Thursday, December 11, 2014

Amy Lathen: What stormwater backlog?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 4:27 PM

How quickly politicians forget their highest priorities, especially when seeking an office in a jurisdiction that spoke loudly at the ballot box on one of those priorities by defeating funding for it.

We're talking about El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen, who's running for mayor of Colorado Springs.
click to enlarge Lathen: Dumping a losing issue?
  • Lathen: Dumping a losing issue?
Lathen officially announced her candidacy at a manufacturing plant on Nov. 17. This was two weeks after voters thumped a proposal for which Lathen had campaigned vigorously. The Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority, which would have collected $39 million a year in fees from property owners, went down 53 percent to 47 percent.

Immediately after the vote, Lathen was upbeat, noting that 47 percent of voters supported the measure, which proposed to chip away at the area's billion-dollar stormwater backlog on a regional basis.

Well, guess what. Lathen has released her seven-page mayoral Campaign Platform, and the words "stormwater" and "flooding" don't appear anywhere. Not even once.

The document has catchy subheads like "Vision — The City I See," and "Contract With The Citizens."

Her platform does contain the word "infrastructure" four times, but nary a peep about dealing with rushing waters that threaten homes and businesses during heavy rains and could jeopardize the city's relationship with Pueblo, which suffers the brunt of stormwater flooding from Fountain Creek, and thus, the city's Southern Delivery System pipeline project. Pueblo County has threatened to sue the city or try to reopen the Bureau of Reclamation's decision to allow the Springs to store water in Pueblo Reservoir, if the city doesn't do something about all that stormwater coming Pueblo's way.

But regardless, Lathen seems to have regionalization on her mind. The word "regional" appears in the platform no less than 31 times. She promises to combine city functions with the county and the state, or at least study the possibility, in the following areas:

— "I will support open discussions on the potential of creating a regional park model. Once again, using
existing resources, I support the efficiencies and economies of scale of maintaining our parks, trails and
open spaces regionally
and will seek regional and specialized citizen/staff leadership to deliver a plan for
expansion of use, dedicated resources and improved maintenance of our recreational amenities and a
plan for trail connectivity."

— "Evaluation of regional parks district and potential benefits of shifting resources to such a district."

— "I will engage a collaborative review of regional assets and recommendations from law enforcement for
shared resources."

— "Urban/Regional Planning"

— "I will support open discussions on the potential of creating a regional transportation management model.
I will seek options, including a model focused on regional-transit options using existing resources under
regional and specialized citizen/staff leadership."

— "We must focus on the benefits of unified/regional Public Works, including the City, the County and the
State of Colorado."

— "I will not hesitate to sell unused equipment or to partner regionally to gain efficiencies and provide holistic, responsible infrastructure services." (This regards fleet.)

— "I will work with El Paso County and all regional municipalities in a collaborative review of regional
emergency management...
"

— "I will form a specialized taskforce to work toward regional integration of Information Technology
infrastructure..."

You get the idea.

So it would seem Lathen is prepared to create some newfangled government that combines the city and county in almost every area. Makes you wonder if she would also regionalize City Council and the Board of County Commissioners into one big oversight board.

Considering commissioners knock down $87,300 a year, compared to Council's $6,250, might Lathen promise to ask the state legislature, which sets county elected officials' pay, to dial back those salaries to match those of Council? What are the chances?

Here's the platform document:

Other candidates seeking the mayor's seat are Attorney General John Suthers and former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace. Mayor Steve Bach hasn't declared his intentions.

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