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.


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?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Does the Bulletin Have An Identity Problem?

The larger newspapers in the Pikes Peak region, the Gazette and the Independent, do not cover government news or issues related to Manitou Springs and its politics for the most part. It may be that the city is too small to warrant considerable ink and page space devoted to the politics of a small city with barely a burp over 5,300 souls.

The Pikes Peak Bulletin is generally considered Manitou Springs’ only newspaper. It has a subscription list. It has vending machines for people to buy copies. It has a front page, a sports section, classified ads, an op-ed section. The Bulletin looks, smells, and seems like a newspaper in the same mold as the Gazette and Independent.

The Bulletin, a weekly publication, in fact, shares one commonality with the bigger Independent (also a weekly) with the notable exception that the Independent is free and constantly updates their websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc), providing a continuous stream of information, news, and updates to the public. The daily Gazette also offers fresh news content and information on their websites as well.

Meanwhile,  the Bulletin does not. It is true the Bulletin does have a website but one must purchase a subscription to have access to the contents (news, information, updates) within the website. Both the Gazette and Independent do not have such restrictions. 

So, what is the Bulletin then, if it is not a true journalism driven newspaper? A glorified classified ads? A voice for city government? A propaganda tool?

During the Waldo Canyon Fire evacuations, most city officials and residents left the city, including it seems, the Bulletin. Online, that fact was magnified once social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) began informing the public of the happenings, news, and updates related to Manitou Springs and the fire. It was as if the Bulletin and city officials decided an evacuation was sufficient reason to altogether cease the reporting of anything to city residents, leaving them to fend for themselves amid a sea of confusion during the hours of that early Sunday morning when evacuations were ordered.

Wander online today and you might discover a happy plethora of websites devoted to Manitou Springs. Why, you can search Facebook and discover the Chamber of Commerce’s So Many Things in Manitou Springs page praising discounts offered daily by local businesses.

But there is a huge void. The closest one can find in terms of news content related to Manitou Springs and its government is the Pikes Peak Bulletin. As illustrated in last week’s post (Benson’s Cronyism), and unfortunately, the Bulletin doesn’t seem interested or capable of doing investigative stories, in-depth analyses, or anything remotely critical of city government and officials.

Information creates ideas and vice-versa. Information creates solutions to problems. The competition of ideas is a long-held American process that has created untold improvements for Americans. Debates and discussions about information reported in news media are also part of an important American tradition. We see this everyday online, on TV, at the coffee shop when people discuss the latest talking points made by any presidential candidate anytime within the last 15 minutes. Ideas and information are at the heart of today’s modern world.

It is generally and often noted by many involved in Manitou Springs’ political arena that the city’s residents are politically apathetic, preferring not to vote or participate in elections in large numbers. One reason for that may be the too-cozy relationship between the Bulletin and city government, reinforced by the Bulletin’s lack of a coherent identity (journalism or propaganda pet), and its ability to produce one-sided political stories created by city officials.

One, obvious way to reduce the rampant political and voting apathy in Manitou Springs is to increase the amount of information available to residents. Today, the Bulletin provides outdated and mostly useless information about local government to the public, forcing residents to look elsewhere. But there are no other news media outlets dedicated to and located in Manitou Springs, a fact the Bulletin’s publishers and city officials seem to benefit from.

There are more important issues to be reported about Manitou Springs than the incessant whining on the part of a group of city officials who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than engage in petty, dirty politics.

Here are some ideas for the Bulletin to consider reporting about and for residents to debate: reduce the size of city government. Reduce taxes. Improve and increase accountability and transparency for city government and officials. Increase community collaborations. Increase community-building. Improve communication between residents and the city government in all aspects, and on and on.

And of course, the all-important one: is the Bulletin a news publication or an outdated form of glorified government spam?

--  --

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Benson's Croynism

Mere weeks after a major fire threatened to erase Manitou Springs from geographical maps in libraries around the world, it was a surprise and disappointment to read in last week’s Pikes Peak Bulletin that city administrator Jack Benson’s priorities are skewed. Compassion and concern for residents seems to have been buried underneath the political aims of city council - with the Bulletin’s help.

Apparently, and quoting the Bulletin’s July 19th article (“Council hopes ordinance deters Soda Springs stage loiterers, vandals”), Benson told the Manitou Springs city council last Tuesday, “We have to draw a line in the dirt on what we’re going to tolerate and what we’re not going to tolerate.” Benson was referring to his support of a new ordinance recently passed by the council that will require people to obtain a permit to use Soda Springs park, in particular, the stage.

