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Looking into the future

Ranger Rich



Colorado Springs, Nov. 5, 2046: For the 38th consecutive year, voters in this once-classic Western town — a village that stood for more than a century beneath Pikes Peak before the mountain was sold in 2010 — soundly defeated yet another proposed tax increase this week, telling startled town leaders that they no longer want streetlights. Or streets.

As the votes came in, village officials gathered at the town's finest five-star restaurant to begin drafting next year's doomed tax hike proposal. (They would have stayed longer, but the Chuck E. Cheese mascot chased them out at the 10 p.m. closing time.)

Historical footnote: For those of you new to our lovely town as you continue chasing your minimum-wage dream, Pikes Peak was sold by the city 36 years ago to the federal government. The mountain was then bulldozed and transformed into the Katharine Lee Bates National Park and Plutonium Dump (motto: "Come Visit Our 12-Legged Elk, Hercules, and Hear Him Bark").

Colorado Springs had a population of more than 400,000 shortly after the turn of the 21st century but now is home to just 14,000. Many left between 2009 and 2012, after the city announced that its largest source of income was the change it made from spitting on tourists' windshields at red lights and rubbing the glass with a newspaper.

The latest tax proposal defeat was greeted with cheers by the anti-government group People Against Anything You Can Think Of, which battled this year's measure with the catchy campaign slogan, "Home Schooling: If It Was Good Enough for We, It's Good Enough for Those!"

The group was founded by Sean Paige, a one-time City Councilman who was appointed to that seat in 2009 by council members right after they'd finished a gigantic tray of medicinal-marijuana brownies, which was a big issue back then. (Six members further admitted dabbling in methamphetamines, heroin, Satanism or witchcraft just prior to the Paige vote.)

In a poorly worded statement posted on his Web site and read by nobody, the 87-year-old Paige said the defeat of the tax measure showed that anti-government zealots are as persistent "as a guy, let's say, who takes 10 years to get a four-year college degree."

The defeat was the 427th consecutive failed attempt by the city to raise taxes, delighting the town's aging anti-tax crusader, Doug Bruce. Along with his terrific work for the town, Bruce also authored the statewide TABOR anti-tax measure in 1992 that led to Colorado's proud nickname: "Mississippi of the Rockies."

Bruce celebrated the latest demise of a tax proposal by asking for a moment of prayer, at which time he took his own picture during the benediction and then angrily kicked himself. (He was treated by 76 city firefighters and paramedics who raced to the routine call in 38 ladder trucks. Each truck was escorted by 10 police officers. Everyone was on overtime.)

All across the town, voters celebrated their victory into the early morning hours in the 3,512 nightclubs owned by Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli. The couple's newest watering hole, Tequila's At Blondie's Red Martini Rum Bay Cowboys, was formerly the airline terminal back when Colorado Springs had an airport.

As they've done every single year for a half-century, city officials expressed great surprise at the voting.

"I think the people want to support this great city, but maybe the wording of the measure was a bit confusing," said longtime mayor Lionel Rivera, who decades ago successfully changed the city's term-limit laws and is now in the midst of his 43rd year as the town's leader.

(Rivera has lived for free at the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters since 2009, is now 89 years old and refers to city founder William Jackson Palmer as either "Jesse Jackson" or "Jackie Robinson.")

In exit polls conducted by the Independent, the town's only newspaper, some 92 percent of voters said they were "unhappy" or "very unhappy" with the direction of the town. Also, 96 percent said they were "still waiting" for the first drop of water from the village's Southern Delivery System water pipeline project.

The project, which was approved in 2009 and has now cost $8 billion, is designed to bring water from the Arkansas River.

The river, as you know, dried up in 2022.

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