Why can’t we work together?

The civic engagement trip to Omaha a few months ago, following those to Portland, Oklahoma City and Austin, brought forth an interesting comparison of statements:

From former U.S. Sen. David Karnes, R-Neb., as quoted in the Business Journal:

“Having business leadership and government leaders work together is the reason we in Omaha) are where we are today. If you have business leaders working with your government, a lot can get done.”

From Angelo Angelou, author of the Project 6035 Report (2009): “Two issues inhibiting economic development are (a) a lack of a community vision, leadership and collaboration and (b) polarizing ideological differences in the political arena,” followed by his departing summary: “You will not be able to accomplish any of what we have set forth as you are far too divided and fractured a community.”

Sen. Karnes described what Omaha has done by collaboration.

Dr. Angelou described what we have not done through lack of collaboration.

Local developer Chris Jenkins asked: “Who do we want to be? Do we want to be Oklahoma City, Austin or do we want to be Colorado Springs?”

Now we have the Regional Tourism Act project that, if extended and well worked with the public who will fund 40 percent of it, could determine who we are — and get past the stage of trying to figure out who we want to be.

This project is one that addresses a critical need under discussion for years, and that is how to develop the “core” downtown area in a manner that gives the city an identity that has worked for other cities forming their own identity leading to prosperity.

Should this “City for Champions” concept be expanded as part of a revised overall master plan for downtown? To include moving the city transit facility to the “bridge” area, placing it close to a future light-rail terminus — bringing in sufficient development firms to also incorporate a range of downtown living options. That, coupled with the planned public market, is perhaps a concept that could be “sold” to the public!

When each of us does well, we all do well. How do we legitimately get that concept through to those who oppose so much of what positive planning has been done in the region yet not reached fruition?

Perhaps the real key to getting Colorado Springs off dead center is to consider how the “leadership pinnacle of 300” relates to and includes the public by bringing in a professional public relations firm to again re-determine what is the base cause for the friction, division, competition and turf battles that this region is legendary for. And how to bring forth cooperation as opposed to conflict?

With $6 billion in unfunded needs for the region and a forecast for “flat revenues” for the region for the next decade, this may be the last chance to be able to generate the excitement and funding to start the rebirth of the region as an economic powerhouse.

The need is great for a professional evaluation on how to bring forth the collaboration so often talked about but not achieved. Who will reach out and call for this? Is it time for all of the 20 or so “leadership groups” to get off Facebook and pile around one table, assign priorities and who will do what and start getting things done? That’s the Austin Model.

At what point, as a community, do we move from opposing ideas because they are being done by somebody else — and work toward creating true community spirit?

Richard D. Wehner

Colorado Springs

Space Command cuts wrong

“Every military operation, no matter how small, no matter how large, all the way from humanitarian operations through full-scale major combat operations, depends heavily on space operations,” Gen. William Shelton said in April at the National Space Symposium.

So when I read that “the combination of congressional gridlock and sequestration from the Budget Control Act is creating a very austere working environment for the [Air Force Space Command — AFSPC],” I became frustrated. AFSPC, which provides cost-effective space and cyberspace information for our military everywhere, should not feel the effects of Washington, D.C. dysfunction. It should especially not be the victim of the poorly thought-out, stopgap measure known as sequestration.

While cuts are certainly needed, leaders in Washington must replace the sequester with larger, more gradual and sensible spending reductions and pro-growth tax reform. Realistically, such a deal would look at our entitlement programs, the true drivers of our debt, and figure out how to tweak them and cut costs over the long term. Similarly, Congress and the president need to figure out how to reform the tax code and raise the money needed to pay for the vital services we all want our government to provide — like AFSPC.

As a supporter of the Colorado Chapter of the Campaign to Fix the Debt (www.fixthedebt.org/colorado, I hope Sens. Bennet and Udall and our members in the U.S. House will make an effort to ensure that our representatives on Capitol Hill address long-term solutions that address our growing debt without compromising programs like AFSPC.

Important jobs, and our nation’s security, depend on it.

John Williard