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Afraid to debate

Mike Merrifield has been the state representative for House District 18. His voting record shows that he does not really represent his district, but votes his own agenda. Examples of this would be his voting against El Paso County water rights, wanting to raise utility taxes by $60 million over the next 10 years, supporting mandatory preschool infringing on a parent's right to choose, and higher health insurance costs for our small businesses. None of these help or support those he is elected to represent.

Opposing him is Kyle Fisk. Mr. Fisk has made a commitment to genuinely represent the people of his district by supporting small business, better education through parental rights, defending our water rights, protecting the environment, and giving us a neighborhood voice on the Highway 24 project.

Kyle Fisk is a man of honesty and integrity who knows how to keep his commitments and will do so.

Mr. Merrifield has backed out of yet another commitment to a scheduled one-on-one debate with his opponent. The Fisk campaign accommodated every request Mr. Merrifield made in scheduling this debate for Oct. 10, yet less than a week before he was to face Mr. Fisk, he cancelled.

Why is he afraid to discuss these issues in an open public forum? As an elected representative, he is responsible to answer to his constituents for his voting record. He needs to face the issues and give honest answers. We deserve to know, and we deserve better representation.

Karri Siebert

Manitou Springs

God's weed

Initiative 44, legalizing cannabis, may well be the most important election issue ("Hippie-hating and -baiting," Your Turn, Oct. 5), but not just for hippies.

True fiscal conservatives will vote for it; cannabis prohibition is a costly failure. Parents and mothers will support it; cannabis prohibition is more harmful to youth than the substance being prohibited. Police should support it; they've seen first-hand that cannabis doesn't cause crime.

But most importantly, re-legalizing cannabis should gain support of obedient Christians, since Christ God Our Father indicates He created all the seed-bearing plants saying they are all good, on literally the very first page of the Bible (see Genesis 1:11-12 and 29-30). The only biblical restriction placed on cannabis is that it be accepted with thankfulness (see 1 Timothy 4:1-5).

It's time to stop caging humans for using what God says is good.

Stan White


Bruce costs kids

Headline from the Oct. 6 Gazette: "Court dismisses Bruce appeal; Suit claimed D-11 used public money in bond vote"

In the story, Glenn Gustafson, the district's chief financial officer, said: "We're pleased that the court confirmed that we handled ourselves appropriately during the 2004 bond election. It's just unfortunate this legal action cost taxpayers of the district approximately $70,000."

That's $70,000 that could have gone to educating our children.

Bernie Herpin

Colorado Springs

Talking tourism

Thank you for printing my letter of Sept. 7, "Taking sides." It shows that the Independent is truly in favor of public discourse in discussing important issues. As I stated, the expansion of Pion Canyon is a complex issue and needs to be discussed for the good of all those affected by it.

I also knew my letter would invite comments from residents of eastern Colorado communities, such as those from La Junta City Council member Michael Moreno ("Small sacrifice," Letters, Sept. 14).

Mr. Moreno, in our country, the government is not a foreign entity that comes to do us harm. You and I, Indy readers, the people of Colorado, the people of the United States We The People are the government. We have entrusted certain geographical areas within our country to military departments so they can conduct training to keep our homeland safe.

The men and women in charge of those departments are very intelligent and perfectly capable of administering and managing those properties, such as Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy and the present Pion Canyon. To meet new challenges, they must expand to perfect their training.

Mr. Moreno, have you ever heard of civilian contractors conducting business within a military installation? La Junta could even profit by becoming a large tourist resort. If the Army were to develop a showcase like the Air Force Academy at Pion Canyon, luxury buses based in La Junta could tour through restored grasslands before visiting a state-of-the-art Army base. This would be profitable for the state and interesting to see, rather than just passing through dying villages along the Arkansas.

I am very much in favor of the Pion Canyon expansion.

David Fernandez

Colorado Springs

Creepy as that sounds

So far, we've heard a wide range of excuses for Rep. Mark Foley's actions from the Republican leadership.

We've heard he may not have broken any laws, and that Dennis Hastert might have heard about it in 2005 but probably not sooner and, plus, he's a busy guy and might have heard about it, but maybe he thought it was taken care of. We now hear that Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, may or may not have met with Foley at the urging of Foley's onetime chief of staff, Kirk Fordham.

We've heard that poor Foley was just flirting, as creepy as that sounds, and alternately, that he was under the influence of alcohol and may have been accosted as a child by a trusted member of the clergy. We've even heard that the Republican leadership may have not wanted to go too far in castigating Mr. Foley's behavior for fear of being labeled gay-bashers.

