Manitou Springs has a bureaucratic problem: the lunatics are running the institution. The city administration is not helping anyone but itself. The boards and commissions are out of control, pursuing their own agendas, doing whatever they want, and few people know about it until it’s too late, which suits the city just fine.

The parking program is a great example. Originally touted as a means to control traffic and parking congestion, which really only happens a couple of times a year — and almost always on Saturdays but never Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays — the paper pushers in charge have expanded the program far beyond managing traffic and parking. In fact, most days this winter, there’s absolutely no need for parking enforcement, as the downtown area is awash with empty parking spaces.

Things like that do not matter to bureaucrats and their safe spaces in city hall. What they really want to do is heap praise upon themselves for doing things at other people’s expense. Go tell the Parking Authority Board how much you love them and you’ll be a sure bet to win a Manni Award next year.

Meanwhile, businesses are struggling; the downtown area is practically empty most of the week. And where are the city officials and staff? Comfortably sipping coffee in their safe spaces, lacking any sense of urgency for the businesses or their employees, many of whom live here in Manitou Springs.

And that’s precisely the problem with the current city administration and the boards/commission: Rather than living in reality, the bureaucrats are more interested in forcing their ideas of reality onto everyone else. The parking program created a sterile downtown area in which people simply drive to a specific store in town, shop for only 15 minutes and leave without visiting or walking throughout the downtown area.

The bureaucrats are still chasing this fantasy, even after nearly five years of horrible and outrageous parking enforcement policies, plus endless streams of complaints from tourists, employees and business owners and managers. When businesses and residents tell the Parking Authority Board, even city council, that the program isn’t working, the reply has been for too long, “No! The parking program is here to stay!”

And now, for a three-story parking building.

Meanwhile, the Metro Board posted its meeting minutes on the city website, but the last entry is dated November 2016. In the meeting minutes posted online, you can discover that the Metro Board has been actively discussing building a three-story structure in the Wichita parking lot. And if you read the minutes, you come away with the impression that the discussion between a two-story and three-story parking structure simply came down to, “Ehhh. I like the number three better than two. Let’s build a three-story structure!”

This is on top of the City’s obsession with Hiawatha Gardens, the future spot of a huge amphitheater or parking structure or the mayor’s personal Pit of Hell. Such is the obsession with Hiawatha Gardens that the mayor could step down as mayor today and find a job tomorrow with our contracted parking corporation since, it seems, she’s desperate to make that out-of-state entity lots of money.

Surely, they’ll nominate her for an award next year!

As it stands, however, the Soda Springs park pavilion remains closed and a nearby public bathroom closes early because the City cannot handle or control a park and a public bathroom. Taking this into consideration, what makes the bureaucrats think they can handle a massive parking structure or amphitheater at Hiawatha Gardens?

So, why is there even a discussion about building parking structures? On Ruxton Avenue, “quality of life” issues permeate everything and anything to do with parking; what makes the City think those same quality-of-life issues won’t impact residents on Lover’s Lane behind the Wichita parking lot, and for those who live east and west of Hiawatha Gardens on El Paso Blvd.?

That’s the problem: The bureaucrats don’t care because they don’t suffer the consequences of their policies. Businesses and residents do.

The culture at city hall needs to change — and change fast. Meanwhile, we, regular folks need to constantly be on guard, constantly be informed, constantly be aware of what the bureaucrats are doing, because if we don’t, one day soon, we’ll wake up one bright summer morning and discover a massive parking structure overshadowing the downtown area, supported by huge tax increases, strangling policies designed to generate revenue, and worse.

The administration is already paving that road. And if we’re not careful, the poor and middle-class folks and families in Manitou Springs will be gone, driven down that same road and away from the city.

All because the bureaucrats want more awards.

by Paotie Dawson