Fair and foul: The thing I love about Westword is reading about the city I love being talked about in a manner that is not always objective, but inspires passion because the words themselves are written with passion. Being the son of a political family and being politically (read: and sometimes stupid) minded myself, I read Patricia Calhoun's articles each week to see what is happening in our fair city.
Stuart Steers's February 13 "Blockheads" featured an argument between two city councilmembers, one of whom happened to be my mom, arguing whether the city's allegiance was to the constituents or to developers, and in Calhoun's February 20 "The Smile High City," I read about the mess the mayor's office has left for its successor. I find these two items to be linked, and I can only hope that someone with the ability my mother has to see the "big picture" that Ms. Calhoun talks about is elected to office. Whether it is dealing with developers or with city employees entrenched in their jobs and not their work, Denver has problems. The new mayor will not only inherit a budget crisis and a workforce that has seen cronyism become a way of life, but also a city council made up of almost entirely inexperienced civil servants. Indeed, the new mayor will need to smile, because as far as we have come in the last twenty years, we are still far from being the shining city on the hill, and sadly, we leave a difficult job to those who have no idea what they are in for.
Saint elsewhere: Back in the '90s, when the economy was on fire, mayor Wellington Webb was only a step away from sainthood. I think I am about the only person who believes that it was the economy that was the real hero, not any great work on the part of Webb. He sure had a lot of people fooled. Back then, Webb was in the headlines every day getting credit for yet another big project. Meanwhile, a lot of things went unchecked.
The police department was, and is, out of control. Traffic enforcement was, and still is, a joke. Rampant red-light running was a problem back then just as it is today, with almost no enforcement. When they actually target an intersection, it makes news. The questionable police shootings. Even the little stuff like idiots riding bikes on city sidewalks. They can't even enforce that. The list goes on and on.
Now that the economy has gone into meltdown, you hardly ever hear about Webb. A dog could have been mayor during Webb's tenure with the same results. Denver needs an energized, fresh, new-thinking, new-style mayor. Unfortunately, I'll bet we get another old-school clunker with tired ideas.
Group therapy: I was sad to see that Robin Chotzinoff's 25th anniversary series has ended. It was a delight to read her work every week, and the February 20 "Social Security" was particularly poignant.
Yes, we do have to "live in a group from now on" -- and Chotzinoff's pieces helped bring us all a little closer together.
via the Internet
In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream: Regarding Julie Dunn's "Can You PayPal a Dime?" in the February 20 issue:
Well, I don't have credit-card debt because I handle my cards responsibly and pay them off each month. But golly gee, could you toss me a few bucks to help pay off my mortgage so I can live comfortably "in the black?" My 22-year-old could sure use your donations toward the $15,000 ACL surgery he's facing soon. And while you're at it, he needs donations to pay off his last semester in college before he can register for another semester, and he needs auto insurance. He has a good job, but it isn't enough to ease his financial burden. My 26-year-old has been unable to land a decent job since he left the Navy almost two years ago. He could sure use your donations to help him get through school and pay his arrears in child support. Oh, yeah, and since he often goes a couple of days or so without eating because he barely makes enough for rent and gas, could you also throw in a few bucks for food?
Seriously, people like Michael Palmer, Kristi Laurita and Karyn Bosnak thoroughly disgust me. Sorry, having to give up Starbucks lattes and weekly manicures doesn't merit my sympathy. Society has certainly reached a new low if these cyberbegging leeches are able to persuade saps to help pay off their student loans and credit cards, especially since these individuals obviously don't need financial assistance in order to survive!
If you feel the urge to contribute toward the welfare of strangers, try handing a few bucks to the homeless persons standing at street corners all over the metro area.
via the Internet
The brat pack: P.T. Barnum was right: There really are suckers born every minute. Permit me to dust off the toes of my size 10Ds so that I might make proper use of them to plant well-placed kicks on the butts of Mike Palmer and Kristi Laurita.
Excuse me, but when I went to school after serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, I had to pay my loans back with my money. I didn't panhandle, beg or cry about any stupidity for not being able to manage my personal debts, and if we'd had the Internet (actually, we did, but it was a nicer place then), I damn sure wouldn't have used it to scam other idiots out of their money.
Well, considering those who actually sent money to these spoiled brats, I guess they bought what they deserved. Yup, P.T. was right.
Bummer camp: Regarding Kenny Be's February 20 Worst-Case Scenario on fantasy camps:
I guess that Coloradans should be glad that at least one person is having fun during these days of budget cuts, attacks on health care for the poor, no job creation, plots to raid the voter-approved education fund and drought. That this person happens to be our governor, however, makes me question his commitment to pulling our state out of the economic mess that it's in.
While Governor Owens is seen grinning for the cameras at the Colorado Rockies "Fantasy Camp," many Coloradans are living in the "reality world" -- losing their jobs, watching retirement plans shrink, going without health care and prescription drugs, and wondering if local public schools will stay open and effective. Apparently our governor feels that his sizable election victory entitles him to duck out and catch a few fly balls as the rest of us try to avoid the economic curveballs being thrown at us.
