Richard Randall Show, Steve Bach, April 25, 2013

Station:      KVOR, 740 AM

Show:        Richard Randall Show

Guests:      Bach


Date:         April 25, 2013

Topics:     Renewable Energy,  Senate Bill 13-252, Rural Utility Cooperatives,  Gun Safety, Gun Control Legislation, Airport, TSA, Privatizing Airport Security, Storm Water Projects, Waldo Canyon Fire, Manitou Springs, City Council Elections, Police Department, Fire Deparment, Community Resource Officers, Rainy Day Funds, Reserves, Town Hall meetings, Police Reserve Program, Solar Garden, Subsidies for Renewable Energy, Accountability, Referendum, Diplomacy, National Security, Surveillance Cameras, Privacy, Individual Rights, Rich Brown, Mark Earle, Plaza of the Rockies, City Administration Office Space, Airlines, Direct Flights

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HOST RICHARD RANDALL:  […] This is accountability at its very best.  The mayor made a commitment before he was ever elected to come on the program one time a month to answer questions directly from you.  And I have to tell you, that’s easier said than done.  There are a lot of politicians that don’t like that, because all of a sudden they’re on a hot seat and they don’t know what the questions are going to be.  I delight in knowing that everyday there is a row of buttons in front of me and my producer.  On the good days, they start flashing red, and it will be you or one of your neighbors or somebody you are friends with or a different caller or listener to the program. And when I push that button, I know for sure what I’m going to get.  […]


RANDALL:  [@19:32] We were talking about the president the other day.  This comes in by text.  It says, “He is the president of propaganda.  He uses children for dramatic effect, party planner, community organizer.  It’s too late.  Americans are weak, fragile, hyper-sensitive, and thin-skinned.  We are more concerned about political correctness than public safety.  And our enemies exploit that.”   Well, public safety is one of the things we’ll talk with the mayor about.  Good morning, Mister Mayor.  And let’s start out with that.  I mean, we always talk about national security.  We talk about in light about what happened in Boston, those kinds of things.  But if you had to give an overview of how public safety is, whether it’s in light of Waldo Canyon, whether it comes in conjunction with the county, whether it is only your fire department, or your police department, what is the status of safety in Colorado Springs?

COLORADO SPRINGS MAYOR, STEVE BACH:  […] We have a lot of work to do in Colorado Springs in public safety.  I’m very proud of our police and fire departments.   I think they do an tremendous job.  We have limited resources, like probably every city in the country.  So we don’t have enough money to do all we would like.  I will tell you that the tragedy in – the terrorist attack in Boston validated for me the value and importance of security cameras as a force-multiplier.  And we do have some cameras downtown.  And to be honest about it, I’m going to look at if we can afford more in other locations.  Obviously, we’ll go to city council with any requests.  There’d be public input in that process.  While I am, I think, one of the strongest defenders of individual rights and privacy, on the other hand, looking at security in public spaces, I think we have to consider how we’re going to increase public safety without having enough money for truly the number of police officers we need.  So we have work to do, but I think that our folks are very professional, very good at what they do.  And I think we’re making progress. 

RANDALL:  Well, along those lines.  I couldn’t help – and I think a lot of my listeners, Mayor, and a lot of people who call in to the program are not much different from me.  I know you and Susie—you know, you’re not just an abstraction, you’re people who live in this community.  You shop.  You go to events, you do all those kinds of things. Your family does, your friends do, your co-workers do.  We’re kind of all in this together.  And I can’t help but look at Boston and imagine, “But what if that had happened here?  What if that would have happened during the Pikes Peak ascent, or the Pikes Peak marathon?  What if that would have happened during one of the bike races?  What if that would have happened downtown on a Friday night when we were getting ready for the Hill Climb?  And it’s chilling to imagine that sort of thing.  Anything that along those lines, as you were watching what was going on in Boston?

