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Feeling queasy

Perhaps it is true that the less you know, the funnier Rich Tosches is. His observations in his Aug. 12 Memorial North expansion column certainly pointed in that direction. Actually, I'm not even sure what his point really was, given the wide-angle blast of BS the item contained.

Was it that stress relief in medicine is not a worthy goal? Tell that to the elderly lady coming to the hospital because her hands have gone numb and her head's pounding and she doesn't know why. She won't care about the thought that went into the design; she might just feel a little less uncomfortable as a result of it.

Was the point that construction costs are high? Well, it's true, they are. Not as high as the article claimed (divide 250,000 square feet into $124 million and you get $496 per foot, not $568), but then we're talking about a fully equipped hospital here, not a pleasantly appointed book warehouse with a sunny reading room.

Perhaps the point was just to rant about some "hoity-toity" architecture arising on the fringe of the village. While it's true that building a box is the cheapest form of construction, on a project of this magnitude well-thought architecture and planning are a marginal cost that is more than covered by its long-term benefits.

Whatever point the article was attempting to make, what struck me was the lack of awareness demonstrated. I mean, as the writer mentioned, this is a "city-owned enterprise" and it is engaged is a very real struggle for business with the soulless corporate owner of the other health provider in our city.

Unless Mr. Tosches believes that the citizens of our community would prefer to subsidize their hospital with tax dollars (talk about hallucinating straight lines into curves!) as more patients and physicians choose Centura over Memorial, he should be thankful that Memorial is planning ahead to provide the facilities and services his village's citizens demand and have a right to expect.

-- Mark Cunningham

Colorado Springs

Animals and cars

In your Aug. 12 article about off-roading in Colorado, you say that scientists have done studies that conclude that RVs are detrimental toward animals.

I have lived here 60 years and have done a lot of 4-wheeling, motorcycling, hunting, hiking and fishing and have noticed, during that time, that animals are less disturbed by machines than by people walking. Most animals will just calmly watch a vehicle pass by, but when approached on foot will spook.

Also, I don't know if those scientists have noticed, but the animal population is higher than it ever was. I don't think changes in policy will make any difference as far as the scofflaws going off the trails and ruining it for everybody goes, unless they are able to enforce those laws. I think the only answer is more law enforcement personnel.

-- Gary Johnson

Colorado Springs

Revolted by jail conditions

I read Cara DeGette's column in last week's edition of the Independent regarding Bernard Gilligan and his "experience" at Colorado Springs' downtown jail.

I am revolted by the evident conditions there. I just hope you can answer one question for me.

What can I do about this? I am moved to do something, anything. Is there anyone I can write to? Anyone to call? Is this man still residing in these disgusting conditions? How did the law officials in our city gain or appropriate the power to treat human beings like this? What can I do, or my sphere of influence impact, to make a change about this situation? In any case, thank you so very much for writing about this and bringing to light another reason to question the "check and balance" order in our city.

I look forward to reading more about Mr. Gilligan and his plight, and any information you could share would be more than appreciated.

-- Ana Simchen

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa -- who ultimately oversees the jail -- can be reached at 390-5555. The five-member elected El Paso County Board of Commissioners -- who fund the jail -- can be reached at 520-6444. The Colorado Springs chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which works to promote and protect civil liberties, can be reached at 651-3001.

What term limits?

As the former administrative director to U.S. Congressman Joel Hefley, I am compelled to correct a false charge repeatedly levied by the Independent against the congressman concerning an alleged term limit pledge.

In a recent editorial endorsing U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer (Endorsements, July 29), the Independent praised Schaffer for honoring his term limit pledge, while criticizing Hefley for breaking his own three-term pledge. As the editor of the Independent herself has been told by Hefley, and by me personally, the congressman has never -- never -- made a term limit pledge.

When I was an employee of Hefley's in the mid-1990s, the term limits movement was a vocal and powerful force in El Paso County. During that time, Hefley received tremendous pressure from his constituents to vote for legislation that would create federal term limits. While he did not support the legislation, Hefley ceded to his constituents' wishes and voted for the bill. In doing so, he did not assume a three-term limit pledge, particularly since the legislation failed spectacularly in Congress.

Hefley has always believed that imposed or self-imposed term limits serve little purpose. For a small state such as Colorado, Hefley argues, it is imperative that its elected officials attain positions of leadership in Congress in order to compete with the political power of larger states such as California and New York. These positions are not earned within three terms. Furthermore, voters are given the opportunity every two years to replace their elected leaders if they choose to exert their voting privilege -- and invoke term limits through an election.

Instead of constantly attacking Hefley by accusing him of something he never said, the Independent should praise Hefley for being a man of his word -- but I guess that praise is saved only for those elected officials that the paper agrees with ideologically.

