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Doug Lamborn and the government shutdown, the D-11 school board election, smoking in parks and more 

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Step aside, Doug

Congressman Doug Lamborn was the only Colorado representative to vote against the bipartisan bill to re-open the government and increase the debt ceiling. He chose to inflict this pain on our country in order to force the overturn of the Affordable Care Act, which has been law for years. After voting 46 times to repeal the ACA, some House Republicans took the extraordinary step of threatening default.

Even the threat of default caused damage to our financial markets. Standard & Poor's estimates the economic cost of the government shutdown at $24 billion. To put it another way, Congress just inflicted 12 times as much damage on the economy as Colorado's floods did. How can this be the party of fiscal responsibility?

Sen. John McCain summed up the last three weeks as well as anyone has: "The question is whether we'll learn anything from this experience." In shutting down the government, McCain said, his colleagues made a "terrific mistake. We inflicted pain on the American people that was totally unnecessary, and we cannot do this again."

Colorado Springs is the city most affected by this Republican shutdown and has some of the highest numbers of active-duty service members, veterans and federal workers of any congressional district in our nation. A responsible elected official for a district like this would do anything within their power to avoid a shutdown, yet Doug Lamborn has advocated for it.

This is not your father's Republican Party anymore. It has been taken over by a minority of tea party folks who hate government and want to destroy it.

I ask everyone to reflect on the past few years and ask yourself, don't we deserve better representation? I support Irv Halter, a common-sense conservative Democrat who will take us forward.

— Kristen Ellisor

Salida

Let's start over

Well, it's that time ... let's all team up and exercise our right to have an effective District 11 school board for our children.

While the closures of Wasson, Bates and Lincoln schools obviously negatively impacted the attending students and teachers the most, we must also be clear on the negative impact this has also had on the remaining schools, especially high schools. Not only did the district negatively impact those at Wasson, but it has also done a terrible disservice to those at the remaining District 11 high schools.

Ask any parent or student about the overcrowding in the hallways and the extremely large class sizes. The District 11 school board lists transparency as a core value, but this board has been anything but transparent.

This district has not revealed itself to be a good steward of our resources, and yet would like us to vote for Amendment 66. We will never be privy to the truth about district finances or the school closure decision-making process. The decision to close our schools was announced on Feb. 6, 2013. Three weeks later, this board was ready to close on two real estate transactions to charter schools. Obviously the decision to close our schools had been made prior to the actual vote.

Don't underestimate the damage this school board has done to your real estate values by closing our neighborhood schools. LuAnn Long and Al Loma have the gall to believe that they should be re-elected. Let us prove to this school board that we have not forgotten. Let's make our motto, in this School Board election and the next, "RE-ELECT NO ONE"!

— Maureen Miller

Colorado Springs

A vote for Jim

Our ballots have arrived via mail; I am asking you to vote for Jim Mason for District 11 school board. Jim is currently serving on the District Accountability Committee and as chairman of the Budget Subcommittee. In this position, he is intimately familiar with school-finance-related issues.

Based on my personal knowledge of Jim, I find him to be a man of integrity, who is committed to giving back to our community. Jim's commitment to the elimination of social promotions and support for early childhood education is strong. Jim is a team player, but he is not a puppet of special interest groups. When elected, Jim will build consensus where possible and will vote in the best interest of the children of Colorado Springs schools. Again, I ask D-11 voters to vote Jim Mason for D-11 school board.

— Dennis Moore

Colorado Springs

Make bullying stop

I just went to talk to the principal at my little brother-in-law's school to try to stop him from being bullied. I despise bullying! If I could crusade about anything, that would be it.

Bullying ruins lives and stops people from getting a good education. It is not part of growing up, it does not "build character" — it only causes pain and fear. Kids run away to get away from it, or worse, some reach a point where death seems like a better option than dealing with one more day of torture. Who knows how many young people have been lost this way. It must stop!

If you are a bully, you need to stop — your "fun" is hurting people more than you can imagine. If you are being bullied, things will get better. Tell every adult you can find; if they don't listen, find another adult ... just keep telling until someone listens. You are not alone!

— Patrick Fisk

Manitou Springs

A prudent budget cut

City Council should scrutinize one item in the mayor's 2014 operating budget for what it is: a blatant affront to the taxpayers. The proposed City for Champions project has not been discussed in any public forums or, in fact, by Council itself. Yet we would be asked to swallow a $200,000 payment for a public relations firm to conduct a campaign to cajole the public into supporting this proposal. Council should reject and delete this item forthwith in order to be free and open to make an informed decision on City for Champions.

A disappointing and unwelcome surprise for many is the United States Olympic Committee statement that they will not participate in any fiscal way to build an Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Olympic movement has financial backing from multimillion-dollar corporations everywhere. It is reasonable to believe that many of them would be amenable to contributing to construct a first-class building of unique architectural design. Their participation would not only accomplish the Hall but help diminish the rankling community discontent which remains from the 2008 USOC deal.

— John A. Daly

Colorado Springs

No public smoking

In response to "Rethink the ban" (Letters, Oct. 16), I would argue we have not gone far enough in controlling smoking in public places.

The curbside smoking areas along Tejon Street are reason enough for many city residents and tourists to turn away from visiting "revitalized" downtown establishments, along with the many smells emanating from restaurant Dumpsters.

There is no apparent enforcement of the smoking ban in city parks to date. Parks rules have not been updated online or on parks' signage. The unusually fresh air at High Point Overlook in Garden of the Gods appears to incentivize polluted-lungers, unfortunately frequently spoiling this rarity for those parking to enjoy the pathogen-free elixir.

That is not to deny the days when horse droppings and squirtings in the park drown out even the strongest columns of fresh Pikes Peak air. But going a step further, if dog owners are required to pick up after their pets, then I think smokers, even with their clouded cerebral powers, could understand a city ordinance requiring them to dispose of their cigarette butts in actual trash receptacles.

If non-smoker volunteers did not pick up after their neighborhood butts, I venture to say our city would have already long ago disappeared under a mound of filters and tobacco ashes.

— Peter Dunn

Colorado Springs

Focus on the jobs

In a newspaper article on federal spending in 2009 in the Pikes Peak region, specifically El Paso County, it was noted that the county received $10.8 billion federal dollars, mostly tied to Fort Carson and other military installations in the region. Spread out over the population of the county at that time, the article stated that meant every man, woman and child received a federal benefit worth $17,800. The rest of the nation's citizens only received $10,500.

While many El Paso County citizens think of themselves as self-sufficient, and hypocritically dislike the federal government in the extreme, shouldn't we begin to worry about our local economy if Fort Carson and other military entities are ever downsized or closed?

We lack a diverse business and manufacturing base to take up any possible unplanned unemployment, and minimum-wage jobs do not make for a prosperous community.

Isn't it time for our local civic and business leaders to forget about "reviving downtown" and aggressively address this possible future "black hole"? After attracting new, non-military-related businesses to the Springs to expand the employment base, only then should we all worry about reviving downtown.

— Bob Armintor

Colorado Springs

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