To the Editor:
I was very disappointed to read Cara DeGette's Public Eye column in the Oct. 26 issue. I thought we could have an honest disagreement on the issue of our right to keep and bear arms, but Ms. DeGette's column hits a new low in yellow journalism with her coverage of the issue forum held on Oct. 19.
She starts her column with "This story is nauseating, vile and -- despite the claims by gun proponents that the Independent and other media do not accurately cover gun issues -- true." She then tells a boldfaced lie designed only to provoke anti-gun sentiment among readers of the Independent when she reports, "Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition members, who oppose Amendment 22, showed up in force, many supporting armbands that read PPFC."
Since her story then relates a purported incident involving an unidentified person (who is not a member of the PPFC, to the best of my knowledge) making uncalled-for and despicable comments about Mr. Arine (sic) Grossman's Jewish heritage, the use of the term "armband" (used twice in the story) conjures up visions of Nazi storm troopers wearing swastika armbands as they round up Jews to be sent to the consecration (sic) camps.
There were no armbands of any kind at this forum. Many members of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, and some non-members, were wearing a small (2" by 3.5") sticker on the front of their clothes with "PPFC" printed in black letters on white paper.
Ms. DeGette also blasts those who disagree with Mr. Grossman's statements. As a participant, I heard no "heckling" and very little expressions of disagreement considering he was advocating the restriction of one of our most basic civil rights -- the right to self-defense.
I believe if anyone owes an apology, Ms. DeGette owes the readers of the Independent an apology for deliberately falsifying what transpired at the forum in an obvious attempt to turn those of us who are fighting to protect our rights into anti-Semitic, rude and callous fanatics.
I certainly don't condone the exchange between the Buchanan supporter and Mr. Grossman, but I also do not condemn the free exercise of our First Amendment right to have a political disagreement.
-- William Bernard Herpin
Cara DeGette responds:
Sadly, Mr. Herpin entirely missed the point of the column. The issue was not the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition (PPFC) or their armbands, nor even the argument over the right to bear arms. At issue was the fact that SAFE Colorado president Arnie Grossman was treated despicably when he came to Colorado Springs because he is Jewish and because he supports Amendment 22, the law that would close the gun show loophole. When Mr. Grossman was being accosted by a self-declared anti-Semite at the forum, no one -- including PPFC members standing nearby -- stepped in to help.
It was scary
To the Editor:
It is exactly because of threats like the one that Cara DeGette reported (Public Eye, Oct. 26), that we need to pass Amendment 22 to close the gun show loophole on background checks.
I was witness to events taking place at the issues forum at Centennial Hall in which Arnie Grossman, the president of SAFE Colorado, was accosted. I suggested that Mr. Grossman speak to the media and watched him tell his story to the Gazette, which failed to report it. I have since seen the Gazette take an editorial stance in opposition of Amendment 22. I was with Mr. Grossman as he walked out to his car without the protection of El Paso County security guards.
What made more of an impact on me was the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition's general rumble of aggression that pervaded the hall during the debate on Amendment 22. Just being in the presence of this group instilled fear in many of those in attendance. I felt nervous, the need to watch my back, wondering if the night would turn into one of those stories we only read about, where someone pulls out a gun at a public event.
All gun purchasers should be required to submit to background checks so that our "militia" is "well regulated." Most of the gun owners I know see no problem with this proposal to create an even application of law on background checks. The "security of a free state" was not provided to Mr. Grossman nor to the citizens of Colorado Springs by the El Paso County security guards, and it was violated by opponents of Amendment 22. We need this law.
-- Dave Therault
Don't be fooled
To the Editor:
The Amendment 24 opposition group calls itself Coloradans for Responsible Reform. Where is their reform package? All they've done is spend $5.1-plus million to try to kill responsible growth management. They should rename their group "Developers for Business as Usual."
It's very ironic to hear the development community lamenting the "loss of affordable housing" with Amendment 24, considering that they won't touch affordable housing with a 10-foot pole. Where is their plan to solve the affordable housing crisis? If they kill Amendment 24, it's back to business as usual for these guys -- more and more sprawl and no affordable housing.