What’s the issue with the stage, then?

Initially, the Soda Springs park dog-and-pony show began early this year when officials complained too many people were loitering near the Triangle, a popular area near Soda Springs park. Then an issue was raised by city officials about crime on Ruxton near the Soda Springs park. Then came something about a proposed anti-smoking ordinance for and near Soda Springs park.

Then, and after all of that, when a resident pointed out the Triangle was near the park (and its stage), city officials such as Benson simply - and in figurative literalness - moved their rhetorical claims (crime, smoking, loitering) away from the Triangle and towards Soda Springs park. Clearly, city officials are more interested in escaping public scrutiny of their claims and actions by constantly shifting lines in political dirt to suit their whims.

Benson claims there is damage to the stage but the Bulletin did not print any evidence or at least seem interested in asking for such proof from Benson. Instead, there’s only the implication that because certain people loiter in the park and the stage, there is damage to the stage.

Said Benson, “I don’t care if it’s a juvenile or an adult, they shouldn’t be damaging our property. We have to put something in place that deters that kind of behavior.” And what is the damage, Mr. Benson? What kind of people are doing the damage? What behavior by what people doing what damage to the stage? Again, the Bulletin doesn’t seem interested in asking for details.

It serves little purpose to explore the dark, seedy side of Benson’s view, other than to ostracize a class of people for their supposed and alleged behavior. But the Bulletin’s story does raise an issue that has been altogether ignored: the too-cozy relationship between city officials and the Bulletin.

Rather than ask for evidence or details, or present an alternative view to Benson’s, the Bulletin simply passed the political baton from Benson to Roger Miller, another city official, who simply repeated other city officials’ previous implications and generalized statements and claims. Miller is the city’s Chamber of Commerce operating chief.

And what did Miller have to say about the stage? “From a personal standpoint, I’m getting tired of cleaning up.” Cleaning up what? When do you clean the stage, Mr. Miller? The story doesn’t say, and not surprisingly, Miller didn’t offer any specifics to support his claim.

Meanwhile, sidewalks in town are cleaned daily by a crew of city employees. They are paid to clean vomit off sidewalks, sweep cigarette butts off the curbs, pick-up trash, and otherwise beautify the downtown area. And yet, for some strange reason, the Bulletin makes no reference as to whether or not the same crews do (or do not) clean the stage in Soda Springs park.

If city employees do clean the stage, then that is what they’re paid to do, and Miller’s claim is pointless and moot. If they are not cleaning the stage, then that warrants consideration as a possible solution to an untidy stage before proposing inane ordinances based on generalized claims and little or no evidence or facts.

Meanwhile, other city parks have dog waste dispensers that seem to be ignored by certain people, probably city officials. Will the city council create an ordinance that prohibits the public from using those parks without a permit issued by city government?

In a time of witnessing heart-warming tales of compassion and caring by communities affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire, it is disheartening to see city officials openly and blatantly declare they “do not care” about the people who live in our city. It is obvious that Benson, and even Miller, do not seem genuinely concerned about Manitou Springs and prefer to continue targeting classes of people they find undesirable.

And the Bulletin? It needs to stop serving city government and become its biggest skeptic.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rock On

Quartz rocks. You may have seen them, up on the hillsides and below your shoes, during your walkabouts in and around the area you call home. But what is quartz, really? I mean, if it looks like a rock, acts like a rock, and rocks when you bump it with your toe, it stands to reason that what you have discovered is likely to be a rock, and not—as your inscrutable neighbor would have you believe—a source of Great Power during times of economic uncertainty.

Having spent considerable time and effort investigating similar phenomena, I found it excruciatingly easy to make the leap to quartz, and thence to other types of rock that refused to support my weight no matter how much I sniffed and dabbed at my eye. If there's one thing I learned from sandstone, it's that.

Another thing I learned is that common household appliances can be pressed into service for all manner of scientific experimentation, but that doesn't necessarily mean the manufacturer will honor the warranty. What it does mean is that the 2.4 GHz frequency your microwave oven uses to warm leftovers is the same frequency used by your wireless router to contact the suspicious object hovering above your cottage. Cheese, too, can be converted to its liquid form using either of these microwave sources, but quartz is not cheese, at least in the dietary sense. Unlike cheese, quartz oscillates in the presence of electromagnetic frequencies—which often results in humanlike speech—hence my particular interest in kitchen appliances.

