Post-election analysis -- ain't it fun? Once again, it's time to suck up to the winners, make fun of the losers, think deep thoughts, and pretend that you had everything figured out six months ago.
So let's just move briskly on, and start with Marcy Morrison, who, running against a perfectly capable incumbent, was elected Mayor of Manitou Springs with 83 percent of the vote. That's beyond stunning; it's impossible.
My sympathies to the defeated incumbent Mayor Nancy Hankin; I know only too well how awful it is to get soundly trounced at the polls. And it's interesting to note that, with Marcy's election, both Colorado Springs and Manitou are blessed with tough, wily, experienced, and mildly liberal Republican mayors -- maybe there's hope for Red Rock Canyon, after all.
And how about Margaret Radford and Sallie Clark, who, with the nave optimism of political newcomers, actually sought the job of selling a tax increase to our local electorate? Instead of ending up in political limbo, to be forever remembered as the tax ladies, they became the biggest winners of all. They sold Council on the idea of multiple ballot issues, and saw the biggest one (a 20 percent sales tax increase for public safety) pass easily.
That's what you call leadership, that's what you call political savvy, that's what you call being in the right place with the right message post 9-11. In April 2003, we're going to elect a new mayor and, since term limits preclude Mary Lou Makepeace from running again, the race is wide open. I don't know whether either Margaret or Sallie are thinking of running, but they're both looking pretty good right now.
Biggest loser? Clearly, it's gotta be the Interstate 70 monorail project, which lost by almost a 70-30 margin. Its supporters saw it as a first step toward a viable public transportation system; its detractors saw it as a taxpayer-financed subsidy for the cold-eyed moguls who own the major ski areas. And of course it was just that, but I don't blame the moguls for being disappointed. After all, Denver metro taxpayers practically stood in line to subsidize the Broncos and the Rockies; why this sudden prejudice against skiers and snowboarders?
But sometimes the voters can be fickle. How else to explain that El Paso County, alone among the state's heavily populated counties, opposed allowing Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to issue bonds for open space purchases? C'mon, people, wake up!
The revenue stream securing the bonds doesn't come from taxes -- it comes from gamblers! And even if people stop gambling (yeah, right!), and the bonds go into default, it would have no impact on the state's credit. And even though the measure passed statewide by close to a 60-to-40 margin, and even though El Paso County is close to the largest beneficiary of GOCO's largesse, we turned it down.
Yet another big loser: the Dougster. Yup, it looks as if unreasonable taxophobia, has run its course. Back in 1991, the anti-tax landlord Doug Bruce sponsored a citizen initiative, which rolled back the city sales tax from 2.5 percent to 2.0 percent. But times sure are changing. In '97, despite Doug's fierce opposition, the voters enacted the Trails Open Space and Parks (TOPS) tax. With this year's approved public safety measure, the tax rate is right back where it used to be -- 2.5 percent.
Certainly, Doug's style of political debate -- shrill, hyperbolic, invective, and always questioning the motives, honesty and competence of his opponents -- no longer seems to resonate with the people.
I suppose, having opposed Doug for the last couple of decades, that I ought to gloat, but I'll be sorry if this is his political swan song. The woods are full of sensible moderates, earnest liberals, and thoughtful conservatives, and they're all as exhilarating as late night on C-Span. Doug -- smart, fun, remorseless and infuriating -- has never been dull.
And speaking of boring, yet a third big loser last week was not a single issue, or politician, but a concept -- that of the "World Class City." In case you'd forgotten, our city motto asserts that we're gonna become one real soon. Apparently, the voters don't agree, since they turned down tax increases that would have funded the Pioneers Museum, city parks, and recreational facilities.
Despite the local pols, who'd like to bring some culture to our comfortable suburban sprawl, it looks as if the voters would just as soon drive north to Denver to enjoy big-city amenities.
Just maybe, in some parallel universe, they'll be taking the monorail.