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Ample warning

I so agree with the Independent's view that "if [Jay] Fawcett wins, our city's reputation as an intolerant, difficult place for non-fundamentalists to live will be altered" ("A rep to protect," Endorsements, Oct. 12).

I moved here last fall from the Midwest and even in that conservative, religious area, lots of people were warning me that Colorado Springs was the ultimate right-wing, religious extremist city. Living in the downtown area, it was easy to forget Focus on the Family was right down the road until election time.

As your columnist Cara DeGette wrote, even Republicans are cringing at the thought of Doug Lamborn winning Colorado's 5th congressional seat. The only response Republican leaders have is to urge party members to "stay the party line." If it works the same as Bush's "stay the course" war strategy, we will, thank heavens, be represented by the astute retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Jay Fawcett.

Leslie Raith

Colorado Springs

Showing up

There have been accusations I have been trying to avoid my opponent in a debate, but the facts illustrate quite the opposite. Over the last few months, I have participated in four candidate forums with the Rev. Kyle Fisk. Unfortunately, the two most widely read newspapers, the Independent and the Gazette, have neglected to cover them.

On the other hand, both papers were quick to jump on the "controversy" when Rev. Fisk tried to set up his own debate event, but those same papers have failed to announce the four previous forums to the public in any significant way prior to the events, and they failed to cover the forums once they happened.

In these four forums, Rev. Fisk and I have sparred over a wide range of issues, from the separation of church and state to education, health care, transportation, public retirement and early childhood education. We also addressed questions directly from the audience.

Was any of this covered? No. It might have been covered if Rev. Fisk had told an audience member to shut up.(But, then again, I guess that wouldn't have mattered, since no one was there to report on it.)

In fact, if any of my constituents or either newspaper wants to hear where I stand on issues, the PTA is hosting yet another candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at Bates Elementary, where I will be in attendance. I have been told Rev. Fisk will not be there, but I feel sure that won't be covered, either.

Rep. Michael Merrifield

House District 18

Role reversal

Two weeks ago, the Independent was all up in arms about Republican candidates avoiding forums and public events. Naturally there was no mention of Kyle Fisk, vigorous challenger for House District 18, where I live.

That would be because he has attended every event they mentioned and more. No, the roles are quite reversed in this particular race, because it's the out-of-touch Michael Merrifield that refuses to debate Fisk.

I doubt the Independent will go out of its way to point out the hypocritical position of Merrifield and his unwillingness to debate Fisk one-on-one, deal with the issues, and be available for the people of our district. However, I'm encouraging my neighbors in House District 18 to hold our ineffective incumbent accountable to his poor record by voting for Kyle Fisk on Nov. 7.

Alissa Bohall

Colorado Springs

The great outdoors

It's difficult to deny that during the last four-plus years, America's and Colorado's hunting, fishing and outdoors culture has been in decline for many reasons. But most prominent among them has been a concerted political effort to develop our last remaining wild and roadless public lands.

Our votes for governor will help determine if this trend continues. Come November, hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen and women in general will have a choice. Bill Ritter is first and foremost an advocate for what matters to us. Born and raised on a farm in eastern Colorado, he fully supports the preservation and protection of wildlands and wildlife and the age-old quests of hunting, fishing and using the land in a sustainable fashion.

His opponent, Bob Beauprez, is clearly out of touch with what Coloradans want. For example, instead of promoting a balanced approach to energy development, Beauprez wants to change certain elk migratory patterns to allow for more oil and gas development on the Western Slope. For this and other pro-industry views, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has named Bob Beauprez to their "Dirty Dozen" list.

Who do you think is going to better represent the views of hunters and anglers in the Colorado state capital? We need, and deserve, Bill Ritter as our next governor.

David A. Lien

Colorado Springs

Safe and effective

Re: "God's weed," Letters, Oct. 12: I agree whole-heartedly.

I've been looking into these laws for almost a decade, and it is truly horrible how so many people get their lives ruined by our laws rather than by the "evil drugs." It is absolutely shameful, especially since we went through alcohol prohibition less than 100 years ago. Prohibition doesn't even keep drugs away from kids. Instead, it allows minors to find a lucrative business in the criminal world.

Drug laws are also an abomination to our Constitution, and they fully rely on lies and ignorance to stay on the books. Please research all this for yourselves. The one thing I know without a doubt is that cannabis truly is a safe and effective medicine. Yet millions have been caged for using it. We can stop this simply by researching these things for ourselves and then standing up for what is right.

Melanie Marshall

Bellevue, Neb.

Water facts

I am appalled at the last week's IQ interview ("Not all that glitters is real estate"), where Don Wick stated: "I can't think of a civilization where large portions of the population exist that way today," when referring to living without running water.

I am hoping he meant that he would hope people didn't have to live that way.

Unfortunately, there are great many people all over the world who do not have the luxury of running water. A quick search on Google brought up these results:

The United Nations, August 2004: More than a billion people more than 15 percent of the world's population live their daily lives without access to safe drinking water.

A report from Boston College, October 2006:

"But thirst is a problem of crisis proportion for over 1.1 billion people in the developing world who remain without safe, affordable and sustainable drinking water. A staggering 2.6 billion people live without adequate sanitation facilities. And the vast majority of illnesses in the developing world (80 percent) is caused by unsafe water and inadequate sanitation."

