by Pam Zubeck
Election season usually means voters need to crank up their lie-o-meters to detect whose pants are on fire. So, from our Fib Factor File:
In her latest campaign piece, El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark takes credit for several projects constructed with money from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority tax measure that appeared on the November 2004 ballot.
Clark was elected to her first term in the same election, so it's impossible for her to have had a direct hand in crafting the ballot measure.
Here's an excerpt from her promotional piece:
The condition of our roads matters. It impacts our ability to attract new business and jobs to El Paso County, impacts our military, and costs each one of us in time and additional car repairs.
That’s why I’ve been working hard, here in El Paso County, and traveling to Denver and Washington, D.C. to work with our transportation officials, state legislators, our United States Representatives and Senators, to get our El Paso County and Pikes Peak regional projects done and to fight for our fair share.
The campaign piece then gives Clark credit for these "completed" projects, among others:
• Cimarron Bridge reconstruction
• Highway 16 interchange at Fort Carson
• Bijou Street and 1-25 interchange
• South Academy improvements at Pikes Peak Community College/Broadmoor Bluffs connection.
We checked with the Pikes Peak Council of Governments, which oversees the RTA program, and were told that the Cimarron Bridge project, 1-25 companion projects to the Bijou Bridge which improved the east and west ramps, and the South Academy improvements, called the South Metro Accessibility Phase 1, were all included in the 2004 ballot measure.
We asked Clark why she's promoting these projects as her own when they were approved before she was in office. We got this e-mail response, which doesn't specifically answer the question:
[Below] are some links regarding my vocal support for the Cimarron Bridge before and after the passage of PPRTA. As my fellow PPRTA board members know, structural integrity of the bridge was a particular concern and This was addressed many times, prior to sections of the bridge falling onto the railroad tracks below.
I have been working with various entities on many area projects over my years in service as a public servant, an individual citizen and neighborhood activist. Thanks to the success of the PPRTA and the approval of the voters who supported the transportation authority, the city was able to get this project completed. I am particularly proud of all the entities that worked together to get this done for the safety of our community and the viability of our downtown and Westside economy.
Clark has a primary election on her hands for her third term, with Karen Magistrelli winning top ballot line at the county assembly this spring. Ballots are scheduled to go out June 4, with primary winners decided June 26.
One reason Clark's opponent got into the race stems from Clark's vote to put a term-limits extension measure on the November 2010 ballot. The measure allows her and other county elected officials to seek a third term by lifting the statewide voter-approved measure to limit elected officials to two, four-year terms.
The measure passed. But voters later protested, saying the ballot language was misleading, because it asked whether terms should be "limited" to three terms instead of "extended" to three terms.
Some voters demanded a second shot at the measure, but Clark was among those commissioners who refused to allow a re-vote in November 2011. Instead, she supported a vote at this November's election, which, even if the term limits measure is defeated, wouldn't prevent Clark and Commissioner Dennis Hisey from winning third terms.
Hisey is locked in a primary race with Air Force and Army veteran Auddie Cox.
Clark and Hisey have good reason to want to extend their service. They're paid strong>$87,300a year, and their lifetime pensions grow to $1,938 from $1,292 a month if they add four more years of service.