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Homelessness, feeling unsafe downtown, and a billboard controversy 

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Let's get creative

"Homeless CEO" by J. Adrian Stanley (cover story, May 29) illustrates how people become homeless and how complex it is to get them a home. Compared to other cities, our local leaders' response to homelessness is exposed as uninspiring. There is a lack of creativity in city government when its best response to homelessness is to make city camping and panhandling illegal.

Why can't City Council or the mayor consider the ideas of Scott Anderson (as highlighted in "Street philosophers")? He suggested the city pay the homeless to clean up trash, and charge a small amount to stay in a homeless-run campground; unused industrial areas would be a perfect spot for campers.

Regardless of how we view people in our community without homes, we should expect more inventiveness from our city leaders in their response to them.

— Joel Imrie

Colorado Springs

A cancer construct

The Independent's coverage of homelessness is better than most newspapers' exposure on the topic. It gives a voice to the people caught in the snare of being without a large basic need — a safe abode.

Oh yes, there is an "except" coming. Mitch Snyder was the leader of the 1980s, I met him briefly around 1985. Cheri Honkala is today's most famous anti-foreclosure/human rights leader.

Right now Colorado has a world-famous leader in its midst, and I can't get media coverage. Perhaps it is my fault.

Deeper than personalities is the untold question of, "Do we keep placing undersized band-aids, and as a society be satisfied with bad results?" For the causes of homelessness to be effectively tackled, and removed, we need answers of the 21st century — not a return to the debtors' prison concept, but to try treating each person as if they alone contain the cure to cancer.

We must treat each worker as if they are important enough to have all the unavoidable costs of being human covered in their pay rate. It is society's mindset which leaves four-fifths of the human population cemented in lack. And lack — poverty, unemployment, not enough affordable housing — according to Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness, are the top three causes of homelessness.

In-depth coverage of how to end homelessness for all families is the job of media. The Indy did a better-than-average job, just not quite as good as it could be.

— Jan Lightfoot

Colorado Springs

Mean streets

I was visited on Memorial Day by family members who have recently relocated from the Chicago area. My son-in-law and two grandchildren, ages 10 and 14, spent about an hour walking in the downtown area on Monday morning between 10 and 11. They walked from the Acacia Park area along Tejon Street south to the courthouse.

My son-in-law complained that on every corner, an apparently homeless person was lying on the raised planter and numerous very unsavory people were loitering throughout their walk. They were accosted by panhandlers several times as well. He eventually gave up the walk and left the area because he didn't feel that he and the children were safe. He commented to me that he had never felt so uncomfortable before, even in downtown Chicago.

In a city with as much to offer as we have here in Colorado Springs, I think this is a really sad situation. We all want to see the downtown area succeed, and we are so dependent on tourism that it seems like there should be something we can do as a city to make our visitors feel safe and welcome. Perhaps adding foot or bicycle patrols in the area would discourage some of the loitering.

When big-city seasoned visitors are afraid to walk our streets in broad daylight, I hate to think about the impression we're leaving on all the other visitors to our area.

— Becki Schneider

Colorado Springs

We weren't all haters

As a supporter of Citizens Project and the work of Kristy Milligan, I am going to support Mountain Metropolitan Transit's decision ("City rejects 'diversity' ads," Noted, May 29).

I saw the billboard of the "controversial" ad when it was on North Nevada Avenue in front of ComCor. I had to read it several times to understand the point. The problems I have with this ad are: 1) it's not very clear and 2) not everyone in Colorado Springs 20 years ago disliked gays. It is too much of a generalization and assumption.

CP has done enough in this town supporting GLBT rights to stand on their own merit. I think it is an unfortunate investment of an ad, and MMT has been very supportive in the past. Twenty years ago, it approved two ads for Inside/Out (a GLBT youth services program). One ad was on the group itself, the other on AIDS Awareness Month. Both ads were placed inside the buses with no problem, and this was at a time when Amendment 2 was a rallying cry.

Not all citizens of Colorado Springs were haters, and as someone who founded Inside/Out 22 years ago, I resent the implication.

— Regina DiPadova

Manitou Springs

Moderates and Morse

I respect the efforts of the 55 Colorado sheriffs suing the state. Perhaps more telling of where law enforcement overall stands on gun laws is that the National Sheriffs' Association ("One Voice for the Office of Sheriff"), representing 3,100 sheriffs across the country, recognizes that "... only the doctrine of judicial review grants to the United States Supreme Court and the lower courts the power to determine the constitutionality of any law." The NSA resolved that "... sheriffs do not possess the legal authority to interpret the constitutionality of any law."

The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police also supports laws requiring background checks for private gun sales and banning high-capacity magazines. The difference between sheriffs and police chiefs is that sheriffs are elected while police chiefs are almost always appointed. Any elected official's livelihood is influenced by special interests and a capricious electorate. A police chief is non-partisan and not accountable to an electorate, and is more likely to advocate for politically unpopular policies, like gun laws.

Some are attempting to make gun laws and Sen. John Morse's recall campaign ("As I recall," News, May 29) a "conservative" versus "liberal" argument. Those claiming the loss of jobs and increased taxes as the force for the recall are disingenuous. Gun law opponents were not driving around the Capitol honking their horns to protest job losses at Magpul, and they certainly were not threatening to become "angry and hostile" over tax increases.

What about moderates like me who are gun enthusiasts and fully support the Second Amendment? It is this majority of voters in our state who elect lawmakers to represent all of us — not just the electorate who always agrees with them. It would indeed be interesting if we placed gun laws on a statewide ballot. Opponents of our new gun laws might be surprised at the results.

— Bill Guman

Colorado Springs

Loaded statements

A paid circulator came to my house last week. He asked me to sign a petition to protect my Second Amendment rights. I asked why they were recalling Sen. Morse, and he told me that there is currently a law being considered that would make the "Make My Day" Law in Colorado invalid. He said that this current bill will hold gun owners responsible if they use a gun against an intruder in their home.

This claim was also made by a signature gatherer while I was entering the Penrose library on May 20. This time the gentleman had on a "Volunteer Circulator" badge.

These two claims are not true. First, The Assault Weapons Responsibility Act was withdrawn by Sen. Morse and will not be reintroduced. Second, the bill specifically had many exemptions: one being the situation of an intruder coming into your home (i.e., a "Make My Day" exemption); in that case, you could not be held liable. The Act was also intended for cases of negligence in storing or transferring an assault weapon, or for cases where state/federal laws were violated.

When I told him that I was informed on this issue and that he was giving out false information, he denied it. However, he couldn't name this so-called current bill. So, people who were not informed could easily have signed the petition after hearing false information that is designed to incite gun owners.

Recalls are a big deal. If you're going to try and recall someone, get the facts correct, and then let people make an accurate assessment.

— Carol Hoffman

Colorado Springs

Correction

The hand-rolled cigarette used in the Star Bar Players' production of A Streetcar Named Desire contained mullein, not tobacco, as reported in last week's review, "She's so heavy." Also, the flickering lights during the play were caused by the theater's old wiring, not operator error on the part of the crew. We regret the errors.

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