Let us consider the delicious absurdity of the ongoing saga of … Tejon Street striping! In case you’ve missed it, let me bring you up to date. El Paso County, for reasons best known only to our august county commissioners, ripped down an unprepossessing office building on South Tejon and erected a parking garage on the site. Upon completion, the city re-striped the formerly four-lane street to two-lanes, and added bicycle lanes.
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“The kudos keep on coming!” Such was the subscript of a giddy, triumphal e-mail from Dave White at the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., giving your columnist (and hundreds of other recipients) the good news — Forbes magazine had just ranked Colorado fifth in business climate. Coming on the heels of Money magazine’s No. 1 ranking of our fair city, that’s great news for the EDC folks.
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All through the 1990s, the Colorado Springs economy boomed, as did Denver’s, as did the nation’s. But, like a man starving in the midst of plenty, city government couldn’t benefit from the boom — the Bruce amendments simply deprived it of the resources needed to cope with growth. Urgently needed reconstructive work was postponed, and decaying infrastructure was patched, rather than replaced.
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“I’ll tell you, Rivera’s the big loser here … Tomorrow morning, the sharks are gonna be circling — (Jerry) Heimlicher, (Larry) Small, (Scott) Hente; any one of ’em could beat him next April. He shoulda stayed out of the race.” -Seasoned Political Observer
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Wandering through downtown the other day, I was struck by the strange disconnect between what our businessmen, politicians and downtown promoters say as opposed to what they actually do. What they say: we want a vibrant, vital, robust (see how well I’ve absorbed their buzzwords) downtown, with a stimulating mix of retail, restaurants and bars, residences, offices, art galleries, theaters, restored historic buildings … a festive mix of everything that anyone might want. And what do we have?
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Want to buy a business jet? How about a six-seater that can fly above the weather at 41,000 feet, cruise at 370 knots (430 mph), and is equipped with hyper-sophisticated avionics? It costs about half as much as its competitors ($1.4 million vs. $3 million) and, thanks to its easy-fly design, can be flown by a single pilot. Less than 30 feet long, it weighs about half as much as a Chevy Suburban — thanks to composite construction. And because of that light weight, it’s substantially cheaper to operate than its competitors ($370 per hour vs. $680). It’s also quieter and produces fewer emissions.
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On Monday, the National Federation of Independent Business sponsored a congressional candidate forum at the Broadmoor Golf Club. Six of the seven candidates seeking to represent Congressional District 5 were present. Republican John Anderson was the only absentee, having been called away to Washington on business.
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At lunch a few weeks ago at Phantom Canyon, one of our city’s leading economic development honchos, we’ll call him Mr. H., was asked why the local business community doesn’t seem to have any clout with the El Paso County legislative delegation. Other than the delegation’s lone Democrat, the group opposed last year’s statewide Referendum C initiative, which business fervently supported. Moreover, our GOP legislators are supporting other business-unfriendly initiatives that we may see on the November ballot.
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