Liberty For Me But Not For Thee
Several responses from the citizens of Fort Collins during the recent City Council election have shown to me that people here either do not understand the concept of liberty, or are willing to toss it aside for the sake of convenience. In District 5, the primary issue before the voters was the Unrelated Three ordinance. In District 3, the issues became uranium mining and the extension of the Fort Collins-Loveland airport runway. The remaining issues applicable to all districts were whether to continue to drive businesses away to adjacent communities and whether or not our taxes would be raised.
The response from the community with their lack of votes on election day and comments during the campaign show that we’re perfectly happy with limiting the liberties of certain people either because it has no effect on us or it makes our life a little easier. Take the Unrelated Three ordinance, for instance. The people of Fort Collins have spoken. Our words are now those of City Councilman Kelly Ohlson,
…it’s their very presence that is the problem.
That quote is of course from a City Council working session, where Ohlson was defending the exclusion of not only the students of Colorado State University from some parts of the city, but also some elderly, poor, and non-traditional families. As one local citizen put it,
Those people are to be relegated to the leper colony over by the College.
The story continues in District 3, where people who bought homes in the flight path of the Fort Collins-Loveland Regional Airport. They’ve now decided they don’t like the size of the airplanes that are landing there (and have been for quite a long time). They oppose a runway extension that would improve safety for fear that even more and larger jets will begin to use the airport (even though that is not the plan and is unlikely). These normally conservative voters said they would vote for the extremely liberal candidate over this one issue. This was true because the conservative candidate said she wouldn’t decide how she would vote on the issue until she’d seen all of the relevant facts. In a district where the conservative candidate should always win by 10%, the final results were closer to 2% This is true even though these people were fully aware that if they were successful the liberties of many citizens would’ve been taken away.
The final issue here was uranium mining in Weld County to the east. The battle ground is divided between property owners with mineral rights and conservatives/libertarians who support property rights, and adjacent property owners that don’t have uranium on their property and liberal environmentalists that would never support mining of any kind anywhere. Even though there are more than enough protections in place with existing laws, opponents continue to ask for study after study to delay and hopefully scuttle the project. Even so, it’s an issue for Weld, not Larimer County and Fort Collins. Even more so, the successful candidate never took a position on uranium mining. She was focusing her efforts on issues directly facing the city and leaving these other issues to those that had the authority over that area.
The end result of this most recent city election is that the citizens of Fort Collins have chosen tyranny over liberty, handouts and more government programs over business growth and more jobs, and protectionism over personal rights. They’ve given notice that families are more than welcome to send their sons and daughters to our city to attend the local university so long as they stay where they belong. We’ll take your money so long as you don’t make your residence on the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll also need to look elsewhere for employment after you’ve completed your education, because our focus will continue to be on purchasing more open space that we can’t afford to manage, so we’ll have to increase the taxes of the local citizens as well. We’ll continue to drive businesses away to adjacent cities where they will be welcomed with open arms. Benjamin Franklin said it best.
Fort Collins was recently voted number 1 in Money Magazine’s best places to live. You’ll just need to check that you meet the city’s demographic requirements before you actually decide to pack up and move here. Oh, and you’ll also need to plan to find a job in another city because the current makeup of the City Council has no desire to see more businesses (and jobs) come here.