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Opinion Columns

Opinion: What’s in a name? An open letter to Gov.-elect Polis

Dear Gov.-elect Polis:

Congratulations on your election. Now that your election is over and transition is up and running, I know you are busy addressing vital issues like health care, the economy and transportation, but please take just a moment out of your busy schedule to address some non-substantive, purely annoying title issues.

The message from Colorado voters was that they want you to get things done, and here are some easy ways that you can hit the ground running.

Tom Downey

Why in the world is the University of Colorado called CU instead of UC? It is an institution of higher education, and it can’t spell its own acronym? Is it related to CU’s party school glory days? Was it known as “Ski-U” and finally shortened it to CU? Why isn’t this the next big campus scandal? Please call the regents and get it straightened out.  

You can’t fix healthcare in Colorado with one phone call, but you can fix our image among the higher education circles across the country. When they are done, you can move on to DU … the University of Denver.

Something you can do immediately by fiat is to make all traffic signs grammatically correct. How can we brag about how educated Coloradans are when the government tells us to “Drive Slow?” How are our kids supposed to learn adverbs and adjectives? It’s, “Drive Slowly.”

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

You ran and won on a wonderful message of competent, cooperative government. Here is an opportunity to have your education team work with your transportation team to quickly save a new generation of grammatical illiterates. Then, they can help me with my split-infinitive issue.

While you are at it, please connect with Mayor Hancock and the Denver City Council about the antiquated term “City & County Building.” Only lawyers have to worry about the county/city distinction these days. So, you can actually do something about it.

“You can’t fight the City and County Building” just doesn’t sound right. Why not save us all a whole lot of time and hassle by just renaming the place “City Hall?” Everyone knows what it means, and we can all save a bunch of ink.

If you are ready to branch out beyond the government-controlled arena and into the bully pulpit, try taking on Starbucks. Grande (or grand) means “large” in all Italian-, Spanish-, French- and English-speaking countries.

Even in Portugal, “grande” means “large,” … unless you are at the Lisbon Starbucks, where it’s a medium drink. Besides, Venti is a number, not a size. These baristas aren’t alone.

Regular fast food restaurants don’t have mediums anymore. They have small, large and super. A guy could get a complex. A small coffee is much larger than a “short” coffee, and more expensive. This consumer protection issue could be one of the first addressed by the Polis administration.

While you’re at it, can you find out what a Machiatta is?

If you don’t think these titling issues are important, please remember the fracas around naming Invesco Field at Mile High.

It may take you years to improve our economy, education system and transportation. With these naming issues, however, you can have an immediate, positive impact for Colorado, and start your administration on the right course.

Tom Downey is a Denver lawyer whose three daughters need grammatical help. @tomdowneyCO