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Paige's response
While editing the Gazette's opinion section, I may have had a discussion with Bob Nemanich ("Type cast," cover story, Jan. 17) about reintroducing wolves in Colorado. But his claim that I don't like him, and that I told him he'd never get a letter published in the pages, is untrue.

We frequently ran letters contradicting our editorial positions at the Gazette, as any regular, fair-minded reader knows, and I tried to run a representative sample of the feedback we received. My personal feelings about a letter writer what little I was able to generate based on an e-mail or phone conversation had nothing to do with the selection process.

The challenge with some regular letter writers Phil Kenny is a good example is that they develop a sense of entitlement to your space and become petulant when they can't publish at will. I gave Phil plenty of ink over the years, as did my predecessor, turning him into a local celebrity of sorts. But I balked when he began demanding star treatment and complete editorial control.

Editing letters is an inexact science, and no one who takes the time to write a letter likes to see it cut or altered in any way. But it's a part of the process (even for professionals). And on balance, during my five years on the job, I think I did our letter writers more good than harm. I always saw them as the important part of the section that they are.
Sean Paige
Colorado Springs

Forget happy talk
Ralph Routon's summary of the Fort Carson town hall meeting ("Expansion: Future on the line," Between the Lines, Jan. 17) is excellent. The "happy talk" version of the proposed expansion in all its phases can now be laid to rest.

There is a major downside to what is coming. I would quibble with the assertion that there is nothing we can do to prevent the full force of the expansion.

It would take a huge effort to reverse the decision of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. I give two examples where that has been done: One is the New Mexico reversal on the closure of Cannon Air Force Base. In Maryland, there were some major modifications made.

As a practical matter, there is a slim chance that public sentiment here would ever give rise to a demand by city and county officials to call for reversal of the BRAC expansion, or even to modify it in any meaningful way. However, the other expansion that is proposed is not yet a done deal.

The troops for it do not even exist yet. The "Grow the Forces" plan is still a work in progress. The 2008 election could bring about some political changes that could scuttle the project. Even if it goes forward, there is ample time for our city and county to say we just can't afford to accept another major expansion.

Maybe there is a potion that could be slipped into the water so we could have a chance to stem this tide. (Just kidding.) If it's going to happen, we need a major grassroots movement, and it's time to get started.
Bill Sulzman
Colorado Springs

Give 'em dirt
Anthony Lane's article about the proposed Corral Bluffs OHV area ("A not-so-distant grumble," News, Jan. 10) did a great job of highlighting the stereotypes on both sides.

Many opponents of the park seem to have "celebrate diversity" bumper stickers or T-shirts (as I do), so I'm confounded by the position that El Paso County should create another open space like the other 15,000 acres already dedicated to non-motorized use.

I don't ride horses, and while I've seen the damage hooves and poop can wreak on a trail, I support open-space areas for equestrians. Nor do I play golf, rock-climb or have a dog, but I love that there are opportunities for these activities in my city. If we were all the same, this would be a very boring place.

Within a few days, 1,500 off-road riders signed a petition supporting this park, knowing they would bear the costs through registration and use fees, with no help from general tax dollars. There's a huge demand (18,000 registrations in El Paso County) and fewer riding opportunities after the Hayman fire and other closures.

The proposed park is not a place to rip a natural landform to shreds; it's a place to enjoy an afternoon in the sun with friends or family. Properly designed trails can greatly mitigate environmental impact, and the people riding them are your neighbors, the guy at church or the family at the grocery store. MTV loves to make bikers look like bad guys, but the reality here is a little more mundane.

Off-road riders are usually open-space advocates as well, because we love the outdoors. It's too bad if ignorance or intolerance prevent the reverse from being true, or stop all of us from seeing how much more alike we are than different.
Ned Suesse
Colorado Springs

Houston, we have ...
This is in response to Gail L. Vaught ("Life vs. life," Letters, Jan. 17). Can you please tell me what planet you are living on? Is it Planet "Make Believe," or possibly the one most Christian right/Bush supporters are from, Planet "I don't have a clue"?

Let's first tackle your comment on those who are pro-choice and also animal-rights activists. Have you ever heard the term "apples and oranges"? That is exactly what you are comparing. Talking about pro-choice, we speak about a fetus, which literally means still in the womb. Talking about an animal mistreated or killed, you mean an animal that has been born. Big difference! Being pro-choice and an animal-rights activist, I would support aborting an animal fetus if the mother's life is jeopardized.