BACH:  Well, you know, I’ve said before, Richard, that if all of us will just do one small thing to help our city, the results can be tremendous.  And in this context, we each need to take responsibility for our safety.l  And that is simply this:  when we’re at an event, if we see a backpack or a package that’s been left without being attended, move away from it immediately.  Contact a police officer.  If we see someone who is acting suspiciously, move away from that person and contact a police officer.  One of those bombs that went off was placed right in front of the crowd next to a mailbox.  And I’m sure in the excitement of the race, and the heat of the moment, people were focusing on the runners.  And this is true for all of us, really all the time.  We need to be aware of our surroundings.  When we’re in a shopping center, or when we’re anywhere that there’s a gathering of people.  So, I think that’s the first line of defense.  We’re doing everything we can to ramp up law enforcement, public safety issue, you know, I think.  We’re adding fifty police officers this year and twenty-five community service officers, thirty firefighters.  That’s all with a flat budget, by the way, compared to last year.  So, we have to work together to increase our security, our safety.  And everybody has a part to play.

RANDALL:  [There is huge appreciation for first responders.  Fire chief is retiring.   Limited budget means tough choices.  Can we meet demands and ‘wishes’?  People want you to be fiscally responsible yet still demand public safety.  Tell us about the Fire chief.]

BACH:  Well, Richard, I know you’re talking about Rich Brown who just announced that he’s going to retire next week after thirty-two years of service to our city.  He has spent his entire professional life protecting our city.  I just have to say, he’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever known, not only as a human being but as a professional.  Of course I got to spend a lot of time with him during the Waldo Canyon fire, and otherwise, so I think I’ve grown to know Rich Brown pretty intimately.   And he’s a true patriot, a person who deeply loves our city.  And, you know, I’m sorry to see him go.  He has just done such a tremendous job.  But he has earned the right to retire.  He is going to help us for a series of months.  And by the way, there is some people out there in the Media taking shots at my offering Rich Brown some continuing compensation even though he’s retiring, and most of those shots are coming from print media whose candidate was not elected mayor, so I think that’s part of it.  But you know, first of all, when people like Rich Brown leave, he takes with him a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge and savvy and expertise, and I need to have a chance to garner that from him and to have him at my side as we complete some very important projects for the fire department over the coming months.  So, I hope that makes sense to people.  I think what’s most important, when people look at my decisions as an exectutive, is, “What is the big picture?”  Are we working within the charter, within the approved personnel policy manual as controlled by city council.  Are we being fiscally responsible?  Our budget this year for operating expenses is flat with last year.  We’ve added to it with additional revenue from the end of last year.  But I think a chief executive is going to make decisions not everyone is going to agree with.  On an individual basis, I’m very comfortable with this decision on Rich Brown, and others who have left who I — like Mark Earle, who did a great job at the airport and is going to continue to help us for a period of time.  So, that’s that.  With respect to public safety, overall, we are just completing a complete compensation study – first time in twelve years in the city.  And what we’ve learned through that with outside expert help, is that our firefighters and our police officers are under market.  They’re being paid below the middle, or below the average of firefighters and police officers elsewhere, cost of living adjusted.  And so, we’ve recommended to city council that we increase salaries for firefighters and police officers right away.  And I think that’s important to do to let to make sure we let our people in public safety know we care about them and we regard them.  These salary increases will get our firefighters and our police officers to about in the middle of the range for their peers.  So, we’re doing everything we can.  I appreciate the public being patient with us as we try to continue to improve service.   I’m really proud of everyone in our city government for a ‘can-do’ attitude that I see every day.

[commercial break]

RANDALL:  […]  We’ve all just wanted this airport to prosper.  And it’s harder than you’d think it is.  You know, I know Mark Earle.  He’s a good man.  And he has worked hard.  I’m glad we are going to have the ability to continue to pick his brain, as well as Chief Brown’s brain after they are gone, and does that come for free?  No, I would expect that value is paid for. […]  I agree with the mayor [about adding cameras downtown].  There’s a fine line between invading public privacy and making sure that the public is safe.  All right?  Good, then let’s have a debate about that and let’s figure out exactly where to draw that line.  […]

CALLER ROLPH:  Good morning, Mayor.  My comment and question is that, with the solar garden program – the successful solar garden program, that was canceled recently by the council president, Keith King.  His claim was to save money for utilities.  Couldn’t we look for other savings in utilities, such as the rent that the utilities are paying at Plaza of the Rockies.  I know you’re not part of council, but you do have contact with them.  I’m asking you to ask council, how much money are they spending on rent at an A-1 class office space at Plaza of the Rockies when  we have half of the city administration building empty.  Couldn’t we save that money and put that into the successful solar garden program? 

