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Important industry

Recently I took the time to visit reformcityhall.com, the official website for Doug Bruce and his gang of five. When I read item No. 22 in "40 Cases of Waste," it caused me grave concern. It threatens to eliminate the portion of the Lodging and Rental Tax distributed annually to the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. This tax on hotel rooms and rental cars is primarily paid by visitors, not residents.

We have already gone down this road, and it cost Colorado dearly. In 1993, as a result of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, the 0.2 percent state tax on lodging, car rentals and attractions expired. The impact was immediate and devastating. Within two years Colorado lost 30 percent of its market share. Over the next 10 years, Colorado lost billions of dollars in tourism-related revenue that went to other travel destinations within the country.

Can Colorado Springs afford to lose more revenue generated by the tourism industry when the Doug Bruce five eliminates marketing dollars that promote Colorado Springs? The return on investment is rock-solid. In 2009, tax revenue from tourism saved each Springs family of four $311 in taxes. And what about the 16,000 jobs that tourism, the third-largest employer in the Pikes Peak region, provides?

Tourism is critical to Colorado Springs. Please do not let the Doug Bruce five "reform" tourism and punish the many small businesses that make up this industry.

— Michele M. Carvell

Executive director, Pikes Peak Country Attractions Association

Ominous signs

Have you wondered why you only see big signs around town for Steve Bach? Instead of leading like a strong mayor, Bach has strong-armed property owners into only having his sign on their property. It makes you wonder what promises he has made to these developers and land-owners.

Good City Council candidates such as Angela Dougan, Merv Bennett, Tim Leigh and Brandy Williams don't have a place for the large signs they have purchased. An affordable way for a candidate to obtain name recognition has been strong-armed out by Bach. Other candidates, such as Doug Bruce and his band of merry men (and women), will use Bruce's money to run radio ads and mail to voters.

I wonder if Bach will regret this decision when he finds he can't strong-arm Doug Bruce and his band on City Council.

My vote is for a strong, independent mayor who listens to all sides and who will respect City Council. Let's raise the Bahr in local politics. Vote for Brian Bahr.

— Holly Williams

Colorado Springs

Score one for Skorman

We need developers in our community. But they should not be in charge.

I support Richard Skorman for mayor because of his 35 years of day-in, day-out work as a very successful small-business entrepreneur in the competitive retail sector. Skorman succeeds because he understands customer service. He must win the support of thousands of people (read constituents) every week. He understands the value of repeat customers who voluntarily decide to return to his business. That is the type of mindset I want the leader of our city to have.

I also support Richard because of his past actions: 1) leading the successful TOPS campaign that has saved and built so many parks and trails and playgrounds; 2) his leadership aiding our fellow Americans during the Katrina crisis; 3) his knowledge of how things actually work in our $2 billion city. His seven years on an effective City Council, led mostly by Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace, give him the insights and background to lead our city out of its current morass from Day One.

I am sure there are other worthy candidates running. So support your favorite candidate.

But please do not elect a developer. I honor developers for what they accomplish, but they lack the mindset needed to bring our city together.

— Karen Lee

Colorado Springs

Don't vote too fast

Voting public: Are you really informed on the candidates for mayor and City Council? Have they answered your questions completely or are they still avoiding your gaze? Do they hedge their answers? Are these the candidates you really want? Do you really know how the two charter amendments will impact your lives?

If your answers to questions 1, 2, 4 and 5 are "No" and 3 is "Yes," then do not mail in your ballot until after the last debates at Stargazers on March 22 and 23.

Get informed! Ask these candidates the real hard questions. Do not accept talking points. Web pages cannot answer your questions.

Remember, the people you elect will be with us for four years and we have to make sure they are the right ones for this place in time. Electing the wrong people will be a costly mistake.

— Gary Casimir

Colorado Springs

Retirement reality

In Mr. Peter Dunn's tirade ("Capitalism on trial," Letters, Feb. 24) he wrote without qualification of the so-called benefits of "government employees." Lest your readers believe his thoughtless errors, here are some real government employee facts:

When I retired from government (Teller County), both my salary (perhaps slightly less than that the private sector could have provided for the 50-plus hours a week that I worked) and my health insurance stopped. Immediately. Period. I'm not sure what you would call the retirement plan, to which I contributed more than my employer, but it gives me a tiny fraction of "75 to 100 percent of [my] highest three years' salaries" (don't I wish!), and any "perpetual cost-of-living inflation adjustment" results directly from fluctuations in stock and bond market funds — and yes, it substantially adjusted downward not that long ago.

In terms of any "contractual obligation," my unbargained "contract" stipulated that I worked "at will," which meant that had the county been displeased with my work, I could have been immediately terminated.

Get real, Mr. Dunn ... and readers beware of blanket statements: They're often false, harmful, and part of what's wrong with this dumbed-down, unthinking country.

— Jean Garren

Woodland Park

'Where is the woman?'

Don McCullen ("Sex, kids and Sanger," Letters, Feb. 24), what would you do if you became unwillingly pregnant tomorrow? What would you do if you found out that to continue the pregnancy would most likely end in your death, leaving your family without a father and a husband? Can you beyond doubt maintain that you would continue the pregnancy for the sake of only the unborn child with no consideration for your own life or the many lives affected by your death? No.

I found it very telling that you have no concern for women in your sentence: "Even in the cases of rape or incest, it was the perpetrator who is guilty, and not the child." Where is the woman in this? She is as innocent as the fetus, yet she did not warrant mention.

