Published: October 27, 2013
The new City Council has an opportunity to craft legislation that moves Colorado Springs in a positive and prosperous direction.
Our community teeters on the brink of big post-recession success. We have sustainable advantages other cities cannot obtain, such as Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, the United States Olympic Committee and countless examples of God's greatest natural features.
The City Council could meet, brainstorm and legislate in ways that make our regulatory environment the most attractive in the country, so job creators would feel free to make this region home. The council could try to assist with community efforts to create even more great attractions, such as the proposed Olympic museum, Air Force Academy visitor's center, sports medicine facility and multiuse downtown stadium. If those are bad ideas, fine. The council has the opportunity to advocate better goals.
The City Council could be working to promote and leverage our community's wonderful new partnership with University of Colorado Health - the most respected academic medical organization in the country.
The constructive mind can conjure multiple opportunities for our city's legislative branch to lead in ways that make life better. The past council led in a manner that brought us the University of Colorado Health. Others have helped bring and retain community assets such as the United States Olympic Committee, the Olympic Training Center and an assortment of private businesses that shape our community.
Our newest council consists of solid minds and diverse talent. But the council's apparent agenda and early results raise concerns about its collective ability to prioritize results ahead of power and process.
The City Council ignores or obstructs efforts by individuals and other community entities to facilitate growth and prosperity. While surrounding communities support our state rebate application to assist with economic development - an application at this juncture, nothing more - our council refuses to adopt a resolution of support. Councilman Joel Miller actively fights the application, meaning he opposes the option of a return of taxes to grow the local economy. The bizarre obstruction campaign should trouble anyone who needs a job.
Mostly, the council spends a lot of time on administrative internal efforts to obtain more power and control than the City Charter allows. Most recently, council members have engaged in email exchanges that reveal an agenda to obtain their own full-time lawyer. If successful, it's a recipe for endless lawsuits between the council and the city's executive branch - a branch given separate authority by an overwhelming majority of voters. Twenty-eight other council/mayor forms of government that we know of, get by with combined legal council (see Denver).
Meanwhile, as they contemplate increasing the city's legal fees in pursuit of more internal strife, council members want a substantial increase in utility rates. They seem insistent on a solution to stormwater infrastructure needs that involves new taxes for a new government agency. Didn't we try that, already?
The Gazette endorsed three new members, including Don Knight, Miller and Keith King. The editorial board enthusiastically championed the council's decision to elect King as council president.
We remain confident this new council, including those we did not endorse, has the experience, intellect and integrity to do great things for Colorado Springs. But the community isn't impressed by the council's internal power struggles or its fixation on process. Spend less time and energy fiddling with sausage factory details. Start producing good sausage.
Council, take the high road. Focus on economic growth and jobs; authority and respect will follow. Serve the needs of constituents and become the council that takes Colorado Springs to another level.
If ever a council had the talent, intellect and skills to affect positive change, it's the one we have today. Onward and upward.