Byline Burton

Does anyone know where the Old Boy Network holds its monthly meetings? I’d like to go interview those powerful guys.

This group also goes by the Good Old White Boys Network, depending on which liberal journalist is describing them.

You might have heard about the Old Boy Network (OBN). Apparently, the OBN is a bunch of cigar-chomping, jowlish white guys who run America, and sit around country clubs conspiring to keep women and minorities under their thumbs and out of the boardrooms.

Not enough female brain surgeons to go around? It’s the OBN fault.

Not enough minorities on the professional bowling circuit? Blame it on the OBN.

Have you wondered why there are hardly any female minorities in the pits, yanking tires off cars at NASCAR races? That’s the OBN at work again, making sure women and minorities are deprived of career opportunities.

The Old Boy Network found itself in the news again last week, when syndicated columnist Clarence Page fingered it as a primary problem in the Jayson Blair affair. Blair is the African-American reporter who fabricated facts and details for his stories at the New York Times. Page quoted a black reporter who said he had not seen New York Times standards lowered to hire and retain minorities, but had sometimes seen “standards lowered to help members of the Old Boy Network.”

Wow. That OBN has some kind of pull if it can keep incompetent reporters on the job at the New York Times.

New York City is a little far for my expense account to take me for research, so I went looking for the Old Boy Network right here in Glenwood Springs. Such a “vast right wing conspiracy,” as Hillary Clinton liked to put it, must have a visible presence everywhere.

The first place I looked was the offices of the Garfield County clerk, assessor and treasurer. Wrong place. All those offices are run by women. Maybe there’s a Good Old Girls Network here. If the Old Boys Network was anywhere as fair, competent and enjoyable to work with as the Good Old Girls Network, we could all go home right now, but that’s another story.

Anyway, the next place to stop was the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, located under those wide spruce tree branches on Grand Avenue. Nationwide, aren’t some chambers of commerce rife with Good Old Boys pulling strings for other Good Old Boys? Don’t those chambers work overtime to make sure that Good Old Boys rake in all the money, so they can go play golf at 2 p.m. every day? Well, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s director is Marianne Virgili, and most of the folks who run the place are women. Go figure.

The U.S. government is a pretty big employer in these parts, so the next stop was the Glenwood Springs office of the Bureau of Land Management. A little research, however, shows that a woman, Gale Norton, is the boss of the whole BLM. Locally, Jamie Connell is the Glenwood Springs manager. Another woman, Martha Ketelle, is the supervisor of the entire White River National Forest. How did the Good Old Boys in Washington let those two things happen? They may have guzzled too many lunchtime martinis at their country club and forgotten about their daily oppression quota.

A quick peek over at Colorado Mountain College reveals four of seven board members are women, so the Old Boy Network will have to do some recruiting to beef up that bureau.

My search for the Old Boy Network finally ended up right where it began, in the office of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. The GSPI’s publisher and managing editor are both women. The folks upstairs with their hands on the cash are women. The front office is women. Where is the Old Boy Network?

When I first started to write today’s column, I was going to joke that I’m an old boy, and therefore want to join the Old Boy Network. After all this research, what’s the point of being a member of a mythical group that doesn’t even exist?

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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