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A word from Bashful

I had a good chuckle reading Rich Tosches' "Seventh time's the charm" column on Feb. 10, about how the "Seven Dwarfs" (i.e., City Council) have "rolled out the welcome mat for utilities czar Phil Tollefson." It sure was an entertaining read; there just wasn't much substance to it.

Rich was concerned that Council (acting as Utility Board) has formalized several policies we have actually had in place for years. One, for example, was that Mr. Tollefson, as the chief executive officer, can interpret Council direction and take whatever follow-up action is necessary. We meet with him on the average of between three and six times a month to discuss activities and direction. If we think something needs to be done differently, we discuss it with him then.

Another of Rich's concerns was no individual Council member can hire, fire or reprimand a Utilities staff member. As chief executive officer, that's Phil's job through his management team. Our job is to hire, fire or reprimand Phil if we deem necessary.

Finally, Rich seemed upset that no individual council member can direct staff to undertake costly projects without a majority of Council giving the OK. I'm not sure our ratepayers would want "Dopey" or "Grumpy" costing them extra money on their utility bills without at least the majority of the seven dwarfs giving the thumbs up.

If I were to choose one of the seven dwarfs to describe Rich Tosches, I would say "Lazy" most applies for not taking the time to call one of us to explain what we were doing.

-- Richard Skorman (Bashful)

Vice Mayor

Colorado Springs

Speak your mind

New resident Adele Mulford, who wrote a letter to the editor published Feb. 17, could simply stop reading the Independent if she is so concerned about its "rampant negativity." The Gazette has expressed its ideas and views for over 60 years in my memory; but unlike the Independent, it would never print any letters that were contrary. In a healthy community, all people should be able to speak their mind as long as it isn't hateful; but they must also defend their positions in an intelligent manner.

The Colorado Springs Independent is a free newspaper that survives by doing a great deal more than printing great restaurant reviews. A great newspaper looks for ways to improve the community by shining a bright light in areas where some do not wish explored, because it shows them for what they are. I greatly appreciate that.

-- David Johnson


A few good grumps

Adele Mulford's whining letter in the Feb. 17 issue reminded me of an essay by Jonathan Winokur that appeared in the AARP magazine last year. In the essay "A Few Good Grumps" he noted:

"Slowly, almost imperceptibly our nation is becoming intolerant to any negative speech or criticisms. It's as though our American ears, like our American bellies, have gone soft. Look around and you'll see the triumph of the mindless happy. "

This "mindless happy" fits Mulford to a tee. Unable to rouse her mental faculties to process the "negative" she wants to cover her little ears, and probably her eyes as well.

How did we reach this sorry pass that Americans have become unable to tolerate fiery -- even harsh -- discussions and debates? I think Neil Postman in his 1982 book, The Disappearance of Childhood , probably has as good an answer as any.

He pegs an infantilization of culture progressing as reading and literary capacity has declined among the general populace. In the adult culture, still prevalent in the '60s and early '70s, people still read voraciously. They knew vigorous and even tough discourse was part of the give and take of democracy.

Flash-forward to today, and most of the populace has been infantilized by excessive exposure to mostly visual --nonliterary media, as well as PR and brainwashing implanted in them. The kid brain is unable to process the complexity of argument and gives up. Alas, most adult brains give up too! All they want are sound bites, and the easier the information (and less "negativity") the better!

That's OK for the infant subset of the populace. But for the rest of us, full-grown (including brain) adults -- please don't take the childish complaints of Ms. Mulford seriously. When she says she can't take the "negativity," she speaks only for herself.

The rest of us want our "steak" served up weekly in the Indy -- NO pabulum! Besides, if the Indy is too intense for Mulford, she can always tune into the Cartoon Network with her kids. She'll see no negative portrayals there and won't feel compelled to use Ajax and a Brillo pad on herself.

-- Phil Stahl

Colorado Springs

Earth to Europe

I'm always amazed at the intelligence level of the people who write to the editor. Why are these people not running for political office? Why don't they run mega-huge ads on TV and radio stations, and in large newspaper publications? Why do we only hear from the ignorant radical loonies on our American TV and radio, and in newspapers?

Is that because America believes it can't entertain its subscribers without mindless rantings?

I wonder if any of our allies overseas realizes that there are intelligent beings on this side of the ocean?

