Tesla recognition overdue

To the Editor:

My sincere praise to Malcolm Howard for his insightful article about Nikola Tesla, the role Colorado Springs played in his work and his lack of recognition by the history books ("The Tesla Files," Aug. 10). I am glad the Indy has put this article out at this time. It was a sorely needed boost for the Tesla cause that was recently hurt more than it was helped by the Smokebrush's horrible production. I had taken a pair of my best friends to the Tesla production opening, one an accomplished electrical engineer in the area, and his wife, a wonderful artist. The performance was able to insult not only our tastes, but Tesla's already tenuous reputation further by being, in my opinion, historically, aesthetically and intellectually vapid.

Tesla's story is a great example of the many things that happen in our world that get short shrift when the press misses it. Everything from Hitler's and Stalin's genocides to the century's strongest hurricane story have all come out after the fact. This article, in a local paper where the man worked, goes a way in bringing some justice to one more neglected character in our world.

I hope that the Indy and Mr. Howard will have the enthusiasm and courage to go on with Tesla and enter into some of the more controversial issues. For example, the tales of the infamous notebooks that were taken from him, etc. I was sorry that the article ended when it did, and I hope I smell the scent of a sequel! All in all, however, I commend Mr. Howard and the Independent for an insightful article that I hope restores interest in this great mind.

-- Bob Besaha
Green Mountain Falls

Fighting for their existence

To the Editor:

The Mill Street neighborhood, which is fighting for its very existence in the face of the proposed Montgomery Mega Center, was told that the next step of the process would be strictly political. Round one was won by us on the merit of our facts showing that our tiny five-block-long, low-income neighborhood could not survive the travel of 500 people coming in and out every day.

We know the next step is won or lost on political grounds. But I did not realize until this morning how far El Pomar would go to sway public opinion against us. If you read the August 11 front page Gazette article, it will become clear that even the headline, "Business interests put shelter vote in question," is false. I understand that the Gazette's editor is on the Red Cross Board and beholden to El Pomar. But we will hold our heads high, not stoop to dirty tactics and pray that American justice can live up to its name.

We will win, if we do, on the merit of the truth, not lies and slander.

-- Lyn Akers
Mill Street Neighborhood

Ed's note: The Gazette's public editor Jon Stepleton, serves on the Red Cross board, not the editor, Teri Fleming.

Hoop dreams

To the Editor:

My thanks to Cara DeGette and the Independent for the article on my "illegal" basketball hoop ("Playing Hardball," Aug. 10). I'd like to clarify a few points.

First, readers should understand that Parkside is one neighborhood within the larger Mountain Shadows community. The neighborhood covenants referred to in the article pertain only to Parkside. Ironically, throughout the rest of Mountain Shadows (where homes are valued as high as $1 million) basketball hoops don't seem to present any problems.

Chuck Fowler neatly sidesteps acknowledging any of the pertinent issues -- issues of precedence (another hoop permitted for more than a decade); issues of statute of limitation (my hoop was in place for four years before Fowler, not my neighbors, took issue with it); and finally, issues of ethical and neighborly conduct. My request for variance to the covenants was approved; Fowler maintains that the approving committee was defunct. As such, it was incumbent upon Fowler and fellow directors to forward the request to the appropriate committee for timely attention. Our covenants state that such requests, if not acted upon within a 30-day period, are automatically granted. For the board to ask me to "resubmit" my request after the 30-day time period had already passed so that they might render a different decision was deceitful and unethical. For all of these reasons, I believe I am on solid ground keeping the hoop in place in my driveway.

Contrary to Susan Sills' belief, there is a process by which covenants can and are often challenged. If the covenants were indeed strictly enforced, there would be no variation in house color, no decks, awnings, satellite dishes, fences and numerous other "violations" which are widespread in this community.

Providing easily accessible, healthy recreational opportunity for my kids as well as other neighborhood youth is no "small, inconsequential" matter.

