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Poisoned fruit

Somebody cooked the books if Colorado Springs is rated third in the nation for environmental excellence ("Springs ranks third in environmental report," News, April 12). On the basis of public transportation alone, the city should have been rated much lower. I can't imagine that the bus system here would get anything better than a D-minus when compared to cities of similar size.

It is true that we have a favorable atmospheric setup, which disperses our bad air much better than happens in Denver. But that shouldn't mask how much pollution is actually created by a super-dependence on cars for getting around.

Apples-and-oranges comparisons often result in bogus conclusions.

Bill Sulzman

Colorado Springs

Telling both sides

This comes from a reader outside your area, but very interested in what's going on with Grace Church and St. Stephen's. For too long, the press seems to have told only one side of the story. Bravo to you for having spoken the truth about Archbishop Peter Akinola's terrible agenda in Nigeria ("New Life for the Grace crew?" Between the Lines, April 12).

I hope and pray many people will read your article. And I also hope you will follow up with this, as these things can easily get swept under the carpet. Keep your focus the church needs it! I will keep tuned to the Indy to see how things develop.

Dent Davidson

Seattle, Wash.

Need-to-know information

Let's really be specific. Homosexuality is already a criminal offense in Nigeria, punishable by prison time in the south and death in the north. The proposed law only enlarges the number of offenses to include things like meeting a gay person, or publishing an article. There are lesser penalties for those things.

Nigeria already has draconian laws on the books. The Church of Nigeria already supports that legislation. Americans who are members of the Church of Nigeria support it too, through their tithes and offerings. People need to know about that.

Thank you for an otherwise fine article.

Linda McMillan

Austin, Texas

Unshaken faith

I have been an active member of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church for 14 years, and an active Episcopalian since my baptism in 1963. It is with great sadness that my family and I have watched our Grace family implode over the last several years. More and more, the focus there has been on conservative versus liberal and less and less on our service to Christ and our fellow creatures.

The Episcopal and Anglican churches have a long history of tolerance and inclusion. We have managed to find a way forward together through conflicts as impassioned as the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Yet today, due to evolving conservatism in the Anglican Communion, we are told we must reject our brothers and sisters in Christ in order to appease an archbishop in Africa or South America.

And yet, God in his mercy shows us a way forward. At Grace Episcopal today, whether we meet in Shove Chapel or other borrowed space, we are forming a congregation that spans the ideological spectrum, yet shows the love of Christ in our dealings with each other and in our relationship to the community.

As vestry member Robert McJimsey said in an e-mail to our parish, "This is not a battle of liberal versus conservative. We are working to build a parish in which all are welcome, and in which we demonstrate that we can work and worship together across a full spectrum of theological understanding."

The secessionists can occupy our property, but they cannot shake our faith. That is the lesson that I will teach my children.

Chuck Theobald

Colorado Springs

Smell the coffee

Homosexuality is already a crime in Nigeria. Archbishop Akinola supports criminalizing anyone who associates with gays or lesbians or supports them. Under this proposed law, having coffee with a gay man would put you in jail.

The Rev. Ann Fontaine

Lander, Wyo.

Trust violated

We are returning the packet of materials for Grace Church's 40 Days of Discernment, since we have absolutely no intention of attending any of the programs or "contemplations," or to "vote" in May. With Don Armstrong's own deeds and words, as well as those of the so-called vestry, it is apparent that the vote has already been taken.

We were married at Grace Church in 1950 and have an almost 60-year history with Grace and Holy Spirit. Never in our wildest thoughts did we anticipate becoming affiliated with an archbishop in Nigeria, especially one with such views which is why we are part of the AWOL (Armstrong's term) group currently meeting at Shove Chapel. This is a beautiful and hospitable place of worship, though not really our home, and we are grateful for it.

Surely all of us deserved better treatment from someone in such a position of trust.

It seems time for others of us, who are heartsick about Armstrong's unnecessary and damaging actions, to speak up. He has belittled and tarnished literally decades of hard work, generosity and good faith by hundreds of people. He shames us all and damages the good name of Grace Church, and of our community as well.

Thank you for your careful coverage of an important story. This is a "teaching and learning" moment for all of us.

Milo and Barbara Yalich

Colorado Springs

Worthy music scene

I'm so glad that you are shedding some light on the local music scene. It's totally true that it's an odd combination of great bands playing but with nowhere to play. Without the Independent to point me in the right direction, I don't know if I'd ever see a decent show around here.

I was sad that Leer 43 didn't make your "Ya heard?" story (Annual Manual, April 5). They're a great local band that gigs regularly but unfortunately got overlooked by you.

Keep doing what you're doing, Indy, 'cuz I love it.

