FAC revitalized
As Michael De Marsche leaves town, Ralph Routon just wants to snap at his heels ("He'd rather be in Armenia," Between the Lines, Aug. 16). How crummy can you get!

De Marsche came to our town, chosen to lead the Fine Arts Center. This local treasure was, when it opened in 1936, anoutstanding arts center way out here in the American West.

Under Boardman Robinson, the FAC flourished, and its school attracted students from all over the country. After Robinson was stricken by ill health, another internationally known artist came here: Jean Charlot, an admired friend of Diego Rivera and famous in his own right.

After Charlot came Emerson Woelffer, an energetic and dynamic leader of the then-popular abstract expressionist art movement. All three assured our FAC of being known and admired on the national scene.

Since then, the FAC has continued to be a fine local institution, loved by locals and enjoyed by a select group of local supporters. It may be fair to say that over the years it had become a bit sleepy and unexciting.

Enter De Marsche. His record made it clear that he was a man who could make things happen, and he has done just that. When he arrived, I asked one of the selection committee members, "How long do you think we can hold on to him?" The answer was, "He will stay until he feels he has done what he can do."

He is now leaving our FAC revitalized, with three times as many members and enjoying a handsomely expanded physical plant.

De Marsche deserves the thanks of our city, and he deserves respectful thanks from our arts community. Nipping at his heels as he leaves is disgusting. The Indy is such a good paper. How can you permit this kind of scurrilous drivel to appear on your pages?

Hunter Frost

Colorado Springs

On target
Mr. Routon, you hit the nail on the head. Bravo! I know many FAC employees and board members, past and present, who worked under the egoist, Michael De Marsche.

It was commonly known that he had to have all the attention all of the time. Why else would Sandy Bray, who had just received a four-star review from the Denver Post for Pirates of Penzance, "leave" a place she had dedicated herself to for four years? What caused two board members to resign over Ms. Bray's sudden departure?

"Mikey" has been credited with the success of the capital campaign, but the truth is, the credit belongs to the co-chairs and director of the campaign. De Marsche was not good for Colorado Springs, and I say good riddance.

Hela B. Robran

Colorado Springs

A true supporter
Hooray for Michael De Marsche! He's an entrepreneur in the purest sense. I have to remind you that entrepreneurs are by definition "change-makers." They swoop in as incredible leaders, make phenomenal changes that leave long legacies, and then move on.

De Marsche has left Colorado Springs with a terrific fine-arts museum that no one before him took the time or effort to build. He needs to move on; you wouldn't want him to stay for the sake of staying? No, it's not in the soul of a true entrepreneur.

Sure, beg him, beat him, say nasty things about him and make him stay while his brain and talents are out the door and you pay him another 10 years ... ridiculous! Grow up, Ralph, say goodbye to Daddy! Whaa! Whaa! He's a free agent just like the rest of us. It's called the free-enterprise system. You live in it!

Elizabeth Carter

Colorado Springs

No tears needed
If you really need it, I will drop off boxes of Kleenex and Tucks to relieve your pain and discomfort from having a wealthy hobnob seek bigger fortunes elsewhere. Though I only met Michael De Marsche once, it was sufficient. I recognize you must be a big dreamer, but pollyana-ish assumptions don't really belong in the world of big business, major-league sports, or up in the ether of fine art collections. De Marsche had a job to do; he did it. Corporate CEOs can have disastrous financial reports and still collect millions in bonuses. What's the diff?

When an inspirational megastar such as Michael Vick signs to play football for millions of dollars a year, does he do it because he is enchanted by the city of Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, et al? Absolutely! If you truly believe that, I have some prime coastal property in Louisiana to sell you.

When Jim Dobson moved his company here, did he do it because he wanted to make Colorado Springs an evangelical version of the Vatican? No, he likes the tax breaks, plus he was tired of being a little fish in a big pond and likes being a big fish in a small pond. Do you think he truly lives here throughout the year? How many times have you seen a photo of him hobnobbing with the wealthy in the Gazette? You must have discriminating, sliding-scale standards.

You believe the FAC will scramble to find someone who cares. When significant amounts of someone else's money are involved, philanthropic directors, corporate CEOs and improvident hamburger-flippers are here today and gone tomorrow. At that point, caring hardly is an issue.

