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I want to thank John Weiss and the Independent for the successful partnership between our organizations that produced the Fort Carson Expansion Town Hall Meeting. The early-bird workshops and the town hall meeting with Maj. Gen. Mark Graham were a great vehicle for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments to get the word out about the Fort Carson regional growth coordination plan.

The growth plan recommendations are under development, and we continue to encourage community members to visit our Web site to review the assessments of 11 impact areas and help us craft an achievable action plan to prepare the community for the growth at Fort Carson. The Web site is ppacg.org.

Rob O'Connor
Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments
Colorado Springs

Armpit watch

I asked the gentleman manning the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado table at the Fort Carson Expansion Town Hall Meeting: Does the gay and lesbian community support military expansion?

He said, "Well ... we support our community."

The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, Colorado Springs Independent, Diversity Forum, Justice & Peace Commission and Denver Post were just a few of the odd sponsors, normally taken to a liberal viewpoint, hosting a dog-and-pony show to convince the community of the advantages of unprecedented military population growth in this area.

I personally thought some of these folks, including myself, belonged outside the Antlers Hilton with the two lone protesters, sporting their "Beware of the military complex" banner. Instead, we were inside applauding speakers who asked for the community's help and touting this buildup that probably will have an adverse affect on Colorado Springs for many years to come.

We stuffed our faces with plate loads of free hors d'oeuvres and beer, compliments of Bristol Brewing Co., and the atmosphere was almost festive. Nevertheless, Colorado Springs is financially strapped. Community services like the YMCA, Pikes Peak Workforce Center and many health and mental care organizations are stretched beyond capacity.

Maj. Gen. Mark Graham is asking the Springs community to step up to the plate and be prepared to help our warrior neighbors, who by his mention are "Army Strong" yet 30 percent are returning from Iraq with psychological problems.

It would be better for Colorado Springs to incur normal population growth while services slowly adapt to the demand. Everyone forgets that 10 years from now, the government could close Fort Carson. Then the downtown area would be nothing but an armpit, with an empty military base, devalued homes, strip clubs, etc., a place where no one wants to live.

Michael J. McCarthy
Colorado Springs

Stop expanding

Every time I see a group of Fort Carson soldiers return home, I am so thankful, and my heart breaks for the ones who did not make it home.

It makes me so angry that the chambers of commerce in the Colorado Springs area look at them like they are dollar signs. The chambers remind me of baby birds in nests, feathered by the nation's taxpayers, clamoring for more money. Now I see they are shoving all their nests together to holler more loudly for the Pion Canyon expansion and the pipeline out of the Pueblo Reservoir.

It makes no difference that they put the Southeast Colorado food producers out of business, just so they can import more food and sell more Chinese trinkets, and a few developers can build more expensive homes to be foreclosed on.

They took the most beautiful town in the world and turned it into a stirred-up ant den of crime, unending traffic jams and road construction. It's not doing the average person in Colorado Springs any good.

For the first time in history, El Paso County can't afford to keep its government offices open but four days a week, and they want to do the same to all the counties in southeast Colorado? What price greed!

They already have Schriever, Peterson, NORAD, the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson. How long will it take for a terrorist to drop a bomb down those greedy little throats? Colorado Springs is already too much of a tempting target without adding more.

Stop Pion Canyon expansion.

Betty Williams
Walsenburg

Embarrassment

I would just like to say how displeased I was to hear that Doug Bruce actually physically kicked a photographer for taking his picture during a public event at a public place and was broadcast on the local news as well as various Internet news Web sites.

That was an assault against the photographer and against the law, and for him to do this while on camera before the general public is an insult to the people of Colorado whom he represents. (He was sworn in later that afternoon as our newly appointed state representative from District 15 in El Paso County.)

I am a professional photographer and would have had him arrested on the spot for the assault. Physical assault should never be taken lightly, and his anti-social behavior as a state official should not be tolerated.

If he was driving under the influence, should we excuse his actions? I am so sorry he is now a representative of El Paso County, and can't wait until the people here in Colorado Springs get the common sense to vote him out of office.

