Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Is he running? A definite maybe

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:03 AM

When the mayor throws his arm around me, you know he's running for re-election.

Or maybe he simply knows he'll be out the door inside of six months.

In any event, a relaxed and upbeat Mayor Steve Bach worked the media during a come-and-go public meeting Tuesday night to explain his $160-million debt proposal that the Gazette reports is being met with skepticism by at least four of eight City Council members. That means unless one of them changes their mind, the measure won't make the April 2015 city election ballot.

Bach's proposal would pump $145 million into streets, bridges, parks and flood control projects over a five-year period and would be repaid over 20 years.

But the question we asked him was simply this. "Are you running?"

"Here," Bach said warmly, putting his arm around my shoulders. "Let's get a picture of the mayor and Pam Zubeck." This from a guy who hasn't returned a phone call from the Independent in years and has refused to comment to the Gazette on numerous topics over the last six months or so. 

But Tuesday night, he was in the mood to talk to the media, although he coyly said he hasn't made up his mind about whether he'll seek a second term.
click to enlarge Bach speaks at length to Gazette reporter Monica Mendoza at Tuesday night's public meeting. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Bach speaks at length to Gazette reporter Monica Mendoza at Tuesday night's public meeting.
Bach, a commercial real estate broker, noted he's not a "career politician," and he's not one who needs to stroke his ego by running again. But he would like to see some projects through, he said. So he's "conflicted."

He said he and his wife, Suzie, will head to the mountains late next week where they'll make a decision.

Meantime, placards were scattered about the City Auditorium showing the need for improvements, such as scuffed-up tennis courts, potholes, flood damage and the like.

All the city government's big-shots were there, such as Chief of Staff Steve Cox, who said, "Jobs. That's what we need. Jobs." He then said great things are happening at the Colorado Springs Airport, before lapsing into a chat about his future. He might run for Amy Lathen's county commission seat in 2016, he said.

Others on hand were stormwater manager Tim Mitros, streets manager Corey Farkas, parks official Kurt Schroeder, communications manager Cindy Aubrey, Fire Chief Chris Riley. You get the idea.

Police Chief Pete Carey was there and had Michael Brown, 18, and Tamir Rice, 12, on his mind. They were killed by police officers and have stirred protests and debate about racism across the country. The deaths also have given rise to initiatives to outfit cops with body cameras, and Carey embraces the idea.

In fact, Colorado Springs is participating in a pilot project in which at least four types of body cameras are being tested.

click to enlarge It was a light turnout at City Auditorium on Tuesday. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • It was a light turnout at City Auditorium on Tuesday.
Among the citizens on hand was Gary Casimir, a retired Navy service member, who always has a good idea.
He doesn't think Bach's debt proposal, which would require no new taxes, goes far enough. The city's needs are way more than $145 million, he said.

So Casimir suggests this: Why not get all the other governments in the region together and propose a small gas tax, say a nickel a gallon. That's about 80 cents per fill-up, he said. Pretty cheap and easy to swallow. And though Casimir didn't say it, we will: That kind of revenue generator might also have another upside of steering owners of those gas guzzling SUVs to think about trading for more fuel efficient models. And what's wrong with that?

The mayor's sixth and final public meeting about his bond proposal will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 Cresta Road.

By the way, when the mayor tried to put his arm around my shoulders, I shied away. "Oh," he joked, "Don't wanna be seen with me, huh?"
 
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