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A month's not enough
Typically, I am not an advocate of black history only being recognized in February. Much of the history of blacks in America is buried in public and private libraries, to include the Library of Congress.
However, little is published in mainstream public education regarding blacks as ancient explorers, warriors, cowboys, inventors, scientists, astronauts, congressmen, educators and even business leaders. While I am not playing the race card, I will say this absence is a significant contributor to subtle narrow-mindedness, and ultimately contributes to the black child in public school wondering what my ancestors did in America, besides be slaves and pick cotton or do similar manual labor.
An argument could be made that, in its own way, the relative absence of the positive black contributions to American history contributes to the high dropout rate among black youth across America. Data suggest dropping out of high school leads to high unemployment, increased crime, and incarceration rates.
At any given economic period, the unemployment rate among black Americans is twice that of whites, as is the dropout rate. The issue facing the nation is how we alter the trend toward a growing number of under-educated people on our streets, on public assistance and in prison at a time when America can ill afford to continue to pay $32,000 to $42,000 annually, per person, to warehouse our growing number of under-educated youth.
As this month comes to an end, I encourage parents, grandparents, teachers and community leaders to research the full mosaic of black history and share with a child, a family member or a friend, and make every month a month of enlightenment.
— Willie H. Breazell
Board president, STAR Academy Charter School, Colorado Springs
About that crisis ...
As I write, we have just days to come up with a government decision that will help pull us out of our main problems: Social Security, military financing, Medicare collapse. What do we see this morning? Immigration people marching to pass laws to help illegal immigrants. We see a push for gun control that we know will not stop the crimes in the future.
The President goes to play golf instead of staying in the Oval Office and work to get the two parties to work together. We have a leader of Afghanistan tell us to leave an area because supposedly we are torturing the enemy. I don't know what we are doing but I do know the enemy does a lot worse. If they don't want us to fight our way, then let's go home and take our money with us.
The big problem is that both parties, instead of trying seriously to fix our government, are already figuring if what they do now will affect the next election. We just finished an election — how sick are these people?
— Rodney E. Hammond
Trimming the fat
We are in danger of sequestration on March 1, which means that spending cuts across the board will happen. We could go into a deep recession with the loss of thousands of jobs, and it will hurt many people.
House Republicans and Senate Democrats have offered counter-proposals in order to protect our most vital programs, but they do not include any major reductions to the hugely bloated Pentagon budget, which is more than 50 percent of our federal budget. The Pentagon has doubled its budget since 1998, meaning we can make much deeper cuts because we would still be able to fully support everything we need, including help for our veterans.
So why should we have to sacrifice some of our basic needs and our security to fund the wasteful spending of the Pentagon with programs that have been extremely costly and abject failures, such as the F-35 plane? Just think about what our country really needs, how many jobs we could create, and how these funds could increase the quality of people's lives across America and help reduce the debt.
We need to contact our members of Congress and tell them to include the necessary deeper cuts to the Pentagon budget so that we can work towards real and sensible economic recovery.
— Sharlene White
Free and queasy
Last week's Freethought Views (p. 12) scared the living shit out of me. And it just floors me that so many evangelicals still use the violence of the Old Testament to instruct their children instead of the teachings of Christ.
I mean, they're Christians, right? So how about teaching the parable of the sower or the Golden Rule? But no, they start out with a story of mass murder and how disappointed God was that not everyone was slaughtered.
And what is a religious club doing in a public elementary school, anyway? Last I knew there was still separation between church and state.
— Christopher Curcio
Why I vote
Why vote at all? Major elections seem to be a media show. Local elections ... well, why do they matter? Who knows these people and who cares? And what difference does my one vote make, anyway?
These questions run through my mind each election season. And in many ways, they are fair. But I guess the answer for me starts with my own family's history.
My grandmother became a young woman in an era when there was no television, radio or Internet. In 1918, she wrote a letter expressing her longing to vote, something she wasn't able to do as a woman. And my immigrant ancestors left their home countries because they were denied freedoms and rights by their unelected leaders. As soon as any of them were able, they voted. And as far as I know, they voted in every election.
Here I am, a product of those longings, and I'm looking at local elections where I don't know as much about the candidates as I'd like. But while I might find myself thinking I'd sit this one out, I'm reminded of my ancestors and also, what's at stake locally.
Here are some of the issues that concern me: fracking, clean air, parks, public health, housing and homelessness, maintenance of streets and roads, fire and police protection, schools, public transportation ... and that's just a start.
