Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bread and Circuses: Democracy in Action

In this time of great political debate on the national stage, one is left wondering about the root causes of our political turmoil, one need look no further than ones own backyard.

I live in a semi-rural mountain community, predominately a bedroom community, half an hour from the second largest metropolitan area in the state. Outside of the commuters and service sector, we are predominately a tourism oriented economy... camping, hiking, fishing, and a few nearby casinos. The anchor town, Woodland Park, has a population of about 6500, with a county population of approximately 20,000, mainly residing in unicorporated areas. Since 2007 the raging local political debate has been in regards to business advertising, signs, electronic signs and the Chicken-man. By my limited recollection, it all began when a Wild Wings 'N' Things moved into town.

Denver Post

It seems that having people in chicken suits advertising for local business is prohibited, but then it seems that "unless it's specifically permitted, it's prohibited" - City Manager Buttery. But that is just the start of the issue... after three years and hundreds of hours of political wrangling, the city council tied 3-3 on a new 26 page ordinance governing signage and costumed characters, so the saga continues.

Mountain Jackpot

More entertaining is the ongoing (as far back as 1996) proposed rec-center/YMCA for this small bedroom community of 6500 people. Price tags range from 14-25 million funded in part by a 1% increase in the city sales tax. The interesting thing is that in this town of 6500 people, this facility will require a membership of 4000 people at $80 a month to be self-supporting, otherwise the city gets stuck with the bill. Sure, two-thirds of the population is a reasonable goal... a proposal goes on the ballot before the citizens the 6th of April.

All Business

Small towns, local governments, this is the breeding ground for future politicians. While few will go on to the state and fewer still to the national level... is it any wonder we are in the position we are in? If we can not rationally govern our local communities, what hope is there for the national stage? But then again... if we can mandate you buy insurance, why can't we mandate you join your local YMCA? Isn't a healthier America what we're all after anyway?


Post a Comment