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Fight for petition rights, qualms with Martelle, more

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

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Petition rights attacked

Once again our Democrat and Republican representatives demonstrate their lack of trust and respect for Coloradans. HCR 1002 will make it next to impossible for any but the rich to propose constitutional amendments through the initiative process. It passed in the Colorado House last week and will be heard in the Senate this week.

HCR 1002 would double the number of signatures for citizens to qualify a constitutional amendment on the ballot from the current 86,000-plus required by law. In addition, it would impose requirements for petition signatures to be distributed across all seven Colorado congressional districts; a minimum of around 17,200 signatures would be required in each one.

Seems the elite from both parties who "represent" us in Denver don't think citizens and public interest groups without big bucks — such as advocates of animal rights, campaign finance reform, or tax reform — should be able to avail themselves of their constitutional petition rights. The Denver Post calculates that: "Gathering twice that number while distributing them geographically may well mean that only amendments with the backing of very deep pockets get on the ballot."

It used to be the Democrats stood up for Coloradans' petition rights, but I guess being the majority power for a few years has convinced them the General Assembly and the wealthy interests they deal with regularly know what's good for us. Of course there were also several Republican reps who agreed to HCR 1002's assault on our petition rights, including one El Paso County representative who recently discovered how hard it is to collect even 1,500 signatures per congressional district required to petition onto the primary ballot for statewide office.

Email or call your state senator and tell them to vote NO on HCR 1002. Stop this assault on our petition rights!

— Anne Campbell

Monument

No deduction needed

I read with interest Eric Cefus' column on "Budget Savvy Philanthropy" ("The Greater Good" advertisement, April 23), and wondered who he was aiming his comments toward. Was it the families whose parents are both working and maybe still paying off college loans? Or the single mom with three children working two or three minimum-wage jobs with no benefits, medical, retirement plan and 60-plus hours per week? The people who live in the Broadmoor or Kissing Camels? The households making less than $40,000 per year?

One would think that if you have to budget for philanthropy, you cannot afford it. Saving $10 per week as he suggests would be nice if one didn't need to budget for rent/house payment, food, medical, insurance, car repairs, kids' clothing for back to school, Christmas and birthdays, and the list goes on. Most people do not have the financial discipline to follow his suggestions. How many families in Colorado Springs itemize for their taxes?

Reading the Denver Post's article "Colorado deserves more secure financial future," the stats point to "... almost 60% of Coloradans working in the private sector lack access to a retirement investment plan at work. And 80% of Coloradoans who are self-employed report having no retirement plan..." Really don't think these folks will be into philanthropy.

Now, don't get me wrong. My wife is the giver in our family to Wounded Warriors, Springs Rescue Mission, the USO and ASPCA. We do not consider ourselves philanthropists, only givers in a loving, caring way. But we must face the reality that philanthropy is nice — if you can afford it. Doing it for a tax deduction misses the whole point. Giving comes from the heart, and no tax deduction is needed.

— Gary Casimir

Colorado Springs

Make the dream real

We need to raise the minimum wage for families, for the economy, and because it doesn't match the cost of living in the United States and should have already been raised throughout the years.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. If you are a single adult, this is enough to live above the poverty line, but if you have even one person to take care of, then you will live below the poverty line in some states. Here in Colorado, the minimum wage is $7.78 an hour and to live here as a single adult, you need to make about $19,000 annually. Working full-time making minimum wage, you make about $16,000 — that means you are living in poverty.

The minimum wage should have been raised over the years, since it hasn't since 1990. It needs to be raised to a living wage, and a law needs to be enacted so that as cost of living goes up, so will minimum wage.

If we the people demand a change and do things like vote politicians in that want the same change, and try to support businesses in America that pay living wages to their employees, Americans like you could be the difference. Every American should be able to pay their rent or their utilities when they are working a full-time job. Every parent should be able to pay for quality health care or feed their children every day when working full-time.

The American dream should be in arm's reach of everyone, and by raising the minimum wage we just might be able to make that dream real for more people.

— Lyric Jensen

Colorado Springs

Horror and context

Scott Martelle deflects from the horror and context of Ludlow ("Blood for coal," cover story, April 16) by suggesting it was not a massacre; his argument does not withstand scrutiny by those who have examined the same evidence.

Dozens of witnesses said the soldiers and guards used machine guns "like hoses" against the tent colony, including against the unarmed on April 20, 1914. Alcarita Pedregon, the Mexican woman who sought shelter for herself and her two children, and watched the life drain from them, spoke powerfully in her affidavit shortly after the massacre about the very soldier who lit the match that snuffed out her two children.

The affidavits of the women who survived and who were terrorized on that day speak powerfully to the label "massacre," yet Martelle discounts all these women in order to draw his conclusion. Martelle also clearly errs when he suggests that the union is responsible for naming it a massacre. It was journalists at the time who first gave it that label. Finally Martelle doesn't reveal that he is repeating an argument promoted by Rockefeller's PR agent, Ivy Lee (who later became Adolph Hitler's press agent), that there was no massacre because the men didn't know the women and children were there.

Martelle's depiction of Mother Jones doesn't measure up. The interviewer seemed to know more about her than he did. Jones endured three months of imprisonment incommunicado — no reading or writing materials, no visitors — in the strike in order to contest the denial of habeas corpus rights to labor organizers. She was the innovator of the tent city that put women and children at the forefront of struggle. Characterizing her as "an inspiring figure" in a "grandmotherly wardrobe" who "swore like a sailor" in her speeches and who invoked strikers' "sense of manhood" vastly underestimates her contribution to this struggle.

— Rosemary Feurer

Associate professor of history, Northern Illinois University

Where is Osgood?

In all I have read, the real force behind the southern Colorado coal struggle is never referred to. True, Rockefeller was involved as an ownership interest. John D. Jr. was involved behind the scenes, and I doubt had little involvement in the union/management/mine owner strife. John Cleveland Osgood was the real management/mine-owner power.

I refer you to his story From Redstone to Ludlow, authored by F. Darrell Munsell. This book outlines the Osgood involvement and places him as the real power fighting the United Mine Workers and miners. Why his name and power influence never surface is a real mystery.

To quote: "Called the Fuel King of the West, Osgood was the leading coal baron in the western mountain region and the most prominent spokesperson for the coal industry for over three decades. During this time, his anti-union policies made him the UMWA's most formidable foe in its effort to organize the Colorado coalfields."

— Ed Alyn

Colorado Springs

Consider the dandelion

It is that time of year when I must completely annihilate the tenacious dandelion. Every year, I dig and spray. There is no quit in these buggers.

I was preparing my arsenal of my great-grandmother's dandelion fork and some Roundup, when a honeybee landed on one of my nemeses, then a butterfly. These guys lingered for quite a bit on one blossom. They were working.

Hold on, if dandelions could possibly aid in positive growth of bee colonies, maybe we should make peace with the anti-hero of the lawn? I heard that they are edible, and can make a lovely wine.

— Kenton Lloyd

Colorado Springs

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