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Backwater, redneck bigots

Last week's 5-4 vote by the Colorado Springs City Council to deny all city workers the ability to pay 100 percent of the premiums to add family members to their insurance coverage is a mistake.

It's a mistake because it allows one church group to spin the issue into a gay rights decision, which it isn't.

It's a mistake because it hurts all the hard-working city workers just to punish a few.

It's a mistake because it hurts the economic recruitment of businesses to Colorado Springs by solidifying our reputation as backwater, trailer trash, redneck bigots.

It's a mistake because it violates the division of church and state by establishing one fanatic tax-free church as arbiter of all morality applied through the local government.

It's a mistake because it's minority rule to ignore the 68 to 71 percent of the citizens who supported the resolution.

-- Mark Lewis

Colorado Springs

The intolerant triangle

I just saw the video of the vote for benefits for nontraditional dependents of Colorado Springs city government employees. I was appalled at the arrogance of council members who hid behind fiscal prudence and "moving on to other business" as reasons to kill the proposed measure.

The real message is: Unless you belong to a particular household or family arrangement, you cannot have dependents on your health plan -- even if the employee pays for it.

Public employees -- regardless of their lifestyle or marital arrangements (hello folks, Colorado is a common-law marriage state!) -- work hard to provide a lot of services for the entire community. To attract and keep good employees means offering attractive and flexible benefits.

Perhaps my brethren at Focus on the Family would like a religious test for whether or not to extend benefits to people living with city workers. If you are a fundamentalist Christian, how would you feel if someone in your household was denied the opportunity to get on your health plan -- because the city is secular and therefore should not mix church and state in any possible way? Ridiculous? Right. Outrageous? You bet.

Such local political decisions make me ashamed to say I live here in El Paso County, aka The Intolerant Triangle.

Just as surely as there are angry people on the other side of the world who do not want values forced upon them ... the split vote in last week's Council vote shows that a day of reckoning is well on it's way right here in the Springs. And when it arrives, some people of faith in southern Colorado will find themselves on the losing end of a "holy war" that they started.

-- Steve Bell

Colorado Springs

Chiseled in stone

When I became aware of the upcoming vote on domestic partner benefits, I e-mailed the various council members, expressing my desire for all to be treated equally, rather than giving "special rights" to heterosexual couples.

The responses I received back made it clear that they would rather terminate benefits for everyone than to give fair and equal treatment to gays and lesbians.

Since Amendment 2, the nation has viewed Colorado Springs as a pit of intolerance and bigotry. Last week, the Council had the opportunity to erase that black spot on our reputation.

Instead, they chose to chisel it in stone.

-- Thomas McCullock

Colorado Springs

Awesome responsibility

I enjoyed reading last week's cover story regarding America's changing families. It is true that there are 9 million single-parent families with children under 18. This statistic shows a 200 percent increase since 1970.

Single parents can be widowed, divorced or never married. Single parents can be rich, poor, living in Harlem or Beverly Hills. As the executive director of the Coalition for Single Parents Day (March 21), I am proud to honor men and women who combine nurturing with breadwinning -- an awesome responsibility!

On March 21, the Coalition for Single Parents Day will give an award to single parents in the military (as we did in 2003). In 2002, the coalition for Single Parents Day honored widow Lisa Beamer. She became a single parent when her husband Todd "Let's Roll" Beamer died on Sept. 11, when his plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Join us on March 21 to celebrate the changing family.

-- Janice S. Moglen

Coalition for Single Parents Day

Colorado Springs

Ignoring the people

Why is CSU [Colorado Springs Utilities] paying a lobbyist to defeat HB 1273, a statewide Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that will not apply to CSU, a customer-owned utility provider ["Tilting at windmills," news story, Jan. 29-Feb. 4]?

Municipal utilities like CSU and co-ops are excluded because the customer-owners are more closely tied to the utility's decision-making processes.

I maintain that the customer-owners in this town have already spoken. The following percentages are from CSU's own polls, quoted in their Utilities Board orientation last summer: 60 percent of Colorado Springs' residential customers and 73 percent of business customers request "power sources other than coal and natural gas"; 75 percent of CSU's customers want the utility company to "consider environmentally friendly energy sources"; 80 percent want CSU to "show concern for the environment"; and 66 percent want the company to "educate the customers" on wind power.

