Public Corruption is usually defined as use of power by public officials for illegitimate private gain. The label typically invokes images of politicians taking bribes when asked to look the other way or pass laws that favor a special interest.

When elected officials use their power to benefit a private entity, doing so through so-called ‘legitimate’ processes, we oftentimes call that Corporate Welfare.

But how is it really any different? Corruption is corruption no matter what label we may wish to slap on it.

In Colorado Springs, a private developer known as Nor’wood has proposed a $2B redevelopment project and is asking public officials to approve a $216M ‘investment.’ Note: investment is a term of art of the left that really means tax increase.

Here’s a telling passage from an article about this project from KOAA Newschannel 5:

Project Developer Nor’wood will spend the summer trying to woo City Council, County Commissioners, the District 11 School Board and Pikes Peak Library District to support the project. They want to use future sales and property taxes collected from the urban renewal zone to pay for an estimated $216 million in infrastructure projects associated with the redevelopment.

If by ‘woo’ they mean lobby, that would be more honest. But if by ‘woo’ they really mean bribe, then we have much to worry about. Expect lots of wining, dining, expensive trips, and lavish perks heaped upon our elected officials during the Summer of Wooing.

I say it’s time we made our voices heard, loud and clear, with these public officials whom we elected to represent us. It’s time they actually represented our interests and not those of the moneyed elites who run the city and county.

Former City Councilman Joel Miller is quoted in the article as opposing the idea. On his Facebook page, he elaborated on the problems with the proposal and its real impact on taxpayers. Here’s what he had to say:

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I’m asking Colorado Springs and El Paso County friends to please share this post.

$216.5 million in local taxes. This is the amount your elected officials will be asked–and likely approve (unless you stop them)–to give away to the area’s biggest developer through the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). Let that sink in. This is a giveaway from the Colorado Springs City Council, the El Paso County Commission School District 11, the Pikes Peak RTA (for Roads) and even the Pikes Peak Library District.

In case your memory is short about some of these government entities:

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—This is the same City Council that sought and got approval from citizens for a $250 million tax increase for roads…because they just didn’t have enough money to take care of the roads.

—This is the same City Council that sought and got approval from citizens for a $340 million increase in stormwater “fees”…because they just didn’t have the money to take care of stormwater issues

THIS PLAN WILL DEPRIVE CITY COFFERS OF $49,870,658 OVER THE NEXT 25 YEARS AND PAY THOSE PROCEEDS TO THE DEVELOPER THROUGH THE URA

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—This is the same County Commission that sought and got approval from County taxpayers for a $136 million public safety sales tax increase in 2012… because they just didn’t have enough money for public safety.

—This is the same County Commission that sought and got approval from County taxpayers to forego $14 million per year in TABOR refunds (forevermore) because they just didn’t have enough money ($7 million of that per year will be used to build a TOLL lane on I-25 that you can drive on if you also pay a toll)

THIS PLAN WILL DEPRIVE THE COUNTY COFFERS OF $43,271,182 OVER THE NEXT 25 YEARS AND PAY THOSE PROCEEDS TO THE DEVELOPER THROUGH THE URA.

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—This is the same multi-jurisdictional PPRTA Board that convinced voters to extend for 10 years a 1% sales tax to maintain and improve our transportation systems.

THIS PLAN COULD POTENTIALLY DEPRIVE THE PPRTA COFFERS OF $19,409,545 OVER THE NEXT 25 YEARS (IF IT’S RENEWED) AND PAY THOSE PROCEEDS TO THE DEVELOPER THROUGH THE URA.

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–The plan discusses “agreements with the D-11 board.” This is the same D-11 School Board who sought and got approval from taxpayers for a $42 million tax increase because they couldn’t pay their teachers or maintain their buildings.

THIS PLAN SHOWS AN “INCREMENT” IN PROPERTY TAX COLLECTIONS FOR D-11 OF $130,557,216 OVER THE NEXT 25 YEARS IN SW DOWNTOWN. IT IS UNCLEAR WHAT AMOUNT OF THAT INCREASE WOULD BE SOUGHT BY THE DEVELOPER AND THE URA OR WHAT AMOUNT WOULD BE LEGALLY ALLOWED TO HAND OVER.

THIS PLAN COULD POTENTIALLY EVEN DEPRIVE THE LIBRARY DISTRICT COFFERS OF $9,479,878 OVER THE NEXT 25 YEARS AND PAY THOSE PROCEEDS TO THE DEVELOPER THROUGH THE URA.

These same elected officials who have raised your taxes to the tune of nearly a billion dollars for what they complained was a lack of tax revenue are now collectively on a groupthink vector to write a $216.5 million check courtesy of the taxpayers to Nor’wood Development Group to help the private entity build their profit center.

From KOAA: “Project Developer Nor’wood will spend the summer trying to woo City Council, County Commissioners, the District 11 School Board and Pikes Peak Library District to support the project. They want to use future sales and property taxes collected from the urban renewal zone to pay for an estimated $216 million in infrastructure projects associated with the redevelopment. ”

Unless these elected officials,hear from you, the recipient of this corporate welfare check will be the only one influencing the decision makers or trying to “woo” them. YOU WILL NOT GET A VOTE–the decision will be made by the officials listed below. Please write to these officials, call them, schedule meetings with your neighborhood groups and your PTOs.

City Council: allcouncil@springsgov.com

County Commission:
DarrylGlenn@elpasoco.com
LonginosGonzalezJr@elpasoco.com
MarkWaller@ElPasoCo.com
peggylittleton@elpasoco.com
stanvanderwerf@elpasoco.com

D-11 Board: theresa.null@d11.org elaine.naleski@d11.org jim.mason@d11.org nora.brown@d11.org mary.coleman@d11.org shawn.gullixson@d11.org doris.hensley@d11.org julie.ott@d11.org