Councilwoman Helen Collins, who represents the most blighted portion of Colorado Springs, doesn't want her constituents to benefit from the taxes they pay. She said so at Tuesday's City Council meeting, claiming to defend the Constitution.
The federal government takes tax money from wage earners and small-business owners in the councilwoman's district. Like other taxpayers, they should get some of their money back in the form of services and grants. Getting a fair allocation requires strong representation in city government, which applies for and manages block grants and other forms of federal community aid. That's how it works, whether we like it or not. It is in any politician's interest to play by the rules of a tax-and-distribute economy unless and until the system can be changed.
Collins, more than anyone, should fight for people in District 4. She should work to ensure a hefty chunk of federal money spent in the Springs - particularly funds to correct urban blight and crime - goes to District 4. This is a fundamental tenet of jurisdictional representation.
Henry Allen Jr., a fiscally conservative Republican and president of the local NAACP chapter, said southeast neighborhoods need support to help with high crime and urban decay.
"If you don't put something in it, you're going to pay for devastation later on. The southeast corridor is boarded up. There's distress there, and people don't feel like they're part of this community," Allen said.
But Collins would prefer the tax dollars paid by southeast residents get spent somewhere else. Spend it in Chicago, Denver, New York or L.A. Just don't spent it to help her people.
The councilwoman made clear her disinterest in tax dividends during discussion of three plans for the city to obtain and direct federal funds for affordable housing, law enforcement, emergency management and other community needs.
"I'm going to vote against this because I took an oath to uphold the Constitution," Collins said. "This whole country is $18 trillion in debt, and all we do is ask for more money. I would ask the public to make it on their own."
Collins apparently thinks she upholds the Constitution by advocating taxation without representation. She can't possibly believe rejection of potential aid for her district will reduce the federal debt. The money will just go elsewhere.
One can honorably challenge the constitutionality of the federal income tax. Those who consider it theft should advocate a return of stolen capital to victims of the crime - including taxpayers of District 4.
Collins isn't known for responsible decisions. She refused to pay water bills at two rundown apartment buildings she owns in Kansas City, Mo. Her fiscal negligence led city officials to condemn the buildings and render tenants homeless two days after Easter. If Collins doesn't minimally maintain her investment properties, we should not expect her to improve conditions throughout District 4. Until southeast neighborhoods have more effective representation, the area will continue to decline.