Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What might have been

Reposted from April 4, 2011

Rest in Peace, Dr. Ted Eastburn

Council member has good friend in Senate leader

In 1987, a young administrator looking to start a heart transplant program at Vanderbilt University Medical School approached Ted Eastburn to be his partner. Over three years, the two built a nationally renowned transplant center.
Eastburn left Nashville, Tenn., in 1991 to become a partner at a Colorado Springs cardiology practice. He was elected to the City Council in 1999 and is planning to run for mayor next year.
But that young administrator - a man named Bill Frist - went on to achieve a slightly larger profile. Elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee in 1994, he was selected Monday to become majority leader, making him one of the most powerful Republicans in the country.
As with many senators from both sides of the aisle, Eastburn praised his longtime friend Monday as a man of supreme intelligence with the ability to get along with all people.
Eastburn said he is not surprised at the success achieved by the 50-year-old heart surgeon. Recalling his journeys to inner-city health clinics and his emotional bonds to former transplant recipients, Eastburn called Frist "the best man I've ever known."
"What Bill taught me is that physicians have an opportunity and, arguably, an obligation to serve society in a way other than how we offer clinical care," Eastburn said. "He is an inspiration."
The first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928, Frist is not your typical politician,Eastburn said. He doesn't play golf, drink or swear. Eastburn said he's never heard his former partner talk ill of anyone.
Frist uses his off-hours to volunteer at free health clinics - a move that has brought chastisement from the Secret Service when he goes without their knowledge, Eastburn said. And he has flown to Africa to perform surgery for Christian Sudanese rebels.
He has a special bond with those whom he has given a new heart or a new lung. Eastburn has a picture at home of he and Frist at a barbecue they threw for 20 transplant recipients a decade ago.
Frist is protective of his friends, too. When Eastburn told him he planned to marry his wife, Deb, in 1996, Frist insisted he take her to Washington, D.C., so he could meet her.
Meeting a fiance's good friend can be intimidating - especially when it takes place in the Senate dining chambers. But Deb said Frist made her feel at ease then and in several visits since.
"My impression of him was that I was meeting someone with more integrity than anyone except my father," Deb said Monday.
For the past nine months, Eastburn said, his contact with Frist has been via e-mail. Eastburn last saw his friend at Frist's 50th birthday party in March.
Eastburn was on the phone with mutual friends Monday, including Penrose Hospital chief of surgery James Stewart, discussing their old crony. And Eastburn hopes to see Frist again this winter and maybe glean a bit more of his knowledge and enthusiasm.
"He's literally the only person I know who I couldn't keep up with," Eastburn said. "He needed less sleep than I did, and he was brighter.

"But," Eastburn added with a smile, "I've got more kids. I've got five. He's got three."


Eastburn's platform built of unique planks/ Councilman enters mayor's race lugging a far-reaching agenda

Unveiling an agenda Monday that reaches far beyond the normal scope of mayoral duties, TedEastburn became the fourth - and likely last - member of the Colorado Springs City Council to announce he will run for mayor.
Eastburn, a cardiologist who has served on the council since 1999, told about 130 people at Garden of the Gods Visitor Center he should get the city's top job because of his "informed, proactive and compassionate leadership."
In laying out his platform, the 48-year-old hit on much-discussed issues, saying growth must pay its way and the city must develop a better water conservation plan.
He also mentioned several topics that have been rarely, if ever, discussed on the dais.
He said as mayor he would bring together prescription-drug providers to craft a plan to make medication more affordable to senior citizens. He vowed to work with regional and state Medicare administrators to attract more doctors to a town short on health care providers.
Eastburn also floated ideas about how to boost the economy. The main one: to develop a plan, along with other local officials, to build a multisport training and fitness complex that would make Colorado Springs the fitness capital of the country.
"We're all going to be concerned about water and growth, management and jobs," Eastburn said after his speech. "My intent is to make it clear I'm reaching further and broader than what's been done."
Eastburn joins fellow council members Sallie Clark, Jim Null and Lionel Rivera in the race for the mayor's job, which Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace must vacate under term limits.
Government critics Tony Carpenter and Kendell Kretzschmar also are running.
Eastburn has been known as somewhat of a maverick on the council, pushing ideas such as the hiring of an automatic external defibrillator coordinator.
Monday, he proved no less original.
Eastburn said if elected he will look to raise awareness of domestic violence as a way to curb such crimes.
He said he wants to bring together social, financial and spiritual organizations to meet the needs of families whose members are deployed to war.
The city's role in each of those proposals would be as facilitator, mainly providing meeting areas and staff time rather than funding to get them to work, he said. But the efforts would address problems in the community that are not being discussed.
As Eastburn sold himself as a man of stand-out ideas in what is expected to be a very close race, his supporters pushed him as someone who deserves the job because of his love of the city and its people.
Campaign manager Bill Mantia praised Eastburn's passion and commitment to supporting his mother, who raised him alone while stricken by polio.
Eastburn's wife, Deborah Mahan, said his integrity and honesty are without equal.
"Ted Eastburn is the truest human being I have ever known," she said. "You will never get anything but the truth from him."
Saturday's crowd included a smattering of Eastburn's patients and fellow doctors and an array of business leaders from across the community.
- CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0184 or
AGE: 48
OCCUPATION: Doctor, partner with Pikes Peak Cardiology
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: At-large city councilman, 1999-present
COMMUNITY SERVICE: El Paso County Medical Society Indigent Care Committee; Commission on Homelessness in Southern Colorado; Sheriff John Anderson's Jail Review Committee
FAMILY: Wife, Deborah Mahan; five children
LIVED IN COLORADO SPRINGS: 12 years, plus two years during military service

