Business practices must be reevaluated

To the Editor:

Having just finished reading the article "Feed the Birds" in the June 8 issue, I find that I have a sour taste left in my mouth.

The article explains the plight of a small business and the effect when a franchise decides to inform a government agency (DOA) of a possible discrepency in the home/business zoning regulations. Only to find out that when the DOA gets involved, the franchise removes its involvement to leave the DOA and the smaller business to come up with a solution, at a lot of cost and, no doubt, grief to the small business owner.

However this is not what caused the sour taste in my mouth.

It is a quote made by a third business owner, Frank Dodge of Wild Bird Center, that is the root of my concern.

He states that "we would love to put them out of business, everybody loves to put their competition out of business."

I wonder if this thought is the same as the franchise that originally contacted the DOA. I would like to ask Frank Dodge, what is the difference between his quote and the actions of the origional franchise?

To me, the root of thought is the same, the choice of how to express the thought differs. Is it OK to kill using only a bow and arrow but not OK using a machine gun?

I own and operate a business and my competition is one of my assets. By observing the actions of the competition it tells me what the market will stand and tolorate. I choose this instead of the old business model of gaining profit which will take me and, hence, my business beyond the point of just earning a living, which creates a structure where the actions described above are tolerated and exercised as a norm.

If we as a culture do not think and act differently from these old models, then where can the cycle begin to take another turn to allow a newer format and model to emerge? Do not just think outside the box but take the courage to be outside the box.

-- Chaz Della Porta


Deadly force

To the Editor:

There are only questions, beliefs, accusations, speculation surrounding the death of Andrew Spillane ("Coroner drags heels on cause of inmate death," June 8). There can be no serious question, however, that Spillane was a victim of the brutality of state power, the cynical arrogance of police cruelty.

The only legitimate question is whether the police killed him. For at the hands of the Colorado Springs Police Department, he was pepper sprayed, and however trivial constant news reports of the use of this chemical weapon may make it seem -- even despite self-infliction of pepper spray in police training -- there can be little doubt that some people have died, and others had severe respiratory problems, from pepper spray.

The autopsy report, for whatever reason, is delayed. It may be that the report will demonstrate beyond significant doubt that police are not culpable in Spillane's death. Yet the existence of this paramilitary force, occupying Colorado Springs and other cities across the world, to enforce state, class and race power -- police forces which have acted again and again with arbitrary power -- begs to be questioned. The means they use to deprive people of liberty -- all means, not just the use of pepper spray -- beg to be challenged.

"That's not considered deadly force," Hilte says. But "considerations" in the passive voice have no effect on the very distinct possibility that pepper spray rendered Andrew Spillane forever passive.

-- Daniel C. Boyer

Houghton, MI

Pro HD2

To the Editor:

It must be time for a wake-up call to the advertisers, readers, and staff of the Independent. Ms. Degette must have missed hers the morning they covered "be sure your sources are credible" in Journalism 101. Her disjointed, self-righteous piece questioning the finances of Harrison School District 2 ("Out of School," May 25) would be perfect for the campus rag of some small, liberal arts college. At this level, the most she can hope for is a Best in Category for local tabloid journalism.

Harrison's Board of Education has not even voted to put a mill levy override question on the ballot this fall. Another local district has done so, and has promoted it in the media. Within the educational community at the state level, Harrison is widely recognized for its innovative programs and staff. Harrison's previous Executive Director of Finance received the state's top award for School Finance Reporting, as did his predecessor, who was hired as a consultant by Academy School District to help straighten out their finances last year, after he had retired from Harrison. When it comes to fiscal responsibility, Harrison has been the model, even when struggling with declining enrollment.

Locally, Harrison has been branded with a negative image thanks to groups and individuals like yourselves. The district decided it had to market itself, as many other districts have done for some time, as part of its Strategic Plan, which includes recruiting and retaining the most qualified and diverse staff possible. That's especially difficult when the playing field isn't level to begin with.

Working breakfasts or lunches have been the norm for unpaid public policy-making groups for quite some time. It is a commonly accepted way to use their time more effectively, which you are not paying for. Ms. Bruner and Ms. Lewis must not have objected strongly enough to get the practice changed, if indeed they felt it was not appropriate.

Numerous district financial accounts experienced a variety of time-consuming tracking problems, when the district switched from one bank to another, while transitioning to a new computer software system. Some smaller accounts, such as student fund accounts, are accessed as infrequently as once a year. If someone did act inappropriately, they will be dealt with appropriately. To characterize a staff of over 1,400 employees as "outlaws" and suggest that their district is "rotten to the core" is irresponsible and unconscionable.

Ms. DeGette will have to decide if she wants to begin a career in professional journalism, or just continue to dabble in tabloid babble. The character attacks on certain individuals that Ms. DeGette indulged in, speak for themselves and her.

-- Bob King, Fifth Grade Teacher

Stratmoor Hills Elementary School

Harrison School District 2

Con HD2

To the Editor:

I am 23 years old and my entire education from kindergarten to my senior year of high school was spent in District 2 schools. Contrary to what David R. Fussell (author of a June 1 letter to the editor) believes, the teachers were demoralized long before the article ("Out of school," May 25) came out.

Things aren't so rosy on the inside of the Harrison school system. There are good people in District 2 still, but not as many as people might think. I owe a lot to Mr. Tornes the English teacher, Mrs. Greder-Kimble the drama teacher, and Mrs. Hughes the librarian. But more memorable are the bad things.

I remember ample funding for sports alongside plans to cancel the new genetics class, before it even started. I remember a theater with shorted wires in the lighting system. I remember the wood shop teacher being arrested for murdering his wife. I remember a football coach losing his job for "inappropriately touching" a student. I remember rumors of the teachers having affairs with students, principals having affairs with vice principals, and janitors getting the secretaries pregnant. I remember the Gifted and Talented program being cancelled at Sierra High School. I remember being limited to programming classes that only taught me what I already knew.

This isn't some amalgamation of incidents across a hundred schools. All this happened at Sierra High School -- this is reality.

I am going to make strong statement -- education can cure all social ills. But the district's administration must hire more teachers and counselors, it must pay them more, and it must reward enthusiasm and dedication, not apathy and incompetence. Students must be given opportunities like A.P. courses, district funding for taking college courses during high school, Gifted and Talented programs, and support for sciences and arts. We must make math, science, logic, and fine arts a funding priority before sports. There must be plans for the technology put in the schools. We must have current textbooks for the students.

We must not let schools be a route for religious zealots to push superstition in place of the scientific method. We must have leaders (principals, superintendents, and governors) that support the schools. But most of all, parents must stop watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire and get involved with their children's education.

And since I have the soapbox, I suggest we merge all the city's school districts into one. It would result in more equal funding for all the schools, plus we could redirect money from redundant bureaucrats to the people who do the most important jobs.

But after getting an education in the Harrison District 2 school system, I am a cynic. I doubt any change will happen before primates depart and ascend from my posterior.

-- Brett Hegr

Colorado Springs


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