Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Activist launches Springs recall effort, calls mayor 'arrogant'

LANCE BENZEL Updated: November 6, 2009 at 12:00 am

A critic of City Hall drummed up attention Friday for a planned effort to recall Mayor Lionel Rivera and Vice Mayor Larry Small, chiding them for being “arrogant,” fiscally irresponsible and contemptuous of voters.

“It’s seldom in Colorado Springs that you can get support from both the right and the left,” Patrick Ayers said. “These guys have managed to make everybody mad.”

Whether Ayers actually has support is an unanswered question.

Only a dozen people showed up at City Hall to hear him out at noon Friday, and some of them were relatives. Ayers ended up postponing filing the necessary paperwork to get the recall process going.

He said that will happen next week, allowing him the chance to enlist supporters and organize a signature-gathering campaign.

Ayers, 59, is known to some in Colorado Springs as a voice for the city’s homeless. He was among the homeless advocates who attacked the city for a municipally sponsored clean-up program, charging that it robbed the homeless of belongings such as sleeping bags and tents and violated their civil liberties.

He said the recall effort is a separate affair. Among his charges: The city squandered public support — and public money — by agreeing to a multimillion-dollar incentives package to keep the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, and city leaders engaged in fear-mongering in the effort to promote a property tax increase to dig the city out of its financial hole.

The tax increase went down in flames at the polls Tuesday.

Ayers also charges that the city worked behind the scenes to publicly humiliate Douglas Bruce in an effort to discredit Bruce’s controversial effort to end certain payments from city-owned enterprises, which passed.

“You’ll hear a lot of people say it’ll cost a lot of money (to put a recall to voters),” Ayers said. “This is a drop in the bucket compared to what these people are wasting and what they will waste in the next two years.”

Assuming Ayers files the necessary paperwork, he will have 60 days from the time he receives signature sheets from the City Clerk’s Office to gather 14,337 signatures and force a recall election.

Rich Garrison was among the handful of supporters drawn to City Hall by the chance to participate in a recall. He blamed the mayor and vice mayor for their roles in “mishandling the budget” and said their push for a tax increase amounted to a “ruse to make voters run scared.”

“They’re just not upfront with the citizens of Colorado Springs,” he said.

Paul Mattews shared his disaffection.

“I’m just tired of the city throwing out these threats and not giving up solutions,” he said. “They’ve gone to the well with their hand out too many times, and they take money and take money and then they don’t do what they say they’re gonna do.”

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