Look at L.A.
I do not trust the leadership of our police department or our city's political and management leadership, in light of the outcome of the PPJPC/police court-settled public forum.
In legal settlements, it is always favorable to come to mutually agreeable terms than feel the potential wrath of a black-and-white judicial decision. Begrudgingly, the city and its police department were compelled to formally make what was described as a "qualified apology" to those arrested [and suppressed] during anti-war protests in 2003 ("Police actions in 2003 lead to Friday forum," News, May 3). Further, as a compromise for "a nonqualified" full apology, they were to submit to a public forum and produce it for training and broadcast.
Now it appears the city leaders' actions were superficial and disingenuous in actually understanding that they have to change their attitude and behavior to protesters.
In light of police actions in Los Angeles toward protesters, it appears there are serious problems with some police departments in dealing with nonviolent protesters. Los Angeles' events are simply bigger and better reported than here. In reality, there is nothing different between the two cities' police actions except the L.A. political and police leaders were appalled by the actions of their police. Ours were supportive!
The former L.A. police chief stated on national TV that it is easy for a chief to call for more training and policy changes after an incident like this, but the real solution is pre-emptive actions from police leadership. He said it comes down to attitude and management, and there is no excuse for a few bad apples in a police department.
So I am in favor of PPJPC seeking maximum punitive measures available in court regarding 2003 and 2007. Changing the attitude and behavior of our authorities is necessary if we really are to live in a free society where government is of the people and by the people.
The Aussie way
Since I wasn't in Colorado Springs to witness the police actions that involved the St. Paddy's Day Seven, I can only comment on a growing need to uphold the civil rights of all persons. In Australia, many human rights have been abridged in the name of terrorism prevention. Our state police are more than eager to use force in instances of peaceful demonstration. While the people's attention was diverted, a law was passed to prevent terrorism.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, ASIO, comprises our federal secret police. That law allows ASIO to take me off of the sidewalk and hold me without charge for several days. I am not allowed a legal representative, I cannot notify my wife and I am held incommunicado.ASIO has to have a federal judge issue a warrant. There is no end of judges who will gladly do that.
So, keep vigilant to violations of civil rights in Colorado Springs. If you don't already have your own version of ASIO, shortly you probably will. There are no public records of who or how many have been "detained" by ASIO.
As a side issue, some folks welcome this law. If they want to go on a "naughty weekend" with someone other than their partner, they can always claim on their return home that ASIO detained them. ASIO will neither confirm nor deny that.
An article in the Independent ("Affirmative attack," May 3) claims that "affirmative-action opponents are once again sounding the death knell for programs that open doors for women and minorities."
That is true only to the extent that those programs close the door, or make it harder to pass through, for everyone else. Lowering the bars to entry only for some, based on their race, ethnicity or gender, raises it for everyone else, and thus is the essence of discrimination.
The article includes other misunderstanding of what it is that affirmative-action critics criticize. Thus:
"... the [Colorado Civil Rights] initiative's challengers, including civil-rights and higher-education activists, say affirmative action is still relevant today. They cite misunderstandings about the program, such as the notion that minorities are taking positions that "belong' to whites.
"A lot of people think that affirmative action is based on racial quotas,' says Dennis Apuan, Southern Colorado organizer for Colorado Unity, a statewide equal-opportunity group. "It doesn't have to do with quotas. It provides qualified individuals equal access.'"
True, affirmative action programs often do employ quotas, explicit or implicit, but giving preferential treatment to people based on their race, ethnicity or gender is discriminatory, and hence objectionable, whether or not quotas are employed.
Moreover, we critics do not claim that any positions "belong," or should belong, to whites (or Asians or non-preferred minorities). All we claim is that everyone has a right, or should have a right, to be treated without regard to race, creed or national origin.
John S. Rosenberg
In response to "Creekside story," (News, May 3) Colorado Springs Utilities would like to correct the record. In the one-sided article, reporter Naomi Zeveloff seemed eager to promote the position of the opposition, while disregarding the undisputable facts of the issue.
Springs Utilities has taken responsibility for our wastewater treatment and collection system the largest in the state under a single permit. We do not take this responsibility lightly, as evidenced by the millions we've invested since the 1990s and the millions we'll invest this year and beyond. There is nothing "recent" or insignificant about these efforts, many of which were pursued long before a single penalty or fine had been given.
