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|August 14-20, 2008
Celebrating 15 years of independent journalism
A look at our top 25 stories
by Boulder Weekly staff
One way to measure a newspaper’s success is by its advertising revenue. Another is to count how many people read each edition of the paper. Yet another is to look at the paper’s impact — what it brings to its community.
As Boulder Weekly celebrates its 15th year of publication, we’re happy to say we’re still growing both in terms of revenue and readership. But we’re even more satisfied by what we’ve managed to accomplish over the past decade and a half of journalism.
This week Boulder Weekly’s editorial staff takes a look at the articles we believe made a difference in our community, the articles that stand above all others as examples of the kind of journalism to which we aspire. The stories described in these pages did more than keep the community informed. They also challenged perceptions, encouraged people to become involved, gave a voice to the voiceless, opened hearts and minds and, in some cases, even acted as the catalyst for change.
We hope you enjoy taking this little trip down memory lane with us. Once we’re done celebrating, we’ll get back to work, trying to make the world a better place one week at a time.
Thanks for your support!
Whistleblower claims Syntex Chemicals delayed reporting groundwater contamination
by Joel Dyer / May 26, 1994
Joel Dyer originally came to work for Boulder Weekly as a freelance photographer. But he had other ambitions. While still shooting photos, Dyer wrote an investigative story that shaped the paper’s future by setting it firmly on the path of investigative journalism.
The story involved Syntex Chemicals, a Boulder-based pharmaceutical plant that ranked among the worst polluters in the state. In 1988, Syntex confessed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the company had discovered groundwater contamination beneath the plant a year and a half earlier. While it might have seemed that Syntex was a company doing its best to come clean, Dyer dug beneath the surface, and an altogether different picture emerged.
A whistleblower letter written by a former Syntex employee to the EPA claimed Syntex had known about the groundwater contamination as early as 1982 and had actively tried to cover it up. Richard Hughes, who had worked as an environmental chemist for the pharma-giant, claimed he witnessed several leaks at the plant in 1982 and his subsequent groundwater testing revealed the presence of toxic chemicals. Hughes had recorded his findings in a laboratory notebook, which was allegedly signed by Hughes’ superiors to confirm accuracy. Oddly, the notebook had vanished — together with company documents that would have revealed exactly when officials at Syntex knew about the pollution.
“After a month-long investigation, I was able to confirm my source’s belief that the groundwater contamination from the plant was winding up in Boulder Creek and that the spills causing the contamination had not been properly reported to the EPA,” Dyer says. “My favorite part of the story was that Syntex started running full-page ads [in Boulder Weekly] when they found out what I was looking into and pulled the ads when the story came out. We weren’t for sale.”
Dyer went on to become the Weekly’s editor for a time, before leaving to write books and launch his own paper, the Fort Collins Weekly, now called Fort Collins Now.
“Up to the time this story was published, my vision for the newspaper was largely connected to the business opportunity that it represented,” says Boulder Weekly Publisher Stewart Sallo. “But suddenly a whole new vision was initiated that had more to do with the paper being a vehicle for social change.”
Beech Aircraft toxins poison Open Space
by Joel Dyer / Sept. 15, 1994
Sometimes you get more than you pay for. In 1988, the city and county of Boulder jointly purchased 1,200.5 acres of land from Beech Aircraft under the impression it would be a great addition to Open Space. The land, about two miles north of Boulder on Highway 36, cost $1.5 million and, according to city records, was considered a bargain by city and county officials. The purchase was hailed as a smart move.
What the public didn’t know was that the groundwater beneath the land had been contaminated with potentially cancer-causing chemicals — vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene, 1,1,1-Trichlorethane, Irl-Dichloroethylene, Cis 1,2-Dichloroethylene and Trans 1,2-Dichloroethylene. The contaminated water, so dirty it was discolored, poured out of the ground and over public land before spilling into Left Hand Reservoir, which intermittently supplies drinking water to homes in North Boulder, Longmont and Erie.
Boulder Weekly learned that Beech officials knew of the likely contamination long before the 1988 sale. Jim Crain, director of Open Space and Real Estate, said the information about contamination was never disclosed to the city and county during sales negotiations despite laws that required sellers to come clean about any potential pollution on their land.
“I spent months in the health department records and finally found my smoking gun — a 1976 memo that confirmed that Beech had known that the property was contaminated at the time they sold it,” Dyer recalls.
