OUR VIEW: Ugly, deceptive ad kicks off race (mayoral poll)

By: Wayne Laugesen
April 20, 2011
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The city’s first executive-mayor TV ad hit the airwaves this week and was shockingly negative and deceptive.

Richard Skorman, generally considered the liberal candidate in a nonpartisan race, bought an ad characterizing conservative contender Steve Bach as an evil developer. The word “evil” isn’t used, but it is conveyed with the sound of sinister music that plays as a tattered Bach sign appears in the middle of a barren field littered with toilet paper.

As the Bach sign appears, a female voice warns us: “If we give developers the keys to City Hall, we’ll get more sprawl, more traffic and neglected neighborhoods.”

As viewers hear a list of developer-planned horribles, the video transitions to one of our city’s infamous old mountain mining scars. The next scene shows endless rooftops of sprawl. Next is too-much traffic on I-25. Then comes the visual of a broken handset hanging from an old pay phone, to illustrate the neglected neighborhoods the evil-developer will foist upon us if chosen by voters.

Toward the end, the video transitions to the boarded-up, 11-story Renaissance Hotel. Huh?

Voice: “Elect a small businessman, not a developer.”

The facts: Skorman can thank a developer for the property he calls home. He runs his extraordinary small retail businesses in property crafted by a developer.

Developers are great creators of jobs and prosperity, and we need them. But it is a giant stretch to call Bach a developer. In a construction and brokering career that spans more than 40 years, Bach spent four years working for two companies that do some development alongside other endeavors. Bach has never been a miner, and therefore could not possibly have scarred the mountain. Bach did not build I-25 and has never produced heavy traffic. Bach did not cause neighborhoods to deteriorate, and he probably didn’t break a pay phone. Bach had absolutely nothing to do with the Renaissance Hotel, which was initiated just before the economic downturn by 91-year-old John Q. Hammons of Springfield, Mo. It is boarded up and unfinished mostly because Hammons wound up in a nursing home.

If ads like this are acceptable, we should expect similar fare from the Bach campaign. Sinister music could introduce Skorman as a city politician who caused all that has gone wrong. Visuals could blame him for dead grass in medians. A crying Indian could stand near debris in a park, where a garbage can once stood. The ad could show dark streets, blaming city politicians — people like former councilman Skorman — who punished voters for rejecting a tax increase. A giant talking pothole could warn voters about selfish city politicians who value generous city-employee entitlements more than the taxpayers who fund them.

(Vote in poll to the right in red type. Must vote to see results. Thanks.)

This can be the tone of our first executive mayor campaign. Each candidate can bash the other with ignorant and inaccurate charges and insinuations. They can waste time at another debate, bickering once more about who will bless PrideFest with a nonbinding proclamation.

Or, we can have a campaign in which voters are given substantive reasons to choose the candidate most likely to help us bring jobs and prosperity to Colorado Springs. That is all we should vote on. Misleading ads that stray from critical economic themes should raise concerns about the candidates who sponsor them. Focus on substance, and stick to the truth. (See the Skorman ad)

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