Sour Grapes: Politicians launch scorched earth campaign against own city in bid to raise taxes
It turns our that after the voters of Colorado Springs rejected a tax increase for the city, the city’s politicians ordered their public relations staffers to bad mouth the city and to cast a negative light on the city in national media. Basically, since they didn’t get their tax increase, the politicians were determined to make the city look as lousy as possible in a sort of I-told-you-so campaign that would make the voters sorry for not submitting to their betters.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette:
After much probing by us, it became clear that [PR Director] Skiffington-Blumberg was given direct orders, after the defeat of the proposed tax increase, to tell the outside media about the most negative aspects of Colorado Springs. The campaign may have cost our city countless tourists and jobs. The Gazette was unable to reach [City Manager] Culbreth-Graft for comment.
“Our strategic plan was to paint a picture of the dire straits of our city budget. If we could not do so locally, we would do so in the regional and national press — though I’d have preferred that it not play out with Diane Sawyer,” Skiffington-Blumberg said, referring to one of several media giants who blasted Colorado Springs.
After she admitted the existence of this scorched earth campaign against the city, by the way, Skiffington-Blumberg was forced to resign by the City Manager.
In the past I’ve noted that Colorado’s constitutional requirements for popular votes approving tax increases have created a sort of local cottage industry in which politicians and their agents manufacture hysterical little narratives in which Colorado is the worst in the nation on everything ranging from education to city parks to traffic. “We’re worse than Mississippi” is a sort of local mantra of the local pro-tax crowd. The voters haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid on this of course, and neither has most of the country’s population since demographic data shows sizable net population gains for Colorado in recent years.
But if this latest story is clear, politicians will say just about anything to get a tax increase, even it it means waging a PR campaign against their own city.