BACH:  […] First, as to – you’re right. Colorado Springs utilities reports to City council,  not the mayor.  So, I have no authority there, but I certainly do talk to council regularly about that – about the utilities.  I believe Utilities bought and purchased, I believe it was five floors—condominium purchased in Plaza of the Rockies building.  So, that was many years ago, I believe.  So, that’s a question.  And, you know, I just have to say to you, on the solar garden matter, and again this was a city council decision.  I will say that I commend them for the decision they made this week.  You know, we are going to have to move past the era where we have subsidies, and to a time which I would just call “user pay”.  Folks who want to have solar certainly should have the right to be able to access that.  But I believe that they are going to have to pay for it.  It’s not fair to have all the other ratepayers subsidize what a few people desire.  Now, long term, hopefully, the cost of all kinds of renewable energy will come down to a point where it truly is competitive with current fossil fuel generation of electricity and we can move more toward renewables.  But, again, I think we’re in a era where we’re going to have to be honest with ourselves.  We’re not going to have the ability to have people subsidize other people, and we’re going to have folks on the basis of user pay.  But, I will talk to Council about your comment, and I appreciate your concern. 


CALLER JIM:  Hi, there! I’ve been a former police force officer, in charge of the Police Reserve Program – retired now.  I know we had talked when you were running for mayor, and we have talked – I had mentioned to you that I thought it was a very viable program.  And we no longer have it, which allows for businessmen and very qualified people to work with police officers on weekends and on busy times and hours, to help save and get more people on the street and free up cars.   Is that still in the making, or can you give me any information on it?

[Bach has difficulty hearing the question.  Host Randall paraphrases the question for Mayor Bach, mentioning that this could be an opportunity to talk about volunteering and other alternatives to putting more police officers on the streets, which the mayor had already said the city had decided to do, earlier in the interview.]

BACH:  Well, Jim, we are ramping up our Community Service Officer program, which consists of retired and semi-retired police officers and other people with training.  [ Bach requests the caller to give the show’s producer his contact information so that his office can contact Jim and provide more details.  The mayor suggests that this might be an option for Jim, and thanks the caller for his interest.]

RANDALL:  Well, and I have to say, you know, it is one of those things where there are a lot of people out there who just care about this community.  And, we can all do something, whether it’s being vigilant at a public event.  And I was looking at, and Michelle Malkin has been talking about how important that is. You know, she lived on the East Coast for a long time.  She lives here.  That is something people can do.  Other people, you know, they’re willing to donate and volunteer their time for worthwhile causes.  And I would encourage that.  The one thing I would also encourage is, this is the most successful mayor that I have known. […] How should people get in touch with you [to volunteer or offer comments, suggestions, or ask a question]?   

BACH:  [provides contact information:  Website:  Phone number:  385-5900.   Ask for Denise Hoover  (liaison)]  I’d love to hear from people, particularly ideas as to how we can get better as a city

[intermission for news] 

[Host reintroduces Mayor Bach and promotes the re-wind, second airing of this show]

RANDALL:  [ask Mayor Bach about the latest status on storm water management, drainage, fees and how the city will address that issue.}

