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Promises, promises

To the Editor:

I have know Claudia Verburg for many years; and when I heard what happened to her "xeriyarden" I was mortified ("Life and Death," Dec. 14). Claudia's yarden has been her passion, her life. Although we live a couple of time zones apart, I have followed her yarden's progress through the course of the years. What Claudia has done with her little patch of earth is nothing short of miraculous. She has the innate gift of working with the soil and bringing beauty out of the most challenging of growing conditions.

What had happened to Claudia's "yarden" was nothing short of a barbaric rape. It is well and good that the city vows to reimburse Claudia "for the full amount of the estimated damage to her garden." However there can be no monetary value placed on the years of back-breaking work and love that Claudia has poured into her landscaping.

Let's hope the city makes good on not repeating such a disaster again.

-- Neringa M. Atkinson
via the Internet

The point in a nutshell

To the Editor:

I feel that some clarification is needed regarding my position on property uses in the near North End special use district, as reported by Bob Campbell in his article "Council Shifts its Historical Mindset" in the December 7 Independent.

The article makes it sound as though I am concerned only about the interests of we realtors and the business community. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as I have consistently supported historic preservation in this community since I was a youngster.

I have repeatedly seen the greed of builders, developers and politicians destroy much of the rich heritage of the city in their quest to line their own pockets, and have spoken out against it vociferously. Many editorial letters I've written for the Gazette over the years bear witness to my positions regarding the need for historic preservation!

The problem, in this case, is that City Council changed horses in mid-stream. Without benefit of new zoning regulations or ordinances, they denied a legitimate request for my clients to use their property for a purpose which is allowed under current policy and for which they purchased it in the first place. The appropriateness of this plan is why it had been approved by the planning department to begin with.

Why should Council, all of a sudden, have a change of heart and apply different standards where my clients are concerned? In several places in Mr. Campbell's article, he uses terms such as "change" and "shift," and that is the point in a nutshell. When change is desired, laws and regulations need to change utilizing the prescribed means for such change. City Council cannot change zoning codes with just a change in attitude.

My comment about sending a chill through the real estate community refers to my concern that if Council can't be relied upon to follow its own rules, realtors cannot provide proper guidance to their clients. If different standards are used from one day to the next, how can anyone ever make plans?

My clients complied with all of the rules and regulations and, at considerable cost and expenditure of time and effort, followed all the appropriate procedures of the planning department, only to have City Council apply a "shift of mindset" (to quote your recent article).

The use of the term "travel agency" conjures up images of a business where garish signs beckon people off the street and dozens of customers come and go every day. What my clients have is a business arranging ski tours worldwide, and their business comes to them via the phone, fax and internet, not through the front door. They are extremely meticulous people, who previously converted a shabby 7-unit apartment building in the old North End back into a single family home, which is now a showpiece of the area. They are anything but greedy business people who intend to deface the neighborhood.

I find it particularly interesting that City Council, has this "change in attitude" toward neighborhood preservation just a couple weeks following their approval of the grossly intrusive Montgomery Center over the strenuous objections of the Mill Street area residents. Could it be that El Pomar has a little more clout than my clients and that preservation isn't really the issue, so much as it is political expedience? It seems that City Council speaks with the proverbial forked tongue.

If City Council is truly concerned about historic preservation, let them seek a change in the current zoning in the area, following the proper legal process. That, I could support!

--Terry Shattuck, Realtor
Colorado Springs

Hail Dictator Bush

To the Editor:

As a registered Republican I think this is a scary time to be an American.

Our candidate, George W. Bush, and the Supreme Court both have blocked the counting of valid citizen votes, actions I deplore and protest. I feel that the Supreme Court took off its blindfold, and voted clearly along partisan lines. Are we steps away from a complete dictatorship?

Rolling in my sleep last night, visions in my dreams flashed with rebellious British subjects dumping tea into Boston harbor. I saw thousands of men falling to their death at Gettysburg, many more gasping their last breath in the gas filled trenches of World War I. I saw the long lines of white crosses in our national cemeteries for millions of GIs who fought to preserve our freedom and democracy around the world. If our votes are not counted, did they die in vain?

The big stick we carried against communism and the dictators of the banana republics, what was that? A disguise to build up the military industrial complex to make the rich richer? Or was it truly a stand for democracy and the people's rights?

Vietnam. Fifty thousand of our young men came home in body bags. For what? So the people of South Vietnam could vote? Vote like the people of Florida?

The blocking of counting the votes in Florida is such a degradation of those dead soldiers. Their death cries in the swamps and jungles, now a warning call to us all.

I know, I can hear you. You say the highest court in the land has ruled. Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled, and it may be the final word. But that does not make it the truth, nor right. Yes, we are a nation of laws. But we are also a nation of voters. Remember, the vote of and the backing of the people is what empowers the politicians and our laws.

Some Democrats are so quick to lie down and accept defeat. Why are they not fighting to the end to get the ballots counted? Are their ideals diluted with the wishy-washy stand that we all have to be kissing cousins in Congress? Hogwash! The balance of power depends on strong debate of the issues and opposing sides, so the best ideas and the truth rise to the surface.

The truth? What a concept. What is the true vote count? Who do you want for a president, a man who seeks the truthful counting of the votes or a man who blocks the counting of the votes and hides from the truth? What truths will he hide from us in the next four years? Scary indeed.

Imagine, for the rest of our lives we'll never know who truly won the election. Is George Bush proud of himself? When he raises his right hand to be sworn in, will he believe he is a legitimate president? Will he be proud that he got into office by chicanery and blocking the votes of the people he pretends to represent? And his supporters actually value this man who believes in blocking and denying legitimate votes. What scary thoughts.

And to the Nader voters, think about it. By not voting for Al Gore, you put into office a president whose state has one of the worst environmental records, a president who believes in "self-regulation." If self-regulation worked, Texas would not have the pollution it has. With a president who sides with both big business and the drug companies, what kind of environmental protection and drug prescription for the elderly legislation is he going to support?

As a registered Republican I reject George Bush. I encourage my fellow citizens to reject him. He is not a legitimate president voted into office by the people. He is an abortion of the court. When he comes to town, shall we carry protest signs declaring: Hail Dictator Bush!?

-- Jim Ciletti
Colorado Springs

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-- Ed.

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