Earth Day, vaccinations, red light cameras and being an age-friendly city 

Celebrate Earth Day at the supermarket

Earth Day is April 22, marking a half century of promoting environmental awareness and calling for protection of our planet. But are we making a difference? Can we do more than reduce, reuse and recycle? Sure! We can adopt a plant-based diet and stop consuming animals.

Why the focus on meat and dairy? An article in Nature argues that animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change, air and water pollution, and depletion of soil and freshwater resources. Oxford University's prestigious Food Climate Research Network reports that solving the global warming catastrophe requires a massive shift to plant-based eating.

Animal agriculture is responsible for carbon dioxide emissions from burning forests to create animal pastures and the operation of machinery to raise and transport animals. More damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and animal waste ponds, respectively. In fact, meat and dairy production dump more animal waste, fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined, and it’s the driving force behind wildlife extinction.

An environmentally sustainable world replaces meat and dairy products in our diet with vegetables, fruits, and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar, and other pollution-free energy sources.

We can celebrate the observance of Earth Day at our supermarket.

— Carl Silverman

Tracking vaccinations

In the wake of growing concerns regarding misinformation and news cycle hysteria around communicable diseases, our state representatives are pushing an ill-advised bill (HB19-1312) requiring parents who have opted not to vaccinate in accordance with industry recommendations, to complete a state-provided form, which could have compelled speech on it, report in person to CDPHE’s offices to submit the form, get an approval from a state official, receive a certificate that will be issued for each child, and then turned in to schools or kept on file for homeschool students. This bill affects every child in the state of Colorado between ages 7-16. Once the state begins mandatory Kindergarten per Governor Polis’ agenda, the age will decrease. That information will then be stored in a state database so that government officials can track exactly which kids have received specific vaccines.

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In addition to the gross overstep of government invasion of Colorado citizen’s privacy of health care choices, HB19-1312 grants far too much authority to the state when it comes to deciding what is going to be injected into Colorado’s children’s bodies. The CDC has a very aggressive schedule as it stands, with many more vaccines in the pipeline to be added to the schedule. This schedule is apparently not aggressive enough for our state representatives who support this bill. HB19-1312 seizes the authority to add any additional vaccines to Colorado’s required injections for students of compulsory school age, above and beyond what the CDC has approved on their schedule.

Misinformation is a hot buzzword these days, but in reality, we live at a time and place where we have unprecedented access to trustworthy information in a myriad of forms. In fact, on this specific issue in question — choosing whether or not to vaccinate one’s children in accordance with the current recommended vaccine schedule — it is overwhelmingly parents with more education who are questioning this specific approach and engaging in their own critical and thoughtful scientific research.

Ultimately, I think we can all agree regardless of political affiliation that parents have their children’s best interest in mind when making medical decisions. If we desire to legislate some means of support for these parents we shouldn’t waste precious time and resources tracking children in registries and making more work for CDPHE, and injecting our kids with more ingredients that have not undergone any double-blind placebo testing in the last 30 years. Rather, we should make trustworthy resources available, engage in dialogue that respects the unique, formative and responsible role that parents play in the lives of their children, and trust that parents can make their own informed decisions.

There’s a very fine line between fostering and protecting public health and garden variety, government over-reach. While many may support the idea of forced injections based on personal fears of disease, we need to consider the precedent HB19-1312 would create.
At best, this is irresponsible and short-sighted. At worst, it paves the way for the continued shirking of important personal and parental responsibilities, offloading those responsibilities to the politically-motivated institutions of government and the lobbyists who pay them to do their bidding.

Tracking families and making a record of their personal health-care choices is bad politics, bad for our culture and bad for the future of all Coloradans.

— Colleen Prayne

Aging Begins at Birth: Let’s make Colorado Springs the most desirable city for people of all ages

“In less than five years, 50 percent of the U.S. population will be over the age of 50” (Nielsen Marketing).

Colorado Springs is one of the early-adopters of the Age Friendly initiative, a program by AARP and the World Health Organization. In 2016, Colorado Springs became an Age Friendly city. The program, supported by the city government and administered by Innovations in Aging Collaborative (IIAC), works to ensure our city is livable for people of all ages by advocating for complete streets, encouraging bikeability and walkability, helping to foster opportunities for social and civic participation, and inspiring innovative approaches to affordable housing, transportation and public spaces. While Age Friendly Colorado Springs is designed to help people of all ages, it centers on residents 60 and older.