BACH:  Richard, the city of Colorado Springs is moving forward on storm water, not only in terms of planning, but also in construction.  And I don’t think that’s been well covered by the media thus far.  You know, we said at the beginning of the year, that between Colorado Springs Utilities and our municipal government, that we would be spending about 28 million dollars this year in storm water improvements.  Since then, a couple things have happened.  One is I have asked the Council to allow us to withdraw some of our ‘rainy day’ funds – some of our reserves for Waldo Canyon Fire flood mitigation.  I think it’s about 8.8 milllion dollars, plus another million-two for other storm water related training and matters.  And we’re also spending money on Pikes Peak highway, on storm water, and our airport enterprise is also launching storm water improvements out there. All in, all of our city entities including utilities and municipal government, we’re now going to be spending 46 million dollars.  That is very significant.  I hope people understand that –- that we are not sitting by idly, here.  So, short term, we are taking action.   And we have asked, and City Council, I appreciate, has approved a drawing down on reserves, somewhat.  And you know, I’ve been criticized by some for building up our reserves.  This is exactly why we need reserves.  When we get into a situation where there is an emergency or an urgent need to protect our citizens, we have to take action.  So, on the Waldo Canyon Fire special appropriation, we’re going to be mitigating Camp Creek that comes down through Garden of the Gods into Pleasant Valley, which – you know, 30th, 31st Street, there, improving that significantly.  We’re also going to be working on both forks of Douglas Creek, up in Mountain Shadows, to try to mitigate that, including holding ponds so that when we get a downpour we won’t hopefully have a flood.  So, we’re moving forward there.  Now, secondly, in terms of the longer range approach, I’ve asked our staff to obtain a outside expert engineering second opinion on what truly is our storm water improvement scope, how serious is it, and what are those projects, and what should be our priorities.  There’s a regional storm water task force that was formed some time ago by the county commissioners and city council, that met with me and I had heard previously that they had estimated we had 500 million dollars in storm water needs in our city.   When I met with them, they told me it was almost 700 million. 
Well, that’s a huge increase.  And I just think, as with one’s health, you know, you get a bad diagnosis from your doctor, it’s probably prudent to get a second opinion.  And so we’re doing that now and in the case of storm water, we’ve invited the county and the outlying municipalities to join us, to use the same engineering firm we are, so that everyone will have their own perspective.  And we expect the result of that by the end of the summer.  Now, separately, our staff is pursuing a discussion of all the alternate ways that we can pay for storm water over the coming decades, all the way from additional internal efficiencies – I think you know we’ve redeployed significant dollars toward storm water.  We have not filled vacant positions.  We have eliminated authorized positions in our city government that we didn’t think we had to have, even though we would have liked to have those people.  We’ve changed some of the programs and reduced costs to redeploy dollars to storm water.  And we’ll continue that.  Hopefully, City Council is working with Colorado Springs Utilities so that they too can hopefully find ways to contribute to storm water.  I know in talking with Manitou Springs’ mayor Mark Snyder that Manitou is also looking to draw down some of its reserves to do some of its storm water improvements, and I commend Mayor Snyder and the Manitou folks for taking action.  I’m not aware of whether or not El Paso County has spend any money or is going to spend any money on storm water.  Of course, I urge them to do so, to join Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs in a regional collaboration this year.  So, I expect by fall to be coming forward with a longer range recommendation on how we’re going to handle storm water.  And keep in mind, that’s not all of our issues.  We’ve got roads and bridges that are crumbling, we’ve got police cars that are way past when they should have been traded in, fire equipment is going to need replaced.  So, we’ve got a lot of heavy lifting to do, but I’ve got a lot of great people working on that problem and we’ll be coming forward by fall with a longer range plan. 

[Host Randall introduces CALLER SETH, to present the mayor with a question regarding the “wonderful, new airport”.]

CALLER SETH:  Good morning, Mr. Mayor.   I just had a quick question regarding the airport.  I travel a lot around the country, and stuff, my family.  And we’ve had issues with theft from TSA and stuff.  When I was over in Montana a while back, [I] noticed that one of the national parks up there had contracted the services to a private company to eliminate waste and improve service overall.   Have you thought about putting in a privatized service for – instead of TSA?  Is that something you guys can do? 

[Bach requests Randall to repeat the final part of the question]

