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Council's semester awards 

City Sage

The newbies of City Council have been in office four months. So if City Hall were an elementary school, the six of them would be anxiously awaiting their first report cards.

Well, we're not giving out individual grades — they're all getting incompletes. The mayor has taken over the neighborhood. Yet Council's newest members have had their moments, so here are some special honors.

The Harry S. Truman Do-Nothing 80th Congress Award goes to ... all of City Council!

Let's see. Council mostly dodged the locally radioactive "gay issue," echoing Mayor Steve Bach's regrettable pandering. Our elected officials have dithered over the future of Memorial Health System and don't seem to pay much attention to Utilities.

For example, at a recent meeting, Council spent 15 minutes on ... bedbugs! Council took a serious view of the bedbugs and their reluctant host, the owner of an infested four-plex who didn't approve of city regulations that require him to hire a professional exterminator to get rid of 'em. Questions were asked, notes taken, follow-up promised.

By contrast, Council took less time to approve an "emergency" ordinance authorizing issuance of $225 million in Utilities revenue bonds. Soothed by the authoritative baritone of Utilities finance boss Bill Cherrier, Council whooped through the ordinance on a 9-0 vote.

To be fair, Council had considered the bond issuance at a previous meeting of the Utilities Board in a forbiddingly private, if theoretically public, fifth-floor conference room of the Plaza of the Rockies. But it sure looked like bedbugs in a public space trumped $225 million in ratepayer debt. It would have been nice to know whether the new bond issue contained the same covenants as the ones it replaces, particularly those that prevented Utilities from providing water to our parched parks during the city's financial crisis.

The Mike Moran Public Communications Award, honoring tireless, inventive and relentless self-promotion by an elected official, goes to ... Tim Leigh!

Save the historic building! Fill the duck pond! Paint a mural touting the USOC on the corrugated steel roof of an ancient warehouse abutting Interstate 25! What? It's going too slowly? I'll paint it myself (or create a media event during which I appear as if I might do some actual, like, painting)!

Leigh's not just a carnival barker. He's studied the issues extensively and bombards colleagues with memos, questions and suggestions for action. Enthusiasm coupled with preparation goes a long way in elected office, so Leigh may have much to contribute during the next few years.

The Tila Tequila Award for self-destructive behavior on social media goes to ... Lisa Czelatdko!

Alas, poor Lisa! Perhaps naively assuming that Facebook "friends" are in fact friends, or at least people who wish you well, she managed to go from political heroine to zeroine by posting an account of her efforts to score concert tickets by "playing the Council card." The Gazette gleefully outed her, to devastating effect. Her reputation in tatters, she's in Facebook withdrawal. She even unfriended me. (Hey, what'd I do? I wasn't the one who nicknamed her Broadmoor Barbie.)

The Bill Clinton Award for long-winded speechifying goes to ... Angela Dougan!

Clinton's interminable keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention was little noted nor long remembered. Similarly, Dougan's lengthy screed about overdue stormwater bills at a recent Council meeting was neither effective nor (it appeared) welcomed by her colleagues. A political tip: When in doubt (but especially when not in doubt) keep quiet and vote.

The Randy Purvis "Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool Than to Open Your Mouth and Remove All Doubt" Award goes to ... Brandy Williams, Val Snider and Merv Bennett.

Williams, Snider and Bennett, like former Councilmember Purvis, aren't enamored with the sound of their own voices. They're smart, serious and not interested in showboating — traits that should endear them to all who must suffer through Council gatherings. Still, it remains to be seen whether any will be as informed and focused as was Purvis through his many terms.

We can always hope. And, as my Mom used to say, "Goodnight, sweet dreams, and don't let the bedbugs bite!"

hazlehurst@csindy.com

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