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Just poor planning

To the Editor:

As a utility rate-payer I find it very concerning to see yet another increase to my bill. When the City Council and the Utility Board (which is made up of the same members) is selling land below market value and purchasing land that is not needed.

In 1999 the Utility Company agreed to lease Utility assets that consisted of 3.313 acres on the west side of Conejos and two other parcels of residential land that are located on the east side of Conejos totaling 3.7 acres for $1.00 dollar a year. With the understanding that in five years they will sell the land at the Dec 11, 1999 appraised value of $320 thousand dollars. Bringing the cost of the acreage too less than 1 hundred thousand dollars an acre.

As a rate-payer it is also concerning to see that the residential component within this agreement was never, to my knowledge, known publicly and was added without an appraisal value in an agreement.

On May 23, 2000, the City Council approved 1.9 million dollars of taxpayers' money to purchase 13 homes which set on approximately 5 acres for the Utilities Rail Spur to save rate-payers $.30 cents on a 35 percent increase. Of that money, $1,750,978.80 was used and the 13 homes are set up for demolition. Bringing the cost of this acreage to approximately $350 thousand dollars an acre.

As a taxpayer this is also concerning when we now learn that the Utilities and City Council did not need to buy all the property after all. Just a case of poor planning. As a homeowner I budget my money, plan carefully not to overburden myself, not to throw away something I will need in the future, and try very hard not to make costly mistakes. My message to City Council is: For the sake of every taxpayer and rate-payer of Utilities, you must learn to do the same.

--Rickie Stuart
Colorado Springs

In the trash category

To the Editor:

In the January 3 Indy there was an article, "Where Is Your Junk Mail From?" written by Stephen Heuser. You note that he is one of the features editors of the Boston Phoenix. The guy seems quite intelligent with his use of big words and is able to get his ideas across. But there is a paragraph in the second column where he says "Sometimes, of course, I give people information just to fuck with them." Really! Is it necessary for an intelligent writer to express himself this way? This low level of expression takes his whole article and puts it in the category of trash.

Come on. Your newspaper is capable of better than that. Shame, shame, shame. You have some great local writers. Why go out and pull in trash like this. It's objectionable to intelligent people.

I am an avid reader and supporter of the Independent and was all ready to write to King Soopers and object to their decision not to put the newspaper in their stores. With trash like this, who can blame them? I will not get in the middle of this as I had planned. You need to clean up your editing. Were you really so desperate the week between Christmas and New Year's that you had to settle for this?

--Merle A. Stryker
Colorado Springs

Reindeer name games

To the Editor:

While Kristen Sherwood begins her reindeer story in the Dec. 21 Small Talk, "We all know the rhyme," it is apparent that she does not. Anyone who has actually read Clement Moore's poem knows that the seventh reindeer's name is Donder. Taking her at her word that she in fact interviewed this beast of burden, she forgot one of the most basic tenets of journalism. Ask the subject to spell her name. (Ms. Sherwood, obviously, cannot tell a male reindeer from a female either.)

Her misassumption may be caused by a confusion of the classic poem with Gene Autry's rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" when he misnames Santa's seventh pet, Donner.

The poem, first published in 1823, reappeared in an 1844 collection of Moore's verses with a handwritten introduction by the author. Both versions, as do most today, have the correct spelling of Donder's name. A little research would have revealed to Ms. Sherwood that Donder's mother was most probably Dutch rather than German since the Dutch spelling and pronunciation of the German word "donner" is donder; both words meaning "thunder".

So, to give Ms. Sherwood's journalistic professionalism the benefit of the doubt, it is possible she was duped -- much as 60 Minutes was last year -- and actually interviewed a German imposter pretending to be Donder in order to con her into quoting all those horrible things said about Santa and the other reindeer.

-- Ed Benjamin Jr.
Colorado Springs

Junk mail name games

To the Editor:

Linda Hasselstrom's article "Beating the Great Name Game" in the Independent (Dec. 28, 2000) had the right idea about beating the merchants who sell your personal information, but it doesn't go far enough. When you get a supermarket card -- so you can get fair instead of inflated prices -- don't use your real name. Use a fake name, address, and phone number so they can't trace you or find out exactly what you are buying. And always pay cash so nothing is traceable. Do this for (and to) all the merchants you can. Remember: a little creative lying can accomplish a lot.

--Chuck Robinove

Rejects on the rebound

To the Editor:

Bush nominates Gale Norton (who was replaced by Ken Salazar as Colorado attorney general) to be Secretary of the Interior. He nominates Spencer Abraham and John Ashcroft, who were both voted out of the Senate by their own constituents. Bush said he trusts the people but then appoints rejected senators to cabinet positions, the direct opposite of his stated philosophy of trusting state and local knowledge of issues. Gale Norton worked for the anti-environmental Mountain States Legal Foundation (funded mainly by Joseph Coors). Do you remember James Watt, the most anti-environmental Interior Secretary ever? Well, Norton worked for him, and she is a member of many other anti-environmental groups including Defenders of Property Rights and the Farm Credit Property Rights Foundation. Some of these groups go beyond wanting private property protected (which is a granted natural right) to the realm of demanding unreasonable profit at the cost of degradation of adjacent public lands.

George W. Bush supports the Heritage Foundation's push to privatize all public lands, and putting Norton in charge shows Bush's true colors. Likewise his nomination of Christine Todd Whitman to head the EPA, whose first job he said is to relax air pollution protections. Does Bush understand who owns our public lands? Or is he confused like when he said Social Security is not a federal program? What happened to his "uniting all Americans," his acknowledgement that he only got 48% of the vote? Western oil and cattle interests say that "Easterners have no business telling us what we can do on western lands." I wish I owned land but I would never stoop to unreasonably spoiling the public's land so that I could get rich. Fully 95% of B.L.M. land is already open to oil and gas drilling, which is good for those of us who drive cars, but are we so greedy that we leave nothing to our grandchildren? Like the old cowboy Will Rogers said, "Land is just dirt, but they ain't makin' any more of it."

-- Pat Conley

Manitou Springs

An open letter to King Soopers

I want to express my concern that you are unwilling to allow the Colorado Springs Independent to be distributed at your stores.

I am writing as frequent customer of King Soopers for 30 years, a bookstore owner, and a restaurant owner.

I have always thought of King Soopers as more than just a supermarket. Your willingness to be a good corporate citizen of Colorado Springs has not gone unnoticed. The friendliness of your staff and their commitment to customer service has created a nice sense of community in the Uintah Garden's store where I shop. I would also hope that "Freedom of Speech" is a principle your corporation values.

I may not always agree with the editorial content of every book, newspaper or magazine I sell in my bookstore or restaurant, but I believe that my opinions shouldn't influence my product mix. I want my customers to be able choose. I hope you feel the same way and allow your customers to choose to pick up the Independent at your stores.

-- Richard Skorman
Colorado Springs

The last word

To the Editor:

A suggestion that I just read in your paper to fill out the comment cards from the front of the King Soopers stores started me thinking that a more noticeable approach might be to send in your King Soopers Discount Card with the comment card.

Like many of your other readers, I choose to do business elsewhere. They will now have to make me want to come back. Sale flyers won't do it; everybody in town has them, too. My card is going back to them in the mail.

-- Frank Smolik
Colorado Springs

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