BACH:  You know, I don’t know the answer to that question.  I will find out.   I’ll be talking to Dan Gallagher, our interim Aviation Director, and if this gentleman will leave his contact information with your producer, we’ll get back to him.  I’ll tell you this, that Dan Gallagher has convinced the TSA to open all four of the security lines at the airport, earlier. We’ve had a situation which particularly on Monday mornings, when a lot of people try to leave on flights and have been backed up because TSA only had two of the four lines open.  […]  That has been changed, I understand.  All four lines are open, and we have a new physical arrangement there, which is, I hope more convenient for people. And, as to privatizing or handling our own security, that’s a fair question.  I’ll check into that.  Maybe next month I can give you a direct report, Richard.  I would just say this about the airport.  It’s a great facility.  And I know it’s a chicken or egg issue.  If we had more direct flights, more people would fly out of here.  Well, the airlines tell me that if we had more people willing to fly out of here, we’d have more direct flights.  So, I’m asking all our community, starting with Regional Business Alliance, as our key business organization, to encourage everyone, and business especially, but also us as consumers to use our airport, even if it’s slightly less convenient, maybe, or slightly more expensive.  I really think that when people add up all the components to travel, not only the flight costs, but the cost of parking, the amount of time consumed, the hassle, our airport looks really great.  You know, typically we have almost no waiting in the TSA lines, there’s ample parking two minutes from the door.  We have a shuttle that will pick you up and take you to the terminal.  When you come back, we’ll take you back to your car.  We’ve got some new restaurants, there.  I really think that if we’ll use our airport more, we’ll see more flights.  We’re talking to a number of airlines about adding direct flights to other destinations than what we have now, and I’m hoping that we’ll have an announcement in the next month or two. 

[Randall teases the next segment before the commercial break, announcing that the mayor will address the recent City Council elections, the current legislative session in Denver and impact on Colorado Springs] 

[After the break, Randall encourages people to go to town meetings with Mayor Steve Bach and his staff.  Randall asks Bach if there are any town hall meetings coming up.]

BACH:  [Bach responds with details on the next town hall:  Tuesday, 4/30/13  at Sand Creek HS 6:30-8pm]  Really encourage folks to come out and spend some time with our staff and me.  We need help from our fellow citizens in determining the most important priorities for next year’s budget and beyond.  [Bach states that there will be town hall meetings monthly this year, and suggests listeners check his website for more details.]  

[Randall recommends that listeners bring their children as an educational experience.  Let them see how government in action and meet their government representatives and civil servant leadership.  It is an opportunity to see how government best works, which is accountability and direct communication between the Council and the mayor.]   

RANDALL:  We had an election.  And I’ve had people say, “Well, the election was a referendum on the mayor.  There were a couple of people that had been strong allies of the mayor.  They weren’t re-elected.  Isn’t that a referendum on the mayor?”  I said that I didn’t think it was at all, that I thought that the election – the candidates stood by themselves.  And because a candidate did or didn’t get elected wasn’t a reflection on the mayor himself.  But as you look at this, Mayor, and you look at a new City Council, what are you thoughts on the election results and the new council that you’re going to be working with? 

BACH:  Richard, the way I read the election is that the voters are still not happy with the way we’re running our city government.  And I take part of the responsibility for that.  I need to get better, especially in my relationship with City Council.  You know, I’ve talked about this pretty regularly.  I could probably use a diplomacy coach.  You know, but I’m working on it.   I’m trying hard, and I do think the election was anti-incumbency.  I believe that the voters who strongly, resoundingly rejected that big salary increase for Council also were saying something about the incumbents.  It may be more than that, but I do want people to know that I view that also as a kind of first quarter grade report for me, which means I need to get better.  So, I’m really encouraged by the new council, in several ways.  Just watching them, the first two meetings they had this week, first of all, despite some very difficult topics and lack of agreement among all of them on decisions, I thought they generally – most of them, at least, really handled  themselves with decorum and mutual respect.  And I think that’s very important.  You know, we can debate strenuously.  We should do so respectfully.  And frankly, not take things personally. 
And once we’ve made a decision, at least in my case, I just put that to bed and move on to the next opportunity.  So, a lot of good folks on council, and I think we have a real chance to make substantial headway in moving our city forward with this new group. 

RANDALL:  [Points out there have been major developments in State Legislature controlled by liberals and with a Dem governor.  Are there things pending or that have gone through that you see will have special impact on Colorado Springs?]

BACH:  Well, there is one very important matter, but before I get to it I want to say that the state’s decision on gun control legislation is a mistake.  It’s not going to improve safety.  It didn’t stop that bombing in Boston.  And even if we ban all guns, they’ll be coming in here on the black market from Mexico and elsewhere.  So, we need to have a serious conversation about truly how to reduce violent crime in this country, and it is not by intrusive regulations.

 [Bach is interrupted by Randall, who explains that they are out of time.]