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Special interests won

As a candidate for District 11 School Board of Education, I supported student achievement -- I spent many hours serving on seven D-11 committees, showing my commitment and dedication to education.

I was supported by the Colorado Springs Education Association based on that commitment and dedication. I was unfairly blasted in an unprecedented high-cost spending advertising scheme that advocated that I didn't care about the children, that I only cared about the special interests that supported me. I want to set the record straight -- this was untrue.

The Colorado Springs District 11 community was sold a bill of goods! Big campaign bucks bought the election -- they've selected four candidates that are plotting a revolution in support of their contributors. Special interest groups win -- our kids lose.

New board decisions will be strongly influenced by Mr. Steve Schuck, who contributed at least $16,000 of his own money, yet has little knowledge and understanding of D-11 policies and procedures. And they'll listen to the advice coming from Denver (special interest and other contributors, gave over $20,000 to their combined campaigns); the Colorado Springs community just lost control over their own Board of Education.

As a final note, I felt honored knowing that Gov. Bill Owens in this nonpartisan election, who I've never met, but as a Republican voted for -- let the voters of Colorado Springs know experience, commitment and dedication count for nothing. Good luck D-11, you're in for a rough time ahead!

-- Randy J. Rickards

Colorado Springs

An open letter to Bill Owens:

I cannot tell you how proud I am today to be living in Colorado. The election results prove to me that my fellow citizens are intelligent and for once, attentive to the state's idiots in charge.

You didn't pull the wool over their eyes this time. Your credibility is on par with good old George Bush's.

Not to mention your ethics. Wasn't it you who ran for office based on family values?

Well, the legislation you pushed had no family value, nor did your destruction of the elder property tax relief bill. And the election results prove once again that the people understand the politics of greed by those in office and we are not standing for it. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. I went to bed last night feeling glorious, slept like a log. And my euphoria is in the sky!

-- Stella Wells

Colorado Springs

An open letter to the mayor

I am writing to express my anger that the city manager would freely give the City Auditorium away to the Nor'wood Development Group. I am outraged that it's even on the chopping block. We have very few historical buildings in our city -- buildings that tell the story of our city, our heritage. The Phil Long Expo Center hardly falls into this category and I sincerely doubt it ever will.

To hand our City Auditorium over to any developer is wrong. This citizen-owned building is used by hundreds of community groups every year. It's an architectural jewel and part of our civic heritage. I look at the auditorium and I see a part of our city's history, not "urban blight." Why doesn't Nor'wood just have its building, the old Trailways terminal on the corner of Nevada and Pikes Peak, designated as urban blight? They'll still reap the rewards of tax breaks and low-interest loans.

Nor'wood wants to create hip and edgy lofts out of the City Auditorium. How are the "lofts" behind the new police station selling? They're not! My prediction is that the "new and improved" City Auditorium lofts won't do any better. Then what will we have? Another big empty building downtown. What is the definition of urban blight again?

Ultimately, if the city is thinking of selling our auditorium, then the citizens should be the ones deciding this. After all, we're the ones who own it. If the city government wants to create hip edginess, then it should support the arts district. We need to be developing and supporting creativity in our city or it will not flourish.

-- Patrick Jones

Colorado Springs

The president's pals

Just when you thought it was safe to breathe, the president releases plans for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency -- and his Energy Bill clears the way for polluters.

Not only would the Bush Energy Bill, which is going through Congress right now, open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but it would also lead to restarting nuclear reactors on American soil.

This administration is fleecing taxpayers enough by paying billions to oil companies in tax cuts. Now Congress is deciding whether our environment will be trashed for generations to come.

Think of the future and our children, not a quick-fix energy policy for the president's pals.

-- Roni S. Chernin

Crestone

Lining their pockets

The Bush administration's pandering to big business never stops. Just when you thought companies like Halliburton were fleecing taxpayers enough, along comes the president's Energy Bill.

I am wholeheartedly opposed to the Energy Bill going through Congress right now. It would give big oil companies over $10 billion in tax breaks and line the pockets of nuclear companies. The president's Energy Bill takes two steps back for American taxpayers and 10 steps forward for big business.

-- Morma Strutheres

Colorado Springs

Pulse of the city

I've been an avid fan of the Indy now for about four years, and finally am taking the time to write and share some of my thoughts on your excellent publication.

Living in an ultra-conservative, Focus on Family, military predominant town, I've found the quality of journalism is lacking sorely in our local "newspaper," and even when we had the Sun paper, between the two, you still didn't learn a lot about what went on in our town.

Finally, I feel as though I have a good view into what makes where we live, home. When I read your paper, I feel more in touch with the pulse of our city, if you will.

The writing is superb and kudos to your staff. The articles are timely, well researched and more entertaining than anything in the wipe (oops, I mean Gazette). I feel fortunate to live in a city that has the balls to offer an alternative to the local biased, conservative attitudes that persist.

And I know it won't change anytime soon, but who knows. The more readers you have, the more people you may cause to open their eyes, and see all that goes on around us. The issues you address are ones we see every day: homelessness, political buffoonery, prejudices, developers' pipedreams, local artists and, of course, the social scene.