As you might expect, this brings up the same question I asked in the third sentence, namely, what is quartz, really? I don't know, but I think it may be some sort of rock. Putting a chunk of it in the microwave didn't tell me anything, but that may have more to do with the extreme temperature of the fragment I held up to my ear after the explosion.

On the other hand, incommunicado quartz is mysterious quartz. Dumb as a rock? I wonder.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Some Notices You Might Want to See

Shift Gears & Pedal June 2012 Manitou Springs
Pedal, pedal.


June is Colorado Bike Month!


Manitou Springs Bike 2 Work June
Bike to work off those pounds you got sitting in front of a computer!


Wednesday June 27 is Bike 2 Work Day!



  Job opening at the Police Department as an Emergency Services Dispatcher.


Notice is up in the window at City Hall - you can read it in full there, as well as apply.



Job opening for a Seasonal Full-Time Parking Enforcement Officer - Must be 21 years of age.


Notice is up in the window at City Hall - you can read it in full there, as well as apply.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Manitou's New Transformation

 A local resident of Manitou Springs asked us to post this op-ed piece anonymously:

Click on photo to see a larger image.
Click on photo to see a larger image.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Letter from the Task Force - Do You See What I See?

The following document is a letter I received concerning the May 9th meeting of the Soda Springs Park Safety Task Force.  Because the letter was sent to 30 people, under the Colorado Sunshine Law of 1972, it is open to the public.  Because the meeting includes what is considered a quorum representing the City of Manitou Springs, the meeting is open to the public.  Read on, and tell me if you see anything wrong here.

This is a reminder that we will be having a meeting in Soda Springs Park starting at 5:00 and going until 6:30p.m.  At the conclusion of the meeting for those who want, we will be having a potluck dinner at the pavilion, the potluck is only for task force members.  The meeting will focus on environmental and design strategies for the park and surrounding area of influence.

Please bring your agenda from that last meeting, it has the areas of concern that we will focusing on.  We will spend the first 30-40 minutes divided up into small working groups, each looking at the list of possible environmental and design strategies. The last half of the meeting will centered on each group reporting back to the others what they see as possible strategies.  We will not be spending any time on root causes, ordinances, only strategies.

As a reminder to all, this is not an open meeting to the public, it is intended to be for task force members only.  There will no discussion about the past meetings, or root causes, we have a limited amount of time to focus on strategies.  Please come prepared to discuss and report on strategies. 

Potluck:  I will bring Plates, Spoons Forks and Knifes for the pot luck.  I suggest that each person bring their own food and drink.  I will need to leave right after the meeting portion for personal reasons.

As you can see we will ONLY be focusing on environmental and design strategies for this meeting.

Laurie and I will compile the list of strategies, send them back out to you for review and then give them to Chief Riberio, City Administrator, and City Council for review and consideration. Once the Chief Ribeiro and City have had  time to review the list of strategies and add their thoughts, we will reconvene the task force for further input.

Please remember the Soda Springs Task Force is only forwarding recommendations and strategies for consideration, keep in mind that some may or may not be implemented after full a vetting process by City Council.

The Task Force is open to the public.  The part that says the meeting is not open to the public should not stand, and we hope that many from the community are present.

We should come to share our ideas and strategies, but we should also come in the simple name of democracy.  It is bad form to discuss other people's future in their presence and not include them in the conversation.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Agenda of May 1st City Council Meeting and other Community Web Resources

The following document is the agenda of the May 1st meeting of Manitou Springs City Council.  We'll try to do our best in staying on top of these guys.  As soon as the minutes are approved, we'll publish those here, too.  In the future, we'll be video taping the meetings of council and offering them in their entirety (as well as highlights) here on the Street News.

Click here for the minutes of the most recent Manitou Springs City Council meeting.

Click here for the city landing page for the activities of Manitou Springs City  Council.

Also, the city has a few different resources that I think might be beneficial if we have more community participation.  iManitou, which is the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, has put together a Manitou Springs Community Page.  This could be a great forum and sharing ground for the people of our town.  I'm a member personally, and I encourage other people to join up, too.  We can share photos, videos and ideas with the community and help show what's REALLY going on in Manitou.  There are a few active members, but if we bring more of the culture here, the people in positions of power will have a better idea of the things they're missing out on.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Crowning, Food, and Tea

I'm a little teapot, short and . . . well, you know the drill.
During a recent panning expedition atop Pikes Peak, I was forced to reflect on the many tourists staggering about in thin air just before they burst, like balloons in a vacuum, through the doors of the train that waits at the end of the line. My aluminum expedition clothing generally has that effect on tourists, especially in bright sunlight.