I figure all these things will be decided in some form or fashion by our City Council members during their term. And, since these things are important to me, I should probably think seriously about what kind of compensation Councilors should be receiving, as well.
— Marsha Smith
'Trust, but verify'
I'm so glad I had my neighbor grab my Independent delivery this week, as the letter from Laurel Biedermann ("Testing, 1, 2, 3") was not one to miss. Bravo. We don't know how fracking is going to play out. We hope/think it will be OK, but exactly what's wrong by citing the Book of Reagan and doing the "Trust, but verify" thing?
We should agree up front to get a few years of data, then revisit the frequency of sampling to try to take some of the extra cost out of the process if possible. How would you manage this if you lived next door to the drilling, and your son/daughter owned the company doing the extraction?
I very much want to know exactly where my potential Council candidates stand on this subject. I see that the Indy is sponsoring a forum, but sorry, I've just gotta get the response in writing. I'm willing to cut these overwhelmingly decent folks a lot of slack for the occasional verbal gaffe or misunderstanding — I know that my thinking is much more clear when I type it out! Please add a question to your upcoming candidate survey.
— Mark Martin
An open questionnaire to the Colorado Springs City Council regarding fracking in the Pikes Peak region:
1. Please describe the extent of your knowledge and experience related to fracking. List any course of study which may apply: engineering, geological studies, extensive work in the oil and gas industry. What course of study has brought you to your informed position on the subject?
2. How will fracking impact other forms of established regional industry, including but not limited to, tourism and construction? For instance, do you anticipate a building moratorium in the event of water supplies being dramatically compromised, or tourism being diminished because of rampant pollution?
3. What short-term and long-term effects will fracking have on the Denver Basin aquifer system, which includes the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers, all of which are beneath El Paso County? Also, please describe the extent of your knowledge of this aquifer system and how it relates to the Pikes Peak region water supply.
4. Will the Southern Delivery System provide the Pikes Peak region with enough water if fracking causes the widespread contamination of Front Range water supplies?
5. Was the SDS put into motion in anticipation of fracking?
6. In your opinion, should Front Range water supplies be sacrificed for oil and gas interests?
7. What contributions have come from the oil and gas industry in support of the SDS? Are there any expected?
8. Have any elected officials been offered gratuities and or any form of compensation for a favorable stance on fracking? Please describe.
9. In the event of property damage and health problems, do citizens of the region file suit against: a.) the oil and gas industry; b.) the city; c.) Council members; d.) all of the above?
— Wayne Hammerstadt
A Little problem
Every time I hear a grocery store advertising their "Little Clinic," I feel a letter to the editor coming on. So here it is.
Grocery stores should do a better job of doing what they do best, selling groceries. If they want to improve their customers' health, they can do it by offering them a fresher, healthier selection of food products.
I don't think they provide any needed service by offering one-stop medical care while you shop. Maybe medical offices should stock soft drinks and snack foods, bread and dairy products, and greeting cards, especially of the "Get Well" variety.
I guess if this trend continues, we'll soon see in-store dental care, somewhere between the bakery and the candy aisle, a paralegal person offering legal advice, and a seasonal accountant to complete customers' tax returns, all while they shop.
C'mon man. Grocery stores need to stick to groceries and leave health care to the medical professionals.
— Tom Dlugos, M.D.
Looking at Lamborn
A Capitalist's Rationale for Term Limits, or, "Why I vote against Representative Doug Lamborn":
I need a good reference when I leave my current employment. That awareness means I make decisions that help me maintain my value in the labor market. I focus on things like my performance, the effectiveness and respectfulness of my professional relationships, and opportunities to improve my skills and knowledge.
In contrast, Rep. Lamborn believes he has life tenure in Congress. So he can say anything, do anything (or nothing) with impunity.
Capitalists like me believe that our world is a better place when everyone worries a little bit about their résumés. That's the power of the marketplace. I urge you to remind Rep. Lamborn that he's working on a two-year contract for us, and his performance evaluation is scheduled for November 2014. Between now and then, let's compare notes regularly about how well he's doing his job, representing the Pikes Peak region.
— Di Graski
An editor's note in last week's Letters section pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 31,672 firearm-related deaths in 2010 in the U.S. However, in the context of today's gun-violence debate, which focuses largely on murders and attempted murders, it is worth noting that 19,392 of those deaths were suicides.