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Success story

I just wanted you to know I think you really did an excellent job on "Prison break" (cover story, Feb. 15). It showed how hard life can be for ex-cons. It also shows how someone can win the battle if they have enough determination and support.

Ernie Medina is a success, and I am so very proud of him. I know he thinks he can fall off the path at any time, but I truly believe that will not happen. The feedback he has gotten from this story has given him even more determination to help others and stay on the path he is now on. Thank you for getting his story out there.

Suzy Eddleman (Medina's daughter)

Colorado Springs

System problems

I appreciated your article about Ernie Medina; the points it made are all valid. I feel, however, that like so many, you have been much, much too kind to "the system" in reporting this story.

As I see it, the essence of the issues involved is encapsulated in one paragraph of your story:

"An ex-con's capacity to make it outside prison often hinges on having a state ID or driver's license. Without either, a person can't apply for a job or housing, two parole requirements."

In plain English, this means that "ex-cons" are subjected to requirements that it is entirely within the power of their overseers to make impossible. And they aren't really the only ones.

"Ex-cons" nearly always end up back in prisons, not because they "fail" at anything, but, rather, because that is what is supposed to happen to them. The "system" is carefully and deliberately designed to ensure this outcome, regardless of how hard the individuals involved try to beat their heads against the governmental wall.

It's a statistical miracle that Mr. Medina remains a free man. Many, many others don't.

Until the nasty, hate-inspired laws enacted by generations of conservative legislators are repealed, this will not change, and the percentage of Colorado's population like that of every other state consigned to prison basically for life will only continue to increase.

Patrick L. Lilly

Colorado Springs

Comcast counterpoint

In response to Thomas McCullock's Feb. 22 letter ("Comcast nightmare") regarding a negative experience with Comcast cable: When my TV was getting mostly snowy reception on Feb. 21, I called the Comcast service number on my bill.

I was given a time option for next-day service. I chose 10 a.m. to noon; a tech arrived at 10, he looked at the picture and tightened a cable on the back of my VCR. Problem solved, positive experience, no charge.

Tom Herbert

Manitou Springs

Military debate

It really gets me how the pro-militarists are always banging on the "freedom" drum. Especially when their clear intent is to get us to sacrifice even more freedoms, especially as we know unprovoked military occupations like in Iraq are always exploited to repeal more civil liberties at home.

Such is the case in J. Ulrich's recent letter ("Slow bleed," Feb. 22), which also waylaid the Democrats for merely wanting to do the sane thing, which more than 67 percent of the American public agrees with.

Like his inimitable ideological predecessors, Ulrich hectors us that "freedom doesn't come easy or cheap." No, it sure as hell doesn't when you have an essential corporatocracy that arrogates all key freedoms to itself and its fat-cat CEO minions, while letting the rest of us suck salt. No health care, no job security and no paid sick leave, for starters.

The fact is the real loss of freedom is right inside this country, as corporations undermine ever more legislation with their lobbyist parasites, and trump the voters' will incessantly. What we have is a de facto corporo-militarist state, and the only "freedoms" being fought for in Iraq are Halliburton's to garner more no-bid contracts.

If Ulrich and his ilk were genuinely concerned for our freedom, they wouldn't invoke the red herring of Iraq (which poses absolutely no threat!), but the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which effectively repeals habeas corpus and renders all the amendments of the Bill of Rights moot or redundant take your pick.

The signal event this past week was Tony Blair's announcement of the British pullout from Basra (despite its designation as "unstable" by the Pentagon) to be completed next year. The U.S. can do no better than to emulate the Brits, declare victory and leave.

Phil Stahl

Colorado Springs

Not listening

I'm confused. If U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn didn't vote against escalation with the 70 percent of his constituents who informed his office of their opposition, and he only got 26.97 percent of the GOP primary vote last August after Rep. Joel Helfey refused to support his "sleazy" campaign, then whom does Lamborn represent?

