The core problem
In response to "For the love of a road" (News, Feb. 3), Colorado Springs does not need another upscale shopping center like Copper Ridge or a giant low-density subdivision on the city's fringe. What Colorado Springs needs more than anything is an urban growth boundary.
For those unfamiliar with the idea, such a boundary would encourage higher-density development within the city, and discourage the kind of low-density urban sprawl that is responsible for a large portion of our infrastructure costs, and primarily benefits developers.
There is enough developable and re-developable land within our city; why should our roads and utilities be extended so developers can continue to profit at our expense? Even if they pay for the initial construction of this new infrastructure, eventually the costs of maintenance will fall to us.
— Kevin Schmidt
Still not convinced
Regarding Andy Petersen's letter ("We need nonprofits," Feb. 10), I would like to say that I need more facts before I will accept his assumptions. Andy's statements that taxing nonprofits would be "devastating," and that "the nonprofit sector is key to the health of a thriving local economy" seem to lack facts to back them up.
Here are some facts. There are 29 pages of organizations (Exempt Organization List) in Colorado Springs that have sales-tax exemptions as of Feb. 1, 2011 (springsgov.com). I have no idea of the amount of sales-tax exemptions overall in Colorado, but I'll bet it is substantial.
As of 2007, there were 18,999 501(c)(3) organizations registered with the state. Together the registered nonprofits garnered $13.1 billion in revenue. State nonprofit facts can be found at colorado.gov. The U.S. Olympic Committee is a nonprofit; could we do without it and the annual mortgage we placed on our police and fire buildings to fund keeping it here?
Frankly, nonprofits use services: street lights, police, fire, roads, etc. Would it be asking too much for them to pay sales and property tax to keep the Springs and even the state out of bankruptcy? We do need more facts, like how much sales and property taxes do we forgo locally (and at the state level) due to nonprofit exemptions not granted by the IRS?
You can't have the discussion without the facts. Maybe the Indy could provide an article that details all the facts so an informed discourse can begin.
— Neil L. Talbott
Rep. Doug Lamborn: You are leading the charge to eliminate funding for public radio. Your savings figure is around $430 million. You also feel we should have passed legislation extending the Bush tax rates permanently for all Americans. That cost was estimated to be between $3.3 and $3.9 trillion over the next 10 years.
Do you know how much money that is? Figure the difference in costs, tax breaks vs. grants to Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It equals roughly 1/10th of 1 percent.
Draw a line from the top edge of a piece of letter-size paper to the bottom edge. If this is what those tax breaks cost us in lost revenue, then our grants to public radio would be just over 1/100th of an inch, or about the thickness of the paper if you used card-stock.
I don't get it. If you really mean it when you say you want to balance the budget, why do you eliminate the only real means to do that? The super-wealthy are the only ones who score anything substantial by extending Bush tax rates. America's tax rates were already among the lowest in the Westernized world.
You say it creates jobs? Maybe for butlers, maids and chauffeurs. Congressional Budget Office estimates show that tax breaks might relieve unemployment by 0 to 0.1 percent. I just don't believe your claim that you urgently want to balance the budget.
My new attitude is this: If the super-rich won't give an inch, why should anyone else?
— Laura Corr
Eyes on Lamborn
Rep. Doug Lamborn, pro-all-life advocates in your district are watching carefully to see what you do regarding the issue of U.S. financial aid to Egypt. It is not logical whatsoever for you to use political moxie and take a strident, anti-abortion stand while favoring our ongoing, so-profitable-for-a-few, constant warfare mode. It is most vital (and consistent) for you to want to protect all human life.
Aid to Egypt to buy U.S.-made weapons is most certainly not protecting life, but rather is threatening lives while putting more immense profits into certain pockets.
The whole world has been inspired by the pro-democracy revolution in Egypt. However, the U.S. uses most of its aid to Egypt (and other countries) to make certain its military-industrial complex weapons are purchased, weapons that could be used against protesters like those in Tahrir Square.
Instead, let's invest in civil aid for Egypt, helping build schools, roads or even a working court system — things that could really help in a crisis like this one.
Congress is about to set a new budget, and how much and what kind of aid we give to Egypt and other countries is very much under discussion and observation. Please invest in civilian, non-military aid for Egypt and all our allies. It's way overdue for us here in the U.S. of (Greed and Power) A(ddiction) to honor and protect all life, and begin to do what's necessary to begin to ... undo the coup!
— Rita Ague
As part of their war on affordable health care, Republicans have introduced two bills to toughen restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortions, arguing that "the language now in the law is weak." Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania has proposed adding a provision to one of those bills, the "Protect Life Act," allowing doctors and hospitals to refuse to perform any abortions, even those needed to save the lives of pregnant women.
As it stands now, a pregnant woman with a life-threatening condition cannot be turned away by a hospital, even if her condition necessitates an abortion to save her life. Federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, requires hospitals that receive federal funds (and almost all hospitals do) to provide emergency life-saving treatment, including abortions when medically necessary, and if they can't, to provide transfer to a hospital that can.
Pitts' provision would trump that law, believe it or not, allowing a doctor not only to deny an abortion to a dying pregnant woman but also to refuse to transfer that woman to a place where she could get the life-saving procedure.
Apparently, Joe Pitts and the other Republicans consider women nothing more than baby-generating machines, and if one of those machines breaks down, oh well, just toss it in the trash, I guess.
