Leftover Life to Kill -- that was the title of the autobiography of Dylan Thomas' widow. Too bad that title, and others, is taken. It perfectly describes Doug Bruce's antics. Remember the Dougster? He was once the most powerful politician in Colorado, a man who rewrote the state constitution and our own City Charter, a man whom politicians despised, the scourge of public bureaucracies, Colorado's taxophobe numero uno: So what happened to him, anyway?

Well, having made a ton of money in real estate, he's apparently in the midst of a life transition. He was featured, face superimposed on a bulldog, in last week's Denver alternative weekly Westword, but the story itself offered up nothing much new about him. In reality, he's transformed himself from a powerful, cunning rogue politician into an irascible old fool, Harold Stassen redux.

How else to explain his latest project -- no less than 18 citizen initiatives, aimed at, among other things, eliminating the voter-initiated city Trails, Open Space and Parks tax and eliminating the city property tax. Taken together, these proposals are so bizarre, so senseless, and so unlikely to pass that one is led to a single conclusion: The Dougster's finally lost it.

Dead Man Walking -- a succinct summary of Charles Wingate's political career. You remember Charles -- the guy who beat the odds to win a three-way race for Council a year ago.

Looked like he had a bright future, until he bounced a few checks and, it's alleged, spent his spare time cruising porn sites on his city-issued computer. I guess that it's no surprise that he's fighting bitterly with his erstwhile allies on Council and has joined forces with Doug Bruce to promote the initiatives.

And why 18 of them? Numerology -- that wonderfully crackpot, wholly discredited 19th-century pseudoscience -- can answer all of our questions. Divide 18 initiatives by two lunatics; you get 9! Lord of the Rings! Nine dark riders (the Nazgul)! Nine Rings!

Now divide 18 initiatives by the three branches of government! You get -- gasp! shudder! 6 x 3, or... 666!!! Coincidence? I think not ... once again, the Dark Lord of Briargate stirs.

Days of Wine and Roses -- remember Jim Mullen, the tough, controlling and distinctly unlovable city manager whom Council finally booted out a few months back? Jim's still perched in his lofty Skyway aerie, currently unemployed, but, by all accounts, living the good life. Don't know about the wine and roses, but he's no stranger to the golf course.

Meanwhile, Lorne Kramer, his successor, is quietly undoing some of the excesses of the Mullen years. For example, no more "Group Support Managers" -- they're back to being simple department heads. And his newly selected deputies, Mary Collins and Dave Nickerson, have one thing in common, besides competence: They were in Mullen's doghouse for years. It's a calmer, gentler city -- no more court of the Sun King.

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To -- remember when the mayor's voice appeared to break as she announced Jim Mullen's resignation? It was the end of an era, and the end of Mary Lou Makepeace's once iron-fisted control of City Council.

As you might expect of this classy lady, she's accepted her diminished role with good grace (although it must have been deeply satisfying to skewer porn-boy Wingate!). Come next April, she's term-limited, and her time as mayor will be over.

Were it not for the peculiarities of Republican politics, we could expect an interesting second act from Mary Lou -- a run for Congress or a high-level Washington appointment. Alas, her moderate politics are anathema to the local GOP establishment, and, as a sometimes foe of Gov. Owens, she'll never be recommended to the Bushies. Like former Mayor Bob Isaac, she'll go back to private life and watch third-rate party hacks get elected to office.

All's Well That Ends Well -- ran into former top cop/city honcho Jim Munger the other day. In the course of a 15-minute chat, he noted that the problems that he and I wrestled with 10 years ago haven't been solved and haven't gone away. They've just gotten bigger and more intractable.

Jim didn't get specific -- he didn't have to. It's a simple litany: infrastructure, transportation, planning, water, overlapping jurisdictions. Can't do much about the first four, absent massive infusions of money and brains, but there's a legislative remedy for the fifth. Too many governments? Just get rid of one of 'em.

Carthago Delenda Est -- Carthage must be destroyed. Thus did Cicero end every speech that he made to the Roman Senate before Carthage finally fell in 146 B.C.

In imitation, then, of the great orator: El Paso County Delenda Est.

-- jhazlehurst@csindy.com


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