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Howellin' for an audit

Thanks to the Independent's "Howellin' for an Audit" (May 22), the public may have a better understanding of the reason Commissioner [Jeri] Howells is "howellin' for an audit" for many months and fueling the feud with Commissioner [Tom] Huffman.

As a citizen-observer of the Board of County Commissioners meeting, I have been following the course of the issue. I, too, am appalled at the large amounts of contracts approved and awarded on the recommendation of IT and the male majority of BOCC -- often! After a fair bidding process of procurements the items and outcomes usually appear on the consent calendar for approval or disapproval. If the BOCC members have questions about an item, they may pull the matter, and postpone decision until further information is provided. If there is no concern or import for the county as a whole or a particular district, or if a BOCC member hasn't had time, or taken the time before voting, an item can be easily be approved as part of the agenda, in order to get on with more critical matters each week. As a conscientious board member, Commissioner Howells is using her prerogatives to question a principle or pattern observed when she has not been satisfied with rationale for IT acquisitions. And if information isn't forthcoming, any board member may seek an "independent audit."

A contract for Grant Thorton to perform professional auditing for the county at a cost of $99,300 yearly was approved in January 2003. At that time, and in the previous year, CRGG (Committee for Responsible Government) and Commissioner Howells suggested a change of auditors might be a fairer precedent for the county than the same firm over several years, no reflection on Grant Thorton.

On May 15 an imaging system, costing $438,868 was requested by IT. Citizen observer Jim Alice Scott requested the item be pulled. The matter brought forth a stir in the BOCC. In the previous May 12 meeting, Commissioner Howells had again called for an audit of IT relative to a $63,293 contract. Note the total askings for IT amount to half a million-plus, just within a month. My notes of April show Commissioner Howells had given notice of being absent or excused on April 14 when IT's request for equipment totaling $374,992 was approved without the batting of an eyelash, 4-0 vote. Little wonder Commissioner Howells notes that IT has a $10 million budget -- the biggest budget that's under the direct supervision of the board.

Simultaneously, the direct human services under the Board's supervision are being hurt by county and state cutbacks affecting critical, public services, such as Department of Human Services, which has a shortfall of $4 million, and demands of a growing population on an overburdened staff. Weekly the Sheriff's Department reports critical situations due to the lack of sufficient mental-health services and crowded conditions. The attitude of the majority of the board is that if the public begins to feel the lack they will get involved, get out the vote, and will give, not depending on the county as much.

No wonder Howells is "howelling" for IT to absorb a $20,000 audit. And BOCC is penny-wise and pound-foolish, not questioning the millions in contracts and equipment for a seemingly favored department. Also, there is an underlying question posed if automation and technology can really replace good government workers in times of a poor economy and high unemployment.

-- Flora M. Holmes

Colorado Springs

It must be undone

The main point of the FCC ruling allowing the further consolidation of media ownership is not the nepotism shown by the appointment of Colin Powell's son Michael to the chairmanship of the FCC.

The main point is not the raising of the percentage of ownership in one market to 45 percent from 35 percent.

The main point is not the increased foreign ownership of the American media.

The main point is not that eight companies already control 80 percent of the media.

No, the main point is that we utilize the information we get through the news media to form our political opinions and then vote based on those opinions. To control our information is to control our votes.

It's un-American.

It's unconstitutional.

It must be undone.

-- Mark Lewis

Colorado Springs

The masses must speak up

Re: "Wouldn't you like to be a fascist too?" Culture Vulture, May 29:

Ah, Messrs. Black and Britt, you've taken the words right out of my mouth for the last 20 years! Thank you!

I've been trying to warn Americans about this for years, this creeping fascism. I have felt like Paul Revere from time to time, although these people (contemporary Americans) do not want to hear, or can't, as they prefer to sleep (to be unconscious) rather than to have to deal with it! This is what the masses did in Germany in the 1930s, and thus how Hitler got control. They avoided the problem!

You, via Dr. Lawrence Britt, have listed the objective criteria in terms of defining how fascist dictators get control, but you left out one critical subjective point: the people! It takes two to tango! It takes the majority of the masses to be lulled asleep and this is what you have currently in America (2003). The masses heave to the party line because they have too much invested (in the "democratic" system) and therefore they're saved from thinking independently (easier).