Encouraged by their bursting, I decided to look around for inspiration of my own. My eye fell on the little town considerably below and slightly east-northeast of the summit, which slowed my inspiration on account of having to hike all the way down to retrieve my eye. If you've ever heard it said that inspiration is 9% polypropylene and 13% yerba mate, that's why.

After regaining my composure on a nearby rooftop, I burst into song. Taking into account my vantage pointstill above but now slightly north-southwest of the little town of Manitoumy outburst came as no surprise. Had it come, instead, as a quavering falsetto, I would have been forced to consider it a sign that I wasn't meant for singing, but it didn't.

O Manitou
Oy Manitou
God shed her grace on thee
And crown thy brood
With healthful food
And pots of roibos tea.
In case you wonder what happened to the drum solo, I would simply indicate that, where weight is the consideration, a harmonica is always the better choice.

Interesting Points from This Week's Task Force Meeting

We had a pretty good turnout of people who hang out down at Soda Springs Park on Wednesday. Some interesting things were said, so I took notes and will share those notes with you here.

-A local named Justin Bailey came up with the idea of turning the triangle planter into a 3-way bench. At first thought, Steve Wood from Concrete Couch figured it would be too small. Adam Withrow, a writer for Manitou Springs Street News and local construction worker, asked about the dimensions, which got Steve to think a little more about it and offer up the idea to bring chairs down and see if we could make it work.

-Adam Withrow pointed out that the whole area concerned during these meetings happens to be our version of a town square. You meet people, get word on the street, find work, etc. "We should find a way to nurture our town square," instead of trying to eliminate it.

-Steve Wood talked about how, in 20+ years of living here, he never really felt the "gauntlet" (a word used commonly to describe the bridge area in front of the Mate Factor, because it is often hard to get through with all the people). He mentioned that after a while, though, he started hearing more people saying they were scared or disturbed by the goings-on down at the park. I, Amanda Lane, mentioned that it was because of the problem bums who were drunk on the street at 9am, demanding food and clothes and spare change from any poor soul walking by, that caused that. Those people are gone now, so we need to help people to understand that what they are afraid of is no longer there.

-Matt Carpenter, City Council Ward 3 and Mayor Pro-tem, talked about how he was scared to bring his daughter to the park and he saw "a drug deal go down ... with a pipe, a guy named Monkey climbing the poles and people all over the place climbing on the rails of the pavilion." Some of the people who were also at the park on the day he spoke of came to the table with their own opinions and common sense and shot holes in Matt's words. Matt Carpenter was asked repeatedly by a number of participants to be respectful.

-Jan Johnson from PARAB has lived here since 1996 and spoke about how it does take a village to make a place safe. She applauds regulars of the park for setting the tone, as far as respect and behavior. She can see that people who care about Soda Springs Park are trying really hard to make it a really nice place to spend time. She does feel that some environmental changes, such as moving benches or eliminating rails, etc. would be a great idea.

-Chris Nason, a street minister, spoke about how he and some member of his church have brought lemonade and cookies during the summers and hot cocoa and cookies during the winters to Soda Springs Park. They just finished their third winter. He said that all they do is hand out cookies and lemonade (or cocoa) and talk to people who wish to talk to them. They have only had 2 negative encounters in these 3 years, which was amazing to him, as he had done similar things in bigger cities. Most of the park occupants were very respectful, though he noted that he was also very respectful to them. He suggested that respect bred respect (hm, who knew?).

-I mentioned that, if anybody took a look at the plan for the park, there would be less to talk about. Many of the so-called problems that we are facing will be entirely eliminated once the plan is executed (See the attached photo of the plan).

-We agreed the next meeting should be a potluck at Soda Springs Park. So bring something good to eat and come down for an evening at the park on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. We will start the meeting at 5pm.

Manitou Springs Soda Springs Park
Come one, come all, but most of all, respect.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Task Force Progress

Democracy is amazing.  The system of government that we live in right now is one of the greatest social experiments in human history, and what makes it so cool is that we're still experimenting to this day.  What makes people frustrated is that we tend to feel that we are under this system instead of a part of it.  A little participation by a group of residents can turn the tide, though, and if we come together, we can think of the city government as "us" instead of "them."

