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Downtown disappointment
I would like to add my voice to Nancy Strong's ("Think axis, not access," Letters, Dec. 6) regarding the failure of vision for downtown Colorado Springs evidenced by the plan to allow two-way traffic on Tejon Street.

There is already ample vehicle access and parking space downtown, which will not be improved by increasing traffic flow on Tejon. But that increased traffic flow will further degrade the downtown pedestrian experience, decreasing the amount of time that residents and patrons will want to spend there. (This resident and patron spends quite a lot of time and money there.)

Downtown business owners, you must be aware that all of your patrons are pedestrians; what you and the downtown area need is more pedestrians, spending more time out of their vehicles.

Tom Fagan
Colorado Springs

Shortsighted leaders
The El Paso County commissioners have changed their decision to completely eliminate county funding to the CSU El Paso County Extension Office for 2008 in the amount of $298,000. Instead, they've cut the budget in half, to $149,000.

This decision will cut staff and programs in 2008. The commissioners have stated that further cuts may occur in 2009 and beyond. If this happens, the CSU El Paso County Extension Office could cease to exist altogether.

The El Paso County Extension Office encompasses 4-H/youth programs, agriculture programs for drought, fire, insects, livestock, small acreage management, Avian flu information, pesticide education, foot and mouth disease information, and West Nile virus education; horticulture programs to train Colorado Master Gardeners, a horticulture help desk for the public, insect/pest identification, identification of plant/tree diseases, native plant and xeric plant lists, information for managing conflicts with wildlife, wildfire mitigation information; natural resources, including drought management information, and insect bite information; nutrition resources for health promotion, chronic disease prevention, food safety (handing, preparation and preservation) programs; and a host of other information and programs for the residents of El Paso County.

These programs help safeguard public safety, protect our urban forest and provide the public with much-needed education in a host of areas.

Without the CSU El Paso County Extension Office, the citizens of our county will lose valuable resources and programs that may never be duplicated again.

Why are our county commissioners so shortsighted? With the increased population comes new property tax revenues, so why are commissioners cutting valuable program budgets such as those for the CSU Extension?

Kathryn Meinzer
Colorado Springs

McKibben's cloudy world
Bill McKibben ("You're getting warmer," News, Dec. 6) obviously knows how to control the Earth's climate, and man is it. We must reduce carbon dioxide by 80 percent by 2050 to survive. Allow carbon dioxide to reach 450 parts per million, "the absolute upper limit on what we can put into our atmosphere," and we will be toast!

I don't believe the Indy has ever published anything this black and white, or, with the exception of the spoof about Rich Tosches becoming the publisher, that farfetched.

Dick Standaert
Colorado Springs

Utilities' reply
In response to the Dec. 6 letter "Slanted survey," Colorado Springs Utilities would like to thank Ms. Mary McKeon for her feedback and clarify some of the points made. Like McKeon, we believe energy planning for our community's future is a critical part of our operations. Currently, programs like our "Get the Green Back" including efficiency rebates, tips, profiles and partnerships assist customers with lowering energy use and bills.

We're doing our part through initiatives like our Electric Integrated Resource Plan. Through research and customer participation, we're taking a long-range look when it comes to needs of our customers, environmental impacts and rate implications of our energy-resource portfolio.

That's where our Energy Planning Survey fit in. We know it's not always possible to attend a public meeting. The online survey, which was available Nov. 1-30, was another way to hear from you.

We invited customers to participate in a number of ways, including an announcement on the back of your bill envelope, a letter from our CEO Jerry Forte in Connection (our customer newsletter that mails with each bill) and on our Web homepage ( In fact, the Independent itself shared the invitation in its Nov. 21 issue.

In addition, we fielded a random survey to ensure we heard from a cross-section of our customers. The combination of the two methods provided more than 1,000 responses.

The focus of the survey was on renewable energy, specifically wind power. We have heard from customers that they support using more wind power. Because the cost of renewable energy is greater than coal and other traditional sources, we wanted to know how much more customers would be willing to pay for this alternative.

