Solution for swarming bees
I was out whacking weeds the other day when I came across a swarm of bees that had taken up temporary residence in a small pine tree on the edge of my property. Being the red-blooded American hero I am, I marched directly into the house as fast as my feet would carry me and told my wife to go out and take a picture of it.
Meanwhile, I Googled bee keepers and with luck came across the Pikes Peak Beekeepers Association phone number. Within the hour, Barb showed up with her portable vacuum cleaner and my swarm was incarcerated in a white bucket and on their way to some farmer's field to do what honey bees are happy doing. My thanks to this great organization for helping me with a problem I had no idea how to resolve on my own.
Natural selection still working
I was disturbed by Bill Vogrin's comment in Wednesday's Gazette article (page 1, "Rare Trout Given An Assist") that "this is the only place in the planet where this species exists, and we will go to extraordinary efforts to save it." I'd rather have our government leaders take extraordinary measures to raise the quality of our citizens' lives.
For reasons that I don't understand, our scientific community (and legislators) seems to have decided that whatever mix of animals that exists right now is the perfect combination for our planet. But natural selection is still working, and maybe some current species are not destined to be long-term survivors. The fact that they are so rare leads me to believe that they are on the way to being replaced by other, more hardy species. Let's not try to micromanage Mother Nature.
When I read of the efforts taken to protect the Preble's meadow jumping mouse or the greenback cutthroat trout, I question whether those species would survive even with no interference from humans, either positive or negative. Please, let's use our tax money to help those individuals of our species that we know can benefit, through improved social services to humans.
Combining city's funding needs
"Mayor seeks stormwater fee" - This is a bold move by our mayor to once again reach out to the public to fund yet another city need. What I find interesting is that the need is being sold in part to help free up dollars for public safety. True, we need more police officers and better pay for those officers, but is the vehicle fleet an "aging and increasingly decrepit vehicle fleet," as described by the mayor. It wasn't that long ago that the city Police Department replaced their older cruisers with the sleek-looking Dodge Chargers. And food for thought: Will a fee on stormwater, as proposed in this new program, effectively satisfy the problem of erosion, water quality and loss of property downstream of the City of Colorado Springs? I believe most of the dollars will go to repair infrastructure originally built by developers to move the water out from neighborhoods and businesses as quickly as possible with very little revenue actually going to mitigate high flows and improve water quality.
So rather than just point fingers at the whole issue, here is what I propose:
1) Establish a revenue structure and collection process that is least burdensome to the landowner and most cost-effective in terms of administering. Call it a tax and add it to the property tax bill that goes out at the beginning of the year.
2) Leave the whole public safety discussion out of this. The Police Department fleet is in pretty good shape and not in immediate need of a full replacement. What revenue is freed up can go to help police staffing and other city departments, including Park and Recreation, another city department that has been left in the dust.
3) Provide upfront a methodology as to how the funds will be allocated and make it part of the expenditure criteria. Areas that need addressing are (a) reimbursements to developers that originally put the infrastructure in place and are waiting for repayment; (b) flood mitigation by improving drainage systems but also mitigating high flows to lessen the impact of downstream properties, and (c) funding of joint efforts between the city and county to truly lessen the impacts to landowners all the way downstream to Pueblo.
4) And yes, bring it to the voters providing confidence that the revenue will be used to achieve the needed objectives of true storm water management.
States increasing political power
States in today's modern political climate have a historically unprecedented amount of weight to throw around. A 1998 Federal Court Case in Massachusetts banned a state law that barred local governments from doing business with companies that traded with Myanmar. The judge for the case, Joseph L. Tauro, wrote that "State interests, no matter how noble, do not trump the Federal Government's exclusive foreign affairs power." In a beautifully situated juxtaposition, if state interests don't trump the federal government's interests, why are states acting contrary to President Donald Trump's foreign affairs agenda? While the court case mentioned previously was expected to become a Supreme Court battle in the years to come, little has been done to clarify Tauro's original claim. Nineteen years later, states are supporting the Paris climate accord in direct opposition to President Trump's foreign affairs plan to leave the agreement. Both Democratic and Republican governors have publicly announced their support of America's involvement in the accord, and Hawaii most recently passed laws solidifying that support in its state government.
If there was ever a time for Colorado to step up, as other states have, it would be now. Novel technology is creating a revolution in American politics where states can exhibit national and international influence resembling the federal government. This may seem insignificant; but if states can continue to follow and support international agreements that the current presidential administration announced to exit, directly challenging federal foreign policy agenda, who knows what the limit is anymore?