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Setting the scene

After reading your June 8 issue on local music, I was very discouraged by the slant. There is actually a music scene in Colorado Springs, and I am active in it. I play in a local band and also photograph many local bands almost every weekend.

While The Black Sheep is truly becoming the premier music venue in town, other venues are also improving and growing, such as Union Station and Classics (now all ages), not to mention many bars, nightclubs and coffee shops that feature blues bands, cover bands, hip-hop and acoustic acts.

Although the scene is lacking in many areas, including venue consistency and advertising, I believe there's a disservice done by the local media, such as radio stations and newspapers that neglect to mention the scene that does exist.

I cannot believe that a feature newspaper article on the local music scene would not even mention the active local bands currently participating and drawing audiences to their shows! There are many bands actively performing as well as creating original music spanning the genres all over town. It would be a better service to the community to highlight these musicians than focus on those who have taken their talents elsewhere.

However, I would like to thank you for your services such as the Playing Around listings and the reviews that appear in some of your issues. The local music scene appreciates all forms of media support.

Talia Hoit

Colorado Springs

Coming home

Thanks, Indy, for your support of art and artists of all types in our community. Your music issue raised that question again: Why does young talent--musical and otherwisehave to emigrate to find success?

Under the indefatigable Linda Weise, the Colorado Springs Conservatory suggests it might not always have to be so. CSC gives young people in Colorado Springs a world class opportunity to develop their talents, an ongoing showcase for these talents and a place that they can always call their musical "home." As if that's not enough, CSC does it all in the context of community service and partnership.

CSC's annual production and free performances of the opera Amahl draw thousands. CSC's proficient students perform at major events, from nonprofit fundraisers and annual dinners to art openings and festivals to private affairs.

And they go way beyond performance. Just last month, CSC and community partners organized a Battle of the Bands for the entire town at City Auditorium. And if the Conservatory is not going out into the community, they're inviting the community in. During the school year, for example, students invite the public to a monthly Jazz Night. At last May's Jazz Night, musicians with the phenomenal gypsy jazz/swing group Mango Fan Django (also Conservatory instructors) joined students on stage.

The accomplishments and versatility of Conservatory artists director, instructors and students could fill several issues of the Independent.

CSC has created a real musical community with roots right here. Your music issue can't be complete without mention of the Conservatory's contribution to Colorado Springs. We must sing high praises for CSC; without it, the music scene in Colorado Springs could be bleaker, indeed.

Jody Alyn

Colorado Springs

End the chaos

Thanks to John Weiss for exposing thedeception foisted on Gazette readers by its editorial staff, and also for explaining the rationale of the grassroots recall movement, End the D-11 Chaos ("The real radicals," Publisher's Note, June 15).

For the second consecutive Sunday, the Gazette editorial on June 18 again attacked the recall leaders, claiming that they're "living in the past." On the contrary: End the D-11 Chaos is not about living in the past; it's about moving forward, but, most importantly, it's about moving forward in the right direction. While we may hope for the best, it's pretty unrealistic to think that even our new interim superintendent, Dr. Terry Bishop, can consistently move D-11 forward in the right direction as long as Eric Christen and Sandy Shakes are members of our board of education.

Christen has made it plain what direction he wants to take our district; he's publicly declared that he wants to end government involvement in schools.

Sandy Shakes? As an ex-teacher, she started out her tenure on the board by making decisions based upon the needs of students. Now, for some unexplainable reasons, she seems to have realigned herself with Christen over the past few months whether or not that serves our kids' best interests. eading the charge to hire Dr. Thomas as superintendent in 2005 and then, completely reversing field, leading the charge to fire Dr. Thomas less than a year later, completely disregarding the overwhelming support given Dr. Thomas by the principals, teachers and ESP of D-11 in the process? Gazette editorials have often opined that "flip-floppers" generally do not make good public servants. Why not this time?

Keep up the good work, Indy. You've supplied us with the truth about Eric Christen, Sandy Shakes and the rest of Steve Schuck's so-called "reform bunch" for years now, facts that the other paper in town is loathe to print. And if enough D-11 voters hear these facts, the recall effort will be successful.

Thomas J. Watson

Colorado Springs

Shattered glass

Last week's Publisher's Note was very informative. However, not for the reasons John Weiss intended. He says "our dysfunctional D-11 school board" and "so long as the two most dysfunctional board members continue to control the balance of power."

Dysfunctional? How can that be, unless you assume that a properly functioning school board is composed of nothing but liberals, progressives and folks from the education industry?

Later on he says, "It is time for the community to stand up to wealthy ideologues hellbent on promoting vouchers no matter what the consequences."

What if the community wanted wealthy ideologues, and what if the voters are hellbent on promoting vouchers? Is democracy only good when the outcome is liberal ideologues hellbent on perpetuating the same failed programs? Is it only "functional" when the outcome is one John Weiss likes? To hell with elections; damn the will of the voters.

