Senate Majority Leader Stan Matsunaka blew through town last Wednesday to announce his Democratic bid for Governor of Colorado next year. He was greeted at the south side of the Pioneers Museum by a handful of supporters -- many of them union organizers who'd like nothing more than to unseat Republican Gov. Bill Owens next year.
Unfortunately for them, Owens has turned out (at least publicly) to be much more of a moderate than they had hoped. However, their man Matsunaka has spent the past year hammering on the Republican guv for his peculiar approach to growth (ie: let the developers write legislation to deal with sprawl) and for what educators believe is a derelict approach to education reform.
A handful of Republican protesters also showed up for Matsunaka's official announcement of his entre into the race, waving signs around that read: Read my lips, no new "Taxunaka."
Larry Liston, the vice chairman of the state Republican Party who makes his living as a stockbroker, was on hand at the Democratic event and had a delightfully amusing rationale for the signs: "[Matsunaka] wants to tax hard-working people like us." Liston didn't provide specifics. Hmmm. Usually the only people you see hard at work waving signs in the middle of a business day are homeless people looking for assistance.
Anyway, Matsunaka is a Japanese American and lifelong Coloradan whose father served with the highest awarded combat regiment during World War II. At the same time, his family members and friends were sent off to internment camps, as many Japanese Americans were, for no "crime" other than their ancestry (see this week's cover story for more).
During his announcement speech, Matsunaka played up his roots in the eastern Colorado rural farming community of Fort Lupton, much the same way that Colorado's last Democratic governor Roy Romer -- the wildly popular "Man from Holly" -- did in 1994 when he beat the pants off of then-Republican challenger Bruce Benson. Matsunaka -- who could face Boulder businessman Rollie Heath and state Sen. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, in a three-way battle for the primary -- invoked duty and honor and courage and leadership. He talked about the need for the state to give back to local government (which used to be the swan song of the Republicans). He talked about real education reform and the need to fight for our freedoms. He pointed out that he has already gotten elected as a Democrat in his Loveland district, where 63 percent of the voters are Republicans. He even called Colorado Springs "the new frontier" and its people "pioneers."
And of the protesters, Matsunaka merely said he was disappointed that they chose to make fun of his name. "In my family, we don't make fun of people," he said.
Beginning today, Nov. 1, the alternative media digest Utne Reader begins its annual Readers Choice poll to gauge the best of the progressive press of the country. And, this year, Colorado Springs Independent readers and fans will be able to include yours truly in their selections. That's right, we've been nominated, along with nine other papers in the United States and Canada, as a newspaper that provides the best local coverage to readers in a given market.
"The Colorado Springs Independent is a great example of creative, beyond-the-mainstream thinking and we are proud to honor it with an Utne Reader Alternative Press Award nomination," magazine editorial director Jay Walljasper said.
Obviously we're tickled, thrilled, jigging-around-the-office happy at the news. After all, we're in tremendous company: Other publications in our category include the LA Weekly, Detroit Metro Times, NOW from Toronto and The Texas Observer. Last year's winner in the local coverage category was The Stranger, a Seattle-based weekly with a reputation of being hallowed and irreverent.
Utne Reader, which launched its alternative press awards in 1989 to recognize excellence in alternative and independent publishing, also recognizes magazines and newspapers in other categories, including: General Excellence Magazines; Cultural/Social; Political; International Coverage; Science and Environment; Spiritual; and Arts and Literature.
The actual press award winners are chosen exclusively by the Utne's editors, meaning we can't stuff the ballot box. But, the magazine also sponsors an online readers' choice poll, where people can log onto at
www.utne.com/apa, read the magazines and newspapers (including back issues accessed via archives) and then cast their vote.
The Utne winners will be announced in their January/February 2002 issue, which goes on sale Dec. 25. The readers' poll winners will be announced online on Jan. 3.
We'll keep you posted.