Minding our manners 

In government, just like in real life, there are classy ways to do business. And then there's plain tacky.

This week in Colorado, we've got terrific examples of both.

On Dec. 26, in a letter to the Independent, Colorado Springs City Manager Lorne Kramer issued a formal apology to me and reporter John Dicker for the unforgettable Oct. 29 incident at City Hall.

The run-in was detailed in this space in the Nov. 20 issue (available online by clicking on this column at

www.csindy.com). In a nutshell, that day the director of Human Resources, Ann Crossey, attempted to physically detain Dicker, and seized his notes after her office inappropriately provided us with the full personnel file of police officer Jeffrey Huddleston.

The City subsequently filed a lawsuit to stop us from publishing a story about Officer Huddleston, which it dropped before the matter got to court.

In his letter, Kramer conceded, "It is my opinion City staff did not handle the matter as well as we should have.

"Although I am confident our Human Resources staff had one of our employee's best interests in mind, the inappropriate release of an employee's personnel file was our error."

Though Kramer was not specific, he noted that, as a result of an internal investigation, administrative action had been taken and appropriate procedures developed.

"This has been a learning experience for all," he wrote. "Part of the learning is recognizing a mistake and taking responsibility for it ... We value our relationship with the media and to that end I would like to again express my sincere apology to both you and Mr. Dicker."

While Kramer didn't apologize for suing us, we were delighted, just delighted, to get this letter.

And we couldn't help but think that it would have been a cold day in hell before Kramer's predecessor, the arrogant Jim Mullen, would have ever admitted the City made a mistake.

And we're beginning to suspect the same Mullen mindset of our own Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, whose actions over the past couple of weeks have been plain boorish.

First, the governor announced that the inauguration marking his second term would mark the launch of a barely disguised partisan cash cow to bankroll future office runs for himself and his pals.

Foes are calling the inauguration an Owens conservative "career fair," which will cost $250 per person to $20,000 per table. All proceeds will pave the future for the governor's new private think tank, the Center for the New American Century.

It wasn't so long ago when politicians held hot dog and potato chip parties and invited all of us little people to celebrate our state and its leader.

Topping it off, last week Owens announced that the new president of Colorado State University will be his own chief of technology, Marc Holtzman.

Oh yea, there's that little hurdle -- Owens doesn't actually get to decide who runs the college. He appoints a committee that is supposed to do that.

And that committee is now faced with the tortured decision of whether to defy the governor by naming someone else -- or actually appoint Holtzman, who has no experience in academia and whose qualifications are laughable.

Yet when he was taken to task for his inappropriate posturing, Owens took a swing at liberals who he believes have taken higher education hostage.

"It's impossible to find a Republican on a political science faculty virtually anywhere in the state of Colorado," Owens complained this week on Mike Rosen's radio show. "When you ... hear about the importance of the university experience ... and help[ing students] learn to think for themselves, how do you do it when you have 30 or 40 professors on a political science faculty and every one of them is either a Democrat or further left? You know, a Ralph Nader."

Pardon us, governor. You should know good and well that two of the most respected -- and certainly the most quoted -- political scientists and pundits in this state are Colorado College professor Robert Loevy and Colorado State professor John Straayer. Both are Republicans.

And come on, aren't we supposed to be talking about who is best qualified to run Colorado State, not who would make your best political chum?

What with a recent landslide win in his pocket, and holding a Republican majority in the Senate and House of Representatives in each hand, Bill Owens may be feeling cocky.

But perhaps it is time our governor went back for a refresher PoliSci 101 course to relearn the part where our elected leaders are supposed to be gracious and, well, leaderly.

We humbly recommend that Lorne Kramer be assigned as Owens' professor.

-- degette@csindy.com


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