Less than a month to go until the ballots are counted and the winners declared – and the race for City Council is getting nasty.
Local political consultant Patrick Davis sent this letter to all council candidates as well as the three incumbent at-large council members who are not up for election during this cycle.
“Dear Julie, Angela, Bernie, Brandy, Jan, Merv, Tim, Val, Linda, Don, Joe, Joel, Bill, Tom, Jim, Bob, Keith, Gary, Deborah, Dennis, Helen, Roger, Jill, Al, Anres, David and Ed,
After April 2, nine of you will represent the ratepayers and taxpayers of Colorado Springs on the city council and the CSU board of directors. This is an awesome responsibility, one which we assume you will take seriously.
Ratepayers and taxpayers of Colorado Springs are depending on you to be informed and make responsible decisions with our money. That’s why we think it is important for you to get clarification on a couple issues before you take office. It was revealed on the Jeff Crank show this morning on KVOR (March 2, 2013) that the Mayor and city attorney are planning to cut the workforce at CS Utilities by 20%. It was revealed in the Colorado Springs Business Journal on March 1 that the Mayor and city attorney said, “the first act of the new council will be to kill the (Neumann Systems Group) contract with Colorado Springs Utilities” likely costing more jobs in Colorado Springs.
We would think that you, as responsible utilities board members, would want to know for certain if you were going to be asked to vote to kill jobs in Colorado Springs. The Mayor and city attorney are copied on this email. Ask them yourself.
You should expect that the Mayor will respond to you saying that he has no authority over utilities. The truth is that the Mayor’s “MO” has been to dispatch the city attorney to do his bidding with the CSU board of directors. In fact, it was in a private meeting of the CSU board of directors where the city attorney advocated CSU negotiating with the Sierra Club.
There is nothing worse in government and business than surprises. Please inform yourself to be the best advocate for ratepayers and taxpayers.
Set it Straight”
Bizarre as the letter’s allegations may appear to be, two council candidates saw fit to reply. District 3 candidate Bob Kinsey suggested “a mandate that no new construction will be provided with CSU power if it fails to be build with Solar Panel installations sufficient to supply its electrical needs,” while District 1 candidate Joe Barrera wrote darkly that “The message you sent is not new to me. I have been hearing this
for some time now.”
The letter is part of a coordinated plan to defeat incumbents Leigh and Dougan and weaken Mayor Bach. The motives behind the campaign aren’t entirely clear.
A couple of obscurely placed billboards, paid for by a Davis-controlled ‘527’ group accuse Leigh, Dougan, Bach,President Obama and the Sierra Club of “wanting to destroy our Utility and raise your utility prices.”
It’s just good, old-fashioned Republican hardball politics wherein one group of conservatives attacks another for being insufficiently conservative. It’s one thing to call Richard Skorman a “liberal” in the mayoral race two years ago, but quite another to accuse Leigh, Bach, and Dougan of being in cahoots with Obama and the Sierra Club.
We may be looking not at rational politics, but at score settling.
It’s reasonable to assume that Davis and veteran conservative activist Steve Durham are working together, trying to send a message to Bach. Recall that the mayor tried to get Durham removed from the Drake Task Force, characterizing him as a “coal industry lobbyist.” That didn’t sit well with Durham, who is as gentle and forgiving to his enemies as a king cobra. Hence, Davis found a few extra bucks in “Set it Straight’s” bank account, and paid Lamar $1,651 for the boards.
There are no spending limits imposed on 527’s, although they’re required to register with the IRS, publicly disclose donors and file reports of contributions and expenditures. “Set it Straight” filed its report with the city on Friday, showing a beginning balance of $821 and a contribution of $900 from another Davis-controlled independent expenditure group.
According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Set it Straight was an active player in last November’s election, spending around $30,000 in support of conservative causes. The organization’s largest donor during the cycle was Denver resident Gordon Burr, who contributed $27,500. Burr, 63, is an owner of Exciting Games, which owns and operates several casinos in Mexico.
So is this little campaign just a warning shot, one intended to send a message to its targets without doing serious harm? Leigh and Dougan have both been endorsed by the Housing and Building Association and the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Both have high name recognition, plenty of campaign money and conservative cred, and both have multiple opponents. At this late date, it might be difficult to mount a serious challenge to either, unless Davis can dump $30 – 40,000 into opposing campaigns.
Davis has contributed $100 to one of Leigh’s opponents, Don Knight, who has also received $1,500 from G.E. Johnson CEO Jim Johnson. And while it’s clear that Leigh has irritated some establishment types by his unrelenting criticism of Colorado Springs Utilities and Neumann Systems Group, Dougan hasn’t attracted as much attention.
Leigh was amused by and dismissive of the allegations, saying that they were absolutely without substance or foundation. That may be, but life in the local political arena is a lot more comfortable without Davis and Durham gunning for you, just as owning a Mexican casino is a lot less risky if you make your peace with the Sinaloa cartel.