Here are a few examples of what we've done to reduce the risk for spills and protect the environment:
We started significant work in the mid-1990s with a $40 million upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant. It's now one of the premier plants in the Arkansas River Basin.
A second, state-of-the-art treatment plant, costing nearly $80 million, will go online this year.
We completed construction of a new wastewater sludge line in 2004, costing $20 million.
We completed a new Sand Creek lift station in 2005 at a cost of $13 million.
From 2000 to 2006, we invested approximately $65 million on the inspection and rehabilitation of our wastewater collection system. We'll invest an additional $25 million this year on the collection system.
We're the only utility in the state building a $10 million spill recovery project to protect the environment and keep accidental spills from reaching our neighbors to the south.
These substantial investments are unrivaled around the state, and each step is dramatically reducing the risk for spills. In fact, our spills per 100 miles of pipe are among the lowest in the nation.
Colorado Springs Utilities
It's gratifying that the state has rallied to our support in southeastern Colorado. By overwhelming bipartisan majorities, the House and the Senate passed HB 1069, which withdraws the state's consent to condemn land to expand the Pion Canyon Maneuver Site.
Our legislators correctly recognized that seizing private land and forcing hardworking American citizens from their homes to turn productive agricultural land into a bombing range would not be in the public interest.
They correctly affirmed the military should not be used as a vehicle of economic development, and military powers should not be used to advance the interests of one part of the state at the expense of another.
Gov. Bill Ritter pointed out the military is a "tremendous economic engine for our state." Well, so is agriculture.
The military represents 10 percent of the El Paso County economy. Agriculture represents 16 percent of the economy in Las Animas County. But these statistics are irrelevant when it comes to expanding Pion Canyon.
The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce has said military installations infuse $3 billion into the local economy every year. Rep. John Salazar says the expansion of Pion Canyon would punch a "big hole" in southeastern Colorado's economy. But such considerations miss the point.
The real issue is whether it's justified to destroy the lives of ranching families, remove land from production, pollute our water and air, jeopardize our archeological and historical assets, and destroy fragile plant and animal species.
I would argue it is not. Our common good will better be served by using our land to produce food for our nation. Our common good will better be served by using our land to produce alternative energy. Our common good would definitely not be served by using the military to redistribute wealth in our state.
Tough for artists
There's more to Colorado Springs than meets the negative artist's eye ("Looking forward," cover story, April 26). The city is situated close to healthy art markets like Denver, Vail, Aspen, Taos and Santa Fe. There are many prominent artists working here who sell their work to these markets as well as international art markets like New York, Los Angeles and Europe.
Artists actually move here to find inspiration from an environment that is free from the negative interferences of humanity. Maybe there is not a mature retail situation here with all of the bells and whistles of a Santa Fe, but there are artists who need this space and have successful careers all over the work.
The artist's life has always been a struggle. Why should it change in 2007?
Bette Ann Albert
Stop the beeps
Construction sites are noisy. We can happily live with that because of progress. However, why must we suffer the constant loud beeping of their vehicles in reverse?
Backhoes, Caterpillars, Bobcats, dump trucks these all typically move forward and backward with a crew standing around. Everybody knows the workers have to learn to ignore those ridiculous warning signals or they'd go nuts. Like those silly buzzers in our cars, the classic case of crying wolf.
So let's stop kidding ourselves. The noise is aggravating, dumb and pointless. But even if once upon a time an accident was avoided, is that a reason to forever curse our society with this infernal honking? I say shut it off. As for those who are always looking to be the injured party so they can sue, when the case comes to court, tell them the truth: Life is dangerous. Get over it.
President Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq that begins with training Iraqi forces so they can defend their country and fight the terrorists. We are making tremendous progress toward this objective.
Withdrawing from Iraq, as Democrats in Washington propose, would send a dangerous signal to our enemies that we cut and run when the going gets tough. President Bush is offering a clear strategy to win, not a political quick fix. We have a job to do and we must finish this job. No matter how tough it gets.
No one ever said that war is easy, and the only way out is to make sure that the Iraqi army is trained and confident to defend the government and country.
In conclusion, let's finish what we started and make sure Iraq is well-prepared to take care of Iraq. That does not include turning tail and running.
Paul M. Smith
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