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The Rocky Horror political show

Let's see... The Republican Convention? Was that last week? Or is it next week? Or was that the Democratic Convention?

Whatever. I mean c'mon, who, aside from hopeless partisans and dedicated political junkies, actually watched these things? Are there really millions of undecided voters sitting down in front of their TV sets, saying, "Yup, Mabel, let's just watch these here conventions, and then make up our minds who we ought to vote fer!"

If you're fond of unwatchable dreck, or foolish posturing, or PDH (public displays of hypocrisy -- always a staple of election years), then you must have loved both conventions.

I didn't watch much of either one -- I don't need to be reminded that politics is show business for ugly people. But I did catch a little of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "girlie men" remarks, as well as his stated reasons for becoming a Republican. Remember? Democrats = socialist handouts, Republicans = entrepreneurial capitalism/freedom.

Arnold, Arnold, Arnold. Don't you remember your own exuberant youth? You didn't care about that stuff -- you were into steroid-fueled bodybuilding and group sex with bimbos. Sounds pretty Clintonian to me. So maybe you were actually just a drug-crazed, free-lovin', insanely buff hippie -- in other words, a Democrat!

And as for "girlie men" -- a few months ago, one of the tabs ran a pic of you at the beach, wearing a Speedo (so charmingly retro). You looked OK for a guy in his 50s -- a little flabby, but aren't we all?

Meanwhile, as a dedicated John Kerry fan, I'm feeling a little uneasy about the election. My geezer homies at the coffee shop are in full gloat mode, offering to up the modest bets we'd placed on the outcome. I refused -- I'm not foolhardy enough to wager real money with rich Republican businessmen. Say what you will about Republicans, they didn't get rich by being dumb...

And let's hear it for the dedicated, civic-minded volunteers on the Colorado Springs Charter Review Commission. After months of labor, they'll make thoughtful recommendations for change, most of which Council will politely ignore. But here's one that will sail right through, and be put on the April ballot for a vote of the people: Mo' money for the politicians!

At the present time, Mayor Lionel Rivera and City Council are generously compensated; why, they get $6,250 annually, not counting an occasional free meal! This for a job that takes at least 20 to 30 hours a week, not to mention additional hours spent in endless meetings.

By contrast, El Paso County commissioners, whose job description is the same, get $60,000-plus, as well as another $15,000 worth of benefits.

Yes, it's crazy. It means that service on Council is generally limited to the rich, the retired or the nonworking spouse. It means that most of us will never be represented by our peers. It means that few working persons can effectively serve, because few working persons can put in the hours that the job demands.

I have a lot of respect for a guy like Tom Gallagher, who's far from rich, but who works hard at being a councilman -- I just think that he ought to be paid. So do yourself, and the city, and Tom, a favor: Pay 'em!

And finally, the news about the City Auditorium is, I'm happy to report, extremely hopeful. Miraculously, next year's budget will have a chunk of money to fix up the noble old Aud, including the addition of air conditioning! And there are ongoing discussions about ways to finance the Auditorium's renovation, including adapting the space to both keep its historic configuration and make it more useful as a theater.

It now appears that the City Council is solidly behind continued public ownership of the Auditorium, and its unique role in the life of the city. Last Thursday's packed organ concert was attended by Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, who then visited the basement model train installation. Good for you, Jerry -- I've got a feeling that you're on our side.

And council members: I'd like to extend an open invitation to join me at the City Auditorium on any Saturday at midnight, to participate in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You'll gain a new insight into our city's diversity. In fact, something tells me that Mayor Lionel would make a perfect Dr. Frank N. Furter.

--johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net

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