Columns » Ranger Rich

Where's our Harry Baals?

Ranger Rich

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Today, if there's time, we'll discuss longtime Indiana statesman Harry Baals and why, despite his long service to Indiananians ... Indianas ... Indianiai ... to the people of that state, no public building or roadway will ever bear his name.

There will not, for example, be a Harry Baals Municipal Airport. Or Harry Baals Highway.

But first, did you watch anti-tax activist Doug Bruce and paper clip king Ed Bircham standing outside our City Hall a while back, trumpeting their planned "Reform Team" takeover of our village?

OK, actually, all the trumpeting was done by Doug, who was a tremendous slouch as a state rep and literally kicked himself out of that office. Bircham (who came to America from England and has some great stories about those 66 days on the Mayflower) and three other "candidates" were busy watching big fluffy clouds pass overhead and wondering where they'd parked their Edsels.

Here you're probably saying, "That's great, but for God's sake, tell us more about your Harry Baals!" And I will.

But my point, and it's not really a point, is that you'd think by watching our local campaigns for mayor and City Council over the past month that every aging, confused, angry, dim-witted nutcase within 50 miles is running for public office.

Which is not true. Current Mayor Lionel Rivera, for example, is not running for anything. He is term-limited and has only a few months left on the job, and yet remains hopeful that by working with local groups and putting in long hours in these final weeks he can ruin several more things in our town before he leaves.

There are other strange, low-watt bulbs also not running for office. This is because they are in jail or court. Take Mario Tripkovich. Please. The Colorado Springs courier faces theft and burglary charges in Eagle County, where police say he stole things from a medical center during deliveries.

They feel confident in saying this because Mario appears several times on the medical center's surveillance cameras. Stealing things.

And who among us hasn't stolen $1.5 million in chips from the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas and then tried to sell them to the police? And yet when Pueblo resident Tony Carleo allegedly does it, well, everyone makes a big deal over it.

Las Vegas police say a guy wearing a motorcycle helmet pulled a handgun at a Bellagio craps table and ran off with a huge bag of chips. It was caught on video by some of the casino's 55 trillion surveillance cameras.

A while later, Carleo — whose dad is a Las Vegas municipal court judge — allegedly met with undercover police and asked if they wanted to buy a whole bunch of Bellagio gambling chips. They did not. What they did want was to wrestle Carleo to the floor and handcuff him.

Carleo, by the way, was a guest at the Bellagio on the day of the robbery. Coincidence?

And who knows, really, whether Colorado Springs resident Jorelle Antivo, 21, is God.

Oh sure, when police were called to an apartment burglary at 4 o'clock on a recent morning, Antivo told them he was the Almighty as he rushed toward them making funny noises. But frankly, a lot of people think they are God and make funny noises. Glenn Beck, for example.

And if it turns out Antivo is what he claims, well, a couple of Colorado Springs cops will one day be able to tell the grandkids about the time they Tasered the Savior.

All of which brings us, in some way, to Fort Wayne, Ind., where former mayor Harry Baals, who died in 1954, was the leading vote-getter in a recent online contest to name the city's new government center. In the voting, more than 10,000 people said they really liked Harry Baals, which, if you ask me, seems like a lot.

But despite the people's overwhelming urge to see Harry Baals hanging over the door of the new government center, current Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said it won't happen. She said people would make jokes about it.

And while she did not elaborate on what kind of jokes she was talking about, she did indicate that the snub was nothing personal and that she doesn't hold anything against Harry Baals. If she can help it.

rangerrich@csindy.com

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