Building bridges in 2007 

Welcome to 2007, which will undoubtedly be the best year ever for somebody.

Face it, though. Most of us will be stuck just trying to cross the Bijou Street Bridge. Some city leaders are laying on the charm over the 10-month shutdown of the main connection from Interstate 25 into downtown. Inexplicably, the city government is even going so far as to host a "Bijou Bridge is Falling Down" demolition party this Saturday, Jan. 6, complete with "food, drink, face painting, family-fun activities, live music and more!"

But it's doubtful that downtown business owners are going to be having a blast, and more! Same goes for the nearly 15,000 motorists a day who use the bridge; they'll likely spend the better part of a year maneuvering their way through a traffic nightmare to reach the heart of the city.

What? Need to get from the west side, or from up the pass, to the east side of the highway? Well, yes, Bijou is closed, but you can just take the Cimarron Street Bridge ... Oh wait! That one's down to one lane ...

Prediction: The new bridge will be a marked improvement over the current ratty-tatty pedestrian- and bicycle-unfriendly incarnation. If you're expecting one of those "on time, under budget" riffs right about here, well, you're pushing it.

Moving on ...

After reading the daily newspaper's unbelievably slanted recent coverage of the city's largest school district, it wouldn't be going out on a limb here to predict that just one remaining board member, Willie Breazell, will be deigned worthy of positive "news" coverage. Over the past three years, Gazette education reporter Shari Chaney Griffin has insisted on referring to ousted board members Eric Christen and Sandy Shakes (and Craig Cox, who resigned after the successful recall last month) as "reformers." As in, saviors, rescuers, liberators and, in Christen's case, a knight in shining armor who was surely being thwarted by the evil forces of the teachers' union.

Yes, it is clear the recall election marked a dark, dark day in the Gazette's newsroom. A portion of a "news" story that appeared on its online edition that night actually included this eulogy to Christen and Shakes: "The overwhelming vote cut short their four-year terms by 11 months. They were elected three years ago with promises of reforming the region's largest school district. Those reforms, such as giving more power to school principals and instituting merit pay for teachers, may now be slowed because voters chose Jan Tanner and Charlie Bobbitt as new board members."

Prediction: Christen runs for chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party.

Prediction: Christen loses.

Prediction: Christen and Gazette editorial page editor Sean Paige team up to model tighty-whities for the Sears catalog. Or, even better, the Gazette hires Christen to be its new Metro columnist.

And in case you thought the election was over, gear up for more ideological clashes. It's too soon to predict what could happen in the myriad school board elections come November, much less what April's City Council election will bring. Will Lionel Rivera overcome his embarrassing fourth-place finish in the 5th Congressional District primary to win a second term as mayor? Will Bernie Herpin run for his first full four-year term as a liberal?

There are a few safe bets for the coming year.

Prediction: Councilman Tom Gallagher will not waver when it comes to demands by his colleagues that he either become a cheerleader for the Southern Delivery System or recuse himself from voting on matters involving the massive water project.

Prediction: Pueblo will still be mad at Colorado Springs over the destruction caused by two years' worth of sewage spills into Fountain Creek.

Prediction: Colorado Springs' new police chief, Richard Myers, will not lose a bunch of evidence.

Prediction: Life in Colorado Springs will continue on, a lively city filled with wonderful dichotomies like being named the best "big city" to live in America by Money magazine while maintaining a national reputation of being rigid and intolerant.

See you in the funny papers.


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