So I went to the last Public Strawberry Hill Master Plan meeting tonight. It was an open house, lots of pretty pictures around, very few people. I was honestly doing ok with the aerial photographs of trails and such, but when I got to the conceptual plan for the picnic area, my heart broke. Not one picnic pavilion for 100, but what appears to be three picnic pavilions, room for at least 250. And a paved road right up into the meadow for their shuttles, with a loopy turnaround.
I had taken some half page flyers with me, simple bullet points outlining where we are in the court case, along with info on the Parks Department's North Cheyenne Cañon Master Plan and its effects on South Cheyenne Cañon. I put them out on the tables, a little pile on each side of their comment boxes, and then proceeded to walk around and talk to folks. The flyers were purple, so they stood out against the white tabletops.
About five or ten minutes later, I noticed they were gone. I scanned the room and saw a woman (one of several standing at the entry table) holding them behind her back. Some of them had been torn in half, and some of them were folded over in her hands.
I approached her and said, "Can I have my papers back please?" At this point, I really didn't think anything of it, and fully expected her to just hand them over. As I reached out my hands for the papers, she pulled away and said that I would have to ask Jack about it. That's Jack Damioli, President and CEO of the Broadmoor. You can't miss him in the room: he's the tall one with the cashmere pullover sweater and loafers. So I walked over to him and asked, "Could I get my papers back please?" Slowly, he stuck his hands into his front pockets, pulled the insides out, looked down at me, and said,"I don't have your papers."
And yeah, it really was in that tone you just imagined: full of power and sarcasm, and it was condescending and patronizing as heck.
Miraculously, somehow, I was still calm at that point, and replied:
"I know you don't have my papers, she has my papers." (gesturing to the woman across the room).
Jack: "Then why are you talking to me?"
Me: "Because she told me that I had to come and ask you."
Jack: "Well, I don't know where your papers are."
Me: "She has them, I told you that already, and I would like them back."
Again, I point out the woman who had them, but she doesn't have them in her hands anymore, which gives him even more license to repeat the line that he doesn't know where they are. This went on for several more crazy-making rounds of me asking/demanding and him lying/deflecting.
Then finally Jack said I couldn't get them back, because it was their meeting. I even told him I would put them in my purse and take them home, if they would just gave them back. He still refused.
I'm not sure where it went from there... me wandering around the room, visibly shaken now, close to tears, a Colorado Springs police officer standing by the door on duty for them (?!), watching me.
I decided to approach the woman one more time and ask her if I could have my papers. She just shrugged and gave me a look that said it was out of her control. I saw a glimmer of pity in her eyes, and I know that if it were just her and me, she might have given them back. She did see me getting one of the chocolate chip cookies from the tray at the end of the meeting, and she told me to take as many as I wanted; I kinda think it was her way of saying she was sorry. I also know if it were just Chris Lieber (used to work for Parks, now works for NES) and me, he might have helped. We had had a good conversation earlier in the meeting -- spirited yet respectful. But their hands are tied, I get it.
I suppose it was at that point that I became the crying crazy woman in the room.
"Just give me back my papers. It's not that hard. They're mine. My paper, my ink. I want them back."
I sat down at a table and just decided to wait. I waited until they were packed up and getting ready to leave, which happened to be about 45 minutes before the meeting was actually scheduled to end, because there was no one there. I waited until Jack Damioli had left. I waited until I thought it was safe to ask one more time. But by then I knew it was hopeless. I simply said to the half dozen or so workers, "I guess I'm not getting my papers back, am I?" Without looking me in the eyes and without really saying anything, I had my answer.
I'm still shook. Not because they took my papers, destroyed them, and infringed upon my First Amendment right, but because one powerful man reduced that whole room to subservience, and me to tears.
The Broadmoor is a bully. Go to brunch with your friends, spend the night with your spouse, ride the cog railway (oh, wait, you can't!) if you want, but please know this: if you do, your money helps pay that man to humiliate me.