Taxpayers deserve better

To the Editor:

Here's a riddle for readers: What do you call a corporation that has locked out its workers for more than 30 months, been fined for repeated health and safety violations, is being sued for polluting Colorado's air, and still gets millions of dollars in government contracts?

The answer to this riddle could be Pueblo's Rocky Mountain Steel if the Colorado Department of Transportation and RTD don't stand up for responsible use of taxpayer funded contracts. Rocky Mountain Steel has locked out 1,000 of its workers for 31 months and been found guilty of over 100 unfair labor practices. It has been levied the second highest OSHA fine in Colorado history for numerous health and safety violations and has had two workers die in the plant over the past year. This company is also being sued by the State of Colorado for ongoing violations of the federal clean air act. Take a minute to absorb these facts.

As light rail expands -- our organization is a strong supporter of this expansion -- it must be done in the most responsible way using millions of dollars in public funds. CDOT and RTD can do much better than to award a large contract to a company that is constantly in trouble with the law. Our community deserves better than Rocky Mountain Steel.

We encourage the readers of this paper to contact members of the Colorado Transportation Commission and the RTD Board to make a strong statement that public dollars for light rail must go to companies that have better track records with their workers, health and safety, and the environment. For more information, contact 303/744-6169, x14 or 303/866.0908.

-- Bill Vandenberg, Co-Director

Colorado Progressive Coalition

Setting the record straight

To the Editor:

A few issues in your story ("Jurors dismissed, Doug Bruce tainting alleged," June 15) should be addressed. Most importantly, it should be noted that Laura Kriho was not "jailed," she was fined $1,200. The Colorado Court of Appeals overturned her conviction and fine, however. She has no conviction for contempt of court on her record. Her actions were simply legal, and not contemptuous.

Judge Kennedy says that he has taken an oath to uphold the law. One part of the law he is sworn to uphold, however, is that jurors always have the prerogative to acquit if they believe the law is unjust, or is being unjustly applied. If he would merely give jurors an instruction to that effect in appropriate cases (i.e., at the request of the defense) it would prevent the issue from arising in inappropriate cases (such as sexual assault cases). I doubt if Doug Bruce, or anyone else, believes that laws against sexual assault are unjust.

I can understand why, in a violent rape case, the defense would not want the jury thinking about jury nullification. Jury nullification is a shield, not a sword, and should not be used to lower the standard of reasonable doubt in abhorrent cases. However, if jury nullification instructions were made available at the request of the defense, it would prevent the issue from arising in inappropriate cases, while providing defandents an opportunity to put the righteousness of their actions before the jury.

If a criminal defendant is willing to let the jury decide the justness of his or her actions, should not our government be willing to do the same?

-- Clay S. Conrad, Esq., Author, Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine (Carolina Academic Press, 1998)

Houston, TX

Just doing their duty

To the Editor:

On June 15, the Colorado Springs Independent published "Jurors dismissed, Doug Bruce tainting alleged" by Cara DeGette.

In the article we read:

District Judge Thomas L. Kennedy said the jury pool was dismissed after a defense lawyer in a first-degree sexual assault trial scheduled to begin Tuesday complained.

The judge then advised the attorneys for both sides of the disruption, and, after the defense lawyer objected, the entire panel was dismissed, causing a two-week delay in the sexual assault trial, and a ripple effect among other scheduled trials, Kennedy said.

There was no reason to dismiss the jurors. Jurors who are upset should be upset with Judge Kennedy, not Douglas Bruce.

The article also stated:

The argument has mostly been used in cases where jurors have questioned the legality of drug laws. One of the highest profile jury nullification laws involved a Gilpin County, Colorado woman, Laura Kriho, who as a juror argued the legality of marijuana laws and eventually was jailed for contempt of court.

Kriho was a juror in a methamphetamine case, not a cannabis case. Kriho prevailed over the government's persecution of her. She acted as a decent human being in rendering justice, not as a rubber stamp for the frequent injustice of the legal system.