Dorian Beth Wenzel
Manitou Springs

Enlightenment

Let me get this straight: "Colorado Springs Utilities estimated [city agency's estimates are usually 50 percent above real cost savings] that reducing the city's streetlight energy bill by $360,000 [real-life cost savings, $180,000] would require turning off 6,210 lights, or 27 percent of the city's total.

However, each light must be turned off individually, which translates to a labor cost of $100,000 [read $150,000]. To recover that, 2,300 more lights (37 percent) would have to be shut off to achieve the $360,000 savings [actually $180,000]."

The 8,510 darkened lights buy us two old helicopters for public safety? I would like to know the total number of citizens "rendered personal safety" from a pilot of a helicopter at 5,000 feet altitude. I'm sure that street patrol officers render much more personal safety to Colorado Springs citizens. I believe these "high cost" pilots could do more for public safety in Colorado Springs on street patrol in a cruiser.

Don't forget the cost of storing 8,510 street light lamps; I'm sure there would be a minimum loss of 10 percent during removal and handling. Replacing the 8,510 lamps in the future could be $150,000-plus.

Robert Kalkowski
Colorado Springs

The spying game

I rarely write letters about letters, but the two about the police helicopter (Jan. 10) framed the issue too well to pass up.

David Esker shows the classic, nave belief that police are basically honest and there to serve him. Though he correctly identifies recent criminal abuses by local police, he chalks it up to "incompetence" and argues for continuing to let them fly.

The problem isn't "incompetence." It's cops out of control, and giving them high-tech toys to spy on us certainly won't fix it.

But Pat Mullen has it pegged right. Copters are just a step toward higher-tech surveillance of the populace. They may very well already be trying out the next level, and we'll only find out about it much later.

Still, on balance, if any opportunity or argument can be seized to get the helicopter out of our sky, we should take it. It's amazing that the possibility is even under discussion. Since it is, regardless of the reasons, we should make the most of it.

Patrick L. Lilly
Occupied Cheyenne Cañon

Collateral damage?

With the U.S. as current occupier of Muslim lands and threatening another, now might not be the time to condescend with our tone of being morally or socially more evolved. Can we really say our secular capitalism has led us to lives of superior quality than those steeped in tradition and spirituality?

I'm not even sure outreach missions such as Greg Mortenson's ("Making friends, not enemies," cover story, Jan. 10) do not invite further Islamic anger. In effect, he and the CIA aim to abscond with the young women of Islamic societies. According to his own strategy, Mortenson admits less interest in educating the boys. I can imagine some very frustrated, devout young men who will find themselves without spouses. You may applaud such a development. I find it arrogant and ethnocentric.

How would fundamentalist Americans react if a foreign entity came into their community under the guise of better access to health care and an improved standard of living, advocating ways that conflicted with their core beliefs? In particular, teaching their girls that theirs was not necessarily the one true God, but one of many, and in fact not the God who favored their benefactor with superior technology, health and wealth?

Imagine if Cuba sent emissaries to teach our needy about the advantages of socialized medicine, about principles of social justice and about a common brotherhood of man, jubilantly godless. We'd have a cow.

Eric Verlo
Colorado Springs

Life vs. life

OK, Valerie Etter ("Empty heads," Letters, Jan. 10), how do you go from Starbucks pulling the Independent to this "world is doomed"?

I agree that pulling the Indy from Starbucks is going a little too far, but it isn't a deal-breaker for me.

Now for your ranting.

An embryo in any human is living until aborted. It amazes me the people who support abortion will demonstrate to the ends of the Earth when an animal is mistreated or killed. I don't like the mistreatment of animals, either. I just hold a human life over an animal's life.

Without repeating mainstream media reports, can you please give me a true example of how the Bush administration has lied? There is also lying by omission. So if media leave out all the facts, they are lying too?

FYI: Weapons of mass destruction were not a lie, Saddam did have them, we just got bad intelligence on their continued existence the same intelligence Clinton got during his reign of terror ... I mean office.

By foreign wars, I assume you mean Afghanistan and Iraq, and by torture you mean waterboarding. Locking terrorists up without representation while we're at two wars, how shocking! You are so worried about whether an enemy combatant or known terrorist is tortured, but not when someone aborts a child.

I see where your priorities lie. Save the terrorist, kill the child. Are you not catering to a few extremists' private agendas? The door swings both ways.

Gail L. Vaught
Peyton

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