Wild times at the Gazette 

Ranger Rich

Last year at this time Denver mega-billionaire Philip Anschutz wanted to own a really fast pet. So he grabbed his pen and scribbled this note to an associate: Buy a gazelle.

But Anschutz was 72 and his handwriting was a bit shaky and the associate, misreading the key word, bought the Gazette.

Frankly, there's no other possible explanation why a guy with a Forbes-estimated worth of $10.3 billion would want to own our village's daily newspaper — probably No. 2 on a list of things people would not want.

Footnote: Holding down the No. 1 spot on the list of things people don't want is Toronto Mayor Chris Farley, I mean Rob Ford, as their designated driver.

(I apologize for that joke and hereby vow not to mention Rob Ford's name ever again.)

Anyway, let's look at the Gazette one year after the 38th-richest person in the nation — the 109th-richest person in the world — bought it. The sales price of the Gazette was not disclosed, but experts believe it was somewhere between what Mayor Rob Ford typically spends on a crack pipe and the tequila bill at a Mormon wedding.

We'll start with a recent incident in which a Gazette staff member, reportedly in human resources, had a laptop taken from the backseat of her unlocked car in a parking lot.

On the computer were the names, street and email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, 401(k) information and Social Security numbers of many current and former Gazette employees. This would include me. I was the humor columnist at the Gazette for nine years, which was not unlike being the joke writer for Karl Rove. Or Rob Ford's life management coach.

The computer theft occurred Oct. 12, but those possibly affected were not notified until Nov. 6 — the Gazette still clinging to its long-standing motto: "Bringing You Last Week's News the Day After Tomorrow."

The newspaper — owned, remember, by a guy with $10.3 billion in assets — responded with an email to victims. The email basically said this: Oops.

It said the Gazette would not pay for any costs incurred by ID theft victims. And there was this reassuring line: "Victim information sometimes is held for use or shared among a group of thieves at different times. You may ... want to sign up for a credit monitoring program."

Which Gazette employees could have afforded if they didn't have to pay for parking. That starts next week when the paper moves from its decades-old rusty aluminum shed, still the property of previous owner Aaron Kushner, into a posh, marble-floored new downtown office. Parking will cost each employee about $25 per month, according to a pair of employees.

On a more positive note, the newspaper is throwing a going-away party. Going away are employees' desks and cubicle walls — sold and taken from the office. In some cases, while reporters are still sitting there.

Facebook photos show the empty spaces. One reporter wrote: "I walked in today and found they had sold some of my team's cubicles out from under us."

Some of the furniture is valuable for historic reasons. One desk is believed to be the actual desk where a then-elementary-school kid in Germany named Steve Bach, who would go on to be our mayor, sat and bullied all the other third-graders in the year 1186.

Seriously, the embarrassing furniture sale is the work of greeting-card entrepreneur Kushner, who owned the Gazette and Freedom Communications for four months in 2012 before his house of (greeting) cards apparently toppled.

(Kushner is searching now for words that rhyme with "desperate garage sale.")

In summary, you have the stolen laptop thing and people scrambling to avoid identity theft at their own expense. And you have reporters having their desks sold and hauled away while they're sitting at them.

Ah, tales from the Gazette. Some things never seem to get old.

Like those videos of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. And our own mayor's hair.

Rich Tosches also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.


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