We went rambling through the Indy's 1997 archives this week. What was newsworthy here 17 years ago?
A panicked Colorado Springs Utilities facing a new world of competition. I guess we know how that turned out.
From "In the public mistrust," by Cara DeGette, Oct. 1, 1997:
For the past 70 years, Colorado Springs Utilities has held a monopoly on water, electric, gas and wastewater service. You pay city-owned CSU to light your house, quench your thirst, give you gas and take the sewage away.
The utility company's monopoly is about to come to an end. No one really knows what's ahead. Depending on owner-customer sentiment, it could be sold off — either for a voter-approved profit or as the devalued victim of a firesale. It could also revert into a publicly owned company whose owners have virtually no access to how it conducts business.
CSU is officially overseen by the City Council, and it's customers pay among the lowest rates in the country ... Its executive director, Phil Tollefson, is paid $149, 604 — more than any public employee in the state ...
These managers — and the 6,000 employees that comprise Colorado Springs' 10th largest employer — are currently fighting for their jobs. And all because of that one dirty word: deregulation.
And then there was the time that Colorado Springs took its first steps toward becoming a major global player. Remember that?
Neither did we.
From "The Insider: The city's budget process — think globally, act locally," Oct. 8, 1997:
For the dedicated local government junkie, there are lots of wonderful little details buried deep within this year's budget. For example:
Page 16.3 — "Mayor's Global Advisory Council." Here is $15,000 to match a grant assigning a career diplomat with the U.S. State Department to come to the Springs for one year and [help to] ... "develop policies and provide strategic directions for the global, cultural, and business development of the city."
... But hey, what's wrong with having our own foreign policy? And shouldn't we consider becoming a nuclear power? And if not, why not?
There was also that time Pueblo was about to overshadow "Little London," aka Colorado Springs. Who still uses that nickname?
From "South of Eden: The once-stinky city threatens to upstage its highbrow neighbor to the north," Oct. 8, 1997:
With its adobe Pittsburgh appearance and working class smell, "Pew-e-blo" has historically been the butt of jokes from its highbrow sister to the north. Ironically, many of our leaders now say we could learn a lot from the scrappy city.
"Pueblo has done a good job of working together," said Thayer Tutt, the president of the El Pomar Foundation ... "We could learn a real lesson from them on their Riverwalk project. They've done a wonderful job of restoring the natural beauty and taking care of their views."
And then we almost spent $120 million to expand the airport for a WestPac Airlines terminal.
From "Flying Blind: How the city nearly blew millions by building its failed homegrown airline a new terminal," Nov. 19, 1997
City Councilman Bill Guman said he did a double take and gulped in horror. The day after Western Pacific Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the councilman showed up at City Hall for the Oct. 6 Council meeting.
Guman's colleagues were busy whacking each other on their collective backs and congratulating the administration for "having the intelligence and the foresight to put the brakes on" an expansion project that would have doubled the size of the city's 3-year-old airport.