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In his dreams

I have just finished leaning over my toilet after reading Dave Nickerson's memo to planning staffers: "It is my belief that our role in city government is to help the applicant successfully process their project plans" [Public Eye, Sept. 12-18].

We've all known it for years. The powers that be try to embarrass us every time we point it out. But here it is in black and white. Money talks. Developers own this town; they own our elected leaders and even the top city staffers.

What I would give for Nickerson to have written, "Our role in City Government is to represent the taxpaying citizens. I commend you for taking your time and not succumbing to the pressure being applied by big business. We represent the individual citizen as equally as we do the major contributors to our leaders' political campaigns. Please do make sure all applications meet our most stringent standards. We get no second chances when it comes to developing our city."

-- Dave Gardner

Colorado Springs

A blind eye

Jim Hightower's column about partial Social Security privatization is disingenuous, to say the least [HighLife, Aug. 22-18]. He highlights only the worst of nondiversified investment possibilities. The implication is that every investor will eventually succumb to one such bonehead investment and lose their entire retirement nest egg thereby making Social Security look extremely attractive.

Yes, people do make such bonehead investments. Most often, though, such errors are made by young investors attempting to score big and retire early. Believe me, one such gambit is all it takes (unless they're real boneheads) to eliminate the fast buck mentality and set one on the slow and steady course to diversified wealth building.

Jim's fear tactic also plays very well if one dwells only upon the recent past. The stock market has indeed declined substantially over the past two years. I will do Jim one better and note that even particular 10-year periods of stock market return have been negative.

However, if one invests in solid companies for any 20-year period, preferably through diversified mutual funds, the return is always positive and always outperforms Social Security, often substantially. If one adds bonds to the mix then even 10-year returns are positive.

Jim demonizes the stockbroker crowd as Ponzi schemers. I think he meant confidence gamers. Regardless of the term, there are a number of unscrupulous bottom-feeders out there. And they can be hard to spot.

However, Jim seems to turn a blind eye to the largest Ponzi scheme thriving in America today. Perhaps because it's the very system he is trying to defend, Social Security.

-- Steve Adams

Colorado Springs

The last refuge of a scoundrel

None dare call it Babylon.

On one hand I admire Jim Hightower's originality in waving the flag as a means to start a meaningful conversation; on the other hand, if I were asked to list the achievements of the US of A worthy of mention I might stall in mid-flight [HighLife, Sept. 5-11].

What exactly do you cheer for, Mr. Hightower? The squalor of hundreds of thousands living in the shadows of those New York skyscrapers with no refuge from the racket of the new ones going up? The schoolteachers and nurses who leave their professions because working in "the industry" is totally futile? The advanced state of our judicial system, as accurately portrayed in Bonfire of the Vanities?

Perhaps we can crow about the naval shelling of the residential slums of Panama? Our ability to award the presidency without a majority of the popular vote? The stability of our small- and medium-sized farms? Land mines? Leadership in soap operas, grunge rock and sweatshop imports?

Pride, like patriotism, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Pride is the crutch of the immature and the servant of irrationality. The rational person knows that human accomplishment doesn't follow the lines of national frontiers, and is therefore a citizen of the world.

-- Slim Wolfe

Villa Grove

Let's ask Ed

County Commissioners Tom Huffman and Ed Jones finally addressed their recent county mileage claim problem by returning mileage checks for the first seven months of the year. As we now know, they gave themselves a raise this year by increasing their county mileage allowance from the actual amount driven to $500 per month per commissioner. (Jones claimed $83 for his actual mileage driven for the entire year in 2001.)

Of course, the county commissioners only addressed this problem after being discovered by the county attorney. This scam makes Pizzagate seem like small potatoes.

At least Jones won't have his hand in the county cookie jar any more. Due to term limits he's running for state Senate. Wait a sec, what's the mileage plan for state senators? I bet Ed knows ...

-- Mike Maday

Colorado Springs

The worst in history

Truth in advertising. Shouldn't that also apply to political ads?

