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Pointing fingers

Thank you, Independent, you always make my weekend pizza ritual at Borriello's such good reading. You are the best at Bush-bashing. So quick to put blame.

But as we learn new things about Katrina, it seems that more is to blame on the local level. Are not mayors in charge of their cities? Are not governors in charge of their states?

There was no lack of Reserve or National Guard troops, or helicopters and aid, due to the war in Iraq. There was lack of leadership on a local level.

As a longtime resident of Florida and a hurricane survivor, I never thought the federal government would get involved until the governor would ask for help. But that was before Bush was president and responsible for everything.

So shrill the voices that blame, but the truth is there. People not evacuated, buses not used, Red Cross denied access at the scene. Oh, but this is Bush's fault.

When was the last time Colorado had a blizzard and we were shut down? Did we blame the government for that? Did we call the White House and demand snowplows? And federal help?

I know the devastation is much worse there, and we should all help our fellow Americans, but to lay blame and point fingers is just wrong. A natural disaster is not anyone's fault. To make it political is even worse for all Americans.

-- Casey Valenti

Colorado Springs

Faux News Network

I read Scott Graves' letter ("Gilligan for President") in your Sept. 15 Letters section, where he used the same tired accusation that the problem with Katrina was a state and local problem, not a federal one.

Too bad that Scott gets his news from the Faux News Network, which doesn't tell him the whole story.

It would have been a local and state responsibility, had not New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin asked President Bush to declare New Orleans a disaster area, which he did two days before landfall. At that point, Department of Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD5 kicked in, and it became a federal responsibility, per President Bush, who signed the directive Feb. 28, 2003 (available online at whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030228-9.html).

Once that happened, the responsibility came down to Michael Chertoff, a Bush appointee with no experience, and Michael Brown, another Bush appointee with no experience. Brown had no authority to act until he was given that authority by Chertoff.

Chertoff was asleep at the switch for almost 36 hours before giving that authority to Brown. Brown was forced to resign, the newest scapegoat for the incompetencies of the Bush administration.

The timeline for all of the requirements and the failures of the Bush administration are charted at salon.com for all to see.

-- Jerry R. Pettus

Bloomington, Ind.

Mike for president

On Sept.15, Michael de Yoanna wrote a wildly incorrect description of the TABOR refunds at stake in the election over Referenda C and D.

His figures were $15 in 2006, $49 in 2007, $74 in 2008 and $124 in 2009. He says that totals $262 per taxpayer in lost tax refunds in the next four years if C and D pass.

Nice try, but in the official voter guide, the Blue Book we will receive in the mail, state legislative economists endorse the tax savings from defeating Referendum C (not even counting Referendum D) as $1,105 per taxpayer in the next five years, over four times Michael's bogus figure in the next four.

Another way to calculate the true taxpayer cost of Referendum C is this: Referendum C is a $3.741 billion tax increase. Divide that by 4.3 million people (excluding illegal aliens and part-time residents), and you get an $870 tax increase for every man, woman and child in Colorado. That means an AVERAGE family of four will lose $3,480 if Referendum C passes. Some get more, some less -- that makes it an average.

If you add Referendum D's repayment cost of $3.225 billion, that's another $3,000 lost to the average family of four. The total cost of C and D over many years is thus $6,480 to a family of four, not $262 per taxpayer in the next four years. Michael is off by a factor of 25. Has he thought about running for office?

If the $3,741 billion cost of Referendum C alone worked out to Michael's $262 per taxpayer, that would mean there would be over 14 million taxpayers (not including children, etc.) in Colorado, not the 3.4 million taxpayers the state estimates in our total population of 4.6 million.

Maybe Michael shouldn't so gullibly and thoughtlessly parrot self-serving state bureaucrats trying to hide the true cost, so they can get our money.

Tell your readers the truth for a change. Surprise us.

-- Douglas Bruce

TABOR author

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: Telling the truth? We were. We also opted not to compare apples to bananas, as, unfortunately, many C & D opponents have chosen to do. In his news story, Mr. de Yoanna reported what the state's comptroller announced on Sept. 1: that for 2005, the surplus is $44.7 million, enough for an average $15 refund, or about the cost of a large pizza, with everything. Keep reading.

Devil in the details

Opponents of Referenda C and D are pursuing a course of ideological sloganeering with little basis in reality. They are perpetually claiming Referendum C is contrary to TABOR, even though TABOR refunds have been successfully used over 900 times by local governments and school districts.

Additionally, the Colorado Club for Growth and even some state legislators claim Referendum C will cost families $3,200 over the next five years. This number is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts and is an economic nightmare that fails to take into account 18 TABOR refund mechanisms, as well as a six-tiered income breakdown within the sales tax refund.