Finally the article said:

Kennedy said he has never heard jurors similarly argue against laws against sexual assault, as was the case that was to be heard in his courtroom on Tuesday.

"I have had on occasion in a drug prosecution a juror who believes the marijuana laws are unjust and the person says [they] cannot apply the law, and they would be excused from jury duty," Kennedy said. "But when you look at it in context, most jurists agree we need laws for violent crime."

This is a non sequitur. Cannabis use has nothing to do with violent crime. Yes, we need laws against violent crime. What we don't need is laws against private consensual non-violent behavior that harms no one, except perhaps only the individual involved in the behavior.

-- Tom Barrus, American Federation for Legal Consistency

Golden, Colorado

A response to The Outsider from an insider

To the Editor:

John Hazelhurst begins his column (Independent, June 1-7, 2000) with the comment, "One of the worst things about getting old is that you remember a whole lot of stuff that most everybody has forgotten."

John, getting really old is remembering a whole lot of stuff that never happened!

You cite the example that "In the early 1970s, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center was approached by the American Numismatic Association, which wanted to buy several lots along Cascade Avenue, then part of the FAC's ground." Faulty recall continues by naming members of the FAC board "alone in opposing the sale." You conclude by saying, "Selling the Cascade Avenue frontage was a real doozy of a mistake."

You can be forgiven, John. You are not alone with convoluted ideas on how ANA came to be located on the campus of The Colorado College. On occasion I have been approached by faculty members blasting past administrations for giving ANA such valuable land for free. Let's set the record straight on how ANA came to locate its national headquarters in Colorado Springs. To do so, we must go back to the early 1960s, 1961 to be correct.

At our annual conventtion that year in Atlanta, Georgia, ANA was approached by Colorado Springs City Fathers and asked to consider purchasing the Little Trianon, out by the Broadmoor, as a permanent home and headquarters. A former mayor of Colorado Springs, William C. Henderson, made the pitch on behalf of the City, a darn good one. ANA was offered the property and all the land around it for $250,000. A bargain even then. There was only one problem. ANA did not have the money.

Mayor Bill Henderson made such an impression that the ANA Board voted to start a building fund drive. Association members were asked to donate duplicate coins from their collections. An auction of those coins was held at the 1963 convention in Denver. Enough money was raised for the Association to seriously look around for a headquarters site.

A site selection committee was named and several areas of the county and different inducements to locate were offered the Association. Final selection was between two cities -- Omaha, Nebraska, and Colorado Springs. Omaha offered land adjacent to the Joslyn Museum; Colorado Springs, a lot at the corner of Cache La Poudre and Nevada, catty-corner from the old Zecca and Adams gas station. The Board chose Omaha.

An architect donated plans and a building permit was applied for. To ANA's chagrin the lot offered was far smaller than described, smaller than the building planned. The Board turned to option B, Colorado Springs. But, this time, Bill Henderson turned to H. Chase Stone for help. On the west side of Cascade Avenue between Cache La Poudre and Dale, were a number of old houses. Colorado College's old ROTC buildings were also located here. Both the College and the Fine Arts Center owned bits and pieces of other lots, but land was so divided that neither could build. Chase Stone played Solomon. The El Pomar Foundation purchased the residential lots with the understanding that the Arts Center would trade land to the College. In turn, CC also deeded land to the Fine Arts Center so that it could expand.

El Pomar deeded what had been lot 8, divided between J.F. McConnell and J.V. McCullough to Colorado College with the understanding that it would be leased back to the ANA for two, 99-year leases. Ground was broken in the fall of 1966 and the ANA headquarters opened in June of the following year. In the year 2165, the land, improvements and buildings will revert back to Colorado College ownership.

If it had not been for the direction and leadership exhibited by H. Chase Stone, Packard Hall and its Music and Art Departments might not be what they are today. And, as for the Fine Arts Center, much of their modest existing expansion to the east would have remained on their wish list.

-- Edward C. Rochette, Executive Director

American Numismatic Association


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