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Skorman, our doorman

Opening the door to the future is what our first strong mayor will do, with precedents soon to be set that will continue for years to come. How best do we decide for whom to vote into this strong mayor's seat?

By getting educated with the facts, vs. getting infected with MSD (manipulation, spin, distraction). And the Indy's excellent investigative article ("Bach to business," News, April 21) on candidates Steve Bach and Richard Skorman, so well-written by Pam Zubeck, smartens up considerably.

Skorman's slate is clean, with a history of goodwill and helping save Red Rock Canyon Open Space, White Acres and Section 16 (we, our kids, and generations to come will be forever grateful), and with a small businessman's honest dedication to good service on a tight budget, vs. Bach (rhymes with Koch) and his addiction to greed and power.

— Rita Walpole Ague

Colorado Springs

What really matters

Thanks to Ralph Routon for his column ("Separate paths in journalism," Between the Lines, April 21) excoriating the Gazette's pathetic attempt to slur candidate Richard Skorman in the mayor's race.

While the Gazette ran past accusations that Skorman was a "deadbeat dad," DNA evidence from long ago has proved, beyond any doubt at all, that Skorman was not only not a "deadbeat dad" — he wasn't even this child's dad! And in the bargain, he befriended her anyway. This is the highest character, when you think of it. The Gazette's attempt backfired, big time.

I hope voters forget party labels and look at past records. (Perhaps they also should know the facts, such as that Richard Skorman is not a registered Democrat. He is a proud independent who willingly admits that he has voted in Republican primaries on multiple occasions.)

What any person has done in the past is the best indicator of what that person will do in the future. So don't vote for your party, vote for yourself and your future.

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Inconsistent Gazette

Wow, the Gazette is really upset about the Skorman TV ad, which says that if a city were to have a mayor so closely associated with the developer world, he might give deferential treatment, perhaps resulting in continuation of development like in the past. Not a bad assumption.

There are, of course, developers doing great things that don't cause sprawl, traffic congestion or scars on mountains. But the fear of continued development that doesn't address growth on positive levels is what I believe the ad is trying to convey.

However, where was the Gazette's outrage when the robo-call came out asking if voters would support Skorman if they knew that, as John Hazlehurst put it on the IndyBlog, "he was a gay-loving, gun-hating, big-government-supporting crazed liberal who wanted to raise taxes, take away jobs, and turn Colorado Springs into an anti-American wasteland"?

Where was the outrage over the candidate survey results from Focus on the Family? That's where City Council and mayoral candidates (not Skorman or Bach) said the following: "The purpose of this annual gay pride parade is to promote homosexual behavior as mainstream and accepted." ... "I would not issue a proclamation for any gay exhibition as we have seen in this city. I believe the displays are a detriment to this city." ... "Sodomy should not be 'celebrated' by public officials speaking on behalf of the city. The mayor should publicly reflect the social views of most citizens. The city must avoid pushing controversial issues that endorse or force on us distasteful, unhealthy, and aberrant behavior know as the 'gay agenda.'"

But wait, this is just "bickering about who will bless PrideFest with a nonbinding proclamation," which, of course, is only important to a substantial minority of the community, and maybe, or even absolutely, is also important to corporations who might have an interest in moving to this city.

We expect more from our local paper.

— Bill Mead

Colorado Springs

Five-dollar shake

After over 40 years as a member of Air Academy Federal Credit Union, I find myself the victim of a new policy that levies a $5 penalty for an average monthly balance of less than $500. I feel penalized by my financial institution for the mere fact of my lack of funds. My daughter is a student living on grants and will fall beneath this sum for six months out of the year. This may be good business in a financial sense, but it's bad public relations.

— Rhonda Mabrey

Black Forest

Something fishy

I had heard this place called Sushi Ring had super-fresh fish with an Elvis twist, so I checked it out at lunch. I just had a Rainbow Roll, not all you can eat. The fish was indeed very fresh, topped with sweet tobiko.

All was fine until I went to pay the bill. Instead of being charged $10.95 as on the menu, I was told the price was $12.95 because of the new computer cash register. I asked why the menu was a different price and was told "all prices have gone up but they don't have a new menu yet."

They insisted on charging me a price 20 percent higher than advertised. Isn't there a law or something about price-switching? Anyway, I will never go there again and am telling everyone I know not to, either.

— Julia Vendeland

Colorado Springs

Johnston's retort

Bart DePalma's letter ("Johnston's wrong," April 21) asserts that Myth No. 2 in my April 14 cover story ("Sham I am") is wrong because "the poor pay nearly no net taxes." Facts disprove this.

DePalma considered only federal taxes, when I wrote of the poor: "actually, they pay lots of taxes— just not lots of federal income taxes."

He cited a CBO study showing the poorest fifth of taxpayers, whose average income was $15,900, paid $684 or 4.3 percent of their incomes to Washington in 2005. The CBO study counted as income not just cash, but such things as medical care to the totally disabled.

Let's look at Colorado. In 2007 the poorest fifth paid 9 percent of their average $11,400 cash income in state and local taxes. The top one percent, whose income averaged almost $2 million, paid 4.2 percent. Poor Coloradans bear more than twice the state and local tax burden of rich Coloradans.

As a trial lawyer, DePalma knows that cherry-picking facts wins cases. My third year law students analyze the ancient Greek trial transcript "Lysias: Against the Corn Dealers" to understand how to sway a jury (and get a death penalty conviction against businessmen who just did what the government told them to do).

As a journalist I present the most rounded analysis possible after exhaustive testing of official data, fitting my reporting to whatever the facts show. But 44 years at this have taught me that many people deliberately ignore facts that call into question their view of the world. This natural human tendency is understandable, but disreputable in civic discourse.

