Councilor ethics, Jim Bensberg, Council candidates and gay pride 


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The smell test

I would like to set aside the legal question of the validity of the ethics complaint filed against Councilwoman Angela Dougan ("Dougan faces claim of ethics violation," IndyBlog, March 13) to address the important underlying issues involving public trust. Here is some practical advice for all Colorado Springs' elected officials and candidates.

When there is any question of the appearance of a conflict of interest, the citizens are owed full disclosure. While consultation with and approval from the city attorney may satisfy the legal requirement, public disclosure is also necessary to meet the much greater obligation to the public trust.

Second, for all elected officials (and top appointed officials) of the city, the wiser course would be to seek an advisory opinion from the Independent Ethics Commission, rather than from the city attorney's office.

Just a few months ago the Independent Ethics Commission made a presentation to City Council about its procedures, how it approaches complaints and requests for opinions, and the guidance it can provide. IEC Commissioner Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Malham Wakin stressed to Council that the most difficult ethics issues members would face are those involving "the appearance of a conflict of interest."

I suggest that such cases are the hardest to decide, and they are the situations most likely to lead to concerns about the violation of the public trust. Both city officials and the citizens are best served by those top officials seeking opinions from the IEC.

Third, this complaint was triggered by a campaign contribution from a corporation. Contributions to candidates from corporations and labor organizations are prohibited by the Colorado Constitution for the vast majority of public offices in the state. City Council used its home-rule authority to exempt itself from that prohibition. Had it not, the situation that led to this complaint would not have existed.

— Gary Fornander

Colorado Springs

A mom for Bensberg

My daughter means everything to me, and I am voting for Jim Bensberg. Though that might sound like a non sequitur, I will explain why it is not.

In 1997 when Jim was working for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, my daughter, age 4 at the time, was court ordered to visit opprobrious people, two biologically related, two not.

Of the myriad public figures I contacted, Jim was the only human being who helped.

Fearful for my daughter's safety, yet doing what I could without retribution, my challenge was finding an objective legal defense group that could potentially save my daughter from further court-ordered abuses.

Jim found that group for my 4-year-old.

Finally knowing someone in the world cared about children's safety, happiness, and well-being, I breathed a bit deeper. And though my little girl was forced into unspeakable situations for another eight years, she became empowered through Jim's help and that of a police officer. At 12, she emancipated herself from that horrifying situation. Everyone, especially her many teachers who worked to help her throughout elementary school, immediately saw the metamorphosis from an injured little girl into a beautiful, intelligent young lady.

I thank God for Jim Bensberg.

Jim believes as I do on another vital issue: money. As he has grown to become a friend of our family, and I his, we both live conservatively, wisely, with thought.

— L.A. Westin

Colorado Springs

Where they stand

Voters need to know how two candidates for City Council feel about GLBTs:

CitizenLink.com, a Focus on the Family affiliate, asked the candidates, "Do you support or oppose having the mayor issue a proclamation in support of the annual gay pride parade?" Here are their published answers:

Helen Collins, candidate, District 4: "No mayor would speak for the city in welcoming celebrations of perversion. I would vote against any such resolution or statement on the city council. I personally support traditional families and marriage, and I oppose publicly endorsing such 'diversity.'"

Roger McCarville, candidate, District 5: "The mayor should not recognize or dignify perverse behavior. He would not speak for most citizens if he does that. Therefore, he would not be speaking for the city. The mayor has enough to do without making silly proclamations to cater to fringe groups. I certainly would vote against such a proclamation or resolution by the city council."

Voters beware!

— Joyce Cheney

Colorado Springs


Think long-term

I worked 30 years as an environmental engineer, the last six as a restoration manager responsible for overseeing the cleanup of a number of unintended chemical releases to soil and groundwater. I saw firsthand how containerized chemicals buried in the ground years earlier eventually escaped, causing persistent, and sometimes extensive, contamination.

I believe that in many cases those responsible for the burial of these chemicals were acting according to accepted standards of the day for waste disposal and had no intention of polluting. They simply didn't know all we know now about the toxicity and persistence of certain chemicals and the likelihood of their eventual release and spread in the environment.

We humans don't always know the ultimate consequences of our actions, particularly when it comes to interactions with nature. A case in point can be made for the current assurances we are given by experts about fracking technology. These experts tell us that the known hazardous chemicals being deliberately injected into the earth to fracture rocks to extract oil will have no long-term consequences. I wonder ...

— Lawrence M. Reisinger

Colorado Springs

Adoptions on the line

Religious liberty is no longer available in Colorado or the United States. In Colorado, the civil union bill last year had religious/moral conscience protection in the bill. This year, those protections are gone. Faith-based adoption agencies like Catholic Charities will shut down because they will not violate their conscience and place a child outside of a marriage relationship (one man and one woman). (See "Crossed out").

Despite testimony from a birth mother, prospective adoptive parents, and our own attorney general on the value of Catholic Charities, without the conscience exception Catholic Charities' adoption services will shut down. Religious liberty is not taken into consideration.

I foresee the day when it will be illegal to practice our faith outside of our church walls on Sunday. Will we serve God and God's laws and face the consequences? Or will we acquiesce and delude our faith to fit into the culture?

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

— Fr. Bill Carmody

Respect Life Director, Diocese of Colorado Springs

It's not funny

Where in the hell are the Indy's editors? Bryce Crawford's insensitive and callous remarks in his review of Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery should never have made it to print (Dine & Dash, March 13).

In his attempt to entice readers with the "scent of confection in multiple display cases," he idiotically describes them as "reminders that diabetes comes in multitudes of wonderful shapes and colors."

Really? In what world does diabetes ever equate with "wonderful shapes and colors?"

Diabetes is not fodder for pompous food critics. Diabetes is a deadly serious disease, for which there is no cure. It impacts the lives of millions and millions of human beings around the world. Diabetics are threatened with nerve damage, kidney failure, blood clots, heart problems, loss of eyesight and death throughout their lives. Are those the "wonderful shapes and colors" Crawford is referring to?

— Kay Jones-Hutchins

Colorado Springs

The conservative line

Those who call themselves "conservative" tend to focus on the individual. But not when it comes to "the troops" and corporations.

Doug Holdread's March 20 letter, "The military's two faces," observes that support-the-troops rhetoric is sometimes a euphemism for "don't criticize spending on the military-industrial complex." When funding wars, deficits don't matter.

But deficits do matter, a lot, when it's an individual focus to "support the soldiers." Example: Last September, Senate Republicans filibustered a $1 billion jobs bill to address 11-percent veteran unemployment; it would have put veterans to work tending federal lands and staffing local police and fire departments. Republicans opposed it because there are veterans' job training programs; never mind that those programs may not result in actual jobs.

And conservatives love "unions of money" — called corporations — that use the collective power of money to increase return on capital. But they despise unions of persons that seek to increase returns for work. Republicans say, "Corporations are people, my friend," even as they pass laws making it harder for real people to vote.

Conservatives love get-tough-on-crime laws for people, but promote deregulation — read: lawlessness — to increase corporate "freedom" to pollute, injure and kill. "Burdensome regulation" prevents our "freedom" to rob banks.

Conservatives say they hate collectives ... smacks of commies, doncha know. But they love conservative collectives when they support their economic interests and ideology.

— Bob Powell

Colorado Springs


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