Columns » Outsider


No reason to complain


As I write this, it's a beautiful, luminous October morning here on the west side. The remnants of last week's snowfall still glisten on Pikes Peak, the leaves of the mountain ash outside the window are a brilliant yellow, my granddaughter's downstairs watching cartoons, and my dog's in the yard, happily woofing at passing canines.

It is not, in sum, the kind of day to blame and complain. In fact, it's the kind of day to talk about good things, about what's right with our town and who deserves a pat on the back.

First, Prospect Lake. After so many bitter and public complaints when the city drained it without any plan to refill it, let's give both ourselves and City Council a lot of credit for the happy ending. Council figured out how to fund the lake's restoration, we voted for the plan and the city executed it without a hitch. I think that's what you call good government.

Next, Confluence Park. (All right, all right, "America the Beautiful Park.") I don't care what you call it -- against all expectations, it's turned into a focal point of the community, full of fun events on weekends and a lovely place to spend an hour dreaming in the fall sunlight. Personally, I think they should rename the park again, in honor of the woman without whose political savvy, intelligence and vision, it wouldn't exist: Mary Lou Makepeace.

Which brings us to yet another welcome and (for Colorado Springs) somewhat surprising phenomenon: the continuing rise of the Power Women. Look around you. Even though most of our elected officials are middle-aged white guys in suits, women now are dominant players in the arts, nonprofits, media and communications.

In the arts, Eve Tilley (Pikes Peak Arts Council), Gwin Coleman (Funktion Flux) and Elaine Bean (Phototroph Gallery) are the go-to women. In the nonprofit world, Susan Edmondson (Bee Vradenburg Foundation), Beth Kosley (Downtown Partnership) and the aforementioned Makepeace (Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado) are ... well, let's just say they're smart and progressive, know how to use their power and don't tolerate fools gladly.

The editors of the two leading newspapers (the Independent and the Gazette) are female, and alternative media/techie ventures (e.g., Dana Deason's often are women-owned. I think it's great -- and, as I approach my Medicare birthday, I'm glad I don't have to compete with any of 'em.

Having once been a politician, I know how thankless and disheartening it can be to go against your base and do what you believe is right. So consider the guts and integrity it took for Mayor Lionel Rivera to come out in support of Referenda C & D. Lionel's young, conservative, smart and skillful -- and Hispanic to boot. Politically, he's a dream candidate. Congressman Lionel, Senator Lionel, Governor Lionel; those are not unreasonable thoughts. So here he is, supporting C & D in Douglas Bruce's backyard, shrugging off the howls of protest from the right-wing, anti-tax Republicans who control the local party nominating process.

Pretty amazing, when you consider that not one of the El Paso County Republican legislators had the balls to cross the Dougster's legions and support their own governor. Good on you, Lionel -- few pols would do what you've done.

And while we're handing out attaboys, let's give one to Kenyon Jordan, editor/publisher/writer at the sprightly and informative Westside Pioneer, a neighborhood weekly. It's everything a neighborhood rag ought to be -- well-written, unafraid of a little controversy and completely focused on the life of the west side. As a newspaper junkie, I've always believed that a paper can define, strengthen and enhance a community as no other medium can.

And finally, let's talk about a good thing that hasn't happened yet -- the renovation of the City Auditorium. A year and a half ago, it seemed possible that the wonderful old building would be sold to developers, or radically changed for the benefit of a few users.

It now seems that City Council, the Downtown Partnership and the arts community are on the same page. Their goal is to maintain public ownership and restore the old Aud to its former glory, retaining its historic (and quirky) interior configuration.

How? When? With what money? That's another column. It's a beautiful day, and I'm off to Elitch's with my granddaughter.


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