We're getting to the point where it doesn't matter what started the Soda Springs Park Safety Task Force, we're helping to shape the outcome.

It is very important that people continue to participate in this process, and some of the newcomers last night brought us to a level that we hadn't even approached up until then.  One person has one voice, no matter who they are.  If you find yourself being bullied into submission, bring your friends.  The more witnesses there are, the more democratic the process can be.  Non-participation has become the culture, and as a result, processes that are legally open to the public tend to be carried out by small groups of people with narrow agendas.

The meeting started off as they always do:  a reading of the norms of the meeting followed by an introduction of the people on the panel.  The demographics in the meeting last night were much more diverse than in meetings gone by.  After the introductions, we started to head into the agenda.  This involved questions about what we're going to do about the triangle shaped planter in front of the Mate Factor.  After kicking around a few suggestions, one of the newcomers to the meeting brought up an interesting point.  The area in front of the Mate Factor is not the park.  He wondered out loud to the committee what we were really trying to accomplish.

To begin with, this set off the usual round of explanations that amounted to little more than empty political rhetoric.  They were basically using the language that framed the issue as a crackdown to try to say that that was not the purpose.  The newcomer kept digging, and what ensued what a wonderful conversation about the real state of affairs at Soda Springs Park circa 2012.  We talked about self-policing, and we talked about how we are actively working to ingrain that into our culture.

We also talked about how our new police chief is cool enough to be fully accepted by all walks of the community.  If we welcome him with open arms and help him really get to know our community, then he can offer a directive that can guide our police department in the right direction. 

If we can introduce Joe Ribiero to the street scene with the respect he is due, he can issue a directive that helps alleviate our real problems without discriminating against any particular groups of people.  If he gets more experience of the culture firsthand, he will better understand what our real problems are.  We cannot help it that certain things are going to make people uncomfortable, and we have to be smart about what real crime is.  We can't placate every person who complains because some of the complaints are more cultural grievances than criminal concerns.  There is a concerted effort to say that it is a crime to be present in the park if someone is made uncomfortable. 

This only applies, though, if certain people are made uncomfortable.  "The rest of you will have to pay," they say.  By participating in our democracy and getting to know the head of law enforcement, we can ensure that all people are truly represented, not just a vocal minority.

It is a joy to have youth that spend their time outside instead of in front of television or video games.  When there is crime, we should address it.  All in all, though, our problems are more social in nature than criminal.

It is not and can not be a crime to be different.  What happens, though, is that it is possible to pass laws that "different" people commonly break and then urge police officers to enforce them primarily on the target demographics.  On paper, there may be no discrimination, but in practice, a lot of times there really is.  It's easy to say that it is not if a person is outside of the target group, but we are following a social and economic trajectory that is expanding the ranks of the "undesirables."  More and more people are finding themselves in the difficult economic circumstances that make a person make other people feel uncomfortable. 

In this day and age, if your clothes aren't new, clean, and in a certain range of styles, you will make people feel unsafe.  In this town, though, it is OK to be a little gritty.  That means that a certain segment of the population feels unsafe because the rest of us don't follow the dress code. 

Beyond that, though, we strengthened bridges that this task force has helped to build.  A street minister who was present at the meeting said, "We have the nicest bad kids I've ever seen."  He also talked about how in three years ministering at the park, they have only had two negative encounters.  We, for the first time, got to formalize the fact that we've got the same mission:  to transform the culture through respect and positive teaching instead of force and imprisonment.

It is going to interesting to see how all of this goes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our New Police Chief, Joe Ribeiro

This evening, we had an informal meeting with Joe Ribeiro, who will begin as Manitou Springs' new Chief of Police in two weeks. He was very low-key and easygoing. In fact, he met us at Soda Springs Park and he just chilled for a couple of hours, without looking for a problem or acting like anything other than a dude who wanted to hang out at the park.

I really liked a lot of what he had to say, including that he will be working to train the police force not to profile. Mr. Ribeiro said that it would be ideal if a police officer could be basically blind when it comes to who they enforce. If a yuppie is doing something against the law, the law will be enforced. If a dirty hippie isn't doing anything wrong, the police officer will say hello and keep walking.

