Last week, Small informed Councilman Tom Gallagher that he, Gallagher, was "insignificant," and would not make a difference while serving in elected office. Specifically, Gallagher was being chewed out for talking in public about possible cheaper alternatives to the $1 billion proposed Southern Delivery System to divert water from the Arkansas River.
You might be thinking something along the lines of, "Wow, that's kinda mean," so let's now review an incident in January involving Mr. Small and a Colorado Springs resident named Addy Hanson. Hanson, a self-professed political junkie, is an avid follower of the goings-on at City Hall. She has no qualms about letting the people in charge know what's on her mind, and she routinely e-mails them her thoughts. On Jan. 25, she sent an e-mail to Steve Bartolin, the manager of The Broadmoor, who had appeared before Council to talk about the hotel's planned convention center. During the discussion, Small gave the verbal knife to Bartolin, which drew a subsequent scolding.
"[Larry Small] owes you (and The Broadmoor) an apology for his rude, disrespectful comments/remarks," Hanson opined in the e-mail to Bartolin. She copied her note to Small, who responded with a message of his own: "Addy, I usually don't respond to your e-mail because they are of no consequence to anyone." After Small's outburst last week, Hanson fired off another note to the elected official. Inconsequential? Hardly. Hanson gets it about right.
"Tom Gallagher is your peer," she wrote. "He, like you, is a City Councilman. You are no better than, nor less than him. Tom Gallagher makes mistakes. Guess what? So do you!!!
"Likewise with me. I am a citizen of this city -- no better than, nor less than you. Yet, your most recent e-mail to me was one of the most disrespectful and hurtful messages I have ever received. And, it is still unfathomable for me to believe that it came from an 'elected official' in a public-service capacity. You and your words/actions are a disgrace to public office in general.
"You are an excellent example of the many reasons why Colorado Springs has such an intolerant and judgmental reputation around this entire nation."
Which brings us to Larry Liston, a Republican state representative from Colorado Springs. Elected last November, Liston supported a legislative bill to push through what has been nicknamed the "Super Slab," a toll highway connecting Pueblo to Fort Collins that would slice through rural El Paso County about 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. The bill would have enabled the developer to seize properties from reluctant landowners along the way.
On March 16, Ellicott resident Steve Cummings sent Liston, along with several other lawmakers, an emotional e-mail. Read the full text, but the gist is that the Super Slab is unnecessary and the land grab un-American.
"How dare you think it's your duty to destroy homesteads, ranches, towns and, lest we forget, people's lives, all for a wealthy developer to get richer at everyone's expense," Cummings wrote. "Hear the people out for once. Don't turn a deaf ear or get defensive. These are people fighting for what is theirs and holding some hope that our government isn't just smoke and mirrors. Remember, these people entrusted you with a valuable responsibility. It is your sworn duty to uphold the people's will."
This is what Rep. Liston sent in response: "Mr. Cummings, your note is very offensive and you turn off people with your threats. You don't even know me, nor have you met me, yet you condemn me and everyone else. It is OK for you and everyone else to drive and congest I-25, but when a 'proposal' is mentioned to take some of the pressure of the highway, which was built over 45 years ago, you go ballistic. I do represent my district, and quite frankly, most everyone does support it. Please don't bother me again."
Actually, as we witnessed last week after hundreds of people descended on the state capitol to protest, there is plenty of opposition to Super Slab. The bill was shot down, and Cummings learned a valuable lesson: There may be might in numbers, but Larry Liston just doesn't listen.