We've got some good news and more bad news this week. It just usually works out that way.
First, Rob Gordon may just have beaten City Hall after the Colorado Springs Planning Commission voted 5-1 to allow him to continue to host live music in his Skyway home. Gordon has been battling to keep the music alive since July, when city land-use inspector Ginna Sanders ordered Gordon to stop hosting occasional concerts at his house for 50 to 90 people, claiming that the music violated zoning codes and were commercial ventures.
Such house concerts (which are also currently prospering in other Colorado Springs neighborhoods, including the old North End) attract a kind of mellow, adult crowd that generally gathers to hear folk and acoustic acts. At Gordon's shows, donations are accepted at the door, with all proceeds going to the artists. There have been no noise complaints from neighbors, no traffic problems, but a few busybodies seemed to believe that the shows would somehow bring down the neighborhood, and informally complained to the City, triggering all the trouble.
In fact, the kind of gatherings at Gordon's place represent exactly what the City itself is striving for in its recently adopted Comprehensive Plan: a community-oriented spirit that promotes the concept of citizens gathering and coexisting in an urban setting instead of mind-numbing suburban isolation. Let's hope the city staff doesn't contradict its own policies by appealing the Planning Commission decision to the City Council.
Speaking of peaceful coexistence, there will be no more of that in the Hillside neighborhood, at least between man and fowl. The city-owned utility company last week used nets to capture the two spunky Quaker parrots that have been living atop a utility pole for the past several years and turned them over to the zoo. The parrots, also called monk parakeets, have delighted neighbors with their antics for the past several years, and have survived Colorado blizzards and a recent lightning strike that destroyed their home. No one is sure how the parrots -- which are indigenous to Latin America but are known to thrive in urban settings all over the country -- came to roost atop the utility pole. But in a stunning display of aggressiveness, the utility company branded them fugitives, nuisances and a threat to electric customers, and insisted they be removed. Let's hope the parrots can survive the transition into captivity.
The unveiling of Colorado Springs' brand-new, old City Hall building at Nevada Avenue and Kiowa Street was bittersweet this week. The building was erected in 1904 and has undergone 18 months and $5.3 million in renovations (including $1.3 million in cost overruns). After previously serving as the municipal courthouse, it will once again host Council meetings, and house the offices of elected officials, the city manager, and the budget and public communications departments.
The city deserves kudos for its renovation efforts -- but a rap upside the head for chopping down all of the nice old trees around the building during remodeling -- they just got in the way of construction workers. Now, City Hall looks as naked as any emperor, and Colorado Springs -- which prides itself on its nationally recognized status as a City of Trees -- should be ashamed. On the sunny side, at least they didn't raze the building and make it a parking garage.
Speaking of embarrassing, the daily's advertorial pundit Ed Bircham weighed in a week ago Monday with a real doozy of a message to America. You'll recall Mr. Bircham, an office supply store owner who spends a good deal of money on ads designed to offend African Americans, gays and lesbians, educators and any thinking person.
In his latest, Bircham, using not very grammatical prose, identified what he called "traitors" who are "just as dangerous as terrorists."
And just who are these people? According to Bircham, they include "[the] ACLU, IRS, NOW, Planned Parenthood, Hollywood, NEA, News Anchors, the last two decades of College Professors, Peaceniks and Tree Huggers.
"Also, the Berkeley City Council. Add to the list the likes of Jane Fonda, Richard Gere, Phil Donahue, Rosie O'Donnell and Bill Clinton, and you will understand why we are in such a mess," Bircham noted in his advertorial, which was published on page 3 of the Metro news section.
Now I know what you're thinking: Richard Gere? Phil Donahue? News Anchors? Will somebody please wake us up?
Bircham's gibberish was so excessive it even attracted the attention of Gazette columnist Rich Tosches, who skewered Bircham in a Sunday column and offered up the wish that Mr. Ed would just return to his native homeland of England.