-- Susan McConnell
Colorado Springs

In defense of Zeb Pike

To the Editor:

John Hazlehurst, in his Outsider column (July 27) called Zebulon Pike a "geographically illiterate soldier" and further, called his attempt to climb the peak that was later named for him a ludicrous failure. Mr. Hazlehurst didn't mention that in 1806 every American was geographically illiterate concerning the land we just purchased from France. That is why Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to the Missouri and General Wilkinson, commander of the Army, sent Pike and his small party to explore the Southwest.

Pike followed the Arkansas to today's Canon City, and, convinced its headwaters had to be just on the other side of the fearsome Royal Gorge, turned north following Four Mile Creek to the Guffey area and then into South Park where he again met the Arkansas. He thought it to be the Red River at first, but then realized his mistake and corrected it.

He followed the Arkansas back to the Royal Gorge and then headed south into the Wet Mountain Valley, in an epic journey of frostbite and starvation that took him over the Sangre De Cristo mountains to the Rio Grande River, which he thought to be the Red River. In 1806 no one knew the Red River didn't rise in Colorado (it rises in the panhandle of Texas) and its true source would not be found for almost half a century.

His map of this area was the first and it opened the Sante Fe Trail which helped bring independence to Mexico. By the time he returned to St. Louis in July 1807, he was the most geographically literate person in America concerning the southern part of the Louisiana Purchase. He corrected his errors shortly after he made them and I hope Mr. Hazlehurst will do the same.

As to his "ludicrous failure" to climb Pikes Peak, I challenge Mr. Hazlehurst to take five and a half days and start walking from Pueblo, toward Pikes Peak, and see how far and how high he gets. Don't forget John, you have to be back in Pueblo by dark on Saturday if you leave at one in the afternoon on a Monday, as Pike did.

The evidence indicates that Pike actually climbed Mount Rosa, making it the first time in recorded American history that a peak was climbed into the Alpine zone (land above 11,500 feet). Moreover, he and his three men gained more than 5,000 feet in elevation in a single day, a record that would stand for most of the 19th century (until Kautz climbed Mount Rainier). The summit of Mount Rosa is less than eight miles from the top of Pikes Peak. Just start and end in Pueblo, climb only in the daylight, and see if you can get closer and higher to the summit of Pikes Peak in the time allotted. Pike, at age 27, recorded the first ascent of any mountain in Western America. It was an astonishing feat and certainly not one to be ridiculed.

-- John Patrick Michael Murphy
Colorado Springs

Keep national forest in the hands of the feds

To the Editor:

In Your Turn ("Public Lands: Bigger is not better," July 27), Holly Fretwell argues that federal stewardship degrades public lands. As evidence she cites the ravages of recent wildfires, corruption by non-native plants, sewage in Yellowstone, and construction shortcomings at Gettysburg. She states that federal supervision of public land is underfunded; she argues against CARA and for private land ownership.

With all due respect, Ms. Fretwell is an idiot. I want public land management to be underfunded. The forests do a fairly good job of self-management. She notes that the federal forests have become "unnaturally dense and fire prone," as if the rangers are dragging deadfall into the woods and planting trees at night. The burned areas will be quite pretty and less fire prone in a few years. Remarkable.

Tamarisk, currently choking out the riparian cottonwood groves in the West, was introduced as an ornamental by a few California entrepreneurs trying to make a buck in the 1800s. It is private business, not the feds, that is dumping sewage into the Yellowstone waterways. A private company is responsible for the shoddy construction at Gettysburg. By all means, let's turn our public lands over to the private sector. Imagine the improvements waiting to happen at Garden of the Gods, Bear Creek, Fox Run, Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rock Canyon (whoops, my mistake, too late).

I have some gripes with a few policies, but in general, national forest and public land management is accomplished by relatively few people who do an excellent job. Public land management is an exception in our often bloated, invasive, and ineffective government. When I need information from the NFS or BLM, knowledgeable employees are always available, are always friendly and helpful. For which other government agencies is this the case?

We should support every effort to increase federal land holdings in the West, lest we see the rivers become irrigation canals, the aquifers drained, the mountains turned into a series of ski resorts, golf courses, amusement parks, dude ranches and No Trespassing signs.

-- John Shelby Moore
Colorado Springs


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