If John Weiss, Master of All Things Functional, doesn't like it, then toss them out and replace them with his own brand of ideologies.

Then, after decrying what he calls ad hominem attacks from the Gazette editorial page, he starts talking about its editor, Sean Paige. He lists Mr. Paige's previous jobs, along with Weiss' own ideological commentary. First he points out "columnist for the The Washington Times," but has to add "the conservative daily owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon." And this is relevant how? Seems Weiss is resorting to cheap ad hominem attacks, as the owner of the The Washington Times is irrelevant. Does Weiss seriously want us to think that Rev. Moon is calling the shots at the Gazette editorial page?

Weiss also points out that Mr. Paige worked as "press secretary for Alan Keyes for Senate in 1992." Weiss tells us, "During his Senate run, Keyes pocketed $100,000 of his own campaign contributions." Again, how is this supposed to tar Mr. Paige?

After complaining about promoting ideologues and ad hominem attacks, Weiss demonstrates his own willingness to do the same. What's that adage about glass houses and throwing stones? Seems Weiss might want to print that out and keep it above his desk to keep a sense of perspective.

Scott Graves

Colorado Springs

Day of reckoning

The replacement of Congressman Joel Hefley will be decided on Primary Day, August 8. Yes, the Democrats have an excellent candidate in Jay Fawcett, but let's face it, the Republican candidate would have to wake up with a dead girl or a live boy two days before Election Day to lose.

I am a lifelong Democrat. I was the Democratic candidate for El Paso County Commissioner in 1994. That year I had the fortunate opportunity to meet John Anderson, the successful candidate for sheriff.

John Anderson is now running for Congress against five other men who seem to be in a contest to see how far to the right they can run.

Anderson believes in abortion exceptions in cases of rape and incest, and the health of the woman. The one other candidate who will be trying to secure the moderate vote, Lionel Rivera, believes "life is a life whether it was created by rape or incest; it's still a person."

Anderson, while not in favor of gay marriage, does not support a constitutional amendment banning it. He has also said he does not believe in a constitutional amendment against flag burning, believing instead in the importance of First Amendment rights of free speech.

The fact of the matter is that whoever wins the Republican primary is likely to be our representative for a long time. With that in mind, I have taken what is a radical step for me and became unaffiliated with the intent of walking into my polling place on August 8 and (I can barely say it) declare myself a Republican and vote for John Anderson. The deadline for changing party affiliation or becoming unaffiliated for the August primary is July 10.

One might ask, Why go to all this trouble to cast one vote? The answer is, only an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 people will vote in the Republican primary and with six candidates running, without any obvious frontrunner, the vote will be divided.

The winning difference could be just a few votes and a moderate conservative such as Anderson does have a chance against five candidates all supplicating themselves to the Focus on the Family vote!

My motto is this: even though you may have no chance of receiving a whole loaf of bread, a few slices or even a few crumbs is better than starving.

Working against disenfranchisement,

Lee Milner

Colorado Springs

Dog food for thought

In just a few weeks, smokers will be banished from all restaurants and bars in Colorado. This came about as a result of health issues and was a topic of hot debate among the public at large and the legislature. As a result, it will soon be illegal to have to dine with other people's smoke.

I suggest there is another health issue that is growing more and more common that also should be addressed.

I do not believe that diners in the state (particularly Colorado Springs) should have to dine with other people's dogs. I happen to frequent a popular restaurant and bar on the 500 block of South Tejon. Like many Colorado Springs eateries, this establishment has sidewalk dining.

I have had to dine with foreign Fidos on numerous occasions and at other locations. I have watched them relieve themselves within the fenced dining area within a few feet of my table. The inconsiderate dog owner or restaurant employees made no attempt to clean it up; the dog owner simply walked away.

Last week, I watched three waitresses petting and rubbing the belly of a dog that a careless patron brought with him to bark and beg as the patron drank, ate and cursed. Two of the three waitresses immediately handled silverware setups, condiments, bar rags, credit cards and table checks without washing their hands. Fortunately, the waitress waiting on me did not pet or touch the dog; had she done so, and then attempted to deliver any of these items to my table, I would have informed her I was leaving.

I hope this may stimulate some dialogue and debate, and result in either local or state regulation. I know that local and state health regulations already prohibit animals from food preparation areas and indoor dining areas, but what about the sidewalk cafes? I have determined that, as a consumer, I will no longer patronize those establishments that turn a blind eye to such inconsiderate conduct on the part of patrons and employees.

David Youtsey

Colorado Springs

Virtual ghost town

I was amused by last week's letter from Jim Inman ("Required reading"). He made reference to Wal-Mart. The next time anyone drives through a rural town will find, as I did in Canada, almost all the businesses boarded up. The business area was a virtual ghost town. We wondered what had happened to this town that seemed like it used to be prosperous. We had the thought that perhaps a huge shopping mall had been built nearby.

Sure enough, as we headed out of town, there it was in the distance: a huge new shopping mall. Mystery solved.

Don Smith

Queensland, Australia

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