Mulling through the rumor mill

There are rumors that Secret Service agents will take over the rooftops around the Pepsi Center.

That LoDo deliveries will be allowed only at midnight.

And, oddly, that former Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's motorcade will block area traffic during the Democratic National Convention. Bentsen, the 1988 vice presidential candidate of "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" fame, died two years ago.

Speculation is the newest neighbor in the tony, high-rise condominiums poised along either side of the South Platte River, where some of the closest Denverites to the convention epicenter say they still don't know what to expect.

Awash in questions about access and security, most are trying their best to plan for the excitement and unknown inconveniences that will be part of showcasing their city.

"There's an energy and an excitement that's fun to be a part of," said Glenn Ehrlich, who owns a liquor shop just below a towering condo complex on Platte Street. "But there are just so many question marks out there."

In some respects, the Secret Service has lived up to its name, protecting details about safety measures, including the footprint of the security perimeter surrounding the Pepsi Center, where most of the convention will take place.

Road closures for the last night, when the party moves to Invesco Field at Mile High, remain a mystery less than two weeks from the convention kickoff.

Some details will remain confidential for safety reasons, Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley said.

"There's a reason that those things have to be secret, but we always work very closely with our local counterparts to make sure there's a balance," he said. "We go out of our way to make sure the impact is as small as it can be."

Agents will park themselves atop selected rooftops, Wiley said, but he couldn't disclose which buildings will be affected. And he can't release details about which residents will need Secret Service- issued passes to access their neighborhoods — another big question among locals.

Some area property managers more than a month ago warned tenants that they'll need credentials, but they never followed up. Residents in areas listed as "affected" on city-closure maps already have started applying for Secret Service-issued passes.

Others, including student Michael Morris of the Station at Riverfront Park apartments, have less to go on.

"We just got a flier saying (property managers) don't even know what to expect," Morris said. "I'd like to know what we're going to be able to do."

Denver is not alone in circulating speculation and, at times, bizarre convention rumors.

While local kayakers want to know whether the South Platte will be off-limits, residents of St. Paul, Minn., wonder whether law enforcement at the Republican National Convention next month will patrol the Mississippi in a submarine.

And exotic crowd-control methods have proved hot topics in both towns, Denver with its brown note — a weapon that allegedly causes involuntary bowel movements — and St. Paul protesters worried they'll face the hundreds of Tasers that city police bought earlier this year.

Officials in both cities say it ain't so.

As does Denverite Andrew Claugus, who from his condo building can see the Pepsi Center less than a quarter-mile away. Other than the crowds and the credentialing to get into his neighborhood, he says his routine won't change much.

"Personally, I think the whole thing is overblown," he said. "I'm not that worried about it."

Jessica Fender is a political writer for The Denver Post. Politico and The Post are sharing content for the 2008 election cycle and during the Democratic National Convention.

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