Monday, November 4, 2013

The Gazette keeps coming at Councilman Miller

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Councilor Joel Miller: under fire. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • Councilor Joel Miller: under fire.
For two months, City Councilor Joel Miller has been getting hammered by Gazette opinion-page editor Wayne Laugesen, and it's starting to get a little ridiculous. 

It began with Miller's expressed reservations about Mayor Steve Bach's City for Champions proposal, and gained steam with a Sept. 12 editorial in which Laugesen called the Councilman's objecting to how the application was created in secret "a temper tantrum." Bizarrely, the writer mocks Miller, one of but nine voices you or I have in the entire machinery of city government, for objecting that he learned about the city proposal from the local press, instead of from city staff.

This exercise continued on to Miller's Facebook page, where the councilor struck back by passive-aggressively citing "people" who want him to label the Gazette as a lapdog of the mayor, and trotted back out the widely spread rumor that former reporter Daniel Chacón was reassigned off the City Hall beat in a fit of pique from Bach. 

Laugesen then decided to incite Miller's fans/followers on the thread — where he also jabs at Miller by saying he "bent over backward convincing the board to endorse him" (which it did, as did the Indy).

After Miller listed a few attributes that he said allow him to be devoid of personal agenda in office, out came this weird charge: "The fact you don't run a business speaks volumes about your agenda," Laugesen wrote. "So does the fact you can live anywhere with an airport. It means you have no need for this community's economy to grow. If it continues to stagnate, everything stays the same for you. And if things get too unpleasant, you simply pack up and move to some other city with an airport. Nothing will change for you." 

The Gazette writer would later explain his fervor by saying he was offended at being called a lapdog — and somewhere in here local businessman Trevor Dierdorff weighed-in with a professional description of City for Champions opponents as a "bunch of haters" — but the entire exchange still left me with the exact thought as Jim Egbert: "Wayne, I'm not sure why you are publicly picking a fight with an elected official."

But the most emphatic salvo from Laugesen was still to come. "City councilman escalates absurd sabotage campaign," the Gazette yelled at Miller, again, last Thursday. It's a wobbly piece full of innuendo and repetitive arguments about Miller failing as a citizen because he doesn't own a small business, but mostly it sounds mad that Miller's still opposed to City for Champions, and acting like it.

In an emailed statement sent in response to a request for comment, the daily's opinion-page editor says all newspaper efforts are for the betterment of the city. 

"The Gazette wants Colorado Springs to grow and prosper, creating a better life for residents of the Pikes Peak region," Laugesen writes. "We will continue to weigh in on issues, advocating for better public policy. Sometimes when organizations or individuals disagree we will comment on that and when they obstruct progress, we will weigh in on that, too.

"As Gazette editorials have stated, this incarnation of City Council consists of extraordinary experience and intelligence. The editorial board believes the council could steer our community in a more positive direction and spend less time on internal bureaucracy and management details that are primarily the responsibility of our city government's executive branch. The Gazette endorsed three of the six new council members, including Councilman Miller, and hopes this council will achieve excellent results for Colorado Springs."

Other ways the Gazette has pushed for "excellent results" from Council: opposing the body's desire for its own attorney; saying it should look at Utilities' budget and leave the city to the mayor (see the comments); and generally wishing Council did better at everything. Even a Nov. 1 editorial took a crack at Council, calling its power struggle with departing City Attorney Chris Melcher "[a waste of] time and energy on internal strife."

Miller declined to comment for this post.

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