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Cash or clunkers

OK, voters turned down 2C. Why? Could it be that the proposal was presented at a bad time and also, after years of wasteful spending, the majority said, "Enough!"? I for one am tired of people trying to lay blame and guilt on the voters who said "no."

As a senior citizen, I hear, "Be sure to remember the senior center in your wills, or whatever you can do to donate money." Seniors have gone to wars for our country, standing up and contributing so much to our community over countless years. The senior centers use tireless volunteers for all the great classes and lunches. They are so appreciated. Seniors will help; they always have.

The PPRTA spent at least $35 million on the bridge over Union at Austin Bluffs. Was that necessary?

Transit is being cut for people who need transportation for their daily lives. (Some of us still need to get around at night and on weekends.) Now, we might be driving old cars around, because we can't afford new cars. Our environment will be covered in smog.

How about this for the city manager and everyone on down the line: Give up your cars for a month. Happy trails to you.

— Molly Romano

Colorado Springs

 

Analyzing 2C

I have read with great interest the reactions of Independent readers to the defeat of 2C.

Some lament the possible loss of museums. Yet, museums across the country are wholly supported by private nonprofits. They are luxury items the city cannot afford.

Some decry the loss of public transportation. I truly believe the poor and elderly must have such services. But every time I see a bus, I only see a bare handful of riders. Run small buses. In peak hours, run more of them. And the hub-and-spoke system is bizarre and wasteful.

I saw a reader bemoan the loss of community centers. Almost every church in El Paso County has a community center or church hall. The city community centers are a pure waste.

I resent the statement that those who voted against 2C have "no sense of responsibility, no compassion for neighbors and no vision." Americans are among the most compassionate people. Their collective sense of responsibility is a shining example. Just because my vision (and the vision of many others) does not include the government doing everything, do not accuse me of having no vision.

I distrust the "threaten and punish" style of city government that has arisen in this recession. They threatened severe service cuts, and now they seek to punish us with such cuts. Yet I still see massive waste in city government. Alamogordo, N.M., has a light ordinance in support of its space observatory. It does well with very few streetlights. Yet, downtown Colorado Springs is lit as if it were daylight.

Issue 2C could have passed, had the authors included a sunset clause. Such a clause would have shown faith in the recovery of the nation. But no! The city greedily wanted a permanent tax increase.

— Dan "Bear" Kelley

Peyton

Municipal muzzles?

It continues to amaze me that some still whine about the election outcome. Comments such as "Those who voted no on 2C are trying to destroy our city" couldn't be further from reality.

We are tired of backroom dealings, hiding things from the residents and taxes that are called fees. We are tired of the police chief constantly complaining about crime running rampant because he doesn't have enough people. They lose four people to early retirement and the sky is falling.

Now it seems there is only about a $3 million shortage to make up instead of the threatened $29 million. Who could tell? Everyone at the public trough is claiming doom. The entire tax vote had little to do with increased taxes. It had everything to do with trust and responsible actions by the mayor and City Council. They brought this entire mess upon themselves.

Now the tourism group is grousing about not being able to do anything with only a paltry $500,000. Find a way to become self-sufficient, rather than always expecting every resident to support your mission. Those receiving benefits from tourism should help fund that infrastructure.

Let's get on with finding solutions. Let's get rid of the politicians with hidden agendas. Let's find Council members who aren't afraid to look at everything, including Memorial Hospital and Utilities. Both operations have skated free much too long.

The city manager should put a muzzle on the complaining department heads and challenge them to be managers and decision-makers, not Chicken Littles.

— Duane C. Slocum

Colorado Springs

Unfair burden

From all the letters castigating those who voted down 2C, we are regarded as ogres intent on demolishing city parks, swimming pools, the transit system, community centers and everything in-between. Not so!

I believe a more discriminating and nuanced perspective is needed. I can't speak for anyone else (anti-tax wingnuts), only myself as an avowed member of the Democratic Socialists. The casual thinker might assume I'd be doing backflips to vote for 2C. (I voted against 300!)

So why not? I saw firsthand, around 1999, what high property taxes did to ravage the lives of seniors in Vermont (where my wife and I planned to move). Checking out possible homes, we found seniors unable to afford property taxes of $3,000 a year and having to move elsewhere. When we decided to purchase a home, we opted for a place with not only affordable homes, but the lowest property taxes we could find.

While a number of the anti-2C critics have cited increases of only "two dollars" a week in the property tax burden, this is misleading. They aren't figuring the yearly re-valuations of property, and they aren't factoring in that 2C meant a permanent net increase, effectively tripling the property tax rate.

I didn't like the fact that businesses were exempted from $2.2 million a year in payments, and renters also had a say! What's with that?

Bring an equitable tax to the table, like sales tax, and I will be happy to vote for it (like I did last November!).

— Phil Stahl

Colorado Springs

Water works

My husband and I voted yes on 2C. We have loved the quality of life we've enjoyed in Colorado Springs for close to 40 years. A very large part of that enjoyment has come from the Aquatic and Fitness Center (once the Municipool) on Union Boulevard.

Children, grandchildren and many, many neighbor children have learned to swim there, and we have greatly benefited from the fine fitness equipment and terrific therapeutic water exercise programs. With the rising cost of health care, it only makes sense to keep healthy and fit. And the federally funded Silver Sneaker program (which seniors make use of at the Aquatic and Fitness Center) is guaranteed income for the city. A definite win-win for all involved!

I sincerely hope City Council will think twice about closing this facility, which is centrally located and one of the city's best bargains. I urge anyone who has not been there to visit this treasure. It's such an important part of what makes Colorado Springs a great place to live — for young and old alike!