-- Emily-Charmaine Evans

Colorado Springs

Taxation is theft

Donald Pelton (Letters to the editor, Feb. 17) needs to get his facts straight. The taxes Doug Bruce is interested in are not largely those on real estate. I carried petitions for him during his last effort to reduce our taxes. The cuts were aimed at utility tax, vehicle tax, income tax and property tax. What Donald will not realize is that taxation is theft. When something is taken from someone (by force, if necessary), it is called stealing. Mr. Pelton says that there is no such thing as "a functioning government that runs on air"; I've got another revelation for you, Don -- there's no such thing as a functioning government.

-- Arthur Roberts

former Libertarian candidate for

U.S. House of Representatives

District 5

You, sir, are no Scott Graves

Dear Donald Pelton:

Scott Graves does not need to have his mood chemically altered. I know Mr. Graves personally, and his opposition to excessive taxation is certainly not simply a result of being too high-strung.

Point 2: Doug Bruce, whatever faults he may have, is certainly not "largely" interested only in reducing taxes on real estate. He has a very good track record of working to oppose increases in a wide variety of taxes and taxation schemes, including quite a few that clearly mostly impact low- and middle-level wage earners, rather than those who can afford to invest in real estate. The unsupported claim that this is not the case is, unfortunately, typical of people who resent any attempt to reduce the tax burden on the common man/woman.

And, point 3: How very interesting that you would try to justify your outburst by telling us that "[t]here is no such thing as a free lunch," when it is precisely the aficionados of the "free lunch" who constantly promote more and higher taxes. As to the "functioning" government "run[ning] on air," this is a tired, old tactic of those who apologize for the tax collection status quo Logicians call it the fallacy of the excluded middle: the incorrect notion that there is nothing in between the current level of taxation and zero taxation, which is not what has been proposed or required by any of the measures that Douglas Bruce has ever promoted or backed.

It's hard to tell whether you believe your own PR, or somebody else's, but you clearly don't have your arguments in line with political reality, Maybe it's you who needs the fluoxetine (Prozac).

-- Patrick L. Lilly

Occupied Cheyenne Cañon near Colorado Springs

Ham-fisted tactics

Once again, Doug Bruce is using ham-fisted tactics to force his agenda on the citizens of Colorado Springs. I question his motives for pressuring Memorial Hospital to ban all abortions unless it is a life-or-death emergency for the woman. I do not believe his intent is driven by compassion for the unborn. It seems to me his interest lies more in leveraging the abortion issue as a means to dispose of Memorial Hospital as a city entity.

If the City Council and Memorial Hospital Board do not cave to his demands, he has threatened a ballot proposal containing unreasonable sanctions that endanger the capacity of all residents to access quality comprehensive health care. The proposal seeks to force the hospital to submit to auction if three unacceptable abortions are allowed within a 36-month span of time. Not only is this an arbitrary line in the sand, but it begs the question of who decides what constitutes an (un)acceptable reason for the procedure. I respect both sides of the abortion issue and resent being used as a pawn in yet another Doug Bruce scheme to manipulate the system to further his own objectives.

-- Sandy Smith

Colorado Springs

Matchmaker, matchmaker

Doug Bruce and Condoleezza Rice: He's looking for a woman; she needs a boyfriend. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? C'mon, Colorado Springs, let's get these two lovebirds together. Doug is sorta shy, so why don't we write Condi and tell her what she's missing? Let's invite her back to the true Colorado (the hell with Boulder) to meet a man as real as George Bush.

Go Doug!

-- Michael Adams

Colorado Springs

No more paranoia

Thank you Kenneth Cleaver, thank you, thank you, thank you. I, as many of my generation, occasionally find myself disillusioned with the omnipresence of large faceless corporations constantly bidding for my consumer dollars. At times this disillusionment has bordered on paranoia, but, no longer. Thanks to your earnest toil, I have been given a glimpse into the tender heart and beautiful soul of corporate America. Every day is now a perfectly lit, pleasingly colored paradise, where a swipe of my little plastic card makes all my whims reality. I have seen the light and it is beautiful. Thank you Mr. Cleaver.

-- Dave Bouchard

Via the Internet

Reviewing the City Aud

Recently I drove downtown to attend a show at the Lon Chaney Theater. Anytime I see Mark Hennessy as actor or director, I know it will be good. And it was terrific. There were no parking places for six blocks around because Remington College was also having their graduation in the auditorium. Pretty white caps and gowns and the large audience seemed to be enjoying it all.

