So what do we do about our city’s continuing meltdown?
It looks as if the Pioneers Museum will stay open, if the El Paso Board of County Commissioners agrees to fund a modest rescue package, but most of the other cuts will remain.
Many of the options listed below will be deeply embarrassing to our elected officials or require them to embrace policies that they have loftily disdained.
That’s too bad.
But now that the city has taken on a new role as urban mendicant, they’d better get used to it. They’ve gotta be humiliated by relying upon the county to keep the museum open — it’s kind of like asking your younger brother for bail money.
But once you’ve taken that once-unthinkable first step, it’s easy to keep going.
Look at our shameless downtown beggars, and take your cue from their behavior. Mayor and council members, listen to the voice of the people!!
Here’s what they said (apologies to Pink Floyd).
We don’t need no taxification
We don’t need no cash control
No dark warnings from City Hall
Council! Leave them taxes alone
Hey! Mayor! Leave our cash alone!
All in all it’s just another tax in the fall.
All in all, it’s time for our city to fall.
We don’t need no edification
We don’t need no city services
More dark streetlights in the road
Jan Martin leave them voters alone
Hey! Dougster! We think you’re the best!
All in all, it’s just another crumbling wall.
All in all, we’re glad we tore down the wall.
Butchered lyrics aside, it might be time to look at our city as it is, not as we’d like it to be.
Perhaps we’re not a dynamic, restless, growing creative metropolis of several hundred thousand, but an overgrown small town — poor, isolated and insular.
We’re not expansive and generous, but fearful and thrifty. Voters overwhelmingly believe that they can get along without flowers in the medians, irrigated parks, community centers, Rock Ledge Ranch and the Pioneers Museum.
So does that mean our elected officials should heed the voice of the voters, and just let the city deteriorate?
Council should do what elected officials have done from time immemorial — pretend to heed the will of the voters and do exactly the opposite.
I know that this will be a difficult pill for Hizzoner and the not-so-elite eight to swallow — these are not the kind of folks who would, for example, mortgage the cop shop and fire station for $30 million without voter approval and hand over the proceeds to … enough said.
The city needs money — so let’s go get some!
Sell stuff. Memorial Hospital, the power plants, a golf course — whatever you’ve got. Does it make sense to hold on to aging coal-fired power plants, and get blamed for the costs of cap and trade legislation, as well as the constant upgrades that the wheezing old piles will require for decades to come?
Let the old piles of junk be someone else’s problem, and let the ratepayers complain to Xcel and the Public Utilities Commission instead of to you.
Take the cash, and water the parks.
Turn the lights back on. Hand the streetlight system back to Colorado Springs Utilities, and charge the ratepayers a fee.
Tell the voters that if they don’t want to pay the fee, no mo’ streetlights — you’re not taking ’em back.
And while you’re at it, get tough on utilities, since their payment in lieu of taxes is phasing out.
No more sweetheart deals! Let ’em pay for their rights-of-way across parks (Ever notice those high-tension lines marching across Palmer Park?), not to mention for the inconvenience and expense that they cause by tearing up/closing streets for system repairs and upgrades.
When you think about utilities, remember Willie Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks replied “Because that’s where the money is.”
Be creative! Why not do as they do in Russia, where wealthy oligarchs pay off Moscow officials, and mount police lights on their BMW’s?
Aren’t there a couple of hundred richies in town who’d pay a modest annual fee of $50k for the tranquil, non-stop motorvatin’ that flashing emergency lights would allow?
No stop signs, no stoplights, no traffic jams, no getting stuck behind Grandpa — just the open road!
And finally, stop asking the voters for permission, and stop paying attention when they try to take money away.
Do what you want, and tell those pointy-headed conservatives to sue you if they don’t like it. And that leads to the final point …
Take some of your new loot and hire some really good lawyers. You’ll have to pay through the nose, but it’s worth it.
Just ask Ray “unsportsmanlike conduct” Marshall.
Good luck! I know that you can do it!
Forget governing — beg, steal, hustle, lie, connive, misrepresent, exaggerate, prevaricate, libel and slander. Works fine for some …
John Hazlehurst can be reached at email@example.com or 227-5861.