Struggles made leader of Eastburn/ Mayoral candidate says he knows what's needed to take city forward

A sense of compassion and self-reliance haven't come easy for Ted Eastburn, a cardiologist and one-term Colorado Springs councilman running for mayor.
His early years were laced with hardship as his father abandoned him after polio put his mother in an iron lung.
Eighteen years later, she died of heart disease at age 42 on a hot day in August, setting her only son on a "faith journey" he's still navigating.
Now the twice-married father of five, cyclist, Episcopalian and former Army doctor hopes the journey leads him to the city's highest office, where his sense of self-determination and duty will be put to use.
"I have used the four years on council not unlike medical school, learning everything I can," he said. "The same way I was equipped after going through medical school, I am equipped to be mayor. I have the mental acumen, character and stomach for it."
Born in Mississippi, Eastburn moved to Fort Worth as an infant. Months later, his father left. After spending a year in the hospital, his mom worked at a credit union before bringing her only child to live with her.
They moved in with Eastburn's grandfather, wheelchair-bound because of a World War II injury, and a grandmother who had brain cancer.
"I was raised by this woman who was single, disabled and worked every day of her life," saidEastburn, 49.
In August 1973, Eastburn camped in a Memphis hospital's waiting room for days to visit his mom for 10 minutes every two hours, as was the hospital rule.
He wasn't with her at 2 a.m. when she died. He wasn't allowed. The loss still brings tears to his eyes.
That experience led him to allow his patients' families complete access unless a procedure is under way, he said.
That fall, Eastburn returned to Rhodes College and in 1976 earned a degree in chemistry, working campus jobs to make ends meet.
After graduating from Vanderbilt Medical School in 1980, he joined the Army, spending three years in Hawaii before transferring to Fort Carson. He returned to Vanderbilt for cardiology training and to serve as medical director of the university's heart transplant program.
In 1991, Eastburn moved his wife, Kathryn, and four kids to Colorado Springs and joined a cardiology group practice.
Since then, he's been divorced, remarried, has a 2-yearold son and shares custody of his other four children.
Eastburn might be considered an unlikely politician. He once had a ponytail and was rarely seen without his Birkenstocks. He often pedals from his north-end home to City Hall, weather permitting.
His priorities were clear when he didn't show up for his swearing- in ceremony as a councilman in 1999. He made an annual trip with his family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, instead.
The trip gave rise to ribbing and the label "Tahiti Ted," a name he laughs at.
That won't happen again. He's postponed this year's trip in case he takes the mayor's oath and jokes, "I've never been to Tahiti, for the record."
After being elected to an at-large council seat in 1999, Eastburn scaled back his practice. But not enough, some detractors say. Eastburn often leaves meetings or arrives late while tending to his practice.
Some observers wonder if he'd have time to fulfill a demanding mayoral schedule, including frequent ceremonial appearances.
Councilwoman Margaret Radford, who supports Sallie Clark for mayor, called Eastburn's ideas "creative" but not always practical.
At times, his ideas are tangential or not germaine, she said, although she didn't cite an example.
Eastburn, who's a regular reader of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic magazine and Scientific American, has "extraordinary intellectual firepower," Dan Njegomir said.
Njegomir, former editorial writer for The Gazette who's now a Denver think tank senior fellow, saidEastburn examines issues thoroughly and isn't afraid of being the odd man out.
Still, some say the only achievement he can claim in his council term is a program to install defibrillation equipment in high- traffic areas, such as shopping malls, to improve residents' chances of surviving heart attacks.
Eastburn says the mayor's agenda is set: water acquisition, transport and storage, transportation improvements and helping the economy.
He dismisses a dispute between Colorado Springs and Pueblo over Pueblo Reservoir as short-term, saying the muchneeded pipeline to the Springs will get built.
But the issue could have been handled better, he said.
"The number one problem is the mayor . . . should have been knocking on the door and having lunch with the president of the (Pueblo) City Council or whoever the lead agent is," he said.
Eastburn said he favors water restrictions as a shortterm strategy.
The long-term answer is pricing water so consumers cut usage.
To deal with growth, he supports the city's comprehensive plan, which calls for pedestrian-friendly, mixed uses that reduce the need for people to drive across town. He wants developers to be forced to pay their share for roads.
The economy is boosted, he said, if the city makes sure the infrastructure - roads mostly - is adequate to support business.
Eastburn would rather focus on long-term goals.
"It's a transition time," he said. "It's important the city has a leader that's identifiable, present and willing to define issues and set direction.
"One hundred years from now," he said, "they'll thank us or curse us for water . . . transportation corridors and open space."
Eastburn has friends in high places - he worked in Tennessee with Bill Frist, the U.S. Senate majority leader, and El Pomar chief Bill Hybl supports him.
Eastburn's raised more than $85,000 for his mayoral bid.
Will that help him at the ballot box?
Some say he angered neighborhood activists in 2000 when he voted for building a homeless center in the Mill Street area.
The controversial plan died after the El Pomar Foundation pulled its funding.
He said his family, with whom he tries to sit down to dinner every evening, supports his political life, and son Aaron, 16, called his dad "a nice guy."
Eastburn said he's not worried about balancing family, medicine and politics.
"My ability to focus on the situation at hand instills confidence," he said. "I don't anguish. I put a lot of time and effort in, but to be honest, I try to do it anxious free - leadership without biting your nails and losing sleep over it."
"It's a transition time. It's important the city has a leader that's identifiable, present and willing to define issues and set direction.

