Rights of nonbelievers

To the Editor:

I do not think I would have taken issue with John Hazlehurst's column (Outsider, May 10) on invocations during City Council meetings if it were not for his inclusion of this silly statement: "[Council policy dictates] the prayer is to be nonsectarian and so worded that no reasonable person, regardless of his or her religious convictions, would be offended."

I dare say that there are many reasonable people in this city that would be somewhat disturbed by hearing our elected officials issuing any sort of "appeal ... to a higher power" while deciding public laws. Contrary to Mr. Hazlehurst's opinion, this governmental establishment of religion is in fact prohibited by the U.S. Constitution because it can impinge on the rights of those who do not believe in personal (or political) relationships with a Supreme Being. For someone who wrote so intelligently on the injustice of religious oppression in the past (Outsider, February 16, 2000; check it out on the web!), I expected a little more wisdom to Mr. Hazlehurst's commentary on this particular subject.

-- Jason Stetten
Colorado Springs

Existing roads not sufficient

To the Editor:

In Bob Campbell's article, "Road Rage Rising in Black Forest Park'' (May 3) opponents of the Milam Road extension argue, "The road (Milam) is neither needed nor justified because Potter's property already has three access roads (Tahosa, Holmes, Vessey) that could easily handle the traffic created by the 160 new homes." The purpose of this letter is to oppose this statement. These three roads cannot "easily handle" the traffic of Cathedral Pines.

From the same study that was quoted in the article, traffic from the subdivision would generate an additional 940 trips per day on Tahosa Lane, 230 trips per day on Vessey, 210 trips on Holmes and 170 trips per day on Peregrine (another access road). During peak hours there would be a 50-second time lapse between cars on Tahosa Lane and a 55-second time lapse on Holmes Road. One car per minute is not safe for residential subdivisions. These access roads were not designed as major thoroughfares.

The safety of families on Holmes, Tahosa, Peregrine and Vessey should be a priority when considering traffic patterns from Cathedral Pines. These roads are extremely steep and have numerous blind drives. Drivers seldom obey safe speed limits and we have had virtually no enforcement. Removal of natural vegetation along the sides to hold back erosion has created cavernous ditches that are extremely hazardous. The lives of nearly 200 residents and their children will be directly affected by additional traffic. Walking, biking, horseback riding and driving on our roads will become even more perilous.

The position of the Friends of Black Forest Park is not the position of all Black Forest residents. The Black Forest Land Use Committee, a citizens' group protecting the distinctive aspects of the Black Forest, believe that the current roads to the proposed development are not sufficient to carry the traffic load without causing a significant negative impact to existing neighborhoods. The committee supports the additional access provided by the extension of Milam Road, provided that the design of the road meets certain constraints that protects the integrity of the park.

The Milam Road extension issue calls for compromise. Let's not use the park as a rhetorical retreat to hide from the many consequences of development.

-- Darrell and Brenda Baldry, Tahosa Lane
Jack and Marcia Hannig, Holmes Road
Colorado Springs

Blame the members

To the Editor:

I wanted to respond to Kristen Sherwood's article, "E-Victed." (I on the Arts, May 3) I am an avid listener and supporter of KRCC and I agree with Ms. Sherwood that E-Town is a great program. Ms. Sherwood's criticism of KRCC and station manager Mario Valdes, however, is misplaced. KRCC surveys its supporting members (those who support the station financially) twice a year. Because the station is member supported, Valdes spends quite a bit of time keeping in touch with the station members and is nothing but extremely responsive to their preferences. The fact that KRCC subscribed to the program for five years without much listener support for the program shows how hard Valdes worked to find an audience for the program. Instead of criticizing Valdes, one has to support his conclusion that there simply was not enough interest in the program. Don't blame Valdes; blame KRCC members.

What I can't understand is why Ms. Sherwood thinks that her individual preference rises to the level of a public complaint in the Independent. If Ms. Sherwood wants to become an underwriter for the program, then I am sure Valdes will listen to her. Until then, it is not Valdes who needs to have a conversation with the community; it is Ms. Sherwood who needs to rally people who agree with her to support underwriting the program.