If the Independent wishes to be considered a legitimate local newspaper, it will have to begin printing the facts, not the facts as interpreted by its editorial board. Otherwise, the Independent will never be anything but a free community tabloid.

-- Jeff Crank

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: For a broader discussion about Rep. Hefley's past positions on term limits -- including his legendary 1995 promise, "I will be a congressman for only a short period of my life" -- check out the Independent's award-winning story about the Colorado Springs congressman, who is currently running for his 10th term, at www.csindy.com/csindy/2002-10-03/cover.html

Pleasantly surprised

I occasionally read the Independent to remind myself how "the dark side" thinks. In the Aug. 12-18 issue, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Sean Cayton's "Finding Jesus from Jail" (Personal Space) -- a well-written, neutral article about an expression of conservative religious beliefs in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

I think this type of reporting not only provokes spirited discussions (pro and con), but also increases your credibility as journalists.

--Doug Schmidt

Colorado Springs

Independent too neutral

We need an AirAmerica in Colorado Springs.

But in a pinch your paper might do.

As the election approaches we need an almost daily rebuttal to the Gazette to counter the Republican (spelled Rebublicon) propaganda they publish in the name of the First Amendment.

Al Franken spends a while each day playing excerpts from Rush and Sean and showing them to be the idiots they are. The problem is that AirAmerica only gets to this part of world over the Internet and a lot of older people probably don't want to tie up their phone line all day listening to the radio.

It's bad enough when you have to get your local daytime news from hate radio (KVOR) and at night watch TV news programs that are anything but objective or investigative (yeah, almost, to PBS) and listen to Pete Coors commercials. But the only daily paper publishes things that, for more than a week previously, have been shown by many media outlets to be Republican lies, not just spin or almost-truths but just lies.

In any case the Independent seems to be neutral; maybe it is time you took a side.

-- Jim Goosman

Colorado Springs

Picking Pete

I am writing to point out that the Gazette, on Aug. 11, published a front-page article on Pete Coors and Ken Salazar. They had a 9-inch-by-6-inch picture of Pete Coors. They had a 3-inch-by-2-inch picture of Ken Salazar.

In a follow-up front-page article the next day, the headline stated: "Coors, Salazar kick-start campaigns." They have a picture of the Coors team on the front page. I thought, OK, on page 12 where the story continues, they'll have a picture of Salazar. Nope! Another picture of Coors, of course.

I just wanted to point out this bias. I have e-mailed their editorial department as well.

-- Emily Frazee

Colorado Springs

Coming at you

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing, in the same way, over and over again and expecting different results.

Led by Nor'wood Development and Classic Co.'s Chairman Jeff Smith -- who, with other proponents, started convention project talks more than four years ago -- the latest move in their ongoing saga is engaging a consulting firm to review the results of a feasibility study conducted by a previously engaged consulting firm.

Whatever the numbers these studies come up with, the performance data presented to the developers are presented as "projections." As anyone who has been engaged in a business planning function knows, in order to do projections there has to be a historical data base of some time frame from which to project. As no historical data based on the performance of a convention center in Colorado Springs exists, the numbers being offered are forecasts.

And one has only to consider weather forecasts to appreciate the reliability of forecasts.

Now, the Springs Downtown Partnership has been running weekly ads touting our city with NYC's Manhattan borough and Paris (London, Brussels, Lisbon, etc., next?) with a theme of "where the world's most wonderful things come to you." However, the reality is that our state capital, with all it has to offer, lies just 75 miles north of us. And it's worthy to note that Denver, with its many full-service hotels and easy accessibility by air, well established in the convention business, has been in the process of expanding its convention center and is building a new 1,200-room hotel.

Backers of a Colorado Springs convention center, in view of the magnitude of funds needed to build and operate it, envision the city to invest in the center. This requires getting the approval of our voting public, which has rejected the venture in the past.

In 2004, budget cuts necessitated cutting 70 city jobs and freezing 64 more. Meanwhile, our public works department reports that an estimated 150 miles of the 500 miles in the city's closed drainage system are in such bad condition they pose a threat to our roads, properties and citizens.

Taking on the high risk and quantum financial vulnerability for a city-owned convention center and hotel can, in no way, be justified or prudent.

Besides, if built, who will come?

--Joseph Fiore

Colorado Springs

An important point

Oops! The quote of the week in last week's paper says that the quote came from the newly elected Doug Bruce. Doug only won the Republican primary -- he still has to run against Democratic candidate Stan Hildahl on the November ballot.

-- Linda Martin

Colorado Springs

Correction

In last week's 10 Days To Live section, the Reach Your Peak scholarship dinner, with keynote speakers James Carville and Mary Matalin, was listed under Friday, Aug. 20. The event is actually on Sunday, Aug. 22. We regret the error.

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