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Colorado Springs: Battlefield of liberals, conservatives

Tue, Feb 9, 2010

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There’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned left/right bloodbath, especially when it involves our own fair city.

Lefty commentator David Sirota started the ball rolling with a bitingly snarky column in the Post, which also ran in the Gazette, characterizing Colorado Springs as “a shining example of what happens to a community when conservatives’ anti-tax policies are distilled into their most pure form …”

And if you think that’s a little mean, he was just getting started. He continues: “The next time you hear a conservative prattle on about how much he/she hates taxes and how the solution to all problems in America is to cut taxes, remember Colorado Springs. It is the anti-tax zealot’s nirvana – and it shows what America would look like if our politics continue to be dominated by the me-first, screw-everyone-else crowd and their tax-hating ways.”

Former Gazette editorial page editor, and present city councilmember Sean Paige promptly rose to the defense of our cruelly maligned, not-quite metropolis.

No doubt inspired by the absence of editorial constraints (“Paige, you have 800 words, and that’s it!”), Sean’s indignant piece in the Huffington Post ran on for nearly 1,900 words.

Characterizing the city’s current funding crisis as “a budget crunch…no different than (those currently experienced by) most American cities,” Paige claimed that the city is “…leagues ahead, in terms of livability and quality of life, of most places from which the ideological sniping comes.”

And Sirota? “Typical of the slams was this post by David Sirota in the Denver Huffington Post, which shows that he doesn’t know anything more about Colorado Springs than he knows about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Here’s Sirota, spewing stupid.”

After listing all of  the “best places” awards that the city has won, and taking aim at those pesky, ill-informed lib’ruls, Sean concludes by saying, “Maybe what really infuriates liberals about Colorado Springs is that it demonstrates that you can have a great American city without the need for a great big government running things; that you can keep taxes in check and still deliver an outstanding quality of life; that people here will step up to do for themselves, the things government can’t or shouldn’t be doing for them. This town remains a magnet for transplants because it keeps the American dream affordable and attainable, by actually putting America’s limited government ideals into practice. Take all the pot shots you want, liberals, but Colorado Springs will get through this fiscal crunch and emerge on the other side stronger and better than ever.”

Sirota, no slouch as an incendiary, opinionated writer, replied in kind.

In yesterday’s Huffington Post, Sirota leveled both barrels at Paige, characterizing everything he said as arising from the “eternal delusions of the right-wing mind.”

“Paige says Colorado Springs attracts new residents and economic growth ‘by actually putting America’s limited government ideals into practice.’ In this, he asks us to forget that one of the city’s biggest employers is the defense industry – that is, an industry that has absolutely nothing to do with ‘limited government’ and everything to do with the hugest of Huge Government. Whether you support this Huge Government or not – whether you think it is a good or bad thing – it’s size and centrality to the Colorado Springs economy is undeniable, as is its antithesis to the concept of ‘limited’ or small government. You don’t have to trust me, the guy who Paige calls a ‘statist’ (do people even use that red-baiting McCarthy-esque word anymore?). You can look at the $700 billion annual defense budget.”

OK, you two – just shut up. You’re both wrong.

You both see this city as through the distorting lens of your particular and quirky ideologies, and make the facts fit your own preconceptions.

Sean: David’s right. We contributed to this mess by embracing Doug Bruce’s taxophobia. And those “best places” rankings are highly dubious. For example, are we really one of the most drunken cities in America, as a recent survey seemed to show? And is Boston the least drunk? Or are the rankings derived from dubious metrics? And yeah, we’re more dependent upon guv’mint payrolls than any city in America … except Washington, D.C.  Volunteerism is fine – but who’s gonna patch the potholes?  Not me.

David: Sean’s right. With all its faults, the city’s a great place to live, and despite our current travails, is likely to stay that way. You can rant all you want about our problems,but we’re very far from being the poster child for American urban dysfunction. And besides, we’re the city every journalist dreams of – a city run by newspaper guys!

Journalists are former city councilmembers, and city councilmembers are former journalists. And we know that Colorado Springs taxpayers have always wised up eventually. They may load the gun, cock it and aim at their foot – but they never quite squeeze the trigger. And you may think that Sean’s a crazed, delusional right-winger, but he’s changed.

