TABOR duel at City Hall

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Dueling “truth squads” sweltered in 90-degree heat on the steps of City Hall just before noon today, each determined to present their own spin on “Baby TABOR,” the Douglas Bruce authored City Charter amendment that, approved by local voters during 1991, preceded the eponymous statewide constitutional amendment.

A group led by Colorado Springs Independent Publisher John Weiss wants to ask voters to “tweak’ the amendment, eliminating its so-called “ratchet,” its restrictions on government growth and its refund provisions — retaining only the right for residents to vote on tax increases, which Weiss believes to be the essential component of the amendment.

A coalition of conservative groups, led by former Gazette editorial page editor Sean Paige, two-time congressional candidate Jeff Crank, retired state Sen. Andy McElhany and incumbent Councilman Darryl Glenn, oppose the proposal.

With fiery words, and dueling press releases, the two groups had it out before a sparse crowd.  In an e-mail, Weiss fired the first round.

“While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, you cannot make up your own facts,” he wrote. “Paige and his pals’ punditry distorts the truth. It is time to stand up to these high-paid ideologues funded by millionaires.”

McElhany returned fire, telling the crowd that, “These changes to the city TABOR will not bring any immediate relief to the city, not for years to come.”

Glenn concurred. “If we need to have a debate, then let’s have it,” he said. “Let’s not just try to wipe it out for no reason.”

One likely supporter of keeping the amendment as is was conspicuous by his absence: former County Commissioner/state Rep. Douglas Bruce.

9 Responses to TABOR duel at City Hall

  1. Wrinkled old men, political has-beens, and other irrelevant sorts vying for the spotlight (better known as the flashlight in Colorado Springs).

    Where’s Doug Bruce when we need real entertainment on the steps of City Hall?

    Moe DeLaun
    August 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm

  2. I particularly enjoy the claim that the measure is pointless because it won’t have immediate effect… which basically confirms that it would be worthwhile, but that we just won’t see the impact immediately…

    Great defense Mr. McElhany!

    August 5, 2009 at 1:35 pm

  3. TABOR has to change. Just look around at our City and our needs. The old rhetoric of wasteful government spending , corrupt officials and city workers just doesn’t ring true. More than fat has been trimmed and what have we got for it ? I don’t believe that lower taxes have improved the quality of life in the Pikes Peak Region. I believe the opposite.

    I’m concerned that our town is looking like a Doug Bruce rental.

    August 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

  4. Thank you for attending today’s press conference, John, and for this write-up, but a couple of points need to be made. Coalition members weren’t there to espouse “truth,” just our opinion that this is an ill-timed and ill-conceived ballot idea that will go down in flames, dragging a number of other ballot items down with it, including any tax increases City Hall wants approved. Two “groups” weren’t “dueling.” One coalition held a press conference and the publisher of the CS Independent, who is using his position and publication to push this proposal — rather than send a reporter — showed up to make a scene. A number of taxpayers were there in a show of solidarity with the seven groups represented. Weiss and another paid employee, who is not a reporter, just showed up to make a fuss. Two Indy employees might constitute a “group,” technically, but whether Weiss has a constituency (other than his paid staff) that can deliver votes is debatable — and will be tested this fall if City Council is foolish enough to hitch its wagon to his plan.

    Sean Paige
    August 5, 2009 at 2:08 pm

  5. Sean, Sean, Sean-you sound like a politician! I remember the time when I tried, sometimes successfully, to spin the press and get them to accept my my version of events. I think that I was very kind to all concerned-it was a manufactured event, staged for the cameras, upstaged by opponents, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (nice phrase, don’t you think/ I made it up-just ask Joe Biden). Keep goin’-we need fun stuff to write about, and if you can’t have fun with local politics, you should move to Canada.

    John Hazlehurst
    August 5, 2009 at 3:10 pm

  6. Is this town a mess, or what?

    As if the City/Landco/USOC fiasco isn’t enough in the center ring, we have the city ethics committee (or is it ‘etherics”, since they seem to be operating in a state of limited consciousness) in the ring, stage left. And now, the latest entry in the City Entertainment Guide, in the ring stage right, the debate on a possible Tabor Amendment, featuring dueling journalists, assorted political aspirants, and, no doubt, other special interest types who never met a TV camera they didn’t like…..

    Its hard to beat the entertainment value of the circus, but this just might do it. Doug Bruce probably showed some common sense, or at least restraint, by staying away…

    The only thing missing was our own ringmaster, MayorLionel, who (again) demonstrated that discretion is the better part of valor, and stayed away (no surprise there…). He was probably out trying to find an apparaiser for the police center and one of the fire stations……

    I still think we should print up some “Ignorant Malcontent” (aka Colorado Springs resident/taxpayer)bumper stickers and sell them to fund the Referandum to change the city charter……..

    What’s sad is if any of these folks could ride a bicycle backwards, THEY could be the circus….

    John Whitten
    August 5, 2009 at 3:41 pm

  7. I believe many voters do understand TABOR and agree with it. It holds government to a percentage growth. Even though fuels and supplies may spike making budgeting hard in these bad times. It does prevent run away government growth. The job is not easy but it does come with the territory. If they don’t or can’t do the job the should leave it.

    August 5, 2009 at 3:43 pm

  8. Doug stayed home, out of the 90+ degree heat, and out of an argument that cannot be solved on the courthouse steps. Two guesses as to who is smart and who is dumb?

    And to Eddie, who wrote: “TABOR has to change. Just look around at our City and our needs.”


    What one man thinks is a “need” is another man’s “folly.” The City has been subsidizing a tiny few downtown landowners with downtown “projects” for years. My experience is that when government says, “We need that,” they really mean “You should pay for my new luxury.”

    For a real world example, out in Briargate there is a building on the northeast corner of Briargate Parkway at Explorer drive. It was the regional HQ of Richmond Homes for years. I talked to the developer, who told me the building was built for $2,400,000. So how come the USOC building downtown is going to cost $53,000,000?

    Why not buy the old Richmond Homes building (it is basically empty right now, and I bet the owner would entertain offers.) and use it for the USOC?? Maybe save $45-50 million? Ah, but the rub is this is the City subsidizing downtown landowners. TABOR just keeps them kinda honest, but not really.

    August 5, 2009 at 7:49 pm

  9. “Jerry Says:
    August 5th, 2009 at 3:43 pm
    I believe many voters do understand TABOR and agree with it. It holds government to a percentage growth. Even though fuels and supplies may spike making budgeting hard in these bad times. It does prevent run away government growth. The job is not easy but it does come with the territory. If they don’t or can’t do the job the should leave it.”

    Jerry –

    Running government is a lot like running a business. You have to stay in the black and you have to expand to meet the demands of your customers (read constituents). I don’t see any laws on the books that would limit the growth of business.

    The fact is, demand for government services rises when economic times are bad. In effect, TABOR forces the government to give back any surplus during good times and then limits what they can do during bad times. TABOR needs to go. The idea sounds great on paper, but in practice it is an absolute public disaster (reminds me of communism in that regard…)

    August 6, 2009 at 8:53 am