Public Eye 

Is Colorado Springs Bush country? According to the chairwoman of the local John McCain for President effort, that's what some volunteers at Republican headquarters want people to believe.

In the past few weeks, GOP activist Sue Malone said people who are attempting to contact the local McCain command center to volunteer support have been told by the local Republican headquarters that none exists.

"I personally have heard at least 10 instances where it happened," Malone said. "People are telling me repeatedly that they are being told 'there's no McCain office or contact -- this is Bush country.' "

During the primary, political parties are supposed to remain neutral. This week, local GOP Chairman Chuck Broerman insisted that volunteers have never withheld any information about McCain, and suggested Malone is lying.

"This office has bent over backwards to be fair to everybody," Broerman said. "[Malone] called me last week on Thursday and I asked her the time and place and names of people who had complained, and she couldn't say.

"I know the people who work in the office and they're very honorable."

Malone says that efforts to thwart the McCain phenomenon are not surprising.

"I don't know if this is just a microcosm of what is happening around the country, but the truth is [Bush] was chosen months and months ago, if not years, as the chosen one," she said. "The establishment chose Bush and they want to stick with him come hell or high water.

"The Republican Party wants to take back the White House but I believe they would rather lose with Bush than win with McCain."

Malone can be reached at 598-4310.

Meanwhile, the local Bush team (phone 635-4146) is being headed by former District Attorney John Suthers, former GOP Chair Wayne Williams and longtime GOP activist Larry Liston.

Over on the Democratic side, former Dem. Chairman Ray Mann is helping to head up the local Al Gore for President campaign. He can be reached at 538-8334. And Lorilei Bourell, who is coordinating the Bill Bradley for Prez efforts, can be reached at 260-9427.

This week, Gov. Bill Owens signed Senate Bill 125 into law, reinstating the Colorado Bureau of Investigation as the "point of contact" for firearm background checks.

In doing so, the governor applauded the Legislature for re-adopting a program that relies on the state agency -- rather than the feds -- to prevent criminals from getting their hands on firearms.

But when the program came up for an automatic renewal in 1999, a committee chaired by Colorado Springs Sen. MaryAnne Tebedo killed the program.

Several months later, Simon Gonzalez bought a gun, shot his three young daughters to death and committed suicide in the parking lot of the Castle Rock Police Station. It was quickly determined that Gonzalez, whose ex-wife had a restraining order against him, shouldn't have been able to buy the gun he used in the murders.

At the time, Tebedo took a defensive posture, "Don't blame my committee for the deaths of those three little girls," she said.

This week, Tebedo's name was notably absent from the bill's list of sponsors to reinstate the background checks. In fact, the only legislators from El Paso County who signed on were Sen. Mary Ellen Epps and Rep. Marcy Morrison.

"In signing this piece of legislation, I hope to prevent future tragedies such as the tragic deaths of the three Gonzalez children last summer," Owens said in a prepared statement. "If the CBI Insta-Check Program had been in place, it would have denied that purchase of a firearm by the father."

As the City Council continued to grapple this week with what to do about that little problem with Councilwoman Joanne Colt, it took no time at all for an unforgiving public to register their moral outrage.

From resident Jack Close: "Clean up City Hall and get Joanne Colt out of there."

And from Donald Heardes: "The integrity of government cannot be compromised; Colt must go."

Finally, resident Steve Grigsby wanted to know why the state attorney general and the 4th judicial district attorney's office weren't investigating criminal charges against the councilwoman: "This is a serious crime and the City Council wanting to give Joanne Colt another chance is unconscionable."

So what happens now that Colt has resigned?

Essentially, people who are interested in filling in should submit resumes and letters of interest. Those people will then be interviewed, and one will be selected until voters have a chance to pick a permanent replacement in the April, 2001 election.

-- degette@csindy.com


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