After the Weekly’s story ran, a groundwater-recovery system was installed to capture contaminated water and the polluted land — land once intended for the enjoyment of county residents — was closed to the public.
Whistleblower gives Boulder Weekly an inside look at conditions at Cemex
by Pamela White / Nov. 20, 2003
It started with a videotape in the mail and a phone number. The video contained footage filmed covertly by an employee of Cemex, the cement plant located between Lyons and Boulder, and showed conditions that can only be described as alarming. While the camera rolled, caustic cement dust wafted out of open doorways, conveyor belts leaked dust and piles of cement dust — one almost four feet deep — made walking through areas of the plant difficult.
For years, neighbors of Mexican-owned Cemex had complained of clouds of fugitive dust wafting off-site and across their yards and pastures, regularly blowing into their homes, ruining the paint jobs on their cars and compromising their health. Now, the whistleblower’s video footage seemed to confirm that dust was a serious problem at the plant.
Pamela White met several times with the Cemex whistleblower to learn more about the images on the videotapes and conditions at the plant. The whistleblower’s allegations went beyond dust to include malfunctioning equipment, specifically a dust-control system on the plant’s A-Frame building, a system that managers at Cemex had claimed was functioning and in place.
During the course of her investigation, White learned that Cemex was deep in negotiations with the state over a host of alleged violations of state air-pollution laws, the result of unannounced state inspections. Using hundreds of pages of documents obtained through the Colorado Open Records Act, she discovered that Cemex was facing the largest fine in its history.
White took the videos to federal officials, who watched the footage and, as a direct result of White’s inquiries, organized their own inspection of the plant.
On Nov. 20, as federal inspectors launched what would become a month-long inspection resulting in numerous citations, Boulder Weekly released White’s article, detailing the whistleblower’s allegations, as well as all information that had been made public up to that point regarding the state’s enforcement action against Cemex.
On Monday, Feb. 23, state air-pollution officials slapped Cemex with more than $282,000 in fines and supplemental environmental programs for violations of state air-pollution regulations pertaining to dust and particulate emissions.
Unfortunately, Cemex is a company that can’t seem to clean up its act. The company was recently fined $1.5 million for 72,000 violations of air-pollution laws. (No, that’s not a typo.) The EPA has a Notice of Violation against the company, and a citizens’ group is considering filing a lawsuit against Cemex.
“Since that story, which was a great story, unprecedented pressure has truly built against them,” says Jeremy Nichols, director of Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action. “Our group, as a citizens group, has leveraged more legal pressure than ever before.”
COMFORTING THE AFFLICTED
Ready to blow
Guard comes clean: Prisoners are being abused
by Joel Dyer & Wayne Laugesen / Aug. 3, 1995
Prison isn’t supposed to be fun. So when Colorado prisoners complained they were suffering in the Texas jail to which they’d been sent, officials turned a deaf ear. Good thing Boulder Weekly was listening.
The paper ran two cover stories — one in July and one in August — that detailed the alleged abuses and terrible conditions to which Colorado prisoners were being subjected. In some cases, 24 prisoners were being kept in the same cell and were forced to spend 23 hours of each day locked down together, as the facility had no cafeteria and no prison yard. In the Aug. 3 article, a Texas guard admitted that inmates had also been abused by guards and said he feared a major prison riot was brewing. The guard’s statements contradicted those of Ari Zavaras, then director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections, who had inspected the jail and claimed prisoners were exaggerating.
The prisoners were in Texas because there wasn’t enough room for them in Colorado’s prisons. Many out-of-state jails and prisons accept prisoners from other states because they find the prisoner trade boosts their economy. (Jails and prisons are paid on a per-diem, per-prisoner basis, so the more the merrier.)
After the story ran, at least two riots broke out at the facility. A federal judge then suspended Denver’s $20,000-per-day payment to the Texas jail after officials there refused to allow attorneys and a prison expert to investigate conditions in the prison. The investigation eventually moved forward and led to a televised debate between Joel Dyer and Zavaras, as well as a state investigation that confirmed allegations made in Boulder Weekly.
Dying in our streets
Boulder can’t find a place for homeless woman with cancer
by Greg Campbell / Nov. 16, 1995
The job of journalists is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In November 1995, it would have been hard to find anyone in Boulder more afflicted and uncomfortable than Anita Belletti. When Boulder Weekly interviewed Anita, she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. Unlike most people undergoing cancer treatment, Anita didn’t have a bed to crawl into or bathroom to use when the treatments made her feel sick. She was homeless.
