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The time is now

The homeless camps along Fountain and Monument creeks have ignited an outcry of public opinion.

The Trails and Open Space Coalition supports the work of concerned citizens trying to come up with answers. Most agree, the present situation is intolerable and unsustainable.

Camping along the creek under the current conditions must end for many reasons, including the preservation of our environment and safe, positive experiences for users of our trails. Whether the threat is perceived or real, many residents have stopped using those trails near the camps because they are fearful of, or uncomfortable with, the situation.

Some 250 campers now line the creek. As the weather improves, that number is likely to grow. How will that affect the experience for the thousands of residents and visitors who will flock to America the Beautiful Park for concerts, picnics, farmers markets, the playground and fountain?

This park is also the finishing point of the America Discovery Trail marathon that takes place every Labor Day. More than 1,000 runners, supporters and volunteers will be at the park that day. The citizens of Colorado Springs have worked hard to create and maintain parks and trails that are nationally recognized and the pride of this community. Unsightly, unregulated camping diminishes these otherwise beautiful areas.

Balancing compassion for the less fortunate with civic pride will be essential in finding answers to a problem that requires a solution sooner rather than later. TOSC is grateful that City Council is addressing this matter, and we support community efforts to find a compassionate solution.

— Susan Davies

Executive director, Trails and Open Space Coalition

Colorado Springs

Dirty Dream

Everyone agrees that the sorrowful homeless camps create a health hazard to all of us, but I will bet big money that Tent City will go bye-bye from Dream City before the la-de-dah time of year when the Art & Farmers Market opens, and touri$t time is here, and especially before the fabulous, breathtaking Olympic building opens (be still, my heart).

What's not going to depart from town is the phenomenal amount of disgusting garbage that is on every street, in every gutter and at every intersection.

Please look around ... plastic bags cover vacant areas and festoon the trees; there are fast-food bags all over; furniture and mattresses dumped beside roads along with auto parts, tires, clothing and huge pieces of Styrofoam; tacky plastic flower shrines memorializing drive-by victims decorate stop signs; tons of stinking cigarette butts outside all the bars; graffiti (or could that be art?), and best of all, the occasional dirty diaper left in parking lots by mama pigs.

The self-righteous folks whose attitude toward the homeless inspire their "inner Nazi" tendencies to demand the Final Solution, ought to be able to see that the homeless create less of a mess than their neighbors and their kids.

I believe that Dream City needs to wake up and smell the garbage! We need a general consciousness-raising here to eliminate wanton dumping and littering. Business owners should be fined for allowing garbage to accumulate outside their establishments.

Maybe some of the more capable homeless people could supervise groups of snot-nosed punks from the juvenile detention center and the county jail in picking up garbage from the streets, because Dream City is looking as run-down as Detroit.

— Bernadette Young

Colorado Springs

Ignorance reigns

Is it ignorance or arrogance that runs our city, or is it both? It seems that every time you turn around, the city is making bad decisions and completely ignoring the people's wishes.

I thought this country was founded on a government for the people, by the people, not by the government for the government officials and their friends or business associates. First it was America the Beautiful Park, then the U.S. Olympic Committee and now downtown streetcars.

What a disaster that will be — roads torn up downtown. I don't like going downtown as it is.

— Jim Gosse

Colorado Springs

Take a deep breath

Regarding "Utilities unveils plan for Pikes Peak access" (News, Jan. 28): It's unfortunate to see the total lack of trust and confidence the people of Colorado Springs have in their city government when you read the comments at csindy.com. Seems that's rampant in our country these days.

Colorado Springs Utilities is proceeding cautiously with good reason. This area is delicate and provides critical habitat for many species of wildlife and aquatic animals.

While my organization has been involved and we generally support opening this area for limited use, we do so with the knowledge that CSU and other agencies such as the Forest Service are professionals who have the health of the resource first and foremost in their minds.

If you give the professionals a chance, they usually do the right thing. Sometimes there are places it's not OK to allow people, including fishermen, hikers, bikers, motorcyclists and climbers. As with most of Colorado, including the north slope of Pikes Peak, also CSU property, it means opening up lands for recreation so we can enjoy them responsibly. Balance, people, we have got to have balance.

At the end of the day we may not all agree with the final outcome, and we should always exercise our right to speak out about our concerns. But we should do it responsibly, politely and firmly and with the facts on our side. If you have heartburn about the CSU proposal, educate yourself on the issue, read the proposal at csu.org and join the process to influence it. Screaming from the sidelines rarely results in the change you want.

— Jack Hunter

Cheyenne Mountain Chapter, Trout Unlimited

Colorado Springs

A closing door

I had an interesting incident occur recently. I had to check on some computer classes at the local library and, as I was leaving, a nice man held the first door of the double set for me. I passed through and held the second door for him saying, "Now my turn to hold for you." Smiling, he replied, "Yes, that's what makes America great ... unless you are a liberal."

As the smile from our genteel exchange faded from my lips, I looked him in the eye and stated, "Sir, I am a liberal. You may want to remember this the next time you meet one." And then I continued back to work.

What troubles me about this exchange is the lessons involved. I certainly know what new knowledge I hope this individual may gain from our chance encounter. But what future lessons should I take with me? To return his prejudice to all conservatives would make me a carbon copy of him. (Not a role model I desire.)

