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Come to the table

To the Editor:

In regard to the development community's "deep disappointment" over recent City Council decisions, consider this: More than a year ago, members of Rock Island Trail Advocates approached key leaders of this group in attempts to find common ground. We knew then that future growth, not present-day traffic, was behind the tremendous pressure for an east-west freeway. Respecting these leaders, we believed that the growth community and neighborhoods could find the proverbial win-win situation. All we hoped for was a place at the table, a say in the future of our city.

But in his direct, if eloquent, way, the EDC's Rocky Scott told us: "The east-west freeway is not a question of if. It's a question of when and where. There will be winners and losers, and neighborhoods should get ready to lose." The clear implication was left that money would make the decision. And his words were echoed less eloquently by some of his peers.

A year later, there are winners and losers, all right. But money didn't make the decision. Hard, grass-roots work did. The City Council acted to protect interior neighborhoods from a future freeway, because neighborhoods worked hard to research the options, networked with each other, and because the facts back us up. The experiences of other growing cities, and even this one, show that loss of neighborhoods by force -- freeways, hospital expansions, whatever -- leads to urban decay and regrets. No one wins in the long run.

When all the angry words and political threats have been exchanged, we will still have a city whose future must be planned. Clearly, a freeway cut through many healthy, established neighborhoods is not an option. Yet neighborhoods still seek the win-win solution for established neighborhoods and for growth. So the question we ask of the growth community is, Will you come to the table in good faith now?

-- Margaret Grove Radford
Colorado Springs

Do "compassionate conservatives" really care?

To the Editor:

Several big-name conservatives recently gathered at The Broadmoor. Not surprisingly, they confessed their need to change the way they have neglected the poor and minorities. One speaker even suggested that television needs to show more black women marrying white men. A stranger might have thought he was at the Detroit Democrat Club.

The truth of the matter is that it is easy to spout platitudes and talk about "compassionate conservatism" when the economy is good. However, when the need is the greatest, the conservatives are usually nowhere to be found.

Furthermore, the one area they all seem to relish talking about "helping the poor" is in the area of education. Not because they care so much about the education of the children, but because they would like to bust the teachers union -- which is the nation's largest supporter of the Democratic Party. They proselytize about the "failure" of the public education system and preach "vouchers" as the solution. Take away the money from the public schools, and they will fall from financial neglect. If you think this is not the truth, watch how they vote on the minimum wage, on more affordable housing, on better access to health care, etc. Then we can measure how much they care about the "poor and minorities."

-- Ken Alford
Colorado Springs

Harvest time

To the Editor:

So far this season, over 700 pounds of fresh produce have been donated to the 1999 Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign by the generous gardeners of our area. I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Colorado Springs Independent and Tess Powers (Small Talk, July 8) for the exposure and support of our efforts, and to remind my fellow gardeners that there is an outlet for "extra" garden produce.

Locally, PAR is sponsored by Garden Centers of Colorado and the Good Earth Garden Center. We encourage gardeners to plant a little extra in their garden, harvest it, and bring in their clean, bagged or boxed produce for donation to the hungry in our area. Through the efforts of Care & Share, we are able to distribute produce to those who need it, often the same day it is donated. This is truly a "homegrown cure for hunger."

There is a lot of harvesting to be done, and we would like to encourage anyone with a surplus of garden vegetables to consider donating them to this worthy cause. Interested gardeners can contact me at 473-3399 or Peggy Marsh at 528-1247, and we will be kicking off the 2000 campaign in April to help meet the national goal of 1 million pounds of garden produce to help feed the hungry.

-- Ken Hall, manager
Good Earth Garden Center

Is he a Democrat, or is he not?

To the Editor:

Let me preface my comments by saying that, having followed Jim Hightower's career since he served as Texas agriculture commissioner, I find myself in agreement with most of his positions and greatly respect him personally.

That being said, Why doesn't Jim Hightower quit hiding behind his facade of Populism and admit he's a stealth Democrat (after all, he was a Texas Democrat)? This would more clearly explain his thinly disguised disgust for the candidacy of George W. Bush.

Hightower bashes on Bush's fund-raising success. Funny how I hear little from him concerning the activities of Al Gore, who has been involved in a number of well-documented fund-raising scandals, yet has escaped prosecution due to, in Gore's words, "a lack of a controlling legal authority" (although many of his cohorts did not get off so easily).

Yes, Bush is raising tons of money. However, unlike Gore, with Bush, there has not even been the appearance of impropriety, much less illegality. In a nation with a $4 trillion economy, does Hightower really expect presidential candidates to not raise as much money as possible? Perhaps, if he is so bothered by the way candidates raise huge sums of money, he should focus instead on changing campaign-finance laws so as to limit fund-raising activities. Hmmm ... I wonder if even campaign-finance laws would make a difference? It sure didn't seem to for Gore.

-- Daryl K. Hykel
Colorado Springs

Dial 9-1-1, not H-M-O

To the Editor:

In response to Jim Hightower's piece ("Don't Dial 9-1-1 ... Dial H-M-O," Aug. 9), we at Kaiser Permanente want to assure our members and the community that 911 is the first number that should always be called in the event of an emergency. All of our information to our members, including our Colorado Springs identification cards, says this.

In no way does Kaiser Permanente's national contract with AMR for ambulance transportation seek to replace the use of 911 for emergency situations.

AMR has served our community well as the 911 response service, and Kaiser Permanente is completely satisfied with the service they have given to our members.

-- Shawn Raintree
Executive director
Kaiser Permanente, Colorado Springs

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