The Main Concerns of the City as I See Them
The main concerns of my administration would include Employment, Public Safety, Education, Services for the Homeless, Memorial Hospital, and Environmental Stewardship.
Employment - I would work hard to bring more businesses here to Colorado Springs through the use of tax incentives. We already have a beautiful climate and a gorgeous area. We already have an environment suited for a healthy lifestyle and very low pollution issues. In order to make our area more appealing to new business I would pursue a deeper involvement for our community in the area of the Arts. I would like to see more ballet, theatre, and music.
Public Safety - We need more officers on the streets. First let me say that if elected mayor, I will pursue an action whereby there is an analysis of the efficiency of all city enterprises and where the analysis warrants, we will restructure areas where significant improvements can be made in order to save money. I would further propose that all city wages be frozen for a period of three or more years, and that there be a schedule of salary caps drawn up for all positions within the city. First we fix the problems facing our city, then we worry about raising salaries.
Education - In researching the education statistics of our city and county I found that we are above average in graduation rates in all but two districts compared to the state as a whole and that is outstanding. As a city (and a county) we need to do a better job with the the American Indian, Hispanic, and Black populations. I do not have a solution as of yet exactly how to do that, but a good start might be English immersion as opposed to English as a second language. That would give us a head start with at least the first two categories of students. I would have to know what the biggest issues are affecting black students that keep them from striving harder before I could come up with a possible solution for them.
I suggest a committee comprised of successful students and adults representing each of the five races that are used for the statistics I have looked at. That would be American Indians, Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, and Asians. This committee would look at how we could present the NEED for completing high school in a way that would increase the desire for graduation among all races.
One thing is for certain, though, concerning our education system. We need to allow Christian students and staff to be Christians again, and to express their faith in the form of prayer and outreach, as long as we are not allowing the judgment of individuals who are non-believers. We need to, as a city, promote a healthy home life through access to substance abuse programs for the poor, which will, in turn, provide the stable base for a strong family unit. We also need to spend our revenues on the students and not on higher salaries for administration.
Services for the Homeless - I can only tell you that this is an issue close to my heart and that should a tax increase be approved by the voters, I would ask that the city provide more services for the homeless. Right off the top of my head I am thinking a good idea would be a new facility with a large open floor space. Perhaps multi floor. Perhaps we could purchase a vacant building that already exists. Maybe a grant of that space to an outside vendor to operate. My personal hope would be that multiple faith based organizations would pull together to provide a portion of the funding that would be subsidized by our city.
We definitely need to discuss the issue and not simply try to make the homeless move somewhere else.
Memorial Hospital - At one time I was in favor of selling Memorial Hospital, but no longer. I was speaking to valued friend today and he pointed out that Memorial Hospital is a vital institution for those of us who are no longer covered by a health insurance program.
The way I see it, Memorial Hospital running in the red is something that is not the norm. MHS has run in the black up until about 2008 and that shortfall is due mostly to the economy, not miss-management. The revenues of MHS come from the patients, not the taxpayers of the city. We must get behind the fact that if we need to subsidize it for now then so be it. If we do not, we run the risk of being morally corrupt as we allow the poor and uninsured to have less access to healthcare, or no healthcare at all. Granted, every hospital must take in emergency patients, and worry about payment later, but Memorial is a Godsend to many because of the amount of unreimbursed care they provide as compared to other hospitals in the area. If elected Mayor I will do everything within my power to see that Memorial Hospital remains as close to the way it is now. I put my faith in the abilities of the committee which has been created to oversee possible changes, and that it will suggest, through due diligence, what is best for our city and its citizens as a whole, and that we will continue to take care of the most needy residents of our community. I will also do everything I can to make sure that there are checks in place to make sure the system is not abused by anyone.
I was, in the past, happy with the effort put forth by the Memorial Hospital Commission created to advise us about what to do as a city with our Hospital. I had said publicly that I trusted their decision would be the right one. Perhaps that is the case, but I was slightly disappointed by their final recommendation. If you remember the order in which their choices appeared on their website, I had hoped that we would choose one of the first three as is models with a possible move to the "Hospital Authority" model.
Environmental Stewardship - Our Colorado Springs Utilities is already offering, in partnership with the Governors Energy Office, rebate incentives for installation of Solar Photovoltaic systems. I would push for a larger fund so that they do not run out of funds year to year.