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Chilling stuff

Last week's cover story on Shakes vs. the school board takeover profiteers is, hands down, the best expos ever to appear in the Indy. Chilling. Some of us did not understand just how dangerous some of these people really are.

Thank you.

-- Nick Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Bombs away

In response to the cover story about the efforts to take over School District 11:

How many kids do the candidates have (or did they have) in D-11 schools? How many of them are homeschooling their kids? What time have they spent volunteering at their schools, and in what capacity?

What have they done to make their own school environment better? I don't mean running for the board -- I mean, who got their hands dirty and helped install playground equipment? Who volunteers to supervise the kids at lunchtime? Who works as a crossing guard? Who volunteers in the classroom, and who doesn't?

I don't really give one ripshit who is a Republican and who is a Democrat on the school board. Good grief, we've voted vouchers down twice -- what else does it take to convince these numbskulls that we don't want vouchers?

I don't care if you call yourself a reformer, a new-thinker or any other meaningless, jargonized title. I want to know what you're going to do to improve the schools for the kids, improve the education they are receiving. I want someone who will value and compensate our teachers, because I see firsthand how hard they work and how dedicated they are.

All I seem to be hearing is how these reformers want to raze the district to the ground. Yeah, that's a plan. If you can't articulate how to solve a specific problem, then just blow up the whole structure so that nothing survives. Then you can really run around throwing your hands in the air, blaming someone else and acting like a spoiled 4-year-old in desperate need of a nap.

Seriously, what is up with these people? And how can we make them shut up and go away?

And while I'm ranting, why the hell do we have to vote for "slates" of candidates instead of individuals, anymore?

-- MB Partlow

Colorado Springs

Dirty rotten mess

Thanks to the Independent for exposing, once again, the rotten mess behind the D-11 school board minority. District 11 voters need to know that the same outfit that backed Eric Christen and Company in 2003, the not-so-aptly named "All Children Matter," is the exact same group behind all the mailers and commercials for the Republican-backed slate of Bob Lathen, Carla Albers and Reginald Perry this fall.

Interestingly, Dan Njegomir, the ex-Gazette editor, told the new 2003 board members to keep quiet about vouchers, unless they had a chance to sneak it through, quietly, without the public noticing. Why? Because Colorado voters have rejected vouchers each and every time they've voted on the subject.

Curious that the Gazette has been completely silent about all this smoke-filled back-room subterfuge, huh? And curiouser still that Lathen, Albers and Perry refuse to speak at any public forum where they might be asked about their stance on vouchers.

Also interestingly, Eric Christen's infamous "guerrilla warfare" threat was in an e-mail sent to Steve Schuck, of all people, which divulged events of a confidential closed-door executive board session in May 2004. While the Gazette printed the contents of the "alleged" e-mail the next day, they never mentioned to whom Christen addressed his e-mail.

Let's not let people get a glimpse of the wannabe wizards behind the curtain, right, Gazette?

Board president Sandy Shakes should be applauded for not only having the integrity to stand up to these bargain-basement Machiavellis once their plans became clear, but for having the guts to go public with her story now, while we still have a chance to make sure we don't make the same mistake twice.

Ms. Shakes said it best: "It's not about kids for these guys. It's about a revolution, and the revolution is that the haves are going to have and the haves are going to control, and we are going to tell people how it is going to be, without any discussion about what would be adequate for these kids. "

The choice is more clear than ever: The only votes to be cast for the kids are votes for John Gudvangen, Tami Hasling and Sandra Mann.

-- Thomas J. Watson

Colorado Springs

She wants substance

I was disappointed with three of the D-11 school board candidates -- Carla Albers, Bob Lathen and Reginald Perry. I went to the Citizens Project Forum last Monday to get information from all the candidates, only to hear that these three did not respond to repeated requests to attend the forum or to complete the candidate survey.

I couldn't even find one informational flier on these three candidates at this forum. They are the only school board candidates in all local districts that did this. So how is a person to make an informed decision? If they have no ideas, then I can understand why they didn't show up.

All three of these candidates have been endorsed by the Republican Party. Do they feel that since the Republicans hold the majority in El Paso County that they don't need to tell voters what they stand for? Do they believe voters are too stupid to look beyond what party leaders tell them to do? I don't think so.

Most of the information I've heard about these candidates has been in their negative ads or letters to the editor. Once again, they present no ideas. I want substance. I want to have confidence in knowing exactly how each candidate stands on issues that affect our district.

