Fractious Council quintet oversteps boundaries

It’s hard to know what to make of the latest flare-up between Mayor Steve Bach and five of the nine members of City Council.

In a letter to Bach signed by Council President Keith King, Joel Miller, Andy Pico, Helen Collins and Don Knight, the five declared their opposition to any “local public funding” for City for Champions without voter approval. They noted “the proposal does not contain adequate checks and balances,” and lacks “accountability or transparency.”

If C4C goes down at the polls, we’ll know why. It won’t be because of inherent flaws. It will die because of a sustained, deliberate and shameful campaign by certain council members to malign and delegitimize the proposal. Sadly, Keith King has aided and abetted his rookie renegades every step of the way.

Animated by scorn for Bach and all of his works, they’ve done their best to de-legitimize the C4C proposal.

If they stick to their guns, that might be the end of C4C. Voters don’t like complicated funding structures that contain the “tax” word. Council gave its approval to the complex Copper Ridge tax increment funding proposal without referring it to a public vote, understanding it couldn’t survive public scrutiny.

King has stated his belief that three of the four projects can go forward helped only by state tax increment financing and private funds. That’s not happening. The deal with the Colorado Economic Development Commission is to build all four projects — or no state assistance.

While the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame will require no direct support from local public sources, it will require as much as $51 million in southwest downtown infrastructure improvements. Funding is slated to come from local TIF funding and parking revenue system bonds.

Without such infrastructure investments, the museum would be plopped down in a sea of blight, alone in a dismal urban wasteland. Far from enhancing the Olympic brand, the project would diminish it.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and USOC board members understand this. As Blackmun said months ago, “There will only be one Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame — and it will be built.” He didn’t say where.

One C4C opponent scoffed at the idea that the USOC might select another museum site, move there, and take the NGBs with them.

“They have a 25-year contract with us,” he said. “They can’t leave.”

Really? In fact, they could pull up stakes quite cheaply. They might even travel 70 miles north to Denver, where Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver business community would welcome them with open arms.

Meanwhile, as for City Council, so obsessed are the Rookie Renegades with Mayor Bach’s alleged transgressions that they’ve lost sight of the city’s future.

Animated by scorn for Bach and all of his works, they’ve done their best to kill the City for Champions proposal.

They may believe that the stadium/events center should be junked, but why not just say so?

Why whine about “accountability and transparency,” when your real goal is to control the project and reduce Bach’s role to that of “facilitator of the application”?

“Our Council/Mayor form of government,” King’s letter to Bach concluded, “vests all powers of the city in an elected Council and Mayor.”

King’s stubborn contention: Mayor Bach ignores the spirit of the City Charter by refusing to recognize Council as a co-equal partner in city government.

Yet, King and his colleagues may have undermined their argument by their own actions.

According to paragraph 3-70a of the charter, “Council shall act only by ordinance, resolution, or motion.”

The latest letter is none of the three. It’s the product of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the five signatories, who could have easily accomplished their goal during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

They also have apparently contravened the letter and spirit of the Colorado Open Meetings Law, which is appended to the City Charter. The law’s purpose is simple: “It is declared to be a matter of statewide concern and the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret.”

The law states that any meeting of three or more members of Council must be open to the public, and that “any meetings at which the adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation, or formal action occurs” must be formally, publicly announced at least 24 hours beforehand.

The charter also designates the mayor as the city’s chief executive. He’s doing what he was elected to do.

In May 2011, Bach received 56,656 votes in a 57-42 percent landslide victory over Richard Skorman. The Rookie Renegades, representing single geographic districts, received a combined 28,021, not quite half of Bach’s total.

As Will Smith said in Independence Day, “Who the man!!??”

3 Responses to Fractious Council quintet oversteps boundaries

  1. “If C4C goes down at the polls, we’ll know why. It won’t be because of inherent flaws. It will die because of a sustained, deliberate and shameful campaign by certain council members to malign and delegitimize the proposal.”

    First, this is yet another insult to the voting public who will pay for the majority of City for Champions. If the proposal goes down at the polls, it will be because the citizens don’t feel like it is the role of government to build stadiums and museums. These projects are community amenities. Pointing out facts in a deliberate and sustained matter should not be considered shameful–in fact, that’s what the media has historically been charged with doing.

    Here are some more facts based on the organizers’ own information: 1) The state’s POTENTIAL rebate of state sales tax will pay for 19% of the costs. More than half of all the project costs will be born by local public funds of one flavor or another. 2) From the initial application to the revised, the local public funds price tag increased from $74 million to $140 million. With the same cost of financing the proposal assumed for the state’s potential rebate, that would amount to $350 million over thirty years in local public dollars. 3) The stadium is 100% publicly financed in the latest plan of finance: 16% from the state and the rest from City and County public dollars. 4) The litany of failed projects of similar scope and grandeur is long and storied and easily researched and verified.

    “Meanwhile, as for City Council, so obsessed are the Rookie Renegades with Mayor Bach’s alleged transgressions that they’ve lost sight of the city’s future.”

    The city’s future is exactly what this “Rookie Renegade” is committed to. Pledging growth of City sales tax revenue which is levied to fund essential city functions, not “legacy projects”, is the primary basis for my opposition. It is my hope that the media outlets will turn to sources other than the proponents for their data.

    Joel Miller
    March 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm

  2. Again while I may not agree with everything you write John, I do agree that the infighting between the council and the Mayor will prove to be disastrous for Colorado Springs. To date I have not hear one alternative from the council to C4C except “pickleball”. Someone from the council has to “step up” for the good of the city and end these petty dissagreements. You don’t have to agree with everything but work it out together. Thats what we voted for.

    David H. Moore
    March 26, 2014 at 8:09 am

  3. Councilman Miller sounds exactly like Douglas Bruce who always has a negative opinion of everything that Council does but never a positive plan on how to move the city forward.

    David’s opinion above is right on … get the big picture, work productively to overcome the obstacles and support the city’s future.
    The constant nit-picking has only embarrassed our city.

    “Be relevant or be gone”

    George Gurgon
    March 26, 2014 at 11:59 am