I fussed over this incident all afternoon. I've lived here seven years and have had many discussions with my co-workers and neighbors in which we could find common ground or at least agree to disagree. During the best talks we even enlightened each other. But there was no chance of that with this person, and that disturbs me greatly.

Until liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats can set aside prejudice and have a discussion that leads to answers that are neither black or white, red or blue, but some shade in between, we are at an impasse, and I don't know how much more impasse America can take.

This is just a thought. Put it in your teapot and soak it.

— Denise Ackart

Woodland Park

An A to Zinn

On Jan. 27, 2010, the world lost a great leader and visionary. We lost a man who championed the poor, the broken-hearted, and the oppressed. The world lost Howard Zinn.

Howard, thank you for being a voice of reason, compassion and truth. You are forever my hero and I will miss you.

— Michael McMahon

Colorado Springs

Wither, our city

So now the sky has fallen — and continues to fall. Adults and children can't use restrooms in parks anymore. People can't ride buses on weekends or nights. Some 93 city workers have already been fired, adding to the city's unemployed. On April Fool's Day, community centers will close. The public won't be able to swim in public pools. "Latch-key kids" won't have the safe after-school centers to go to. Some crime prevention programs have been canceled. This is only a partial list.

Why didn't anyone warn us? They did. Editorials and news stories in the Indy warned us — repeatedly. So did city manager Penny Culbreth-Graft and others.

Now we have a city taken into the Dumpster by tax crusaders. We have, locally and nationally, the immoral disgrace of people in million-dollar homes gazing down on desperate and homeless residents living in tents in subzero weather. This is where "smaller government and less spending" have taken us.

What's a citizen to do? Some have left. Some are planning to go. Some will stay here and try to turn it around by raising taxes. Streamlining government salaries by Steve Bartolin and others is helpful, but it's a drop in the bucket of a $40 million deficit.

It's essential to raise taxes only on the rich, those making more than $100,000 yearly or with more than $500,000 in net worth. Let no one say they cannot afford it, a laughable claim. They must be forced by law to open their cold, clenched fists. Yes they can.

Otherwise, watch a city wither.

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

More serious, please

Please, why did Anthony Lane's "review" of TheatreWorks' Twelve Angry Men appear in "7 Days to Live" last week? It can only be described as self-indulging Facebook whine unworthy of the Indy; and it's apparent Mr. Lane had not seen a dress rehearsal, or, more egregiously, read the script.

For those readers who, like me, were looking for something substantive, I'll begin by saying TheatreWorks is a professional theatre. The stage bios regularly include those who have appeared in world tours of major productions, on and off Broadway, as stars in such nationally recognized regional theatre as the Denver Center and Boulder Shakespeare Festival, and in local productions as well. That Mr. McClendon was gracious regarding Mr. Lane's non-experience says as much about Mr. McClendon as it does about Mr. Lane's hubris.

Since you failed to provide some notion of the play itself (and since I've read the script and seen the play), Twelve Angry Men reveals to us the jury-room evidence review and deliberations in a teenager's patricide murder trial. In TheatreWorks' production, the audience is seated in tiers on either side of a stage mostly bare but for the 12-man table: In a sense, each of us, as witness to each juror's thoughts, actions, and decisions, becomes part of that jury. Mr. Rose's play — as relevant today as when written in 1955 at the end of the McCarthy Era witch hunts — challenges our acknowledged and unacknowledged biases, and demands that we seriously evaluate what we think we know because others have told us what to think.

Twelve Angry Men is a good, and important, play to see. It's powerful stuff in a dumbed-down world of sound-bite politics and talk radio, abetted by a dearth of critical thinking.

— Jean Garren

Woodland Park

 

Hand on the lever

In regard to John Morris' Your Turn piece ("Progressives still battling") in the Jan. 21 issue, his claim that the Democratic Party's failures to make good on its promises due to being victimized is both ludicrous and disingenuous at best.

Obama and the Democratic Party ran on core or first principles involving the basis of our Constitution. Their failure to adhere to — and in many cases, their work directly against — this mandate cannot be explained away with the argument of partisan monkey business.

We are beyond the point of lame excuses. The proof is in the pudding and it's not proving palatable. George W. Bush wiped his ass with the Constitution and Obama is doing the flushing.

It's going to take a number of depressions on the lever, but before the job is done, he is going to be adding himself and the Democratic Party to the mix. By then we are going to need the plunger, but I think there's a chance it might still bust the main line.

— Lawrence Kledzik

Manitou Springs

Correction

In last week's Side Dish column, we reported that ownership closed the Nawlins BarBQ & Seafood location at 3317 Cinema Point. Actually, the Nawlins that closed is at 7685 McLaughlin Road; the Cinema Point location remains open. We regret the error.

Helping Haiti

Today, with the 24/7 news cycle, important issues get buried by new news. Now that the tragedy of the Haitian earthquake is three weeks old, it has faded from most TV screens and front pages. But the urgent need to help the millions of displaced victims remains enormous.

While there are numerous wonderful aid organizations, I personally endorse Partners in Health. For more than two decades, this nonprofit has run medical facilities in the island nation, employing more than 2,000 people, most of them Haitian.

To learn more about Partners in Health and its impressive track record, please read Tracy Kidder's masterful 2003 book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.

To donate online, go to pih.org. Or send a check to:

Partners In Health

888 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215

— John Weiss, publisher

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