Steve Clarke

Colorado Springs

Nail on the head, again
I've enjoyed Ralph Routon's writing (sports or otherwise) formany years, but was never motivated to write until the column regarding the resignation of Michael De Marsche. You hit the nail right on the head, my friend. I've noticed that the Gazette hasn't weighed in on the subject in any way.

What hasn't been mentioned are the numerous people at the FAC he screwed over during his time here. Good people much more vested in the FAC and this community than he ever was. People whose lives or livelihoods he either destroyed or made a living hell, simply because ... he could. His management style seems to be that of making people kowtow to him, making them fear for their jobs. And as we all know, some people just aren't good at kowtowing. Those who could, remained; those who couldn't were gone. But not before he took the opportunity to completely demean them.

Certainly someone so obsessed with 1960s and '70s pop art and culture (i.e., Cynthia Lennon, Peter Max, Andy Warhol, "Beatles Brunch") must believe in karma.

Good riddance, Narcissus. Here's hoping that your karma catches up with you sooner rather than later.

David M. Bray

Colorado Springs

Defining activism
Thanks to the Indy and J. Adrian Stanley for an informative and fair piece on the St. Patrick's Day parade fiasco as those arrested face trial this week ("Bullish on parade," News, Aug. 16).

I was involved as a planner and marcher and, although not arrested myself, my husband is one of those arrested and facing trial. I have also been a peace activist (along with my husband) for more than 30 years, not only locally but globally, working in Palestine, Iraq, on the Mexican border and around the U.S.

My reason for writing now is to plead for greater understanding of grassroots public actions expressing dissent, support, protest, grief or joy so thoroughly American and protected by our great Constitution. Not all direct action or public expression is a "protest." There are silent vigils and prayer vigils, witnesses, solidarity actions, symbolic action and various forms of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Those of us who embrace nonviolence as a lifestyle, rather than as a tactic, use all of these and always conduct ourselves nonviolently in a spirit of peace and compassion.

I can assure readers that, in the case of the 2007 St. Patrick's Day parade, those of us marching with green peace T-shirts and various signs and banners expressing a hope for peace, had no prior or later intention to obstruct the parade (after the marshals and police halted it), to "protest" or to commit civil disobedience. We simply wished to take advantage of an opportunity to say yes to peace in the context of a happy community celebration.

The Indy is to be commended for its open-minded approach to this affair. I hope for as fair an outcome in this week's trial.

Eugenia Durland

Colorado Springs

Illogical or illegal?
Regarding your incident with the flipping manhole cover (""X' marks the spot," Your Turn, Aug. 9): I was floored at the city's benevolent attitude toward the walk hazard. Apparently they do not realize they are probably in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, more commonly called ADA. It clearly states that hazards in a pathway must have barriers for the visually impaired. Research it yourself at usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm.

Since I am trying to obtain a job with the city, I will respectfully withhold my name.


submitted via e-mail

Peace Camp success
My daughter learned about personal violence this year by dealing with a first-grade girl bully. Helping a child understand the violence in the world, both large and small, is a parenting challenge. I've found a source of support at Peace Camp, a successful program of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.

I chose to be camp director in 2005, because I see a great need for teaching peace to and through children. Ours wasn't the only interested family; spots filled up fast and there was a long waiting list.

The younger children at camp learn about how children live around the world in addition to swimming, doing crafts, singing, camping and lots more.

In the second session of Peace Camp for 10- to 12-year-olds, July 30 to Aug. 4), children moved forward from learning about children from around the world to actually identifying with them. They viewed invisiblechildren.com while sitting in a cardboard box with only crackers and water as movie snacks. The movie highlights more than 1 million children in refugee camps in the Darfur region in Sudan.

How often do we as adults feel comfortable talking about world hunger or even the homeless population in Colorado Springs? It's delicate all around. Unless we think about such things, we won't consider bringing them up with our most comfortable circles or partner. The next step would be action.

Teaching our children is one step in being a world changer and training up the next generation of peace-builders. As Gandhi said, "If we are going to bring about peace in the world, we have to begin with the children."

Heidi Cooper

Colorado Springs

Full disclosure
Regarding the July 19 cover story on Cripple Creek ("Upping the ante"), we neglected to include that the author, Deb Acord, informed us in advance that she had done some work for a company helping promote the Pikes Peak Heritage Center. That fact should have been disclosed with the story, and the Independent regrets the omission.


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