In an Age Friendly city, we value the contributions of people of all ages, particularly those of older adults. Older adults are central to the economy. Fast Company reports that “by 2022 … around 31.9% of people between the ages of 65 and 74 will remain in the workplace — as opposed to 20.4% in 2002,” and that “higher rates of employed older people generally denote strong economic circumstances–which correspond with more jobs for younger workers.” An Oxford Economics report found that the “longevity economy” is one of the most vital in the U.S., with 106 million people over the age of 50 collectively responsible for $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity, spending $4.6 trillion on consumer goods and services.

When we include older adults in the society, we advance social cohesion and break down age divides. Intergenerational workplaces and social interaction fosters mentorship and friendships with younger adults. Social connectedness grows to combat social isolation and divisions. Older adults “who acted as tutors or mentors were three times as likely as their peers to feel joy instead of despair as they hit 70” (Fast Company).

By becoming an Age Friendly city, Colorado Springs is actively working to include this growing population into the community. However, we can do more to ensure that Colorado Springs is the most desirable place for people of all ages. When we take steps to accommodate people of all ages, the city benefits! Everyone of all ages should have the opportunity to live, work, play, and grow older, in Colorado Springs.

— Claire Anderson, Executive Director of the Innovations in Aging Collaborative

Traffic cameras

In 2010 whilst traveling east on Platte nearing the intersection of Circle, my 2yr old son and I were nearly wiped out by a vehicle running a red light. The emotional trauma initiated a call to David Karuth from City Traffic development suggesting installing a camera at this intersection. It was a positive move when cameras were installed and I noticed a change for the better.
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The cameras placed here and other locations seem to work and pay for themselves despite the fact that there were numerous complaints from motorists that were ticketed and that this was only an income generator for police and to offset the maintenance costs of the cameras.

Motorists need to understand that when a car enters a red light zone, a camera is activated. It will not do so on a partial yellow. After the trial period they were dismantled, one rationale was that this infringed on a citizen's civil liberty.

The safety of the community is always a top priority and the reintroduction of red light cameras is most welcomed indeed, even though it has taken 48 deaths in 2018 to justify reinstallation of the cameras.

— Kim Polomka

FAMLI act will be a "game changer"

Colorado Springs is home to my small business where I currently employ 6 people. I have owned this retail shop in the Chapel Hills Mall for about 10 years. A small business owner faces many struggles, but I would say maintaining a talented and vibrant staff has been my biggest challenge.

The FAMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance) act will be a game changer for me and for my employees. As a small business it will help to level the playing field and free up workers to take a more interesting job that suits them, rather than chasing a corporate job with benefits small businesses like mine can’t offer. I am competing for employees with larger organizations, and I often lose out on top talent because I can’t offer these crucial benefits. I recently lost 2 new hires that both took jobs that they did not prefer, but had benefits such as paid leave. I can’t blame them for wanting those protections.

One of my current employees has been out for about a month to have surgery on her knee. She knows that she will have her place on our team when she recovers, but she waited over a year to schedule her surgery because she could not afford to go weeks without pay. Having a healthy workforce is good for the economy. Pushing people to the point of health crisis because they have no financial options is not a good economic model for Colorado. Getting by without her briefly while she gets healthy is far better than losing her to a disability, and then having to train and hire her replacement.

Folks who oppose FAMLI have told me that if I want protections for my staff, I ought to do it on my own and not try to “foist it” on others. These people do not seem to understand how insurance works. A pool of 6 individuals is not the same as a pool of millions. I would love to be able to give paid leave to all of my employees, but cannot begin to afford to do that.

The US is one of only 2 countries in the world to not offer any kind of paid leave for workers. The viability of FAMLI has been studied for years. In the absence of a national policy, it has been implemented in other states. It is not a hand out, but a fund that employees and employers contribute to with small, affordable payroll deductions. A minimum wage earner working full time would pay about $83 into the fund over the course of a year. Their employer would pay about $55 per year. With this small investment, employees would have the protection of up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a medical emergency in their family, or to welcome a new baby.

Scientific polling shows that Colorado’s small businesses overwhelmingly support the establishment of a publicly administered family and medical leave insurance program. Support among retail businesses like mine is 75%. This polling cuts across party lines with a healthy majority of Republicans and Democrats supporting the proposal.

Currently 58% of businesses with 2-10 employees don’t offer any type of paid leave for their employees, and these businesses comprise the majority of businesses in Colorado. FAMLI is a common sense solution to this problem that will give small businesses like mine the ability to change that sad statistic. This bill is a real win-win – employers and employees alike know it’s time to address the very real need for paid family and medical leave in Colorado.

— Tracy duCharme, Owner, Color Me Mine


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