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Starting a new dialogue

To the Editor:

What a wonderfully written and important contribution to the history of Colorado Springs Bob Campbell made in his cover article ("Pride and Prejudice: The untold, unheard history of Black Colorado Springs," Nov. 16). I've lived in Colorado Springs since 1960 and have both learned and taught its history. I swam in the waters of the sterile mythology that was passed on as our state and local history. I hated teaching it for just the reasons Mr. Campbell mentioned in his opening.

Today, there are different crosses than the Klan's around our city. Yet, any of our talk radio shows display a chorus of white callers angry about having to be blamed for "the sins of slavery" which happened nearly 150 years ago. This failure in the teaching of our true cultural history remains reason enough for so many to continue to oppose affirmative action or multicultural studies.

In reality, understanding past and present discrimination, and the teaching of our true cultural history, might cause us to come to grips with the fact that there are still pools of prejudice and ignorance which we continue to swim in today. Hopefuly, more articles like Mr. Campbell's might start a new dialogue.

-- Jonathan H. Reilly
Colorado Springs

Tell it like it is

To the Editor:

I appreciate this week's cover story, "Pride & Prejudice." I am a native of Colorado Springs (a 33-year-old African-American woman). I appreciate that you provided an opportunity for African-American voices to be heard. The minorities in this country need an opportunity to tell their stories. I believe that telling history as it REALLY happened is the first step in healing the wounds of the past.

I enjoy reading your paper. I hope that you will continue to feature stories that represent ALL of the people (various ethnic groups) who live in this city.

-- Stephanie Feaman
Colorado Springs

What about the free market?

To the Editor:

I agree with the story about the media determining which candidates voters should choose (Your Turn, "Who's really being disenfranchised?," Nov. 16). However, it caught me off guard when I discovered that the writer was a recent Libertarian Party candidate for office.

I was under the impression that Libertarians prefer unfettered free markets, you know the kind, a market without anti-trust laws so that fewer and fewer corporations or wealthy individuals can own more and more of the media, as well as everything else. Maybe the media guided voters to Gore and Bush because of their owners' desire. Isn't that the free market? Are we to assume that this situation would be different if Libertarians were running the show?

The Libertarian Party should walk its talk. If they want better coverage for their candidates they should buy some of their own media outlets. Let the "invisible hand" of the unrestrained free market work its so-called magic.

-- Mike Ulm
Colorado Springs

I'd like to report a mugging

To the Editor:

City Council just approved a gold-plated $5 million dollar replacement for the present Red Cross homeless shelter including space for the soup kitchen and office space for several other social service agencies. El Pomar is footing the bill. The approved location next to the Drake plant power will attract 500 or more people a day who will cross the railroad tracks dodging 30 or more trains a day to reach the Montgomery Center. Many will cut through and loiter in the Mill Street neighborhood. The 70-plus Mill Street families live in a 100-year-old wonderful mix of families and retirees in houses very small by today's standards. Mill Street is affordable housing for working folks.

Council sat through almost 12-plus hours of testimony from both camps during which time the Mill Street supporters clearly showed that the project will trash their neighborhood and effectively render their homes unsalable to anybody but redevelopment vultures paying pennies on the dollar.

Neighbors spoke from long experience since the existing Red Cross shelter is only a few blocks away. Council heard stories of vagrants rummaging around yards, drunks, drug use and mentally disturbed homeless-by-choice street people who are now a moderate problem and will certainly become a serious problem when the Montgomery Center opens.

Council also heard about the many ways this project violates current city design guidelines and zoning rules but simply chose to ignore them. Council mandated some mitigation, but it was largely cosmetic with no enforcement provisions.

Council mugged Mill Street. El Pomar is an accomplice as is the Red Cross and the participating social-work agencies. The homes in Mill Street are now unsalable. The aggregate loss in value is probably close to $5 million.

The neighbors can try to stick it out, facing a severely degraded quality of life and serious risk of harm to their children and elderly, or leave and face bankruptcy, losing their homes but not their mortgages.

