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Hear him roar

An open letter to John Hazlehurst:

I offer several suggestions in response to your column of Aug. 11, attacking the Democratic Party.

First, I would suggest that you check with the state Democratic Party leadership before you pass along the mud from the Rocky Mountain News that the Party is broke. It isn't.

Secondly, the new Democratic Party state chair, Pat Waak, is a breath of fresh air to the party. She is dedicated to organizing the enormous grass-roots progressive energy that was ignited by last year's election. Chris Gates didn't even know how to spell "grass-roots," much less organize it.

Thirdly, we welcomed the Reverend Al Sharpton to our county on Aug. 27 to speak on education and the separation of church and state, two issues vitally important to our community. As you criticize Rev. Sharpton, why do you dwell on events that happened 18 years ago and not on what he has said during the past presidential campaign?

Fourthly, as you talk to your Republican friend Sara, why don't you ask her about the implosion of the Republican Party in El Paso County over Referenda C and D and over the District 11 and District 2 school board elections? It is ironic that I see you expounding upon the self-destructive tendencies in the Democratic Party while the current headlines report the blistering battle going on within the Republican Party. Where have you been?

Fifthly, why don't you spend some time exploring the resurgence of the Democratic Party in El Paso County? We actually do provide a common-sense, progressive alternative to those voters in the county who are sick of the extremism in politics promoted by the Republican Party organization. Come to our Web site at peakdems.org and check us out.

-- John Morris, chair

El Paso County Democratic Party

Of and for women

Reading the Aug. 25 article "Preaching Politics" about Ted Haggard's on-again, off-again political aspirations, I was particularly interested in his quoted comments regarding the National Organization of [sic] Women. I feel I must comment on that.

First, we are the National Organization for Women. Second of all, Haggard doesn't need to look to New York to find us -- we are right here in Colorado Springs. Thirdly, we will not "all of a sudden" have an opinion on his running for the Senate. We already do have one, and I'm sure he knows what it is.

Suffice it to say that if Haggard decides to run for office, he will probably see not just the local chapter of N.O.W., but all the other chapters around the state, turn out to let him know it's not a good idea to mix religion and politics.

-- Nan Stilwagen, president

National Organization for Women

Pikes Peak Region

First-class artwork

Congratulations on publishing last week's art guide. It is about time the visual arts get a first-class promotion in Colorado Springs.

In reviewing the list of visual arts organizations, I note the Colorado Springs Airport Art program is not included.

As the "Cultural Gateway to the Rockies," where visitors often get their first introduction to the culture of Colorado Springs, it is one of the more important venues for the visual arts in the area.

During its ongoing implementation, more than 200,000 people per year get to see the art of professional artists of the region, along with the art produced in art programs at local schools. Hopefully this kind of experience has led the kids onto academic and art-related achievements, with strong support from their parents.

I must say the presentation of Don Green's sculpture at the entrance of the airport makes a very positive statement about the contemporary and historic art of the Pikes Peak region.

Please consider including the Colorado Springs Airport Art program in your next directory.

-- Bill Geary

Vstervik, Sweden

Phoning in

Kathryn Eastburn (Ditch-slapping Bush, Aug. 11-17) has gotten it exactly right -- "silence is complicity."

"To get out of this war it's going to take American people rising up ... "

My one simple way of expressing serious dissatisfaction with all our Washington leaders is to answer my phone as follows: "Stop the war -- this is Dale." When our collective voices rise to a crescendo that deaf politicians can no longer shut out, the war will stop.

Yesterday I received the wholehearted approval of a wounded Iraqi vet and his family. I am encouraged to urge each of you to take this small step. Answer all your phone calls with, "Stop the war."

Our troops need something other than yellow ribbons. A second way to become part of the solution is through Vets4Vets. This national support and educational group has a struggling local chapter. They meet at 730 N. Tejon St. (All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church) and can be reached at kellydough@hotmail.com or 719/633-7571.

Silence is complicity as well as betrayal.

-- Dale L. Kemmerer, M.D.

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: To learn more about Vets4Vets, read this week's cover story profiling Kelly Dougherty, the Iraq veteran who is the local coordinator of the group, beginning on page 13.

Right and wrong

I do not basically disagree with the thrust of the Aug. 18 letter by Sharon Pichon, but she made a mistake in referring to Thomas Jefferson's relationship to the Constitution. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, but he was in France when the Constitutional convention took place.

-- C. Ralph Verno

West Chester, Pa.

Wrong and wrong

Aside from letter writer Sharon Pichon's inane platitudes and nonspecific charges of greed and corruption, she gets a most fundamental fact wrong: Thomas Jefferson had absolutely no hand in writing our Constitution.

-- Tom Neven

Colorado Springs

Dust from the ground

This is in response to the Aug. 11 edition Letters section titled "Speak out, scientists."

I've been a born-again Christian for years, and from reading the Bible, I've known full well the Earth is about as old as the scientists approximate.

