Why do we all have to get along?

How 'bout those Colorado College Tigers? Today, at noon, they're playing Denver University in the semifinals of the NCAA Division I hockey championships. The winner will advance to the championship game, against either North Dakota or Minnesota.

Don't know about you, but for me this is a very big deal indeed. As a kid -- in 1957! -- I was in the stands at the old Ice Palace the last time the Tigers won the national championship. So I'm going to be glued to the tube, and if they beat D.U., the reigning national champions, I'll be on my way to Columbus, Ohio, to see Saturday's game.

And suppose they win? Well, they'll be the national champions, and they'll get a trophy, and it'll be great. But that's not all. Do you remember, once upon a time, that there was a professional hockey league, called the National Hockey League? And do you remember that the millionaire players and the billionaire team owners quarreled over money, and the owners wouldn't pay, and the players wouldn't play, and the league went away? And remember the Stanley Cup, which since 1893 has been presented annually to the North American hockey champions? It's been under the exclusive control of the NHL since 1946, but that doesn't mean only NHL teams are eligible.

Lord Stanley, who purchased the trophy for 10 guineas in 1893, donated it for presentation to the amateur hockey champions of North America. The NHL's claim to the trophy is only legitimate when the league has a season and a champion. Absent both, where should it go? Why not to the NCAA champions? Whichever team prevails will have played a 40-game regular season and will have weathered a grueling playoff schedule against the country's best college teams. Wouldn't it be sweet to see Lord Stanley's trophy engraved with the names of amateur sportsmen, young men who play with flair, enthusiasm and love of the game?

Meanwhile, I noticed Mayor Lionel Rivera's letter to the editor in the Gazette last week, endorsing all of his colleagues for re-election. A nice, politically correct, cost-free little gesture, but I was amused at the grounds he cited for retaining 'em. According to hizzoner, everybody gets along splendidly, and they work well together. And that, sez Lionel, means they'll accomplish great things.

Excuse me, Mayor, but you're wrong. You're a nice bunch of guys (and gal), but you get on too well. Only Tom Gallagher and Richard Skorman ever deviate from the party line; the rest of them seem to march in lockstep, stolid supporters of conventional wisdom. Good public policy comes from challenge, conflict and spirited debate -- not by giving the local power structure a permanent pass.

Meanwhile, it's sad to see the noble old trees in the Nevada medians being cut down and removed, victims of drought and disease. Whether a more sensible city watering policy might have saved them is now beside the point; they're gone, and that's that. What's regrettable is that they've been replaced with tiny saplings, mere sticks that will take decades to grow to any size.

For a few dollars more, the city could have planted young trees that would mature within a few years, but they didn't. It's just another example of misplaced priorities, of a bureaucratic mindset that values the ephemera of government -- reports, documents, PowerPoint presentations, press releases, meetings about meetings -- far more than the physical evidence of government at work.

And finally, up in Denver, our intrepid Republican legislators are playing social-issue politics once again, proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Never mind that the bill, which requires a two-thirds majority, has no chance of passing; Republicans see it as a wedge issue that can only benefit them, and screw the Democrats.

Maybe, but is it possible that the electorate has finally wised up and is tired of that good ol' right-wing religion? We may look back at the Terri Schiavo fiasco as the moment when a majority of Americans noticed the nastiness, cynicism and amorality of the extreme right. Just as we don't want politicians making end-of-life decisions, I suspect that we don't want 'em in our bedrooms, our gun rooms and our churches. Let them pay attention to more important matters. For example ...


-- johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net


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