Published: January 12, 2014
It has been nine short months since six new members were elected to the Colorado Springs City Council. The year has been filled with challenges and many new issues have been thrust upon the council. To evaluate the new council members' performance, one must reflect on their campaigns and why they defeated the incumbent council members, who were more closely aligned with Mayor Steve Bach.
The overriding issue in the 2013 City Council elections was the sale of Colorado Springs Utilities. The public overwhelmingly rejected any proposal for the sale of CSU, an idea which Mayor Bach, by urging the former Utilities Board to spend $500,000 studying the value of CSU's electric component, supported. The candidates who were elected shared at least one value - keeping CSU owned by the citizens of Colorado Springs. The council's new members made good on their commitments, and any and all proposals for the sale of the utilities have gone by the wayside.
Every citizen has a stake in seeing that checks and balances are maintained between the council and the mayor, especially in the area of budget. The only way to prevent fraud, waste and abuse is to ensure that funds are appropriated and accounted for in a rational manner. The council, to its credit, overrode the mayor's vetoes of those measures. Unfortunately, the mayor has said he will ignore the council's override.
The council also dealt with the City for Champions issue, recognizing that there is not yet enough information to take a position. The council, as a whole, has taken a "wait and see" approach. The council majority recognizes that they should not be stampeded into supporting a proposal that lacks any specificity whatsoever on the three most important elements - how much will it cost, how will it be paid for and who will bear the responsibility for making those payments. Until those questions are answered, the council's "wait and see" approach is appropriate.
All in all, it was a very good performance by the new City Council.
Steve Durham, residing in Colorado Springs since 1957, was elected three times to the Colorado House of Representatives, twice to the Colorado State Senate.
Nine dysfunctional months since the new council was seated and not one councilor has dared ask a hard question of CSU executives. This council should be embarrassed and several recalled.
Their lack of supervision allowed millions to be lost in failed CSU projects; millions that could have been invested in critically needed capital and stormwater projects or to fund pension deficits. Council was the only locally-elected body not to endorse the City for Champions.
Their wait and see attitude isn't leadership; it's spineless pandering.
Ratepayers should demand a third-party audit of the enterprise and demand to know the legitimate value of the enterprise.