If CSU ignores the will of the vast majority of its constituents for the spurious political reasons given in the Jan. 9 news article, then what other option do citizens have to influence utility policy?

-- Max Eisele

Colorado Springs

Seeing the forest

The political statement of Colorado 2004 at The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is not necessarily reflected in the trees but in the forest of the exhibit ["Colorado Biunnial," Artbreak, Feb. 5-11]. This exhibit exemplifies visual artists as contemporary warriors protecting the vital delicacy of creative freedom against the hostage of terrorism.

With all due respect to artists responding to 9-11 directly, there are artists who believe the creative light is one of the only lights that we have as any security at this horrific moment in time. We will continue to paint, draw, photograph, stitch, sculpt and cut in the media of choice, not giving an iota of attention or priority to terrorism against the artistic soul.

The value of the big picture has been underestimated by your review of this exhibit.

-- Bette Ann Albert

Colorado Springs

Lost in hypocrisy

Has the Republican Party lost all moral sense of direction?

Our family values governor, Bill Owens, has opted for divorce.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, elected first on a term-limit platform, is now running with a platform of deporting non-documented workers -- this after he hired some to remodel his house. I suppose he would deport them after their work was complete, yet before the check is cashed.

State Sen. Ed Jones now supports legislation to verify all licensed drivers have insurance. Of course he sees no irony in the fact he was ticketed not once, but twice, for driving without insurance.

Even our president, having lied us into a war, wants us to believe his story of military service in the National Guard. At the very least he was AWOL, perhaps even a deserter.

All this and these same leaders still scream America has lost its morality. When will the hypocrisy end?

-- Biff Morehead

Leadville

He is a decent man

I would like the facts to be known about our commander in chief. He is a decent man, concerned about the welfare of the American people. He has taken a proactive approach to preserving the freedoms that we so often take for granted. His record of expansion of spending for Homeland Security and defense reinforces his commitment to the American people and the military on the frontlines.

The unfounded attacks on his service record are appalling. The forces at work are attempting to underscore his stewardship of America's War on Terrorism.

The facts are simple: President Bush served honorably in the National Guard and he was honorably discharged. Today, he serves as our commander in chief and I thank God for that every day.

-- David Naulty

Colorado Springs

Hold Bush accountable

So far the war in Iraq has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $150 billion. It cost $14 billion between last September and last November alone.

Not only do we not know how much more American taxpayers will have to pay, but the Bush administration won't even give us an estimate until after the election next November ... the costs of military operations in Iraq are not included in the 2005 budget.

I guess this isn't surprising, since President Bush has misled us from the beginning as to why it was so important that we launch a pre-emptive war, hiding inconclusive intelligence from Congress and the American people.

Today we know that Iraq was not an imminent threat to us and we could certainly have used more time to work toward a peaceful solution, to build more international support, which in turn would have reduced the costs we are paying, both in American dollars and American lives. Maybe this war was indeed only about making Iraq safe for Halliburton and other Bush/Cheney cronies to make themselves richer off the backs of American taxpayers.

President Bush must be held accountable for his actions. I hope our senators, Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Wayne A. Allard, will censure him for lying to the American people.

-- Glada Costales

Cañon City

If ever a time

In an attempt to escape responsibility for the misleading statements that led the nation to war, President Bush has announced plans to form an independent inquiry to look into what went wrong.

An inquiry would serve the Bush administration well: It would envelop the issue in a fog of uncertainty, deflect blame onto the intelligence services, and push any political damage into 2005, after the upcoming election.

But the facts need no clarification. Despite repeated warnings from the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, President Bush and his administration hyped and distorted the threat that Iraq posed. And now that reality is setting in, the president seeks to pin the blame on someone else. We can't let him.

Congress has the power to censure the president -- to formally reprimand him for his betrayal of the nation's trust. If ever there was a time to use this function, it is now. Join the call for Congress to censure President Bush now at: www.moveon.org/censure/.

-- Atomic Elroy

Colorado Springs

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