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Ranger Rich: Our gold medal in goofiness


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As you know, the $53 million deal to keep the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in our village has shriveled up, to use the old expression, "faster than Manny Ramirez's testicles." And what has long been suspected is now official: Colorado Springs is the goofiest town in Colorado.

Footnote: This knocks Steamboat Springs from the No. 1 spot, a place it has held since 1993 when the ski and snowboard bums stopped sipping bong water long enough to rename a downtown bridge across the Yampa River the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. Brown, the "Godfather of Soul" who passed away in 2006, actually showed up for the dedication, briefly raising the number of African-Americans in Steamboat Springs to one.

Anyway, the deal to keep the Olympic Committee here in Hooterville Junction has come apart. This news comes despite our village leaders showing their love for the Olympics in so many ways, including the memorable photo-op a few months ago in which two councilmen swallowed half a bottle of Viagra each and pole-vaulted over City Hall.

Becoming the odd child of Colorado has been a long process, of course, and has involved the work of so many. Take our police department. Please. In 2005, five buffalo escaped from a west side meat-packing plant. Police responded by firing 83 rounds of ammunition at the buffalo in the heavily congested neighborhood, hitting one house and adjoining garage with nine bullets, hitting another house with 11 bullets and somehow shooting out the taillights of a 1987 Ford Escort automobile across the street. (They apparently mistook the car for a buffalo because both of them have a problem with gas.)

Before that we had City Councilor Charles Wingate who, in 2003, was accused of stealing an opponent's campaign signs and using a city credit card to have pizza delivered to his home. He claimed he was innocent, even after investigators opened his garage door and found ... Jimmy Hoffa.

No, what they found were lots of the opponent's campaign signs and stacks of empty pizza boxes. (Wingate — I'm not kidding — was also accused of stealing the radio alarm clock of then-Councilor Margaret Radford, who has now overslept for 2,190 consecutive days.)

Which brings us back to the USOC deal, in which our village leaders promised to spend tens of millions of dollars to build a new downtown office complex for the USOC even though the city was broke. The complex financial plan apparently involved having each of the village residents remove a molar and leave it under a pillow to await the visit of the Tooth Fairy.

In return, the USOC promised to stay here for 25 years. Additionally, the USOC said it "would talk to" the 2012 Olympic women's shot-put hopefuls about their habit of getting drunk and lobbing the 16-pound steel balls out onto the freeway and then running home to laugh.

(That was, of course, just a joke and is not true and I hereby apologize. Shot-putters cannot actually "run.")

So construction of the office building began and then the city apparently didn't come up with the money. A couple weeks ago the USOC dissolved the $53 million deal. Now an investment adviser has filed an ethics complaint against the village mayor, claiming the mayor was the personal financial consultant for the developer who was chosen to build the USOC offices.

This leads to the following obvious question as it applies to conflict of interest allegations and investment banking: We have a mayor?

Yes, we do. His name is Lionel Rivera. He's a financial consultant at UBS Financial Services and, according to the allegations, managed the personal accounts of Ray Marshall, the builder chosen by Rivera and the Council to build the USOC complex.

Rivera, whose political management style is based upon the work of mime Marcel Marceau, has refused to talk about the conflict-of-interest allegations. He has, however, offered a wide-eyed expression followed by a very realistic imitation of a man trying to get out of a glass box.

Seriously, Rivera has said he can't talk because of client confidentiality.

Which made his investment clients chuckle quietly as night fell and they settled into their cardboard boxes under the Bijou Street bridge.


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