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Challenge for city leaders

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Bravo to John Hazlehurst! Someone has finally said what has long needed to be said ("Why look at other cities?" City Sage, April 11). Colorado Springs is indeed a city that has lost its way and is enamored with holding on to a past that no longer exists.

Politically, Colorado Springs suffers from having a voting base that drank the Kool-Aid and religiously embraced the disingenuous and deceitful mantras espoused by Ronald Reagan: "Government is not the solution but the problem," and the utterly grotesque belief that "taxes are evil."

Since that time, our generation has ignored an undeniable, irrefutable truth — that anything and everything worth accomplishing demands an investment. Whether a loving, nurturing relationship, an education or a great community, it doesn't happen without sacrifice, hard work and investment.

Here, the voting behavior illustrates this city's character and values. Despite hollow rhetoric, it shows little concern for the future of Colorado Springs. It translates to an emphasis focusing on the here-and-now, not the future, resulting in a political environment fueled by narrow, arrogant self-interests and characterized by an unhealthy dose of ignorance and fear of change.

As Colorado Springs slides into disrepair, we see one inane action after another (turning off street lights, eliminating public transportation routes, etc.). A blighted area of North Nevada Avenue is removed, and what takes its place? Another shopping center! Instead of an attractive waterfront, we end up with a developer's dream: another Costco, Kohl's and Lowe's! Just another example of a wasted opportunity for short-term monetary gain.

I won't even get into the fiasco concerning the U.S. Olympic Committee retention deal, and now this Martin Drake Power Plant retrofit project. Haven't we had enough of these embarrassing moments?

As for these "trips" that city leaders take to other cities, is it possible that the problem we face isn't answerable in those cities? Maybe the answer is closer to home. A blind man can see what is lacking here. There's a lack of vision, lack of leadership, lack of imagination and lack of commitment.

Hazlehurst is exactly right when he points to committed communities and elected officials who actually work for their people. The cities visited, and those close by, are successful because voters elect people with a commitment to make a better place for their residents. Those voters put their money and their time where their mouth is. They demand accountable, responsible government and they receive it. And together, they reap the enormous benefits.

Few places have the amenities of Colorado Springs ... a beautiful location with terrific weather, nearby mountains, trails, rivers. We have a plethora of amenities worthy of boastfulness and pride, such as The Broadmoor, an absolutely amazing philharmonic, a fine arts center, an independent film festival, a first-rate college and a town square with terrific potential that could be the start of a revitalization of the downtown area. Anyone ever think of tearing down the dilapidated band shell and that awful shuffleboard court area and, in their place, redesigning the park as an outdoor event center?

Ask yourselves: "What do we want Colorado Springs to be in the next 10, 20, then 50 years, and what do we need to do to ensure that we get there from here?" Here's a suggestion for the politicians: Try staying home and focusing on our civics, our city, our urban development/renewal. Try developing a strategic plan, a multi-year master redevelopment agenda that we can vote on, along with realistic costs, so people can make informed decisions. Become responsible to the people who live here. Put aside your own myopic political agendas and start moving this city forward.

Hazlehurst hits the nail right on the head. As it stands today, nothing good is in store for Colorado Springs. Unless we encompass a new vision and willingness to change our city (yes, folks, that translates to paying more taxes) and cease continually electing people unfit for public office (yes, folks, that translates to being informed and demanding responsible, accountable government), we do irreparable harm to Colorado Springs. And inevitably we get exactly what we deserve — an ever-devolving pathway toward an ever-increasingly blighted, stagnant and backward city.

Not a proud legacy to leave behind for the next generations.

Bruce Allen, a retired Air Force officer who served as a hospital administrator, now takes classes at Pikes Peak Community College.

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