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The powers that buy

How ironic. The first four letters in last week's issue were spent denouncing a perceived injustice by the United States Supreme Court enabling corporations to more easily buy influence, votes, politicians, etc. If history were studied more often, the public at large would know how "yellow journalism" peddled its own influence throughout the years.

Then comes a cover story regarding the Olympics? Some might say that Colorado Springs City Council has been bought and paid for by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Was City Council influenced enough to incur decades of debt? Did someone say anything about "evil corporations"? Seems like a couple of those corporate "borers" have had seats on City Council for a few years now. They won't be forgotten come re-election time.

Thence, Ralph Routon weighs in with his own articles about the Olympics, hoping people will forget how City Council bludgeoned voters. Is no one down there paying attention to what the guy at the next desk is doing?

— Steve K. Clarke

Colorado Springs

Put the brakes on

Where are American citizens going to go to research the issues in order to cast an informed vote?

What we read and hear in the media is shaped by the policies of the corporate owners. Internet resources often tout a particular point of view. Many citizens do not have the commitment, understanding or time to study issues and candidates in depth. They rely on information readily available to them.

This is why the Supreme Court decision giving corporations the right of free speech in the election process has the potential for so much harm. Corporations focus on creating a profit by any legal means, without moral restraints. Look, for example, at the recent actions of Toyota.

A constitutional amendment defining a person as a human being, not a corporate entity, is the needed response. If citizens in 1886 had responded to the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision with the outrage that decision deserved, perhaps we would live in a society with cleaner air, less polluted waterways — and politicians less beholden to special interests.

— Pauleta Terven

Colorado Springs

 

Red, blue and green

The major political parties are subverting the democratic process in our state. First, the Republican elite got together behind closed doors to anoint Scott McInnis as their candidate for governor, long before the primary process had a chance to work. They even drafted a platform, which has traditionally been part of the party caucus process.

Now it's the Democrats. President Obama is coming to Denver to give his blessing to, and raise mega-bucks for, Senate candidate Michael Bennet. Such an endorsement would be fine if the primary process had played itself out and Bennet had emerged as the party's choice. But that's not the case. There's another viable Democratic candidate — the former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Andrew Romanoff.

It has become evident that Romanoff is just too courageous in his thoughts and actions for the party elite to embrace him. First, Gov. Bill Ritter ignored him and appointed Bennet to the Senate seat. Now the Colorado Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are conspiring with Bennet's campaign to sabotage democracy, short-circuiting the primary process by bringing the president into our state to campaign for Bennet.

Perhaps Romanoff is just not corporate-friendly enough for the party elite. After all, he has turned down all contributions from PACs, while Bennet raked in $600,000 from PACs in 2009. Or perhaps he's not urban-centric enough. In taking a strong position against the Army's plan to expand Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, he has signaled that he will represent statewide interests, and not automatically do the bidding of the military and defense contractors in Colorado Springs and Denver.

Whatever their reasons, it's just not right for the party elites to impose heavy-handed influence upon the primary process. It causes people like me to consider a third, independent way forward.

— Doug Holdread

Trinidad

Save the centers

As the Fairy Godmother of the Arts in Colorado Springs, I wish I could wave my magic wand and create a pile of gold that could save Hillside, Meadows Park, Deerfield Hills, and Westside community centers. Instead all I can do is ask caring people to join me in a fundraising campaign that could do just that.

Let's band together and send any amount of money, from a dollar to thousands, to a special fund created by a community-based task force. Working hard to raise money to sustain the centers now and in the future, the task force is made up of people from all walks of life and chaired by Eric Phillips. It's planning many fundraising events, but right now it needs us to dig deep into our pockets and piggy banks and send checks of any amount made out to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, 730 N. Nevada Ave. CS/CO 80903. Please write on the "memo" line "Save our community centers" to insure that the money goes into the correct account. You may also donate online at ppcf.org.

Having worked closely with the community centers while I was executive director of the Imagination Celebration, I know personally how important the centers and staff are to the integrity and safety of the surrounding communities. Surely there are hundreds of us, perhaps thousands, who will once again put our pennies, quarters and dollars together to keep these closures from happening.

For more, visit cctfsprings.org or call any of the centers: Deerfield Hills (385-5996), Hillside (385-7900), Meadows Park (385-7940) or Westside (385-7920).

Everyone working together can make a miracle happen!

— Mary L. Mashburn

Colorado Springs

Blight not right

City Council will soon consider a proposal approved by the Urban Renewal Authority to designate a vacant parcel of land at Voyager Parkway and North Gate Boulevard for "urban renewal." The Urban Renewal Authority approved the plan on a 5-4 vote on Feb. 4 and Council is slated to consider the designation on Feb. 22.

Thank goodness that there are four members of the Urban Renewal Board who understand what "urban" means. Just how does an undeveloped parcel of land at North Gate qualify as urban? Or in need of renewal?

This proposal is nothing more than a thinly veiled scheme for a public subsidy of a private development. The justifications cited for the designation of "blight" include a poor road network, flawed lot design, problematic topography and underused parcels. All of these justifications are really due to poor planning of the sprawling development that is already there — incomplete development at that. It is unconscionable that the public should be asked to correct these problems for the convenience and profit of a developer.

Another justification is the completion of the Powers Boulevard extension. What does that have to do with urban renewal? If funding is needed to complete the Powers extension, then it should be found in a straightforward manner.

