City administration's

role to inform

To the Editor:

With the advent and adoption of the city's new public-relations policy as outlined in the Independent (Nov. 11, "City tries to bar the press"), the city of Colorado Springs' administration has now officially abandoned all pretense of operating openly and honestly in behalf of the citizens who elect them and pay their salaries.

Over the past two years or more, I have been contacting various city agencies and officials regarding serious and potentially grave issues surrounding American Medical Response, the city's only 911 ambulance-service provider. With each attempt to obtain or impart information, the access to these individuals and agencies has become more and more restrictive.

Individually and collectively, our elected and appointed officials have adopted and incrementally enacted a closing-off of access to matters of public policy and safety concerning public figures and policy-makers. It is regrettable that the Independent, along with all other news agencies, has now become officially subject to what we citizens have experienced for years. It is my sincerest hope that our city councilors will reverse this egregiously violative policy -- and soon.

Finally, I offer this reminder to the city administration: You exist to openly serve and keep informed the citizens of Colorado Springs. We citizens do not exist to blindly serve your interests.

-- F.T. Robertson

Colorado Springs

Positively Nixon-ian

To the Editor:

Y'all are surprised that the administration of our fine city is trying to bar the press from obtaining important, newsworthy information? (Nov. 11, "City tries to bar the press") Well, it's nice that you realized it, but you're a little bit behind the learning curve on that particular issue.

Just to enlighten you, this city administration has a consistent pattern of attempting to deny to the citizens as a whole access to important information. Need I remind you of Fire Chief Navarro's gag order that "didn't exist"? Or the private investigator hired to intimidate firefighters to keep them from telling the public the truth about Fire Station No. 3? Or the multiple lawsuits filed against the city over the last decade over Open Records Law issues? Or the absurd dollars-per-page charges to obtain copies of public documents from certain city agencies? Or the stonewall that still blocks the public from information about the ambulance service here? And you say that the way the new policy was enacted was "suspicious." My God, folks, it's positively Nixon-ian down there at City Hall.

It's nice to see the press finally waking up to what the citizens have known for a long time -- the "leaders" of this city don't want anybody to know what's really going on, and they'll do anything they can get away with, and some things they can't, to make that happen.

Before this, the members of the press were allowed certain privileges that we commoners, we mere citizens, did not possess. You could at least get interviews and meetings with city officials without having to say "Mother, may I?" (and being repeatedly turned down) beforehand. Now you're in the same boat as all of the rest of us. Well, join the line at the "Take Ten With the Que ... er, sorry ... Mayor" audience chamber. There's always room for more of us trying to obtain access to what's supposed to be our own government. Or maybe you should become real-estate developers as well as reporters. You might have better luck getting access to city staffers and administrators that way.

Ah, but the city attorney's office says that they're not restricting the media. Right. This is the same office that told the Council that the city's ethics code "doesn't apply to the city fire chief." And the same one that had to get sued by the ACLU before it would lift that selfsame individual's blatantly illegal and unconstitutional gag order on the firefighters.

So pardon my cynicism, but welcome to the club. Maybe if the press had been doing its job of enforcing the peoples' right to know a little better and a lot earlier, the city "leaders" wouldn't figure they could get away with this new "stonewall the press policy."

-- Tim Pleasant

Colorado Springs

School funding, school spending

To the Editor:

To the writer of the letter blaming Cara DeGette for the defeat of the District 11 bond issue (Nov. 11, "49th in school funding"), it is my impression that Cara was presenting facts that an informed public has known for some time. The lack of academic performance for several years is the cause of District 11's bond defeat. If the public would do their homework, they would also know that Colorado is far from 49th in school funding.

The sad fact is that academic success has nothing to do with how much money the district takes in, only how well they spend it in the academic arena.

It's time for the public to stop grumbling and do their homework!

-- Sondra Healy

Colorado Springs

School funding in Colorado has indeed plummeted over the past 20 years, relative to population growth. Per-student funding at this time lags at 10 percent below the national average and according to some calculations, does place us at 49th in per-student funding of schools. Though we are alarmed and disturbed by that statistic, it was not the basis of the Independent's position on the D-11 bond issue. See "Class Dismissed" (Oct. 28, Independent) and the editorial in that issue for our position. -- Ed.

Guacamole fight!

I have recently returned from a trip to visit several cooperative communities. Since my travels took me near El Paso, I decided to cross the border and spend a day. I entered a supermarket and discovered one of the biggest bargains: avocados! In Mexico, avocados are 10 for $1. Really nice ones, too. I bought a couple of bucks' worth. On heading back across the border, I was stopped, and the car was searched.

My stash of avocados was discovered, and I was ordered to pay a fine of several dollars. I asked why? Would it ruin the Texas avocado crop? (There is none.) I was told that Mexican avocados contain some mysterious little worms.

Funny, I sure didn't see any. Besides, isn't it a drag that we have so much stuff imported from China and you can't bring over some avocados, even after NAFTA? I was so angry I went back across the border and purchased 20 pounds of avocados and had a friend drive them across. Boy, they are the tastiest avocados I've ever had! And you know what? I don't see any little worms.

Now that I've gone to the store and seen avocados for $2 each, I feel bad I didn't bring over a lot more.

The real reason Mexcan avocados are barred from crossing the border is due to some highly paid lobbyists in Washington.

On this Veterans Day, it seems to me that a lot of people died so "we can be free." Free to get taken by the policians who have sold out to special interests and corporate profits? Our vets died so that politicians can make millions, and specials interests can take us to the cleaners?

I just feel bad I didn't bring a whole trunk full of avocados to have a guacamole fight!

-- Victor Forsythe



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