If this situation involved a developer thwarted by the city in a development plan opposed by El Pomar, a lawsuit might well be brought seeking compensation for the loss. Who would pay that? It should be El Pomar, but it likely would be all of us taxpayers.

Yes, it's too bad for Mill Street. It's also too bad for all of us. Council has demonstrated their priorities. Existing neighborhoods, taxpayers and voters are far less important than wealthy do-gooders with fat checkbooks who want to conduct social experiments.

Only Councilmen Rivera and Skorman courageously opposed this mugging. Pray that Colorado Springs voters remember their names with affection at the next election and the names of the others with the memory of what they did here.

-- John Brush
Colorado Springs

The initiatives don't count

To the Editor:

Thomas Wilson overlooks the obvious in trying to rationalize what he perceives as a liberal outcome for the ballot initiatives with a conservative outcome for the Legislature (Letters, "Knee-jerk party-line voting," Nov. 16).

First, the medicinal marijuana initiative was about quality of life, not drug legalization. Reasonable people, even Republicans, see that any drug, properly used, can have beneficial applications. What the public may be ignorant of, though, is that those who register with the state will now be documented criminals under federal law. The real solution is to at least decriminalize drugs, educate the public about their benefits and consequences, and support clinics to aid the 0.6 percent of the population that abuse them.

Second, the gun show initiative was a knee-jerk vote for Columbine, a true tragedy, that will have no impact on similar events in the future. The 2 percent of criminals who have bought guns at gun shows will simply buy them at the same places the other 98 percent do. Want a real solution? Institute a gun law with mandatory terms and no parole: Brandish a gun in the commission of a crime, 20 years. Add 2 years for each discharge and 5 years for each non-fatal wound. Kill someone, life. (As a side note, just as many "children" were killed playing football in 1999 as were killed in school shootings. Does that mean we detest random but tolerate institutional violence?)

Third, government-run schools were not given additional funding because Coloradans necessarily believe in them. They simply have no other competitive choice, yet refuse to let their children's education suffer. A solution? Give parents a tax credit for educational expenses. In this way, parents have the freedom to educate their kids as they see fit while incurring financial responsibility for their decision.

Lastly, Thomas, the legislature vote was consistent with Colorado's conservative slant. The initiative votes were, in the eyes of the voters, just common sense, not political.

-- Steve Adams
Colorado Springs

The B-president

To the Editor:

Many of my students have asked me in the last couple of days, "Are we, the American people, about to witness the persecution and assassination of democracy in America?" Is the Marquis, in the form of George W., along with the other inmates, about to take over the asylum?

As a simple schoolteacher I am at a loss as to what to tell them. I try to point out that if you look at the election results, state by state, the parts of the country that are home to the American intelligentsia, i.e., Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, all voted for Vice President Gore, but if you look at all the states below the Mason-Dixon line, let's call this area the spittoon belt, all voted for George W. "What do you think this tells us," I ask. One student asked if this could be the first illegitimate presidency. The legal word for illegitimate used to begin with a "B," so could George W., if named as the winner, be the first B-president?

In academia it is standard practice that if an overwhelming majority of students all make the same mistake on an exam, then there is a virtual certainty that something was wrong with the testing instrument. So, the reasoning goes that if 19,000-plus people in Palm Beach County, Fla., all made the same mistake there is something fundamentally wrong and the whole process should be redone. But, curiously enough, George W. and his supporters from the spittoon belt don't see it that way. Tough doo-doo, they say, (an appropriate response considering we are not dealing with the haut monde of America here).

What am I to do? The students, who represent the future leaders of America, are concerned. "Is this the beginning of the end of democracy in America?," they ask frantically. Try to look on the bright side, I tell them; we've had imperial presidents, royal presidents, and brain-dead presidents, so why not a B-president? After all, all the Bs who voted for him need representation too!

-- Leonard Riley II
Colorado Springs

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