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Just like old times


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Originally, the plan for this column was something different, something nobody would expect. It would've been a piece about GOP rising star Mike Huckabee, a friend since we were in high school together.

But that one can wait another week, as interest builds toward Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, after repeated reader requests, I'm reviving a tradition from years past, in particular my tenure on the other side of the newspaper fence.

Each year around this time, I took a moment to change clothes, pretended to be Santa Claus admittedly, not a physical challenge and handed out presents to various people around the area.

Some of the gifts were nice. Others poked a little. But they all were in the spirit of the season.

So, without further delay, let's see what Santa Ralph has in his bag for ...

Mayor Lionel Rivera: A fresh supply of charisma (his initial ration ran out years ago) and some new material for speeches, trading the worn-out, rah-rah pablum for plain, old-fashioned reality.

Penny Culbreth-Graft, incoming city manager: A lifetime supply of Tums, to take care of the stomach acid sure to come from dealing with the budget, and plenty of pink slips for the city staffers who are resistant to change.

City Council: Courage to make some tough decisions next year, such as possibly removing one or more high-ranking people, and good ideas for selling the voters on the need for more revenue, taxes or otherwise.

Rick "Goose" Gossage, our baseball hometown hero: An all-expense-paid trip to Cooperstown for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Channel 5: A spell-checker for its on-air graphics.

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn: Everybody knows what he wants a second term. But he gets a tour of Pion Canyon to see all its history and beauty, and dictionaries for whoever writes his news releases.

Air Force football: Victory against California in the Armed Forces Bowl, a spot in the final Top 25 rankings (even one poll) and a quarterback for next year.

Douglas Bruce, not yet state representative, by his choice: One ineffective year in Denver, making him all the more vulnerable in the 2008 election. And a court order barring him from suing the city and county in his district.

West-side commuters: A little more patience to calm the rising road rage on that tire destroyer known as Colorado Avenue, until the COSMIX work is done.

Colorado College hockey: No big slumps in the season's second half, the chance to finally win the Broadmoor Trophy (for the league tournament champion) and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, playing at home in the West Regional.

The Gazette: A better idea for organizing the daily paper, so readers don't go crazy trying to find the obituaries, local news and letters. (Nobody wants to read the editorials, anyway.) And a new fake name for Dave Philipps.

John O'Donnell, St. Patrick's Day parade organizer: Open arms for any group wanting to take part in the 2008 parade.

Fine Arts Center: Hopefully, a new president/CEO without the uncontrollable ego or the shallow wanderlust of Michael De Marsche.

Jeff Crank, candidate for Lamborn's seat: Enough money and allies to overcome what surely will be another rash of dirty tactics in the Republican primary race. And for the other candidate, Bentley Rayburn, the common sense to exit the race if he doesn't have solid support in the party's caucuses on Feb. 5.

New Life Church: At least one year without making headlines, especially the unintended kind.

El Paso County Democrats: More candidates for races where Republican officeholders are beatable, and success hosting the state party's convention in 2008.

El Paso County Republicans: Nametags to signify which faction they represent in their version of Family Feud the ornery, rural east branch, the pious north branch, or the alienated old-guard, downtown-southwest branch.

County commissioners: Plenty of No-Doz for everyone after Doug Bruce's departure, and a good year for sales-tax revenue to lessen the budget pain.

And for Ralph Routon, XXL editor: A good piano tuner (the old upright has been through too many moves), plenty of edgy ideas for the year ahead, and perhaps a plane ticket to Beijing in August.


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