Anita had come to Boulder from California to be near her daughter, having fought breast cancer into remission. She had originally lived with a friend in Section 8 housing, but the city Housing Authority gave her the boot because she wasn’t related to the leaseholder. Moving in with her daughter, who was near homeless herself, wasn’t an option. When Anita had applied for aid, she was told by the city that she didn’t qualify for any of its programs.
Then the cancer returned, and Anita found herself fighting for her life and living in her Ford Pinto in the cold of winter.
After the story ran, offers of assistance from concerned readers swamped Boulder Weekly’s phone lines. One of the many calls we received came from the Boulder County Housing Authority, which arranged to house both Anita and her daughter. By Christmas, the two were safely under one roof.
Boulder Weekly stayed in touch with Anita after that. She told reporters how the people of Boulder had made her feel at home and at peace with their concern and generosity. She said she wished she had some way to thank the public.
Anita passed away early the following summer, having lost her battle against breast cancer. She is buried in Nederland Cemetery.
“This is one of the most satisfying stories I’ve ever worked on, and it brought home to me the power that journalism can have in affecting change in people’s lives,” said Greg Campbell.
Think you’ve paid at the pump? Try paying with your life. Boulder Weekly visits Nigeria.
by Greg Campbell / April 19, 2001
The 300-foot natural-gas blowtorch has burned nonstop day and night for 30 years. The screaming tower of fire causes its neighbors to sweat constantly, communicate in yells and lose all illusion that they will ever have a dark and peaceful night’s sleep.
Greg Campbell visited the village of Akaraolu in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria to see this gas flare, which few will ever know exists and which is a byproduct of the world’s quenchless thirst for oil.
The flare is owned by AgipPetroli S.p.A. of Italy, one of six multinational oil companies that extract a total of about two barrels of crude oil a day from the region. The company finds it cheaper and easier to burn off the natural gas that comes with the oil than to capture it for use.
The flare erodes nearby buildings, causes earthquakes, decimates local wildlife and causes respiratory, urinary and mental problems, say villagers.
While a small fraction of the natural gas would power Akaraolu forever, in Nigeria there’s little infrastructure or economic incentive to accomplish such a task. So while the oil under their feet is shipped halfway around the world to power SUVs, Nigerian villages like Akaraolu get by with little, if any, electricity.
Although oil companies promised that all the gas then flared in the region would soon be captured, Akalaolu’s villagers had heard too many lies to hold their breath. They wanted Agip to move their village to a place where they can once again dance in joy and enjoy a night lit by starlight, not by firelight.
“I felt it was important to show the world what it was like to live in Akaraolu under the pounding flames of an always-on gas flare,” says Greg Campbell. “Anyone who wonders about the true costs of filling their SUV with gas need only read the story of this hopeless village for a true human accounting.”
If anything this article has become more relevant today, given the extremes our nation seems to be willing to go to to ensure a steady supply of oil — like fighting a long and fruitless war in Iraq.
Woman in chains
Inmate Pamela Clifton feared for her unborn baby’s life. Prison guards ignored and antagonized her; the child died.
by Pamela White / Aug. 2, 2001
Pamela Clifton wasn’t an ideal mother. With a long criminal record, she had two children in foster care and one in her womb when she was imprisoned in 1998 on a drug charge. Two months pregnant when she entered prison, Clifton went into labor on Christmas Day 1998 — one month early.
According to documents filed in federal court as part of a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, Clifton approached prison guards twice and told them she was having contractions, and both times was ordered back to her unit. Guards even made fun of her. At the change of shifts, she approached yet another guard, who sent her to the infirmary.
But the nurse on duty in the infirmary told her that because her water hadn’t broken, her contractions were probably false labor. Clifton asked her to check her baby using the fetal heart monitor because something didn’t feel right, but the nurse told her she didn’t know how to use it.
Still having contractions, Clifton was sent back to her cell, where she endured labor through the night. By morning, Clifton could no longer feel her baby moving. A guard noticed her distress and sent her back to the infirmary, where the doctor on duty attached the fetal monitor and gave Clifton the worst news any mother can receive: Her baby was dead.
The article explored the lack of medical care available for women in Colorado’s prisons. It also questioned whether poor medical care constituted strange and unusual punishment.