The survey from the Citizens Project was very good because it asked questions about different areas the school board will be dealing with, such as charter schools, vouchers, textbook selection, CSAP testing and the food programs. These three candidates must think that these issues are not important enough to give answers to the voters.

-- Linda Martin

Colorado Springs

Toxic legacy

If you vote no on Referendums C & D, your legacy to your children and grandchildren will be a slum state. If you vote no, record it in your children's and grandchildren's baby books in big letters so they will remember your choice.

Leaders who advocate a no vote on C & D are following slum-state politics. They are voting against the educational opportunities they enjoyed. They are voting not to invest in education for the bootstrappers and less advantaged. They will join members of the Take Generation instead of the Give Back Generation.

I served on the CU Board of Regents for 12 years. During that time state support for the University exceeded 25 percent of the budget. Now it is 8.6 percent and declining. Colorado now ranks 48th in state and local support for higher education. A disgraceful public record for a state that is so bountifully blessed.

Some in-state politicians and out-of-state special interest money would change Colorado from a leading state to a slum state tomorrow.

As a lifelong Republican, I have been a delegate to national conventions, served on the State Republican Central Committee, helped run presidential campaigns, and successfully run for public office. The uncontrolled national debt and an ostrich-head-in-the-sand response to predictable declines in oil reserves are creating an economic hurricane for future generations that will hit all Americans by the year 2010.

Add to this epic economic storm increasingly poor state support for education, and the Take Generation will leave a toxic Colorado legacy.

Generations must either work together to help each other or we will separate in battles over declining resources.

Much more could be said, but I would rather go for a beautiful Colorado autumn walk in the city park provided by prior generations. Your choice is clear -- Take or Give Back. I am going to give back by voting yes on C & D.

-- Sandy F. Kraemer

CU Regent Emeritus

Colorado Springs

Worse than we said

I read with interest and appreciation in the Oct. 13 edition your endorsement of Referenda C & D. I also was pleased to see that you included the national ranking of funding of services for citizens with developmental disabilities as one of the "cold, hard facts" in your endorsement.

However, I did want to provide you with updated information about where Colorado ranks when it comes to funding for developmental disabilities services. According to the recently released study, "State of the States in Developmental Disabilities, 2005," supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and Administration for Children and Families, Colorado actually ranks 48th in the nation, even worse than the 44th ranking cited in your endorsement.

Much-needed funding to help support people with developmental disabilities is an issue that has been largely overlooked in the debate on Referenda C & D. If C & D fail, there will be devastating impacts on people with developmental disabilities and their families in Colorado Springs and statewide. Passage of the measures will allow the state to continue to partner with nonprofit agencies to assist people with developmental disabilities so that they have the chance to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide these new facts.

-- Susan Watkins

President

Board of Cheyenne Village, Inc.

Colorado Springs

Not OK

The phrase "Dirty Jew" is hurtful, vulgar, divisive and not acceptable. More than a mere schoolyard taunt, this has been and still is the rallying cry of racists, fascists and murderers. It is a slogan of ethnic intimidation.

It is extremely tragic that a Jew would take pride in this phrase and use it as the name of his musical act, which was listed in the upcoming shows section of the Oct. 13 issue.

He needs to seek a therapist, a rabbi and a history book. The insidiousness of this situation is that people will figure that if a Jew calls himself this, it must be somewhat acceptable. That is how the music promoters felt comfortable enough to promote it. This is how the bars and venues felt comfortable enough to publicize it. This is how it slips in and gets printed and promoted in a socially conscious and progressive newspaper like the Independent.

For people of every ethnic group, there is at least one disrespectful phrase or stereotype that has been used to socially ostracize and marginalize them, rally their enemies and fuel hatred against them. Just because somebody from a particular group can turn a monetary profit from disrespecting themselves, their people and their heritage doesn't mean we should join them in that disrespect and debasement.

To those that say, "Lighten up; don't take it so seriously," I would venture to guess that they have never been spit on or beaten by people chanting phrases like this; not to mention shot, gassed or blown up.

Let the artists, promoters, venues and media know that this kind of disrespect is hurtful, vulgar, divisive and certainly not acceptable. Even if you are not a member of a particular group; don't assume these phrases are OK, no matter who speaks them. As Edmund Burke said, "All it takes for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing."

Yes, it's a free country with free speech; but we also have the freedom to make the right choice to be positive, respectful, cooperative and inclusive.

A good start would be to follow the old Jewish saying, "Change your name; change your luck."

-- Bob Gussin

Colorado Springs

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