Photo credit: I Love Manitou Springs
Guest Post by Paotie Dawson, Manitou Springs
The political class in Manitou Springs has been destroying the City’s charm for the past eight years. What was once a vibrant, artsy-fartsy little town is now rapidly becoming a giant tourism amusement park in which nearly everything the City government does today is geared towards tourists.
Tourists don’t vote, but residents and many business owners and managers are routinely ignored in favor of the many political class special interest projects requiring more taxes from both tourists, residents, and businesses. Since tourists can visit the city and leave, businesses and residents are too often stuck with paying the additional accumulated costs of overtourism, such as increased costs of parking, traffic congestion mitigation and traffic congestion enhancements, excessive wear on police, fire, and other governmental vehicles, and an expanding political class that demands endless compliance and payments in the form of fees, fine, and taxes.
No longer are businesses expected to bring their own customers to visit. Instead, the political class demands funding a Chamber of Commerce (see pages 63 and 64), that isn’t as interested in promoting commerce as much as it plays politics with other people’s money. In the past, the Chamber has made negative and political comments about the cannabis industry, and something else illuminates this quite well: The City’s biggest source of sales tax revenue comes from an industry the Chamber has disparaged and does not promote —cannabis.
Additionally, in the past, businesses were expected to market and develop relationships with their customers, and as a result, many local businesses had plenty of repeat customers who were familiar with the downtown area. And often, these people spent the day in town, eating, shopping, and otherwise contributing to the economy. Today, they are targeted and victimized by aggressive parking schemes.
Today, the vibe of a quaint, cute, artsy-fartsy little town is being replaced by a political class hell-bent on making the Manitou Springs a Colorado Springs West Amusement Park. Government bureaucrats who live outside the city have more political say than residents, and the political class seems to prefer it remain this way.
There are no or few proposals for residents in the context of jobs. I have proposed ways to generate jobs for locals, and one example is for locals to start businesses moving tourists around the city, solving a majority of issues, but the political class in its jealousy is now trying to monopolize at least three industries while tightening its grip on the cannabis industry. This results in more political opportunities for political class members and fewer economic opportunities for residents.
In place of a city consisting of numerous, small communities working voluntarily and together to solve problems, the political class is all too happy to turn the city into a tourist trap with the political class wielding heavy political authority over the lives of local residents. The way to fix this is to shrink the size and scope of the City government, which in turn reduces the size and scope of the political class, which encourages neighbors helping neighbors, and generates something of a positive influence within the City itself.
When we first moved to Manitou Springs, young people danced and sang on the sidewalks. Folks were friendly. The police were rarely seen, and if you did see them, they were being friendly and not ready to linebacker-style tackle any suspicious person. Bureaucrats and political class members were rarely seen because there were so few of ’em.
We need to get back to the basics in Manitou Springs.