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My name is Tanya and I pick up a copy of the Indy every week at 7-11, usually while buying lunch during school.

I often over the week read the entire paper and when I picked up last week's, I was intrigued because the cover [Life on the streets: Images of Colorado Springs' homeless youth] displayed a guy I once met at Pike's Perk. I opened it up and read through, seeing a girl I also met that night. Garret (he introduced himself as Stitch, and later showed us a tattoo that in a different language spelled out Garret) and Laura were so welcoming and talkative when I met them.

I was very, very pleased when I read your article about all of them. You didn't make them sound like the "decay of society" like every other write-up in other papers makes street kids sound like.

Garret and Laura blew me away with their cool sense of fashion and intelligence and it's refreshing to read something that didn't make anyone look bad.

-- Tanya Vergo

Colorado Springs

The first steps

I just read the profiles of the homeless teens, and it got me thinking about my own past. I spent short stints of being homeless and was on the brink for several years. I lived an alternative lifestyle with alternative friends and spent a lot of time traveling around the country and playing music.

Here is the thing that I think is being left out of the Urban Peak program. You don't have to conform to a conservative lifestyle or look (or even have a GED) to have a job and a place to live. Restaurant work, for instance, can suck, but you can wear what you want (in the kitchen) and make enough money to share a place with a few other people (not to mention discounted or free food). If you share a place with people, then you don't even have to work that much, leaving time for artistic expression or studying for a GED.

This is important. When you are sleeping on the street, you can't get good rest. When you don't get good rest, it's really hard to think. The first step in helping these kids is convincing them that getting and keeping a crappy job is not selling out. It is a small price to pay for a shower and a lock on the door. The first steps to whatever it is they want to do.

-- Don Parkison Luna

Colorado Springs

Selling off history

Thanks for the informative article about the City Auditorium (Public Eye, Sept. 18-24). I had read a little, but your details confirmed my concerns. Hopefully the light of your article will expose the shortsighted nature of the plan.

-- Larry B. Barrett

Colorado Springs

Apologize to Mom

Thank you to John Hazlehurst for his Outsider column (Sept. 18-24).

As a registered voter, I wondered what was wrong with the system of mail-in ballots, since I never was mailed one. Then I figured since the Republicans control this town from the mayor to the city attorney, and I am an independent voter, that they had purposely not sent me one.

But my mother didn't get one either, and she's a moderate Republican. After the election, I found out about how to get a ballot, but I got no information before the election was done.

Then my mind got thinking that maybe the city attorney and the rest of the Religious Right wanted this to fail, and that's why they screwed up the ballots so badly. After all, Focus on the Family and Tom Pedigo's American Family Association organize their followers and tell them how to vote, so maybe they influenced the city attorney and the city clerk (also Republican) to screw up the mail-in ballot, so that only the same voters who have voted at the polls every time vote for the same ideas. No new voices, no diversity.

So I guess next year it's back to the polls, just like the clerk and attorney want. Hopefully they won't keep me from voting next time. I was going to demand an apology from the city clerk and attorney, but I realized there would be none forthcoming for anyone not a registered Republican.

Maybe they could at least apologize to my mom. Her name is Liselotte Kramer. Thank you.

-- Geoff Kramer

Colorado Springs

A friendly suggestion

I'm writing apropos [of] the gentle egging Toons received from Noel Black about our retail shortcomings (Culture Vulture, Sept. 18-24). The criticisms were well taken, but we did take umbrage at the suggestion that Toons could be a waste of retail space.

To be fair, I have very often leveled a similar criticism at the Indy. More recently however, your paper has been doing a great job as an anchor for investigative journalism in a town dominated by the voices of patronage.

May I explain what we've been up to at Toons? With the advent of MP3 file sharing and vertically integrated superstores, Toons has been phasing out its new music stock. We are behind the curve, and most of our fellow mom and pops have folded. You will not find a remaining local music store that is not deriving its main income from drug paraphernalia, porn or rave promotion.

