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Playing 'follow the leader' 

According to the line widely attributed although probably inaccurately to circus boy and showman P.T. Barnum, there's a sucker born every minute.

According to my calculations journalists excel at math, including my seven journalist friends, Steve, Mary, John and Dave this is 1,440 suckers born each day and a whopping 525,600 suckers a year.

Yet even in light of those staggering figures, there's one thing Albert Einstein himself would have a hard time explaining, in part because of the complex mathematical calculations but mostly because Albert has now been dead for 53 years, leaving his relatives to muddle around in the retail world of bagels and cream cheese.

(Footnote: Einstein died April 18, 1955, just 17 days after I was born. This has led many to believe the genius died only when he was sure a replacement had been born. This belief lingers even today, as proven by the many times I walk into a room and hear someone whisper, "Oh, good. Einstein's here.")

My point here, if I should choose to make one, is that even in light of such staggering sucker birth figures some 5.2 million in any 10 years or a "century" one thing is hard to comprehend:

Of the nine chairs set up around the big table in our City Council's meeting room, every one of them every single one is filled with the rear end of a sucker. (In some cases, the buttocks could use a chair and a half; there may even be a two-chair rump if you look closely, which I do not recommend, especially just before you have lunch.)

Why do I say this? Because if we are to be guided by history I myself prefer to be guided by a tough-looking guy with a hiking stick and a compass who keeps saying "This way!" our village Council is about to be bamboozled again.

This time the bamboozle comes from the Colorado Department of Corrections (motto: "Escape to New Mexico").

A while back, as you probably know, the village braintrust caved in to what turned out to be the phony threats of the U.S. Olympic Committee ("Citius, Altius, Intimidatius") to leave this paradise for another city. The USOC demanded a $1-per-year lease agreement on prime downtown office space and other goodies totaling some $53 million from our village Council members.

(This as the town is so broke the Mayor Lionel Rivera Library has been forced to sell many of its books. And nearly all of the crayons.)

Anyway, turns out the USOC had no intention of leaving. Seems the Olympic folks used the Council members like Jim Henson used the Muppets. (Some insisted it was a brilliant deal for the city, including Council members Margaret the Frog, Randy the Grouch and Bert and Darryl.)

Now the Department of Corrections wants a piece.

It has demanded 100,000 square feet of office space. It wants that new space free or close to free, and it wants a deal by next week.

If it doesn't get a sweet deal like the USOC got, the prison keepers say they will take the 240 administrative and support staff (aka "government workers") and depart our village for richer pastures elsewhere, such as Pueblo.

(Footnote: Historians believe that was the first time ever that the phrase "richer pastures" appeared in the same sentence as the word "Pueblo.")

The DOC, in a 51-page threat, demands a deal by June 18 that includes moving expenses, cheap rent, "cash allowances," employee relocation costs and my personal favorite: free furniture.

(I've been to the DOC offices. The current chairs are so deep and soft and cushy that none of the employees seem able to get out of them. Or in many cases, move. Frankly, I didn't know if I was at DOC headquarters or had stumbled into a casting call for Weekend at Bernie's.)

From DOC official Jim Ramsey: "Wherever the central office is located, we've got salaried employees living and spending money."

So give us what we want, the DOC says, or we're gonna just walk away and you'll never see us again.

Just like a Colorado prison inmate in the work-release program.

rangerrich@csindy.com

  • If we are to be guided by history, our village Council is about to be bamboozled again.

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