We encourage customers to follow the planning process at We also post public-meeting notices in advance.

Patrice Quintero
Colorado Springs Utilities

Hailing "town hall'
Thanks to John Weiss for much-needed questions in his Dec. 6 editorial, "Council must prevent parade pandemonium."

Weiss highlights central issues that were not and were not allowed to be even introduced in the court and trial process.

The civic arena is where we need to participate. The roots of the confusion and ensuing debacle of this year's St. Paddy's Day parade will never be resolved by police or courts. Here's to a town-hall meeting and a public dialogue.

Mary Sprunger-Froese
Colorado Springs

Learn the law
Regarding the next St. Patty's Day Parade, careful attention should be given to City Ordinance 1.3.101-106 (the City Code of Ethics, adopted April 10, 2007), which states: "Direct official action shall mean any action that involves: enforcing laws or regulations or issuing, enforcing or regulating permits and licenses." The ordinance later states that "no covered person [defined in the ordinance to include volunteers] shall give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual."

As I read the ordinance, this means that if parade organizers ("volunteers" under the ordinance) again state that promotion of social issues will not be allowed in the parade, such a restriction has to be enforced in a non-preferential manner, which would mean prohibiting all promotions of social issues, period.

This would prohibit participation by political parties, nonprofits concerned with social issues, or military veterans groups. All violators would have to be removed from the parade. Or the city could refuse to issue a permit for a parade, unless the organizers agreed to adopt a more reasonable stance on parade participation.

At your anticipated town-hall meeting on this topic, I would suggest that someone ask the panelists about the effect of this ordinance. I would also suggest that the panel include a member of the board of the local ACLU chapter. This letter has not been sent as an official statement of the ACLU.

Tom Barnes, attorney at law
Colorado Springs

Bedding down with Tosches
This has to be a first: Rich Tosches ("How to "own' land in Boulder," Ranger Rich, Nov. 29) and Mike Rosen agree!

Regarding the legal theft of Don and Susie Kirlin's land by a couple of slimeballs posing as humans, both opinion columnists wrote of their disgust at the obvious misuse of this arcane law. If Tosches' assertion that Judge James Klein is a "longtime friend" of McLean and/or Stevens is true, the judge should explain why he did not recuse himself from the case. Perhaps this is something the Colorado Supreme Court should look into?

Please continue to follow this story. I understand that the Kirlins have appealed the ruling, but face staggering legal costs to try to stop this immoral and unacceptable theft of their property. If there is an address where I can donate to help offset their expenses, please publish it.

Everyone who owns property should be concerned that, with knowledge of law, an utter lack of conscience, and complete disregard of the right to own property, someone can sue for your property and, in concert with a friendly (possibly unethical?) judge, simply confiscate it without compensation. If this ruling is allowed to stand, we have all lost.

Wes O'Dell
Colorado Springs

Dangerous W
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Carl Sagan's quote helps me understand why intelligent people, including those in Congress, have been reluctant to push for impeachment. But George W. Bush's most recent lie about his knowledge of Iran's nuclear weapons shutdown should be enough to jolt us awake: The man clearly wants another war. Each day that he remains in power endangers us all.

Bruce Hamilton
Colorado Springs

Put away the saber
Big surprise! Bush lied. Again. As noted on Dec. 4, President Bush has known for months that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Yet he said he "only learned of the new intelligence assessment last week." According to the Washington Post, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said, "President Bush was first told in August or September about intelligence stating that Iran had halted its weapons program." And yet the president saber-rattled on, recklessly pushing toward a war, just like with Iraq.

I have an eerie feeling Bush and Cheney actually want to start World War III. We must all urge Congress to act now and make it expressly clear that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have absolutely no authority to strike Iran.

Sharlene White
Santa Fe, N.M.

In "Pink is the new black" (Shopping Daze, Dec. 6), we erroneously reported that Rainy Days Silkscreen Studio is located in Manitou Springs. The studio is in the Depot Arts District. The Independent regrets the error.


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