Pamela White was fired while working on this story for the Rocky Mountain News. Her editors refused to publish the story in part because Clifton was an inmate and therefore wouldn’t be sympathetic to readers.
“My editor said, ‘She was in prison on a drug charge. She was probably taking drugs and killed the kid herself,’” White says. “I lost my temper and yelled, ‘That’s not journalism! That’s speculation!’ He didn’t like that. In the end, my editor treated her just like the prison guards had treated her. She was subhuman to them.”
The story went on to win a state journalism award for Boulder Weekly, which bought the article one hour after White was sacked.
“Boulder Weekly’s decision to publish this story has proved to be most significant with respect to the subsequent editorship of Pamela White, who has gone on to author and mentor dozens of similar stories that show the compassionate side of journalism that is so integral to our purpose,” said Stewart Sallo.
Clifton’s case was settled out of court in 2007. She now works as an advocate for prisoners and has regained custody of one of her children.
Cultural cleansing in Boulder
by Boulder Weekly Editorial Staff / Jan. 16, 2003
When Boulder City Council voted on Jan. 7, 2003, to outlaw begging from street medians — ostensibly for safety reasons — Editor Wayne Laugesen called the editorial staff together and launched plans for what he called the “all-begging issue.”
Reporters fanned out across town to explore the issue of begging — and Boulder’s response to beggars — from several different angles.
Laugesen interviewed homeless activist Ted Hayes, who blames liberals for overtaxing the middle class and creating the homeless poor. Hayes also decries the middle class as tax slaves and argues that homeless men and women have more freedom.
Joel Warner captured the comments of several supporters of the anti-begging laws at the City Council meeting, including the words of George Karakehian, who referred to panhandlers as “bastards.”
Pamela White, then managing editor, spent a day on the medians with panhandlers, discovering the individual reasons for their being homeless, their thoughts about the city ordinance and learning something about the rhythm of their lives. She garnered one offer of a free meal, after being mistaken for a panhandler herself. White also interviewed then-Mayor Will Toor, who discussed his reasons for opposing the ordinance.
Vince Darcangelo examined the ways in which anti-begging laws might further strain the already stressed social programs available to the homeless in Boulder County. The meager income beggars earn while panhandling on medians is enough in some cases to get them a hotel room and a meal or two, sparing the county expense.
“Perhaps the greatest cause of journalists should be championing the underdog — those less fortunate among us,” says Stewart Sallo. With this issue, we took that to another level, where we devoted an entire issue to those underdogs known as ‘homeless.’ We endeavored to create a context of understanding and compassion for those people that we hoped would serve as an example to the greater community. I knew we had succeeded when I received a personal phone call from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, arguably the most influential spiritual leader in the Boulder community, expressing his appreciation and praise for what he felt was one of the most compassionate series of stories he’d ever read.”
Laugesen says he gained valuable insight while managing the series.
“I learned that an alarming number of conservatives and libertarians don’t understand concepts of limited government and individual liberty,” Laugesen said. “The local libertarian party was officially divided on the issue of begging laws, with some members claiming a right to be left alone — a right they wanted government to provide. Amazingly, they were advocating that local government would shield them by denying beggars their rights of free speech and association. Well-known conservative Republicans in Boulder favored anti-begging laws, saying people should work for a living. Of course, begging is work. Conservatives and libertarians should have been fighting with us, but a majority seemed unable to comprehend the fundamental principles of the philosophies they claimed to embrace.”
Jagged little pills
The pills were supposed to protect U.S. troops in Iraq. Was the drug more dangerous than the enemy?
by Joel Warner / Feb. 17, 2005
Andrew Pogany arrived in Iraq with his Special Forces A-Team on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2003. On his second night in country, after witnessing the carnage of battle, he began having a host of emotional and physical symptoms and thought he was suffering from a nervous breakdown. By his sixth day in Iraq, he was shipped home, stripped of his weapons, his job and his dignity, berated by his fellow soldiers and his superiors, who called him a “coward.” They charged him with “cowardly conduct as a result of fear” — a crime punishable by death.
Also a member of a Special Forces A-Team, Bill Powell served a tour of duty in the same compound where Pogany had been so briefly stationed and returned to the United States on Feb. 17, 2004. He seemed happy to be home, but he didn’t speak much about the war. Three weeks after he returned, a random encounter at the grocery store led to a confrontation with his ex-wife. That led to a night of drinking, during which Powell bullied and struck his wife — and then committed suicide in the front yard of the family home, while both his wife and police watched.
