Columns » Outsider

Cash for all my friends



"Money, honey, if you wanna get along with me.'

"If you got the money, honey, I got the time.'

And why were those half-remembered snatches of decades-old popular songs running through my head?

Because I've been contemplating the ballot for the November elections. Who wants your money? The city, the county, the zoo, the schools, the state, the buses ... have I left anybody out?

See what happens when the voters absent-mindedly approve a bond issue or two? All of a sudden, our elected officials start to think that Colorado Springs has been mysteriously transmogrified into Boulder: rich, liberal, community-minded and positively panting to approve new taxes.

Is it a little early to handicap the field? Not at all; horrific as it may seem, the election's only two months away. The Dougster's already in full battle gear: filing lawsuits, issuing pronouncements, attacking bureaucrats and sending bumper stickers to left-wing columnists (thanks, Doug!).

Let's start with Gov. Bill's billion-dollar-plus bond issue, which will supposedly make our roads all better in a few years, instead of a few generations. The arguments for it are compelling; so are the arguments against it. Unless the Denver metro area, its chief beneficiary, turns out a heavy pro-bond vote (65 percent-plus), it'll fail. It might pass narrowly in Colorado Springs, but it'll go down big everywhere else -- unless campaign strategist Dick Wadhams can persuade rural Colorado to help finance the growth of the Front Range. Wadhams has worked miracles in the past, but not this time. Post-election headline: Stix Nix Dick's Tricks!

Locally, the proposed county-wide transportation system (read: more empty buses), to be supported by a county-wide sales-tax increase, is deader than Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Given that very few actual voters use public transportation, it's unlikely that a majority of them will want to throw more millions into the system.

Similarly, the proposed tax on cable-television subscribers (ludicrously camouflaged by the politicos as a "franchise fee") is doomed. Since everyone who hates the cable company, hates taxes or distrusts municipal government will vote against it, it's hard to see how you can cobble together a pro-tax majority.

What about the zoo tax, and what about the schools? Zoo first: The 10-year, one-twentieth of a cent tax'll pass. The zoo has a lot more friends than the cable company. It's not a lot of money, and I've never heard anyone complain about the zoo. A vote for the zoo is a vote for kids, giraffes and white gators; makes you feel good and positive after voting against buses, highways and cable taxes.

And schools? A tossup, except for the D-11 issue, which is in trouble. It's too soon after the last bond issue, voters are unhappy with the revelation that Superintendent Kenneth Burnley's many perks included taxpayer-funded back massages.

Thinking about the upcoming election, I realize how much I miss Maurice Rahimi, the recently-departed Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments director. Watching the urbane, secretive, silky smooth Rahimi deal with his enemies was both fascinating and excruciating; he moved slowly, subtly and remorselessly. Kind of like a motionless python at the zoo contemplating a rabbit, or a politician thinking about a tax increase.

So long, Maurice, and don't forget to vote!

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast