Wrap it up

I am a downtown resident who is tired of driving by the "encampment of the few" in the parking lot of Toons. It's an eyesore that needs to be removed.

I wonder where all of the antiwar supporters have gone? Probably inside the heated Toons to check out the latest anime, or to reminisce about the Clinton years with a CD of Madonna's or George Michael's greatest hits.

Hear me out -- because I am not one to criticize someone for their freedom of speech and to assemble. Just wrap it up when it's run its course. My cousin is faithfully serving our country as a Marine in Iraq, and he wrote me an e-mail over the summer where temps in the desert hit 130 degrees -- with no air conditioning in his tent -- and he didn't have one negative thing to say. In fact, every time I hear from him, he shares how proud he is to fight for our country.

I thank God for 1st Lt. Scott Beatty -- fighting on the other side of the planet, so the lackeys who are leaving their tent city on our street corners have the freedom to do so. Did you catch my sarcasm? Because I am laying it on pretty thick.

-- Brian Beatty

Colorado Springs

Church learnin'

If the advocates of introducing "intelligent design" (creationism) in public school curriculum really believe in presenting a balanced view, are they also teaching the theory of evolution in church?

-- David Adair

Colorado Springs

Justice served

I wanted to congratulate the hardworking students and staff at D-11 for their long-awaited settlement and recognition of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Palmer High School. Justice was finally served because of the bravery, persistence and steadfastness for what is right shared by all of those involved in the fight. D-11 has ultimately triumphed, sending a message of inclusion and celebration of all students. Kudos!

-- Kimberly A. Holcomb

Colorado Springs

Doomed from the start

So Jerry Heimlicher was called a traitor by Republicans because he had the nerve to disagree with them. Join the club, Jerry. Bill Owens you know, but do the names Max Cleland and John Kerry sound familiar to you? They were similarly smeared by Republicans. The latest victim is Congressman John Murtha from Pennsylvania, a 37-year Marine who was called a coward by a congresswoman from Ohio. Mr. Murtha was trying to open a discussion on how to resolve the Iraq war without killing too many more of our soldiers. I guess 2,085 dead hasn't satisfied her.

The national alliance first formed by Ronald Reagan is starting to crumble. The fissure is raw at the national level -- DeLay, Frist, Abramoff and Reed are all in legal jeopardy. Those cracks are now affecting the Republican grassroots, and it's going to be ugly. But this crackup has been a long time coming, and it's not a minute too soon for me.

The shotgun marriage between the amoral "drown the government in a bathtub" radicals (hi, Doug!) and the hyper-moral religious scolds of the far right (hello, James!) was doomed from the start. Lust for money and lust for power made these two ideologies come together, but even James Dobson knows a marriage cannot be built on lust: It must be built on firm beliefs and long-term goals.

Yet many citizens in Colorado do have reasonable beliefs and realistic goals. That was evidenced in our recent election. The goals of a functional government -- fair taxes, education and safety for all, and some help for the least among us -- are not traitorous. Nor does having these goals make you a socialist or a communist. Those goals are the foundation of our democracy, and are not foreign to the Democrats, and reasonable Republicans, here in El Paso County. For those who are against those goals, the line forms on the right. Just don't try to cut in front of Doug Bruce or James Dobson.

-- Bud Gordon

Colorado Springs

Tricky semantics

On Nov. 22, our City Council voted 7 to 2 to move ahead with a stormwater enterprise. Once property owners accept that our city has been negligent in requiring, building and maintaining adequate stormwater drainage infrastructure to protect life and property, they should also accept that a dedicated funding source is necessary to pay for remedying our past.

City Council had to decide a couple of things.

Is this a tax or a fee?

And, should City Council risk allowing citizens to vote on a new, approximately $7.50-per-month charge for residential homes?

As a tax, a vote of the people would have been required. Many of the details would have had to be worked out for the ballot item. The amount could have been added to our property tax and collected by the El Paso County assessor for little or no additional operating costs. The stormwater tax would also be tax-deductible.

When City Council decided to call it a fee, the decision was made without a vote of the people. The fee requires establishing a stormwater enterprise, a new city government organization that will most likely contract out the bill processing and collection.

This new enterprise's estimated first-year cost is $2.8 million, with an estimated subsequent annual cost of $1.2 million. Details of exactly what this $20 million-per-year fee will pay for have yet to be worked out. The fee isn't tax-deductible, but once the new city-operated business unit is established, property owners will get to pay their new bill monthly or quarterly.

