Stormwater fee's "vote no" committee political operative doesn't live in the city

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When it comes to political campaigns, should someone be allowed to run one or fund one if they don't live in the jurisdiction affected by the campaign?

Laura Carno says yes, and she has and is currently doing so.

Running a campaign, that is.

Carno set up springstaxpayers.com to oppose the city's stormwater fee — measure 2A on the Nov. 7 ballot — which would impose $5-per-month charges on all households, including renters, and $30 per acre per month on owners of nonresidential property. Owners of undeveloped property or nonresidential land over five acres would pay fees based on impervious surface as determined by the city's stormwater manager.

But Carno doesn't live in Colorado Springs. She lives in Black Forest, so she won't be directly affected if the measure passes.

As Rachel Beck, who's running the "vote yes" campaign committee, Invest COS, says via email, Carno "is a voice of dissention [sic] in a matter that has no effect on her. While her anti-everything positions may serve her purposes, Colorado Springs city voters will decide for ourselves what is best for our community."

But Carno, a political strategist who ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011, says she does have a stake in the outcome.

"Even though I don’t live in the city of Colorado Springs, it is where I do all my business," says Carno, reached by phone. That means doing most of her shopping in the city. "Anything that hurts any businesses there, I am a customer."

In addition, Carno defines her campaign as one advocating for good government. Her website says this about the Colorado Springs measure:
Reasons Voters Are Saying NO to Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2A
• The city has record revenues. It can adequately fund stormwater repairs on existing tax dollars
• This is the 6th time in just over 2 years that the Mayor has asked for more money
• Fee starts at $5 per month for residential customers, regardless of the size of the property
• Non-residential customers – including churches and non-profits – pay $30 per acre per month
• Fees can be increased without a vote of the taxpayers
• Owners of undeveloped land are exempt from this fee
• Owners of undeveloped land are among the largest donors to the Yes on 2A effort

"I would say to the other side," Carno says, "they are accepting money from people who don’t live in the city to pay for their mailers. They’re OK with out of town donors."
Carno ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011. - LAURACARNO.COM
  • lauracarno.com
  • Carno ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011.
And so is she, because Carno says everyone has skin in the game to advocate for fiscally responsible government.

Carno, who filed paperwork for her committee on Oct. 6, won't have to disclose the names of her donors until Nov. 3, four days before the Nov. 7 election. But she tells the Indy, "So far, my donors are in the city of Colorado Springs."

To read who's endorsed a "no" vote, go here.

It's true that Invest COS has accepted money from people who don't reside in Colorado Springs. Among those are Spencer Fane LLP, a law firm in Denver, which gave $10,000; K.R. Swerdfeger Construction, Inc., Pueblo West, $5,000; Wagner Construction, Aurora, $1,000; Tyrone Rice, Fountain, $1,000; Colorado Association of Mechanical & Plumbing Contractors, Denver, $5,000; Issues Mobilization Committee, Englewood, $10,000 (this committee can't be found in Colorado Secretary of State Records but shares an address with the Colorado Association of Realtors); Andrew Klein, Glendale, $500; JE Dunn Construction Company, Denver, $1,500; Dan Malinaric, Monument, $500; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm, Denver, $1,000; A-1 Chipseal Co., Denver, $5,000.

Together, that's $40,500, or just under 13 percent of the $320,000 raised so far by Invest COS.

Beck explains, "Our donors, which include residents, businesses, and trade associations, are contributing to a viable solution to a real problem. Included in that group of more than 100 contributors are nine companies or member associations that have significant operations in Colorado Springs and are headquartered in Denver."


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