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Council's gustatory habits

To the Editor:

I wanted to take an opportunity to comment on Ms. DeGette's article regarding Council's gustatory habits ("Smelling Fishy," Nov. 30).

With regard to my quote, "What's the big deal, we do it all the time," I was referring to Council frequently eating as a group, not to frequently eating at MacKenzie's Chop House. Our usual venue is an open door conference room on the fourth floor of the city administration building.

I also commented to Ms. DeGette during that same conversation that had I known she were seeking entrance to the Chop House dining area, I would have gladly escorted her inside. Council recognizes our legal and ethical obligation to conduct our deliberations in full view (channel 18 broadcasts), and I along with the rest of Council are vigilant in that regard.

As an elected representative of the citizens of Colorado Springs I consider it an obligation to engage the media whenever requested to do so. Ms. DeGette and I have engaged each other on several occasions, and I have found the encounters lively, respectful, pointed and challenging. She does not shy away from taking me to task on matters, and I appreciate and applaud that approach.

I very much value the Independent's voice in the community; however, being the media, you have the advantage in how an interaction is reported. I ask only for a faithful representation of our future exchanges.

-- Ted Eastburn MD
Councilman At-Large

Add to the list of units lost

To the Editor:

Readers might want to add to the useful table of lost affordable units included in Cara DeGette's piece on demolitions in the November 23 issue ("City eyes demolishing more affordable housing").

I think immediately of the ten houses removed or demolished in the 700 block of East Uintah and 1100 block of Franklin, back of School District 11 administrative headquarters, to make room for parking. It happened between the mid-1970s and late '90s. Now the parking lot is paved and nice and landscaped, with neighborhood participation in the design and weeding. But ten families can't live there. The houses were built between 1919 and 1951 on lots averaging less than 6000 square feet -- quite modest and affordable.

-- Owen Cramer
Colorado Springs

Council ignored planners, neighbors

To the Editor:

I attended the City Council meeting that voted in favor of putting the Montgomery Community Center in the Mill Street location. The MCC had the power, mayor and the city council, except for Rivera and Skorman, to vote in their favor after long, drawn-out emotional presentations. I believe that the decision to vote in favor of the MCC power group could have been accomplished earlier, that most of the council had made up their minds about this project before the meeting. They listened but never really heard what the Mill Street people had to say. Keeping us till 3 a.m. the following day was just a charade to let us think that they were serious about this project. The power group included El Pomar, the mayor, Red Cross, Catholic Charities, the Gazette, Commissioner Ed Jones, Rep. Marcy Morrison and Sen. Andy McElhaney.

The Mill Street people did an outstanding job presenting their case and had the backing of two very knowledgable persons in Steve Handen and Matt Parkhouse. There were three issues in this meeting:

1. That the homeless and poor were being taken care of, no one was turned away from the soup kitchen and there was a surplus of beds daily. So what was the crisis?

2. Suddenly, some money showed up to supposedly upgrade the program. OK, now what would be the best way to do this? A central campus, or upgrade what we had and set up some outreach centers in areas where the homeless and poor are located. This second concept seemed to be the most successful in most cities around the country.

3. The MCC group thought the central campus idea was the best and selected to locate it in the Mill Street area.

The MCC group ignored the first two issues. Nobody disagreed that the homeless and poor needed care. Still, they would not accept the fact that they would destroy a neighborhood of hard-working people who paid property taxes.

Why the MCC group and the City Council did not set up a task force to make a study of this project is still a mystery. What is the rush? There is no crisis now. The City Council selects and appoints members of the community to serve on the planning commission to study and evaluate all proposals for zoning and development. But the council chose to ignore the recommendation of this commission to not put the MCC in the Mill Street area. This commission is an appointed group of volunteers, experienced in construction, who understand more about city planning than the council.

Many of the MCC presenters gave their two- to five-minute speeches and then left the room, never to return to listen to the Mill Street people. This meeting convinced people that a powerful group can always beat a powerless group, and it can happen to anyone in this city.

-- Angelo Christopher
Colorado Springs

A uniquely American concept

To the Editor:

One more time, the incorrect usage of the word democracy has been used to describe these United States (Letters, "The B-President," Nov. 22).

As a teacher, Mr. Riley should have educated his students that the United States is a representative, constitutional republic, not a democracy. Our founding fathers knew that the majority-rules mentality of a democracy would be a disaster. The Electoral College was designed for fairness. It was an idea to protect the smallest voices. It was yet another valuable check and balance devised by men who understood that powerful people and governments have a tendency to run roughshod over those with less power.

It is a uniquely American concept -- and it is needed today more than ever.

Democracy is little more than mob rule or a dictatorship by majority opinion. It usually ends in oppression of minorities, be they religious, ethnic, racial or political. Rule of law beats mob rule any day.

This same teacher doesn't know his geography either. The election map shows that Bush won 2,434 counties nationwide to Gore's 677. It shows, too, that the population of the Bush counties is 143 million as opposed to Gore's of 127 million. It shows that Bush counties covered an area of 2,427,039 square miles as opposed to Gore's 580,134 square miles. Bush covered counties north, south, east and west of the "Mason-Dixon Line," although the teacher disputed that.

We all need to be very concerned with the very poor quality of education our children as well as our teachers are getting. Until the influence of the federal government and the National Education Association and its local unions no longer control our educational institutions, real education, in the way of real academics, will never take place, no matter how much money is forthcoming. Where are the real checks and balances for the education of our people?

-- Sondra Healy
Colorado Springs

Plenty of lessons to be taught

To the Editor:

Consider this an open letter to Leonard Riley II who claims that he is at a loss as to what to tell his students now that the election may place a "B" president in the White House.

Were I a government teacher, I would take this opportunity to research the origins of the Electoral College, why our country is a republic and not a democracy, and to determine what other times in our history has the candidate with the popular vote not won the election.

Were I a mathematics teacher, I would take this opportunity to research the statistical significance between the votes garnered by the two candidates, and the margins of error of each of the various tallying methodologies employed in each close race. I would also ask my students to verify Mr. Riley's hypothesis that just because Mr. Gore carried the states that own the intelligentsia centers, that it necessarily follows that the intelligentsia centers actually voted for Mr. Gore.

Were I geography teacher, I would take this opportunity to point out to my students that many of the states that Mr. Bush carried were nowhere near the Mason-Dixon line, much less below it in the "spittoon" belt. Perhaps this would also be an opportunity to verify Mr. Riley's assertion that only states voting for Mr. Gore contained "intelligentsia" centers.

Were I a political science teacher, I would take this opportunity to research why the party that is traditionally associated with big business carried mostly rural states, while the party traditionally associated with the common man took big business states. I would also take this opportunity to remind my students that every job, even a seemingly mindless one, is important as the faulty ballots in Palm Beach were reviewed and approved by functionaries from both parties.

Were I an English teacher, I would take Mr. Riley's letter as an opportunity to explain that using unsupported and insulting phrases such as "spittoon belt" indicate the writer's bias rather than furthering his or her argument. I would also point out to my students that drawing faulty generalizations such as Mr. Riley's linking "an overwhelming majority of students" to a some 4 percent of Palm Beach voters weaken the author's arguments because it indicates that the author does not possess adequate command of the facts at hand or the ability to relate them in a meaningful way.

-- James T. Brockway
Colorado Springs

Clarification: In the Nov. 22 edition, a letter also appeared from Jonathan H. Reilly, who writes to point out that though he, too, is a U.S. history teacher, his letter "was in praise of [Bob] Campbell's 'Pride and Prejudice' article, and should not be confused with Mr. Riley's letter on the Presidential election." -- Ed.

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