Ominous sign

It has been reported that imaging equipment detected not one but two drill pipes, side by side, inside the wreckage of the well's blowout preventer on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

If this is true, has part of the casing in the BP oil well already blown out? If so, how does BP expect to intersect the bore hole without the well casing for a magnetic target? Is this why BP reportedly has to drill all the way to the bottom of the leaking well to intersect the blown bore hole?

Attaching the new well cap over the leaking well head, and the slow shutoff of bleed valves to regulate well pressure, indicate to me that BP is unsure if the well casing is leaking below the well head. BP seems to believe shutting off the valves too quickly could blow out the remaining cement plugs.

At what point in time will fixing the leak be too late to save the fish and wildlife habitat? Is it already too late?

— Donald Slayter

Colorado Springs

Knowledge rules

The latest scoop about money and the elections is that if current pledges are fulfilled, 10 groups will unleash more than $200 million as the "Bush boys and big corporate interests try to buy their way back into power."

But wait, Thinking People. Take a deeper look. Is money really the ultimate power, as so many who chase it believe? I submit that knowledge — accurate information, understanding and wisdom — trumps money in the long run. No one, no matter how wealthy, will be able to breathe or drink their massive fortunes when there is no more clean air to breathe or uncontaminated water to drink.

Look back in history at the Roman Empire for another example of wealth not being sufficient to maintain power and control over the whole world. The world sank into the Dark Ages for centuries when the Roman "elite" minority mired themselves in all the self-indulgence that money could buy. Much of the world's knowledge — even the ability to read and write — was almost lost.

There is a major difference between now and then. The ability of the Internet to spread knowledge and understanding is a great equalizer. The 98 percent of us who do not have paid lobbyists in D.C. each have a vote. If we educate ourselves to the facts, rather than believe the spun sound bites bought by all of that $200 million, we can (a) amend the Constitution to protect ourselves from the Supreme Court's ruling that corporations are people, (b) elect lawmakers who will pass the Fair Elections Now Act, and (c) kick the lobbyists out of Washington by curtailing the revolving door that promises government regulators a future as highly paid lobbyists when they leave government service.

— Cara Koch

Colorado Springs

By the numbers

So, Colorado Springs, a city of about 381,000 residents, now has:

1) more than a dozen McDonald's restaurants, 2) zero Krispy Kreme doughnut stores, and 3) 176 medical marijuana centers ("Bud shake," CannaBiz, July 8). For some reason I am suddenly apprehensive.

P.S.: By the way, how did the Independent — not to mention the green ink suppliers — ever survive before HB 1284?

— Greg Hartman

Colorado Springs

SMART start

Like Colorado families, state lawmakers in Denver have been working hard to tighten belts, slashing more than $3 billion in spending over the past two years.

We took a very different approach than Colorado Springs. We created appropriate tools to give us more information, allowing for more critical decision-making, and made cuts with scalpels and butcher knives, not chain saws.

That's why I supported the SMART Government Act. State Measurements for Accountable, Responsive and Transparent Government, establishing performance budgeting and accountability audits, isn't rocket science. However, the underlying concepts are essential as we remake our state government. Taxpayers deserve to know how, and how well, their dollars are being spent. And governments can spend money more effectively if they have evidence showing what works and what does not.

SMART Government requires departments and agencies to present lawmakers with strategic plans and goals. The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on each agency's plan at public hearings, providing an important opportunity to help set the state's goals and priorities. This creates a new layer of public oversight, and an opportunity for participation that currently doesn't exist.

Each year, an easy-to-use report card showing what works in state government — and what does not — will be posted online. These reports will show how well the state is delivering critical services like unemployment benefits, food assistance and public safety.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the law directs the state auditor to perform performance audits of critical programs in two or more departments each year. Every department in state government will be audited at least once every few years, placing a microscope on cost-effectiveness.

Coloradans deserve a state government that is honest and effective, transparent and accountable. SMART provides a good place to start.

— Rep. Dennis Apuan

House District 17, Colorado Springs

Horn of Africa

Bye-bye, vuvuzelas!

— Steve Suhre

Colorado Springs

Decision coming

Readers of the Indy are familiar with the proposed Fort Carson combat aviation brigade. Here's an update:

• The final decision on the combat aviation brigade (CAB) may come before the end of summer, according to Col. Robert McLaughlin, garrison commander at Fort Carson. The "Stop the Whop Whop" campaign is still committed to stopping this unwanted, unneeded expansion. Local boosters, including the Chamber of Commerce, are lobbying hard on the other side. Our hope is that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will see it our way.

