Letter by Chris Dickey
Growth – February 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine
Don’t blame the government for all its recent growth
I appreciated your different approach to the talked-to-death dilemma of growth in the January edition. The real issue, at least in Central Colorado, is not population expansion. The forces which are impacting the lives of those of us who live here are rooted in economics, as you point out. However, I also believe that the attitudes which characterize public opinion these days have as much or more to do with disturbing trends such as burgeoning government bureaucracy.
In your argument, you bring up relatively common small-town issues involving utility and public safety departments. You seem to imply that it’s actually the town’s governmental leaders who are to blame for troubles here: “…our city council serves the city rather than the citizens …” While I don’t make any argument that government plays an undeniably vital role, for better or for worse, in these types of developments, one shouldn’t overlook the impact of the political ebbs and flows of the general populace.
For instance, I don’t believe installing water meters or building a new prison are necessarily self-centered actions of the government.
Obviously, there is public sentiment out there suggesting people should be charged according to how much they consume and that society needs to create punitive accommodations for those who we deem have done wrong.
Although I’m sure most professional administrators love the fact they get to oversee the construction and management of a town’s new, multi-million dollar wastewater treatment facility, I’m not sure that the structure even would be a possibility without the threat of a media exposé on sub-standard effluent discharges, for example.
I personally complain about the level of care — i.e. expense — local, state and national governments put into transportation. I live in the mountains, I expect to hit a patch of snow or ice once in a while. I’d rather see a new wing added onto the public library or recreation center than continually expanding roadways and smoothed-over potholes. But, I can’t blame the government for these judgments because I hear the public outcry when roads get a little bumpy or traffic jams too frequent.
Just recently I read an article in the Pueblo Chieftain which I think demonstrates my point. The city was — and is continuing to be — sued by a woman who claims a police officer sexually assaulted her while responding to a burglary report. The case isn’t about whether the officer did in fact behave inappropriately. That would be too simple.
She’s blaming the city because “Pueblo officers receive no training on how to prevent sexual misconduct when they answer calls which require them to be alone with women.”
Is it any wonder we have city budgets that are growing in order to accommodate compliance officers, unending training seminars and the like?
There are many aspects of “growth” that I dislike. I wish I could blame them all on the government. But, to me, the heart of some of these problems lies within the people, which is even more troublesome.
Thanks for the continued good work.
Chris Dickey, Gunnison