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Let's debate, please

Rich Tosches, thank you so much for your article on the killing of Sean Kennedy ("Tragic lesson for all of us," Ranger Rich, Jan. 8). My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

While I did not know Sean personally, he was the roommate of a friend of one of my sons. My first reaction was shock and disbelief. This could have been one of my sons, or one of the many wonderful young people I have met through them.

My second reaction was, where is the outrage? Sean made a silly mistake, and was violently killed. To judge by many online comments, much of the concern is about the legal niceties of the situation, not about the human tragedy and what it says about our society. The question of whether Sean was legally inside the house when shot is simply a technicality, and does not even begin to address the more fundamental issues at play here.

To quote the law professor in the film The Reader: "Societies believe they operate based on morality. They don't. They operate based on the law. So the question is not 'Is it wrong?' It is 'Is it legal?'" The logical consequence being, as demonstrated in many responses, the belief that if something is not illegal, then it's not wrong. Does the person who pulled the trigger in this case believe he did the right not legal thing?

Guns are a very cheap (in the broadest sense) form of power; as with all power, those who most want it or most feel that they need it are often for that very reason the ones least suitable to be entrusted with it. I hope for the sake of inevitable future victims that this incident spurs some serious debate.

Tom Fagan

Colorado Springs

Safety or chaos

The "penny" tax was struck down, much to my dismay. I can not understand how the humans here can be so stupid!

I have been in jail four times for things I did not do. And yet I still recognize the very important need for police and fire services. If we do not take care of these people, we are asking for nothing less than mass chaos.

They have thankless, dangerous jobs and paychecks that will never make them rich. Many thanks to these brave people.

David James

Colorado Springs

Bottle shock

I am a proud Colorado native. My wife and I own Payless Wine & Liquor in northeast Colorado Springs. We invested our entire lives, including our home, to secure a loan to buy our business. We purchased this business under the current Colorado Liquor Code. We would have thought twice about getting into the liquor business had we known what the future would hold.

With the proposed change in Colorado liquor laws ("Running on empty," Jan. 8) to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer, our business is in danger of failure. If full-strength beer is sold in all convenience and grocery stores, we will lose 30 percent of our income, not to mention the fact our store is anchored by a major grocery chain with a convenience store across the driveway from us. I see no need to have three sources of full-strength beer so close to each other.

Should this bill be passed, our welfare and that of our employees will be affected, and all individually owned stores will be in jeopardy of surviving, especially those in shopping centers with major grocery stores.

In these troubled economic times, it's not wise to put so many independently owned stores out of business to allow 1,600 more locations to sell full-strength beer.

Bob and Lora Hahn

Colorado Springs

'On the fringe'

Thanks to the Independent for consistently covering exciting happenings and programs for FutureSelf over the years, including the article ("A new tomorrow," Jan. 8) highlighting our celebration art show at Smokebrush Gallery.

However, I feel I have to make a clarification. I'm quite confident I did not use the terms "at-risk" or "troubled" when I spoke of the young people we have the privilege to work with. It's true our kids are people who have faced significant challenges, but they are remarkable for their unique ability to rise above those challenges. They are extraordinary on so many levels, but one particular advantage they have over some other young people with more privilege is that they are able to tap into their inherent intuitive wisdom, out of the necessity to survive and thrive. They have uncanny creative abilities and (often) simply need to have that power and energy pointed in a direction that serves them and their community in a positive way.

We have such a wide range of youth who contribute to our programs that it is unfair and inaccurate to neutralize their individuality through such terms, though I do often speak of them as "on the fringe," underserved or underprivileged. Those terms address economic situations, lack-of-access situations and even learning style variances. When you are a creative, "right-brained-dominant" thinker, you don't necessarily fit into the mainstream on many levels. This can be the driving factor that puts a kid "on the fringe" or creates an underserved, underprivileged predicament for them, in their homes, schools and socially.

We see our kids as pure possibility, not any more "troubled" than everyone else out there trying to succeed in the world.

Amber Cot

executive director, FutureSelf

Colorado Springs

Wake-up call

Sometimes it's OK to pay taxes. Colorado Springs will not improve one iota unless citizens invest in the city. I don't understand the sentiment of over-spending and fiscal irresponsibility by local government. We've seen the budgets. Where is the over-spending? Should we have fewer police officers? Should dialing 911 result in more endless ringing? Should we not fix the four-wheel-drive roads that we call major thoroughfares?

