Parents' rights and need for children's services coincide

To the Editor:

Many thanks for your balanced coverage of the conflict over El Paso County's DHS. I applaud efforts by both Suzanne Shell and David Berns.

My own family found out firsthand about the kind of services offered by DHS/SCF. Some 18 months ago, sheriff's deputies kicked their way into my house without a warrant, roughed up my wife, and made off with our youngest daughter, age five -- over a single well-deserved spanking. Suzanne gave us very good advice. Our daughter was quickly released. This helped minimize the trauma our family still feels.

The episode led me to research America's child protection system. I discovered that Children's Services often acts in ways best described as pure, biblical evil. I became webmaster of www.childprotectionreform.org.

As webmaster, I get a full spectrum of contacts. To be sure, most are heart-rending stories of a system gone mad. Some, however, are from people who are genuinely abusive. These helped me to understand: there is a need for Children's Services.

Fundamentally, DHS/CSD/ SCF needs to offer genuine, restrained assistance to a much smaller number of people. From your article, it appears David Berns isn't waiting for inevitable legislative restraint. By cutting caseloads and keeping more families together, he is moving in the right direction. Good for him.

-- John Gilman
Corvallis, Ore.

Save Red Rock property

To the Editor:

It was recently reported in The Gazette and elsewhere that the Red Rock Canyon property located west of Highway 24 has recently been put under contract to a private developer. This outstanding property had the potential to become the next great city park in the State of Colorado.

Unfortunately, the City Council and TOPS have clearly blown an opportunity to provide future generations with a lasting legacy by failing to take action on the Red Rock Canyon property (see Outsider, Feb. 3). However, I would like to point out to the Council and to TOPS that there may still be hope for an acquisition of the property.

As reported in The Gazette, the Black Tailed Prarie Dog is being considered for listing as a threatened species. Likewise, the Preble's Jumping Mouse has already been so designated. I would suggest that if any prarie dogs, jumping mice, or any other threatened or endangered species should show up in a mandated environmental impact study of the property, then the property would certainly suddenly become less appealing to a private developer. It might also suddenly become less expensive.

So, gather up your prarie dogs, your Preble's mice, and your Peregrine falcons and bring 'em on over to Red Rock Canyon. It may be our last hope to save it from an infestation of drywall castles.

-- Jim Schwerin
Colorado Springs

Protection from sex offenders

To the Editor:

Finally, the State of Colorado is taking its sex offender problem seriously.

The first bill, HB 1239, would require a mandatory sentence three times the maximum that can be imposed for a first offense for an offender who preys on children.

The second bill, HB 1232, would finally catch Colorado up with the many other states that have used Web site notification successfully for many years now. This site would list the names, addresses, pictures and other pertinent information of anyone convicted under the state's violent sexual predator law, and would allow the citizens of Colorado hassle-free access to information regarding just exactly who in their neighborhood warrants close attention. According to one veteran Web site in Marion County, Ore., the public information coordinator states: "... crimes are being prevented ... because offenders know neighbors are watching."

So, thank you Rep. Penn Pfiffner, R-Lakewood and Rep. Joe Stegnel, R-Littleton, for your progressive and considerate proposals designed to better ensure the safety of Colorado's citizens.

-- Cynthia Hill-Vigil

Which Ten Commandments in our schools?

To the Editor:

It is unfortunate that the emphatic message issued by the Supreme Court in a 1980 decision, against the Kentucky statute to have the biblical Ten Commandments posted in their public schools, has fallen on deaf ears for a few Colorado legislators who are now lobbying to get them posted in our schools (cf. Senate Bill 46 and 114; referred to Senate Education Committee).