Gallup, N.M.: Most people on the reservations here lack what many Americans would die without electricity, telephones, running water, cars.

Even in the 21st century, indoor plumbing remains but a dream for many Americans.

Millions of poor Salvadorans, in rural and urban areas, suffer from inadequate housing, without electricity, running water or adequate sanitation.

And we haven't even touched on Africa.

My own story: Just a few years ago, in our severe drought in Colorado Springs, our well ran dry in our home. We hauled, trucked and did without water for an entire summer. Difficult? Yes. Unpleasant? Yes. Hardship? Hardly. Just inconvenience.

Michelle Vandepas

Colorado Springs

Ker-splat

Was that a thud or a splat that I heard coming from somewhere near the headquarters of Focus on the Family and New Life Church this week, as in a 21st-century "Humpty Dumpty" metaphor?

"Off the wall" certainly is another metaphor that connects with the revelations in David Kuo's book Tempting Faith, where he reports George W. Bush's team nicknames for our local evangelical leaders. Those called "the nuts" were also described as "boorish," "out of control," "ridiculous" or even, dare I say, "goofy."

Actually, the Humpty Dumpty reference is meant for James Dobson, Ted Haggard and Rob Brendle (among others of the faith-based movement). No one wants to be a sucker, especially those who freely give hard-earned monies and volunteer time. And now it is plain that leaders like Dobson were either duped into believing they actually had respect and influence in the White House, or they knew Bush and the GOP were never interested in really extending the evangelical agenda, and merely wanted the votes they could deliver from the evangelical army.

Either way, someone is being duped! Kuo was a qualified witness as a senior White House staff member in the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. This should crack Humpty's egg wide open, especially now, after Mark Foley's fall from grace.

I read Focus on the Family's PR response to Kuo's book, which essentially said, "There's no possible way that our allies could ever have said stuff behind our backs like that." Get real, Focus!

Bob Nemanich

Colorado Springs

Below the radar

I remember the first time we visited my uncle's new ranch, located in the Pion Canyon expansion land. It was 15 years ago, and Christmastime in the valley. Their ranch was exactly what they had dreamed about; wide open spaces, no Forest Service breathing down their necks, and nothing but opportunity in the future.

The first time we heard the planes, the ground-shaking rumbling shook the whole house, and we didn't know what was happening. It turned out the Army was using the canyons to practice below-radar flying maneuvers. Who knew that we were looking at the very thing that would threaten their new lives?

I don't understand how the government, military, David Fernandez ("Talking tourism," Letters, Oct. 12), and other supporters of this expansion can be in favor of a modern-day Grapes of Wrath situation. I know there is land that is so desolate, it can't be of use to people in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. What would be wrong with utilizing actual desert for "realistic desert training?" There are no people living there, and no cattle ranches and farms to ruin.

Erica Russell

Colorado Springs

Taxing on the curve

Everyone expresses concern about urban sprawl, how it is affecting their life, and threatens to affect their life, in years to come. How do we slow the proliferation of new buildings, which is causing our existing infrastructure of roads, utilities, police and fire protection and schools to be overwhelmed? How do we fund the needed repairs and improvements?

Maybe we need to look at a modified method of calculating property taxes, based on the age of the buildings. Older buildings have been supporting the system, while it is the newer ones that are increasing the strain.

Here is one possible solution:

If a building is 40-plus years old, it is billed at the current mill rate.

If a building is 30 to 40 years old, it is billed at the current rate plus "x" ("x" to be determined by the "money crunchers").

If a building is 20 to 30 years old, it is billed at the current rate plus "2x".

If a building is 10 to 20 years old, it is billed at the current rate plus "3x".

If a building is under 10 years old, it is billed at the current rate plus "4x".

The age is determined by the date of the issuance of the certificate of occupancy.

By adjusting the charges based on age, the burden of the increased costs to improve and maintain the infrastructure will be placed on the causes of the strain.

As Colorado is such a great place to live, there is no way to slow the migration. But by graduating the property tax structure, we will encourage people to purchase and renovate older buildings, closer in to the existing developed areas, thereby slowing the sprawl, and improving existing neighborhoods that are falling into disrepair. This seems like a "win-win" situation to me, for all of us.

Mark Stahl
Colorado Springs

TakeAction

  • Meet state Senate and House candidates at the Candidates Forum presented by the El Paso Council PTA on Thursday, Oct. 19. The PTA has invited all candidates in the School District 11 area to attend the forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Bates Elementary School (702 Cragmor Road). Call Zandra at 534-0076 or e-mail ZandraZF@earthlink.net for more information.

  • Attend the 88th annual NAACP Freedom Fund Gala to hear keynote speaker Randall Pinkston, a CBS News correspondent, and enjoy dinner at the Sheraton Colorado Springs Hotel (2886 S. Circle Drive). Tickets to the gala on Saturday, Oct. 21, are $75; proceeds will support social justice and educational programs. Call 233-0243 for tickets and more information.

  • Use your creative talents to sew, knit or crochet baby items for National Premature Infant Awareness Month. Colorado Springs Ronald McDonald House (311 N. Logan Ave.) and Memorial Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit are accepting baby blankets, mittens, hats and booties through Wednesday, Oct. 25. Call 244-7000 for patterns and more information.
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