Having a nice, well-run, efficient city costs money. We need to spend money to see results. I'm all for a leaner government. But leaner does not always mean cheaper. There's no one left to fire in city government. We need to spend more money on elected officials' salaries to attract more diverse and qualified candidates and to allow the mayor and City Council to be full-time jobs. If you got paid $6,250 a year, how much time would you put into it? How much would you really care? Given that the only motivation our elected officials have is improving the city, they're doing a pretty good job.

The mill-levy extension doesn't make citizens pay more than they already pay. Retaining the TABOR refund of $1.2 million equates to a refund of less than $5 per taxpayer. You can get a cup of gourmet coffee or give your city $1.2 million to spend on improvement projects. Do you really need a cup of coffee that bad?

Bad economy or not, it's time to start investing in the city that you call home.

Nicholas Lee

Colorado Springs

Massage solution

While reading your article on the state massage parlor law ("Unhappy ending," cover story, Jan. 1), it occurred to me that proponents and opponents could make a compromise that would satisfy everyone. The sponsors should consider rewriting the bill to set a statewide minimum qualification for massage therapists without stripping cities and towns of their existing abilities to set higher industry standards.

This would satisfy supporters such as El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa by allowing law agencies to enforce standards in unincorporated El Paso County, where no standards currently exist, but would still allow Colorado Springs to keep its more robust regulations. This way, the sheriff's office can ensure compliance outside the city without making therapists feel as though their hard work to gain city certification has been for naught.

Jeremy Weiss

Colorado Springs

Feels good to me

Unhappy ending for massage therapists? Could we please focus on the future and the need to unite as a profession and not what we may or may not be losing as a city?

I have held a massage license and practiced therapeutic massage in Colorado Springs since 1987. I was an instructor at the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy here and have taught nationally for the NeuroMuscular Therapy Center. I have dedicated my life to massage therapy, and anyone who knows me would say I am very passionate about my profession.

I very much support the new registration laws. The purpose is to unite the profession and to join 32 other states that have state licensing for massage therapy. Most areas in Colorado have no licensing requirements at all, while Colorado Springs and Boulder have some of the country's highest standards. To me this is a huge victory for the state as a whole, though concessions have been made in some areas.

Let's view the new law as a way to elevate our profession on a larger scale, and as a beginning to a move toward recognition on the national level.

Bonnie Thompson

Colorado Springs

Unhappy feet

A local TV station has been doing a series about sidewalk liability. Apparently, it's my job to clear the sidewalk of snow in a timely manner or else. Well, I've lived here for 14 years and I can't remember when I've ever seen a snow plow. Emperor penguins would have trouble getting to work from here!

If my car slips on their ice it's my fault, but if someone slips on my sidewalk, then it's my fault? How is it always my fault?!?!

As a side note, my sidewalk is dangerous in the summer, too. It's in horrible shape, and I've been trying to get it replaced for 10 years. I call and send e-mails and call and send e-mails ...

I'm obviously a total failure as a citizen and a hazard to the community.

Steve Suhre

Colorado Springs

Cancer, at 60

If Operation Cast Lead is defensive, I would hate to see what "offensive" would look like. George W. Bush blaming Hamas is like blaming a rape victim for the crime. Tzipi Livni saying "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza" is like waking up in Alice in Wonderland, where everything is reversed.

We in the West, especially the U.S., have created a monstrous killing machine by allowing Israel carte blanche for 60 years. They have thumbed their nose at world opinion and rule of law, and now we see the law of the jungle in Gaza. The brutal occupation, continuing settlements and hideous treatment of Palestinians have created misery and an explosive situation on the ground.

Our tax dollars should not go to the criminal Israeli government. Israel should be taken to task for its war crimes. American and Israeli military aggression and land grabs, as well as pre-emptive wars, have killed countless Palestinians and Iraqis.

After Israel's latest crime spree, I fear for its future. It is a 60-year-old cancer that has no place in that part of the world. Perhaps European Jews who stole land from Palestinians after 1948 would like to relocate to America (perhaps Colorado), since they are so warmly looked upon and live rocket-free lives.

Grace L. Yenne

Colorado Springs

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