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Smells like a setup

To the Editor:

The words "setup" and "entrapment" come to mind, regarding the latest incident over Councilman Charles Wingate's alleged use of a city computer to access porn sites on the Web. So do the lyrics from a country song that went something like "I may have been born in the dark, but I wasn't born last night."

Unfortunately, a previous complaint (which was dropped) over allegations about Wingate's unauthorized removal of some of his opponent's campaign signs in the last city election don't help his credibility much. And judgments levied against Wingate over bounced personal checks don't bode well for him either. But I can't help to think the latest porn incident isn't just a fabrication to "break the camel's back." It's certainly an opportune time to kick a man while he's down, especially if that man is also a newly elected Council representative who has not really endeared himself to some administrative types and Council colleagues since his taking office.

It's all too easy. City Hall issues e-mail addresses for its own e-mail network -- complete with personal passwords known only to the City's Information Technology manager and respective staff and Council members. (It's arguable that others may also know some passwords.) Such was the case with Councilman Wingate, whose city-issued computer was inadvertently left in his unlocked and open Council office in the City administration building where it could be accessed by literally anyone. A lack of security had always been a concern of mine when I maintained an office at City Hall. (I know for a fact that the city telephone in my unlocked office was at times used by people other than me when I wasn't there.) But a locked office door in a CAB council office generally isn't viewed favorably. I chose never to lock my Council office door.

The IT manager, who is personally hired by and is accountable only to the city manager, is quick to report Wingate's alleged inappropriate use of a city computer to his boss. He tells the city manager, who in turn tells the mayor. But apparently neither confronted Wingate about it until he was blindsided by the allegations in a Council executive session. A subsequent private investigation authorized by Council is inconclusive, and most importantly no clear proof surfaces that Wingate personally used his city computer to surf the net for porn. The case should be closed, but instead some of Wingate's colleagues want him to resign. Others want him censured, lest he be tempted to try it again -- even though it's not been proven he's guilty in the first place. Being judge and jury is one of the privileges I miss most now.

My own kids have "limited access" to the Web; they cannot log onto some sites containing certain information or words, nor can they receive material that my wife and I may consider to be offensive to a young mind. I set up their e-mail accounts to be this way. Why aren't City domain names and accounts also set up like this? IT assigns Council members individual passwords to access the Web, but doesn't it also advise Council members to change these passwords immediately? Gimme a break; it's far too convenient. After eight years of service on City Council, perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned is that perceptions are reality. The perception here is this looks like an attempted "sting" gone awry.

It also looks like we'll once again get to see which "bloc" of Council members is stronger, the one that supposedly was just elected in April (this includes Wingate and his allies), or the other one which, along with the mayor, has since called for Wingate's resignation. Whether you support or even like Charles Wingate, "innocent until proven guilty" pertains to everyone, including "undesirable" Council members.

I guess it was only a matter of time before City Hall figured out how to create "e-crimes" to get rid of instigators and mavericks.

-- Bill Guman
Colorado Springs

Err on the side of life

To the Editor:

Kudos to Elizabeth Sawin for her recent column in the Independent reminding us of the wisdom contained in the adage, "Better safe than sorry." (Your Turn, Aug. 9). When life is on the line, better we should err on the side of life than succumb to human selfishness. Where are we placing our values today?

Unfortunately she missed a prime opportunity to extend that principle to the ongoing question of whether the developing human fetus is a human life. When weighing the factors involved in the abortion decision, shouldn't we also be "better safe than sorry" and err on the side of life?

-- Joe Oppelt
Colorado Springs

Enough with the lazy prose

To the Editor:

Is this kind of thing really necessary? In Patton Dodd's review of The Score, he wrote:

"Maybe [director Frank Oz] needed Brando, DeNiro, Norton and Bassett to have sticks up their butts and to open with a rendition of 'The Rainbow Connection.' " ("Heist Hoax," July 19)

You can maintain your liberal status as journalists without being vulgar. The way he says this makes me wonder what his "queer" agenda really is.

I'm not gay, homophobic or a boy scout. I just think it's inappropriate, not to mention cheesy and lazy prose.

-- Marc Boone

Clifton deserves to be heard

To the Editor:

We are not inured to the locking-up of whole percentages of the population of the United States, millions deprived of freedom. We see it as a positive moral good. Our sympathies are deadened to the setup that finds Pamela Clifton in Cañon City ("Stillborn in Prison," Aug. 9).

Those who have experienced jail or prison firsthand, if they have had reason to require medical care in the joint, know Heidi Hayes' "community standard" to be nothing but a phrase. Part of the punishment -- de facto -- of prison is enforced by the cavalier attitude of the guards towards many medical complaints of the prisoners. This is not true in every case; I do not know specifically or absolutely that this is true in Pamela Clifton's case. However, it most assuredly does happen, and it happens not as a shocking exception or deviation but stems from the very roots of the prison system, a system that corrupts everyone who has any role in it.

If Pamela Clifton is telling the truth, Dawn Anaya has acted with such callousness there are hardly words to excoriate her. If Pamela Clifton is telling the truth, Iria Wilkes' cynicism ill qualifies her for the warmth of mammal blood. But we do not have to doubt that the lobotomized bureaucrat who (at that moment!) demanded payment for the removal of Clifton's dead baby typifies the Department of Corrections' attitude, in which humans are numbers and a baby who has died is just an accounting problem.

Whatever anyone's doubts may be about the society and context in which it functions, and its own specific functioning, a court will listen and a court will judge. All of us will also be listening. Hopefully we will care enough to listen to Pamela Clifton as well as to the guards she has said are in part responsible for the death of her baby. Perhaps no one will ever be able to say for certain the reason why this terrible thing has happened. But we absolutely owe Pamela Clifton the impartial audience of our hearts, and we can meet with rage what we know are facts about the Department of Corrections' reaction to her being left with a mere stone.

-- Daniel C. Boyer
Cambridge, MA

Parking in the dark

To the Editor:

So, there I was, there I was, listening to some friends play music downtown, with my car parked on one side of Acacia Park, where I have left it previously, to make it easily accessible. After leaving the gig, my friends and I witnessed the police giving tickets to all of the cars on the Nevada side of the park, where I'd left my car. So I waited until a ticket was issued to my car and then went to see what it was for.

Apparently the west side of Acacia Park, along Nevada Avenue, is now off-limits for parking after 10 p.m. So instead of activating those meters and making us pay by the hour, the City can now charge us $25 for parking there after the hours on the signs, which are, in the dark, obscured by trees.

Apparently, the cops downtown have nothing better to do than give parking tickets to make the City a little more money on the improvements that are going so slowly, being a hindrance to traffic rather than any help. Apparently the constant weekend traffic on Nevada Avenue, the traffic of the cruisers and the gang kids, is scarier than issuing parking tickets.

I am a woman of small stature who appreciates finding a parking space that allows me to feel safe when walking back to my car after attending events downtown. My male friends tonight walked me to my car because they're more conscious of my endangerment than I am as far as walking alone at night.

By the way, Colorado Springs, the fact that I can no longer park my car in a safe, close, well-lit area near the bar of my choice puts me at far greater risk.

Apparently the City and the mayor and the cops and the parking patrol could care less about the absence of parking downtown, but would rather collect more money for the projects whose results we've not even seen yet.

Apparently the safety and lives of citizens, and the support of ongoing commerce, are not of concern to the police or the mayor.

Apparently making money issuing parking tickets is more important than pursuing the speeding, harassing, life-endangering gang vehicles that cruise on the same stretch of street where I mistakenly chose to park.

I'm just appalled.

-- Megan Hauser
Colorado Springs

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