Friday, February 11, 2011
AGAIN: NO to Chopper Brigade at Fort Carson!
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper visits Fort Carson. He is also pumping for the Helicopter Brigade but needs to understand that most in the Springs want it like they want the plague.
As I noted in an earlier blog:
There is a plan afoot to bring in a "Helicopter Brigade" - replete with 120 noisy and oil-guzzling choppers, and 2,800 technicians and staff, into Fort Carson and Colorado Springs. This is a terrible idea for all the reasons I enumerated, plus it will impose yet another impediment to any REAL businesses setting up shop in the El Paso County area, with actual, income-generating jobs for the region's more than 100,000 unemployed (most of those left jobless after numerous software firms, including Intel, pulled out ca. 2001)
No business worth its salt wants to move operations into a military-saturated area with high nuisance and low quality of life factors, to boot. If therefore high quality jobs are needed(with decent benefits and pay), then El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs need to say a resounding 'NO!' to this chopper brigade (for which a final decision is expected in the next 30 days).
Of course, to hear the clarion calls of the pro-militarists in the region - chief among them The Colorado Springs (Right wing) Gazette, you'd never know the truth. In its recent editorial: 'Colorado Springs wants the Brigade' (Feb. 8, p. A9) all manner of lies and exaggerations are spewed out to try to brainwash the populace into accepting this unwanted addition, which will simply lower life quality and deter actual employers (other than the military) from coming in.
Amongst the lies in the editorial:
"Yes, the Brigade will be great for employment and Colorado's economy. Thousands of working military and civilian residents will help property values and businesses. For most watching helicopters is fun".
The truth is that a new addition wouldn't do diddly or squat to assist the local economy.It will mean maybe a 2% increase in revenues from sales tax (less than obtained from the local medical marijuana industry), but wouldn't create any jobs - only use the pre-existing, pre-designated private contractors. Huge boost? Hardly! Ever since nearly 15,000 troops moved in from Fort Hood, TX in 2009 there's been nearly constant construction on the Ft. Carson base, including new motorpools, offices and barracks. None of them made a dent to the economy, and the City Council last year still had to enact massive and draconian budget cuts, including: cutting off street lights (which drew national attention), stopping all weed and refuse control in parks, shuttering all rest rooms in parks, closing down nearly one fourth of all bus service (leaving many who depended on it unable to get to their jobs).
We won't even detail how cuts also had to be made to the sanitation and health services! Further cuts also had to be made to the D-11 school district with 4 elementary schools shut down, and the kids having to be packed in elsewhere, meanwhile Falcon District 49 faces cuts this year!
So, if an influx of 15,000+ Fort Hood troops didn't help, then how the hell are 2,800 Chopper Brigade members going to do any better? They won't - they will simply make the existing situation much worse, and the over-crowded burden even more severe, for roads, schools, and hospitals. The "Gazelle" needs to pull its editorial head from its backside.
Even if Carson did hire locals, it would only be for a very short time period, so long as the Afghan adventure -occupation continued - but then it's supposed to end in 2014 when the NATO mission concludes.
As far as "helping property values and businesses", again no. We have not seen any such help since the Ft. Hood influx arrived, with property values plummeting as troops are unable to even get mortgages (because of the bank credit crunch and the demand for credit scores of nearly 800 for prospective borrowers) and must therefore settle into apartments or base housing. Businesses also are not doing that well, since in the recession economy most troops have confined their business to the base commissary and only ate out where the restuarants offered 25% troop discounts. BIG DEAL!
As for 'having fun watching helicopters' - tell that to the oldster who collapsed from a stroke last year when one flew too low over his home. Or tell it to the folks who keep dogs outside, and when the choppers buzz their homes the animals go nuts - freaking out.
The Gazette nabobs then add:
"More importantly is the fact that our troops need to practice flight maneuvers in a region of high elevation and treacherous terrain"
But that also doesn't wash, because the state just north of Colorado (WYOMING) also has those attributes - PLUS - only one tenth the population of Colorado, so there is one-tenth the potential for a nuisance factor! So why the hell not send this brigade there? Well, because that's where the rich hob nob (over at Jackson Hole and around the Grand Tetons) and we can't have their precious golf swings or hikes (or mountain villas) being disturbed by choppers now, can we? Much better the poor schlubs in the Springs be disturbed, you know - the ones who toil at Safeway and Walmart to try to make a buck (while they avoid being run over by frenzied shoppers during sales).
Even if this unnecessary brigade is approved, at least there is a bill afoot to control the nuisance element. Sponsored by two Colorado legislators (Reps. Wes McKinley and Ed Vigil) the bill would prevent low-flying military flights over much of Colorado. It also seeks to define private property to include all air space up to 500'- so any military choppers would need court approval to fly lower than 500' - or do 200' buzz runs, scaring the bejeebers out of animals, and the elderly. (Who are more likely to suffer strokes and heart attacks when sudden noises over 200dB are generated.)
The Gazette opinionator adds:
"Military officials should know that noisy opposition to the copter brigade comes from a tiny fringe".
But this is a bare-faced lie. Opposition comes from all members of the community, from farmers, shop keepers, house keepers, teachers, doctors, nurses and yes....business owners...who don't appreciate the prospect of having their business meeting interrupted by the WHOP! WHOP! of low flying choppers - which are also guzzling thousands of gallons of precious petrol each hour on their sorties through the neighborhoods.
Want a Chopper Brigade? Then put it in the state of Wyoming, Pentagon! We are sure Cheney and company will welcome them - what with t'errists lurking under the covers everywhere! (And we know Cheney's "1% solution" demands a fight or at least preparation, even there's only a 1% probability of an attack. Fine, then he can keep the damned chopper brigade!)