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Lottery priorities

Regarding the Jan. 21 cover story ("Cash scratch fever"), I don't buy lottery tickets, but I do live in the ZIP code (80909) with the highest sales of tickets and lowest income. Seems like there are lots of areas in this part of town that could use investments in neighborhood-building before folks spend limited funds gambling.

That said, I do support lottery funds going to open-space projects. One of the best investments we can make is in the natural environment, providing space for roaming and contemplation in a world far too crowded otherwise with meaningless clutter. And somehow funding "schoolkids" with gambling money — as suggested in Pam Zubeck's story — doesn't sit well with me. They'd be better off spending time in the fresh, open air than having facts jammed into them in classrooms, anyway.

Lottery funds were used to help build the Manizoo sandbox in Manitou Springs, a project I was privileged to be involved with. In fact, the Manizoo won an award for best use of lottery funds in a public project. This was a case of artists, children and a community in general being enhanced through lottery funding. If you haven't seen it, it's located in Manitou's Memorial Park.

— Paul Dahlsten

Colorado Springs

Scratching the surface

Congratulations to Pam Zubeck for her terrific piece on the Colorado state lottery ("Cash scratch fever," cover story, Jan. 21). The nationwide expansion of state lotteries has been under the radar of public scrutiny for more than a decade.

The National Gambling Impact Study, commissioned by Congress, was the last serious investigation, and that was in 1999.

Absent another such congressional study, the public relies on good investigative journalism like yours. It takes relentless digging and freedom of information requests to get demographic and marketing information from state lotteries.

My own interest in the lottery began with research and a report I wrote on the topic of thrift. (I serve as director of the Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values, a think tank.) In the report, I identified "anti-thrift" institutions that have arisen in recent decades in both the private sector (payday lending) and public sector (lotteries). While we have seen regulatory reforms of private anti-thrifts, the leading public anti-thrift, the state lottery, still prevents citizens from getting even the most basic information about its most frequent players and its marketing plans.

Again, thanks for your work.

— Barbara Whitehead

New York City

FREX solution

Saw your article about FREX in the Indy ("FREX dying after all," Noted, Jan. 21) and had a thought: Film at 11. If the parties involved in operating the FREX buses haven't had any bites regarding the sale of said buses, don't you think it might be a good idea if they think outside the box (bus) and offer them to Hollywood? You gotta know that Jerry Bruckheimer's production company blows things up on an almost weekly basis, so this might be a sales opportunity. I'm just sayin'.

— Gary Chisholm

Colorado Springs

Lamborn's world

It is sad that we have a congressman so uninformed about the realities that working families face in his district. When Rep. Doug Lamborn is asked about health care reform, his only answer is to parrot the tired Republican talking points that provide no solutions to the crisis.

Lamborn says "bipartisan solutions," but he hasn't come up with any ideas that will actually help families in Colorado who do not have health care. He says, "Allow insurance companies to sell across state lines." This doesn't benefit families; this benefits insurance companies. He says "tort reform." Tort reform is not a solution, according to all reputable research and reports, more likely it is a solution for insurance companies. Tort reform does not help the families losing their homes.

People, Coloradans, El Paso County residents, are losing their homes because of health care costs. People are losing their lives because of the lack of health care. What kind of world do we really want to live in? Does this make us the greatest country? How and why?

Don't we deserve a congressman who understands the issues facing Colorado families? I don't know about you, but I am fed up with elected officials who care more about insurance companies than the people they supposedly represent.

— Christy Le Lait

Colorado Springs

Smaller is better

Ralph Routon sounds a bit despondent ("Long Story Short," Jan. 14) because the supposed "magic" that was to accompany "progressive" (is that a party?) victories in 2008 haven't come to fruition and may be undone by GOP gains in 2010.

Ralph, just what kind of "Shazam!" moments were you anticipating?

Locally, 2C going belly-up was another sign our community has lost confidence in elected officials to spend wisely and judiciously. But then, "Abracadabra!" Funds appeared to keep enterprises like the Pioneers Museum afloat a bit longer, until (hopefully) long-term solutions are discovered. That's magical, and maybe we should see if the wizards on City Council can make funds materialize again.

Nationally, the Dems did their version of grandstanding when convenient and obstructing when needed, while trying to push personal agendas and unpopular policies against the public will. I'm no big fan of the previous administration, and there certainly was change blowin' in the wind nationwide in '08, but after Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, Scott Brown's Senate victory in Massachusetts — for Teddy K's seat, no less! — and with several Democratic governors (including ours) not seeking re-election, change is obviously gusting in the other direction.

Why is the balance shifting right yet again? For the most perpetual reason: People generally prefer a smaller government presence in their lives, and trust in their inherent abilities to handle most matters of individual choice in the marketplace. That which governs best still governs least, and progressive ideology stretches our inflated bureaucracy into realms it has no business being involved with, including health care.

— Jeff Faltz

Colorado Springs

Reform still essential

You can't turn a parked car. Health care in its current state is a parked car. Insurance companies control who and how people are covered. They are masters in the art of discrimination, constantly charging people more depending on age and sex. They won't cover people who need coverage, and they drop anyone the moment they need it.

Americans every day use emergency rooms as their primary caregiver, waiting until the pain is unbearable and the most costly to treat. Taxpayers pick up that tab. The current legislation is not perfect; nothing ever is and nothing can ever be in its beginning stages, but it's a start. It's a way to begin turning that parked car around.