So many times the response to me has been, "Oh, that couldn't happen here!" Well, folks it is happening. Go stick your head in the sand, and someday it will be pulled out violently, and you'll see something you never thought possible! Now, there has always been exploitation of one group, by another (the "haves" versus the "have nots" as my mother called them). People seem to just accept whatever. But, I've long wondered what will happen when the majority (the masses) becomes enlightened? What will the "haves" do then, as at that point the "have nots" (the masses) won't allow such (consciousness)! In the meantime, what can we do? Until the Bill of Rights and Constitution is totally trashed out (certainly gutted by the PATRIOT Act), SPEAK UP! This is what this culture/country is supposed to be about: freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the right to bear arms (lest we be enslaved)!

Praying that the masses come from darkness into the light!

-- F.A.H. Dalrymple

Colorado Springs

Traditional Arabic food

I read with interest the article by MB Partlow on "Israeli food" ("Holy Falafel!," May 29). I would like to comment on the origins of the foods she mentions.

In the 1950s, I married into a Palestinian immigrant family. My mother-in-law shared with me her cherished family recipes and taught me what I believed for many years to be "Palestinian" or "Arabic" cooking -- an art that I still enjoy. Every dish mentioned in Partlow's article is one I learned (sometimes under a different name) from my Palestinian mother-in-law. Of course, most of us know that spanakopita and baklava are classically Greek but made and served (with some variations) throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East by indigenous peoples. The other dishes, such as hummus, falafel, crushed eggplant with tahina (known as baba ghannuj in Arabic) have always been known to me as typically Arabic dishes. Of course, Israel is a new nation, consisting of mainly European immigrants, and so it stands to reason that its cuisine is essentially borrowed from its neighbors; except, of course, for such things as the "plump, juicy kosher hot dogs."

Perhaps none of this is very important, but in these times of extreme tension and violence between Israel and her Arab neighbors and the interminable 36-year military occupation of Palestine, I find myself wanting to give this little bit of credit where it is due. Palestinian food is elegant, delectable and healthy. I have made a number of extended visits to Israel and Palestine over the years and I find Palestinians, whenever they are able and have the resources, still cooking in this traditional way. The Tel Aviv Caf sounds nice and I'm looking forward to trying its traditional Arabic dishes.

-- Eugenia Durland

Colorado Springs

Dear Tom

In response to Tom Pedigo, state director of the AFA (Letters, May 22):

Thank the Lord for the Independent and the diversity within Colorado Springs' borders, because if this city only consisted of people like Mr. Pedigo, Dr. Dobson, Will Perkins and their brainwashed disciples, what a hell of miserable place this would be to live!

-- Andi Van Gogh

Colorado Springs

Righteous indignation

"Crazymaking?" It was rather sad to read Tom Pedigo's letter about the Cowboy Churches. His assumption that the Independent should only preach his and the American Family Association, along with such supposed Christians as Ed Bircham et al., reveals more about the thoughtlessness of American "churchianinty" than any "journalistic schizophrenia" from the Independent. (Does the name Independent somehow midlead?)

I especially take exception to his pious pronouncement that the Jesus of the New Testament, which certainly includes the Sermon on the Mount, knows Ed Bircham and those other "Christian" luminaries, including himself, Mr. Pedigo. I find it obvious that he, Jesus, does not know these frauds, but actually condemns them as latter-day pharisees. That must explain why the words of Jesus are so silent in these "churches."

-- Rev. Roy Hurley


Big whoop

A woman participated in a men's PGA golfing event. Woohoo! We are nothing, it seems, without controversy, or the mole hills that mountains are made from. Who cares, besides fellow golfer Vijay Singh? A few days after his scathing remarks about Annika Sorenstam, Singh did an about-face, saying he didn't mean it like it sounded. I believe him. I think a rich chauvinist can easily be reformed in less than a week, especially when he's covering his assets.

What difference does it make? Let her play. Let her friends play. Let her dog Toto play if she's qualified. By the time this gets printed, the Colonial tourney will be over, but whether Annika Sorenstam plays well or falls on her face, the debate will rage on. Woohoo!

Don't we have bigger fish to fry, global warming, the deficit, that restructuring in the Middle East? Will this bold, defiant act of feminine intrusion knock us from our axis? I think the Royal Order of Male Domination needs to get a life.

-- M. D. Allyn


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