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Who's in charge?

For some strange reason, I was under the impression that Colorado Springs had a leadership council. The members of this council submitted their names and résumés to the public, and they were elected to this council. This leadership group is called City Council.

Now I find out that the citizens of Colorado Springs have something entirely different. There appears to be a parallel system of governance. A group of men decided that our form of democracy was just too cumbersome. They decided we needed a "strong" mayor whom they could influence. After getting their chosen person elected because, after all, we could not have anyone in our dear city who supported equal rights or the environment, they then created a Regional Leadership Forum ("I'm not a doctor, but ..." News, Sept. 1).

Are you confused about who is running this city?

To be sure, Steve Bach was elected mayor. I guess we will need to wait until the next election to see if the majority of those who voted for him are getting what they bargained for. Or is the attempted control of the city at the hands of an unelected few too blatant for even Colorado Springs?

— Lynn Frederick

Colorado Springs

Time for disclosure

The task force that has been assembled to evaluate the options regarding the future of Memorial Health System has an immensely important role in navigating the future of health care for our community. The results of their determinations will greatly influence access to care for all members of our community, as well as setting the course for future Colorado Springs health-care development.

Because this decision is so critical, I think it essential that anyone involved with the task force be required to disclose any relationships/endorsements that may influence their decision-making. Also, I think it only reasonable that a member or members from the health-care community be allowed to participate in the rendering of this decision.

Transparency in this process will be critical as it encourages the community to remain involved and informed as to what will prove to be the best option to pursue for this valuable community-held resource.

— Dr. Daniel R. Balch

Colorado Springs

Critical conditioning

I commend Pam Zubeck on a well-written article regarding the Regional Leadership Forum tackling the disposition of Memorial Health System. She points out the lack of experts and the heavy-sided aspect of developers.

Mayor Bach admits they are not health-care experts, but the panel will listen to experts as they develop RFPs (requests for proposals). The forum will then push a proposal to send to voters.

My logical concern is: How can a group, admittedly not experts, decipher a best-case proposal that has the community's welfare at heart, versus a spin that may sound good but has financials and profits at its core? If those businessmen (Chris Jenkins, Phil Lane, Doug Quimby) were completely honest, they would admit that they, somewhere along the way, have pitched their own ideas to help their own companies with a less-than-altruistic goal.

I have worked at Memorial for many years in the critical-care units and emergency room. I have worked alongside dedicated, longtime physicians. The team environment is how we have delivered quality, safe and expert care. I am gravely concerned that someone who doesn't understand the many complexities involved will make the decisions for Memorial's future.

Memorial reaches out through working partnerships with not-for-profit clinics such as Peak Vista, Mission Medical Clinic and others that care for the low-income and indigent of El Paso County. Care is provided that is financially prudent and more comprehensive than an expensive, spontaneous trip to an emergency room. Without this avenue, many would not have that chance at expert, affordable health care.

All the political hoops that Memorial must jump through, trying to provide care and keep a share in the marketplace so that it may afford to do so, is the glaring example of why it should be an independent nonprofit.

— Brenda Coutts, R.N., B.S.N.

Colorado Springs

Real motives

I'm very concerned about the Memorial Health System stories I'm seeing. The maneuvering by Mayor Steve Bach doesn't strike me as an attempt to ameliorate perceived deficiencies in the original commission report. Instead, it is an effort to leverage control over to business-friendly concerns.

I believe after such an extensive round of expert-guided research in the original report by the citizens commission, it puts the burden of proof on this new task force to prove that the nonprofit conclusion is not in our community's best interest, as the citizens committee determined last year. But I don't see that as a concern, according to the latest reporting. I'm highly skeptical that they can make that case.

A letter produced by two doctors within two other nonprofit hospital systems in Colorado, Poudre Valley System in Fort Collins and the University of Colorado Hospital, was quite an eloquent testimonial to achieving superior health care delivery to the communities they serve, and doing so without being a fiscal liability. I think we should listen.

I urge the task force to not sell out this community.

— Dan Marvin

Colorado Springs

Him and what army?

I can make neither head nor tail of what Greg Hartman ("Mikey vs. the military," Letters, Sept. 1) means when he writes, "I find it amusing that in his quest to make sure no one is ever coerced, [Mikey] Weinstein has spent seven years now attempting to force his views on the Academy."

I find it inconceivable that anyone would use such an absurd argument in defense of a branch of the Armed Forces. Isn't the whole point of having a military that sometimes force must be met with force? And that sometimes a little force is necessary to preserve the peace?