I have to say that if he is true to his word, this is a major improvement in the Manitou Springs Police Department. I spoke with a woman today who is in her 60s and she told me that for as long as she can remember, Manitou Springs has been a laughingstock, as far as police departments go, of the entire county. Police harassment has been rampant for many years and Manitou has been famous for it. If Joe Ribeiro can break that pattern, all of the inhabitants of the town will be much happier and relaxed. No more threats of being tazed if someone says they refuse to be unlawfully searched!

Let's all keep our eyes out and our minds open to a cool Police Chief and report what we find, good or bad. Until he starts his new job, I hope he enjoys his vacation he's planning on taking.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What Ails Manitou

A common problemHaving been invited to contribute to the new citizen journalism venture you see here, I feel an obligation of sorts to come clean on my reasons—by which I mean agenda—for agreeing to such a thing in the first place. Ordinarily, receiving an invitation indicates a certain commonality of goals; it's tempting to assume that I'm sympathetic to the cause.

I am not. I don’t even live there. In fact, I avoid Manitou like the plague, having seen The Shining and one or two other films that made me laugh and cry at the same time. A long time ago, I got a typewriter because that's what Stephen King was using, but when I saw what happened to Jack Nicholson's character I decided to go back to the computer instead. It isn't smart to retype the same line over and over. That's what copy and paste is for.

Anyway, after reviewing the concerns and solutions outlined on the virtual pages here, I'm left with the same sense of déjà vu I experienced the second time I read this stuff, which may say something about memory loss, though I'm not exactly sure what because my hearing isn't what it used to be either. This brings me back to the point I was trying to make before, which was that hippies have taken over the town. As I recall, the same thing happened in the late sixties, the early seventies, and during the eighties-nineties timeframe, so it isn't difficult to imagine what might have allowed them to gain a foothold during the so-called double-zip-to-zip-eleven period, which may have set the stage for the current rash of sightings in the downtown area.

To be fair, hippies aren't the only problem facing the town right now, which is why everyone in Manitou Springs should be guillotined. This would not only avoid the political suicide that so often results from the appearance of favoritism, but would give Manitou the opportunity to start over with a fresh crop of eight-, six-, and four-legged inhabitants, none of whom would be likely to allow things to get out of control a second time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This is What We'll Lose if City Council Bans Unauthorized Use of the Stage

This is Dylan.  He hangs out in town quite a bit, and he just happens to be a great musician.  This is a great song, and a proposed ordinance from Manitou Springs City Council would render this performance illegal.

It is sad to hear that the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado is considering banning unauthorized use of the stage.  That includes playing music.  This is a terrible idea, and I think the community ought to weigh in with their feelings about it.  What kind of a society makes you get a permit to play your guitar in the park?

If you feel the way I do, get involved.  Call your City Councilor and tell them not to support the ban of the use of the stage.

A person should not need a permit to play a song, nor should they need one to sit down.  Under that law, a "habitual offender" would eventually be arrested for any use of the stage.  This puts law enforcement in a really unfair situation as well as the artists themselves.

Why should a cop need to warn someone to stop using a stage?  I'm sure most police officers would rather be fighting crime than fighting art!  Let's promote the art and bring more positive people to the rough and rugged world of Soda Springs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Letter From Our New Chief of Police

I have come across, by an anonymous source, a letter from the new Chief of Police. Comment with your opinions, dear readers....

"I believe it is important to establish a good precedent with this project.  The ordinances can be two edged swords and we should approach carefully and with an open mind.
In one respect, it establishes the community's rules and boundaries for acceptable behavior along with the ability to communicate that to residents and visitors in many ways, signs, flyers, personal conversation, etc.
We need to be clear about what the community expects of the PD.  We are already working to overcome the perception of being heavy handed "enforcers" and do not want to be tasked with "strict enforcement" of extremely minor violations which would further damage our image.
If we view the ordinances as an opportunity to engage people in conversations and help them learn about our community standards, we have an "in" for positive public relations if done right.  The PD can also use the ordinances as a way of legitimately contacting potential troublemakers, drug dealers, and the like since smoking seems to parallel.  Again this must be done with tact and respect for the individual and community.  Onlookers should see an officer (initially) contacting a potential drug dealer with the same tone and respect as he would an unknowing tourist.
Ultimately, this is a quality of life issue for the community and makes sense that there are no smoking rules and reasonable hours for use of our parks.  I support the group bringing the ordinance discussion to the Council forum and having further community input.  I am interested in other's views on the matter.
On the whole, we also need to view our approach to these issues as a means to completely resolve the issue and not just move it to another part of the City." -Joe Ribeiro, Manitou Springs Chief of Police

Sunday, April 15, 2012

We All Know It, Someone's Gotta Say It.

