Taxophobia in the Springs, hope for CSU Board, climate change, and workers' comp 


Editor, 235 S. Nevada Ave., CS, CO 80903 • email: letters@csindy.com

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Springs 'on the cheap'

The post-truth world can be a pretty dispiriting place, but once in a while, there is a glimmer of hope. The interview with Jan Martin ("To be frank ..." News, April 22) does that for me, especially when she captures the YOYO mentality of this community: "I'm willing to pay more for my own than I am willing to pay for the community good."

Frank assertions are a good start.

Taxophobes are ready with their rejoinder, "If you are willing to pay more, then feel free to write an extra check." That's a response right up there with, "If you don't like it here, leave."

Time for adult discussion.

The most cynical among us complain about being taxed enough already, or that the inefficient government has all the money it needs. That's a polite fiction as city services are stretched paper-thin and voters desire Champagne services on lemonade-stand budgets.

As an example, I have two dead trees on my boulevard, property of the city. I have waited patiently as city foresters have scrambled around the neighborhood — five treecutters for a city of 400,000 people? In the 1980s, during a huge Dutch elm outbreak in my Minnesota hometown, we cut dead trees daily for months at a time — two four-man crews for a city of 12,000. And we couldn't keep up.

If you want the community to remain attractive to new industry and new workers, appearance and vibrancy matters. Infrastructure adds value beyond its cost. We have gotten by on the cheap for as long as I have lived in this town, 28 years. Jan Martin is correct to argue that buying cheap always costs us.

Enjoy the next direction, Ms. Martin; you have done your part and then some.

— Steve Schriener

Colorado Springs

No more can-kicking

Earth Day 2015 was remarkable for three reasons:

1) The Utilities Board (City Council) generously allowed over 90 minutes of uninterrupted public comment at its standing-room-only Utilities meeting last Wednesday.

2) Twenty-eight people took hours out of the middle of a workday to speak to city leaders about why clean, renewable energy is important to them and to this community.

3) Despite this historic turnout, the official CSU minutes made no mention of the public comments at all.

Of course, the board hearing the need to replace fossil fuels with clean energy is not remarkable. Citizens have spoken to the Board for decades now, with little to show for it. Even when organizations such as the Sierra Club and others brought to light the hidden millions we spend in health care costs to burn coal, the impassive Board continued to kick the can.

What would be remarkable is if the Utilities Board would do more than listen, and would act. Five times in as many years, CSU staff have proposed solar garden projects, increased demand-side-management (energy efficiency), and a long-term energy vision that would include 20 percent renewable energy production. Each time the Board avoided action — either voting unanimously against CSU's proposals, or dithering long enough that projects died a slow death of neglect.

Even after investing nearly $500,000 in 2013 for the HDR, Inc., study about the economic, social and environmental impact of operating Drake, the Board ignored the recommendation for short-term (5 to 10 years) decommissioning. Kicking the can seems what the Board has done best.

Will this new Utilities Board prove itself remarkable? Will it pay attention to its citizens? CSU staff? The recommendations of the next EIRP (Electric Integrated Resource Plan) process? Where there is action, there is hope.

— Laura van der Pol

Colorado Springs

No more gambling

Imagine hiking a narrow trail at Cheyenne Mountain State Park on a warm June day. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of a long wavy line on the ground that seemed to move.

If you are like most people (like me), you freeze, jump back, or take some protective action, as if it were a snake. You react instinctively, before the message even gets to the higher-order parts of the brain, where you can evaluate whether it really is a snake. The wiring of the brain is to fear first, and think second. Having brains like this has allowed us to survive for a long time.

How well do we evaluate slow-moving risks? Back in the 1960s, when my family would drive from Chicago to Michigan, my sister and I would attempt to breathe through pillows, as we passed the steel mills of Gary, Indiana. Now, the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change are invisible to all our senses. Thank God for climate scientists, who are able to warn us of increasingly extreme weather.

We don't want to continue to gamble with our children's future. Let us transition to clean energy sources. If you love someone younger than you, it's the right thing to do.

— Chris Hansen


ARAWC responds

The basis for "Workers' comp is under attack" (LowDown, April 22) was a factually incorrect Mother Jones "article." Readers who like to do their own research are welcome to visit our website (arawc.org/blog) and read a point-by-point refutation.

What the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers' Compensation believes should be discussed is how to best care for injured workers in a way that makes sense for the employee and the employer. The goal of any occupational injury benefit plan should be to expedite benefits to injured employees, getting them back to work quickly.

It takes an attorney to understand workers' comp benefits or how to access them. On the other hand, an Option — the workers' comp alternative ARAWC advocates for — requires all employees to receive a document that details the exact benefits and process for accessing them, in language understandable by the average worker.

What about the benefit caps mentioned? Workers' comp operates on this "grand bargain" from 100 years ago, which removes all legal liability from an employer. We believe legal exposure forces the employer to have some skin in the game. This accountability results in safer workplaces and more responsiveness to employee injuries. In the extraordinarily rare instance where an employee reaches a medical benefits cap, the Option gives him or her the right to sue and receive funds above the cap to cover medical needs. Workers' comp doesn't do this. Option-covered employees that miss time from work also routinely receive more lost wage benefits than are paid by workers' comp.

So while Mr. Hightower spends his time bashing job-creating businesses and defending the broken workers' comp system, we will spend our time advocating for a free-market Option alternative, which is just that — an option. Injured workers deserve better outcomes, not baseless hyperbole.

— Richard Evans

Executive director of ARAWC

Editor's note: Shortly after the Mother Jones piece appeared (bit.ly/1Ndf9Ws), ARAWC removed its corporate-funders list from their website; you can view that excised page at bit.ly/1IOgxvW. See fresh reporting on the workers' comp situation at: ProPublica (bit.ly/1w2CiGm), NPR (n.pr/1BF0VFy) and The Washington Post (wapo.st/1GAVa3P).


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