— Alicia Greis

Colorado Springs

Winnebago answer

Conservatives are correct, in my opinion, on a couple issues regarding health care. One, the employer-based system is inefficient. Two, there is probably a case to be made for some level of tort reform (though this only accounts for a tiny percentage of health care costs).

On just about everything else, conservatives are factually wrong or, when technically correct, their plan for reform does not withstand scrutiny and betrays deep misunderstandings about the nature of the issue. The letter titled "Winnebago reform" (Oct. 29) perfectly captures such nonsense.

To illustrate his argument, the writer substitutes a Winnebago for health care. I will highlight some differences between health insurance and Winnebagos:

1. The lack of a Winnebago will never result in bankruptcy. But over 1 million people each year go bankrupt from medical expenses (more than three-quarters of them have insurance — but that is a case for reform).

2. There is no moral (or legal) obligation for Winnebago drivers to give the Winnebago-less a ride. But, if you show up at the ER with a stroke and without insurance, no doctor will turn you away. The doctor will simply charge you an exorbitant amount and likely cause you to go bankrupt. The medical care will likely be uncompensated, so the hospital will raise rates on everyone else who has insurance, sort of a backdoor public option.

3. The Winnebago is bought and sold in an efficient market. Winnebagos actually are expensive, unnecessary, etc. A consumer can responsibly choose to not purchase one, forcing the seller to keep the price as low as possible. No such market forces apply to health insurance, creating perverse incentives and utter inefficiency for all.

Many conservatives are not applying the fullness of their intellect to confront the serious problems we are facing.

— William Smith

Colorado Springs

Ignored veterans

Last month, I spoke at the Union Printers Home on the need for health care reform with a robust public option. I spoke on behalf of my brother, a fully disabled vet. My brother acknowledges he is one of the lucky ones — with family political clout, he was declared fully disabled. But most vets, no matter how mentally ill, PTSD-affected, etc., remain untreated or barely treated. Unacknowledged as fully disabled, they end up on the streets, or committing suicide. They need help desperately, as do their docs.

To emphasize universal health care as a right versus a privilege, I mentioned the sad and very troubling meeting I had with a Veterans Affairs doctor, a psychiatrist who told me — with a tear in his eye — that with his overwhelming caseload, lack of full treatment ability, etc., "This is not practicing medicine." Another VA doc on the panel at the meeting acknowledged that caseloads can be unmanageable.

Shouldn't we expose and rectify these failures, including the evil and horrors of unnecessary and profiteering wars, particularly in response to the recent tragedy at Fort Hood? Shouldn't our national motto become "Health care, not warfare"?

— Rita Ague

Colorado Springs

Another wall

Nov. 9 marked the 20th anniversary of the removal of the Berlin Wall that, when erected, segregated East Berliners from West Berliners. Travel between the two was prohibited and marked the line that divided those who lived under a totalitarian Soviet government, and those living under a democratic, sovereign German government.

The fall of the wall was a wonderful event, showing the world that it was wrong to imprison people within boundaries. It showed that we as a people are born inherently free and that a government or structure should never take that freedom.

Recently I've seen U.S. leaders and news media praising the removal of that wall. It reminded me once again of the gross hypocrisy of America's government and media.

Why? A new wall has been under construction for several years now. It is far more oppressive than the Berlin Wall. This new wall separates families, prevents parents from getting to work, children from school and many from medical attention. It's the Palestinian Wall, being erected by the Israeli government.

In a 2005 report, the United Nations stated: "The route inside the West Bank severs communities, people's access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. ... It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns."

So, why is the United States so silent on the construction of this wall? Why do we not see the outrage as we did with the Berlin Wall? America has made it very clear: It will continue to bow down to the Israeli lobby within the United States. It will not criticize the inhumanity and oppression that Israel pours upon the Palestinian people; the United States will remain the model of hypocrisy.

Mr. Netanyahu, tear down those walls!

— Michael McMahon

Colorado Springs

Fear alters lives

We're idiots. Exploring the mountains is still part of the DNA code of many human creatures, including myself. The director of a tourist attraction owning mountain property told me that since 9/11, they don't allow hikers through their watershed area. There is also now a dire warning to stay out of the Mount Manitou watershed area.

So the enemy has won the battle. In stupid fear, we've heavily curtailed natural, instinctive freedoms. And yet, anybody with enough sense to get out of bed could find many ways to wreak havoc in our land, whether by poisoning water supplies, capturing 747s or exploding rental trucks in front of government buildings. We've helped terrorists rob us of normal living. We're blind to the fact that making us cower in fear and build walls around our lives was a huge part of their plan.

They succeeded because they knew we were, and are, idiots.

— Jim Inman

Colorado Springs

Words to savor

We would like to express our deepest appreciation for the good words you wrote about our food at Rumi's Kabab ("Pen to plate," Appetite, Oct. 29). I have come to understand that running a restaurant under current economic conditions is not an easy task. On the other hand, the constant negative news about Afghanistan and the ongoing war over there is not helping us either, given the high emotional stakes for Colorado Springs residents.

But your good words are heartening and a source of support to further our commitment to serve the people of Colorado Springs with the best-quality Afghan food.

We are determined not to sacrifice the quality of the food to short-term gain. The people here deserve good food and service, and Rumi's reputation and philosophy deserve something worthy of his name and message.

Thanks again for artfully "cooking" such a tasty piece.

— Shams and Feriba Forough

Colorado Springs

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