Stephen "Sven" Johnson

Colorado Springs

Volz's mistake

Eric Volz made the mistake ("International intrigue," News, April 12) of visiting a volatile, impoverishedLatin American country as an American. Any time we travel to foreign nations, especially those that have been interfered with by our military or covert agencies, American citizens will be in danger.

Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and his cohorts gave direct financial support to the group he called "Freedom Fighters." The resulting civil war cost the lives of countless thousands of Nicaraguans. Anybody with a slight amount of common sense will understand that a degree of animosity against our country and its citizens must still exist.

When anybody travels to such a destination, it behooves that person to keep a very low profile. Volz made an additional error in judgment by fraternizing with a native female. This opened up a legal can of worms every bit as dangerous as a drug arrest. He is a symbol of a deeply hated country, and a person who hoped to profit through real-estate transactions as well.

The poor guy was railroaded from the beginning of this unfortunate situation. Those who found him guilty of the murder did not rely on logic, but rather their stoked-up emotions and their overweening venom toward the United States. His relationship with a young Nicaraguan girl fanned the flames of their deep hatred and their exaggerated machismo.

Let this man's tragedy be a dire warning to all who would choose to travel to Latin American, North African and Asiatic destinations. Never flash your money around, never talk loudly, never be boastful, never draw attention to yourself, never dress better than the locals, never allow yourself to get intoxicated, and by all means, if you are a male, never get romantically involved with a native.

Joseph F. Pennock

Victor

Remembering agendas

My best wishes to Mayor Bob Isaac as he enters a new chapter of his life in a local nursing home (Noted, April 12). One thing that caught my eye was the Indy's account of how Mayor Bob had been responsible for "scrapping the Human Relations Commission." Actually, as Council's liaison to the HRC, I should perhaps take the "blame" for this.

In April 1993, when the newly elected Council was seated and the city's boards and commissions were divvied up to members, the HRC was unceremoniously delegated to me. For the next 14 months I attended every HRC committee meeting and facilitated many of them. Each time I came away wondering more why such an entity fell under the auspices of city government. The HRC debated andargued, with commissioners often attacking one another over matters most members of the public could not have cared less about. It made for good headlines, but Mayor Bob was not amused.

After one too many deliberations that basically always boiled down to an alleged gay agenda to infiltrate the Springs, a Christian right-wing plan to counter the gay agenda, an alleged Christian-right plan to proselytize the Springs, and the liberal left's supposed plan to derail the right, etc., it became apparent that the majority of Council's constituents were considerably more interested in fixing potholes and calming neighborhood traffic.

Council's vote to pull the plug on the HRC faced no real opposition from the community (or the HRC itself), and my motion to disband it passed with nary a whimper from anyone. In my subsequent seven years on Council, I can't recall anyone minorities or peace activists waging a battle to resurrect the HRC. If Bob Isaacfaced criticism over the demise of the HRC, he kept it to himself.

Bill Guman

City Council member, 1993-2001

Colorado Springs

Liberal hypocrites

Two letters in the April 12 Independent point out the hypocrisy of the left in plain, easy-to-read language.

Richard J. Haas tells us in his letter "Backing Merrifield" that "Michael Merrifield has been elected twice now by a portion of the community that knows who he is and what he stands for." Rich implies that since Merrifield has been elected by a majority of voters, his actions are acceptable to those voters when he says: "To know Michael is to accept that he speaks plainly in sometimes-colorful language. His supporters take him as he is."

Then we have Ed Billings, who tells Mayor Rivera and us in his letter "Mayoral nausea" that "the only reason you [Rivera] were re-elected was because Big Money paid for your campaign."

There it is, for all to see. If you are an elected Democrat, you are above reproach because the voters obviously knew what they were doing. If you are an elected Republican, you cannot be trusted because it was the result of crooked Big Money deluding the voters.

This explains so much about the left. They feel that whenever they are in power, it is the natural result of healthy democracy. Conversely they feel whenever the right takes power, it is some aberration in the proper flow of things, and the efforts of those elected representatives are all tainted by the sin of not being Democrats. In the mind of a leftist, only votes for Democrats are healthy votes because only a deluded moron bamboozled by all the pretty lights would vote for anyone else.

Scott Graves

Colorado Springs

Corrections

In the lead item of "Where are they now?" on April 12, former Colorado Springs resident Cassandra Peterson should have been referred to as "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark," which is her licensed and trademarked name. Also, the local store on South Tejon Street once owned by her parents was called Peterson's Partyland.

In the story about local private investigator Bobby Brown ("International intrigue," April 12), the person charged with murder in Nicaragua should be Eric Volz.

The Independent regrets the errors.

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