• There is already a lot of helicopter activity at Fort Carson. The 30 or so Apache helicopters permanently stationed here do regular training missions on the plains, in the nearby mountains and at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Some missions involve the Special Forces detachment stationed here and are kept in deep secrecy. Others are well-known to those who live under their flight path, and the public hears about them when there is an accident such as the recent one on Gold Camp Road.

• Fort Carson regularly hosts aviation brigades from other Army posts. A recent newspaper story identified two such missions. Both units did extensive high-altitude training in our nearby mountains. There will be similar operations in the future whether or not Fort Carson gets the new CAB.

• If the CAB comes, it will greatly expand the amount of helicopter training at Fort Carson, on the eastern plains, in the mountains, and at PCMS. The environmental impact statement on the CAB doesn't address the issue.

— Bill Sulzman

Colorado Springs


Speeding up

There is a lot to be said about my YouTube videos on the Pikes Peak Ocean channel. Keep in mind that I am not the only one who does this.

I have lived in Colorado Springs through good times and bad since 1987. The reason for these videos is to show there is a part of the Colorado Springs population that is forgotten about and/or ignored. I have spoken to our mayor and City Council prior to these budget cuts, and it went nowhere.

In my videos you will see cartoon humor, but the story is told. When I began making these videos, I was not sure if they would draw attention from around the nation. To my surprise, they have.

Soon after I started the videos, I met Dan, owner of the JCP1801 channel and a Colorado Springs native who now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. That was where I got the idea to make cartoons. I have had to walk home from work when I could not find a ride.

Some good has come from this. Jan Martin has ridden the bus, which you will find on my YouTube channel.

I will not claim that my videos will bring services back that were lost. But what I will say is that the videos have brought attention to this issue.

Of course I would vote for a tax increase to bring back such lost services, provided that the money will be used for its intents and purposes.

Thank you for watching my videos, but please know I am not the only one making such videos. Besides my channel, please visit youtube.com/jcp1801. My friend Dan deserves as much recognition for the videos. If not for his alliances, I might have given up.

— Ed Billings

Colorado Springs

God and guns

We arrived in Colorado Springs in the summer of 2007. That December a gunman shot two missionaries-in-training in Denver on a late Saturday night. He then drove to Colorado Springs to destroy families at New Life Church the next day. He gunned down people in the parking lot, and went into the church to continue his killing.

The pen is supposed to be mightier than the sword, but a 40-caliber handgun can get the job done when needed. A very alert, armed, volunteer security person stopped the killer before he could continue his rampage. The importance of church security has received increased emphasis, but since December 2007, it is, or should be, constantly on the minds of both the professional and volunteer staff of houses of worship.

I attended a recent church security seminar hosted by the Monument Police Department. As one instructor said, it was like drinking from a fire hose because there was so much information they were trying to get out. I was surprised at how few churches in the Colorado Springs area were represented in the audience. Any religion or denomination you can name in the U.S. has had a violent incident on a church campus in the past 16 to 18 months.

It would appear that some church leadership truly does not feel the need to have security. It might make parishioners uneasy. And I understand that some religious leaders believe they do not need security, because their God is going to protect them. I am sure that God was at New Life on that Sunday morning in 2007, but the shooter still killed innocent parishioners.

If your church is not doing proactive security, you are behind the power curve.

— Major Van Harl

Retired, U.S. Air Force

Colorado Springs


• In recent blog posts on our website regarding the El Paso County sheriff's race between Terry Maketa and Jake Shirk, we committed two factual mistakes.

On June 29, in a post titled "Sheriff's race in full swing," we reported an inaccuracy. Teller County Sheriff Kevin Dougherty has endorsed Maketa, not Shirk.

Also, after the El Paso County Republican Women's Picnic on June 22, we reported in "GOP picnics, Maketa arrives late," that Maketa did not appear. In fact, Maketa did arrive at the event before its conclusion.

We have updated both posts with corrections. We apologize to our readers, to Sheriff Maketa and to his campaign staff.

• In our July 1 issue of ReLeaf, we mistakenly stated that Bill Prince is the sole owner and founder of Discreet Treats. He is the co-owner. We regret the error.


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