Springs’ image makeover and other holiday wishes

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I’m writing this on the Sunday before Christmas and thinking about my wish list for this holiday season.

After all of the turmoil and tumult of the past few years, it’s sometimes hard to believe the Springs made No. 1 on Money magazine’s 2006 “Best Places to Live” rankings. It hasn’t made it back to the spot since then. What might help the city pull off a No. 1 ranking again?

Well, I’ve tried not to be greedy but, beyond a resurgent economy and peace on earth, here’s my wish list for the city in the year ahead:

A mayor with strong ideas. Now that we’ve decided we want to give the “strong mayor” concept a try, I hope that whoever wins will come into office with a host of practical ideas on how to improve life here. We don’t need political ideologues in the mayor’s office; we need someone who will keep the lights burning bright, potholes filled, parks clean and, more than anything, someone who can help begin to repair the image of Colorado Springs.

A convention and visitors bureau chief who works with the next mayoral administration to re-brand the city. Our reputation for too long has been defined by the extreme elements of this community. It’s one thing to be independent-minded. It’s an entirely different matter to be on the fringe, which, unfortunately, is how too many people in other parts of the country view the Springs. My hope is that Doug Price, the incoming CVB chief, will do all that he can to help create a new brand for the Springs, one defined by our natural assets, not liabilities.

A commitment to strengthening ties between the Springs and Denver. The tensions between Colorado’s two largest cities aren’t doing us any good. Let’s try to get over the fact that Denver is run by people who might be nothing like us politically and instead remember they happen to control a lot of levers important to our getting a fair shake.

A decision from the Army to establish an aviation combat unit in the Springs. Base realignments and closures will soon be back in the news, and so long as the economy remains shaky, we need to welcome the military and the jobs it helps create with arms wide open. Same goes for when the economy is off and running.

Improved cooperation and coordination between our political and business sectors. We need a united front or we’ll continue to lag behind. Last week, the city was conspicuously absent from the list of interests that have joined forces, hiring a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm to represent the region. That just makes no sense.

Something concrete from Operation 6035. This group has been at work for more than a year yet we haven’t heard or seen anything tangible yet. We’ve seen the implementation matrix, so what’s the problem?

A vote to end the city’s ownership of Memorial Health System, and, once that’s done, the establishment of an independent authority to oversee Colorado Springs Utilities. The council is the current overseer of CSU, which creates way too many potential conflicts of interest.

A City Council whose members are public-minded, not publicity-minded. I’m thinking of one or two council members in particular. I think we’re all sick and tired of politicians who dedicate themselves to churning out endless streams of press releases, go off half-cocked repeatedly, and bash rivals in attacks so disproportionate and so over the top, they raise serious questions about fitness to serve. I’ll accept a certain amount of self-applause, but I’m hoping for more adults and fewer egos on the council next year.

A decision by Douglas Bruce that we’re just not worth his time and trouble and that there are more deserving communities in, say, Samoa. And, to the Samoan people, my apologies.

OK, so that’s my list. Perhaps some of you share some of the same wishes, or perhaps you have some of your own you’d like to share. If so, send them along. We’d be happy to publish a few.

Otherwise, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a joyful New Year to all.

Allen Greenberg is the editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at allen.greenberg@csbj.com or 719-329-5206.