City Councilman Tim Leigh had a rare moment of clarity the other day when he suggested that instead of sitting in a council meeting listening to citizen budget concerns, “I actually thought about placing a mannequin or an orange cone (with my face painted with a moustache on it) in my chair so folks would know how much I was thinking about them.”
Leigh complained that disabled people were wasting their time asking for $100,000 to enhance public transportation. An avid cyclist, Leigh might as well have said, “Let them ride bicycles.”
In his weekly newsletter, His Royal Highness Leigh further opined that citizen suggestions near the end of the budget process are “borne from emotion and not empiricism, and should be discounted on their face.”
Citizen comments discounted on their face?
Considering Leigh’s casual disregard for those he represents, we all might be better off with a mannequin, or tree stump, or a fire hydrant, than with the elitist, aloof Mr. Leigh, who has been uber-supportive of Mayor Steve Bach, as well as Colorado Springs Utilities.
How can a rational adult look at Bach’s $224 million budget with thousands of line items budget and not raise a question, have an objection?
“I’m doing my work behind the scenes,” Leigh said. "I have tried to finesse through the back door.”
Well, the average person on the street doesn’t have the time or the connections to work behind the scenes or finesse through the back door. The average person can go to a council meeting, sign up to speak and await his or her turn.
And, at least in Leigh’s case, that person’s comments will be “discounted on their face.”
Monied interests don’t have to show up at the meetings. We all know those interests have all the politicians on speed-dial.
The flip side, Mr. Leigh: All too often, citizens are apathetic. Many don’t vote.
Most of us think that we’d all be better off if more people would vote and be interested enough to take part in the process. When they show up, the least you can do is listen to them. It’s what you signed on for.
Leigh said the it’s “disingenuous” to let people to think their 11th-hour pleas will change a budget process that has been going on for months. Well, such pleas have been successful in amending the budget in the past.
Besides, the budget process lasts so long that revenue projections can vary quite a bit and at the end, there sometimes is some wiggle room for a last-minute request. Those who have watched the process for years know that, but this is Leigh’s first rodeo.
Time to saddle up, Mr. Leigh. You don’t have to agree with them, but listen to the people.
They’re the ones who put you in office.
Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and read his blog updates at gazette.com