One of Wayne Allard's re-election TV ads bears the statement, "Senator Allard has the strongest record of protecting Colorado's environment of any senator in Colorado's history."

Going back for a number of years in Colorado's and the United States' history, I recall that Democratic Sens. Tim Wirth and Gary Hart had 100 percent environmental voting records from the League of Conservation Voters.

The League of Conservation Voters scorecard documents the most important environmental votes in every congressional session. In their words, "Allard has the worst League of Conservation Voters lifetime score of any senator in Colorado history." His score was 11 percent.

According to the League of Conservation Voters, not only has Sen. Allard failed to support strong environmental protection while in the Senate, he is painting himself as an environmentalist by citing his role in park designations and other small environmental "accomplishments."

John Adams, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, states, "Whatever your opinion of politics, the fact is that Congress writes the rules. The Clean Air Act, Clear Water Act and our national parks system exist only because Americans once elected people to Congress who cared enough to create them."

-- Anita G. Brown

Colorado Springs

Not even in Texas

Let's say I have a neighbor who is a very bad man. (I don't have such a neighbor.) Let's say he has threatened my family and me with various types of bodily harm, including death.

Let's say that this man is on probation and it is illegal for him to have firearms, but I happen to know that he is collecting all sorts of weapons. He is known to beat his wife, his children, his dog, and even his parents. He is a rabid dog, and there is no question about it.

So, is it O.K. for me to storm into his house and kill him? I don't think that would be legal, even in Texas. There are other methods law-abiding citizens use to deal with sociopaths.

-- Shannon C. Davis

Colorado Springs

Tongue's in his cheek

The Unz initiative (Amendment 31 on Colorado's November ballot) is such a great idea! Teaching strategies are much too important to be left to the whims of parents and educators.

And why get hung up over irrelevant concepts like parental choice or local control of our schools? Let's just hand over control of the curriculum to a millionaire from California with zero background in education.

And it will save us time and money as well. We needn't bother developing school programs here in Colorado. By virtue of this amendment we can simply place our children's education in the hands of a man whose only apparent qualification is his ability to spend vast amounts of money in our state promoting his agenda.

-- James J. Amato

Woodland Park

Re: Noel Black's judging of the Sept. 12 Bad Poetry Contest

To think I bore you, raised you up,

Sent you off to pricey schools,

And for all my anguished efforts,

You judge poetry of fools

-- Nancy Wilsted

aka "Noel's Mom"

Colorado Springs

Jobs for snobs

The Great Fracas over building a new jail concerns mainly increased population for justification, which is drivel from the firmly established to keep or increase their holdings. Increasing population is not fundamental for increasing crime: Money is.

Jails mean money from state and federal coffers. If a new jail is built, "they" will need to fill it: More cops, prosecutors, judges, courtrooms, probation officers, legal secretaries -- jobs for snobs. More oppression and tyranny. Build it and we will make them come.

More fundamental to increasing "crime" statistics is diminished process. Think about it. Process protects individuals from the enormous power of local governments. Process is basically jury trials and grand juries for felonies.

In municipal and county courts one can only get a six-person jury. But a 12-person jury is set down by Article II, Section 23 of the Colorado Constitution.

The grand jury clause of the Fifth Amendment states that no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous (felony) crime but upon presentment or indictment of a grand jury. As a result that such clause does not apply to the states, there are now six classes of felonies in Colorado. It is easier to construe a felony without a grand jury.

As a result of such diminished process it has become all too easy to make criminal or even infamous that which is merely adverse. Police are no longer peace officers but revenuers.

It reminds me of George Orwell's Animal Farm when the pig Squealer was caught changing the animal's constitution written on the wall of the barn. The final entry was, "All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others."

-- G. Allen Williams

Colorado Springs

Correction

The Sept. 5-11 review of Carol Dass' one-woman photography show at Phototroph contained an error. Cheryl Jones was Myron Wood's business manager/assistant for nine years, while Dass worked for both Myron and Cheryl in the capacity of home health worker and assistant to Ms. Jones off and on for close to six years.

The Independent regrets the error.

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