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Columns » Between The Lines

So many questions, so little time


Quick, the $2 billion question: How many of the nine City Council at-large candidates can you name?

In all likelihood, even if you care about how the city runs, you probably began to stumble after two or three and these folks will have their hands on a $2 billion annual budget. Their decisions also will impact all of us in such areas as health care, public safety, bridge closures and on and on.

Have you voted? If so, you're in the distinct minority.

Most people, whether they returned their ballots or not, have lost interest. They're tired of the negative ads. They're tired of hearing how inept or perhaps that should be inert the current City Council has been.

Perhaps they would care, if only somebody would step forward and show some real, honest-to-goodness charisma and intestinal fortitude.

It's been far too sporadic, which means the outcome of this election could mean four more years (at least) of the same old malaise. Look up that word, and you'll find what might be the perfect description for what's going on in city government and, as a result, among its constituents.

Malaise: (n.) A general feeling of illness or sickness without any specific diagnostic significance; a feeling of worry, discontent or dissatisfaction, often resulting in lethargy.

Where does that leave us, in the final days before the election comes to a merciful close? With a growing list of questions and few answers. The best strategy now appears to be serving up some of those questions, giving the mayor and our new Council a starting point for April and beyond.

Why did the city bother with a mail election? It'll improve turnout, we were told. Yeah, right.

Why didn't one of the stronger at-large candidates run against Mayor Lionel Rivera? Forget about philosophies. How much more fun would this campaign have been with, say, Tom Gallagher, Bob Null or Tom Harold going after Rivera instead?

Then again, how about this: Instead of a separate race for mayor, why not have the at-large candidate with the most votes automatically become mayor for the next four years? Anyone holding a district seat would have the option of running in the citywide at-large race and having a shot at mayor. And that would remove the possibility of a farce such as this mayoral race, featuring Lionel and the three cabooses.

Why are some candidates, as we're hearing but can't confirm, possibly dragging their feet in reporting campaign expenditures for money spent long ago? Are they trying to wait until the final reports, after the election, thinking we won't notice? (That would be a regrettable mistake.)

How about requiring candidates to file finance reports every week, or even twice a week, in future elections?

If incumbent Randy Purvis is re-elected, wouldn't it be helpful if he would assert himself more often in Council meetings with the forceful, outspoken personality he displayed in candidate forums?

Sometime soon, would it be possible for Council to redefine every aspect of its day-to-day working relationship with the city manager, so the people (and media) will know once and for all who is in charge and who has to be accountable?

What would be wrong with City Council ordering a complete, unbiased assessment from city staff or, if necessary, an outside entity of the best water options aside from the Southern Delivery System, so everything wouldn't depend on making a deal with Pueblo?

Since the answer to that is obviously "nothing," why shouldn't Council go ahead and make that assessment happen as soon as possible?

Will the council please demand an expedited timetable from the city staff for finalizing a contract to rebuild the Cimarron bridge, with consequences for anyone responsible for further delays?

Given the circumstances, and the rising negative sentiments among many residents, why shouldn't Council plan to submit the Stormwater Enterprise to a public vote? Because it might lose?

Now that we know exactly what the word means, wouldn't it be nice to do something about the malaise?

And to the estimated 75 percent of eligible voters who could cast a ballot in this election but plan otherwise: If you don't vote, will you agree to absolutely no complaining for the next two years?

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