As the Village Turns 

The vacation's over

OK, so that publisher thing didn't work out. It's not that I didn't try. I even got to work 15 minutes early on my first day as the head honcho at the Independent. But I was a little late on the second day. Someone said about seven hours. Then I spent the rest of the week fly-fishing and, well, things just seemed to slowly unravel after that.

Seriously, I'd like to thank you, the intelligent villagers and highly sophisticated Indy readers, for the many calls and e-mails congratulating me after last week's issue appeared. It featured a story and photos announcing that I had become the owner and publisher of this newspaper. The whole thing was a prank. And frankly, we realize now that the misunderstanding was entirely our fault. We gave you no hint whatsoever that it was just a joke.

Oh sure, there were those two photos of me with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe. And the story and pictures were published on April Fool's Day. But in hindsight, we were probably assuming too much. Let's face it, not everyone is as sharp as, let's say, City Councilman Tom Gallagher.

Tough pronunciation

Anyway, today brings the first of my weekly columns at the Independent, an actual job that I hereby vow will not be a joke. Unless a priest, a rabbi and a midget walk into an El Paso County Commission meeting. Seriously, as I begin this new adventure, I can honestly say this: I'm pretty sure my new job as a columnist and reporter at the Indy will last longer than my job as publisher.

To kick things off, let's review some of the very important things that have happened in our village during my, uh, sabbatical from the news business.

The most important news, of course, is that President George W. Bush has agreed to visit our village and deliver the commencement speech June 2 at the Air Force Academy graduation. White House aides say the president turned down an offer to speak at the U.S. Naval Academy, in part because he wanted to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the brave men and women in the Air Force during the past 12 months, but mostly because he tried six times to pronounce "Annapolis" and on the seventh attempt nearly swallowed his tongue.

With security for the president a top priority, academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr. said his staff would -- I am not kidding -- consult with the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, which hosted Bush for its graduation a year ago. Despite being 1,000 miles from an ocean -- and having hardly any water at all because of the drought -- officials said Rosa is consulting the Coast Guard because U.S. intelligence reports indicate a possible attack by terrorists from sea-going vessels.

(I can't divulge details because of national security concerns, but I can say this: Starting June 1, the golf course superintendent at The Broadmoor will be asked to keep an eye out for any increased submarine activity on the 15th fairway.)

Rosa's tentative plan also calls for a fleet of six Coast Guard tugboats to patrol Falcon Stadium on graduation day. It is believed the tugboats will be used to nudge former City Councilman Charles Wingate into his seat.

Don't lick the stamps

And as if the president's appearance isn't bringing the village enough national attention, the U.S. Postal Service has just released a stunning set of Air Force Academy commemorative stamps. What makes the academy stamps different, according to postal service officials, is that you don't lick all of them. Instead, a few of the male stamps try to lick the female stamps and later claim they don't remember the incident because they were all jacked up on LSD and Ecstasy.

No, what actually makes the academy stamps different is the image on them. Pictured is the famous academy chapel. Not visible to the naked eye, however, is the academy mascot, a peregrine falcon, which can only be seen with an optical device. (This actual art process is called scramble indica, a Latin term meaning "Hey, quit scrambling my eggs with that thing!")

Here's the best part: The optical device needed to see the invisible falcon on the stamp is sold by the U.S. Postal Service. It costs $5.98.

And for just $19.99, you can buy a deluxe version of the device that allows you to spot the invisible falcon and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Gallagher Plan

Another big story has been the roaring debate among village officials about what to do with the leaking and now-empty Prospect Lake in Memorial Park. Among all the fine suggestions (the top two: mud-pie bake sale to raise money for a convention center and line the bottom with Utilities Director Phil Tollefson's bonus check stubs), village insiders believe the lake will eventually serve the purpose it was intended to serve.

That's right, a cheap 750-condominium development called The Bungalows At West Nile.

But my favorite story concerns our brilliant Councilman Gallagher and how he keeps outsmarting those hillbillies out on the eastern plains of El Paso County and getting the cow-milkers to buy his breakfast.

Here's how The Gallagher Plan works:

Pretend you're not the brightest guy on earth. (Tom seems to have this ploy down to a science.)

Say something degrading and insulting about one of those eastern dirt towns.

When the sodbusters protest and demand an apology, show up at the town's local diner and apologize over a stack of pancakes, a dozen strips of bacon and several eggs.


The drawback to the plan is that the villagers, not to mention your colleagues on the Colorado Springs City Council, think you're a buffoon.

Which just makes clever Councilman Gallagher smile.

And burp.



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