Ed Bircham -- a man often in error, but never in doubt -- last week placed newspaper ads in the Gazette, the Cheyenne Edition and the Woodmen Edition blasting the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce for bestowing on me one of its Small Business Person of the Year awards. Ed's ads made numerous allegations against me. I write today to admit that most of his charges are true.
Yes, the Independent, as Mr. Bircham pointed out, did indeed recently publish profanity. We quoted Dick Cheney's use of the F-word toward Patrick Leahy after the Vermont senator had questioned the Bush administration's decision to award lucrative no-bid contracts to the vice president's former employer, Halliburton. When questioned if he had any regrets about using the F-word, America's vice president later said that hurling the four-letter word toward the U.S. senator made him feel good.
I also plead guilty to, as Mr. Bircham pointed out, allowing same-sex personal ads be placed in our paper. Just like the Chicago Sun Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post and hundreds other newspapers across the nation, the Independent does not discriminate against gays or lesbians in our singles pages or, for that matter, anywhere in our employment or editorial practices.
While I received the trophy a couple weeks back from the Chamber of Commerce, in reality the award was earned by the 31 full-time and more than 50 part-time employees of the Independent who work as a team to provide the Pikes Peak region with a vibrant, award-winning, locally owned newspaper. The Chamber bestowed the award based on the Independent's innovative business model, our track record for creating good jobs with benefits, as well as our civic involvement, such as our work promoting the Trails Open Space and Parks' (TOPS) initiative and the Independence Community Fund.
Wouldn't it have been wonderful if Mr. Bircham, who owns an office supply store in Colorado Springs, had used his ad space to chastise the vice president for not apologizing for hurling the F-word at an elected official? I am sure that he would have done so if a Democrat had uttered the F-Word. I also wish Mr. Bircham's ads, which appear in the daily and other area newspapers, would be less misleading. For example, his ads proclaim "ALWAYS BUY LOCAL," yet 100 percent of the copiers he sells are made offshore. Finally, as a self-proclaimed man of Jesus, I hope that at next year's Gay Pride Parade, Mr. Bircham will replace his "One Man + One Woman = Marriage" sign with something more empowering.
-- John Weiss, Publisher
Upcoming, not-to-miss events:
Monday July 26 -- The Pikes Peak Independent Business Alliance, a group working to promote the work of progressive, compassionate, locally controlled businesses, will host a meet-and-greet at Poor Richard's Restaurant, 324 N. Tejon from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday Aug. 4 -- Jim Hightower, New York Times best-selling author and syndicated columnist (see page 63) will speak over lunch, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., at First Congregational Church, 20 E. St. Vrain, downtown. Either bring your lunch with you or buy something good from the vendor stands outside provided by the Farm & Art Market folks. America's most popular populist talk is titled: "The People Are Revolting -- in the Best Sense of the Word."
Friday Aug. 13 -- Summer Hoopla: Come downtown to Pioneers Park for a great event for the entire family sponsored by the Independent. Not to miss: Bristol Beer, The Chamber's Summer Non-Profit Volunteer Fair, Elope Hats and the Pioneers Museum. There will be live music, admission is free and the event runs from 3 to 9 p.m. (See ad page 63 for details)
In September, Kris Kristofferson and John Sayles will be in town to showcase Sayles' new movie Silver City at a special showing at Kimball's Twin Peak, sponsored by the Independent. See the Aug. 19 issue for details.