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Outsider

Twisting in the wind

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"Once more into the breach, dear friends ..." Was that from The Charge of the Light Brigade? No matter -- but it looks like we're going to have to fight the battle of the City Auditorium all over again.

A group headed by local developer Ray O'Sullivan has optioned several properties in the Auditorium block. Nothing wrong with that; after all, one of the glories of our country is that we're all free to own, buy and sell real estate. But it's a little disquieting when the would-be developers tour the auditorium, loudly discussing plans to alter the building for private uses, not to mention vacating the adjacent north/south alley.

We can thank the incompetence of the managers of the so-called old hire police pension fund for this latest threat to downtown Colorado Springs' historic Auditorium, which as you recall earlier this year was imperiled with the possibility of being sold off to the lowest bidder. Now, because the police pension fund has lost money, the city had to cough up $3.5 million to make up the shortfall. That meant that the Auditorium was, once again, stiffed at budget time. And so, once again, the sharks are circling.

So now the time has come for the Friends of the City Auditorium to once again become a viable, active and visible player on the city political scene. Hundreds of you signed up to become part of the group in May; within a few weeks, we'll have a general meeting, elect officers and discuss ways that we can preserve, protect and renovate this wonderful structure that means so much to so many.

Meanwhile, it's hard not to take a certain sour satisfaction in watching the antics of our local elected officials, as they slowly realize that the knife in their back was artfully placed there by Sen. Wayne Allard. You know the story: Colorado Springs wants to expand the Pueblo Reservoir, but they can't even start the process without an OK from the feds. And absent Allard's assent, it's no go. And Allard -- dodging, weaving, feinting, -- isn't exactly saying no, but he's sure not saying yes. And ever so slowly, Da Mayor and Da Council are figuring out that they've been royally reamed by a fellow Republican.

Now Allard may not be the smartest of senators -- former Gov. Roy Romer once actually called him too dumb for the Senate -- but he's a canny politician. As such, he's gotta know that Colorado Springs is the only reason that Colorado isn't a blue state. Magically transport El Paso County to California, and -- presto! -- we're Massachusetts in the Rockies. So why doesn't Allard do what the local power structure wants?

Here's a guess: Allard has no intention of running for a third term, so he no longer has to suck up to the local GOPsters. And he may simply enjoy seeing the arrogant locals twist slowly in the wind. Or he may even be acting out of conviction -- what a concept!

And finally, every once in a while I get delightfully nasty e-mails from anonymous right-wing crazies. They usually contain the same advice: you Godless, Communist, Gay-Lovin, Gun-Hatin', Abortion-Supportin', Porno Lovin', Peacenik Traitor -- why don't you move to Boulder/Boston/San Francisco, and stop offending decent folks by your very presence here in Colo Spgs? Usually I just hit "delete" -- but sometimes I send a vitriolic response, inviting them to come by my house and discuss their concerns with me and my AK-47.

I've never taken this stuff very seriously, but since the election I've noticed that the left has begun to embrace the rightist notion of resegregating the country on the basis of political affiliation.

A recent article in a Seattle alternative newsweekly, The Stranger, called only half-humorously for Democrats stranded in overwhelmingly Republican counties to move to Grand Junction, thereby creating San Francisco in the Rockies and tipping Colorado to the Donksters.

Elsewhere, Dems have seized upon the notion -- dubious at best -- that the nation's cities, most of which went for Kerry, are exploited, persecuted islands of liberal creativity, whose tax revenues go to subsidizing lazy, oafish fundamentalist Christians in the Red States.

Look, people, the reason that this country, with all of its faults, functions pretty well is that most of us don't live in ideological ghettos. Liberals ought to live in Colorado Springs, for the same reason that conservatives ought to live in Boulder. If everybody agrees with your political philosophy, you get dumb and smug, not wiser and less opinionated. Besides, housing is cheaper by far in Colorado Springs -- a real plus for underpaid, overworked liberals who certainly couldn't afford Boulder.

-- johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net

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