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Big Three: in or out? 

Between the Lines

Every day, and every night, supporters of Measure 2C are working feverishly to cultivate support for their city property-tax increase on the 2009 election ballot.

It's a stiff challenge, to say the least. Those 2C backers must feel like they're trying to climb Pikes Peak, but only by progressing a few hundred yards each day.

They don't have to reach the summit until Nov. 3, when the last votes are submitted and counted.

They could make it, but let's not talk about odds. Nobody is hoping to uncover a treasure chest of money, just as it's not about making the same convincing points in better ways than before.

We will continue to make sure that you, our readers, have the information you need to understand the consequences if Measure 2C fails. But to be honest, that's only part of the battle. This campaign needs more to succeed in saving Colorado Springs from $25 million in destructive cuts to or elimination of programs, services, facilities and jobs — which quickly would decimate our quality of life.

Go to the 2C supporters' Web site, cityworthfightingfor.com, and you'll find a lengthy list of civic leaders and caring residents, some prominent but many not well-known, who openly back the added property tax. But something's missing from that file of enthusiastic endorsements.

The Big Three.

For those not so familiar with local politics, we're talking about the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs (HBA), the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Each of the Big Three has tentacles throughout the city, and their influence — separately or together — cannot be underestimated.

One might think, given how much a healthy and effective city government must mean to the Big Three, that they would be joining the fight to support 2C. Yet, so far at least, the HBA, the Chamber and the Realtors group have chosen not to step forward. They haven't given public blessings to the 2C effort. Nor have they come out in strong opposition to Measure 300, another of Douglas Bruce's relentless attempts to undermine the city.

Perhaps the Big Three needs time to analyze and evaluate the situation for themselves. Perhaps they don't want to move too quickly, and still might make a big, shoulder-to-shoulder announcement soon. We'll give them the benefit of doubt so far — but we're nearing the point when their silence will become deafening, and their inaction will tell us they actually aren't in favor of 2C.

Surely that's not the case. So many times, we've seen and heard each entity of the Big Three being dedicated to making Colorado Springs a better place to live, and to preserving the assets we have. They know that the building and real-estate market, not to mention the pro-business community, would suffer with senior and community centers closed, parks abandoned, bus service severely curtailed and, yes, even police and fire losing personnel. That certainly wouldn't give the city much of a platform for convincing more companies to move here.

And if Bruce's Measure 300 passes while 2C fails, that would be lethal.

Surely, the Big Three will think about all that and realize that the time to step up is now — even if it's with solid moral support and little money. The 2C campaign needs powerful allies to help make the case and, especially, to neutralize the cynics who somehow think Colorado Springs' financial crisis resulted from mismanagement. (Those cynics also have no idea how much the city has already cut in the past 18 months.) And though this issue isn't about political parties, the reality is that the city's Republican majority will swing this outcome, and without the Big Three's forceful encouragement, that majority might not feel the urgency to save the Springs.

One last point: If the Big Three will stand behind 2C, it would only make sense for more well-known Republicans to climb aboard the bandwagon on behalf of their, and our, city.

But if none of that happens, and they all stay on the sidelines, they will not be able to say they weren't properly warned.

Because this is their warning, and their wake-up call. Here and now.

routon@csindy.com

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