He used to be a crazed, delusional right-wing journalist, but now he’s a respected, comparatively moderate community leader … a role model for you!

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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Sean Paige Says:

    Here’s a link to my Huffpost piece, for those who want to read it themselves, rather than take John’s word for what it says: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-paige/sirotas-slurs-offer-skewe_b_452666.html. Some might also find Michelle Malkin’s post interesting: http://michellemalkin.com/2010/02/08/colorado-springs-derangement-syndrome/. Fighting among ourselves is one thing, but I don’t like this city being bash-on by ignorant outsiders. All Sirota seems to know about Colorado Springs (other than what he read in that lopsided Denver Post piece) is that we’re home to Focus on the Family. And that he takes as license to level a broad indictment that fundamentally misses the mark. I just thought that another perspective was needed.

    And don’t ever call me a “moderate” again, Hazlehurst. Dems fightin words.

  2. Liam Says:

    “With all its faults, the city’s a great place to live, and despite our current travails, is likely to stay that way.”

    Sorry, John. This describes the Colorado Springs we all knew and loved up until a year ago. It can hardly stay that way after the P&R Dept. removed the trashcans from our city parks last week (which made headline news across the country).

    Face it. COS is fast becoming the city that David Sirota says it is. Perceptions are reality here in Gotham.

  3. Rick Van Wieren Says:

    I like you what you’ve said with this, and I couldn’t agree more with the premise that sniping from left or right gets us nowhere. I personally believe Colorado Springs to be a pretty well run city. Despite my own prejudice against taxes, I agree that someone needs to be paid to fix the potholes, put out fires, catch bad guys, empty the trash at the parks (along with watering and fertilizing I might add), and a host of other things we aren’t going to do for ourselves as private citizens. A place with no taxes or services will not be on anyones ‘best places’ list (except perhaps a wild animal in a wilderness area), and even they count on the forest service to keep out poachers.

  4. SC Says:

    John, I have to take exception to this one. Let’s start by asking David if he can possibly explain the financial issues facing California. So far as I know Colorado Springs has not had to write any I.O.U.’s just yet, and again as far as I know California is about as “lib’rul” as you can get aside from that one guy… You know the one, he was in the movies, and he is certainly no “lib’rul”… Wait, I might be mistaken there too!

  5. Bonnie Says:

    How about we wait until it gets bad before we pitch a fit? If we are smart about our crises we will be better off than most cities when this is over. Remember that the states with the highest taxes are the states in the biggest economical crisis right now. We know we have to pay taxes to have a decent quality of life. What we want is a very frugal government that doesn’t live beyond our means to pay for it. So we need to stay vigilant and hold the powers that be accountable for every nickel and dime. This means electing conservatives no matter which party they belong to. And then trust but verify.

  6. curt neeley Says:

    Sirota wrote a Red Herring piece about stingy Colorado Springs tax payers. But 2C was less about higher taxes and more about spendthrift, dysfunctional (as in “things aren’t working right unless someone is getting screwed”) government. He suckered-in the lot of you.
    Clever squirt, ain’t he?

  7. Craig Says:

    Who cares what the Denver Post says? The first city to be fiscally responsible wins. What is truly hard for me to understand is why this idea can’t get any traction in a nation full of bankrupt cities. To many folks at the public trough… a good thing when you need a voting block. Not so good when you need a recession proof budget.

  8. John Hazlehurst Says:

    Craig, I see your point-but consider this. Cities that are already lean and mean can’t easily make cuts in bad times, because they don’t have a lot of fluff built into the budget. We’re hardly the only city experiencing budgetary difficulties, but we are, as far as I know, the only one turning off streetlights and letting parks dry up. More profligate cities may have more room to cut, and be able to weather a downturn without cutting basic services.

  9. Nick Says:

    I find it funny that some of the most “anti-tax” and “anti-government” voices in this city are actually living off taxpayers in the form of their military job, defense contractor job or military retirement pensions-all of which are paid for by my federal taxes which far exceeds the few hundred dollars a year I pay to the city in taxes.