I had just time to go to the restroom and was appalled when I saw the five stalls -- two without doors, one with a door but holes where the latch should be, one did not flush ... two wash basins with very leaky faucets that only produced a tiny stream of water ... two hand dryers but only one worked. It wasn't dirty and the soap dispenser was full and there was toilet tissue, but it looked like a slum picture.

Even at snazzy Packard Hall there is always a line for the women's restroom, so five at the Auditorium is probably what we are used to. I sent a letter to the City Council to ask for $200 and was promised that I could have the doors and faucets fixed.

The theater seats are the ugliest and I usually bring my own cushion. Folding metal chairs for the organ concerts: inadequate. But it's OK, I'm old and ugly too! The restaurant is very nice and the prices are extremely reasonable. The entry hall is beautiful and the organ magnificent.

-- Colleene Johnson

Colorado Springs

Turning the other cheek

My husband and I are profoundly deaf. We were taking a walk, enjoying one of Colorado Springs' beautiful winter days, when along came a "hearing" couple who stopped and wanted to "speak" to us, using sign language.

I'm always delighted when the hearing want to sign -- they usually initiate the conversation with: "My name, then finger-spelling."

The lady of the couple did just that, but added more to the conversation, struggling with the signed words. Finally, she asked for our e-mail address -- she wanted to give it to a friend for her to contact us. I looked at my husband and we both agreed the couple looked nice, and gave them our e-mail address.

Later, we received an e-mail from their friend, inviting us to their Christian church and advising us that they have people who can "interpret" the Bible and Jesus' Scriptures for us.

I have a masters degree and grew up in the Pentecostal Church -- I do not need "interpretations" from anyone about the Bible or what Jesus said. But, perhaps, I can be allowed to interpret for the majority of Christians here in Colorado Springs, who seem to be "Bushmongers," confusing politics with religion.

Jesus was poor and humble. He would never support a government that gives to the rich, is willing to destruct Social Security, wants to abolish food stamps for the poor, and takes away educational training from the needy (read: the Bush budget.)

The Old Testament is the history of Jewish laws and the foretelling of the Messiah -- Christians are to be led by the New Testament. Nowhere in the New Testament or Jesus' teachings are homosexuals mentioned. Jesus would be the first to put his arm around a homosexual and ask him or her to break bread.

Jesus was a pacifist, he believed in "turning the other cheek," he would never support "pre-emptive war" on innocent people -- never!

Jesus stood up to the oppressive religious laws and religious leaders of that time -- that's why he was crucified.

I see Newsweek and the New York Times stating that this is an important time for Christians -- I agree! I can see Jesus separating the shaft from the wheat, and being amazed at how much shaft there seems to be!

My advice to Christians: Stop being the shaft, read your Bible, learn about the real teachings of our Christ, and stand up and be the wheat!

-- Mrs. Richard Williams

Colorado Springs

A few ground rules

A great many cultures are dealing with the line between extremist religious fundamentalism and the interpretations the majority accepts. In Afghanistan they have the Taliban, in Israel they have the Likudniks, and in America we have Falwell, Robertson and Dobson. They're all welcome to their beliefs, but to call themselves Christians requires a few ground rules: tolerance, love, acceptance.

My Jesus was very specific on these matters. Don't throw stones. Don't judge. Don't hate. Love your brother as you love yourself. Simple. Explicit. No interpretation required.

And, most of all, no boundaries for whom these principles apply. They apply to everyone and are required of everyone. They apply to SpongeBob SquarePants and they apply to James Dobson. Intolerance is not a family value of Jesus!

-- Mark Lewis

Colorado Springs

Flash in the pan

Now we've even heard from "Students for Social Justice" (Letters, Feb. 10) that the community at large should keep our opinions to ourselves when it involves academia, even when it slops over into the community.

Churchill is brilliant. He's gone from an unknown rabble-rousing Indian wanna-be to an overnight sensation. He's been talked about in the media; even TV has chewed him over. We'll remember Churchill for a few more weeks at least.

The question is, is he a sensation seeker or is he writing a book? Whatever, he's got the publicity so he'd better strike while the iron is hot because he's a flash in the pan and only that.

-- Anne Bush

Via the Internet

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