Any multipronged political assault on our pocketbooks needs a fight song.
After all, how would the Allies have prevailed in the first World War without "Over There" and "Mademoiselle from Armentieres"? And Hitler could well have kicked butt absent "Anchors Aweigh'" not to mention the little ditty that wraps up with "Goebbels had no balls at all ..."
Since Mayor Mary Lou, County Commissioner Ed Jones, deep-thinkin' Ted Eastburn, and our tax-lovin' conservatives Sallie Clark and Margaret Radford are at this moment preparing for war, they need an inspirational ditty. Here's a slightly modified '40s college drinking song that ought to do the trick:
(Sung to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame")
"Let's have more parties and taxes
Taxes, parties and balls
As Mary Lou Makepeace has said before, that's the way we will stay out of war.
So let's have more parties and taxes
Taxes, parties and balls
For it's parties and taxes
And taxes and parties
And balls, balls, balls!"
That oughta keep their spirits up, as they trudge around town, peddling yet another proposed tax increase -- or, in this case, a whole bunch of 'em.
I suppose that we could trot out all kinds of sober-sided analyses of why these particular measures are/are not appropriate and come to some kind of governmentally correct, harrumph, harrumph, terminally turgid conclusions that -- who knows? -- might even make sense.
It might, that is, if you accept the fundamental premise that underlies the whole massive tax package. That premise is the assumption that the two principal governments in the Pikes Peak region, El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs, are so structured as to collect taxes and deliver services in a fair and equitable way to the citizens whose taxes support them.
Sadly, they aren't. Even the most cursory analysis of city/county government shows that taxpayers within the city limits are subsidizing, through de facto double taxation, a rickety and expensive edifice of overlapping jurisdictions, duplicated functions, and make-work bureaucracies.
Go downtown. Within a few blocks of each other, you'll find two parallel governments, each largely functioning as if the other didn't exist.
We've got two police agencies, two sets of local elected officials, two parks departments, two sets of urban planners, two planning commissions, two office buildings full of city/county workers, two public works departments -- you name it, we've got two of 'em. If a visitor from Mars landed in Acacia Park and said, "Take me to your leader!," who you gonna call?
So who gets screwed by all of this? In some sense we all do, because inefficient government -- too large, too expensive -- is a plague on all of our houses. Specifically, I suspect that city residents and businesses are the ones getting the shaft.
Let's consider the fiscal implications of creating a new governmental entity to be called "The City & County of Colorado Springs," which, like the City & County of Denver, would consolidate both the city's and county's operations within the city's present boundaries.
The new city/county would have to provide many of the services presently provided to city residents by El Paso County, but it'd also have at its disposal all of the revenues that the county currently sucks out the pockets of city residents in sales and property taxes.
And those numbers are pretty substantial, since the county collects a 1 percent sales tax, and a hefty property tax to boot. Sure, it could be argued that the county performs a lot of expensive functions (jails and social services, to name a couple) that would now be the new entity's responsibility, but it's possible that eliminating redundant employees/bureaucracies/facilities would create real savings.
Have city taxpayers, then, been subsidizing the county's ring of sprawl? Dunno, but imagine El Paso County if it were deprived of the revenues from incorporated Colorado Springs?
Simply put, it wouldn't be a financially viable entity; the new County might have to make remote developments actually pay their own way.
So when you look at the four Republicans (excluding the conscientious and hard-working Jeri Howells) who currently get paid big bucks for doing nothing as county commissioners, think of them, if you live in the city, as the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Fire, as in the city's too broke to afford new fire stations. Flood, as in the city's too broke to afford new drainage projects. Famine, as in the city's been looted of its own tax revenues. Pestilence, because the whole sorry mess ought to make us sick.
And to end on a cheery note, since the political/institutional/legal/bureaucratic obstacles to change are so large, there's only one solution: Move to the Black Forest.
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