Being forced to have a child against her will or being forced to carry a child and endanger her own life is a burden. Let's not pretend that it isn't. Her life is not less important than the life of the fetus.

It is telling that more men are opposed to abortion than women; there are very few repercussions for men when they have irresponsible or unprotected sex. Why must the consequences only apply to the woman? You speak of "sex with no consequences" as though most women use abortion as birth control to support their deviant sexual appetites. In the case of rape the woman is not having "sex" with the perpetrator; she is being brutally attacked and violated. Do not confuse the act of rape with the act of sex.

The more we put value on those that do not exist, the more we diminish the value of those who do.

— Tammy Vandegrift

Colorado Springs

Conservative callousness

On Feb. 17, the Independent published my letter regarding a GOP proposal to allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions for women even in cases where such refusal would result in the women's death. The following week, a letter from Don McCullen appeared, saying I had gone "over the top" but then not addressing anything I had written. Instead, he wrote a diatribe about Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, neither of which my letter mentioned.

I suspect Mr. McCullen didn't even read my letter; I know for a fact that what he wrote about Planned Parenthood was, to use his words, over the top. He suggested the organization's goal is "sex with no consequences" and stated, "Planned Parenthood encourages people — especially our children — to have sexual relations. And if all else fails, we have abortion services for backup."

In reality, abortions are only a small portion of what Planned Parenthood does. Their main focus is health services such as pap smears, vaccines, screenings (for breast cancer, cholesterol, thyroid and diabetes), family planning (birth control), and help for couples experiencing infertility. These services are provided to low-income people who would be unable to procure them elsewhere.

Are conservatives like McCullen so gullible and poorly informed as to believe Planned Parenthood is nothing more than an abortion jamboree? Or, because the needs of low-income people are of such little consequence to conservatives, does spreading misinformation justify, in the conservatives' minds, their callousness toward their less-prosperous fellow Americans?

— Fred Kormos

Colorado Springs

Sex offenses

Since President Obama is not supporting the Constitution of the United States, why should America support Obama? Let's remember, former President Clinton is a sex offender even though he was not convicted.

To add same-sex marriage into law is wrong, morally and biblically.

What has Obama done right since he's been in office?

I support the American Center for Law and Justice to help protect the Constitution, and so should America.

— Paul Songy

Calhan

Media experts

Those of you who missed the ACLU winter forum "On the Media" should read this. The three speakers and the moderator couldn't have been better — and they were all hometown folks.

The inimitable Bill Hochman, Colorado College history professor emeritus, provided a historical legal survey of First Amendment free-press cases. Barry Noreen, a uniquely talented Gazette columnist, mused over the not-always-positive results in the change of media values and discipline, caused by the new informational technology: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on.

The Indy's own John Weiss, ever effervescent, filled us in on the impact of corporate control over the free press: NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX networks, with monopoly ownership concentrated in a rich and powerful few.

Pikes Peak Community College English professor Pat Huhn set the scene in her introductory remarks on the state of the media and the long and short fall we have experienced.

A good discussion followed on being safe and free, national security, academic rights and media power. The forum was a timely event in the tough times we are experiencing.

— Bill Durland

Colorado Springs

Labor's history

On 9/11/2001 it was unionized firefighters, police officers and emergency medical responders who risked their lives and health to serve others, not politicians! After the towers came crashing down, it was unionized firefighters, police officers, emergency medical responders, iron workers, construction workers, truck drivers, bus operators and other union members who responded to rescue and recover the people involved in this tragedy, not politicians!

If, as Councilman Sean Paige says, we cannot afford these people on the city's payroll, then whom shall we call in an emergency? Should we call upon our politicians to make split-second decisions as our emergency responders do every day?

— Jim Gosse

Colorado Springs

 

Transit trouble

The current "spokes on a wheel" local bus system is inefficient. A grid system would serve the city much better. A passenger would receive a four-hour transfer. There would be several north/south routes and east/west routes: Academy, Powers, Union, Circle, Nevada, Wahsatch, Mesa, Chestnut/Spruce, 21st/31st, Colorado, Uintah, Fillmore, Pikes Peak, Fountain, Boulder, Woodmen, Dublin, etc. Buses would pass any stop every seven minutes.

This would reduce riding times and the number of buses. Elimination of the downtown terminal would save enough to pay for the changes.

Thanks for printing this letter, because I can't attend the upcoming transit meeting, since I rely on the bus.

— Kenton Lloyd

Colorado Springs

Egypt's inspiration

Watching the people of Egypt stand up for their basic rights reminds me how important it is to guard our own rights, which some take for granted.

How many are aware of the recent infringement of our free-speech rights by a Colorado Springs police policy quietly established last May? Will we be inspired enough by recent events to challenge this infringement?

Last Nov. 27, two well-respected citizens were arrested for peacefully demonstrating in front of a business that did not object to the demonstration. The owner of the shopping center phoned police, who have an internal policy that apparently allows protests at four arbitrarily designated shopping centers in town. Since this shopping center was not designated, the two demonstrators (who believed they were exercising their constitutional right of free speech) were arrested. Note that similar protests (about the same issue, involving the same chain store and product) have been allowed in Denver and other cities.

With the upcoming city elections, now is an opportune time to find out where candidates stand on this issue.

— Cara Koch

Colorado Springs

Clarification

In "Lawmakers examine solitary" (Noted, Feb. 24), we should have made clear that estimates for typical incarceration costs in Colorado came from the ACLU of Colorado. The Indy regrets any confusion this may have caused.

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