To those who have become frustrated, remember this:

Health care reform will allow more than 30 million more Americans access to affordable health care; it will ban insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions; it will provide small-business owners with tax credits so that they can afford health insurance for themselves, their families and their employees; it will open health benefits to part-time employees; it will create 4 million jobs; it will decrease the deficit and, most importantly, it will put the patient back in the driver's seat.

— Josh Sanchez

Colorado Springs

Money buys me

Un, deux, trois, quatre, here we go. No more democracy. Where has that gotten us, anyway? Finally, the truth is clarified by the Supreme Court.

I'm putting my existence out there for the highest bidder. Corporations, do you hear me? I'm available for your whim. Need someone on Council to represent you? I'll push your agenda. It'll only take a few bucks (in this market). And think of the benefits.

We know the current system is already bought and sold, but now you can fearlessly charge ahead. Are you listening, business? I can serve you. I drive a truck and make fun of my 12-year-old daughter. I'll look good on a poster and I'm sorta smart (although I understand that's not important).

I can be the next Sarah, the next Joe the plumber, the next Scott. I can see Russians from my porch (some live in my neighborhood). I have no skeletons in my closets — well, maybe a couple of ribs (a religious reference, I think). I have lots of time. I'm unemployed and being foreclosed on; $7,000 a year could put me in Snack Ramen forever and I'd be so grateful. Wait, that may not be the image you want. No, wait, maybe that is the image.

Think about it. Poverty that represents Corporate America. It's perfect. Finally you don't have to be a millionaire to run for office. It's so populist. Just be advised, I will always vote my conscience (your conscience, wink wink).

Call me. I could use a good lunch. Just contact this local paper. They'll support me, too. (At least I think they will; I've been a loyal reader since they first began.)

Everybody have fun tonight.

— Willard A. Small

Colorado Springs

 

Not so fast

After all this time, you would think I would know better. One year into the Obama administration, and people want to know why all the problems of the world and the country haven't been solved?! Never mind that some of these problems go back 40-plus years, never mind that we endured eight years of Bush, Cheney and Co. — everything should be solved in a heartbeat!

We've become such an instant gratification society. If God were president of the United States, people would complain He isn't moving fast enough! Alka-Seltzer, anyone?

— Joan Lucia-Treese

Colorado Springs

Defending religion

Regarding Larimore Nicholl's letter ("Evangelism defined," Jan. 14), the view expressed was offensive to a large portion of Colorado Springs. As the writer astutely observes, "Our city is full of Christian groups." In fact, the letter was such an insult that most will pass it off as not even warranting a response.

A casual read through the unrivaled bestseller of all time is useful. It doesn't need help defining evangelism, sexuality or abortion. Modern science continues to prove the Bible is indeed infallible. Evolution has been largely discounted. Liberals simply have a worldview that mankind is basically good and that improved surroundings will enhance the aforementioned good nature.

Think that through carefully the next time your toddler gets upset.

— Rex Hoey

Manitou Springs

Happy daze

After deciding to stay out of the fray concerning our constitutional right to consume medical marijuana, a PBS show with four leaders from the state Legislature caught my ear. Discussing sales-tax revenue, one said, "We are not prostitutes!"

What a hoot! Politicians are the biggest whores on the planet (in my opinion), and with one of the larger dispensaries in Denver reporting sales taxes of $15,000 in one month, Colorado Springs needs to take this situation seriously. If the leaders of this movement wore suits and ties and represented Big Pharma, would the song change to "Happy daze are here again"?

As for safety, I challenge the reader to assume it's much more dangerous to stand in a bank lobby than in the waiting room of a medical marijuana clinic.

— Karl Knapstein

Colorado Springs

'Practical Green'

If I had the wherewithal, I'd buy a Prius, strip the battery and all that other crap out of it, and convert it to CNG (compressed natural gas). I'd take the stuff I ripped out, hook it to a solar panel and run 12-volt house lights, and maybe have a little to supplement domestic hot-water heat. But hey, that's my Green. You might call it Hunter Thompson Green. To me, calling a Prius green is like calling a heated indoor pool a thermal heat sink. I call this Fashion Green.

What shade of green is cap-and-trade, or methanol? That's greed, not green. Jetting into Copenhagen in Air Force One with Air Pelosi for escort; is that Obama Green?

How about cutting off the water to a whole valley of family farmers to save minnows? Is that Boxer Green or Sierra Mist?

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Robert M. Pirsig wrote, "The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work out from there."

I'll vote for a president who stays home and takes care of America. The air is cleaner because I voted to charge Congress for using the public's airplanes, so Pelosi quit flying. Now that's the Green I was looking for. I call it ... Practical Green.

— Rick Brown

Colorado Springsr

Correction

About two months ago, we began hearing from Gazette staff members and other sources, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, that the daily paper had decided not to send anyone to cover the Winter Olympics this February. Accordingly, the Independent decided to fill the void by sending executive editor Ralph Routon to Vancouver. We trumpeted that fact in last week's issue ("Heading to Vancouver," Between the Lines) and in a press release highlighting our forthcoming coverage as well as our partnership on this project with KRDO's News Channel 13 and its AM-FM radio station.

We have since learned that the Gazette has decided to send a reporter to cover the Winter Games. We are delighted that there will be two local reporters in Vancouver, for there will be a plethora of stories to cover.

This note's purpose is to formally retract our previous statements that the Independent will be the only local media company sending a reporter to Vancouver. We also apologize for any confusion or inconvenience our action caused the Gazette or our readers.

— John Weiss, publisher

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