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Up in the statehouse in Denver, amiable Andy McElhany has built his reputation on being so unassuming and friendly, he even treats some Democrats like real human beings (the horror!).

Since he was elected four years ago to represent much of central and southeastern Colorado Springs, the Republican state representative has tried to maintain a kind of moderation -- at least in public. After all, his district is much more ethnically and politically diverse than the rest of Colorado Springs.

But this year McElhany is running for another office. He wants to succeed retiring Sen. MaryAnne Tebedo in District 12, an area in south-central Colorado Springs that spills west into Teller County. McElhany currently has no opponent -- Republican or Democrat -- so unless a challenger pops up, Andy will amble right into office.

And apparently that means no more Mr. Nice Guy. In a three-page letter he recently sent out to "Dear Fellow Gun Owner," McElhany reveals a gun-toting, paranoia-tinged side of himself that borders on the bizarre.

In the letter, McElhany claims that Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Janet Reno are behind a conspiracy designed to take away everybody's guns, particularly those belonging to law abiding conservatives. He warns that "they" are out to attack gun owners everywhere to try to make them "ashamed of our guns and our pastimes." He warns of an "unholy alliance of ambulance chasing tobacco lawyers and revenue-hungry big city mayors who've launched lawsuits aimed at bankrupting the firearms industry."

And, McElhany claims knowledge of the "rising tide of the United Nations financed global gun ban movement," which he alleges has resulted in registration "schemes" in Australia, England, South Africa and Canada.

Apparently it is meaningless to point out that all of those countries boast a murder rate just a fraction of ours in the trigger-happy United States of America. Or that public opinion polls consistently indicate a majority of Coloradans support increased gun controls.

McElhany makes it very clear that he wants to stop gun-curbing not just here but across the globe. It's uncertain what, as a state senator, McElhany plans to do about the UN's alleged involvement in gun issues in South Africa.

But what's important, he notes in his diatribe, is that gun enthusiasts complete a pro-gun survey to give the lawmaker "black and white proof I need to convince my fellow legislators not to give an inch." McElhany also asks for a unique campaign contribution -- the cash equivalent to "a couple of boxes of shells."

"In the post-Columbine hysteria, the gun-hating politicians and their allies in the national media have placed Colorado under the microscope," McElhany warned. "If we give an inch, then not only will we'll [sic] lose our rights in our home state, gun control will gather tremendous momentum and support for the 2000 national elections."

Since the letter was apparently sent only to gun enthusiasts, it's doubtful that Rep. McElhany will get an accurate representation of how all of his constituents feel about gun control legislation. If you'd like to weigh in on the issue, contact Rep. McElhany at 719/473-9400 or at the capital at 303/866-2904.

* * * * * * * Other than being remembered as the publisher who got rid of former editor and civic journalist Steve Smith, G Publisher Scott Fischer was also notable for, um, holding the helm of the daily paper steady during its horrific November redesign, which they've quietly been trying to fix ever since without anyone noticing.

Hey, and did we mention Fischer got rid of Steve Smith?

Last week, Fischer abruptly resigned after only 15 months on the job. Fischer officially claimed that the suits up in the parent company of Freedom Communications didn't agree with his hands-on style (whatever that means).

Fischer had replaced N. Christian Anderson, who couldn't leave town fast enough after he was offered a plum job heading up the Orange County Register, Freedom Communication's flagship paper.

Like Anderson, Fischer was also on the board of the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation, an organization that lures companies to town. Last week, when he lost his gig at the G, Fischer immediately quit the EDC board as well. As the newspaper gives more than $2,500 a year to the EDC, Fischer had been considered a "major investor" on the board, said spokeswoman Julie Boswell.

But just because Fisher (and Anderson before him) served on the board of the EDC, it's not an automatic appointment to name whomever happens to be the publisher of the daily newspaper, according to Boswell. But it's usually a pretty good bet.

"We try to have diverse representation on the board," Boswell said. "Having someone from the media is an important component to the make-up of the board."

The EDC has not yet named a replacement. But we're sure a guy named Jon Stepleton would be happy to help out. Stepleton, named interim publisher, is rumored to be the number one contender for a permanent position as the daily's top dog.

-- degette@csindy.com

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