We are in no way in an affordable situation now. Housing prices have risen dramatically throughout the country and especially along the Front Range of Colorado over the past decade, irrespective of whether communities have chosen to enact growth management policies.
Basic economics tell us that housing prices are based on supply and demand. If you restrict the supply or increase the demand, housing prices go up.
Despite what opponents claim, Amendment 24 is not about slowing or stopping growth or restricting housing supply. It simply says where those houses should go. Amendment 24 is about good planning and about stopping sprawl.
I urge everyone to go to the voteyes24.com Web site, read the information and make an informed decision. Don't be swayed by the misinformation being spread by the business as usual crowd. We know what Colorado will look like if we do nothing. Vote YES on 24.
-- Michael Doten
Director, Citizen Planners
The local way to plan
To the Editor:
To paraphrase the No on 24 brochure: elected officials, planners and others are working hard to meet the challenge presented by all our competing interests. And they're making progress.
Here are four examples of how officials are progressing in El Paso County:
1) August 31, 2000: Variance of Use allowing a contractor's office/equipment yard in RR-3 (Rural Residential) district. The planning commission (PC) unanimously voted for denial. Board Of County Commissioners (BOCC) reversed this vote and unanimously approved the measure.
2) August 31, 2000: Sketch Plan for 747 single-family lots, 12.5 acres of commercial, and school site on 479 acres. The planning commission voted 5-3 for denial. BOCC unanimously approved.
3) September 7, 2000: Final Plat for 45 lot subdivision on 50 acres. The planning commission denied the measure 7-2. BOCC unanimously approved it.
4) October 26, 2000: Request to waiver portions of the Land Development Code requiring a 300-year water supply. Development of 130 residences to be annexed into the Donala Water District. Donala has announced that they have only 30 to 156 years of water available. The planning commmission voted 7-2 for denial. BOCC unanimously approved.
Not that the BOCC should always agree with the PC but there is a pattern of unanimously approving most projects, when to most of the PC, the projects have serious flaws. This pattern is one of the reasons I am convinced the only way to make a step toward addressing concerns about irresponsible growth is by passing Amendment 24.
-- Les Montevaldo
Join this city slicker
To the Editor:
As usual, when addressing the issue of growth and development you only consider the City of Colorado Springs which exists in El Paso County. I am referring to the Indy's Most Pressing Local Issue, page 71, in the Best Of 2000 issue, Oct 19.
The essay by Malcolm Howard on Growth and Development refers to invasion of the prairie and "growth and development going on in Colorado Springs," then goes on referring to "the seven council people" who basically support any and all growth. You also sing the praises of the best in their field, "planners down at city hall."
As a city dweller and an El Paso County Planning Commissioner I am pretty tired of the dissing that the Indy and the daily news gives to the county. The "city" prairie has been long gone -- Banning Lewis was created and master planned 15 years ago. Norwood, Stetson Hills and Springs Ranch are long past prairie. Not only that, they all have or will have the benefit of utility infrastructure and police and fire service.
So where is the truly remaining prairie? Let me help you -- unincorporated El Paso County, an area constrained by a depleting water supply, dirt roads (many only on paper!), distance delayed volunteer fire departments, minimal police protection and owner of the Prebles Jumping Mouse habitat among other things. Get real here; when it comes to growth and development the city is Mickey Mouse compared to the Brahma bull county. Oh, and let's not forget about the Ute Pass area, the mountain community with still-undeveloped areas!
If you were really paying attention to growth and development in El Paso County you would know about and make note of the ongoing revision to the current but very old Land Development Code. You might also know about the ongoing development streamlining process. Both of which were initiated by County Administrator Terry Harris and endorsed by the five county commissioners.
The code revision and the streamlining process (both consultant directed) will provide the best in their field. County planners will have the ability to do better evaluations of applications. That would bring homeowners associations and property owners groups and preservation groups into the process earlier and would give Planning Commissioners more and better information with which to make decisions on applications. It will also bring more assurance that development will be favorable to geographic constraints, will not deplete resources and will facilitate public safety services.
I have a suggestion. Get your head out of the lap of City Hall and join this city slicker at the County Administration Building and really find out about the problems of growth and development. Hold on folks, you'll be in for a bumpy ride!
-- Joanne Peterson-Falcone