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Plain disgusting

Contrary to what those at Colorado College are claiming, the issue about Hanan Ashrawi speaking is not about free speech, or whether or not the U.S. is at war with the Palestinian people [Public Eye, August 15].

It is just plain disgusting that they would invite the chief apologist for the world's leading terrorist to be the keynote speaker at a memorial for what happened on 9/11. If they had any dignity at all, they would admit their ugly error, and cancel her appearance. My opinion of CC has turned 180 degrees over this issue.

-- Thomas McCullock

Colorado Springs

Let Ashrawi speak

Since 9/11, this country has begun abandoning its democratic principles under the guise of "fighting terrorism." The government has violated our constitutional commitment to speedy, public jury trials. The Justice Department now eavesdrops on attorney-client conversations and has swept up thousands of people and held them in secret detention.

We have undermined ourselves as a leader for human rights by allowing thousands of people to become "disappeared," just as dictatorships in other parts of the world have done when they faced threats to their security.

Now, apparently, pro-Israeli interest groups believe that we should not be able to listen to both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli issue. I have been a life-long supporter and friend of Israel. But it is long past time for Israel to answer hard questions about why it has imposed a harsh generation-long occupation on the Palestinians and sent hundreds of thousands of Israeli "settlers" to build permanent settlements on Palestinian land.

This has inflamed and radicalized the Arab population and created hatred of both Israel and the United States even among our traditional allies. It is not enough to call the Palestinians "terrorists" or to assert that Palestinian attacks against Israel are equivalent to the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

The United States has not occupied anyone's land for a generation, and if someone occupied our land for over 35 years, we would be resisting with all means at our disposal. Apparently, Israel believes that, for some reason, Palestinians should quietly accept foreign occupation of their land.

But regardless of who is right or wrong, it is supremely arrogant for backers of Israel to claim that Americans don't have the right to an open and free discussion of both sides of the issue. The First Amendment entitles us to engage in this debate and love for our democracy requires it.

Hanan Ashrawi is an articulate spokesman for the Palestinian cause. She should be allowed to speak. And we have a right to listen.

-- Greg Walta

Colorado Springs

The candidate of choice

Noel Black's recent column [Culture Vulture, Aug. 22] on the Fine Arts Center's hiring of Sandy Bray as its director of performing arts is full of unfortunate and misleading innuendo, and by omission it misrepresents the selection process which actually occurred.

As the outside member of the hiring committee, I can testify that the process was diligent and conscientious. The search was national in scope; 48 people applied for the job, including four from Colorado Springs.

The committee met to review and discuss each application in detail, and then conducted lengthy telephone interviews with nine finalists. After further discussion, three candidates were invited to day-long interviews at the Fine Arts Center, one from Colorado Springs, one from California, one from New York. At each stage of the selection process Sandy Bray distinguished herself, and she emerged as the candidate of choice by a strong majority of committee members.

It is true that Sandy's long history with our community and the Fine Arts Center served her well during the interview process. But her ability to fund raise among the wealthy was barely discussed; rather, we were impressed with her wonderful reputation as a teacher and director, her demonstrated ability with children, her openness to new ideas, her strength and potential as a leader, her great vitality, and her manifest enthusiasm for the Fine Arts Center.

In no sense was this merely an internal hire. We offered Sandy Bray the position because she emerged from a national search as the best and most qualified person for the job.

-- Murray Ross

Colorado Springs

Rabid muck

Having been myself the target of several mean-spirited, misinformative (not to mention misspelled, misquoted, and mostly made up) articles in the Independent, I had thought that nothing printed in your weekly could shock me with its nastiness or lack of integrity. I was wrong.

The Independent has stooped to a new level of junk journalism with its recent hysterical attack on Sandy Bray, a woman widely admired for her humor, honesty, creativity, vision, patience, professionalism and experience.

I congratulate David Turner on his excellent choice of Sandy Bray as the new FAC director of performing arts. She's an inspired actress, director and teacher and obviously a woman with real class as evidenced by her reply to your ludicrous column: "I have nothing to defend and I am not going to respond."