Apparently some board members think that a new "upscale retail development" would benefit the entire community. But such a project would only encourage further urban sprawl while the core of the city languishes.

The state law establishing "urban renewal" tax incentives is designed to aid the restoration of struggling urban areas. While the North Gate proposal may meet the letter of the law, it certainly does not come close to meeting the spirit and intent of the law. I strongly encourage City Council to reject this absurd plan.

— Nancy Strong

Colorado Springs

Small strokes

Here's a thought to help those up the pass in need of a pool ("A challenging split," News, Feb. 11), and in addition it could help to increase ridership of the Ute Pass Express, which I found out recently is only funded until November 2011.

The park-and-ride stop in Manitou is the Manitou Springs Swimming and Fitness Center, which has numerous fitness classes including those for the elderly and disabled people. It is very accessible to all those up the Pass, and I believe is only a half hour or less to come down and go swimming.

Easy, too, for the teens to come down and swim (saving mom and dad time and gas, saving the mountain air from pollution of the increasing number of cars).

The bus has a park-and-ride in Woodland Park and Divide and makes stops in Cascade and Green Mountain Falls. Not too expensive, especially if you get a pass, and don't we want to keep the mountain air as clean as possible?

Let's not let what is happening to FREX happen to the Ute Pass express. Let us be a progressive city concerned about mass transit and clean air.

— Annette Daymon

Colorado Springs

'Keep your chin up'

As I set out on my tent city journey, I parked on the north side of Dorchester Park. It's where I hiked briskly north on Fountain Creek trail.

I tightened my shoelaces so I could keep moving at a good pace. When I got past Tejon Street, I almost immediately started seeing small, medium and large tent campsites. The temperature was 22 degrees, with a wind chill in the teens. I then saw two men in the trees with a chainsaw, cutting firewood for their campsite. They seemed content.

As I kept pace north toward the pedestrian bridge near Wal-Mart, the bike trail was relatively quiet and serene with the exception of myself and a few cyclists, some of whom appeared homeless. Starting at the railroad trestle near Bijou Street and Giuseppe's Old Depot, I counted 14 tents and one group breaking camp between there and Colorado Avenue. But by the time I reached the Cimarron bridge, my count was up to 63 tents.

I looked over Fountain Creek and saw three middle-aged men huddled around their campfire with their charcoal grill and camp stove. They shouted hello. I shouted, "It's a nice day for a walk, isn't it?" They replied, "What's so nice about it?" I replied, "Keep your chin up and hang in there."

As I continued to count more tents, suddenly my eyes welled up with tears. I thought to myself how bad I felt for them, and what it must be like, and how alone they all must feel.

By the time I returned from the four-mile round-trip journey, I had counted over 100 different tents.

— Victor Schoenherr

Colorado Springs

Money better spent

We missed an opportunity to solve the homeless issue. Focus on the Family spent a couple million dollars on a Super Bowl commercial to push their pro-life agenda onto millions watching the game. Although they're not obligated in any way to solve the homeless issue, this is just a perfect example of the priorities of big religious organizations.

If they were actually true Christians, then they would work to solve community issues, such as the biggest one that is facing us right now, "tent city."

It's January and hundreds of people are freezing with their families by the creek, and they have nowhere to go. I think it's downright shameful of something as world-renowned as Focus on the Family to spend $100,000 a second on a commercial that won't change anyone's mind. That money would have bought a year's supply of food, and a few months of hotel occupancy for all the homeless, to allow them to survive through the winter!

— Mike Morris

Colorado Springs

Bible versus

I take exception to Rex Hoey's letter ("Defending religion," Jan. 28). Especially the section that says, "Modern science continues to prove the Bible is indeed infallible." As far as I know, most scientists don't use the Bible for any kind of standard.

As for "Evolution has been largely discounted," as a matter of fact evolution is a theory, which means it has actually been largely accepted and proven. The next step is for it to become a law, just like relativity.

Maybe Mr. Hoey is being sarcastic, but he sounds more like he's from Kans-oz.

— Dee Gauss

Colorado Springs

A spot for tea

There seems to be much concern lately, and rightly so, about the national debt and unlimited government spending. Responsible people can disagree about the balance between spending and taxation; the net result of the imbalance, however, is the national debt and the deficit spending that is the cause of much of that concern. That deficit spending has continued unabated, with the exception of several "Clinton years," for the past generation.

The tea party movement, lately in the news, is rightly concerned about this issue. I watch with interest as the movement protests various aspects of governmental policy. While the espoused philosophy is neither "Republican" nor "Democrat," it seems to be associated with conservatism on economic issues.

I applaud that. Most of us, as well as the state and local governments, are expected to balance our budgets. As we have seen locally, this can be a painful process.

The three largest budget items, by a large margin are 1) Social Security, 2) Department of Defense and 3) Medicare.

I suggest to the tea partiers (as well as others interested in a balanced budget) a modest proposal. If the tea group, and Sarah Palin, their highly paid spokesperson, want to transcend the intransigence of both political parties that seems to have resulted in political stalemate for at least the past decade, I suggest they tell us how they will slash these expense items in order to balance our budget and allow us to reduce our taxes.

Short of this, I fail to see how the group provides anything beyond more unneeded political grandstanding. Show us the way and present a plan, please.

— Robert Mogge

Colorado Springs

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