A little gift from Utilities

One of the great disadvantages of being an elected official is that you can't hide your hypocrisy. Not so in business, or in academia, or even in the highly paid world of journalism -- most of the time, you can totally cover your ass.

Oh, I suppose that if, as a businessperson, you filch a couple of hundred million from the corporate coffers while moonlighting as the leader of a Scout troop, someone might notice. And if, as a Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar, you plagiarize big chunks of your newest work, you risk being found out. And even a lowly journalist, especially if employed by the New York Times, might actually get fired for making up entire stories while hanging out at strip bars on the newspaper's dime.

But such embarrassments are rare in the private sector -- it's live and let live in the glorious playpen of American Capitalism!

Alas, politicians have to play by a different set of rules. Take our poor, long-suffering City Council, whose members simply want to serve their constituency (that's us), and make the right decisions for all the citizens of Colorado Springs.

That must have been what impelled them to leave in place the ratepayer (that's us again)-funded subsidies of new homebuilders by our citizen-owned municipal utility. After all, it makes perfect sense that someone who owns a less-than-new house in an already-developed neighborhood would want to lower the value of his/her property by making new houses in new neighborhoods more affordable. And even if those subsidies don't quite trickle down to the new homeowners, I'm sure that all of us are glad to contribute a few hundred bucks annually to our beloved fellow citizens who have, however reluctantly, consented to become wealthy developers and/or land speculators.

In fact, Council's recent action made sense on so many levels. For starters, it keeps the economy hummin' right along, what with a Wal-Mart on every corner and our streets, once desolate and empty, now packed with gaily colored automobiles (actually SUVs, but no matter) which, if you look for several minutes, are actually moving. And a booming economy provides jobs -- maybe not for you and me, but certainly for the folks who are moving into those nice new houses out by the Kansas line.

And that's why it's so mean-spirited of all you unreconstructed liberals to criticize Council for voting unanimously to oppose Amendment 37.

As you may recall, this milquetoast proposal would require some utility providers, including Colorado Springs Utilities, to get a minimum of 10 percent of their power from renewable energy sources -- wind, solar, geothermal, hydro.

The deluded proponents of this initiative seem to believe that it's important to curb global warming, reduce air pollution, and build a sustainable economy. Foolishly, they think that we ought to be concerned because coal-fired power plants inject tons of pollutants into Colorado's once-pristine air, including mercury, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.

They even think that building wind farms on the desolate plains of eastern Colorado, thus bringing jobs, money and clean industry to the scruffy little towns out there, is somehow a good idea! And sadly enough -- grit your teeth when you read this one, folks -- 75 percent of Colorado voters say they support this nonsense!

Well, I give thanks for the courageous opposition of our intrepid City Council. They're hardheaded, practical men (and woman), who understand that this is so much airy-fairy nonsense. Listen, you people, Council is concerned about the bottom line -- they understand that things are tough out there, and you can't afford to pay another two or three bucks a month for some damned fool wind turbines, or whatever the hell they're called. Utilities has a job to do -- it needs to collect a few hundred a year from all of you for the new homebuilders, just for starters. And besides that, Utilities has to collect an extra $20 million or so every budget cycle to hand over to the Big Bosses -- your own City Council!!

What, you didn't know that? It's no secret; it's just buried in the budget. Every year, Utilities gives the city 20 million big ones. We call it the PILT -- payment in lieu of taxes. That's B.S., of course. If that were truly the case, Utilities would have to give most of the dough to school districts, the county and the state. And why do that? Nope, it's just a little understanding, just a way of keeping everybody sweet, just a little present from the people who know how to collect money (Utilities) to the people who know how to spend it (the city).

Call that hypocritical, do you? Well ... you can just move to France!

-- johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net


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