The numbers game

To the Editor:

Despite its unfair and inaccurate headline, Andrew Hood's recent article ["The House Always Wins: How Colorado mining towns gambled away their souls," cover story, Jan. 3] gives deserved recognition to the various ways gaming has benefited the state.

Before the advent of gaming, there was plenty of appreciation for Colorado's rich history, but precious little money to preserve and protect it. Today, we boast the largest historic preservation fund in the nation, a fund that received $23 million last year in revenue from casinos. All told, $92 million in gaming tax revenue went to Colorado communities last year to protect historical sites, maintain roads, enhance public safety and improve public services.

Gaming has also breathed new life into struggling mountain towns, towns that previously had such a small tax base they couldn't afford to bring public utilities up to standard, much less renovate their decaying Victorian buildings.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hood's article errs on a couple key points.

First, while the article is correct that gaming has produced more than 7,000 jobs in Colorado, its contention that these jobs are low-paying is incorrect. In fact, the opposite is true. Data shows that casino jobs on average pay between $2,160 and $23,437 a year more than comparable jobs elsewhere in the state.

Second, Mr. Hood makes the incorrect claim that 40 percent of casino workers nationally have a gambling problem. While the casino industry acknowledges and works constantly to address the issue of gambling addiction, the number of casino employees suffering from this addiction is far less than the article indicated.

According to a 1997 study of the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, 3.5 percent of casino workers have a gambling problem. While this is well above the rate for the general population -- a fact that the study surmises may be because people who gamble are more likely to seek out jobs in the casino industry -- it is much less than the 40 percent suggested in Hood's article.

-- Lois Rice, Executive Director

Casino Owners Association of Colorado

Editor's note: Ms. Rice correctly notes that the reported percentage of casino workers with gambling addiction problems was overstated. Findings from the Harvard University study indicate that the rate of compulsive gambling is 40 to 50 percent higher among casino workers than the general population. However, Dr. Robert Hunter of the Charter Hospital Gambling Treatment Center in Las Vegas estimates the actual percentage of casino employees with compulsive gambling problems is closer to 15 -- not 3.5 -- percent.

Hitting the jackpot

To the Editor:

I appreciated Andrew Hood's article about Colorado's three gaming towns, particularly his perspective on Cripple Creek. Unfortunately, the truth sometimes hurts. In the mad scramble to cash in on the gaming market, Cripple Creek has suffered in many ways. It is only by pointing out the mistakes that were made -- and continue to be made -- in the name of "progress" that people can see the picture as a whole and work to right the wrongs.

However, Cripple Creek is much more than just a casino town. In addition to the casinos, Cripple Creek also sports three museums: the Cripple Creek District Museum, the General James Hill Veteran's Memorial Museum and the Old Homestead. There are three other major attractions-- the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, and the Butte Opera House. There are three non-gaming taverns available, two of which have dining. We also have upwards of 10 retail stores in town. In addition, Cripple Creek Park & Rec and a number of arcades throughout town, as well as a skateboard park, are available for children.

And that ain't all. Nearby, the Vindicator Valley trail system offers miles of hiking. The city of Victor continues to flourish as an art colony with plenty of stores. Skaguay Reservoir, outside of Victor, has some of the finest fishing around. Plus, Gold Camp Road, Phantom Canyon Road, Shelf Road, High Park Road, Highway 67 and Teller County Road 1 into Cripple Creek have some of the finest views, picnic spots and camping areas in the state. Year-round events are numerous.

To me, these facets of Cripple Creek constitute the true meaning of the word "progress." In the past few years, the city as well as a number of promoters and do-gooders have been fighting hard to round Cripple Creek back into a family destination. Casinos are definitely a part of Cripple Creek's tourism trade, but they are not what this town is made of in its entirety. Please continue to distribute your magazine in Teller County and Cripple Creek. We need your candid views.

-- Jan MacKell

Historic Preservation Commissioner Cripple Creek

Tired of waiting

To the Editor:

The Legislature and governor have once again failed to act to manage growth. As a Coloradan, I am extremely disappointed that our elected officials convened a second special session at the expense of taxpayers like myself, and only managed to pass legislation that benefits developers and does nothing to manage growth.

