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Helen Collins on A-71, Trump's taxes, Manitou parking, and more 

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Down on A-71

As a member of the Colorado Springs City Council, I strongly oppose Amendment 71. Its chief spokesman is our mayor, John Suthers, who gets more recognition to run for governor. He appears in statewide TV ads, paid for by $2.7 million (so far) from special interests.

Suthers says 71 makes petitioners collect signatures in small towns. But our police department, which he controls, now arrests people for collecting signatures in public access areas. That is a dramatic change from the former policy of allowing peaceful First Amendment petitioning. A-71 is not about public policy, but political power.

It has two main features. It establishes geographic quotas for petition signatures, requiring major effort in all 35 state Senate districts. Political quotas based on area, not "one person, one vote," were found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962.

No one can collect and verify signatures under 35 different tests. A-71 spent about $900,000 buying 183,000 signatures; no grassroots group can do that. Our current system should count all voices equally; 71 favors citizens by area of residency. Amendment 71 makes petitions so hard you will never get to vote.

Their second radical attack on petitions repeals majority rule. The Establishment tried this in 1996 and in 2008. Their first effort was rejected by a losing margin of over 243,000 votes.

Under 71, it still takes only 68 votes in the Legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. A politician's vote has 2,691 times more weight than a petition signature. A-71 doesn't change that ratio, because special interests control politicians. The only limits in 71 are on the people, not politicians.

Citizens who believe in "We the People" and defend the democratic process should vote "NO" in "NOvember."

— Helen Collins

Colorado Springs

Ups and downs

Sunday at Rampart Reservoir was as picture perfect as it could get! The aspens in golden splendor, families out enjoying nature's majesty — so nice to see! Walking along the path taking pictures of trees and ... what's that? Hmmm. A bit of trash. Boo. Taking pictures of trees and a bloom ... another bit of trash. It looks similar to the other, and another!

What's happening? Little baggies everywhere! Poop! It's dog poop baggies! Families with dogs leaving these poop baggies everywhere! People suck.

— C. Perez

Colorado Springs

Choice is yours

The New York Times obtained the first few pages of Donald Trump's 1995 tax return. Mr. Trump reported a net loss of almost $1 billion, which likely allowed him to avoid paying taxes for the better part of the next two decades. If the American experience truly includes the right to use any and all legal tactics to minimize your contribution to the greater good, then Mr. Trump is merely a reflection of society and should be elected because he represents our true nature. But if the majority of Americans view what he was able to do as troubling and inherently wrong, then a man like this has no business leading the American people.

— Brent Weiner

Manitou Springs

Be nice to Manitou

I subscribe to the daily rag in Colorado Springs (motto: nothing's cheaper than borrowing Denver's printing presses). I'm sorry, that was a dig.

The daily has readers' panties all knotted up because Manitou Springs (I love Manitou) raised parking fees on Ruxton Avenue and the Barr Trail parking lot.

Consider: You bought a property on Ruxton, and every morning, from 4 a.m. on, you get to hear cackling laughter, car doors slamming, dog owners calling (screaming) for Shepp, "Get back here!" And good 'ol Shepp leaves his mark.

I'm not criticizing early-morning runs or climbing the Incline. I did it. I ask the reader: Think about it. How would you respond to that behavior on your cul-de-sac? In Briargate? Or the Old North End?

I ran, trained, threw up and all on Ruxton Avenue. When parking became scarce as popularity increased, I made friends with Manitouans. They let me use their parking spaces (not on Ruxton). I'm not telling their names; make your own friends. I'll hint this — a cup of hot coffee from Starbucks goes a long way.

If your complaint is the inconvenience of parking away from the trail heads of Barr Trial or the Incline, maybe you should take you and your dogs, loud laughter and slamming car doors somewhere else at 4 a.m.

— Timothy Lee Goodwin

Colorado Springs

View from afar

As a Californian, I'm definitely envious of ColoradoCare, your universal health insurance plan on the ballot as Amendment 69.

My husband has worked with high-level doctors and health-care professionals across the country for 10 years, and almost every one of them dreams of a universal-coverage system that would include everyone and let doctors spend the time with patients instead of filling out a multitude of insurance forms.

Coloradans, please lead the way with ColoradoCare and vote YES on 69.

— April Orcutt

San Anselmo, California

Hope for the best

It's easy to vilify Phil Anschutz, The Gazette and Clarity Media ("The G chews up two more papers," City Sage, Sept. 14) for their acquisition of two small community newspapers, The Pikes Peak Courier and The Tri-Lakes Tribune. But the future for community journalism is much more complex than one corporate takeover would indicate.

I've been involved in small-town newspapering in Southern Colorado for more than 40 years, and have been owner and publisher of the Westcliffe Wet Mountain Tribune for 35 years.

When I started, nearly all of Colorado's 160 or so daily and weekly newspapers were proudly family-owned. Given the lucrative nature of community newspapers, it didn't take long for news corporations both large and small to begin acquiring newspapers as older publishers retired or died.

That number continues to dwindle as a new swell of corporations extend their tentacles.

Some communities win with new ownership, while many suffer.

Particularly in rural areas, small newspapers remain an important institution. Here in Westcliffe, the Tribune has been in production since 1883. It makes my heart proud when on Thursday morning residents are anxious to see that week's edition. Custer County's population is barely 4,000, but we maintain a household penetration rate of around 80 percent. In a recent issue, my staff of seven and I produced 24 pages filled with more than 40 articles about our community, and funded in part through more than 75 display ads.

The folks at Clarity Media obviously see a financial opportunity. But they also — hopefully — will serve these distinct communities with a measure of newspapering integrity.

If the option is corporate ownership versus no community newspaper at all, the former may be the only choice.

— Jim Little

Westcliffe

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