Brace yourself, folks, for the Bill and Bill and Bill show. Bill Guman, who is running for the Board of County Commissioners, has responded swiftly to a proposal, detailed in last week's Independent, to raise already cushy county commissioner salaries for the second time in two years.
Rep. Bill Sinclair introduced the plan to hike commissioner salaries to $75,500 a year plus benefits, claiming that "any commissioner can of course decline to accept this pay hike ... but I don't think anyone will." Guman responded with his "Temporary Relief Assistance Pledge," a program that would, if he is elected, help needy El Paso County residents who "may be having a temporary stroke of bad luck due to setbacks in our local economy, unemployment, health concerns, etc."
Guman, who owns a local landscape architecture business, estimated the nearly 20-percent pay hike over current tax-paid salaries would net an extra $52,000 over a four-year commissioner term. That's on top of the $63,203 annual salary that commissioners currently receive.
"I do not plan to profit at the expense of taxpayers, especially during these times of financial uncertainty in El Paso County," Guman noted.
Sinclair, a kindly retiree who represents House District 16 in north-central Colorado Springs, this week introduced another bill to outlaw SLAPPsuits, those nasty lawsuits that are designed to force citizens to think twice before expressing their right to free speech. Anti-SLAPP legislation has been adopted in 20 other states, and Sinclair's proposal stems from a retired Colorado Springs Air Force captain who went bankrupt after he spoke out against a development project and got sued. In a press conference announcing his bill, Sinclair was accompanied by unlikely bedfellows and fellow supporters Rep. Dan Grossman (a Denver Democrat) and House Speaker Doug Dean (a Republican originally from Colorado Springs who has a penchant for screwdrivers).
"SLAPPsuits are almost always thrown out of court, but often the real purpose is to harass and intimidate critics," Sinclair noted. "Developers should not be able to run roughshod over citizens who participate in public proceedings." Sinclair said. "Citizens should not have to contend with drawn-out court battles, legal fees, stress and anxiety just because they want their voices heard."
Sounds reasonable, right? After all, most people who appear before, say, the City Council, expect that their viewpoints will be duly noted by their elected officials without fear of getting slapped with a nasty lawsuit.
We hate to burst your bubble, but thanks to the near-stranglehold that the big business lobby has on the Colorado Legislature, and its aversion to standing up for us regular folks, SLAPPsuits are far from uncommon. Sinclair introduced a similar bill last year, and it was swiftly executed on the House floor.
Meanwhile Sinclair is facing a hard-core GOP primary challenge from that energetic Bill Jambura, a real-estate broker who ran unsuccessfully for the District 11 Board of Education two years ago. And, in an unusual twist, Sinclair's words of praise about his opponent appear on Jambura's campaign Web site.
This is what Sinclair had to say about Jambura back in September 2000: "Bill [Jambura] is a crackerjack candidate ... ! Dynamic, aggressive, articulate and analytical are words that come to mind when I think of him."
Sinclair goes on: "Bill [Jambura] is particularly gifted in the analysis of financial data ... and has become prominent locally for debunking false or misleading financial reports. He has a very strong interest in public education, one of his many areas of expertise ... . I have noted when he speaks publicly; he completely arrests the attention of those he is addressing. He always is in possession of the facts. Always! ... He reflects a maturity and stability which become him and his potentiality for public office. Intelligent, educated, and possessing a strong commitment to Republican principles ... ."
Talk about wanting to eat your words! Jambura says his former pal, now-opponent was nominating him for the Republican Leadership Program when he wrote that letter of commendation. And now that Jambura is taking on Sinclair, some party higher-ups are not amused. (The Web site, at
www.jambura.com, also includes words of praise from County Commissioner Ed Jones, who reports that he is actually solidly behind Sinclair.)
But this week Jambura defended using Sinclair and Jones' letters of support to his own benefit. "The reason I put it [on the Web site] was not to get [Sinclair's] goat, but to keep them honest," Jambura said, noting that he was well-liked by the Party powers that be -- until he dared to challenge an incumbent.
"Now instead of love, love, love, I'm getting mud, mud, mud. But, if they try to hop over the fence and attack me and throw mud pies at me, their own words make them hypocrites."