Colorado Springs Utilities workers have organized to influence the April 2 city election, and Councilor Tim Leigh — likely not one of their endorsement choices — is crying foul.
Utilities' Employee Advocacy Group issued a letter to members recently saying it planned to conduct candidate interviews with Don Knight in Leigh's District 1 and Joel Miller in District 2, where Angela Dougan is the incumbent. Leigh and Dougan have frequently sided with Mayor Steve Bach on Utilities issues. Bach has expressed interest in selling the electric utility and getting rid of the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant from lower downtown.
The EAG's letter cites "reliable sources" in reporting that "the Mayor intends to have control over CSU if/when the candidates he wants get elected. Once in control his plans are to enact his 20/20/20 plan: 20% reduction in workforce, 20% reduction in O&M budget, 20% reduction in capital expenses."
The goal, the letter says, is to "cripple" Utilities and undermine its competitive rates and reliability, thus making it easier for Bach to make a case to sell it.
In his e-mailed "market report," Leigh calls CSU a "well-oiled political machine" that's "desperately searching for candidates who will quickly drink the Jim Jones' Cool Aide [sic]," a reference to the cult followers who drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978.
Leigh also says the 20/20/20 plan is a myth, which Bach echoes in a prepared statement. "I'm very disappointed the leaders of [the] group did not approach me directly to put this rumor to rest," the statement says. "I met with them months ago at their request to hear their concerns about CSU, and offered to talk with them again on any matter of concern. This appears to be simply a campaign to discredit me for some political reason."
EAG president Bob Greene tells the Indy that the group formed in July 2011 and is modeled after the Police Protective Association. This is the first election in which it has taken an active role, he says.
"We're tired of seeing our name dragged through the mud all the time," he says, noting the group has 400 active members who work for Utilities or have retired from Utilities.
Greene says he hopes to announce EAG endorsements by Friday, and that Leigh wasn't interviewed because he refused to fill out the EAG's questionnaire. The group is trying to reach Dougan, who did fill it out, for an interview, he says.
An endorsement likely would come with cash and volunteer work from EAG members, Greene says.