Patching up Colorado Springs
To the Editor:
Now that SCIP-01 is history, we need to ask louder than ever for developers to pay their fair share of the financial burdens placed on our community by new land development.
If I were to draw an analogy between land use and my personal wardrobe, roads would be the shoes, housing the shirts and pants, and police and fire my overcoat, protecting me from inclement weather. I might even stretch it to include drainpipes as the undergarments. But, more on that later.
I make hard choices when I add to my wardrobe. Usually it is based on my pocketbook. I also must take into consideration whether the items I buy require dry cleaning, which is an added cost in terms of both my money and my time. More often than not, I just decide to patch the old.
I also must make tough choices when my closet becomes too full. Should I give something to Goodwill or buy additional closet space? And that underwear? Often it just keeps getting worn because no one ever sees it.
In Colorado Springs our wardrobe is getting frayed. But instead of saving and fixing, we keep accepting new items from those who profit from developing land. Why? Those new items usually look good, they are often the latest fashion, and (as the development community is quick to tell you) we get a cash rebate in the form of a sales tax on construction materials, helping us dry clean a few of our older items.
Our closets just keep getting filled up, but, as opposed to clothes, we can't give anything away. And those shoes? Somehow they looked so good on display yet no one explained that, once built, they would cost $300 million or more in public dollars to make them fit.
More often than not we demolish people's houses in the process. And we just keep patching the elbow of our overcoat by adding minutes to our emergency service response times.
No more high-maintenance gifts, please. We need some of the gold jewelry turned into shoe polish and require larger development fees to cover the true long-term costs of any additions to our wardrobe. We need compatible infill instead of sprawl, higher fees, and more building on land that already has access to major roadways. Then perhaps we can afford to polish our clean-burning fuel buses that help relieve congestion on the floor of our very crowded closet.
Our wardrobe looks more and more like Anywhere, USA -- not the wonderful place called Colorado Springs. We need to ask for sustainable development that will keep us unique, even if it limits someone's shopping trip to the jewelry store.
During the SCIP-01 campaign, no one talked much about the causes behind our declining quality of life. No one asked if new growth was paying its fair share or how such growth was affecting our quality of life.
I voted for SCIP-01 to try and counter the destructive anti-government, anti-tax mania of the early '90s that has left us unable to maintain our core neighborhoods. I especially supported the much-needed increased funding for mass transit that was included in the package. However, now that a mere 30,000 voters have decided the fate of a city with a half million people, it is time we address the impacts of new development. Now our community choice should not be how big the next tax increase is; first we must choose to change the way we are growing our community.
Simply setting up growth as a whipping boy is fruitless. It is too complex. Already those of us who want to talk about the city getting its fair share for new land development are being labeled economy-killing "no growthers." Yet, we must address how police, fire and other government programs are paid for with more than a simple penny sales tax increase. Because of the failure of SCIP, we now have that chance.
By the way, that underwear thing? Brand-new underwear doesn't make you feel any better if you get caught with your pants down.
-- Ann Oatman-Gardner
Director, Voters Network
Note to readers: Voters Network is a Colorado Springs--based nonprofit. The group's projects for 2001 include asking the city to create incentives for better development and to increase land development fees. For more information, call 471-8824.
To the Editor,
Thanks so much for your very distressing article on AAA. ("The Secret Life of AAA," April 12) I have been plagued by many puzzles on transport and already you have solved many of them for me. I still have not however managed to swallow this disgusting pill. I've lived in this country now for eight years and am still constantly mesmerized and often shocked by the blatant short-sightedness of the American dream; consumerism to the nth degree, then way beyond.
I recently had some friends visiting from Scotland who were incredulous that I considered my vehicle's 25 miles to the gallon to be somewhat economical. They have a car that gets 60-plus miles to the gallon and is considered frivolous when compared to Mercedes' new aptly named "Smart Car," which gets 80-plus miles to the gallon. At around $6 a gallon for gas in Britain, they need quick effective solutions (that is, if they even want to drive at all, since trains and buses go almost anywhere that people there might want to get to). I understand that this is also not a long-term solution, but aren't Americans facing a "shortage" of gas, a rise in gas prices, and the prospect of plundering the Alaskan wilderness for the sake of fuel? And don't Americans just crave those sexy new SUVs and oversized, elaborate gas-guzzlers? The larger the vehicle and the higher off the road we get, the less grounded are our solutions to this enormous problem.
I guess if we're moving fast enough through nature on concrete roads then we don't have to care ... yet. In the words of Ruth Wolff, "The needle of our conscience is as good a compass as any."
-- Daisy Dinwoodie
Fresh delicious fruit
To the Editor:
I just want to thank Kathryn Eastburn and the Independent for writing an article on the Country Roots Farm CSA program ("Organic Minds," April 12). I am a new member of the CSA and since finding out about the program, have been telling everyone I can about it via email and word of mouth, trying to get more people involved. The Independent has an even wider reach and it's great that you are promoting Community Supported Agriculture. CSAs allow the consumer to get fresh, chemical-free, delicious fruits and vegetables while supporting sustainable growing practices, reconnecting to the land and helping small family farmers.
-- Christina Student
Co-chair, Pikes Peak Green Party
The real cost of crime
To the Editor:
As a former newspaperman, wire service and TV reporter and news manager I know all too well the truth of Joel Dyer's findings and conclusions about crime in this country ("Follow the Money," April 5). People don't realize the cost of keeping people in prison. While it varies from region to region because some states are more enlightened than others, the cost of prisons has been hidden from the taxpayers. And of course it goes far beyond that cost, as Dyer points out, because jailing a generation of blacks has had a devastating effect on the black community. We have made no effort to decide and commit to a real goal for our country's justice system because local politicians have been allowed to call the shots, appealing to voters' emotions rather than reason. If prison is meant to exact a price for a transgression against society, then the slate should be clean when that price has been paid. We make little or no effort to "rehabilitate" criminals, so it is a revolving door. Re-entry programs are almost non-existent even though they have a proven record of working well.
Journalists are guilty of playing up crime because it's an easy story to do and has all the emotion and drama that have a well-documented appeal to the masses. I regularly discuss this problem with journalists and editors here in Virginia, but sadly to no avail. I will pass along this article because I haven't given up hope.
-- David Talbott
To the Editor:
Thanks for the "Follow the Money" article on Joel Dyer. The Independent continues to provide a balancing view of the underlying cause of the accelerating cycle of imprisonment. It's especially gratifying when you, as a member of the news media, acknowledge the media's responsibility in focusing only on the most gory crime stories, ignoring the huge number of crimes that don't involve violence or victims. Cara DeGette did her usual great job of zeroing in on the essence of a complex issue.
-- Bill Groom
A healthy thing
To the Editor:
I agree with Mr. Clifford's (Time to sue "Big Sex," Letters, April 12) basic premise that it would be a healthy thing for everyone if gay people were allowed/encouraged to get married.
"Whether straight or gay, unmarried sex is plain ol' unhealthy and everyone knows it. ... encourage your children to get married at 18 so the sex is clean and fun."
-- Paul Weeks