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Rethink the ban
To City Council: The Colorado Springs smoking ban in the city parks and open space is a poor piece of local legislation and fails miserably to stand by fact alone to any of its three selling points.
The city maintains the ban is necessary and will be effective on three points: It will help to protect citizens' health and safety; it will prevent fires in open spaces; and it will reduce litter.
First, I'm not sure anyone in the nation would argue that smoking and secondhand smoke indoors is detrimental to anyone's health. Before we pass a ban like this, however, let's verify that our citizens' health will improve as a result.
The city referenced a comparison of nearly 500 other municipalities across the U.S. as examples of smoking bans making people healthier. How was that conclusion made? Who knows? The fact is that Colorado Springs was just named the second-healthiest city in the nation, without a widespread encroachment on individual rights.
I'm also curious as to where the city is getting the idea that banning all smoking in the parks and open space will reduce fires and litter. Every summer, various municipalities around the area issue temporary fire and smoking bans. Why can't we stop there? It seems to be working.
It would also be pertinent to discover if a permanent public-space smoking ban in other communities has resulted in a decrease in fires. When asked, the department openly admitted it has no examples of smoking causing fires in our local open spaces in the last 10 years.
With the lack of fact and concrete evidence that a permanent smoking ban in the parks and open space would actually be beneficial, I'm left wondering if this isn't just another authoritative foray by City Hall against personal rights.
— David Kelly, director, Liberty First
Dan Lewis, business owner and Parks Department volunteer
Back to the core
It's very disturbing to watch our democracy crumbling under the weight of an ideological minority that seems not to care about middle-class or poor Americans. Radicals in Congress are playing politics with our economy, gleefully shutting down services for those most in need, simply to keep millions from receiving health care.
Military veterans in my family will be hurt badly. Our heroes who have lost limbs have lost their benefits with this shutdown. Yet Congress, which has passed no bills and has not done its job, continues to receive healthy paychecks and paid benefits.
The Pentagon will continue receiving billions in massive and unchecked spending, while teachers and responders lose their jobs. We need to end extreme obstructionism so that we can get back to our core values and pass a budget that takes care of our infrastructure, our children and our veterans.
— Sharlene White
Contrary to popular belief, the real war in American politics at the moment is not between President Obama and the Republican Party (even though that one is vicious enough). It's the ruinous internecine battle between the tea party and the Republican Party.
Of course Obama is inextricably involved, but he knows that old, venerable rule of politics: "When your enemies are fighting amongst themselves, don't butt in."
Some critics call the Affordable Care Act a "train wreck." The real train wreck at the moment, is the Republican Party.
— Larimore Nicholl
Got a kick out of James Hesser's letter to the editor in the Sept. 11 issue ("Doug's Dilemma"), with its "analysis" of the decision process of today's elected officials. Unfortunately, since the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United vs FEC in January 2010, it is too close to the truth to contain any humor.
With the legalization of bribery of government officials, elected and administrative, that resulted from that decision, that is the thought process. The United States of America overnight, literally, was changed from a democracy to an oligarchy of moneyed interests, corporate and private.
Witness the referendum last November in which a majority of Colorado voters voted — 3 to 1 — to create a resolution to overturn that decision, and a state Legislature that has done nothing to honor that "democratic" vote. And a resolution to overturn that has been circulated though the U.S. Congress that some 25 senators, including Michael Bennet, and many more representatives have endorsed but that Mark Udall and Doug Lamborn have refused to endorse. I wonder why?
— John Hobson
Our private deeds
You are either part of the problem, or part of the solution.
We complain about fracking, but set our thermostats at 72-plus degrees in the winter. Our concern about unfriendly oil-producing countries worries us, but we drive SUVs 25 or more miles to and from work.
Unemployment is high and our tax base is low as we shop online for goods that are made and sold by companies based out of state. We all want a diverse economic base, but shop at big-box national or international chains while going through the self-checkout lane. We scream about big heartless bankers creating the last recession, but kept an account and have a loan we're paying on there.
We decry what our politicians do, but we are single-issue voters and don't go to town hall meetings.
Private actions can have public consequences. Our behavior and buying habits control our local, state, national and international economy.
Please continue to do what you do, and how you do it. I won't have to greet you in the parking lot across town while you unload a shopping cart into your Hummer full of imported goods shipped from halfway around the globe made by underpaid, overworked people at a factory that pollutes the earth in unsafe working conditions.
— Steven Seidner
He's outta here
My goodness, it didn't take former Sen. John Morse long to flee the district that he never really represented and head up to Denver, the home in his heart ("Morse moves to Denver," Noted, Oct. 2). No more pretending that he actually spent any time living in the Satellite Hotel, no more having to put up with the hated provincials out in the sticks.
Of course, you couldn't just slink out with at least the pretense of humility and class, you had to take a cheap shot at the man who voters chose to replace you with on your way out.
Thanks for continuing to show everyone why getting rid of you was a good move, Johnnie!
— Richard Shirley
To voters of Fountain: Ballots have been mailed, and you have to decide whether to keep the smart meters you already have or ban their use and pay to have them replaced. I am asking you all to allow smart meters to stay.
1. Privacy. If the old analog meters are installed, city employees will come on your property once a month to take a meter reading. If you have a fence, you will have to leave a gate unlocked so employees can get at your meter. Do you want strangers coming onto your property at random times?
2. Safety. In the event of a fire or other disaster, smart meters give the utility department the ability to remotely shut off the electricity to individual houses, blocks of houses or even whole communities immediately. This will reduce the chance of further damage and allow our first responders to get onto the scene in a safe and timely manner.
3. Reliability. Colorado Springs has had smart meters since 2008. They were used to shut off power to the homes in the Waldo Canyon Fire area before fire fighters moved in. Are you hearing our neighbors to the north complaining about outages or other problems with smart meters?
4. Cost. It will cost $5.43 million to replace current smart meters already installed, and it's been estimated that this would raise the average electric bill at least 7 percent a month. In addition, the city will have to pay to hire meter readers to come around to your residence to read your meter. That money is going to have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is you.
I join the City Council of Fountain in recommending you vote no on Initiative 2D.
— Gordon Rick
In "Pluses and minuses" (News, Oct. 9), we incorrectly reported that Mayor Steve Bach's proposed 2014 city budget contains no provision related to the "City for Champions" application for Regional Tourism Act funds. The mayor actually proposes spending $200,000 from the lodgers and automobile rental tax to fund "City for Champions communication." We regret the error.