(Editor’s note: The author, Tim Hoiles, has previously written on special districts for Complete Colorado here. You can also see Hoiles discuss special districts in this video. All of Complete Colorado’s reporting and commentary around special districts is here.)
To minimize the “bad publicity” on Colorado Special Districts, the Special District Association is offering myriad presentations about the value of these local-quasi governments. They are trying to polish the tarnished image of various districts recently highlighted in the Denver Post.
I argue that this is merely a PR campaign without the deep look into these districts. I say that based on one of the presentations I attended in Denver on March 4 sponsored by Urban Land Institute – Special Districts: Wild West or Promised Land. I propose presentations like this lack the in-depth discussion needed to communicate both sides of the issue.
My grandfather, R.C. Hoiles loved debates. He believed that in a debate, sides would discuss, question, and challenge differing ideas, generated by active participation by all attendees. Unfortunately, this was not the case at the ULI presentation. Instead a panel of “experts” censored questions written by the audience on 3×5 cards or questions facilitated by the host, thereby editing the narrative on Special Districts.
Did the facilitator get to all the audience questions and why did they not take questions verbally from the audience in a true debate format? I would challenge the folks (panel) financially benefiting from an annual income stream to turn their “presentations” into a debate. Only then will the developers, homebuilders, bond attorneys, investment bankers, accountants and elected representatives be prodded to answer tough questions about how these local-quasi governments work without the veil of information promotion.
Maybe we should develop debate teams to illuminate the truth. True debates rule!
Tim Hoiles is a Colorado Springs businessman, philanthropist and former media executive whose family once owned The Colorado Springs Gazette.