When conservative radio host Jeff Crank asked mayoral and City Council candidates to sign a form pledging to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes,” some people just rolled their eyes.
Mike Kazmierski called it downright “silly.”
In an interview with the Indy, the president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. said the pledge means a candidate “pledges to not allow the voters to decide what’s best for them.”
That got Crank’s blood boiling and sparked a series of verbal jabs between Crank and Kazmierski, according to e-mails obtained by the City Desk blog.
Initially, Crank invited Kazmierski on his radio show to discuss the issue, saying they obviously disagreed about the need for a tax increase in the next few years in Colorado Springs.
Kazmierski flatly rejected the offer.
“I would really not prefer to be attacked by some of your fans that already have their minds made up – by making a pledge not to think. Which in fact is what you are doing when you pledge something long before you know what the facts are or the situation you may be in,” Kazmierski said Sunday morning in an e-mail to Crank.
“Elected officials in this state do not raise taxes, the voters do, so to pledge not to raise taxes is silly in my mind,” he added.
Crank responded the following day, saying he was “disappointed” in the e-mail.
“Instead of debating the merits of a policy proposal – which most of the major mayoral candidates have signed – you just call it “silly.” Is that the best you have to offer our community?” Crank wrote in a long e-mail.
“If you change your mind and want to have such an intelligent discourse, either on the show or elsewhere, let me know and I will be happy to work with you in a polite way to ensure that happens,” Crank concluded. “Please understand, however, that if you continue to attack either the pledge or the candidates that signed it, I will use every necessary means to defend them, their honor and their integrity from shallow, personal attacks on candidates who stepped up to serve our community and just happen to disagree with you about taxes.”
Kazmierski was back at his keyboard that afternoon, saying he never said that whoever takes the pledge is silly, “just that the pledge is silly as far as local politics go.”
“There may be a very real community need that is not allowed to be addressed because of this “pledge,” like the upcoming RTA extension, that if not supported and even promoted by our leadership (elected officials) will not happen,” Kazmierski wrote. “From my perspective as an economic development expert, to allow our infrastructure to decay further is not what we need to do to grow our economy and create quality jobs.”
Crank’s rebuttal came less than four hours later.
“For the record, I don’t know how anyone could construe an extension of an existing tax, like the RTA at its current level, as a tax increase,” Crank wrote. “Doing so at its current level would not be a violation of the tax pledge which talks about ‘raising taxes.’ Whether an extension is a good idea or not should be a matter of debate but common sense tells us that it doesn’t violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The pledge was designed as a simple, straightforward document. It only gets complicated when we make it so.”
Kazmierski tried to quell the dispute when he responded.
“Your and the principles you believe in are commendable, and you have every right to promote that philosophy with our elected officials and others. I, however, have the same right, to question if taking a pledge to do something – when the facts and conditions are unknown is prudent and reasonable,” Kazmierski said in an e-mail Monday night.
“P.S.” Kazmierski wrote in the e-mail, “Still think the pledge is silly – Sorry.”