“On the re-broadcast of the 8/24/09 informal council meeting on comcast cable channel 18, aired last night, there was the city manager Penelope Culbreth-Graft speaking to Jerry Heimlicher re: “item 2,” recommending to council that street sweeping be added to the stormwater enterprise! This way, she suggested, street sweeping can be charged to citizens directly by fee also. Then Heimlicher agreed. He said, effectively, “we can argue [sic] that keeping streets clean, helps the stormwater situation”.
The way she described it, by adding street sweeping to the stormwater enterprise, that portion of the current budget allocated to street sweeping can be eliminated, saving the city $1m dollars in the budget! Since no tax cut was discussed, I guess it never crossed the minds of Penelope and Jerry that this tactic, again, would illegally place increased burden on tax payers, to pay for things they are already being taxed for, without voter approval! A clear violation of TABOR.
Is it unclear to anyone why these illegal enterprises, like stormwater, are so insidious!?!
After the re-broadcast of the 8/24/09 meeting ended. The tax-payer-funded Springs TV channel was used to try to convince viewers why it doesn’t have enough tax dollars to pay for all of the things it believes it provides for by asking “did you?” questions, like “did you enjoy the clean air?” “did you sit on a park bench?” etc. In other words, Springs TVs being paid for by you for the city to advertise to you why you should give the city more of your tax dollars, or rationalizes why it will just take more fees from you.”
Taxpayer8675309 is precisely correct. This sort of cooking of the books and slithering around the constraints of TABOR is what “enterprises” were created to facilitate, and why they should be made illegal. And the use of public television to propagandize voters should also be outlawed. It is a communication channel to permit citizens to keep watch on their public servants, not a tool for government propaganda or for pandering to City Council.
In our system, taxes are exactions imposed on all citizens in a fair and equitable, and equal manner, to pay for the necessary operations of government on a collective and compulsory basis. Fees are payments for specific services that an individual may either choose or not choose to take advantage of. We must all pay taxes for highways and water systems and salaries of public employees because we all, as a community, make use of these amenities. If the public pool charges a fee however, and you don’t want to pay the fee, you don’t swim at the pool.
When government characterizes the ordinary and necessary operations of government as optional services, but does not at the same time allow the citizenry to opt out of the resulting fees, the fee is in all legal and rational respects a tax, and should be subject to public approval as provided for by TABOR. Recently, jurisdictions all over Colorado have been jumping on the “user fee” bandwagon and have been grossly distorting the definition of a “fee” as a specific tactic to evade TABOR. Unfortunately, the Colorado Supreme Court has been complicit in this fraud on the public, so it is now necessary for the People to act directly to once again force government back into it’s lawful, appointed role of serving the public.
People usually know about their Miranda rights, which the police are supposed to read to you before they question you while you’re in custody, but most people don’t really understand why Miranda rights exist. The rule exists because police coercion and physical abuse were commonplace during interrogations of suspects. So, the Supreme Court reined in the authority of the police to interrogate people in a coercive manner.
And TABOR is to elected officials what Miranda is to the police: constraint upon the improper exercise of authority delegated by the People. It was enacted because elected officials were engaged in a pervasive pattern of fiscal shenanigans and fraud on the public.
But politicians balk at the bit, and so they consistently seek, through pettifoggery, obfuscation, lies, deceit and outright fraud, to evade both the spirit and technical requirements of TABOR. So like Miranda and the origins of TABOR, the government has abused its authority and needs to be directly constrained by the People yet again.
What I propose is that the words “or fees” be added to TABOR, both at the city and state level. These two words would do to elected officials what Miranda did to the police: put them firmly back in their place. It’s a simple, elegant change that would rein in government abuse. If they need more money, regardless of how it’s characterized or collected, they just have to ask us first. That’s the essence of TABOR.
And while we’re at it, let’s forbid all public officials or employees from making any public comments whatsoever about any citizen initiative, either for or against, while in the performance of their public duties or under color of their official authority. Public servants do not enjoy constitutional protection of personal speech when they are on the public’s dime, nor should they be permitted to trade on their official position when making private personal political statements. They have no right to object to or support a citizen initiative as public officials, and their duty is to remain silent and do as the People direct.
Therefore, I propose a citizen initiative to ban public employees and elected representatives from speaking or publishing any form of support or opposition to any citizen-lead petition or initiative. Oh, wait…that’s ALREADY what the law says. To be specific, C.R.S. 1-45-117. Never mind…
The duty of all public officials, elected or otherwise, is to be humble and obedient to the will of the People, not to arrogate to themselves unauthorized powers, assume positions of intellectual or political superiority, or exercise unsanctioned control over the liberty and direct decisions of the People in constituting their form of society and government as they choose, for better or for worse. It is their duty to obediently serve the public, not, as Woodrow Wilson and the liberal fascists of both his day and our own believe, to place bureaucrats in positions of power over the People on the premise that the bureaucrats know better what the People need than do the People themselves.
The People may make unwise decisions, but that is their right, and they will suffer the consequences of doing so. It is not within the authority of bureaucrats to suborn or evade the clearly enunciated will of the People in the performance of their assigned duties, and when they try to do so, they forfeit the lawful authority they have been granted and become instead merely petite tyrants.
© 2009 Altnews