Way to go, Ms. Bray. Don't forget that the last public figure the Independent attacked with this kind of rabid muck was Uncle Wilber. His popularity, attendance figures and fun were entirely unaffected by the Independent's disapproval. I suspect that your stature has similarly risen.

-- Kat Tudor

Colorado Springs

One heck of a hire

My name is Tom Paradise, I'm a professional actor, and I've been in this business for 20 years. I have a master's degree from Rutgers University, one of the top ten graduate schools for acting in the U.S.

I have worked with such pros as: Calista Flockhart, David Ogden Stiers, Andre Braugher and Avery Brooks. I've taught acting and theater on the university level, and a couple of years ago was named actor of the year in Colorado Springs by both the Independent and The Gazette.

All this horn tooting is just to demonstrate that, as a professional, I know another professional when I see one. Sandy Bray is such a person. I have known Sandy for 20 years, and I have worked with her several times. I don't know who those were talking about, but it sure wasn't Sandy. Sandy is a consummate professional -- period. I would vouch for her and work with her again without any hesitation.

Maybe a strong woman intimidates these people, or they couldn't handle working for a real pro that made them work for a change. Whatever the reason, I just know that the FAC just made one heck of a hire.

-- Tom Paradise

Colorado Springs

Sour grapes

That whine they served you at the Fine Arts Center was made from sour grapes.

Those of us who have worked with Sandy Bray over the years, those who do their jobs and pull their own weight, know how good she is and why she deserves the title and position she holds now. It's been a long time coming; she should have had it seven or eight years ago.

Sandy has a sterling reputation in our community; the "connection" she has here is the kind anyone who has proven their merit might have after working in the same town for 20 years. She doesn't lose her temper for no reason. However, she might snap at you a little if she's had 10 hours of sleep all week, and after doing all the things she's supposed to do she's having to do your job, too.

Got a problem taking orders from a woman? You might have a bad time of it with her, then. If, on the other hand, you believe that the show must go on and that things have to get done, she's your gal.

My acquaintance with Sandy is professional much more than personal; I'm not some buddy of hers trying to do damage control. Wanna do some hard-hitting investigative journalism? Go where the real story is: Do a little digging and see how many complaints were lodged over the years against the guy who had the job before her. Now that's news.

-- Alysabeth Clements

Colorado Springs

Where were the lesbians?

Why is it when the gay pride article hit the stand on August 28 the only ones shown were the gay men and drag queens? There were a lot of lesbians in the parade that weren't even shown. It was a very important year for us; they even had a mock same-sex marriage, but [you wrote] nothing about that. I think that was a very important part of the day.

-- Karis Keast

Pueblo

Democratic screw-ups

It's always fun for me to read the liberals complain about the screw-ups of the Republicans in El Paso County ("Republican screw-ups," Letters to the Editor, Aug. 15).

For business, I have spent a lot of time in the New England states, which is most likely the exact opposite of politics here. My friends there pay between four to five times more in property taxes for inferior services that they insist are all corrupt anyway.

The city of Cranston, Rhode Island is in bankruptcy court. The city of Providence, Rhode Island for this fiscal year will have a $2 million dollar deficit and the plan to balance the budget is to get money from the state. Unfortunately the state doesn't have it as they face their own budget crisis. The state of Massachusetts is close to $2 billion dollars in debt. Even though the voters passed a cut in the income tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5.2 percent, the Democrats refuse to honor the ballot initiative. The reason for not listening to the voters -- "We have to do what is right, not what the people want."

So in essence "nutty Republicans" at least are not spending the city and county into oblivion. Traffic gridlock is worse in the East than here. The big dig is a political and monetary boondoggle with lots of planning. So if this is what the Democrats can bring to the citizens of El Paso County, give me those nutty Republicans -- better yet, vote Libertarian.

-- Edward Knapp

Colorado Springs

Clarification

In an article on June 13, former Army Space Command officer Biff Baker misidentified a portion of a missile-defense facility which he claims the military paid a contractor to build despite the existence of another facility performing the same task. Baker says he meant to identify the facility as the Missile Reporting Operation Center, a subcomponent of the User Lab, which is a component of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command's Battle Lab.

In the same article, the length of time during which retired military officers are barred from doing business with their former commands was not specified. The length of time is one year.

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