Our governor may be moderately popular with the relatively small number of Coloradans who actually vote, but he isn't doing his job to jump-start the state's economy. Dishing out tax cuts when the economy is booming may be an easy political "win," but it sure doesn't mean that Colorado can pay its bills and provide basic state services when the well runs dry.
Maybe it's time for Owens to come back from Switzerland and Arizona and spend some time listening to people in the less exotic locales of Colorado Springs, Denver and Pueblo, who have lost their jobs or who may soon be laid off. Let's stop the sunny fantasy camps and deal with the cloudy reality for many Coloradans. The Rockies will just have to wait.
Teachers' fret: Let's put it in a story problem. George is supposed to turn out sixty sprockets an hour on his job, but because the union says that's too hard, he refuses to do any more than six, five of which are defective. Should George get a) kicked out the door on his lazy, incompetent ass; b) sued for wasting his employer's time and training money; or c) get a big, fat bonus?
You don't have to be a gradyouate of Metro State's teacher-education program to know how any public educator would answer. Just read Julie Jargon's "Making the Grade," in the February 13 issue. Say, instead of all the pissing and moaning, maybe principal (remember -- he's your "pal!") David Hazen and teachers Jan Houston and Ayal Korczak and other heroes of the white boards could view the pat on the back the governor gave them as reward enough for almost doing the jobs they're paid to do in a way that -- this year, anyhow -- doesn't completely suck.
So a couple of public schools this year scored a healthy "partially submerged turd" rating instead of their more typical "last hiccup of the septic pump" on the CSAPs! Hoo boy! Starta the bubble machine! And, oh, yeah, let's give these croupiers of public education some of those giant checks all the other big casinos hand out! You gotta wonder at the thinking: "For decades, I've helped churn out kids who can't read this letter (or punctuate it as badly as I do), can't do math, don't know who's buried in Grant's Tomb, and upon gradyouateng can't find the USA on a map of North America with both hands and a flashlight, so...show me the money!"
"Educators" are forever screeching "Walk a mile in my shoes!" Well, here's an idea: Why don't a few of you twits take a sabbatical (paid, natch) and see which way your particularly fragrant work ethic will turn in that big 'loo we like to call "the real world"? Out here, you don't garner huzzahs and hallelujahs, and you certainly don't rake in fat bonuses simply for doing your job at the barest minimum level you can get away with. True enough, in both the real world and the public schools, this sort of incompetence gets you noticed by those at the top. The difference is that the notice you get in the real world is called a "pink slip," whereas in the public schools it's called a "huge improvement."
So the governor nixed your blackmail -- er, that is to say, your "bonus" for doing your job? BFD. If you "professionals" in the public schools had been doing your jobs for the past forty years, your bosses (hint: that's not the NEA, dummies) wouldn't have to make a bunch of promises the state might not have the money to keep. I just hope we can't keep the same promise next year. And the one after that. And...
That is the question: In reference to Alan Prendergast's "Bruce Talk," in the January 30 issue, I feel compelled to let my thoughts be known.
I am so sick and tired of Douglas Bruce and, for that matter, John Andrews, in their constant push to shove constitutional amendments down our throats, no matter what the economic situation of the time is. In Colorado's current budgetary crisis, a time when more than $850 million is being cut, with another $800 million for the upcoming year to be cut next, it absolutely sickens me that TABOR will not be completely overhauled in the current legislative session. I am not opposed to the electorate voting on all tax increases. However, I can't stand the fact that there is no rainy-day fund, and I really am disgusted by the ratchet-down effect of the growth limitations on the budget. Whenever the "baseline" falls, any growth has to start again from that baseline, even if it was much lower due to economic problems of the time.
I am one of a group of people who are in the process of forming a new think-tank organization called "World Class Colorado," devoted to overhauling TABOR as well as trying to develop a regional tax-collection system, thereby reducing or eliminating the sales-tax wars that currently exist between cities.
A word to the wives: Regarding Jason Sheehan's February 20 "Remembrance of Things Pasta," I must ask why he addresses only men. How sexist of him to suggest that readers "bring the wife" for lunch. Does he assume all of his readers are men? Has he never been treated to a meal out by his wife or (former) girlfriend? Or do his "little ladies" wait demurely at home for his invitation only?
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But it doesn't stop there. In the same issue's Bite Me, he refers to the Cooking School of the Rockies as a place that will "turn a boy into a man" in just 24 weeks. Are women not allowed to attend this school, or is Jason (once again) proving himself to be a chauvinistic Neanderthal?
I've steered clear of the controversy over Jason until now, but I have to say that I'm not particularly enamored of his writing and reviewing style. It's not terrible; it's just not up to the high professional standards of your former food writer. She mostly wrote about food. He mostly writes about himself.
Now I see that he apparently doesn't care whether I (a woman) even reads his column. Do you, Jason?