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Seceding from the Springs 

City Sage

I crashed the "Under 60 Picnic" on City Hall's dandelion-strewn lawn last Thursday. I wasn't invited — too many birthdays. The organizers didn't want to stoke generational conflict, but in a turgid press release, they called for "a continuum of individuals from a range of experience [to be] represented in elected office, committees, boards and city staff, especially those representing fresh ideas."

The folks in attendance felt peevish and rejected, thanks to the surprising defeat in Tuesday's election of their generational flag-bearer and City Council at-large candidate, Jariah Walker. Tellingly, a few geezer fellow travelers were working the crowd, including Mary Lou Makepeace, Bill Murray, Tom Strand and Jan Martin.

Jariah wasn't the only young professional to go down on Tuesday. Cackling geezers prevailed across the board, led by 60-somethings John Suthers, Merv Bennett, Larry Bagley, Murray and Strand.

While those in attendance were reluctant to say it in so many words, their sentiments were clear: Isn't it about goddamn time that you aging white guys get out of the way, move to Scottsdale and play golf? You do that, and we'll run things.

Maybe the problem is geographic, not generational. Rather than grapple with the geezers, maybe we should all join hands and secede from the suburbs.

Imagine carving out a progressive little city from the sprawling mess we call Colorado Springs! The new city would incorporate the city's historic core, the west side, Broadmoor, Skyway, Old Colorado City, Pleasant Valley, No Man's Land and (we would hope!) Manitou Springs.

In one stroke, we'd free ourselves from our ultra-conservative suburban overlords. Let suburbanites pay to maintain their own roads, repair their own bridges, build their own fire stations, hire their own cops, and replace their own 78-inch-diameter stormwater drains.

The city now must maintain 5,636 lane miles of roadway, more than 200 bridges and scores of deteriorating drainage structures. There's not enough money, thanks to tax-averse suburban voters. Our new city would renegotiate water rates; why continue to pay the billion-dollar bill for the Southern Delivery System? We'll call it by its real name: the Suburban Sprawl System.

We'd have a few retail marijuana outlets and spend tax money on our own roads and infrastructure. We'd quickly become a magnet for young entrepreneurs, artists and difference-makers. We'd give our share of Utilities' electrical generation and transmission to Xcel and let them tear down Martin Drake Power Plant.

What will our new City Council look like? Everybody welcome! Gays, geezers, youngsters, all genders and even a few Democrats. Fun, progressive, quarrelsome, delightful, adventurous and amazing. We'll embrace Makepeace's campaign slogan (Inspire/Innovate/Ignite) and abandon our former mantra (Languish/Diminish/Extinguish). It'll be our city, not their city.

Nice fantasy, but can it be done? It's theoretically possible, but it would take multiple votes, likely culminating in a statewide referendum. Before embarking on our quest for freedom, we'd have to do a detailed financial analysis of the scheme. Negotiations would be long and complex.

But it's conceivable that the process would be easy and pleasant. Compare our situation to a bad marriage that has somehow dragged on for years. Recently an old friend, tired of her loveless union, finally summoned up the courage to confront her spouse.

"I told him that the time had come to end it," she told me. "I expected it would be hard. But he just said, 'Yeah, you're right. I want the house — I'll buy you out.' So it was really easy, and we're still good friends."

Suburban Republicans might be glad to kick us to the curb. They'd get rid of Democrats, downtowners, liberal North Enders and cranky west-siders. We may see our conservative overlords as burrs under the saddle of progress, but they may see us as 47 percenters, good-for-nothing layabouts who've never read Atlas Shrugged.

So let's go for it! We can start by creating an organizing committee, to be chosen by those who showed up at the picnic. I definitely want to start thinking about tomorrow, because yesterday's gone ... sort of.

Just ask Fleetwood Mac — can't believe I missed them in Denver last month. There they were, up on the stage, living proof of the eternal truth manifested in the election: Geezers still rule.

  • Maybe the problem is geographic, not generational.

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