Health Reform's Human Stories

Thankfully I'm not sick now, but when I am I'll be seeking out a free clinic in my area: Free Clinics

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"Yet, I am left with one overwhelming question. What does it say about us as a nation of people who can live in a country so rich and yet can allow this to continue?"


Recall Mayor Lionel Rivera

I have not lived in Colorado Springs long enough to know the full extent of this situation nor did I have the opportunity to vote for this Mayor. However, from the little I do know the Mayor and Vice Mayor seem like they don't have the city's best interest at heart. The letter below was forwarded to me from a friend of a friend and I am reprinting it in full (with permission):

Dear Friends,

Of course everyone who knows me understands that my mission is and has been the homeless and our city’s poor. I realize many persons in the community find the presence of so many homeless and mentally ill on our streets to be offensive and they believe dangerous. But the amount of money granted to the City of Colorado Springs in the last decade by private grants, the Federal government and the State should have at least done more than it has. In Denver this kind of money has brought about extraordinary change. This year alone the amounts dedicated for the homeless in Colorado Springs are in the millions and the city’s program Homeward Pikes Peak has housed only 18 persons.

But this is just my example of one wasteful spending program because we are all aware of others. Almost every city resident can name at least one or two foolhardy or mismanaged programs thought up behind closed doors by our City Council. The public discussion in any City Council meeting has never changed one vote. How each member will vote is always decided before each meeting. This is not open government and it violates Colorado’s laws. I have actually seen the entire City Council vote to award over a million dollars to a program before the actual proposal was published. In other words they had no idea what they were voting for.

I came to Colorado Springs the first time in 1979. When I came out the front door of the old airport and saw the mountains my mouth fell open. At this point in my life I had skied and climbed mountains in the Alps and Northeast. I had traveled extensively in Europe, some in Africa and Asia but I was floored by what I saw. We are more than fortunate to live where we do than I think we know and I can say I have not always appreciated the growth. But I understand if I love Colorado Springs so will others. I understand growth requires innovative management and taxes, but I expect a prudent and smart use of my neighbors’ and my money. I do not expect my elected representatives to think they have unlimited permission to spend as they desire on anything they want or to come up with schemes that may or may not work without voter approval.

So in light of all this I will announce Friday at 12 noon on the steps of the Old City Hall my intention to begin a citywide recall of Mayor Lionel Rivera and Vice Mayor Larry Small. If Mr. Heimlicher were still holding the District 3 seat he would have been included here in this recall as this is my home District. But as it is Mr. Paige has not been in office the required 6 months to be recalled and his performance is not yet been sufficient to judge. I believe both Mr. Rivera and Mr. Small have been and are unable to do what this City requires to become financially stable and provide what it citizens need. They along with other members of the council bear much of the major responsibility for our current state of affairs.

I am asking others to pitch in and lets get this job done. Let’s find individuals who can do what we need. I further want all my friends and fellow citizens to understand I do not endorse anyone for replacements from any political party. What we need are responsible, hardworking persons who care and are willing to come up with out-of-the-box solutions. We need strong individual who are willing to communicate with our public servants, business owners and all our citizens regardless of their station in this community. We all want individuals who do more than talk about values, we want those who demonstrate them. We need good people who realize they must read and understand what the consequences of their decisions will be.

Additionally, I am asking that my fellow citizens do the same in their districts and recall the rest of the City Council and help us put Colorado Springs back on the right path.

Patrick Ayers
If you are interested in helping collect signatures, please contact Patrick by phone at 719.389.0848.

(**update** A lot has happened since I first received this email on November 4th: Patrick Ayers made this announcement of his intentions to recall Mayor Rivera and Vice Mayor Small on Friday, November 6, 2009. Last Friday, November 13, 2009, Ayers filed affidavit to start the recall process. Once he receives the signature sheets he will have 60 days to collect 14,300 signatures.)

This has already started a flurry of letters in the local papers:

Mayor's last chance
"The leadership of our great city needs to get a grip! The mayor needs to realize he is not Michael Bloomberg, and this big-city path he wishes upon us looks kind of hopeless for the near future. It is time to get a little dirty with some real work.

Start simple, Mr. Mayor, maybe porta-johns in the parks? Encourage volunteers to help. Stop having secret meetings. Twist some arms to get some sponsorships. Understand that we have the potential to be the top small city in the nation, and this will be achieved through clean industry: the arts, education and outdoor recreation, not big-box stores and taxes.

You have two years, Mr. Mayor. Win, lose or recall, it is your move!"

Douglas Bruce for mayor (this one's hilarious--right after this letter was a letter titled "Doug Bruce for governor" Gotta love Colorado Springs...
"Support the effort to recall our mayor. In an effort to save both time and money, we should then elect Douglas Bruce as mayor. Therefore, we eliminate all the controversy involved in the time and money by the city council to bring Bruce to his knees."

You can learn more from Ayers' announcement speech: (embedded video)


YES on 2C

If you haven't voted yet, you're not too late. You still have until 7 PM to drop off your ballot at the County Clerk and Recorder's Office (or at one of the satellite offices at Chapel Hills Mall near JCPenny's or at 5650 Industrial Place, at the southeast corner of Powers and Airport) Please let me know if you have any questions regarding voting!

Ballot Measure 2C is a measure to increase property tax to help the city with its $25 Million budget shortfall. Currently Colorado Springs has the lowest taxes per capita of similarly sized cities along the front range and even with this increase, we will still have one of the lowest. I think this is the most telling graph for this campaign:

Text of 2C
"Shall City taxes be increased (final year $46,000,000) annually by increasing 2009 general property tax 6.00 mills, 1.00 additional mill per year for four years, constituting voter approved revenue change."

Without this initiative, Colorado Springs will see a significant decline in our quality of life. Strong police and fire departments and well-maintained parks and streets protect our property values and ensure Colorado Springs remains a great city for families. (See Projected Budget Cuts)

Please join me in voting YES for 2C! (and vote no on 300--it's just Mr. TABOR Doug Bruce again)

You can learn more at A City Worth Fighting For