public relations instructor, and she has been as successful there as she was in the agency world. And that is why PRSA has honored Dawn with its 2021 Outstanding Educator Award. Congratulations, Dawn.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Digital media start-up Ozy Media announced today that it is shutting down following reports that one of its executives impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs. The bizarre-but-well-sourced allegation spurred a flury of scrutiny that quickly toppled the high-flying media company.
  • Organizers have cancelled Denver’s Chowdermeister festival – an event that brought to life and celebrated the the results of “a Twitter poll asking which food and drink combination was the most vile.” Jägermeister inexplicably was a sponsor, but pulled out following “press attention that was deemed unflattering.”
  • National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) commissioner Lisa Baird and general counsel Lisa Levine have been removed from their positions, several days after The Athletic reported that the league ignored allegations of abuse by a long-time coach.
  • Ouray County pulled its paid meeting notices in the The Ouray County Plaindealer – a roughly $10,000 per year hit – following reports from the newspaper that the county was violating the Colorado Open Meetings Law by holding secret meetings. The county swears the decision was a coincidence.
  • Think the results from Googling your name are tough? Alexandra Souverneva will forever be known as the woman who started the destructive Fawn Fire in Shasta County, Calif. by attempting to boil bear urine to drink.

So, who won the week?

Who Went Where

  • Jason Michael has joined Elasticity as SVP to help open the firm’s Denver office. He previously was a partner at Barokas in Denver, which announced its sale to Finn Partners in July.
  • Novitas Communications named Jaime Gardner as the firm’s business development and communications director. She formerly was the principal at High Plains Communications in Yuma, Colo.
  • Liesl Leary-Perez has been named VP of corporate marketing at Hubilo. She previously was head of global marketing at TTEC.
  • Dinosaur Ridge named Kristen Kidd director of Marketing & Communications. She previously spent time at Levels Beyond and M&C Communications.
  • Alexandra Hilker has been promoted to director of Brand Strategy, Insights & Innovation at Egg Strategy.
  • The National Cattleman’s Beef Association named Jennifer Nealson SVP of Global Marketing & Research.
  • Linhart PR added Claire Sisun as an account executive.
  • Barefoot PR added Hannah Morris as senior associate.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson, who has spent much of the past two years organizing protests, found himself the subject of a 1,000 student-strong walkout this week following a formal censure by his fellow board members. A Denver Post editorial strongly supported the censure and the Aurora Sentinel called for his recall. Anderson, for his part, announced on Tuesday that he was taking “some time off of social media,” a self-imposed exile that literally lasted less than 18 hours.
  • The late, great Gwen Ifill created the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome” to describe the media frenzy that accompanies news that a usually-young, usually-attractive, usually-blonde woman has gone missing. This week’s overwhelming news media coverage of the Gabby Petito disappearance was a stark reminder that, sadly, things haven’t changed much.
  • The Colorado Rockies were officially eliminated from the playoffs this week. In their 28-year history, they have never won their division, which includes only four other teams.
  • Nielsen has long been the gold standard for measurement of television audiences, but competitors smell blood in the water and networks are evaluating other options after Nielsen lost its accreditation from the Media Ratings Council (MRC), the independent body that enforces fair and transparent measurement standards in media. 
  • Inconsistent travel volumes, trouble recruiting TSA agents and long-term construction projects have created the perfect storm for extraordinarily long security lines at DIA, a situation The Denver Post described solemnly as “bananas.” Meanwhile, The Post reported that DIA has removed its real-time security wait indicator from its website “as a cost-cutting measure.”
  • Founded in 1929, Fortune – 92 years later – finally named its first female editor, Alyson Shontell.

So, who won the week?

  • A recent survey found that Denver has the seventh-highest salary nationally. If you are wondering where it all goes, the answer is rent/mortgage.
  • I hope former Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler had a sense of how beloved and respected he was when he was alive. His death this week brought a tidal wave of praise for who he was and what he did. He was most known for his story titled “Final Salute,” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Alyson Shontell was named editor of Fortune, the magazine’s first female editor in its 92-year history.

PRSA Colorado Announces Gold Pick Special Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Special Award winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement: Wendy Aiello, Aiello Public Relations
  • Public Relations Person of the Year: Winna MacLaren, City and County of Denver
  • Business Person of the Year: Tory Bruno, President & CEO, United Launch Alliance
  • Media Person of the Year: Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal
  • Rookie of the Year: Anna Ritz, CIG Public Relations
  • Mentor of the Year Award: Liz Kamper, CBRE
  • Chapter Service Award: Michelle Lyng, Novitas Communications
  • Public Relations Team of the Year: Sage Restaurant Concepts

The winners will be recognized at this year’s Gold Pick awards on Oct. 6.

Great Moments in Disembarkments

The University of Southern California football team can’t be happy with the conclusion of its flight to Pullman, Wash., to play Washington State University. And United Airlines and Boeing can’t be happy for the world to see what happens when you unload the people and heavy equipment from the front half of the plan without utilizing a tail stand.

Who Had the Worse Week

  • Rapper/singer Nicki Minaj became a social media meme when she tweeted that people should carefully consider whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because her cousin’s friend got it and “became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” Popular opinion is that he actually cheated, got an STD and is now trying to blame the vaccine.
  • Walmart had to play defense when a fake press release was distributed via GlobeNewswire claiming that the retailer would begin accepting cryptocurrency at its stores. The release was almost certainly part of a pump-and-dump stock scheme.
  • A New York woman, Morgan Hellquist, discovered that her gynecologist of nine years, Dr. Morris Wortman, was actually her biological father. And her lawsuit alleges that he was aware of the relationship.
  • U.S. Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, among others, testified at a Congressional hearing that the FBI failed to properly investigate their claims that disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused them. As the hearing concluded, reports surfaced that the FBI had fired Michael Langeman, one of the lead agents in the investigation.
  • Legendary Philadelphia cheese steak restaurant Pat’s became the backdrop to a quintessential Philly crime when a “violent group of soccer hooligans beat a man to death with a garbage can lid.”
  • The hits keep coming to the Aurora Police Department, and this week it was Attorney General Phil Weiser who delivered the blow. Weiser is requiring the department to make to make “sweeping reforms after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law,” according to The Denver Post.
  • Traveling right now is stressful enough, but imagine coming back from a trip to find that your car had been stolen from DIA. According to Denver Police, that is an increasingly common situation.
  • Kim Kardashian did what she does best – make headlines for inconsequential things – at the annual Met Gala. The unusual dress she wore was compared to Star Wars’ Darth Vader, dementors from Harry Potter and the alien from the movie, Alien.

So, who won the week?

  • Always acerbic, wry and deadpan, Norm Macdonald was a comedian’s comedian, more respected among his peers than the general public. But his death this week at age 61 resulted in a flood of public tributes from both.
  • Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio is on the hot seat, but things got better on Sunday when, for the first time in his three years with the team, they won a game in September.
  • Immersive art company Meow Wolf made tons of headlines when it officially opened its Denver facility this week. It even nabbed U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, along with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to attend its ribbon-cutting event. That’s even more impressive when you consider that President Joe Biden’s visit earlier in the week to NREL only attracted two of those four.
  • The Drone Racing League secured a $100 million sponsorship deal with blockchain platform Algorand. Never heard of the DRL? Me either, but they have $100 million now.
  • Americans love their pick-up trucks, so it was news this week when electric truck manufacturer Rivian was credited with beating Ford, GM and Tesla to deliver the first consumer-ready electric pick-up truck.