City jobs eliminated; un-planted flower beds; cutbacks in park maintenance; streetlights turned off: these are the tell-tale signs of a city on the brink of disaster -- a city being strangled by the stinginess of conservative voters and a government straitjacket called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. That's the sensationalist and simplistic picture of Colorado Springs we've seen painted by certain journalists and pundits (including HuffPost blogger David Sirota), peddling a left-wing morality play about the alleged dangers of reasonable taxation and restrained government.
But what about Salt Lake City?
Salt Lake City is cutting city staff; Salt Lake City is reducing park maintenance; Salt Lake City is eliminating flower beds; Salt Lake City is selectively turning off streetlights as an austerity measure -- all in response to its budget crunch. None of this has garnered much attention, though, because the simplistic morality play doesn't as easily fit there. The city is led by a liberal Democrat, Mayor Ralph Becker. It's about as "progressive" as you get in Utah. There is no Taxpayer's Bill in Rights, no Douglas Bruce, no Focus on the Family, no libertarian editorial page whipping the mob into anti-government frenzy. Reporters can't caricature it the way they have Colorado Springs, apparently, so they just don't seem interested.
Next time a reporter calls, I'll make him or her a deal. I'll be happy to give yet another interview about the budget situation in Colorado Springs -- because I think the creative way we're dealing with fiscal adversity makes this an interesting story -- on one condition. First go cover the budget crunch in Salt Lake City.