The Bible states nowhere that the Earth is 6,000-plus years old. That's when God made Adam. And from where? The dust from the ground. So where did the ground come from? From two days before?

The scientists have an approximate average age of the Earth, using either the Hubble telescope or binoculars. So whoever doesn't read the Bible, they are basically the dumbest critics of it!

In the meantime, speak out! -- OK, waitress! Another coffee, please!

-- Ronald Karaniuk

Colorado Springs

Shameful and inexcusable

Thank you for your coverage of the flooding and sewage spills that occurred this summer along the streams in and downstream of Colorado Springs. The flood damage and sewage spills are shameful and inexcusable; both situations point to the city of Colorado Springs allowing development to outpace its infrastructure.

Street, housing and commercial development, with its huge paved parking lots, has disrupted the natural hydrologic cycle. Rain and snowmelt that once percolated into the soil to recharge the groundwater now flow over paved surfaces into the storm drainage system. The inadequate storm drainage system is overpowered, natural stream courses are damaged by flash flooding, farmland is eroded, street pollutants are carried into the streams and groundwater recharge is interrupted.

The proposed "storm water enterprise" would provide a vehicle for addressing these problems. Taxing all property owners for the amount of impermeable surface they have would place the burden where it belongs -- on the source of storm run-off. However, the emphasis should not be only on flood control and repairs to the storm water system. It should also be on reducing run-off in the first place.

There are many ways to utilize runoff from roofs in a landscape. There are ways to direct runoff from parking lots into vegetated areas that slow the flow, filter the pollutants, and reduce flood damage.

You would think that after so many years of drought that we would cherish every drop of rain or snow that falls. However, most of this is thrown away as "storm water."

The enterprise should encourage property owners to utilize run-off water in their landscape. The enterprise could fund a person to provide such consultation to property owners.

For its part, the city should move away from concrete ditches for storm-water drainage and towards natural stream courses that would not only slow run-off and reduce downstream flood damage, but would be a visual amenity to the city.

-- Nancy Strong

Colorado Springs

Cindy and CS Indy

It's funny and a bit ironic that as I typed this, the word Cindy reminded me of the CS Indy and that you both share a common thread.

Some retailers won't carry our beloved Independent, and the president will not speak with Cindy Sheehan. Why not? What are they afraid of? What is so difficult about educating oneself to different views? Many of us share many of the views of the Indy, but not all. We should not expect to, nor should we bore ourselves with views that do not differ from our own.

The Farm Crest Dairy Stores will not carry the Indy because, according to my sources, they have extreme political differences. George W. Bush will not speak to Cindy because he has political differences.

Isn't it a pity that the "leader" of the "free world" is behaving as such a closed-minded hypocrite. She is a citizen of the United States and just wants to ask a few questions. Shouldn't he honor her son's memory with a little meeting of the minds? Is that too much to ask?

Then again, this closed-minded attitude and the avoidance of sharing opinions reminds me that this very thing is one of the main precepts to war. The intolerance and stubborn minds of men in power have caused too many to die in the name of religion, land, oil and ideology. We call ourselves a free country, but how free are we really?

-- Richard L. Rhodes II

Colorado Springs

The bombs of Bangladesh

Why hasn't the media covered the 400 bombs that went off in Bangladesh, killing and injuring people on Aug. 17?

All were accompanied by leaflets from an extremist group claiming credit. In case you accidentally heard about the bomb blasts despite the U.S. media's silence, here's an update on working conditions in Bangladesh. Ninety percent of the almost 4,000 export garment factories violate women's legal right to three months' maternity leave with pay. Some companies harass and pressure them to quit. If they get leave, they're only taken back as new employees. Only a handful of companies pay benefits.

Last September, Bangladeshi workers toured the U.S., in the company of American labor activists, to explain what daily life is like. They described to the unionists how they're treated in the factories, making clothing for Wal-Mart, and laid out their modest demands for one day a week off because they are sick and exhausted; an end to the beatings and physical abuse; that they receive their legal maternity leave with full pay; and that they be paid proper double-time rate for overtime.

In their wildest dreams they would have the right to organize and earn 37 cents an hour, which would allow them to climb out of misery and into poverty.

Surely Wal-Mart could afford this. The company made a $9.1 billion profit last year, the Walton family is worth $90 billion and CEO Lee Scott pays himself $240,000 a week. The average seamstress in Bangladesh who sews Faded Glory cargo pants for Wal-Mart earns just 13 cents an hour, $1.04 a day and less than $6.50 a week.

After hearing their plight, there was 100 percent commitment to call for legislation holding corporations accountable and to prohibit import into the U.S. of products made under harsh sweatshop conditions. However, under the WTO there is, sadly, no protection for the young women who make the products.

I'm wondering if the U.S. media just didn't want to alarm Americans about the possibility of those sweatshops being bombed?

-- Sharlene White

Colorado Springs

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