Black Bear response

To the Editor:

I read your article on the Black Bear Restaurant in the Independent ("Virtual Virtuosity," March 23) and must admit my surprise and confusion as to its content.

Besides several snide and unprofessional insulting comments, there is one fundamental flaw that makes the whole article useless -- the writer only visited the establishment one time. This is unheard of. Of the dozens of reviewers I have known, including those from the New York Times and New Orleans Times-Picayune, none has ever done this. That one night could be the one that the chef went to the hospital with an injury, or the kitchen caught fire, or the food delivery was delayed in a snowstorm. It is imperative in all such reviews to visit more than once to get a complete idea of the property, especially when wielding the power that may come with such exposure.

It so happens that this reviewer visited on an odd and nonrepresentative night. There had been an incredibly busy and unseasonable weekend prior to this evening and the chef had run out of a couple items -- only a couple -- and this is, rather than being the bad sign that so annoyed Ms. Harley, in fact a good sign. It means that the chef uses only the freshest ingredients and orders them in small amounts. This makes good monetary as well as culinary sense, and indicates that there isn't a stock full of old flavorless frozen and canned items hiding in the back. Undoubtedly, the next time she visited, the writer would have discovered those items she wanted in fresh and delicious abundance, but there never was a next time.

The second huge mistake made by Ms. Harley was in not taking the time to understand the location. Her comments about the chef compared to the journeyman, or disparaging a regular steak on the menu are ridiculous. Perhaps they would apply to Primitivo or the Broadmoor, but the Black Bear is up in Green Mountain Falls. To insult the location for catering to local mountain favorites as well as big city fine dining is ludicrous. To have a local favorites menu with chicken fried steak and burgers, and then to perform magnificent four-star extravaganzas for special occasions is a feat that not many would undertake. This is a very unique response to a very unique location and should be applauded not attacked.

The truth is, the Black Bear is a fabulous and relaxing venue where patrons can sit by a roaring fire and enjoy the best of both worlds. This was well understood by the last reviewer, who made the Black Bear the only four-star restaurant in the whole Ute Pass area. She even commented on the intriguing mixture of menus. Of course, she visited four times and had the full picture.

Overall, I was very disappointed to read an article with so many mistakes. Don't readers deserve a realistic and valid picture of the restaurants that you review? I'm sure that those who know the Black Bear know that it stands for quality, freshness, and creativity. Whether you want hot wings or lobster en croute; whether you want to munch a quick burger or spend six courses on world-class cuisine, this is the place.

-- Victor W. Matthews, chef/owner

Pike's Pub and The Black Bear Restaurant

Green Mountain Falls

CSAPs and Owens' reform plan a disservice to public schools

To the Editor:

I am a veteran teacher of 24 years in the Colorado Springs metro area. My focus as a teacher is to assist my students in history, geography and American government to connect their lives today with what they are required to study. I am honest with my students and find it extremely difficult to remain silent any longer about what the governor and legislature of this state are telling the people of this state is honest educational reform. The state standards, as they are about to be changed to a grading system of the public schools, are nothing more than a gross obfuscation of the truth.

When you see the raw average scores of the students on the various CSAP tests, know that these scores include the following: A) the 0 scores of students not even there to take the test; B) the very low scores of students who rarely do their assigned work and are frequently absent or truant; C) the low scores of many ESL students who struggle with very little understanding of the English language; D) the many low scores of the Special Education students whose basic skills are below grade level; E) students who sign their names to the test and then refuse to take it or take it seriously, because they know it won't affect their grade or credit.

The CSAP does not allow for any adjustment in the test between schools with major differences in socioeconomic student populations. It does not tell anyone about the absentee rate at each of the schools or the grades of the students. It does not say anything about the number of high school students who work late at night at jobs during the week and then are unable to function well in school. It does not tell the public reading the CSAP scores in their newspapers all the information they need to know in order to make a fair judgement about the performance of their local schools.

Is this a fair method of testing students? Is this an honest way to report a school's performance to the public? How can any school or school district hope to do well on the CSAP tests when the rules made up by the legislature and the governor set them up to fail from the start? Add to this years and years of gross underfunding by the legislature and it is a recipe for collapse! Why have the state legislature and the governor not informed the public of the obscured truth about the CSAP tests, unless their aim is to totally destroy public education in this state? Even the local school boards are not telling the public openly the truth about the CSAP tests!

With a rapidly growing national shortage of well-educated and properly trained teachers -- 200,000 leave each year -- the Colorado legislature and Gov. Owens are clearly sending a message to its already poorly paid teachers: "We don't care if you leave." My salary as a veteran teacher, adjusted for inflation, has dropped by close to 50 percent in 10 years.

Looking at the CSAP test program and knowing what a total obfuscation of the truth it is, I have decided to accelerate my exit from public education in this state. Unless this testing program is changed to be a fair and honest program and students and parents are held accountable, it is pointless for the quality teacher to remain. I know that hundreds of other quality teachers in my school district feel the same way. Who will teach our children in this state when the quality teachers, veteran and new, decide to leave? Where are those individuals in the community, who are supposed to be the leaders, the school board, administrators, business leaders and the teacher organizations? Why have they not voiced loudly their total rejection of such a setup of our public schools? At this point I am wondering, do they really care?

-- Mr. John Edward Hawk

Colorado Springs

A letter to the publisher

Hey John,

That was a "funny" edition of the Independent (ref: March 30, April Fools edition). What say you and me kiss and make up?


-- Tom Pedigo


P.S. You won't believe what I'm about to do next. It will give you a lot to write about.

The publisher responds:

While we are pleased that this is our largest April edition ever, we are concerned that Mr. Pedigo, frustrated by his boycott's lack of success, may be planning to further escalate his attacks on the Independent's advertisers, distributors and readers. So far he has sent hundreds of distorted letters to our advertisers as well as businesses that distribute our paper, stating that area Christians will shun their establishments if they continue to support our paper. For that reason, we ask our readers to show their support of our advertisers by using their goods and services and telling them the Indy sent you. If you become aware of any of Mr. Pedigo's activities, we would be grateful if you would forward the information to: John Weiss, Publisher, The Colorado Springs Independent, 121 E. Pikes Peak Ave., Suite 455, Colorado Springs, CO 80903; call 577-4545; fax 577-4107; or e-mail: jw@csindy.com.

Caucuses don't select candidates

To the Editor:

In her column in this week's Independent ("Blustery Beedy attempts to seize board majority," April 6), Cara DeGette incorrectly states, both in the article and the Capsule box, that the purpose of the caucuses is to "... select the candidates that all voters will choose from in the primary and general elections later this year."

It is obvious that DeGette has never attended a caucus. If she had, she would know that no candidates are selected. Rather, each precinct caucus elects delegates to the Republican and Democrat county assemblies where candidates for some of the offices are selected. Other assemblies are held to select congressional, judicial district and state candidates. While I applaud DeGette's attempt to raise awareness of the pending caucuses, it would have been nice if she would have gotten the purpose correct.

-- Bernie Herpin

Colorado Springs


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