Promises broken

To the Editor:

A couple of years back, I was quite pleased with the new makeup of the City Council. Having lived here for 34 years, I felt that we finally had at least some members who wouldn't ignore the integrity of established neighborhoods in their decision making. I even actively campaigned for one of them. Then two years ago when Council supported the removal of the Centennial Boulevard extension from planning maps out of apparent concern for the already besieged Mesa Springs neighborhood, I felt good again about the direction our city was taking.

On March 27, I witnessed the reversal of this decision and the reneging of the pledges that many members of City Council are on record as having previously made in support of neighborhood preservation. I now know just how naive I was two years ago. Once again, powerful economic forces, as represented by builders, realtors and even the Chamber of Commerce, have pitted the haves against the have-nots. Craig Bluitt's traffic projections, flawed though they were, revealed that in building the Centennial extension, traffic would be alleviated by a meager 3 percent to 5 percent on various roadways, and even then for only a very short section of roadway. Yet this marginal benefit seemed enough for City Council to unanimously vote in favor of the extension and the continuing destruction of the Mesa Springs neighborhood, not to mention the negative impact on Sonderman Park and natural areas to the west. My cynicism runneth over!

As a postcript, I know I speak for my neighbors as well when I express my sincere appreciation to Ted Eastburn for his brief appearance at City Council to provide verbal support for our efforts to preserve the integrity of our neighborhood by opposing the Centennial extension. I commend him for his stance.

-- Louis C. Bassetti
Colorado Springs

Choose your weapon

To the Editor:

I attended yesterday's City Council meeting on the Intermodal Transportation Plan and, as a resident of Mesa Springs, was angry and disappointed that Council would reverse its decision of 1999 and put the Centennial Boulevard extension back on its plan. It will bisect and severely damage the Mesa Springs neighborhood. In order to express my anger to those Council members present, I am sending each of them the following letter:

Dear Councilman (Councilwoman):

Yesterday's City Council meeting gave me an unforgettable lesson in representative democracy. It brought into sharp focus the power of money, politics and the automobile in regard to traffic issues in Colorado Springs. An ordinary citizen like me sits helpless in gridlock.

I can be thankful to you that the Centennial extension will not carry trucks and will be designed with neighborhood input. However, it's a little like giving a condemned prisoner the choice of a guillotine, machete or sword for his execution. The head will still be chopped off.

Knowing that the current City Council can so quickly and easily reverse the decisions and alter assurances of a previous council does give me some hope that the new City Council elected in April will revisit this issue with more intelligence and common sense.

--Robert W. McClain
Colorado Springs

New ideas needed

To the Editor:

Prior to the March 28th Council meeting, Public Works Transportation Planning was asked to come up with current projections of the impact of building the Centennial extension. The projected impact on Garden of the Gods Road at peak hour: 5 percent; the projected impact on Mesa Road at peak hour: 3 percent to 5 percent. Not much.

It's obvious from these numbers that we have a serious peak-hour traffic problem in the northwest part of the city that is projected to get worse by 2020, Centennial extension or no Centennial extension.

Centennial is not the solution; in fact, I think it just prolongs the problems, offering false hope to some.

I think the businesses need to partner with government like the Garden of the Gods TMA and offer meaningful incentives and even mandates to get people out of their single occupancy cars at least one day a week or incentives/mandates to come and go at off-peak hours (e.g. Intel where 70 percent of its projected work force of 2000 will be commuting during off-peak hours). If all Garden of the Gods Road employees car-pooled or otherwise got to work without a car just one day a week, we would immediately have a 20 percent decrease in traffic generated by these businesses at peak hour. And that is with no investment in infrastructure, just using what we have in a smarter fashion.

We need new ideas and energies. Concentrating on the old Los Angeles model of "more roads, bigger roads" diverts attention from the real problem of traffic growing at twice the rate of population while simultaneously destroying neighborhoods, the core of our community.

-- Paul Weeks
Colorado Springs

Loud roar of moneyed interest

To the Editor:

Many people agree that moneyed interests decide which candidates get funding. But I had hopes that the resulting influence did not extend inevitably to the lowest levels of elected government.

So I was surprised when City Council approved the extension of Centennial as a major artery through the Mesa Springs neighborhood. In this case, the costs to the already beleaguered neighborhood are great and the benefits to commuters meager. (Just look at the numbers.) But money made a big noise, and Council unanimously reversed its previous decision.

Lesson learned.

No individuals are to blame. The problem is structural, not personal.

(But, oh, I blame them anyway.)

-- Gregory Weeks
Colorado Springs

Downright un-American

To the Editor:

Let's talk about class warfare. George W. Bush wants to cut taxes by $1.6 trillion dollars and give 40 percent of the benefits to the very wealthiest. But, you say, the people that pay the taxes should get most of the tax cut? That is only fair.

If that were the case, then the wealthiest would only be getting about 20 percent of the tax cut, because that is what they have paid into the present surplus. So why do they deserve to receive 20 percent more than they have paid in? The truth is, they don't.

The majority of the surplus has been created by the taxes of the working middle class and the lower working classes that have paid FICA taxes into the Social Security System. It is a disgrace that the media of this country is allowing this charade to continue.

The Democrats want to give each person a $300 tax rebate and each couple $600. Cheapskates that they are, this would amount to about $60 billion of the current surplus. Surely they can do better than that?

However, Mr. Bush and his Republican cohorts argue that this is no way for "trickle down" economics to work. We have to give the tax breaks to those that will invest and create jobs. It just doesn't make sense to give this money to working people. Why, that is just plain un-American.

-- Ken Alford
Colorado Springs

A perfect scam

To the Editor:

Thank you for the excellent report titled "Forum on Vouchers Generates More Heat than Light," (March 1).

What the participants totally miss is the fact that we are losing good teachers by the droves. We have had over 10 years of below-cost-of-living wages for teachers, coupled with constant negative attacks by people such as Steve Schuck and Rob Abeyta. Why would good people hang around for such poor wages and this sort of brain damage?

So we get vouchers, and religious institutions start receiving tax monies? Religious institutions are already tax-exempt. Now, they pay no taxes and receive tax funds? What a perfect scam!

How bad is the situation? District 11 is already adopting new methods to try to find teachers who, at last count, were already down by one thousand.

But don't worry, Colorado, just take your kids to a football game, or one of our prisons, or on a drive on a highway ... that's where your values reside.

-- R.E. Beardsley

Real sins of society

To the Editor:

America's children are killing their classmates and teachers and trying to blow up their schools; domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse and racism are rampant; youth are committing suicide, or trying to, in record numbers; our prisons are overflowing; our political system is corrupt; our schools are a mess; greed and violence have become virtues; a rapper is honored on national television for preaching to kids that it's cool to kill gays and lesbians and to rape and murder their own mothers; and the list goes on and on.

Surely Christians and those of other faiths could better serve their religions and their nation by directing their great energies and resources toward dealing with these very real "sins" within our society instead of harassing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered folk whose only "sin," as a class, is to be born different.

-- Eldon L. Rush


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