Deal with it
Freedom of speech is not free. There are costs, and there are sacrifices. It's not all glamorous, brandishing swords against nefarious villains. Part of the cost of freedom is having to let other people say things you don't agree with, or don't like, or sometimes can't even listen to. Sometimes freedom means you have to let people put innocent folks, children, and the country at risk, leak military intelligence, burn books, vent their hatred on radio talk shows...
It's the sacrifice that no one likes, no one talks about, the awkward sacrifice, but it's what makes freedom truly free. Anyone can talk about daisies and puppies and rainbows any time they like, but it's the festering garbage these misanthropic morons are spewing like raw sewage while we're forced to watch and inhale that makes freedom of speech such a beautiful thing!
— Steve Suhre
Backpedaling on TOPS?
I like to ride my bicycle to work. It is only about 10 miles and is great exercise. It also reduces traffic congestion, pollution and my waistline. Every time I do so, I stop and thank the voters of Colorado Springs for providing me with a route to work that does not conflict with traffic. The 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax provides not only the Greenway Trail, but also the trail maintenance.
I have seen the trail maintenance person out early in the morning, clearing downed trees and gravel washes from the trails so I can safely make it to work. I closely watch the increasing number of incidents of bicycle-car clashes like those on Galley Road, the canyons above Boulder and near Estes Park, and I say thanks again for my separate travel route.
I am concerned about the city's proposal to allow a portion of the revenues we voted for to be diverted to other purposes ("Three city questions on ballot," Noted, Sept. 9). As traffic densities increase and the road conditions deteriorate, the likelihood of more car-bike incidents increases. We can relieve this pressure by continuing to provide separate routes for these two competing modes of travel.
Diverting the funds will only slow this process and may result in the complete loss of maintenance for these routes in some future budget crisis.
Please reaffirm our commitment to safe bicycling by saying no to the diversion of these funds.
— Bill Houghton
Am I missing something? City Council is asking for some trails, open space and parks funds perhaps, after the election, being siphoned off to pay for park maintenance over the next two years to the tune of "$500,000 to $550,000." As a reminder, the voters have turned this down once.
Mare (sic — intentionally) Lionel Rivera, who thinks the voters should be asked to support this use of funds, was quoted as saying, "Frankly, I just thought it would be a good idea to give the citizens a choice again." That's an interesting perspective over a half-million taxpayer dollars.
Where were his thoughts of voters when, in a most likely dark and smoke-filled room, a deal was done to sell a building to a nonprofit for $30 that will cost the taxpayers over $50 million? Maybe the room was dark because of the need to save money on rising utility bills, and the smoke wasn't answered by our firefighters because of the setbacks they've endured.
Ah, Colorado Springs. Leadership, our key ingredient.
— Tom Rich
Audits can work
Councilman Sean Paige has proposed that the city audit the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC); pushback to that request came from some of his peers on Council as well as EDC supporters. In 2009 the city auditor published a comprehensive report regarding an obscure billing detail used by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), and I would like to share a few details from that experience.
In late 2007 there were public hearings regarding CSU's 2008 rate proposals. A few customers addressed City Council, sitting as the Utilities board, asking not to accept the proposed wastewater billing method change; subsequently the board directed CSU to adopt a compromise. In 2009 it became apparent that CSU's implementation of the Board's directive was not being followed; Chairman Rivera wisely directed the city auditor to look into the matter.
Because of the unusual (and unnecessary) complexity of the billing method, the auditor's report was lengthy, though accurate. Further negotiation occurred. However, for other reasons, CSU requested additional time to implement recommended changes. The expectation is those changes will be adopted during the 2011 rate hearings.
This experience suggests a valuable check-and-balance mechanism within our city government, and that the city auditor can and does provide a valuable, professional service. More information about that service can be found at cityauditor.org, which describes the audit function as well as provides audit reports published since 2006.
If there truly is concern about the $14,000 cost for an EDC audit, I offer $100 in support of removing that obstacle. Surely at least 139 other readers would like to see the matter quickly resolved and learn if our local economy really is getting full value from EDC for the funding the city provides.
— Gary Fischer
The Independent's first editor, Donna Ladd, told me that her goal was to "tell the truth with style, and let the chips fall where they will." It's a great lyric for a great song in praise of what should be the primary principle guiding all journalism.
In an age when those who get handouts from the government voice opposition to Ron Paul's initiative to simply audit our money (the Federal Reserve), it is no surprise that Sean Paige has received similar opposition to his excellent initiative to audit the EDC.
Every citizen concerned about the future of this city should stand up and cheer for City Councilman Paige's mid-September op-ed ("Gazette abdicates its role," Your Turn, Sept. 9), which not only defended that initiative but enlightened us of the massive failure of the daily Gazette to come to his support, betraying not only him as a former editor of its editorial page, but every subscriber to the paper who believes it's still a reservoir of America's basic, founding principles of government of the people and for the people, and a place where all are equal under the law.
The fact that the Gazette's publisher, Steve Pope, has been named to the EDC's board could not have been better highlighted. What Paige didn't mention, but should be equally highlighted, is the fact that, while standing and cheering Paige's initiative, we should remember to vote against any Council member who votes against what should be understood as an obligation of the Council to its citizens and dismiss all criticism of Paige and his proposal as the quackery that it is.
