EDITOR’S DESK: Just like downtown... not!

       Does the city discriminate against the Westside in favor of the downtown? Judy Kasten, an Old Colorado City accountant and chair of the Security & Maintenance District's advisory committee, thinks so. She ought to have a pretty good idea after serving close to a dozen years on the voluntary board that safeguards Old Town's public improvements. She gave the Colorado Springs City Council a lecture on the subject at the council meeting May 23. I especially liked her comments regarding the advice she's heard that her committee should learn from the Downtown Partnership group how to be more politically savvy. That image she came up with - Professor Higgins chiding cockney-spouting Eliza Doolittle, “Why can't you be more like me?” - defines the Westside to a T.
       Judy doesn't make a habit of telling City Council members at public meetings that they're not doing their jobs correctly. Even when public officials come to district committee meetings, she and the other members generally show a studied reserve, asking hard questions and maybe grousing a little about perceived city foot- dragging - as on the new streetlights with City Utilities that took ages to go in, or the request for a crosswalk at 24th and Colorado that has gone nowhere - but never charging them with patterns of neglect.
       But this time was different. At a City Council meeting in April, the City Parking Enterprise had presented plans showing zero, zilch, nada of the new $11 million in funds from the planned parking rate increase being reinvested in Old Colorado City - even though some $40,000 a year in new revenue would be generated from its parking meters. Confronted later about this by the committee, Parking Administrator Greg Warnke suggested it was the committee's fault for not stepping forward with project ideas, like the downtowners had.
       Somebody had to stand up and say that was a load of manure. Another good point Judy made was that even if Westsiders tend to be less suave ("We're definitely not the tuxedo and tiara crowd," she snapped at one point), we have stood up for things that matter - particularly preserving our history (something the savvy downtown has done a poor job of). Hey, maybe they could learn from us!

- K.J.