Exactly what kind of terrible, wicked force does Mr. Weinstein bring to bear in his fight against coercion? He writes letters of complaint. He appeals to public opinion, and to the conscience of the Academy, which demonstrates, at the very least, that after all that has been said and done, he believes the Academy still has a conscience.

I do not find it amusing that the Academy must be forced to leave cadets to worship in peace, or that anyone would defend the "right" of the Academy to badger and pester Jewish cadets day in and day out.

— Harry Katz

Colorado Springs

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Breaking records

Larimore Nicholl might disagree, but I believe Rev. Tom Pedigo's Sept. 1 letter ("Debate me!") might give me the record. In fewer than 300 words, which included "Any responder is given only so much room in a letter," he found room to bestow on me at least 10 different derogatory labels.

I don't feel so bad, though. I searched the Independent online and learned that he resorts to name-calling instead of conversation with everyone who disagrees with him. And he has done that for a long time.

It is an interesting way to practice Christianity. As a follower of the teacher who became known as the Prince of Peace and whose core teaching, legend has it, was to turn the other cheek when attacked, Mr. Pedigo built his rebuttal to my previous letter around calling me a hypocrite, a pseudo-intellectual, intellectually dishonest, deceptive, irrational with a skewered worldview, and (gasp!) a liberal.

Oh, and he concluded with a patronizing touch by calling me "rambunctious," as though I were a misbehaved child. (Aside to Rev. Pedigo: You and I are about the same age and have roughly the same post-graduate degree.)

I wonder why no one in 10 years has accepted Pedigo's invitation to debate him?

— Tim Rowan

Colorado Springs

Can't believe it

I take issue with Rob Annese's statements in his Aug. 25 letter, "Art and atheism," in which he says that "atheism is a religion" and it has "caused more death than all religious killing combined in our human history."

What planet has he been living on? Assuming a total lack of education, he could still access Wikipedia, which defines atheism as "simply the absence of belief that any deities exist," contrasting that with "Theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists."

Then we look up religion, which is defined as "a collection of belief systems."

So how can atheism be a religion? A collection of belief systems can hardly include something that has no belief!

Annese seems likewise ignorant of history when it comes to religious killing — especially the bloody six centuries in medieval Europe when the Inquisition tortured and killed massive numbers for heresy against the Roman Catholic Church; Catholics made war against Protestants; thousands of "witches" were killed because of one Bible verse; and then there were the terrible wars of the Crusades.

Even in our era, religious wars have raged in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Sudan, India and Pakistan, China and Tibet, even between Muslim Sunni and Muslim Shia.

So how has atheism caused more deaths than this horrendous list? You may count Stalin, who was non-religious, but his killings, while terrible, can't begin to compare in number. You can't include Hitler's killings, because he was always a Catholic in good standing.

Annese tells us scientific advances have made it "even harder to be an atheist." I can't imagine what kind of "science" he is reading, as scientific progress is accounting for the ever-increasing number of atheists showing up in religious polling.

— Janet Brazill

Colorado Springs

Title trouble

While browsing the 2010-11 yearbook with my son, I couldn't help but notice the categories of "most likely to" and was surprised at the lack of depth that was represented. It's my experience that this is not an uncommon page in most middle- and high-school yearbooks, and it causes me concern.

Come on, really, most likely to be a model and a millionaire? Don't get me wrong, but is that really what we need to be not only striving for but emphasizing to kids — that being a model or millionaire is what makes you valuable and worthy or defines success?

How about keeping that, as I get it is all in "fun," and adding things such as: most likely to cure cancer, solve world hunger, save an endangered animal, adopt a bunch of orphans, win a peace prize, write a novel, be an elected official, solve global warming, develop a robot, save someone's life, put out a forest fire, be a teacher of middle school or high school kids? I don't know, but you get the idea.

I am a psychotherapist who sees enough adults and kids who are depressed, anxious and feel unworthy or unlovable largely due to our cultural value on what "success" is.

In my opinion this is a limiting and ignorant current cultural definition, designed to secure oppression of "different" peoples, and it separates out many who aren't the next Victoria's Secret model or NBA star. It certainly succeeds in its intention, but we don't have to help it succeed.

Just a thought from a parent who values the diversity and gifts of all people and who attempts to ensure that my kid knows he is worthy and valuable inherently, regardless of his external beauty or fame.

— Lisa E. Green

Colorado Springs

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