Onward Christian soldiers
To the Editor:
How refreshing to open the Independent, which I do faithfully each week, and read an article about Christians that was unbiased, objective and informative. I always enjoy the Independent's leftist perspective, if only because it is different from what I normally hear, but I usually assume that any articles having to do with Christianity will have a decidedly cynical stance.
The Soldiers for Christ piece proved me wrong. Clinton Chantry's coverage of Eggo, Al and their posse was open-minded and touching. He offered a wonderful image of Christians who challenge the often stagnant version of Christianity we hear so much about in Colorado Springs. In fact, the Christians described in the piece are a lot like the Christians I know and respect -- sincere followers of Christ who really are just hoping to make a difference for the better in other people's lives. I applaud the Independent for recognizing this. It speaks to your class and professionalism as an alternative weekly.
And you couldn't have picked a better group of people to profile. Those guys are first-rate, creative and genuine. Quite an example for the rest of us, Christian or not, to follow.
-- Patton Dodd
Staff writer, New Life Church
Spend tobacco money well
To the Editor:
As the first payment from the tobacco settlement arrives in our state, we should remember the goal of the original lawsuit against Big Tobacco. The goal was to recover millions of dollars spent each year treating sick smokers. Tobacco costs our state $930 million each year. Unless states use settlement dollars to curb tobacco use, they will continue to face enormous tobacco-related costs.
The Centers for Disease Control have issued a report for each state with recommendations on how to spend the settlement money so that it stays centered around tobacco issues. "Best Practices" is available by calling the CDC at 770/488-5705 or on their Web site: www. cdc.gov/tobacco.
The best way to fight tobacco use and reduce tobacco-related health-care costs is to educate potential smokers when they are young, before they start smoking. Tobacco-use-prevention programs do work.
In 1997, Florida launched a tobacco prevention pilot project. RESULT: Tobacco use among middle-school students dropped by 19 percent and by 8 percent among high-school students. In California and Massachusetts, monies from cigarette tax hikes helped fund tobacco-use-prevention programs. RESULTS: While teen smoking increased throughout the country from 1990 to 1993, smoking by teens in California and Massachusetts slowed or remained constants.
Colorado has an obligation and an opportunity to invest tobacco-settlement money in programs like these that will protect our children from the ravages of tobacco use.
-- Barbara Niven, volunteer chair
American Lung Association of Colorado
Colorado: First in whining
To the Editor:
As a former teacher in both Colorado and California, I would like to comment on one of the letters ("49th in school funding," Nov. 11) published in your paper.
The methods for determining ranking of public-school funding are not exactly widely accepted or entirely reputable. You will find, for example, that Colorado spends more of its total taxable resources on education than several other states, such as Nevada, Louisiana, North Carolina, Delaware, Hawaii and others. Colorado also spends more total dollars than other states.
You will also find that the adjusted "education spending" per student that cites Colorado's ranking is a very unreliable predictor of actual school and student performance. In fact, in many cases, there is an inverse relationship: the higher the funding, the lower the school performance.
Thus, we find more than 30 states with, for example, standardized eighth-grade math performance worse than Colorado's, but with much higher levels of school spending.
Take New York. That state spends more than 50 percent more in "adjusted" funding dollars than Colorado, but its schools and students perform well below Colorado in math. Throwing more money at the problem is unlikely to solve anything, because the sources of the problem are not primarily financial in nature.
We need a new bumper sticker out there. It should read: COLORADO: 49TH IN SCHOOL FUNDING; FIRST IN WHINING.
-- Albert Olli
To the Editor:
I have been selling flowers on the corner of Austin Bluffs and Academy Boulevard for 23 years. Lately, it is true that I haven't been on that corner as often as I used to be. I now work at the Smokebrush theater, as well as run my own theater company, Upstart Performing Ensemble. We have matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays, so I don't "work the corner" as often as I used to.
At least 10 times a day, someone yells out of their car window, "Get a real job." Yes, it bothers me that this ignorance is so prevalent. I work 49 hours a week that I actually get paid for and another 39 hours a week, producing art because I love it.
I find it interesting that the City Council is so concerned about the panhandlers on the on/off ramps. I could not sell flowers there as it would be illegal for me to do so. I have a permit issued by the city and a tax license. I also carry liability insurance naming the city and its property as a beneficiary in case my signs blows into and cracks their sidewalk or hits their traffic signs and breaks the glass.
This controversy about panhandlers is an easy one to solve. Make them go through the hoops that we flower sellers have to go through. If they want to panhandle on the freeway or major intersections, make them buy permits, carry insurance and apply for tax licenses just like flowers sellers have to.
Oh, and as for all those ignorant people yelling, "Get a real job" -- get a life, then you will have something more exciting and important to scream out your window!
-- Tony Babin
Fact or just more bull?
To the Editor:
Please let me respond to Linda Hasselstrom, who questions PETA's advertising campaign that states: "Eating meat can cause impotence" ("Vegetarian vandals entertain with errors," Nov. 4).
In fact, medical evidence does indeed indicate that meat eating causes impotence, because meat clogs up the arteries going to all organs, not just the heart. And while meat consumption is linked to numerous health problems as well, including heart disesase, cancer and stroke, it seems that many men care more about their virility than their lifespans, so we're appealing to them on their terms.
Our ad is deliberately saucy, certainly, but, as expected, we've had more chuckles than tut-tuts about it. And calls have been pouring into our hotline from people who have seen the ad and want free vegetarian starter kits. Readers who want their own can call toll-free: 1-888-VEG-FOOD.
-- Alison Green
correspondent, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals