September 22, 2013 Updated: September 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm
Citizens of Colorado Springs have been presented with Mayor Steve Bach's proposals for projects addressing his vision of the city's "need" for increased tourism, greater national visibility more businesses and jobs, etc., etc.
This vision is being strongly supported by The Gazette. Businesses would benefit greatly from an additional 500,000 to a million new tourists each year. But would you?
During Mayor Bach's initial campaign for election as the city's first "strong mayor," I supported him, convinced he had the best understanding of his job as mayor. When placed against the other candidates, he seemed to grasp that understanding far better than the other candidates. During the early months of his "reign," his efforts to make the city more business friendly by reducing regulations, encouraging a more responsive city employee force, and actually reducing expenditures by eliminating city positions, was extremely encouraging. Sadly, a different Bach has emerged along the way.
The tenor of Bach's new vision has changed from reducing costs, while increasing efficiencies, to acquiring more revenue by enticing more tourists to our area. This vision has not come from average citizens, but rather from businesses seeking greater profit without regard to how it will truly affect the real quality of life for the majority of citizens living in Colorado Springs.
According to Mayor Bach, "we have a lot of work to do" to attract and retain 6,000 stable and good-paying jobs to our city. Is that his job, or is his job about providing maximum service at minimum cost to you and me, the people already living here, the people who elected him? It's not a trick question.
As a Colorado state legislator for 10 years, I understand the tendency of those in power to first identify a "problem" and then work to "solve it," ignoring the efficiencies of the free enterprise system. Left alone by government, real problems are solved most economically by the private sector, profitably and at the lowest cost possible. Determining we need 6,000 more jobs is not the mayor's job.
The mayor's "bold ideas" are quickly morphing into the centralized planning mode that guarantees inefficiency.
Setting specific job goals within industry sectors, creating economic opportunity zones, as advocated by the Business Alliance and others, simply cannot anticipate the negative consequences that will surely arise. For one, economic "opportunity zones" disrupt free-market competition by picking winners and losers. In other words, some businesses are favored, while others are not. Is that what you, as a Colorado citizen, really support?
I think it's fair to say that most of us moved here to beautiful Colorado Springs to avoid the very congestion, crime and parking issues that the mayor's "bold" vision virtually guarantees over time.
For those individuals waving a flag for Mayor Bach's vision, I ask you to examine your motives. I believe, for the most part, it's about your pocketbook, not our enjoyment of this wonderful city.
A strong advocate for individual liberty and free enterprise, Dave Schultheis served 10 years in the Colorado state legislature, both in the House and Senate.