DA's double standard
I hope it's not too late to pipe up on District Attorney John Newsome's drinking-and-driving-on-the-job predicament ("Report: DA Newsome drank during normal work time," Noted, May 8).
Wouldn't it be nice if all citizens could just say to the law enforcement/justice system, "I did it. I'm sorry. It won't happen again," and simply go on with their lives?
Newsome should be subject to the same penalties that he and his prosecutors seek to impose on the general public in similar circumstances. He should be subject to the loss of his driving privileges, months of alcohol rehabilitation classes, and possibly a couple of days in county jail.
I know a number of average Joes who have received such sentences for these kinds of misdemeanors. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.
Perhaps with a taste of his own medicine, he could better appreciate how unreasonable the punishment is his department seeks to hand out to everyone else in similar situations.
While Rev. Tom Pedigo is to be commended for declaring "avowed atheist" Michael Newdow the victor in his recent debate with Chris Leland of Focus on the Family ("One-sided debate," Letters, May 8), his sour-grapes undertone and emphasis on Newdow's atheism (which was irrelevant to the debate) shows that he, like many conservative Christians, wrongly interprets the constitutional principle of separation of church and state as an attack on their religion, when in fact its purpose is to protect their religious freedom and the religious freedom of all citizens.
Rev. Pedigo is the founder of the National Alliance Against Christian Discrimination. Its Web site lists the ACLU as one of several organizations working in "opposition" to its mission of defending Christians. Yet, on its own site, the ACLU lists more than 50 cases where it stepped in to defend the rights of Christians, including the rights of students to pray in school and the right to profess anti-abortion and anti-gay views.
The problem seems to be that the ACLU, among others, also defends the rights of religious minorities, and the non-religious, by preventing the government from unconstitutionally favoring one religion, or religion in general.
One need go no further than the NAACD site to see that it is not interested in protecting the social or religious freedoms of non-Christians. Its stated purpose is to "ensure social, legal, educational, religious, and political equality among the Christian citizens of the United States." As for the fate of the non-Christian citizens, we can only speculate as to what Rev. Pedigo has in mind.
"In a Silenced Way" (BreakBeat, May 8) is accurate and consistent with my 17 years of listening and contributing to KCME. It is indeed a very sad situation.
Now instead of some diversity with jazz, 6 a.m. marches and Broadway musicals on some evenings, we have two stations (KVOD and KCME) that sound exactly alike but appeal to an ever-diminishing audience.
Classical music requires continuous, generous public donations. Both stations will now compete directly for this limited charity. The larger station presumably has the advantage. We can only hope that KCME, by appealing to its regional base, will survive. By alienating its diversity, KCME makes that a huge problem.
We can also hope some other station (KRCC?) will take advantage of Lenny Mazel and 10,000 jazz recordings to fill the public need for the great American contribution to music.
Dr. Dale Kemmerer
On May 6, I attempted to purchase concert tickets to a Ticketmaster event the old-fashioned way, with cash. To my dismay, I discovered we can no longer do this, at least not in Colorado Springs. As I was told at Macy's and later at Independent Records, there are no longer any Ticketmaster outlets here.
Of course they will still be glad to take our money as long as we give it to them in credit card form. This is just one more sign that those of us who believe in buying only what we have actual money to buy are being phased out in favor of those who consistently live beyond their means by buying on credit.
I will, therefore, not attend any more events involving Ticketmaster until I can purchase tickets locally, with cash. I urge like-minded individuals to do the same.
Go to the tape
The El Paso County health department's food safety program continues to make news for staffing shortfalls and an inability to make the state-mandated number of annual restaurant inspections. Being single, I have consumed a lot of restaurant food; overall, local restaurant workers are probably above average in meeting sanitation standards.
The idea has occurred to me, though, that the county could offer an online instructional video that all new restaurant employees would be required to watch. After watching the video and taking a short online quiz, they could then print out a "restaurant workers card," making them eligible for employment. The video should include my favorite peeves:
Every spring brings high school students as new hires, and with their arrival come what I call spring salt showers. Fast food takes on a new level of salt encrustation. Don't kids know that high levels of salt are bad for arteries of all ages? Salt shakers or packets are available everywhere. Let customers decide how much salt they want; too much salt applied in the kitchen cannot be removed.
In many restaurants, workers have really dirty rags and leave them balled up on food-handling countertops. How about workers using clean rags, hot water and disinfectant to clean tabletops? And how about cleaning seat bottoms? We all share a gastric orifice in the same location.
How about microscopic video footage showing billions of organisms on various surfaces? I just love it when they place a glass upside-down on the countertop with the drinking surface (if you don't use a straw) in a bath of bacteria. Also, foul-smelling mop heads need changing when the dining area smells like an aerobics workout class.
Jail and bail
Your otherwise excellent article on the local bail bond industry ("Getting sprung in the Springs," cover story, May 8) neglected to mention the personal recognizance bond program operated by the El Paso County Department of Justice Services. About 10 percent of defendants who bond out of the county jail qualify for this no-cash bond option.
Over the past five years, defendants released on personal recognizance bonds have appeared for 98 percent of their scheduled court hearings a track record far above the overall court average. Our staffers supervise these defendants from jail release until their court case is concluded and make sure they show up in court.
The program's success depends on cooperation of the sheriff, who provides office space in the jail and logistical support for our staff; the 4th Judicial District Court, which empowers our staff to investigate defendants, make recommendations and issue bonds; and the county commissioners, who fund the program. The program more than pays for itself by freeing up scarce jail beds for convicted offenders.
We currently supervise an average daily caseload of about 500 defendants. Having a no-cash bond alternative ensures that the constitutional right to bail is available to all accused persons, regardless of their ability to pay a bail bondsman.
Criminal Justice Planner
El Paso County
Fixing the holes
Thanks to the public for its assistance during this year's Pothole Week, April 28 to May 2. The city received 946 calls and 164 e-mails reporting potholes. As a result, two city-funded and three Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority-funded street division crews were able to fill 1,694 potholes throughout the week, bringing the 2008 total to 13,696.
Please continue to report potholes via the pothole hotline at 385-6808 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Try to provide detailed information such as street name, nearby cross streets, landmarks, side of the street, location in the street and distance from the curb. We will attempt to fill that pothole within 72 working hours.
Acting Street Division Manager
City of Colorado Springs