Sizing up financial status of local campaigns/ Some pursue contributions; others refuse any money [Corrected 03/15/03]

Physician and City Council member Ted Eastburn has collected the most money in the Colorado Springs mayoral race.
Eastburn's campaign last week reported $61,550 in contributions, according to documents filed at the City Clerk's Office.
That's twice the amount raised by the nearest competitor, Vice Mayor Lionel Rivera, who reported $30,970 in contributions. Councilman Jim Null reported $23,285 in contributions and Councilwoman Sallie Clark had raised $23,285.
Candidates Ken Kretzschmar, MarieAnn Carter and Tony Carpenter are not taking contributions.
The election is April 1. Mail-in ballots will be sent to registered voters starting March 7.
Eastburn said he plans to reach six figures to pay for campaign expenses, including television commercials.
Many of the contributions to Eastburn came from fellow doctors he called to ask for money, he said.
"It's the least fun part of the campaign," Eastburn said.
Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace set a record in 1999 when she spent $118,277 on her campaign.
Other candidates this year are taking a different approach. Lauren Arnest, who is running to represent District 3 on the council, is refusing donations from corporations. She also won't take more than $50 from individuals.
"I doubt that any corporation would want to give me money anyway, but it's just to make the statement," Arnest said. "It's a sort of get-big-money-out-of-government idea."
At-large candidate John Albertson isn't taking any money for his campaign. He said he'll spend only his own money to copy informational handouts for his appearances at candidate forums.
Albertson said voters in Colorado Springs are more likely to respond to a one-on-one conversation with a candidate than other high- dollar campaign strategies.
"I don't change my mind when I'm voting based on a billboard," he said.


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