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Everybody welcome

Last week a controversy surfaced when I publicly stated that I would allow a local gay and lesbian group to publicly request that the City of Fountain consider supporting their annual PrideFest via a proclamation or resolution. The answer was not only yes, but of course. When asked if I would personally support the proclamation, I stated that I would.

I was not surprised when a number of people showed up at our council meeting adamantly proclaiming their disapproval of the gay lifestyle. Most of the council made a point of stating that they strongly disapproved of homosexuality and would not have supported a resolution. One lady even went as far as stating that they strongly disapproved of giving these people a public forum to make such a request.

Although I was not surprised, I was disappointed that there were people whose dislike for the gay lifestyle exceeds their love for the Constitution of the United States. As our community (the Pikes Peak region) continues to grow, these types of issues will become more prevalent. Political leaders can respond to these types of issues from one of three lenses. The political response is consistent with what the majority of their constituents believe to be true. The moralistic response can leave you on either side of the equation depending on your personal beliefs. Personally, while functioning in an elected position, I have chosen to utilize the Constitution as the framework for my decision making.

As long as I am the mayor, any group or individual who wants to make a public statement can do so if it is done in a respectful manner. Furthermore, I will publicly support any group who wants to gather as long as it is done peacefully and lawfully. This, my friends, is the "American Way."

-- Ken Barela

Mayor of Fountain

Wanting it both ways

Re: "In Defense of Taxes": Gavin Ehringer's July 22 Your Turn was the most reasoned argument yet against most of the pitfalls of TABOR. What amazes me is that our politicians (including our governor) are either blind to the negative aspects of TABOR or just in denial in their attempts to get elected or re-elected at any cost.

Don't get me wrong. I like low taxes as much as anyone else. I moved here from the East Coast almost 13 years ago, where my property taxes on a $60,000 house in a town of only 4,500 was almost $3,000 a year. I think some of the provisions of TABOR are great -- the best being that the citizens have to approve a tax increase. It definitely keeps politicians from running amok with our tax money. However, the "ratcheting" down provisions hamstring government at the worst of times. Have a bad year? OK, but next year, you have to spend even less! The proponents of TABOR tell you that the government has to do with less, which sounds all well and good until roads can't be repaired, police response (even to high-priority calls) takes longer than it should, and even "quality of life" things such as parks and recreation facilities get cut back.

When budget time comes around, even those who love getting their paltry TABOR tax refunds balk when the city (or county or state) has to cut back their favorite tax-supported function of activity. In Colorado, taxpayers seem to want it both ways: They don't want to pay for anything, but they want it all.

Is the answer a total repeal of TABOR? No, or course not. Does it need some tweaking? Absolutely! The idea proposed by some (gasp!) Republican legislators of a "reserve fund" for when times are bad is something that needs to be implemented.

I don't hold my breath that it'll happen though. When most taxpayers can't see past their TABOR tax refunds, and people who, like Douglas Bruce, want nothing more than the anarchy that will surely result when all government goes bankrupt have their way, we'll all go merrily down the path of perceived wealth and riches until it's too damn late.

-- Bob Falcone

Colorado Springs

A minority of one

In his letter published in the July 22 issue, Mr. Clyde Lapsley invited correction on the matter of majority rule. You don't have it quite right Mr. Lapsley. The Constitution provides that we elect representatives by majority vote to represent every citizen. Every citizen. It is necessary to legislate equality because each of us is a minority of one.

And I am reminded of a time in the late '60s when the majority was tired of African-Americans in the news demanding equality. Hopefully, we as a society are evolving into a wiser culture; we can test old beliefs rationally to find greater truths. Black people aren't subhuman, women aren't less intelligent or capable than men, and homosexuals and lesbians aren't mentally ill. How are these groups supposed to overcome old beliefs and the resulting prejudices, subjugation and persecution if they don't speak up?

It is how we become a more just society.

-- Shannon C. Davis

Colorado Springs

Bringing up baby

Clyde Lapsley's July 22 letter asks that he be corrected if wrong in his interpretation of our Constitution.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it read, or imply, that the majority rules. Based on fact, rather then interpretation, it is obvious that our Constitution has protected and furthered the rights of minorities. The views that many people hold regarding gay rights mirror views that, throughout history, helped to repress the people of this country. Perhaps these people, "the majority" that Mr. Lapsley refers to, would also liked to have continued denial of the rights of women and other "minorities."

Mr. Lapsley is correct, however, in his statement that "the gays" (as well as the blacks, the Jews, the women) are trying to force "their" beliefs on us. The belief that "All men are created equal," the belief that no segment of society should receive special rights -- only equal rights, the belief that we have the freedom to live in a society where discrimination is not tolerated, and the belief that all citizens should have the right enjoy committed loving relationships and raise a family.

