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Former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton is President-elect Shrub's pick to become the country's secretary of the Department of the Interior, which among other duties, oversees the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The surprise choice was a stinging blow to Colorado Republicans who had visions of all sorts of possibilities if the job was offered to and accepted by U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. With Campbell's Senate seat opening up, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens could have appointed another Republican. That choice could have been Congressman Scott McGinnis, who ardently embraced self-imposed term limits until he got elected to office and who has been panting over a Senate seat for several years.

Or our own Congressman Joel Hefley -- no slouch on changing his mind on self-imposed term limits either -- could have been tapped to fill out the Senate seat if Campbell had been nominated for the Interior job. El Paso County Republicans have been circling like vultures waiting for Hefley to move on so one of them can be his successor. But, thanks to Norton's surprise nomination, they will have to continue their holding pattern for a while longer.

Unless, of course, environmentalists are able to convince Congress that Norton is, as a Sierra Club executive described her, "James Watt in a skirt" and thus unsuitable for the job. Norton was an attorney for the controversial former Interior Secretary Watt in the 1980s and worked on the project to open up oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Though Shrub and other Republicans have made a call for a bipartisan approach to government in Washington, that across-the-aisle embrace is likely to apply only when Democrats agree with the Republicans' agenda.

* * * *

Closer to home, in the where-are-they-now file: Former City Councilwoman Lisa Are (now Wulf) has popped up as a born again columnist in the December 2000 issue of Colorado Christian Chronicle. Appearing with her new husband, Calvin Wulf, the couple's column, "Lighten the Load," offers all kinds of helpful advice for Christians who want to shed the worldly entrapment of living in debt. In their December offering, for example, the Wulfs advise readers to stop and think, and break out of being slaves to their credit cards.

"A lifestyle of borrowing is a sure sign of materialism," the couple writes. "Are we incurring debt to finance possessions that bring glory to God -- or just to us?"

It's not a surprising role for the former policy setter -- after all while she was on the City Council Are Wulf, a retired accountant, used to brag about being the money watchdog of the bunch.

* * * *

And in the where-are-they-going file, outgoing City Councilman Bill Guman reports that he plans to take a serious look at running for El Paso County Commissioner when Duncan Bremer has to hang it up two years from now.

Guman, the District 2 councilman, can't run for the City Council again because of term limits. And, claiming he's run the course, Guman says he probably wouldn't run for a third four-year term even if he could. But, after so much time on the City Council, Guman says he knows too much about land use and other issues to stop now.

"The education alone that I've received in the last eight years hasn't been anything I could buy in any school, and there's a lot of value to it," Guman says. "It's ironic because I supported term limits when I went in, and I don't think I'd support term limits now. At the same time I don't think I'd run for another Council term, so county commissioner would be a logical progression for me."

Guman says he may change his mind when he signs off from the City Council in early April and decides he's having so much fun doing nothing.

Our money has him on the county ticket by May.

* * * *

Finally, a better-luck-this-year New Year's wish goes out to the entire Colorado Springs City Council, which spent much of the past year defending the city's restrictive policy on releasing public information to the public. The city's spokeswoman, Eugenia Echols, was paid more than $80,000 to keep the public in the dark, and late in the year resigned her post to take a private sector job in Salt Lake City. We hope Echols' replacement has more of a commitment to embracing the concept that the public's business is, well, public, and that access to public records is swift and headache-free.

-- degette@csindy.com

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