None of those being our bag, Toons branched into foreign and independent film rentals, seeking to fill the void left by the mom and pops being put out of the video business. We have a selection of rare and censored titles that you will not find anywhere -- not in Boulder, not online, not at Netflicks.

If Toons has grown a little haggard, it's because for three years we have been fighting a duel against a corporate competitor across the street. Blockbuster has since learned there isn't enough video business here for one store, much less two. For a year now they've posted a For Rent sign in front of their store. But until they have a taker we continue to divvy the video customers.

Noel, if you are concerned about wasted retail space, perhaps you have an idea for a store. May we suggest the location across the street? We'll both prosper and Toons will have a little more to reinvest.

-- Eric Verlo

Toons Music and Film

Quit bashing KRCC

Since I DJ part-time at KRCC, I have also taken up the cause of getting more local music into rotation, and we play a lot of local and regional music.

KRCC supported my old band The Autono, with a ton of airplay back in the '90s, and has always supported the local music scene. Besides KEPC, it is the only station playing local music consistently here in town. From time to time you might hear Against Tomorrow's Sky, Dressy Bessy, Paul Galaxy and the Galactics, Egamufin, Betting on the Muse, as well some unknown people who made CDs on their home computers.

The only thing stale, boring and obsolete is the attitude of the pundits, wags and people who have nothing better to do than make rumors into news in the hope of causing trouble that doesn't serve anybody. The good old days of bands like Husker Du, The Replacements, Devo and Black Flag are long gone, and the ideals of "college radio" have been diluted with the assimilation of indie labels into the corporate record companies.

There's also the real lack of fresh musical material as fertile and innovative as the late '70s and early '80s gave birth to. KRCC ran a real nice hard-core punk show at midnight back in the early '80s with no censorship, which was pretty progressive then for a town this conservative, so if it's an institution, it's an institution built on innovation and a commitment to this community.

Personally, the last thing I want to hear is more blah-blah-blah news and talking, even if it's about local issues, since it takes time away from music, and is pretty goddamn boring. Everyone has their own musical tastes and ideas, and if I don't like something on the radio, I simply turn it off or change the station.

It's unfair to assume a 19-year-old student is going to be more progressive and exciting than a veteran DJ simply because they haven't been doing it for years. Give the smug, snappy commentary and KRCC bashing a rest. I've had enough.

-- Chuck Snow

Colorado Springs

9 million jobless

With the recent recession officially declared over as of November 2001, the economy has still failed to create new jobs and there are more jobless and unemployment claims now than a year ago.

Data also shows that while Bush enjoys those monthlong vacations he is famous for, he is also on his way to one of the worst records of job growth for any president in 58 years.

More than 3.2 million private-sector jobs have been lost since Bush took office, the largest sustained loss of jobs since the Great Depression (source: U.S. Department of Labor). That is an astounding average of 110,345 jobs lost each month since he's been president.

The August unemployment rate was at 6.1 percent or, 9 million people officially jobless. The real figure is closer to 15 million because workers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits are no longer counted.

While the president has often contended that he "inherited" the recession from Bill Clinton, a panel of academic economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research, which has the job of tracking the beginning and ending dates of U.S. recessions, gives a starting date for this latest one as March 2001, two months after Bush took office.

When Bill Clinton won the White House, George W. Bush's father, Bush I, had the federal budget deficit at a then historic high of $290 billion. Ten million Americans were out of work and the nation's economic growth rate under the outgoing Republican administration was the lowest in more than half a century.

What President Clinton did next is unarguable: the creation of more than 22 million new jobs; the nation's lowest unemployment rate in 30 years; the lowest unemployment rate among women in 40 years; and the lowest Hispanic and African-American unemployment rate in history.

The nation went from the largest budget deficits in history to the largest budget surpluses in history, while the average family's income went up more than $5,000. Source: U.S. Department of Labor

-- Steve Plutt

Lake George

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