To quote Mr. DePalma, those who "might want to become apprised with the actual tax situation" would do well to ignore his misleading use of facts.

— David Cay Johnston

Rochester, N.Y.

Care to care?

Taxes, taxes, taxes. We can argue about rates and percentages and comparisons until we're blue in the face. Mr. Bart DePalma's April 21 letter (Johnston's wrong) lists yet another set of "facts" to prove how tough the upper-income earners have it. It is also a "fact" that taxation is not limited to what the IRS takes. The sales and excise taxes paid by lower-income earners comprise a large percentage of their tax burden and of their income.

The argument I will continue to make to my conservative friends is that there is a price to pay for the privilege of living in this great country. There is not another democratic country on this planet where you would have the opportunity to amass the kind of wealth held by the upper "quintile" in this country. That opportunity has a price tag, and it should be a big one.

It's about caring as much about your country and everyone in it as you do about your villa in Ecuador or your ranch in Texas. It's about giving back to what feeds you. It's as much about opening your heart as opening your wallet. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal."

These times call for sacrifice from everyone. The sons and daughters of many of these low-income earners are sacrificing much more for this country than the rest of us. It's only money, after all.

— Michael Augenstein

Colorado Springs

The sham continues

The attack on David Cay Johnston was based not on a single word of his informative article ("Sham I am," cover story, April 14), but a single sentence of his bio pulled out of context. As Johnston, among his many credits, teaches university-level courses in ancient law, the letter-writer takes a cheap shot, writing that he "...might want to become apprised with the actual tax situation in today's America."

The author might want to actually read the article, which removes all doubt as to Johnston's command of modern tax law. He might want to read more of Johnston's bio, crediting him with shutting down tax dodges — in today's America! — worth more than $260 billion. Dollars, not drachmas.

It is fair to ask, what are the letter writer's credentials? He has read at least one government document, reporting that the top 1 percent of wage-earners earned 18 percent of total income and the next 19 percent earned 55 percent of total income. The problem: "all" taxes are lumped together and reported as a percentage of earnings, though, as Johnston points out, "... income tax is less than half of federal taxes." People pay taxes on what they own, as well as what they earn. Failing to separate the two will not shed light on either.

The letter concludes, "Thus dies the urban myth that the rich do not pay their fair share of taxes." I do not pretend to know what is fair, just, or equitable. My concern is only, have Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans produced more jobs and a healthier economy? To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, were Americans better off when President Bush left office, than when he assumed the presidency?

The American people already answered that question.

— Harry Katz

Colorado Springs

Face the issue

Colorado ranks 49th in mental-health care for its citizens. That's second from last. Wow, how unenlightened can a state get?!

Imagine a world where the most conservative, punishing county in all of Colorado (El Paso County) actually "learned" from other counties and could grasp the concept of utilizing prevention and treatment — rather than merely/simply/only "punishment" to deal with their criminals.

A 9News story out of Denver claims that 25 percent of the prison population of Colorado has (or suffers from) mental-health issues/problems. My experienced and knowledge-based theory is that that figure is, in reality, a lot higher than only 25 percent.

Treatment, help, assistance, accountability and ongoing support — what a "novel" idea, to actually help people rather than to continually punish, demean, and degrade them.

How about it, El Paso County? Maybe Colorado could learn to "climb aboard" a more advanced, workable solution to the huge prison population problem that exists in our entire state.

— Addy Hansen

Colorado Springs

 

Down on Alkon

I have never written a letter and doubt mine will be published, but will write the following anyhow in the hope that someone reads this message and considers what I have to say:

Although I generally enjoy your publication, I absolutely cannot stand your so-called "advice" columnist (Amy Alkon) who commits the unforgivable heresy of calling herself a "goddess." Whatever this creature is, it is certainly not deity but instead a person so rabidly misogynistic, I suspect "she" is some alpha male trapped inside a semi-female body.

Her philosophy is an odd blend of the Playboy Mansion fantasy mixed with how people imagined the 1950s. Alkon can put that hatred of other women to better use in the Middle East, where she could work as a mutilator who travels around performing FGM on 4-year-old girls.

Miss Manners with fangs? I don't think so — Alkon is an ignorant, insulting creep who plays into the new societal norm of ugliness. Miss Manners had class.

Oh, by the way, how can I earn money by writing hateful filth week after week?

— Karen Emanuelson

Colorado Springs

Time for toughness

Duane Slocum ("Conservative view," Letters, April 21), and Steve Bach himself, have made reference to the fact Candidate Bach will ask tough questions and make tough decisions, so I invite either Mr. Slocum or Candidate Bach to please delineate what those "tough questions" are for us.

Anyone can stand up and say, "I will ask the tough questions," but just exactly what are the tough questions? And what are the hard decisions? If a candidate makes a commercial saying that candidate will ask "the tough questions," then it would stand to reason that included within that commercial are the actual tough questions, with maybe a hint of an answer, none of which Candidate Bach has done.

So, Mr. Slocum, since Mr. Bach will make tough decisions about budgets, staffing, Utilities, benefits, PERA, Memorial Health System, etc., what will those decisions be? Do you know? I haven't heard what Bach is going to do, but apparently the decision will be "tough." Please feel free to elaborate, so that we all know what Bach has in store for Colorado Springs!

Better yet, maybe Candidate Bach could enlighten us as to what his tough questions are — insinuating that the other candidate, Richard Skorman, cannot or will not ask "tough" questions — and provide us the "tough decisions" he plans to make for our city should he be elected!

— Kris Barney

Colorado Springs

Correction

In "Bach to business" (News, April 21), Steve Bach's wife, the former Suzanne Gendron, was described as coming from a family that builds houses. Her family is not involved in home-building. The Independent regrets the error.

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