Beyond the obvious issue of church and state separation violation, it would appear that our legislators also need a Bible lesson on what the so-called Ten Commandments actually say. Not many people are aware that there are three sets of Decalogues in the Old Testament (cf., Deuteronomy 5; Exodus 20; and Exodus 34) and they are all different. In fact, the list people commonly recite is not the true Ten Commandments at all. Indeed, the only list that is specifically called the Ten Commandments (the Ten Words) is found in Exodus 34:12-29, but you will never see this version on any classroom wall, I guarantee. For example, the 8th commandment says: You shall not offer the blood of my [the Lord's] sacrifice at the same time as anything leavened; and the 10th: You shall not boil a kid [goat] in its mothers milk. What sort of divine morality are we to gather from these alleged commandments from God?

Even in the abbreviated Decalogue most people are familiar with, passages condoning slavery and subjugation of women are conveniently left out. Why? Indeed, I will bet dollars to donuts that, should this bill pass, the plaques going up on our school walls will somehow forget to mention that the 4th commandment (Remember the Sabbath) requires the resting of one's slaves. If they're God's laws, then why all the censoring? Perhaps it's because we already live by moral and ethical standards far above those found in the Judeo-Christian Bible.

If the church is having difficulty conforming to the laws of our constitution, perhaps it's time we readdress their tax-exempt status and add those billions of dollars back into our nation's coffers, then use it for improving public education?

-- Bruce Monson
Colorado Springs

Ranchland attack

To the Editor:

I have seen Cara DeGette's vicious editorial in the Independent attacking the Ranchland News (Public Eye, Jan. 27). DeGette says the charges leveled against the county commissioners weren't true.

Unfortunately, DeGette neglected to contact the persons who filed those requests for investigations to verify the accuracy of Alicia Shaffer's reports before she leveled her attack against the Ranchland. I personally know of seven complaints for misconducts filed against Commissioners Jones, Howells, and Brown. So where's the error, Ms. DeGette?

Those complaints are a matter of public record, and DeGette obviously didn't even check the files at the county offices.

In fact, the commissioners will be addressing this very issue on February 17, 2000, at a 2 p.m. work session. It seems that Ms. DeGette is not only the one in error, but that she undoubtedly owes the Ranchland an apology as public as her vitriolic and error-laden slam, assuming she possesses the integrity to admit her mistakes.

And did I detect a tiny bit of bias against Commissioner Beedy in her tirade? In view of her obvious dislike for Beedy, isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?

You gotta love the liberals when they live in glass houses and start throwing stones.

-- Suzanne Shell


Cara DeGette responds:

The column to which Ms. Shell refers does not address any "complaints" leveled against County Commissioners Jones, Howells or Brown, but rather addresses news reports that appeared in the Jan. 20 issue of the Ranchland News that claim those public officials are the targets of a legitimate, albeit unspecified, investigation.

The complaints against Howells, Jones and Brown to which Ms. Shell refers are accusations that have been leveled in recent months by herself and her supporters. Those claims against the commissioners range from perjury to conspiring to muzzle complaints about the Department of Human Services.

An apology to the Ranchland News would be out of order, given that the editor of that paper admitted -- with honorable candor -- that the coverage in his paper was irresponsible, one-sided, and was written by an undertrained reporter.

Finally, Ms. Shell suggests that I "dislike" Commissioner Betty Beedy. It's not my job to personally "like" or "dislike" public officials; it is my job to cover them. From that perspective, I professionally "like" Commissioner Beedy immensely. She gives me a lot to write about.

You gotta love us liberals

To the Editor:

In July of 1999 you ran an article concerning the Libertarian party ("Liberty and Less Government For All," July 1, 1999) that has made me think more about my vote, or in my case my non-vote in the last presidential election.

I want to thank you for that article, as it spurred me into a lot of research and gave me focus to what I normally thought was mundane, pointless and boring political rhetoric. February 4, 2000 I registered as a Libertarian.

My hope is that your newspaper (and that daily paper) will give more focus to Libertarian issues and the party as a whole in our area. It is time for the media to give voice to "the other" party, the third largest political party in the nation. It is also time that mainstream society (although the Indy isn't exactly mainstream if you will) learns that there is more to politics than the spew of Democrats and Republicans. p

-- Liz Oldach
Colorado Springs


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