John Hickenlooper, Peter Boyles make (temporary) peace over airman story

Categories: Media

brian furman photo.jpg
Brian Furman, in a Channel 31 image.

Before today, according to KHOW talk-show host Peter Boyles, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper hadn't appeared on his program for years -- not since an on-air confrontation that followed the 2005 murder of Denver police officer Donnie Young by a nineteen-year old Mexican native. But the streak was broken when Hickenlooper phoned amid a discussion about Brian Furman, an Iraq veteran whose car had been impounded. Before long, he and Boyles had agreed to split the remaining fees assessed against the vehicle, so that the airman could get his ride back.

"I've got to give credit where credit's due," Boyles says about Hickenlooper. "He stepped into the lion's mouth."

Boyles first heard about Furman's dilemma after seeing a May 1 report by Channel 31's Julie Hayden. Turns out Furman had been pulled over for having a broken headlight, and when the officer who stopped him discovered that his Missouri license had expired, he impounded the vehicle "under a law passed by voters last summer. It allows police to impound a car if the driver is not carrying a license and requires them to pay a $2,500 bond plus hefty storage fees in order to get the car back." (Irony alert: The law was mainly intended to target illegal immigrants.) Fees escalated to around $4,000, and Furman was recently told that if he didn't come up with that amount, his car would be sold at auction next month.

This past weekend, Boyles got in touch with Furman, who guested on KHOW Monday morning -- and since then, the host has hammered away at the city over the situation. "He made nine trips down to the clerk's office showing them his deployment papers," he points out. "A judge dropped all the charges against him and granted his grace period for being an active-duty guy, but the city still wouldn't release his car."

Then, this morning, Greg Hollenback, Boyles' producer, received a call from someone who claimed to be Hickenlooper. Boyles was dubious, but he'd gotten a similar cold call from a prominent celeb earlier in his career: He'd been talking about Willie Nelson's birthday on a country station where he once worked when Nelson himself phoned up. So he picked up the line and instantly recognized the mayor's voice. "I said, 'Give me forty seconds,'" Boyles notes. "We cut all the commercials short and came back live."

Hickenlooper had been out of town as the Furman controversy had built "and he walked back into a shitstorm," Boyles goes on. "But he saw what a black eye the city was getting, and he knew that the epicenter of it was KHOW radio." By the time of their conversation, the fees on Furman's car had been dropped from $4,000 to $400, and when Boyles suggested that they split the latter charge, Hickenlooper readily agreed.

This pact doesn't mean Boyles and Hickenlooper will start going on motorcycle-riding trips together. "The mayor and I don't get along," Boyles says. "But he made the call anyway. A lot of guys don't like coming on our radio show, so I really have enormous respect for him coming on and doing the right thing. This was all about a very brave young guy getting his car back. And all's well that ends well."

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