As this issue hits the racks, December has officially arrived. Seems like only a few months ago that we were dealing with the city election and who would become Colorado Springs' next mayor. Now we're talking about the 2012 election year and its endless story lines.
Reaching the final month of 2011 also means that we can begin reflecting on this year. It's too early to rank the year's biggest stories, but we can start talking about how we'll look back on 2011.
In following the region, I've watched with growing alarm as many influential area newsmakers have left the scene (see one of them, Sarah Bryarly from city parks, here). Some departures weren't shocking, but when you remove all these people from the mix, it becomes fairly obvious that we've lost a lot of savvy, vision and historical perspective.
With that, let's check out the unofficial list of those who have left the local stage in 2011:
• Richard Myers: Some never gave the police chief a chance because of his mustache, and they were serious. His ideas and innovative programs would've made him a hero if not for budget cutbacks. He can't talk about his "retirement," but we all know he didn't leave of his own accord, and that's too bad.
• Terri Velasquez: For years she was the city's chief financial officer, always pleasant and prepared in dealing with media. Did she deserve to be fired? That's still to be decided.
• Lionel Rivera: He won't be revered as the Springs' best mayor. In fact, the jury's still out on how Rivera will be remembered.
• Tom Gallagher: Too bad that his eight years on Council ended with the arrival of the strong-mayor government, because his verbal sparring with city staff would have taken on a new dimension.
• Randy Purvis: So many times on Council, Purvis served as historian, instantly recalling how issues came down years before. And his being an attorney was valuable. We've heard he might run for another office, but it hasn't happened. Yet.
• Pat Kelly: People on the inside always said Kelly worked incredibly long hours as city attorney. But was it enough? She left without a public word.
• Kathryn Young: Everyone knew she wouldn't last long as city clerk in the new regime, and she didn't. Her instincts in supervising city elections were flawed, to say the least. But she still hasn't been replaced, four months later.
• Larry Small: For so many years, he was City Council's conscience, stepping in to help the group find its way and also adding historical detail as Purvis did. Nobody else has filled that role since he left in April.
• Jim Bensberg: After his time ran out as county commissioner, Bensberg seemed destined for the Legislature. But he wanted no part of party infighting, so he backed away. Gotta admire him for that.
• Richard Skorman: Could've been mayor, but when the runoff turned partisan, he couldn't shake being the moderate non-conservative. He also probably regrets some of his own campaign strategy, and a stuffy TV ad.
• Adm. James Winnefeld: Perhaps the most "open" NORAD commander. It's too bad he couldn't have stayed longer.
• Maj. Gen. David Perkins: We've had a good run of Fort Carson commanders, and Perkins fared well despite following arguably the best, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham.
• Sue Skiffington-Blumberg: In her years as head of communications for the city, she was always responsive, fair and cooperative.
• Mike Kazmierski: As head of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., Kazmierski had a good grasp on how to change with the times. But he never was trying to win a popularity contest, so now he's off to Reno. Maybe someday he'll be fully appreciated.
• Steve Pope: Gone and quickly forgotten, the former Gazette publisher left before the posse arrived. Charity involvement was his strongest suit, much more than coming up with new ideas (see: Fresh•Ink).
• Dan McKiernan: The dean of area high school coaches walked away after 48 years, when told he'd have to apply to stay as Doherty's basketball coach. He should get another shot, as the youngest 70-year-old you'll ever meet.
• Dick Celeste: When he left as president of Colorado College, Celeste sounded as though he would remain visible on the local scene. That hasn't happened, but hopefully he'll reappear soon.