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Go, Johnny (and Bob), go!

To the Editor:

For the second week in a row I write to thank you for printing a first-rate piece of journalism, Bob Campbell's Johnny Smith profile (Cover Story, March 15). What a model of balance, conveying both the essence of the musician and the man. Swell to see an artist who lives here recognized -- we don't do enough of that.

I've been privileged to know Johnny Smith a little over the past 25 years through a mutual friend, and he very quickly became the person who popped into my mind when I'd hear the word "gentleman." (Not that you hear that word very often these days.) He reminds me of my Victorian grandmother's adjuration: "A gentleman is never unintentionally rude." I've never known Johnny Smith to be intentionally rude, or, indeed, anything but totally present and honest and gracious with every person he dealt with.

One day maybe 20 years ago, I went into Johnny's music store on 8th Street, looking to solve some kind of equipment problem. It was the middle of the afternoon, no one was in the shop, and there was Johnny, practicing for an upcoming Denver gig, sitting on a stool way in the back, working on "Stella by Starlight."

I froze against a counter and kept very still, and was gifted with a 15-minute private concert. Eventually Johnny registered my presence, and immediately lay his guitar down and jumped down from the stool -- and apologized for not noticing me sooner. Apologized for allowing me this rare treat.

I couldn't say a better thing about Bob Campbell's profile than that it does Johnny Smith justice. All thumbs up, Mr. Campbell.

-- Malcolm McCollum
Colorado Springs


Red Rock Canyon -- the rest of the story

To the Editor:

I feel obligated to respond to the letters urging that the City of Colorado Springs not annex and/or buy the 787-acre property between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs known as Red Rock Canyon.

As one of the founding members of the Red Rock Canyon Committee, I personally escorted a majority of the group hikes during the six months the Bocks granted rare public access. We had one goal in mind: get TOPS funding to acquire this property. Unfortunately the city decided not to pursue acquisition. These efforts failed for reasons made obvious but conspicuously absent from the current public discussions. Recognizing our failed campaign, I refocused my efforts on behalf of the property owner to facilitate the sale of the property in its "as is" condition, cognizant that private party interests entail some development but solve the extensive environmental challenges.

Significant questions posed to the Red Rock Canyon Committee were the reasons the city chose to not pursue the purchase in 1999:

Is it appropriate to use public funds to acquire a 20-year-old, 80-plus acre landfill, and assume the significant obligations to mitigate these environmental liabilities?

Should the city be acquiring a 20-acre trailer court, with 50-year-old septic tanks, and face the removal, cleanup and possible relocation costs to tenants?

Should the city purchase abandoned construction equipment and the cleanup associated with the operation of these construction yards?

Does acquiring nearly 200 acres of land bulldozed and stripped of all native vegetation, and used to fill property along State Highway 24, make sense to add to our open space and park system?

Does acquiring 75 acres of reclaimed gravel pits and the 35-acre current gravel operation set the right precedent for use of taxpayer funds?

Should the city tackle problems associated with acquiring existing small businesses operating on site without environmental regulations or oversight?

The voices opposing annexation are not openly discussing these collateral issues. Nor are they suggesting where the city find $15 million to $25 million needed to buy and fix this property. The environmental issues alone should keep the city from ever acquiring this property and many of our elected and appointed officials understood this over two years ago.

As a community, encouraging private parties willing to accept these challenges, even at the risk of losing some coveted portions to development, is the right approach. Red Rock Canyon, as it exists today, is not a legacy this community needs to acquire. There are many potential public benefits that can be obtained if we work with private interests to foster a win-win solution.

-- Thomas A. Kay
KDI Commercial Real Estate
Colorado Springs


Arctic Refuge should be preserved, not plundered

To the Editor:

Twelve years ago this week, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Twelve years later, they're back. The same industry that brought us dead birds and otters covered in oil wants to open up the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling rigs.

