Monday, June 25, 2012

Colo. Springs Comes to Senses: Begs for Federal Help

Colorado Springs is perhaps the most conservative city in the U.S. and that includes its surrounding county, El Paso. This is not surprising if one has lived here any length of time. After all, 'Focus on the Family' is headquarted here, along with some 84 fundamentalist Christian churches. It also has a large military retiree populace, nearly 4 of 5 of whom profess to be diehard Repubs. Further, it is the home to a number of military installations including the well-known Air Force Academy, Peterson AFB, and Fort Carson - now housing 31,000 troops. We also know (from many polls) where most of the military stand in respect to their political persuasion.

The Springs and El Paso County have also in the past four years become fierce braggarts in the realm of proudly denying or dismissing federal aid or money, including for stimulus to get its economy going. (It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at 8.5%). Most recently, when nearly $300,000 was offered to implement three jobs the City Council brashly turned the money down saying: "We ain't takin' no federal dough!"

This is certainly an interesting (and paradoxical) take given they have no qualms about grabbing millions in "federal dough" each year, to support all the military and their bases. And, of course, as I'd blogged about before:

the Springs and El Paso County is currently salivating at the prospect of grabbing nearly a billion to set up a 'combat air brigade'.   The point? They LOVE the feds when the federal tax largesse feathers their own nest (via congressional pork that disadvantages other U.S. towns, regions)  but don't want the feds' help when it entails stimulus money for new jobs for regular citizens, or other assistance. (Little wonder that even as money has poured in to support the military, the city itself has had to close parks, shutter restrooms, and darken street lights to save well as close schools!)

Now, the news that the County has beseeched the federal government for its resources in fighting the Waldo Canyon fire, is a firm reminder that there are definite limits to their "do it ourselves except for military funding" mindset. For those who may not know, the Waldo Canyon fire erupted over Friday- Saturday and quickly metastasized within four hours Saturday night, from 2,500 acres to more than 10,000 acres. The local crews, including from the Colorado Springs Fire Dept. quickly realized they were "out gunned" and - as reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette (today, p. 2A):

"El Paso County officials....pushed for federal fire resources Sunday. County Commissioner Sallie Clarke and her colleagues declared  the Waldo Canyon burn a disaster ...allowing the County to appropriate federal funds, aircraft and crews to join the battle".

Well, frankly, it is at least nice to know Commissioner Sallie Clarke (who spurned any federal stimulus money for the county 3 years ago, despite decaying infrastructure,..roads, bridges, corroded 100-yr. old water mains) now finally acknowledges a point at which she needs the "dastardly"  feds and their $$.

But one is left to wonder if it will ever happen again, and for more normal services and support, apart from sucking on the fed for military goodies!

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