Living here the past 29 years, and being an avid West Sider, I can tell you this: There was no social scene to speak of 20 years ago. Downtown was dead. They rolled the sidewalks up at 5:30. Now look at it. It's truly amazing!

Anyway, thanks for the hard work, and for many hours and days of thoughtful, provocative, and entertaining reading, and tell everyone on your staff thank you, for a "beacon in the night," if you will.

-- Scott McKinlay

Colorado Springs

Love as a verb

I love you.

Thank you for highlighting children's lives. And for telling us of positive action -- love as a verb -- being taken by Sierra High School [Oct. 30-Nov. 5 cover story, "Dropout dilemma."]

Bravo to Harrison School District 2 and to you, the Independent, who I am totally dependent upon, I thank you very much.

-- Jan Chappell

Colorado Springs

By the numbers

Take one part cynicism, one part mudslinging, and one part race-baiting -- mix with liberal orthodoxy and you have a have the recipe for John Dicker's Personal Space about Dinesh D'Souza at New Life Church last week.

To begin his piece, Mr. Dicker "dings" the church for serving Starbuck's Coffee. No doubt this is a violation of liberal tenet No. 1: Big business is bad.

Next, he "dings" the church because their membership is huge. This violates liberal tenet No. 2: Evangelical Christians are a dangerous lot.

Next, Mr. Dicker mentions that Dinesh D'Souza "squawked" conservative positions while writing as a college student for the Dartmouth Review. This violates liberal tenet No. 3: Conservative ideas are unwelcome on college campuses. Finally, Mr. Dicker pulls an out-of-context sentence from one of Dinesh D'Souza's writings to implicate him as a racist. Rubbish!

Last summer I read Dinesh D'Souza's book, What's so Great About America and found him to be profoundly reasonable and willing to look respectfully at both sides of an issue. I also applaud New Life Church for inviting in guests that help stimulate meaningful thought and discussion. Apparently this did not sit well with Mr. Dicker because he had nothing positive to say about the presentation.

I would think the Independent might appreciate that, as a writer for The Dartmouth Review, Mr. D'Souza was writing for a paper that expressed unpopular sentiments in a predominantly liberal Ivy League school in much the same way that the Independent expresses unpopular sentiments in the predominantly conservative Colorado Springs. But, alas, the Indy dismisses Mr. D'Souza's writing as mere "squawking." This brings me to a final thought.

When you encounter a great mind with an opposing view, such as can be found in Dinesh D'Souza, invoke liberal tenet No. 4: Celebrate diversity.

-- Ben Fromuth

Colorado Springs

Shots all around

This letter is in response to last week's letter to the editor, titled "Elevated thinking," by Michael Ingram.

Mr. Ingram, when I read your letter, the first thing I did was put on a pair of gravity shoes because my thinking became so elevated that I was frightened.

I must agree that it does take courage to start a decade(s)-long war. But, sir, it takes a great deal more to fight it, which the fall-down-drunk-coke-addled Bush didn't. He was, you see, guarding every bar in Texas against the Viet Cong. When he said, "Bring 'em on!" back then he was talking to the bartender and about Jack Daniels.

Where we disagree, though, is regarding the Fed's interest rate. The president has nothing, zero, nada to do with lowering or raising that rate; ask old man Bush about that. To suggest that Reagan, or Bush, did anything of the sort is the biggest trash heap there is. Your letter, sir, of course being excluded.

-- Brent Koleno

Colorado Springs

Misplaced priorities

The Indy's Nov. 6-12 cover story on abandoned mines was an excellent piece of journalism. However, the assertion that "levels of zinc and manganese in the [Roosevelt] tunnel exceed safe-water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency" is incorrect.

There are no numeric standards for zinc and manganese applicable to groundwater in Teller County. In the nearly 100 years since the Roosevelt Tunnel was constructed, the groundwater flowing in the tunnel has been sampled only three times. The results show that zinc and manganese levels are unchanged, presumably because no mining operations or other activities have been conducted in the area for more than 50 years.

Zinc and manganese are naturally present in the environment, with or without abandoned mines. In fact, monthly sampling in Cripple Creek has shown that nearly all of the time there is more zinc and manganese in water upstream from the Roosevelt Tunnel portal than downstream. Colorado is required by law to identify polluted waters; during 2002, Cripple Creek was taken off this list by the state (with EPA's approval) because the small levels of zinc and manganese in the water do not pose any threat to health or the environment.

Water pollution caused by abandoned mines can be a serious problem. In the case of El Paso Gold Mines, Inc., however, the Sierra Club and Colorado have taken the untenable position that any amount of zinc and manganese, no matter how small, merits years of litigation for no demonstrable benefit to the environment.

Their misplaced priorities and poor policies only distract from legitimate efforts to address actual water pollution elsewhere in the state.

-- Stephen D. Harris

Counsel for El Paso Gold Mines, Inc.

Colorado Springs

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