The building and development industry works hard to avoid any costs that would decrease the amount homebuyers can access to spend on a new home. Adding this cost to property taxes would increase principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI). A fee has no effect on new home mortgages. Most of the $20 million will be spent on capital projects and will go to the construction industry.

A tax or a fee? Semantics or some antics?

-- Al Brody

Colorado Springs

Having a debate

This is an open letter to Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera:

I invite you to hold a town hall meeting to have an open discussion of the rationale for this City Council's votes to continue using utility bills to fund growth subsidies.

I've come to Council on several occasions with facts and logic in hand, requesting an end to this policy. Our arguments are based on actual Utilities data. Yet Council members accuse me of having no facts or distorting the facts, and then produce no substantiation for these claims.

Some accuse me of "oversimplifying" a complex subject. It is complicated, and I agree it can benefit from a more detailed discussion than has been allowed in City Council and Utilities Board meetings. This is an incredibly critical public policy that will impact the economic well-being of our community, our children and our grandchildren.

You told me in the utility rate hearing that you did not want to "have a debate" of the philosophy behind this policy. I want to believe you're in favor of having an informed public that participates in the local governance process. Would a town hall be a better venue to clearly and honestly explain your philosophy, and give those who disagree ample opportunity to present their case?

If the growth subsidy policy is smart and good for our entire community, then we'd all benefit from an open forum, with adequate and equal time for both sides of the issue to be brought up. We need to separate the facts from the assumptions. Perhaps we can initiate some simple research to validate any assumptions that are not currently backed up by facts.

I've provided my data and

reasoning on my Web site, savethesprings.org, but I'm willing to present them in an open forum, and welcome the development industry to make its case for continuing or even increasing what I consider to be an unwarranted corporate welfare program. I think my case can withstand the public scrutiny. Do you feel your case has equal merit?

-- Dave Gardner

Founder, Save the Springs

Colorado Springs

Getting educated

For most of us in the lower and middle classes, low-cost education loans are the only realistic mechanism available for funding higher education. I hate to think of the lowered availability and quality of higher education if certain groups in Congress are successful in their efforts to "save" money by reducing our investment in the minds and capabilities of our citizens.

Congress needs to know that the best way to reduce our federal expenditures is to make sure our citizens are skilled, informed and practiced in the arts of critical thought and effective communication ... in other words, educated!

On a more personal note, I would add that lack of funds (due in part to TABOR) is already forcing UCCS to cut degree programs, overwork and underpay their professors and increase tuitions. The result is reduced availability of higher education in Colorado Springs, reduced opportunities for our residents and a less attractive environment for business investment in our local economy.

I would urge voters in Colorado Springs to let their representatives in Congress know that de-funding higher education would hurt our country and our city, and would ultimately backfire in terms of money "saved."

-- Peter Wenker

Colorado Springs

One Less Car

Dear Motorists of the Colorado Springs Area:

I'm not sure if you're aware of it or not, but you aren't the only ones who need to use our city's streets to get around.

I am a cyclist. I do not drive a car. I ride my bike to work. I ride my bike to class. I ride my bike to the grocery store. If I need to get somewhere, I get there on my bike. I ride my bike to save money, which I can use to pay for school. I ride my bike because I am concerned about what your SUV is doing to the environment, so I'd rather not add to it.

At least once just about every day, I am honked at by motorists who seem to think that I should not be riding my bike on the street. One thing that I don't understand is where, exactly, they think I ought to be riding.

On my way home from class last week, a man in an SUV slowed down so that he was driving right beside me. He put his head out the window and very rudely asked me, "Hey, do you know what a sidewalk is?" I know it can be difficult to understand, but believe it or not, sidewalks are for walking. Recently added to our downtown are pictorial representations of people walking their bikes and the words, "Walk on the sidewalk." Sidewalks are not for bicycles, they are for pedestrians.

The following comes directly from the Colorado Driver Handbook, page 28, "Bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation and recreation. Bicycles are considered 'vehicles' under state law and bicyclists generally have all the rights and responsibilities applicable to the driver of any other vehicle."

So next time you see a cyclist, please use caution and courtesy. They have the same rights as you, and they are trying to get somewhere, just like you. They are one less car on the road, adding to the traffic and pollution.

-- Melissa Bays

Colorado Springs

Check it out

This is for the bimbo in the white Chrysler who flipped me off on Nov. 4: You don't have the right of way when you're backing out of your driveway on Acacia Drive. You also didn't use your turn signal turning left on to Nevada Avenue. Colorado Driver Handbooks are available at the library.

-- Linda Sorensen



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