Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Benson's Failed Experiment

The City has leased the lot from May 24 to October 1,
2012, in an effort to provide more parking capacity and to
determine if parkers will utilize the lot
-- press release issued by Manitou Springs City Administrator, Jack Benson

Earlier this year, and well before the Waldo Canyon Fire obliterated almost everyone’s ideal of a typical Colorado summer, Manitou Springs city administrator, Jack Benson, decided to experiment with a parking lot. His hypothesis: leasing a parking lot from the Tajine Alami Restaurant, in conjunction to the COG Railway’s donation of a shuttle service to transport people (at no cost to them) from the same parking lot, would “provide more parking capacity.”

As it were, the local Pikes Peak Bulletin, not capable of asking critical questions and demanding evidence from city officials, posted a blurb in its August 16, 2012 edition (“Post-fire effects lead to end of free shuttle”) about the discontinuing of Benson’s experiment. Instead of pointing out the fact that the parking lot/shuttle service was an experiment, the Bulletin, in typical cronyism fashion, called the parking lot free.

Alas, alas, the parking lot was not free. In fact, if the Bulletin had any decent journalistic aptitude, they would have simply used Google. Has anyone at the Bulletin ever heard of a search engine? Alas, alas, it doesn’t appear so.

A quick Google search promptly reveals that, according to this website, the city shelled out a princely sum of $1,500 per month for the parking lot, beginning in May and lasting through October, a six month lease. In other words, Jack Benson’s failed experiment with a parking lot cost the city at least $9,000 - an expensive parking lot that sat empty for days and weeks. And probably will remain so until October, based on the Bulletin’s blurb.

The Bulletin’s August 16 blurb contained the premise the termination of the shuttle service was due to a lack of business in Manitou Springs due to the lingering effects from the Waldo Canyon Fire but omitted the fact that the original agreement for the shuttle service from the COG Railway was to run between June 16 to August 12.

That means the original agreement expired and was not renewed, probably because of a variety of factors, one of which was the fire. But to say the shuttle service ended solely because of the fire without mentioning the shuttle’s service expiration date is either lazy reporting or a simple disregard for reporting facts.

Jack Benson gambled and lost. Benson should apologize for wasting taxpayers' money. He should find a way to refund city businesses $9,000 and by businesses, that does not mean those only who work with and for the city government, which is pretty much any person who sets foot in the building that houses the Bulletin.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

City Council Writes Disregard for Constitution Into Ordinance

I'm not a big fan of boilerplate clauses.  In any negotiation, they are basically an admission that insufficient research has gone into a venture, but people are choosing to move ahead anyway.  They're a way of saying, "We may be wrong, we don't know, we don't care enough to find out.  If you find out we're wrong, we will only admit to it on the specific line items you prove wrong."

A recent Ordinance of City Council contains a boilerplate clause that is extremely troubling to me. 

"The City Council hereby declares that it would have passed this ordinance and each part or parts hereof irrespective of the fact that any one part or parts be declared unconstitutional or invalid."

Read that again.  And again.  Make sure you get what they just wrote into our Municipal Code.

Do you see anything wrong with that?