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Outsider

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The election's over. To the losers: my condolences. I know how you feel. It's not much fun to spend months of your life begging for an unpleasant, ill-paid job, only to suffer the humiliation of public rejection.

But be of good cheer; you can stop being phony nice and fake sincere. No more pretending to care about the stupid little problems of every whiny voter. At last, you can be yourself -- cut in line at the supermarket, kick a dog, fart in church. You're free at last!

And to the winners: my congratulations. I know how you feel. What a rush -- from zero to hero in a few brief hours.

Go ahead and gloat, as you listen to those fawning voicemail messages from the power brokers who wouldn't even return your calls a day ago. It'll get even better, as you realize that you've suddenly become a player.

And it was easy; you didn't have to work like a dog building a distinguished career for 25 years. You just had to win an election. Sweet, isn't it? On the other hand, you'll have to stay in character for a few years. Lucky you -- after a few months in office, you'll become what you pretend to be. Phony nice, fake sincere, full of unctuous religiosity. Congratulations! You're now a typical Colorado Springs officeholder.

Meanwhile, regardless of the election, there are some actual, like, issues out there. For example:

Money. Like virtually every other state in the union, Colorado is broke. Thanks to the recession, tax revenues have declined precipitously, and we're several hundred million in the hole. Cuts will be made.

Among the probable losers: Great Outdoors Colorado, which legislators see as a convenient source of cash. Never mind that the voters created GOCO primarily to acquire and preserve Colorado's vanishing open space. Thanks to Gov. Bill Owens' handpicked board, GOCO now funds a big chunk of the Department of Wildlife's budget, and plans to fund indoor sports facilities.

When the cheese hardens, governors and legislators grab cash wherever they can find it, voter intent be damned. Besides, that vote was 10 years ago; Governor Bill and his trusty sidekicks probably figure that most of the people who voted for GOCO have died or left the state.

Water. Expect the water buffaloes to run amok in the Legislature. We'll see dozens of bills with but a single aim: to squeeze billions out of the taxpayers to fund new water projects, supposedly for drought mitigation.

Of course, since any projects thereby funded won't be completed for many years, they're unlikely to have any impact on the current drought. But that doesn't matter; the idea here is to create infrastructure for another 25 years of uninterrupted growth along the Front Range.

Unhappily for the water buffaloes, the folks on the Western Slope have already figured this out. Conservative business interests have joined forces with liberal environmentalists to present a united front against our very own water lords.

Waste, Fraud and Abuse. Yup, all of our newly elected officials were against it. But, since they were just catering to the public's prejudices, they won't find any to root out. Maybe they'll try to make government more efficient.

If so, here's a tip: We're a pretty hi-tech kind of state, right? A computer-literate, Internet-savvy, 21st-century, cutting-edge place, with tens of thousands employed by hi-tech companies.

That may be, but all of those techies haven't made much of an impact on state government.

According to the Center for Public Policy at Brown University, the state of Colorado's official Web site currently ranks 46th in "E-Government." That places Colorado's Web site just barely ahead of Mississippi, Alabama and Wyoming when it comes to the usefulness, interactivity, speed of response to public inquiries, privacy features, etc.

Brown University also ranked cities, and things were a little different. Those damned Denver Democrats ranked third in the nation ... kind of makes you wonder about all those "efficient" Republicans at the state Capitol.

Closer to home, looks like we'll have Messrs. Jim Bensberg and Wayne Williams smugly occupying a couple of seats on the County Commission.

As we've pointed out before, commissioners are pretty well paid; with bennies, the job's worth about $80,000 annually. Wayne, Jim: Could I make one small request?

This is your job. This is not your part-time hobby. Work at being a commissioner full-time. That means eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, just as if you were working at Wal-Mart. Trust me, you can do it.

And remember (apologies to Sting) ... we'll be watching you.

-- jhazlehurst@csindy.com

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