To qualify for a refund of this caliber, a family would have to own a 26,000-pound commercial vehicle and have a private health plan, with a household income of no more than $34,450, qualifying them for the federal earned income tax credit.

However, this family must have significant capital holdings creating eligibility for the capital gains tax credit, as well as own more than $30,000 in unappreciated personal property at their business, which most likely would cause them to forfeit their EIC refund.

Finally, they must have recently installed significant pollution control equipment, have been operating a foster care home for at least 180 days, and donate to the Colorado Institute for Telecommunication Education, all while being a rural medical service provider. And those are just half of the refund areas.

In actuality, the true refund allotment is less than half of their claimed amount: It's around $288 a year for a family qualifying with four of TABOR's most realistic refund mechanisms. The average individual will only receive $15 next year, which isn't even one tank of gas.

Voters need to educate themselves for this upcoming election, realizing the substantial community investment C & D represent, and not be swept up by the ungrounded sensationalistic generalizations being spread by opponents of C & D.

-- Christopher J. Duve

Colorado Springs

Economic Development Corporation

Getting away with murder

I was horrified to read in last week's Independent that U.S. authorities have not disciplined a single officer or soldier for killing journalists in Iraq. I didn't want to believe it, but upon reflection I realized it's true, and you have every right to point it out.

In the same spirit of fearless truth-telling, let me point out an equally horrifying fact: The Colorado Springs Police Department has not arrested a single employee of the Independent for molesting sheep on the county courthouse lawn.

I'd also like to suggest a title change for next year's edition of "Censored! The 10 biggest stories the mainstream media ignored over the past year":

"Untrue! The past year's Top 10 most slanted, unethical stories that got exactly as much attention as they deserved from the mainstream media."

-- Greg Hartman

Colorado Springs

No clear answers

I'm very disappointed in Ken Salazar and other Democrats for caving in to Bush's right-wing agenda in recommending John Roberts, when it's obvious that he is the wrong man for the job of Chief Justice.

Under questioning from members of the Judiciary Committee, Roberts failed to present clear answers to every straightforward question about troubling aspects of his professional record.

Over the course of his career, Roberts has argued that politicians, not individual women, should be in charge of making personal health care decisions. He has opposed most of the remedies for historical racial injustices that still persist today. He repeatedly sided with the right-wing ideologues to weaken voting rights and fight protections against workplace discrimination.

If John Roberts is appointed, this country is on the fast track to becoming a dictatorship.

-- Sharlene White

Colorado Springs

Mercury rising

Sen. Allard should be ashamed for voting last week to allow the country's children -- born and unborn -- to continue suffering from mercury poisoning caused by power plants. Hundreds of thousands of babies are born each year in America at risk of learning disabilities and lower IQ because the fish eaten by their mothers is contaminated with mercury.

Too bad Sen. Allard is willing to let this situation continue -- and even worsen -- not just in Colorado but across America. He voted to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to require achievable and cost-effective reductions in power-plant mercury air pollution -- a 90 percent cut three years from now -- in favor of requiring no mercury cuts for nearly 15 years. Incredibly, the steps supported by Sen. Allard allow mercury pollution in Colorado to nearly triple over the next decade.

What additional evidence of harm to the children in his state does Sen. Allard need before he will take action to limit mercury?

-- John Walke

Director, Clean Air Project

Natural Resources Defense Council

Washington, D.C.

Myth vs. reality

Professor Robert Melamede offered a strong argument for his conclusion that "faith-based theories belong in religious classes, not science classes" in his letter to the editor ("Good Science") last week.

There is a need to also argue that some faith-based theories are as bad for Sunday School students as they are for public school students. Mistaking the Biblical creation story for a geology lesson, which is the source of "Creationism" or "Intelligent Design" battles, is one such theory.

Biblical literalism is a fairly recent distortion of traditional Jewish and Christian understanding of the Hebrew Bible. Less than 300 years old, fundamentalism was born of the inability of a few to cope with the rapid advance of scientific knowledge following the end of the Renaissance.

Ancient people understood religious mythology and never mistook it for history or science, as today's Christian fundamentalists do. They derived profound spiritual truth from the creation myth, but never looked to it for geological truth. Literalist churches do their members a disservice by reducing the story to mere geology, gutting its beauty.

Instead of filling young heads with the lie that religious myths are the same as history, biography or geology, churches should be presenting myth for what it is: an important attempt by humans to understand themselves and their place in a world filled with both goodness and evil. Until they do, it will not be enough for society to keep religious fundamentalists out of our schools. We need to get them out of our churches, too.

If we don't, count on a continuation of fundamentalism's primary by-product, religious wars, such as the one being waged today between Christian fundamentalists in Washington and Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East.

-- Tim Rowan

Colorado Springs

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