"The principal point" that Mr. Lapsley addresses on behalf of "we members of the silent majority" is that gay citizens should not be allowed to use marriage "to adopt children to be brought up as gays also." As a lesbian couple expecting a son in six weeks, we will bring him up, as any good parent gay or straight would, to be whatever he chooses to be: president of the United States, a ballet dancer, a teacher or a right-wing conservative.

-- Mary and Amy Farmer-Demeter

Monument

It's in our genes

What a wonderful, enlightening article entitled, "Bye, Bye, Biber" and a tribute to the wonderful people of Trinidad! [Cover story, July 1-7.]

I have known about Dr. Biber's work for many years, having preached in Trinidad three times, and with limited contact with the wonderful city on many other occasions.

The story is a lesson in genetics -- not just as revealed in such extremes, but in every birth. We are unique, at least physically, because of the genetic (grouping of genes) makeup with which we are born: racial features and coloring, hair, skin, eyes, physical features, etc. The secondary subjects of your story, the patients, represent all of us: we are, especially physically but also more, what we are given at the time of conception. "It's in our genes!"

Think what we've done to each other, because our forefather's nationality is different, our gender is different, and on and on. None of us chose those and other categories! It's in our own genetic makeup! Think of all the suffering, of the injustices imposed, because of our ignorance!

I think of a related group with the same related identity source: those of our homosexual community! Their sexual orientation was determined for them, not freely chosen, by their genetic makeup, just as mine destined me to be a heterosexual male. The rest of us have heaped our scorn on those whose sexuality, though different from ours, was determined, as was ours, by genetics!

No one should have to hide the essence of who they are, and to accept the physical and mental and social cruelty and scorn directed at them because of others' ignorance of genetic causation.

Thank you, Independent, here in the city of religious, wealthy, educated, high-tech homophobes, for sharing this story.

I would suggest another look at the issue of homosexuality and the response from the community, which so damaged the perception of our city a few years ago. Most important is the issue of fairness, of acceptance, by our fellow citizens, each of whom, if we think about it, is different in some way from ourselves!

-- Rev. Dr. John K. Durham, Ret.

Colorado Springs

Tell the truth

Many years have gone by since we got the Northgate annexation on the ballot and got to vote on it. And the developers bought the vote back then. The years since have showed how the developers lied.

Now this Woodmen Heights annexation has people working on another ballot issue and this time a higher percentage of folks are against this urban sprawl.

And the people are still not told the truth about costs.

Keep an eye out for the opportunity to circulate petitions -- we will need over 80,000 signatures.

-- Nick Werle

Colorado Springs

Dropping pants

I believe if properly implemented, student vouchers would promote excellence through real competition. With a true "student voucher" program, the money flows from the state through the students and into the classrooms of their choice. But the current voucher movement in Colorado doesn't look anything like that. Instead, it's a contorted mess that blatantly contradicts our state Constitution.

So why does local businessman Steve Schuck keep pushing it, and why do Republicans pander to him? Well, one Republican, Rep. Mark Cloer, took his oath of office serious enough to uphold our Constitution and voted against Mr. Schuck's bastardized version of vouchers. Everyone knew the Supreme Court would kill it, but no one had the courage to cross Mr. Schuck -- except Rep. Mark Cloer.

For acting like a statesman, Rep. Mark Cloer finds himself in a contested primary against a Schuck puppet. But is Mr. Schuck punishing Mark Cloer "on behalf of the children'" or is there more to it than that?

Money is certainly at play under Mr. Schuck's voucher scheme. In fact, a few very rich, elite Republicans stood to make a lot of money. For every dollar they "donated" to their nonprofit organization (on behalf of the children -- of course) they'd be reimbursed 100 percent by the state with "tax credits." But in addition, they also get to write off those donations as tax deductions -- which translates into pure risk-free, double-digit profits for simply cycling their money through a state voucher daisy chain.

In medieval times, when the king cried, "Oh poop," 10,000 pants dropped to the castle floor -- because in those days the king's word was law. Let's hope modern-day Republicans don't fall for King Schuck's latest decree; but instead, support a true grass-roots Republican and the only statesman left in our legislature, Mark Cloer.

-- Bill Jambura

Colorado Springs

Grammar police

Like so many other readers of the Independent, I welcome the insightful and humorous voice of Rich Tosches. I must, however, give Mr. Tosches a little pinch about his grammatical usage in last week's column, headlined "Instant air conditioning." Prepositional phrases do not take subject pronouns as objects, thus "you'll find a picture of Jim and I" should be "of Jim and me." Yes, Mrs. Herrick (my second-grade teacher), I listened on occasion.

The English language, as Dubya demonstrates, continues to take a pummeling, especially with the word "like," that instant and aggravating filler. Sorry, Rich: "it felt like we were cooking" should be "it felt as though we were cooking."

No more itches to scratch. Thank you, Rich, for your sparkling journalism, and thank you, Indy, for letting some fresh air into a stuffy chamber -- our city.

-- Alessandro Salimbeni

Colorado Springs

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