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It took daily newspaper publisher Thomas Mullen just a little over a year to dump editor Terri Fleming -- which was a lot longer than some critics (read: former Gazette employees) predicted.

This week, Fleming, a former designer at the paper who over 20 years scaled the ranks to the top, "unexpectedly resigned" (read: was forced out).

A statement issued late Tuesday afternoon -- which was published almost verbatim as a news story in Wednesday's paper -- quoted Fleming: "Some say journalism is a special calling. In my experience here, it's been a special gift."

Along with Fleming, the two top guys who formed the triumvirate of power in the editorial department have also gotten the boot. According to the statement, co-managing editors Cliff Foster and Keith Briscoe will assume "new roles" at the paper, "in part to support the leadership transition now under way." Whatever that means.

We're starting to see a pattern here.

Fleming is The Gazette's fourth editor in a decade, and the newspaper has gone through at least as many publishers. As one observer noted this week, you need a playbook to keep up with all the drama.

So pay attention, soap opera fans.

Thomas Mullen was hired as The Gazette's new publisher in April 2000. Mullen had been the editor of the paper in the early 1990s and as publisher, replaced Scott Fischer, who had replaced our good pal Chris Anderson -- whose sidekick was the much-maligned Steve "Mr. Public Journalism" Smith.

Fischer lasted just 15 months before he was canned, but that was long enough for him to fire Smith and replace him with Fleming.

Now, with Fleming out, who is left? Well, there's publisher Mullen, who remember, used to be the editor. And there's Jon Stepleton, the guy who succeeded Mullen as editor but has been on ice for the past seven years, serving in the somewhat nebulous capacity of "public editor."

So what's next for the daily? Will Jon and the editorial department be reunited? Can Mullen restore the newspaper to its former greatness, before it shrunk to a shadow of its former self?

Stay tuned for upcoming episodes of ... As The Gazette Turns.

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After El Paso County Commissioner Ed Jones publicly boasted to much of the Front Range that the only thing Democrats are allowed to do in El Paso County is pay taxes and buy stuff, fellow GOP Commissioner Tom Huffman now claims he wants to help his Democratic friends out.

This week Huffman, the Republican who last year replaced Betty Beedy to represent Eastern El Paso County, confirmed he is in the "conceptual stages" of renaming Terminal Avenue, which leads to the Appaloosa Men's Club (otherwise known as a strip bar) after former President Bill Clinton.

"I just think that Bill Clinton Boulevard has a nice ring to it," Huffman said. "It's my offer to make peace."

Earlier this month, Jones appeared on Boulder-based rock station KBCO to talk about why he and four other local GOP elected county officials named the stretch of Interstate 25 through El Paso County after Republican President Ronald Reagan. The radio station folks thought the statement was brazen enough to play it twice. And Monument resident Jim Zerefos was not amused.

"Officials should at least pretend to represent all of their constituents," Zerefos insisted.

This week, Huffman extended the offer to work to get Terminal Avenue, which is in his district near Platte Avenue and Powers Boulevard, named after Clinton. Of course, the road leading to the Appaloosa Men's Club -- which Huffman claims he does not patronize -- is only four blocks long. By comparison, the Ronald Reagan Highway through El Paso County stretches 35 miles long.

So much for equal treatment.

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KKTV Channel 11 News deserves kudos for their coverage last weekend of an interesting -- and underreported -- angle on George W. Bush's tax rebate plan. Namely, just as the wealthy and middle class are starting to receive their checks, local poor people are being informed they will not receive a tax rebate under the Bush plan.

Channel 11 reported that, if your income is very low and you've received tax credits for childcare, etc. and the amount of credits exceeds the amount of income tax you were required to pay, no $300 to $600 check will be coming your way.

In other words, working single mothers and those who need the money most will get nothing.

Channel 11's report was especially interesting when juxtaposed with the other news of the day, which showed video of the President of the United States making an international ass of himself at the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy.

When asked to comment on the protests on the streets, Bush just smirked and said, "Those protestors don't represent the poor."

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