There has been a deliberate, concentrated effort to turn Manitou Springs, Colorado into Vail Junior, Colorado.

There have been actions, both legislative and economic, to push the current population out of town and replace us with rich, jet-set outsiders.  I wish I could believe that the improvements to the sidewalks and such were done for us, but it is apparent from my recent dealings with the Soda Springs Park Safety Task Force that this is not the case.  These improvements are being done for the people who are slated to replace us.

It's not just lower class people that I'm talking about.  This is going to effect everyone.  If these people have their way, after about the next 18 months, we will be past the point of no return from the yuppietization of Manitou Springs.  This place is set up to be a place where people's "other houses" are.

Let me start somewhere concrete, literally concrete, and try not to wander too far from there.  Did you move to Manitou Springs for this:

Posh curio shops and Custard?

Or did you move to Manitou Springs for this:

Sweeping views?

Historic charm?
The fact is, we knew what this town was when we fell in love with it.  Most of the population of Manitou Springs moved here because they love Manitou, not because they have some dream of bulldozing everything and replacing it with condos.

Unfortunately, because we love this place how it is, a lot of us have trusted our government enough to not even register to vote.

Our trust has been abused.  The current City Council in Manitou Springs has completely collapsed under pressure from developers, and they are now trying to "clean up" the town for their target clientele.

Problems with traffic?

Run out all the poor people!  When I say poor people, I'm including doctors and lawyers.  Make it prohibitively expensive for our current locals and tourists!  Screw these Subarus, we could have Benzes instead!  Just think:  If the "standard" residents are wealthy enough, they will be too busy on vacation to Fiji to clog up our streets.  Not only that, but the square footage that currently houses thousands of people could eventually house a few hundred.

Never mind all of the businesses who have been here for decades!  We can replace them with couture clothing outfits and cigar bars!  Sales tax revenues will probably take a major hit, as the "locals" will prefer to do their shopping worldwide.  Don't worry, though, there will be so much more collected in property tax!

Problems with panhandlers?

Don't worry!  We'll make it illegal to be dirty!  We'll make it illegal to wear tie-dye!  We'll outlaw smoking, and we'll prosecute marijuana like it's crack!  We'll make it illegal to sit on the stage!  That'll keep those "undesirable" people down enough to get them out of sight!  We'll make it illegal to exhibit any signs of counterculture or poverty!  All actions taken to alleviate this problem will criminalize large amounts of both citizens and tourists.

What a great place to live.

With the rezoning of that lot on the 1300 block of Manitou Avenue to commercial, the dominoes are lined up to fall.  That end of the Ave is almost entirely made up of affordable housing.  There may be as much as 5% of the population of Manitou Springs within 5 blocks of that lot.  It should be noted that the zip line that this rezoning was done for will cost $85.00 per ride, or $60.00 for locals.  That is prohibitively expensive for everyone in the neighborhood.

Our current City Council will rubber stamp zoning and building permits for that area, so the commercial speculators will  be here in no time after the zip line opens.  Property values will skyrocket with the speculation, and many of the property owners in the area are already under pressure to "clean it up."

If we don't do something, we can expect the end of Manitou Avenue to go from affordable housing to cookie cutter yuppieland shops.  There are no plans for any affordable housing to replace what is on the chopping block.  Sure, we may see more loft-type development where limited, expensive housing is available above the shops, but current residents of the west end of Manitou Avenue are set to be displaced by commercial development.

A couple of years of this sort of pressure, and we can expect a major demographic shift in the population of Manitou Springs.  The vibrant atmosphere that is created by such a crossroads of cultures will be replaced with the homogeneous, sycophantic plastic world of Everywhere, USA.  The people who live here are not considered because there is already an underclass in Colorado Springs to feed off of, so it is not necessary for there to be working class accommodations in Manitou Springs.

There is a systemic push to bully lower income people into silence.  Many people have directly felt the burn from this, both in sessions of City Council and in its committees and other subsidiary bodies.  Undue pressure is put on the police to harass people who are deemed undesirable, and ordinances are currently in the works to criminalize normal behavior.

If we, the people of Manitou Springs, do not get registered to vote and raise some candidates, we can kiss this place goodbye.