Is this what we want? Please, let's not allow Republicans to drag the United States back to the 14th century — no death sentences for women!
— Fred Kormos
A feel-good story
I wrote my response ("Overplayed story," Letters, Jan. 27) to the Jan. 13 cover story, "Iggy vs. Romaine," based on the extensive life stories of these two men, neither of whom have impressed me whatsoever with how far they've come in life.
You, Daria Wilber ("Who really matters?" Letters, Feb. 10), have decided from one five-sentence response that I am egotistical, egocentric, and a bigot. You know absolutely nothing about me, which is why I suggested the Independent write a story about me. I suggested it twice to hit it home. I know exactly what I'm doing; I can't say that at all for little Iggy and salad Romaine.
It is hard to feel badly when I compare myself to the men in that article. Do I feel highly of myself? You're damn right I do. It's a healthy sense of self, considering what I'm surrounded by ... so should you after reading something like that.
In a way, I admit I am grateful that the Indy published a story like that; it makes me feel good about myself, how far I've come in life and the healthy decisions I've made.
If you thought you were going to put me in my place, you have, because my real position in life is one of a great sense of well-being and accomplishment. Now, after reading your reply, I feel even better!
I'd like to propose that since I might be a little too big-headed to fit on the front page, why doesn't the Independent do an article on Daria Wilber? Just a thought.
— Chris Alexei
In response to Geraldine Russell ("Open debate," Letters, Feb. 3), I thank her for exhibiting precisely the problem today in America, even attempting a "civil" discourse on a controversial subject.
She expressed 15 sarcastic characterizations and six false assumptions to defend her positions. Insults, adjunct sarcasm and straw-man arguments are how "one side" is conducting the discourse and debate, pandering to their audience.
Her questions, through all acid-tinged prose, were about vagueness. Let me start with a statistical study by religioustolerance.org, which found a 1993 spike in violence related to abortion clinics after a 1992 spike in hate mail and death threats. It was determined that in the murderous seasons of 1993 and 1994, hate-mail threats played a central role in political disruption and incitement.
I could cite many other studies. Unfortunately, if you engage in reading some of these studies, you may fall into the cognitive-dissonance trap of facing the prospect of having evidence confront your closely held beliefs. Most individuals faced with this internal psychological struggle simply discount the evidence outright or change their idea of what reality is.
Ms. Russell, your letter was not an exercise in civil discourse. It was a stage for you to express ridicule and create straw-man arguments so you could take the opportunity to blow them down in the next sentence.
The issue remains the same: Only one side has used political, violent speech to push its agenda, and in that climate there was a massacre in Tucson. This does not preclude that left-wing, political-oriented violence has occurred in history, just that in today's environment it is coming from the right wing.
— Bob Nemanich
Stop the copters
The proposed new helicopter unit (Combat Aviation Brigade) at Fort Carson is a huge waste of money. There is no persuasive argument that suddenly the Army needs more helicopter brigades. They already have a dozen. Troops are being withdrawn from Iraq; those helicopters are coming back to the states. The war in Afghanistan is supposed to be winding down. This is pork-barrel spending at its worst.
Our local economy is already too dependent on military spending. Expansion at Fort Carson just adds to the problem. More troops do not mean more tax revenue. Because of tax subsidies, military troops and businesses do not pay their fair share of taxes. It's left to the rest of us to make up the shortfall.
Nationally, we have a major overspending problem for the military. It is a national and local addiction. Our city needs to change its focus for economic growth. New energy technology is one place to look. We have to stop the habit of going for the low-hanging fruit of military dollars.
On the flip side, money going to the bloated military budget is money taken from education, housing, health care and other important programs. It is also predictable that Fort Carson will use the CAB expansion to launch a new push for expansion in the Piñon Canyon area.
— Mary Lynn Sheetz
Show worth seeing
I live in a tiny village in the southern Adirondack Mountains. It's quaint, with two waterfalls, a lake and a river within a 10-minute walk. No one is likely to have ever heard of Laurence Juber. I was in that group.
Five years ago, I said the same thing about Peppino D'Agostino. "Peppino? Huh? What? D'Agostino?"
I met Peppino on a New Year's Eve. We were stranded in Napa Valley flooding and unable to reach an airport. A friend of Peppino's invited us to join her at his home for a party. Casually, she said, "Peppino plays the guitar." Understatement of the century! I later learned Peppino was Guitar Player magazine's readers' choice as best guitarist in the world. Pinch me!
I wrote the story about meeting Peppino, it was picked up by USA Today, Peppino asked me to do some work for him and the phone rang. Laurence Juber was calling. Juber is a Brit who was lead guitarist for Paul McCartney's band, Wings. He's a two-time Grammy winner and Fingerstyle guitarist of the year. Fusing folk, jazz, pop and classical styles, Juber creates a multi-faceted performance that belies the use of only one instrument. He is a world-class guitar virtuoso solo artist, composer and arranger.
D'Agostino, raised in Italy, came to the U.S. 25 years ago and was discovered on the streets of San Francisco. Acoustic Guitar says Peppino is "one of the most capable composers among fingerstyle guitarists."
Juber and D'Agostino play at Stargazers in Colorado Springs on Thursday, Feb. 17. From my home in New York state to your heart in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, I highly recommend that you take yourself out for the evening. This is a rare, wonderful opportunity. You can tell them I sent you!
— Corlis F. Carroll
Lake Luzerne, N.Y.