Joel Warner, then Boulder Weekly’s managing editor, spent months getting to know the stories of these two Fort Carson soldiers, piecing together the facts of their lives. He reported how both soldiers had been taking a controversial, but mandatory, anti-malaria drug called mefloquine hydrochloride, better known as Lariam.
The army’s solution to the risk of chloroquine-resistant malaria — a deadly disease that can debilitate an army — Lariam has been hailed as a miracle drug. But as Warner reported, Lariam comes with a host of risks and side-effects, including hallucinations, depression, anxiety, pscychosis and suicide. Despite strong evidence that the drug was dangerous — and despite the availability of safer options — the Army had been requiring its soldiers stationed in Iraq to take Lariam.
Pogany was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing when a doctor examined him and diagnosed him as having drug toxicity as a result of taking Lariam. But for Powell, and many soldiers like him, it was too late.
Warner’s story took a local look at a national issue, putting a face on soldiers who suffered as a result of the Army’s apparent reluctance to acknowledge its mistakes and unwillingness to take responsibility for the harm those mistakes have caused to the men and women in uniform.
“What I remember about this story is how hard Joel worked on it, researching it for months,” says Editor Pamela White. “The night before it went to press we sat in my living room reading every single word aloud.”
The article won both state and national honors.
25 years in Boulder County
by Pamela White / Nov. 30, 2006
The story of AIDS in Boulder County has much in common with the story of AIDS in the rest of the world. It’s a story of fear, desolation, illness, suffering and death. But it’s also a story of compassion, of hope amid hopelessness, of unprecedented cooperation and courageous caring. But until this series was published, no one had made an effort to document the history of the disease in Boulder County.
Pamela White spent five months interviewing dozens of locals, including those who played an important local role in the early days of the AIDS pandemic. She hoped to put together a solid local history of the epidemic and to answer one question: How has HIV/AIDS changed Boulder County?
Her conclusion after a series of five articles — including the longest single article in the newspaper’s history — was that HIV/AIDS has transformed the community of those who’ve had the courage to confront it. But the rest of the county’s population remains largely as it was, with too many people still ignoring the tragedy and the risk of HIV/AIDS.
“This edition was exclusively the vision of Boulder Weekly Editor Pamela White, who once again outdid herself in the areas of courage and compassion,” says Stewart Sallo. “Every time I walked into her office she was choking back tears after researching another heartbreaking story of someone suffering from this horrible disease.”
White says the most rewarding part of working on this series of articles, which went on to earn national honors, was witnessing the courage of those she interviewed: the woman who became a public speaker doing AIDS outreach after contracting the virus through heterosexual sex; the mother and father who rallied around their AIDS-stricken son, but ultimately watched him die; the sister and brother who grew up with AIDS they’d contracted from their mother; and the clergy who stepped outside the pulpit to help AIDS sufferers at a time when those with AIDS were being treated like lepers.
“I cried a lot, yes, but meeting these people was a gift,” White says. “Nothing has touched me the way this series did. The tragedy of AIDS is painful to take in with so many dead and so many sick and suffering. But if you try, you find there’s room inside you to handle the grief. Facing the truth of human suffering helps expand our minds and hearts and makes us better people.”
ACTING AS A WATCHDOG
Who’s watching your kids?
East Boulder Rec Center called magnet for perverts
by Richard Fleming / Aug. 24, 1995
Boulder’s rec centers have long been a favorite year-round hangout for the city’s families and for children. As Boulder Weekly discovered, the East Boulder Recreation Center was in 1995 a popular hangout for perverts who targeted kiddies.
During the course of the investigation, the Weekly discovered a thick file of complaints by parents, children and employees about the sexually deviant behavior of some patrons at the rec center. Even more astonishing was the discovery that the city had not taken action based on these complaints. In addition to failing to remove the suspects in these complaints from the rec center, city officials had actually threatened to fire concerned employees, who simply wanted to warn the public.
Lee Juhl, who managed the city’s pools until he resigned in August 1995, told the Weekly, “Parks and rec management has resisted taking steps to alert patrons to the threat of pedophiles at East due to fiscal reasons — they don’t want to risk scaring people away from the rec centers.”