Known as "America's Serengeti," the Arctic Refuge is home to large populations of caribou, muskoxen, all three species of bear -- brown, black and polar -- snow geese, and thousands of other migratory birds. The area is also sacred to the Gwich'in Indians whose subsistence culture depends on the caribou and the coastal plain.

The oil industry's track record in Alaska ranges from the Exxon Valdez oil spill to the industry's daily assaults on Alaska's land, air and water. More than 500 spills occur along Alaska's North Slope each year -- that's one spill every 18 hours. Oil facilities may emit as much as 100,000 metric tons of methane, a potential contributor to global warming, each year.

And oil and gas drilling at Prudhoe Bay has permanently altered approximately 400 square miles of formerly pristine wilderness. Prudhoe Bay is now one of the world's largest industrial complexes, with more than 1,500 miles of roads and pipelines and thousands of acres of industrial facilities.

Despite this abysmal track record, President Bush supports letting Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco and other oil companies drill in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. Drilling in the Refuge will permanently damage the pristine coastal plain while doing virtually nothing to solve energy problems. At current rates of consumption, there is enough oil in the Arctic Refuge to last the United States for about six months, and this oil will not reach consumers for nearly 10 years. Why risk damaging one of America's last wild places for a short-term supply of oil?

Instead of ruining America's Arctic, the United States should focus on an energy policy that promotes energy efficiency and renewables. We have plenty of oil rigs -- and plenty of pollution from the burning of fossil fuels -- but there is only one Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It should be preserved, not plundered.

-- Dan Dial
Colorado Public Interest Research Group
Denver


Alarming trend

To the Editor:

Officers like these ("Police State," March 1), exemplify the problem with the government in general, the attitude that they don't have to answer to anyone. These officers could really care less if someone is selling these drugs but enjoy kicking them around. It's a pretty sick and disturbing trend and folks just go along acting like everything is OK.

-- Mike Nixon
Colorado Springs


Music-made-me-do-it plea a cop-out

To the Editor:

My name is Ron Farrell. I am a resident of Colorado Springs, and I'm angry. After hearing the news, and reading it again in print this morning, I am bound by my own sense of decency to respond. I was as shocked as any other citizen to hear of the triple murders in Guffey, and I am pleased that these teens are being prosecuted as adults, as they should be.

Having said that, I am outraged that yet another lawyer has resorted to the "music-made-me-do-it" defense in an attempt to defend his clients. It's a blight on the music industry every single time a misinformed person does this.

I am the singer for a local band. I write my own lyrics. These lyrics deal with death, loss, pain, drugs and introspection -- basically the darker times of my own life. The name of my band is Filth Industry. We are no Marilyn Manson; we are also no Rage Against The Machine. We are, however, a band that makes no apologies for what we do, play or say in our songs.

Bottom line is this: Parenting and taking responsibility for one's own actions are the only two factors even relevant in this case. I am of the opinion that this lawyer should be disbarred for having the audacity to blame these murders on a band that is 1) broken up, and 2) a purely political band.

These boys were not brainwashed by music. I've heard that this case is "deeper than anyone even knows at this point." If that is the case, why choose the most shallow of defenses that has never held up in court? If this lawyer would like to blame Rage Against The Machine for anything, let him blame the band for raising the level of awareness on the Zapatista rebellion movement in Mexico -- not a triple murder in a small Colorado town!

This finger-pointing has gone on for decades. The Beatles, Elvis, Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Manson, Twisted Sister and now Rage Against The Machine -- all musical acts that have enemies. I hope to have my band added to this list soon, because I would love to be an outspoken member of the music community in the defense of my art.

Putting the blame on a band is just plain irresponsible. Everyone reading this should be angry. Quit randomly placing blame! Grow up, America! Take responsibility for your actions. Like a particular genre of music or hate it, once society begins to point the finger at art, music and free speech, things have already regressed to a dangerous level. We should be pointing our fingers at the two murderers, sitting in their jail cells -- not at music or lyrics. I think I'll go write a song about this...

-- Ron Farrell
Colorado Springs

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