Send money quick!

Thu, Dec 17, 2009


Dispiriting, disheartening, disappointing, dismaying, draconian – or maybe just a single expletive.


That’s how to describe the news that the city will kick 97 employees to the curb on New Year’s Eve.

No names – just positions. Here’s a sample.


Administrative Technician


Analyst II


Environmental Safety & Health Specialist




Forestry Technician


Landscape Architect I


Maintenance Services Worker


Maintenance Technician II


Museum Guard


Program Coordinator


Recreation Assistant


Recreation Supervisor


Recreation Therapist


Regional Parks Supervisor


Senior Analyst


Senior Maintenance Technician


Senior Office Specialist


Senior Skilled Maint Technician


Skilled Maintenance Technician


Staff Assistant


Ninety-seven lives in limbo; 97 careers in abeyance;  97 families who will agonize over bills, skimp on necessities and hope that the unemployment check gets deposited every other Tuesday.

For them, and for thousands of Springs residents, this holiday season doesn’t exactly promise good cheer. For them, we might as well be Detroit, or Newark, or Pontiac, or Gary, or any down-at-heels, no-hope casualty of our fading national prosperity.

I know, I know – all the leading indicators are positive, and our economy is picking up steam. Just wait! Recovery is right around the corner … or is it?

Maybe not. It’s possible that we’ve already entered a new era, and that our economic transmogrification is already well under way.

Imagine the western European model of endemic unemployment/underemployment superimposed upon the American model of non-existent social safety nets. Imagine a country staggering under the burdens of war and ruinous speculation–both funded by immense foreign debt. Imagine restive lenders shutting off the money spigot, and forcing the country to live within its means. Imagine a national government forced to cut benefits, cut military spending and raise taxes to satisfy foreign lenders.

Imagine that the model of the new American city is not Austin, but Detroit, not Denver, but Cleveland.

Pretty pessimistic, I guess – and I certainly hope that I’m wrong. Let’s be thankful for our jobs and families, and also hope that all the folks who were laid off by the city will soon find other employment.

And to finish with a little holiday cheer, let’s revisit the work of Shel Silverstein, a humorist whose work often graced the pages of Playboy. In “Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book,” a fake children’s primer, he gave cheerful, useful advice to tots of all ages. Here’s a sample (illustrated in the original by Shel’s clever pen & ink drawings).

“‘O’ is for Oz. Do you want to visit the wonderful, far-off land of Oz where the wizard lives and scarecrows can dance and the road is made of yellow bricks and everything is emerald green…?

Well you can’t, because there is no land of Oz and there is no Tin Woodsman and there is no Santa Claus!!

Maybe someday you can go to Detroit …”

And here’s another epistle from Shel, specially updated for readers of the Business Journal.

“’M’ is for money. Mommy and Daddy always fight about money. Money is the root of all evil. See the money. The money is green. The money is in Mommy’s purse. Take the bad money out of the purse and send it to John Hazlehurst, Colorado Springs Business Journal, 30 East Platte, Colorado Springs CO 80903. Then Mommy and Daddy will be happy.”







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3 Comments For This Post

  1. atomicelroy Says:

    you’re going to get in trouble just like Soupy Sales did…
    Happy Holidaze

  2. es Says:

    the “museum guard” entry kicked me right in the stomach. I know that museum guard I think.. though I hope not. The museum guard I’m thinking of always has a smile on his face, and always has ideas for moms on interesting exhibits for kids. He steered me to the quilt exhibit last Sunday. “How’d you know where I was going?” I laughed, and he laughed right along with me.
    Yep, it’s even harder, this stuff, when you know not just the numbers, but the people, too.

  3. SOS-DD Says:

    It’s interesting we find that there are actually consequences to the revenue strategies and choices made by staff and Council. Oh no, I don’t lay this at the foot of Council, though they’ve been professionally advised as to the need to diversify away from sales tax reliance by many inside and outside of professional City staff. At the same time, staff let some great opportunities slip through their hands. One glaring example was the Wal-Mart proposed near the airport. Dare I say 5-7 nearby home owners drove the stake through that one, though staff imposed ridiculous “new urbanist” look and feel principles and conditions that let Wal-Mart twist in the wind until they cried “uncle” and promptly located elsewhere. By most estimates, that was $1M+ in sales tax that walked out their door.

    So Congratulations to Staff and Council. YOUR DECISIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES. And maybe one of these days, there will be enough foresight as a result of the current learning environment that arrogant mistakes such as the SE Wal-Mart and a thousand others will be embraced for what they offer.

    Hey, one can always hope. In the meantime John…the check is in the mail.