I do not believe that the Legislature and governor made any progress toward the goal of managing growth. It is developers, not local governments or Colorado residents, who benefit from the limitations on impact fee authority.

How many times and for how many years must we continue to ask our legislators and governor to finally take action and pass real growth management legislation? I, for one, am tired of waiting and paying only to see a lack of progress and the continued promotion of development interests over the interests of Coloradans.

-- Andrew Taylor


Some fresh ideas

To the Editor:

Jim Mullen just did what any self-respecting butt-kisser would do: Give the boss what he wants. And, just as in the real world, the City Council hasn't got a clue what it wants.

I can't get from west to east because no one has the guts to build the Constitution Freeway -- or, more precisely, mess with a couple of blocks of Old North End political power. I say, dig a hole and run the damn thing underground.

Here are five or six additional light bulbs guaranteed to dampen yer politically parched panties:

1. For a hundred bucks, nail four no-left turn signs on Palmer's ass.

2. Create the City of East Colorado Springs ... everything east of Academy, north of Woodmen and south of Drennan.

3. De-annex the Broadmoor, Star Ranch, et al. Give that hillside haven back to the ambulance chasers and the blue hairs.

4. Keep the Utilities department and soak everyone living outside the new city limits.

5. Pay city employees the going local rate.

6. Fine do-nothing parents for flunking kids and leave our hapless teachers alone.

Lastly, tell the building department to give Herb a handicapped bathroom variance so he can reopen Three Thieves. If I'm forever to be stuck on Fillmore, at least I oughtta be able to get a decent steak.

-- Dave Hewitt

Colorado Springs

Biting the bullet

To the Editor:

I was happy to see Jim Mullen's departure as Colorado Springs city manager. Hopefully the next city manager will bring an air of civility to City Hall.

I read with interest John Hazlehurst's [Jan. 10] Outsider column regarding the ouster of Mullen. I agree with most of what Mr. Hazlehurst had to say regarding the reign of Jim Mullen, but I wonder if the bigger issue isn't who is city manager, but the fact that we even have one.

Every few years the voters in Colorado Springs endure months of campaigning by those wishing to occupy a seat on City Council, or to be mayor. We hear promises of improved this and more of that. The voters choose who they like, and then watch as the Council and mayor abdicate enormous amounts of power and control to a hired gun that no one elected!

Worse yet, the hired gun usually gets to run rampant on the city (throwing people out of public meetings, muzzling city employees, etc.) and the voters can't do much about it.

It's no wonder that Mullen was an "arrogant SOB." Who could blame him? Until the recent shift in power on City Council, he had nothing to fear.

So, how do we stop an unelected person from running (ruining?) our city? We can start by eliminating the city manager's position, and biting the bullet by making our City Council and mayor full-time, paid positions. This will hold those we actually elect responsible for what happens in this city. I know this has been brought up ad infinitum in the past and the reasons against it are many: It costs too much money, we'll end up with "professional" politicians, etc. Well, I'm sure that a lot of the money City Council has thrown away on numerous studies, etc. would more than pay for a reasonable wage for an elected mayor and council.

Think, also, of the possibly wider variety of people we may get to run for City Council and mayor. Right now, the only people who can run for office are those who are independently wealthy or operate their own businesses and can afford the large amounts of time it takes to fulfill the duties of office.

Doesn't a city with a population approaching 500,000 deserve more than a part-time council and mayor?

-- Bob Falcone

Colorado Springs

Popping one up

To the Editor:

[Regarding "Space Wars," cover story, Dec. 13:] Whether you realize it or not, Russian and Chinese anti-satellite systems have been around for decades. Your space treaty idea is moot. Furthermore, every nation that is capable of lofting a satellite into low Earth orbit can "pop" one up into orbit at any time. Build a bridge and get over it! All kinds of weapons already exist in space. Any satellite still under ground control can be used as a kinetic-energy kill weapon to destroy other spacecraft. Specially designed spacecraft that can withstand re-entry heat can crash into buildings with as much energy as the jets that destroyed the WTC. The world we live in isn't "nice." And our enemies don't always play nice. In this case, the killer "sat" is already out of the bag and has been for a long time.

-- John A. "Tony" Rusi

Las Vegas, Nev.


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