All politics, all the time! At least, that’s how it feels if, like me, you’re a political junkie blundering through the blogosphere.
It’s as if you’ve wandered into a huge, geeky party where everyone is articulate, analytical, argumentative and obsessively political. It’s as addictive as daytime television, or supermarket tabloids, or golf, or fly-fishing or … well, let’s not go there.
Let’s take half an hour and surf through a few blogs, some very close to home.
First stop: Coloradopols, an ostensibly non-partisan site that tracks Colorado politics, and publishes a periodically updated line handicapping the 2008 statewide races.
The Senate line shows Mark Udall at 4-1 (with a bullet), Scott McInnis at 6-1, Bob Schaffer at 7-1 and our own Bentley Rayburn at 20-1. Moving on over to the 5th Congressional District, Doug Lamborn’s comfortably in front at 4-1, followed by Jeff Crank at 7-1 and Bentley Rayburn once again, this time at 15-1. General, you certainly get around!
Time to hit Coloradoconfidential (CoCo to the blogorati), a joyfully partisan site devoted to making fun of the powerful, as long as they’re Republicans. This afternoon’s headline: “GOP goes apoplectic, cites bogus poll,” was written by none other than longtime Independent editor Cara Degette.
Most blogs simply cut, paste, and comment about news from actual, like, newspapers — but CoCo is an exception. Employing the talents of half a dozen aggressive reporters, CoCo makes a habit of embarrassing the dailies, whose sluggish proprietary blogs just can’t quite keep up.
Next stop: Totheright.org, a blog that exactly mirrors CoCo — except it’s as far to the right as CoCo is to the left. Today (no surprise) they’re after the Dems and liberals — with this utterly delightful headline: Colorado Liberals And Anti-war Kooks Rip On Each Other, Try To Blame Dick Wadhams.
And what’s it about? Who knows — some exchange of warring press releases between fiercely partisan political infighters, I guess.
Time for some information, so let’s head for Coyote Gulch, where blogger John Orr apparently spends the hours between 3 and 6 a.m. mining the dailies for useful articles, especially ones related to Colorado water.
He’s also fond of borrowing especially pithy remarks from other blogs, like this one from Oliver Willis: “Allow me to deviate from what is apparently the emerging consensus that the dust up between Obama and Clinton is a bad thing. First of all, nobody in the real world cares. People aren’t paying attention to the political machinations this far out ahead …”
The real world! What a concept … but let’s end our whirlwind tour by going 100 percent local, and visit mayoral candidate Mike Coletta at Blabbingmike.com.
Blabbing Mike has had his blog up since 2002. It can be amusing (look at the pictures of one cop car giving another a jump start), but now it’s just an adjunct to his campaign — as in, let’s attack Mayor Lionel Rivera.
Case in point: “Welcome to Part 2 of ‘Rivera Watch,’ a look into those previously made campaign promises for Rivera’s 2003 bid … that turned out to be nothing but political hot air (IMHO). And he’s making some of those same promises once again in this 2007 election bid. Imagine that … from a politician!”
That’s all for the moment — time to get back to work, after wasting half an hour listening to/delighting in political gossip. It’s the modern version of the water cooler and unless your boss tracks your Web site visits, nobody knows that you’re idling the morning away. Of course, this is my job — I cover politics — so I’m actually working, right?
Meanwhile, I received a lavishly illustrated, taxpayer funded, color brochure from U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn which purported to be a guide to federal government services in El Paso County.
There was a little bit of actual information — a paragraph or two giving the Web sites of various governmental entities, but most of it was plugola. Our intrepid congressman’s mug was splashed across every page and the copy leaned heavily toward the first person singular.
In the four-page brochure, I counted no less than 24 “I’s” or “my’s.” That is, of course, the way an elected official can differentiate himself from the slavering wannabes panting at his heels who might like to replace him come 2008 — so eat your hearts out, Jeff and Bentley.
Finally, like every property owner in the City of Colorado Springs, I got my first (and certainly not last) Stormwater Enterprise bill a few days ago. Enclosed was a blurry satellite photo of the magnificent Mansion Hazlehurst — OK, the slightly shabby needs-a-coat-of-paint drafty west side Victorian where I hang out with my bad dog.
According to the photo, I’ve got 4,200 square feet of fee-generating impermeable surface, so I owe $22.95.
Fee? C’mon, city, it’s a tax and you know it. It’s a fee if you can decline to purchase the service. But you can’t avoid this one, if you have any impermeable surface on your property.
Here’s why: you cannot legally recycle/reuse the rainwater runoff from your property. You can’t put a barrel beneath your downspouts and trap the water, and then argue that you don’t owe the Stormwater Enterprise.
That’s because you don’t own the rainwater — the city does, just as it owns the groundwater beneath your house. Just another impossibly arcane feature of Colorado water law — and don’t ask me to explain it.
So how did the city get away with calling a tax a fee?
Ask Douglas Bruce, and he’ll fume and sputter and maybe even fall to the ground foaming at the mouth in an apoplectic fit. He’ll rant about liberal judges who ignore the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, and conniving, spendthrift elected officials … you know the drill.
The City Council could have put the Stormwater Enterprise to a public vote, but it didn’t — because the consequences of defeat would have been so disastrous. A rejection would have made it impossible for the city to control flooding on Fountain Creek, which would have precipitated a Pueblo veto of the Southern Delivery System.
Absent SDS, the city could have found itself, a few years hence, in the uncomfortable position of either enforcing severe water use restrictions or shutting down new home construction.
A few years back, the county, faced with the absolute necessity of constructing a new courthouse/jail, asked the voters to approve a bond issue to finance the project. The voters refused — and the commissioners went ahead anyway, using a financing technique that conformed with the letter, if not the spirit, of the law prohibiting the assumption of long-term debt without voter approval.
Predictably, the Dougster went berserk.
But sometimes elected officials have to bend seemingly inflexible laws to accomplish essential public policy objectives. Imagine seeing someone drowning in a lake with a “no swimming” sign on the shore. Are you going to attempt a rescue or obey the sign? The answer is obvious.
And by the way, if you’d like to know why the city owns the rainwater that falls on your roof, ask any of the council candidates at one of the upcoming forums.
They’ll be delighted to explain it …
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.