If the strong-mayor proposal passes this November, Councilman Paige's willingness to truly represent the people here against the nepotistic-nitwittism of local power makes him the best choice for our best hope for a strong and good mayor. Thanks, Sean.
— Mike Makinney
Dan, my man
President Obama said this election presents a choice between going ahead with his taxing and spending policies or going back to the failed Republican policies of the past. But all over the country, newcomers have appeared who represent individual accountability, fiscal responsibility, limited government, lower taxes, strong national defense and integrity. They defeated establishment Republicans over and over, and the establishment doesn't like it.
In our governor primary, Dan Maes defeated the establishment's anointed one, Scott McInnis. Instead of rallying behind him, the Republican power brokers have engaged in politics of personal destruction against the duly elected candidate.
Just what is their problem with Maes? It's not differences in philosophy. It is simply because they didn't choose him. Never mind that 200,000 Coloradans voted for him. These arrogant elitists can't stand to have a candidate that they don't own! And they would rather turn the governor's office over to a liberal Democrat than support a conservative whom they can't control.
Tom Tancredo, Bob Beauprez, Josh Penry and the others represent the "failed policies" that Obama crows about. If we yield to them, we really are choosing to return to Republican failures. I will vote for Dan Maes, and I hope you will, too.
— Hal Brown
GOP loyalty matters
I spent many years living and working in foreign countries before retiring in Colorado. As I surveyed the landscape, I asked myself in disbelief, "What is happening to my country?" I watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001 on my TV in Colorado Springs, and it seemed the nation was losing its moral compass and drifting dangerously leftward. Government growth was compromising citizens' rights and freedom, and political correctness had run amok.
I made certain I was on the GOP voter rolls, and attended caucuses, training sessions and town halls. I met representatives, senators, councilmen and mayors. I worked on campaigns, walked precincts and gave testimony at the Capitol.
I am disturbed some Colorado Republicans are abandoning ship to support the third-party candidacy of Tom Tancredo. I know Tancredo and have fought many a battle with him on illegal immigration, but party loyalty ought to trump personal preference. There is no party without cohesiveness. I supported Josh Penry until he withdrew from the gubernatorial race. Now some GOP members are inappropriately wandering off the reservation while party leadership stands by and allows it to happen.
I attended the Colorado GOP convention. I followed two years of vetting candidates and believe the process worked as designed. The specter of John Hickenlooper as Colorado's next governor because of a lack of GOP cohesiveness is a sad, sad prospect.
It is painful to watch the media have such a great time flaunting the party's divisiveness. Names appearing include legislators Ted Harvey, Greg Brophy, Spencer Swalm, Marsha Looper and Steve King. Perhaps they should be asked to reconsider. Maybe they acted in haste. They surely ought to be passed over for committee chairmanships, as they have demonstrated disloyalty and should not be trusted. They are damaging the party.
— Jan Taylor
Who's a socialist?
In political jargon, characterizing people as ideologically liberal, progressive, conservative or libertarian, right wing or left wing is a practice that has gone on for decades. Now, in Tea Party vernacular, liberal-progressive has morphed into socialist, and socialist has illogically devolved into "closet" communist. Even though there is nothing illegal, or as far as I am concerned, inherently unethical or immoral about socialism, President Obama has been demonized as the personification of ideological debauchery.
In plain English, what does this mean? I think it means anyone who subscribes to the idea that government should codify human rights into law. For example:
1. Worker rights; 2. Child labor protections; 3. Women's reproductive privacy; 4. Civil rights, not privileges; 5. Social Security insurance; 6. Public schools; 7. Public protection services; 8. Public infrastructure; 9. Health care.
That said, political purity is not for me. I believe it is ludicrous to presume that any ideology has all of the moral and intellectual high ground on all issues, all of the time. Out-of-hand rejection of all "impure" ideas is not principled. It is arrogant!
I believe the constitutional reference to "promote the general welfare" should be codified into laws that enable all citizens to "pursue" happiness without being exploited. (The recent financial meltdown and recession are evidence of this probability.)
So, if the aforementioned views make the president and me socialists, so be it. I believe in Abe Lincoln's government "of, by, and for the people," no matter what sign is hung around my neck.
— George Raabe
My take on the Republicans' criticism of what President Obama has done over the past year and a half reminds me a lot of an old Marx brothers movie song: "Whatever it is, I'm against it!"
Incidentally, I was thinking of starting a rumor that Glenn Beck wasn't even a human being, but perhaps a cyborg or android from another galaxy, a million light years away.
Matt Wuerker's recent cartoon (Sept. 9, p. 44) was just about what I had imagined drawing, except I would probably have had him saying, "I have a dream that one day all chubby white men will not have to pay a cent in taxes! I have a dream that one day no man will be judged by the color of his skin, but by the number of right-wing books on his shelf! I have a dream that the United States will be at war for the next century nonstop!" And so forth, and Lincoln would still be covering his marble face in shock.
— Donald Pelton