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Colorado Springs City Council Fails First Fiscal Fitness Exam

June 15, 2011 J

The “new” Colorado Springs City Council failed an early test of fiscal fitness Monday, by rejecting a proposed resolution supporting efforts to defend the constitutionality of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in federal court. A group of lawyers and politicians, mostly liberal Democrats, has taken the nearly 20-year-old TABOR amendment to court, claiming the taxing and spending limits it imposes on state legislators are incompatible with the republican form of government.

Americans for Prosperity Colorado rejects that premise and has launched a statewide effort to get local officials and governments to weigh-in on the pro-TABOR side of the suit, which threatens not just TABOR, but states’ rights, voter rights and the freedom of average citizens to make change at the ballot box, via initiatives and referenda. El Paso County led the charge several weeks back, when commissioners voted 5-0 to allow County Attorney Bill Louis to file papers in support of TABOR when the lawsuit gets underway. But only 3 of 9 members of the Colorado Springs City Council were willing to support such a resolution, suggesting that a strong anti-TABOR bias continues at City Hall despite the recent election of six new faces.

Bernie Herpin, Angela Dougan and Lisa Czelatdko supported the proposal. Scott Hente, Jan Martin, Tim Leigh, Brandy Williams, Val Snider and Merv Bennett did not. These votes will be counted as part of an elected officials scorecard AFP plans on publishing in the future, said AFP state Director Jeff Crank. Crank said he would be alerting AFP’s growing army of grassroots activists about who stood where on the vote.

“Where an elected official stands on TABOR is a pretty good indicator of where he or she stands on a variety of budget issues,” said Crank. “It’s very disappointing, here in the birthplace of TABOR, that our new city council is already so out of step with where the vast majority of their constituents are on this issue. I’m not sure what’s in the tap water over at City Hall, but it seems that nearly everyone who gets elected to city council almost immediately cops an anti-TABOR attitude, which is really at odds with the views of most people in Colorado Springs.”

Crank said the vote, though disappointing, wouldn’t slow AFP’s efforts to get similar resolutions approved by local officials across the state. Although that effort is just getting started, interest in joining the federal court fight on TABOR’s side had been strong. “This lawsuit doesn’t just target the taxpayer protections provided by TABOR, including the right to vote on tax increases, but it seeks to overturn the wishes of voters, and subvert the democratic process, by trying to get TABOR repealed by judicial edict,” said Crank. “This was an easy but meaningful way for city council to signal its support for fiscal restraint and its respect for voters. That a majority couldn’t do this doesn’t bode well for this council’s future.”

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