--David C. Conley
Colorado Springs

For the good of the people

To the Editor:

Thank you for the article on the faulty inspection of John Jackson's Divide home ("The Money Pit," April 26). You dare to be different and print what no others will.

It is time people realize that they could be the next to get screwed over. It happens daily, but most people don't know about it until it happens to them and then it is too late.

Lawmakers need to be "for the people, by the people," not just for the rich, but for the average citizen -- no matter what his color, age or health status, disabled or otherwise. This country needs to be returned to the people and for the good of the people. Attorneys are another story. When money is gone, so are they -- not really motivated to help!

Please continue to update us on the Jacksons and make this a part of the Independent's continuing coverage. Let people know you care!

-- Edna Kettenhiel
Colorado Springs

Planned Parenthood attack misled

To the Editor:

Recently a full-page ad by the Christian Coalition of Colorado ran in the political newspaper, The Colorado Statesman. "Stop Planned Parenthood's Illegal Taxpayer Supported Abortion Racket," the title read. The ad was deliberately deceitful and riddled with outright falsehoods.

Colorado voters said, "No public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion."

Frustrating to the Christian Coalition and Representative Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, is that voters never intended a gag rule; that's forbidding Planned Parenthood to inform women of all their options to an unintended pregnancy, including adoption, or the referral, when asked, to one of their abortion clinics. Also frustrating, the absolute lack of evidence that any violation of the voters' intent by Planned Parenthood has ever occurred.

Two years ago Governor Bill Owens, in a political payback to the Christian Coalition, tried to strip Planned Parenthood of family planning monies meant for 15,000 poor rural Colorado women for cancer screening, mammograms and birth control. State auditor Dave Barba, a man respected by even Republicans, reported that audits of Planned Parenthood showed they've never used those monies to pay for an abortion either directly or indirectly by funneling money from their contraceptive clinics into their abortion clinics. Neither Governor Owens, Mr. Schultheis, the Christian Coalition nor anyone else has step forward to challenge Barba's audit of Planned Parenthood. No one seems prepared to publicly level charges that Mr. Barba's audits of Planned Parenthood displayed incompetence or to challenge his honesty in conducting those audits. Challenging Planned Parenthood before challenging Barba's audit findings illuminates motives driven by a pathological hatred of Planned Parenthood, not concern that the voters' intent isn't being honored.

The ad said Colorado provides illegal subsidies to Planned Parenthood. That's blatantly false.

The ad said the evidence collected by the Christian Coalition "demonstrates a direct link between the taxpayer supported Planned Parenthood and the performance, advocacy, and referral for abortion." It's blatantly false that the evidence demonstrated Planned Parenthood uses state subsidies earmarked for family planning services to pay for the performance of any abortion, directly or indirectly. Schultheis sent me a copy of the "evidence."

Christian Coalition operatives called Planned Parenthood contraceptive clinics and asked, "I was told that you don't offer abortions anymore and I wanted to see if that was right?" Clinic staff told the caller that wasn't true, but they didn't do abortions at that clinic and provided the caller with the phone number of the nearest abortion clinic to them.

Secondly, the "evidence" didn't show any avocation by the clinic of abortion. Finally, there's no violation of voter intent when contraceptive clinic staff refers an inquiring person to their abortion clinic.

In his cover letter to me, Schultheis said, "My amendment [to the Budget bill] would have clarified that it's illegal for any organization receiving state funds to make abortion referrals." Ah, their true intent is revealed. They falsely claim there's been a violation of law but can't prove it, and then they substitute Colorado voter intent with their own. A word of warning: voters deplore political tactics meant to circumvent their will and change their intent without their permission.

Life and Liberty for Women demands the Christian Coalition and Representative Schultheis publicly retract the false and unproven allegations they made against Planned Parenthood, publicly apologize to them and publicly apologize to the voters of Colorado for going behind their backs and attempting to alter their intent in Section 50 of Article 5 of the state constitution.

-- Peggy Loonan
Executive director, Life and Liberty for Women
Fort Collins, CO


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