It's not 5th District Republicans, who voted for someone else by a majority of 73 percent.

It's not the 70 percent who contacted his office in opposition to Bush's escalation.

It's not the vast majority of ranchers in southeast Colorado who refuse to sell their land to the Army for the expansion of the Pion Canyon Maneuver Site, since he is willing to proudly violate the principles of conservatism by supporting federalism over state rights and using eminent domain to steal private land.

So whom does he represent?

He represents the neocons who have proven in the last five years that they don't care for majority rule, diplomatic negotiations, peaceful coexistence, private property and, especially, for America maintaining its standard in the world of mentoring democracy, freedom and a fair and conscientious foreign policy.

Mark Lewis

Colorado Springs

Straight duped

Your recent Straight Dope column by Cecil Adams about fluoride ("Grin and bear it," Feb. 1) made interesting reading but fell short of answering the question of fluoride's safety.

Low levels of fluoride, at one part per million or less, have been added to public drinking-water supplies for over 60 years with amazing positive results in reducing tooth decay.

As the author pointed out, Dr. Frederick McCay, who lived in Colorado Springs, first discovered in the early 1900s that fluoride could reduce tooth decay. Today, sadly, roughly 300,000 residents of Colorado Springs are not receiving an adequate amount of fluoride because our City Council spent $1.5 million of our money to build a fluoride system in 2001 but decided not to turn it on.

The council chose to ignore the recommendations of the local and national organizations of dentists, physicians, the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Public Health Service. Instead, it folded under pressure from the fringe groups who still maintain that fluoride is dangerous when the exact opposite is true. These people only need to spend one day at the Kids in Need of Dentistry clinic in Colorado Springs to see the effects of non-fluoridated water that has been allowed to be inflicted on our less fortunate children.

While I appreciate that there are always two sides to a story, I am weary of the wishy-washy explanations of topics like fluoridation when the benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the risks. I wish that Mr. Adams would get off the fence and show some backbone unlike our City Council, which has confused trying to be impartial with what is in the best public interest.

Dr. Robert Koff, DMD, on behalf of the

Colorado Springs Dental Society

Keep it dry

Your Feb. 22 issue promoting alcoholism ("Drinkathlon") was a new low for local journalism.

You have brought bad karma to your newspaper.

Brian Whisman

Colorado Springs

Not worthy

Yes, drinking seems to be the sport of choice for many people here in the Springs, and maybe that excuses the Indy from giving it a cover story. But I think not.

Drinking used to be something you did while you were engaged in some meaningful social activity. Now drinking just seems to be an end unto itself.

This is the first city I've lived in that has a drive-through liquor store. So who's surprised at the drunken drivers and domestic abuse here? It's just what we get when we glorify alcohol to this extent. Will this adolescent town please grow up!

Sue Sproul

Colorado Springs

"The senator's lie'

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., supports our newest Paralympians ("Paralympics plans growth," News, Feb. 15) and will introduce a bill to improve their facilities. Allard's spokesman is blandly quoted as saying, "The senator thinks they deserve the best."

I suppose the senator expects us to cheer his innovative and bold support for our brave troops who left their limbs in Iraq. The problem is, the senator voted down an amendment in 2003 to ensure better safety equipment for our troops in battle overseas. He ensured many of them would lose a limb, an eye, their lives. They didn't deserve the best in 2003 from the senator.

The hypocrisy of Republicans who say they support the troops, yet vote down every form of assistance for their health and well-being, is well known by now. Allard's spokesman would have been more honest to say the senator felt guilty, and he had to do something, anything, to finally "support" the troops. Or he could have just been silent about the senator's lie and let the bill speak for itself.

Bud Gordon

Colorado Springs

Correction

In last week's coverage of the Dave Scudder tribute concert ("The beat goes on," Audiofile) the band performing on stage, Coyote, was misidentified. The Indy regrets the error.

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