The postcard invitation from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce told us everything we needed to know, and more: State of the City annual luncheon, Tuesday, June 2, Antlers Hilton, with a No. 1 blue ribbon alongside the message: "Participate in celebrating our city's successes!"
That was worth a chuckle. Another sentence on the card brought plenty of laughter: "Keynote speaker Mayor Lionel Riveral will update us on the city's progress and challenges."
The typo was theirs, not mine. Riveral, not Rivera. Unintentional, yet fitting.
Almost everything about our city government is a mess, exemplified nicely by the parks and their locked-up bathrooms. Downtown, there's the unsightly mix of dirt, spotty grass and dandelions outside the Pioneers Museum, which won't impress the countless busloads of tour groups who visit each summer.
Bus service cuts have disrupted many lives. Potholes, already everywhere, are becoming more numerous, along with the neglected streets and intersections in dire need of simple repairs and/or resurfacing.
You could say the city is crumbling before our eyes, now with $23 million more in budget cuts for 2010 (farewell, Parks and Rec) — and we haven't even started talking about the deal to keep the U.S. Olympic Committee in town.
Ah, but we have so many successes to cheer, right? Let's just bury our heads a little deeper into the sand until the storm blows over.
If that's going to be the theme again, why bother spending $30 or $40 (depending on whether you're a Chamber member) just for some meat and potatoes, then a frickin' pep rally? We don't need to be propped up one more time. We need a large dose of straight talk.
Last year at this time, amid increasing signs of economic problems, my suggestion for Mayor Rivalry ... Ripsnorter ... Rivera was to discuss new ideas such as the city and county sharing services and people.
Instead, it was more rah-rah stuff, just like high school. "We've got spirit, yes we do. We've got spirit, how about you?" Funny that after the sharing idea was pooh-poohed last year, now the city and county are looking into exactly that.
Please, Mayor Riviera ... Rubella ... Rivera, don't waste everyone's time again. We don't give a red-rock damn about which magazine made us No. 1 or 100 in anything related to quality of life, surely based on information from before all the cutbacks.
We need the real State of the City. And this is your best chance, Mr. Mayor. Who knows, perhaps your last chance. We won't remember much from your first six years. But the final two years — if you complete this final term, of course — will be different, either way.
This is the best opportunity you'll have, Mayor Rigatoni ... Ricochet ... Rivera, to convince hundreds of civic and business leaders that you have good solutions. This is the moment for you to tell us what we might expect in specific cuts, and how you and City Council will end the Olympic uncertainty. This is also the time to let everyone know whether you'll be running next year for El Paso County Commission in District 5, with Jim Bensberg term-limited.
Nobody wants to hear more shallow happy talk, more recycled propaganda, more perfumed bull manure.
Believe me, you'll get a lot more respect, and a sincere response, if you tell it like it is. Explain some details of how you can settle the Olympic deal, or not. Talk about what strategy Council might consider for its own ballot issues, and opposing whatever Douglas Bruce tries next, in the November election.
We realize many factors beyond your control have contributed to the city's suffering, to the point of losing its equilibrium. We realize the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights will prevent any kind of rapid recovery, regardless of how the economy rebounds. We already know that your successor, the next mayor of Colorado Springs, will face an even more ominous challenge, trying to navigate the city toward new stability and prosperity.
But unless you're giving up now, Mr. Mayor, this would be a good time to put on your best dark suit, one of those starched-collar white shirts and a neutral tie (in other words, no Olympic logos), and give everyone the whole truth.
It would make Tuesday's lunch worth the trouble. Even without the pep rally.
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