Someone's going to have to step up to the plate and tell the right what to think. They can't just decide for themselves.

No one has come out and said, "America, we hoped this problem would go away, but it has now bitten us in the ass on Election Eve." Nowhere is the Republican leadership offering any actual views or even any real talking points.

Come on, guys. Go with something. Maybe it's the anything-goes, no-morals, liberal society we live in that's at fault? Perhaps congressional rules need to be updated, like when the Abramoff scandal erupted? Hey, at least blame President or Senator Clinton! Tell them that Rep. Foley is actually victim of a vast Democratic conspiracy! But for God's sake, don't wait too long. It can be very unnerving to have to formulate a position on your own!

Mike Clow

Colorado Springs

'Just stop it!'

As Nancy Reagan believed she could solve the war on drugs by "just saying no," it seems the current Republicans believed they could stop Rep. Mark Foley from illegal sexually explicit contacts with children by telling him to "just stop it!"

Hmmm. President Clinton was subjected to impeachment for having consensual sexual contact with an adult woman but now the Republicans think a mere scolding and a huge cover-up was all that was necessary too rein in one of their own.

Wonder what another week of investigative journalism and Republicans tripping over each other with their own versions of how disgusted they have been with Rep. Foley (for the last several years) will bring?!

J.L. Husebye

Colorado Springs

Harboring pedophiles

The GOP says they're going to protect America from terrorists? Ha! They won't even protect your kids from pervert congressmen.

It's time for them to drop the crap about Democrats "coddling terrorists." The GOP harbors pedophiles, so they can molest your children.

Ah, the "moral values" party. Warning that gay marriage would threaten the very fabric of society, while at the same time turning a blind eye to one of their own, molesting teenage pages. The GOP should change its motto to "An Obscene Breach of Trust."

Thomas McCullock

Colorado Springs

America the pariah

An open letter to Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard, and Rep. Joel Hefley:

It is appalling that the House and Senate voted to pass the terror interrogation bill that allows torture to be perpetrated on the detainees held in custody by the United States. I am so ashamed of my country's leadership. America used to be a beacon to the world for the protection of human rights. Now we are a pariah.

I wish to voice my concerned and outraged protest regarding your voting to allow President Bush to be "king" and to decide which tortures are "legal," to override the Geneva Conventions, to provide retroactive immunity to anyone who may have been involved in war crimes, and to restrict the rights of people in detention to seek judicial review through habeas corpus proceedings.

By voting for this bill, you and your colleagues are permitting heinous crimes against humanity to occur in the name of the American people, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation by blasting rap music next to the prisoner's ear, stretching prisoners over a bench, then shackling them to the floor for more than 40 hours, and other despicable tortures.

Your vote does not represent me, or many other Colorado voters. Our country has seen a steady erosion of human rights under the current administration, but what is really sad is that the members of the House and the Senate are cooperating and supporting the abuse of prisoners under the aegis of "national security."

When a government sanctions torture and restricts basic legal rights of detainees, this is a sure sign of a degenerate, downward trend. We have lost our collective soul. I shudder to realize what we are becoming as a country. Shame on you and your colleagues.

Onorina Vedovi-Rinker

Colorado Springs

Changing diapers

Last night, after watching the evening news, I shook my head in disbelief at all the events in Washington.

Have these people forgotten that they were sent there by us as elected officials to do the people's work ... to do what's right for America, not what's right for their party, or their self-interest, or those special interest groups?

I admit I was a little shaken by all these negative revelations until I saw the election booklet that arrived in the mail a couple of days ago, sitting on the kitchen counter. That's it, I thought it's time for a change, and that's the way to make it.

Like the saying goes, "Politicians are like diapers they both need changing frequently, for the same reason." It's obvious the people we currently have in office, from the local to the highest levels, don't understand that they work for us and that we have the ability, no, we have a constitutional obligation, to replace those that have lost sight of this fact.

I urge you to make your vote count and to place people in office that will work hard for all of us and put partisan politics aside. As the poet Richard Armour once said, "Politics, it seems to me, for years has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong."

Mark Wood

Colorado Springs

Hail autumn

Yes, the Aspens around Cripple Creek and Lake George put on their usual beautiful display, but here in the Springs it seems all the deciduous trees have turned stunning colors. Everywhere you look, there are gorgeous golds and yellows, and even Wal-Mart on Platte Avenue has a row of beautiful red trees.

The Pyracantha berries are lush this year, and there are many shrubs that have turned red and orange. It just couldn't be lovelier!

Colleene Johnson

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