My sincere condolences for the loss of Z (Obituary, Aug. 24). I know how important she was to all of you at the Indy and I'm sure she will be missed terribly.
Thank you for sharing some of Z's life with all of us in last week's edition.
Half and half
Last week's Your Turn column ("Poor Losers") aptly documents the social justice failures in the U.S., from the 37 million "officially poor" to the 46 million who remain medically uninsured an absolute national disgrace. The error, however, resides in the preface to the article [not part of the original Mother Jones piece], which stated:
"This compendium of statistics shines a light on the need for charitable giving and social action in the United States."
The second part is spot-on, the first part isn't. The reason is that no amount of personal charity can ever be an adequate substitute for government benefits and assistance derived from the pooled tax commons. Indeed, the total U.S.-based charitable giving done in the past year would barely cover half of Medicaid costs.
Again, merely look at how many charitable donors now have "Katrina fatigue." It's self-evident one can't depend on the vagaries of personal will in charity which will tend to wax or wane depending on the national mood, or how sad (or appealing) the particular faces appear on the TV screen.
It's better to use pooled tax dollars and make government get off its sorry ass for the public good which, after all, is mandated in the preamble to the Constitution, where it is noted the government is to: "promote the general welfare". Not military welfare, not corporate welfare! General welfare!
At the end of the day, it astounds me how the conservative crowd never sees any positive functions for government only negative ones, such as funding elective wars, or funding a super-nanny spy state.
The lead-in to the Your Turn article indirectly played into this by invoking "charitable giving" as though government accountability can be minimized or ignored in pissing $6 billion a month away in Iraq, while our own (national) needs go unmet.
An open letter
Dear Pastor Haggard,
Recently, I became aware of a letter you sent to thousands of people in District 18, telling them whom to vote for in the upcoming election for state representative ("Praying for victory," Public Eye, Aug. 24).
Excuse me, but do you live on the west side of Colorado Springs? Last I checked, New Life Church was up in the northeastern part of town.
In your letter, you call my part of town "the one area in El Paso County that is not currently well represented." Really? Who decides these matters, the voters who live here, or you?
Look, of course, you're welcome to your opinions. But don't imagine that if you try to throw your theocratic weight around especially in an area far removed from your own that there won't be a reaction against your interference. Believe me, you have galvanized the supporters of Mike Merrifield who has done an excellent job of representing this district for two terms.
I hope the voters here will grant him another term to continue his good work in support of the community and in support of our small, locally owned businesses (as opposed to the endless sprawl of impersonal chain stores in your neck of the woods).
Here, as everywhere, opinions vary. But as I consider the unique character of the west side, I suspect that, by and large, voters here would prefer to be represented by someone whose values are democratic and pluralistic, not narrow and dominionist. As much as we, like any community, might resent meddlesome outsiders, we should all be thankful for your letter, because it quite clearly pegs Kyle Fisk as a minion of the religious right. After all, you identify him as your employee.
Voters can now ask themselves, "Do I really want to be represented by a man who answers to Ted Haggard?"
Sins of omission
Last week's story about the two petitions City Council has illegally kept from voters for the past year ("Downsizing City Hall," News) was basically a pity piece written by and for the City Council.
I asked the reporter to include the Web site for factual information (cityreforms.com). He did not. Instead, he parroted city scare tactics that tax relief would be devastating. He even repeated irrelevant projections about the impact if the six years of phased-in tax relief came all at once. Why project that? That is not the proposal.
The worst sin of omission was to suppress the fact that there are no cuts in year-to-year revenue, because city revenue gets to grow first every year for inflation, and only after that do taxpayers get this modest tax relief (about $20 in 2007 for a $250,000 home).
Forget those tired threats about layoffs and loss of services. What would you have to cut if your revenue rose $10-plus million a year? Nothing.
The second-worst omission was to ignore that, during the six-year phase-in, the imminent stormwater tax will extract millions more from us than we save from the tax relief. Add to that their gain from the growth of inflation or more in the general fund. See the tax charts on the Web site.
The third-worst was his concealment of the $116 million slush fund the city has in "unrestricted funds" (its term). See that page of the last annual financial report at cityreforms.com under assets chart. All that money is in liquid investments available to offset any budgetary squeeze, which, again, cannot occur because city revenue grows first, off the top, before citizens get relief.
Pushing the choke
It's nice to see that someone besides me is trying to oppose the city's ongoing penchant for choking streets with four lanes down to two ("Slim fast," News, Aug. 24). But it's too bad that all the people at the county want to do is push the choke one block down Tejon Street, alleviating their problem with access, but leaving the rest of us with more congested traffic.
One of the few sensible things Gen. Palmer did for this city was give it wide streets streets meant to carry, and capable of carrying, plenty of traffic. For years now, though, most people have stood idly by while the unelected traffic bureaucrats do everything they can to reduce the carrying capacity of our streets.
Unnecessary medians, projections poking out from corners into streets, and, now, eliminating lanes, all impede the flow of traffic and add to frustration.
They're doing this to every street that has two lanes of traffic in each direction, just as fast as they can. The result is streets where you can't pass anyone at least not legally. One slow-moving vehicle can block the street for scores of others. Their excuse that this makes it "better for vehicular traffic" is nothing short of ridiculous; they have to know better. They're deliberately tying traffic up as much as they can, to make it take you and me longer to get to work, to the grocery store, to wherever.
Thanks for making an issue of it, Douglas Bruce! But only a revolution on the City Council will put a stop to it.
Patrick L. Lilly
Occupied Cheyenne Caon
Destined to lose
It is commendable that the public is mounting opposition to the Army's plans to expand their base in the Fort Carson Pion Canyon area ("Army maneuvers," News, Aug. 24). There have been several important reasons for opposing these plans.
I hate to be a skeptic, but there will be no success. If George Bush wants the expansion, the expansion will take place. There is too much money involved. Bureaucrats and politicians will all have a share of the public money to be spent. The protesters will make lots of noise, and create headlines, but it will be for naught.
The Army will win. Pack up your protest and move on. You have picked a battle that you can't win against George Bush and his bureaucrats.
Upper Kedron, Queensland, Australia
Contraception and Cleaver
After considerable amount of time (almost 3 years) the FDA finally approved over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception. Anybody over the age of 18 may now purchase a "morning after" pill if they have had unprotected sex to help ensure that this encounter will not produce a child. Of course, the pill doesn't protect someone from STDs. The EC (emergency contraception) pill has been proven to be a safe, effective and rational way to prevent unintended pregnancies if taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.
This summer alone, 10,000 Coloradans signed petitions to help support this common-sense measure. Their actions actually had a positive impact in our community.
This is a huge victory for women and for America. Way to go, Colorado! Now we need to band together and try to secure this EC pill for anyone, including those under age 18. Last I heard, teenagers were still having sex. Young women 18 and younger are required to obtain a prescription for the contraception. We need to offer them the full range of reproduction health care to help create healthy lives, healthy children and healthy families.
By the way, my heart is saddened by Kenneth Cleaver leaving the Independent. His weekly letter was one that I never missed. I wish him the absolute best in his future endeavors. I'll never forget the unique letters, clever intuitions and ability to appall! You rule, Ken!
P.S. I'm not even dating him.
Last week's "Army maneuvers" story (News) misidentified the legislative body that had issued a resolution against the Army's possible Pion Canyon expansion. The body was the La Junta City Council. The Independent regrets the error.