No more bad meat 

In these days of recall, bad meat is on everyone's minds. It's too bad that so many people don't pay much attention when their elected officials -- who are supposed to protect consumers from disease and worse -- roll around in king-sized beds with the same industries that sold us the bad meat in the first place.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

This week marks the halfway point for the TEA Party's efforts to recall County Commissioners Tom Huffman and Chuck Brown.

You might remember that shortly after voters overwhelmingly rejected a new jail in November, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners unveiled their done-deal plan to go ahead and build it anyway.

By doing so, this four-man brain trust (plus one woman, Jeri Howells, who has howled in opposition to her colleagues' shenanigans) also cut services to county parks, public transportation, public health and roads and bridges to make their dream jail and courthouse expansion a reality.

Shortly after all hell broke loose, a group of citizens organized. Calling themselves the TEA Party, they have been out gathering signatures with the intent of ousting Huffman and Brown from office.

The region's special interest power brokers are displeased. Just before Christmas, these formidable leaders -- representing developers, realtors, the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Corporation -- jumped to the beleaguered politicians' defense. Specifically, they announced the formation of their own "community group" to counter the recall, warning that firing the politicians would lead to nothing less than an apocalypse for the local economy.

The power brokers didn't mention that Commissioners Huffman and Brown are their own handpicked darlings, whose pockets they have lined with campaign cash and endorsements and can be counted on to vote (wink, wink) "the right way" -- often at the expense of neighborhood groups.

And now, these power brokers are trying their darndest via a carefully orchestrated public relations push to make sure their status quo is kept intact.

The TEA Party, led by Colorado Springs business owners Chuck Murphy and Jan Martin, has been unfazed. In fact, in the wake of the special interest anti-recall blitz, Martin said she is more disgusted than ever about "the good old boy mentality and cronyism that runs far and deep." Response to their Web site, www.recallcommissioners.com, has been, Martin says, "quite amazing." Their phone number, 510-0306, has been ringing off the hook.

"Hundreds of people are calling to volunteer or carry petitions," she said. "The people who have brought back petitions are reporting an 80 percent hit rate -- that is, eight out of 10 people have been willing to sign them."

With a deadline of Feb. 21, the TEA Party is circulating 4,000 petitions in Brown and Huffman's districts -- Brown's includes much of the central, western and southern parts of the city and Huffman represents eastern Colorado Springs and the land mass of rural eastern El Paso County.

So will they, can they, succeed? The jury's out, as are the petition gatherers.

From the front lines, circulator Jim Davis reports a mixed bag. For the past few weeks, Davis has been stationed in front of the King Soopers store on West Uintah, trying to secure signatures to recall Chuck Brown. "This is grassroots politics right here," Davis said. "I'm just so rankled, and so are other people when they find out that bus service is being reduced and open space funds are being sacrificed."

Davis reports that people have been eager to sign his petition to force a recall vote. Others have been reluctant.

One shopper said she was a county government employee and was afraid she'd get fired from her job if she got involved.

Another woman, who claimed she was the wife of a county sheriff's deputy, got in his face and called him all kinds of names. One man took issue with a big sign that Davis had put up calling for Chuck Brown's ouster. Within minutes, Davis said, a manager came outside and told him to remove the sign.

The funniest response came from a woman leaving the store. Davis approached her and he politely asked, "Ma'am, would you be willing to sign my petition to recall Chuck Brown?"

The woman breezed by him. "No thanks," she said. "I don't eat that kind of meat anymore."

The TEA Party would do well by embracing this woman's confusion and making it their campaign motto: No More Bad Meat.

After all it has been proven that ignorance is not bliss. In fact it leads to all kinds of public health problems.

-- degette@csindy.com


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