A concerned mother whose young son had been the victim of a peeping tom summed it up this way: “Do you have to have somebody molested before they think it’s something to worry about?”
Boulder Weekly felt the resounding answer to that question should be, “No!” After the story was published, the city reevaluated its policies and took several steps to protect children at its rec centers. Yet, despite evidence on videotapes and eyewitness accounts, the city never took action against the employees who ordered the irresponsible and dangerous cover-up.
Nederland councilman David Shortridge takes on threats and corruption
by Wayne Laugesen / March 2, 1995
The smaller the stakes the more brutal the battle. At stake in this case were three vacancies on the seven-member Nederland Board of Trustees. Three men wanted those seats, and one man, David Shortridge, was determined to stop them. The result was a battle that involved three trumped-up recall elections against Shortridge, himself a board member, threats and at least one attempted bribe.
When Boulder Weekly first interviewed Shortridge, he was trying to shut down Nederland’s government by refusing to attend board meetings. His tactic was intended to prevent the necessary quorum that would allow John Lewis, a former drug dealer and drug smuggler, Scot Bruntjen and attorney David Clyne, a former Nederland town administrator, to be appointed. Shortridge’s determination came from his belief that the three men were trying to put themselves in a position that would give them control over every aspect of town government.
“Their agenda would be a detriment to the town, and I won’t allow it,” Shortridge told Boulder Weekly.
As evidence, Shortridge presented a taped conversation during which Lewis and Clyne told him they’d back off the recall election provided Shortridge got them on the board. When Shortridge questioned the rightness of throwing away petitions signed by voters, Lewis replied, “David, you know I control them all. I can make everything go away.”
The story offered an in-depth look at the sleazy politics of Boulder’s real sister city.
Left in the dark
When an 11-year-old boy was sexually assaulted at school, no one bothered to tell his mother
by Greg Campbell / Jan. 29, 1998
Who’s to blame when an 11-year-old boy is molested in school and neither the school nor the police perform their required duty of reporting the event to the child’s parents?
In the case of David (name changed), a mentally handicapped 11-year-old enrolled in the special-education program at Burbank Middle School, Boulder Weekly editor Greg Campbell discovered that there was plenty of blame to go around.
It started with the teacher, Rachelle Bradshaw, who left David alone in a room with 14-year-old Jonathon (name changed) — who was currently on probation for a sexual assault committed three years earlier on a 7-year-old neighbor — while watching an R-rated film on Dec. 19. This is when the assault took place. Following the incident, Bradshaw failed to report her suspicions that an assault had occurred. Jonathon confessed on Dec. 22, yet the police failed to notify David’s parents because they didn’t want to “ruin” their Christmas. David’s parents only found out when they contacted the police on Jan. 8, nearly three weeks after the assault, when Jonathon was already in juvenile detention for the molestation. The District Attorney’s office, Boulder Valley School District, Boulder Police Department, the Department of Social Services, the school’s counselor and Jonathon’s probation officer were all aware of the assault, yet David’s parents were left in the dark.
Holly Smith, director of the Boulder County Sexual Abuse Team, chose to blame the community instead of holding accountable those responsible for this debacle.
The house that graft built
Nepotism and self-enrichment in city housing
by Nick Rosen / July 16, 1998
Most houses are built with hammers and nails. When you have houses built with corruption and fraud, then there’s a problem.
By carefully investigating city records for months, Boulder Weekly discovered a web of corruption all leading to Jim Butterfield, construction manager for the City of Boulder Housing Authority. Butterfield had a habit of making his city programs a family affair, a violation of the Authority’s conflict-of-interest rules. Butterfield’s relatives were hired to work on a Housing Authority rehabilitation project, and his daughter was paid at least $30 an hour for painting mobile homes and other miscellaneous jobs, a hefty sum for an unskilled worker.
Butterfield’s Housing Authority shenanigans were just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently at his previous job at the Department of Housing and Human Services, Butterfield was helping himself to a hefty windfall from official construction contracts. Between 1992 and 1997 Butterfield allocated $65,000 in Housing and Human Services contracts to a company called Hallmark Builders. Butterfield’s wife Kathy Evans picked up Hallmark’s checks at a private mailbox and deposited them in a bank account in her name.
The endorsements on the back of the checks were also strikingly similar to Butterfield’s handwriting.
The story eventually prompted Butterfield to resign and caused the city of Boulder to launch audits of both Housing and Human Services and the Housing Authority.
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