Next, let me explain the difference between "had" and "has." To say Saddam "had" weapons of mass destruction implies the past. It also implies he no longer has them. Your president told the world Saddam "has" weapons of mass destruction; this implies the present. If you say someone has WMD, but that "someone" does not, then by every definition, that's a lie, which has sent close to 5,000 American soldiers to their deaths along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan men, woman and children.

You say your president was misinformed. This is what separates him and his supporters from the rest of the world. Have you ever heard of "the buck stops here"?

Finally, during Clinton's administration, this country experienced its largest economic expansion in history. During Bush's administration, millions have lost their homes and hundreds of thousands worldwide have lost limbs and life. But we can start to breathe a little easier as the true reign of terror that has gripped the world these past eight years will soon end.
Michael McMahon
Colorado Springs

Bush's world

President Bush and his Republican Party really live in their own little world, don't they? They can stand in front of America and say with a straight face that our economy is strong. Here are three fairly recent George Bush quotes:

August 2007: The U.S. economy is "thriving."

October 2007: "This economy is strong and is setting all kinds of records."

And amazingly, just this month: "This economy is on a solid foundation."

To say things like that, Republicans must think we all live with our heads buried in the sand.

Consider: Standard & Poor's 500 index fell nearly 10 percent in the first 18 days of 2008, and the NASDAQ nearly 12 percent, shaping up to be the worst January on record. The Dow has fallen more than 2,000 points since October. Inflation has risen the largest amount in 17 years. New housing starts in 2007 fell to the lowest level in 27 years. Foreclosures are up 72 percent over last year.

In December 2001, gas in Colorado was $1.10; in December 2007, the average price was $2.92. Also in Colorado, 498,000 residents are living in poverty, an increase of 26.1 percent over 1999-2000. From 2000 to 2006, most Americans saw their real income go down.

Unemployment is up. Foreclosures are up. Wall Street is down. Bush and the Republican Party have failed America. Whereas the major Republican presidential candidates have always stood behind George Bush, I believe a vote for a Republican in November is certainly a vote for more of the same.
Steve Plutt
Lake George

The real world
Replying to Eric Verlo ("Collateral damage?" Letters, Jan. 17): Women in Islam hold a special spot just below that of men, for those who know what the Quran says. It is the misled (on purpose, I fear) traditionalists who are in error.

There is not a thing wrong with educating young women. Education is humankind's (women or men) only way to move forward and have peace for all. Far too many Islamic societies try to keep women (and men) uneducated so they can not find the truth. Greg Mortenson is a fine example for all of us who wish for peace for all.

As for Cuba being an example of social justice, why do its people try to escape to secular capitalism (America)? Could it be Cuba-style communism is not a box of chocolate? Why do so many flee to America if it is such an evil place? They come here to raise a family. As for Cuba, surely you know they can't even feed their people.

I lived in the Republic of Turkey for eight years on Army duty assignments. I speak Turkish. I visited Turkish friends at weddings, barbecues, etc. Discussed Islam with their holy men. So until you've been there, done that, please see someone for your hate, or in the long run it will eat you up and you will find no peace.

One last thing: Mr. Mortenson did invite the elders to hear what education for the young women was about no religious talk. Know what, Eric? The fundamentalist holy men not only let him teach, but left him alone to do so.

Me? Why, I like an educated woman. She can help me to grow. Sorry that you fear educated women. Guess they give you a cow, huh?
George A. Hutton
Fountain

Cha-clunk!
Betty Williams and Michael McCarthy ("Stop expansion," "Armpit watch," Letters, Jan. 17) hit the nail on the head in questioning celebration of Fort Carson expansion. Sadly, "Support the troops" for many in this town simply means, "Bring 'em on! Cha-ching!"

Developers, homebuilders, the construction industry and other growth profiteers salivate, but no one is adding up the huge cost burden for our community, including regional transportation, utilities and stormwater infrastructure along with jobs programs and other human services for struggling enlisted families.

Meanwhile, our city's economy is becoming less diverse and more dependent on the war machine. We'll find ourselves in the very uncomfortable position of weighing our desire for peace against a local economy that depends on the continued waste of billions of dollars on war. And make no mistake, the average citizen will not benefit from the mythological prosperity of this expansion. In fact, he'll find his pocket being picked even more than it has been in the past to cover all the externalized and uncounted costs of community growth.

Growth doesn't pay; it costs!
Dave Gardner
Colorado Springs

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