By Jerry Kopel
A change of pace. While bills will sneak back into these columns, they aren't the meal legislators want to digest. Thanks to term limits, there is no one in the legislature from the 70's and early 80's to put sauce on the ice cream.
Bob Ewegen, Tom Gavin, Gene Amole, Charlie Roos, Fred Brown, John Sanko, and Carl Hilliard had stories to tell. Of the seven, Ewegen and Gavin are able to make their columns into movies. You sit back, and watch, especially watch Ewegen.
Here is one where the central character was Mick Spano, a Neanderthal legislator whose saving grace was an unyielding love for his wife. Mrs. Spano contracted sleeping sickness. Mick Spano showed his true self in caring for her regardless of what had to be done. She did recover.
So here is a Mick Spano story by Ewegen. I play the irritant.
"When the people of Arvada wanted a voice in the legislature, they didn't settle for half-measures -- or even full ones. They sent the loudest voice in Colorado, Republican Rep. Mick Spano, to shake the leaf off the gold dome.
"Spano's oratorical style resembles a cross between the revival preacher and the Battle of Verdun, with enough gestures thrown in to crush a kung fu expert to a pulp.
"Spano is a throwback to the days before public address systems. Giving him access to the powerful amplifiers in the House chamber is like letting Jack Dempsy fight with brass knuckles for added punching power.
"As Spano thundered on some obscure point last week, Rep. Gerald Kopel, D-Denver, put his hands over his ears and begged Spano to reduce the volume.
"IF YOU CAN SHOW ME ANYTHING IN THE CONSTITUTION LIMITING THE DECIBEL LEVEL OF MY VOICE, I'LL QUIET DOWN" Spano roared.
"How about common courtesy?" Kopel replied.
"BUY EAR PLUGS, " Spano roared.
"But Friday he decided to give Kopel's way a try. Debating the severance-tax bill, he tried to substitute a net-income surcharge to the gross production levy sought by the Democrats.
"His usual backfiring mufflers became a muted baritone and the former karate-chop hands were stilled. The House was entranced by his new image.
"But no one knows if the change is permanent. His soft sell failed to pass his amendment any more than his former fulminations had. So no one knows whether next week they should bring their babies so Mick can lull them to sleep -- or play safe and bring earplugs."
What today's legislator needs is a walk through the past. It would cost practically nothing to have a loose leaf binder type book with six columnists (Amole gave while alive) donating 10 people columns each to the book.
Already written, the book of columns would just need the type reset, and of course, a donor who would not shock the six by being in play for an elective job.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)
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