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History repeats

Colorado Referendum A, also known as the Property Tax Reduction for Senior Citizens Act, was on the November 2000 ballot in Colorado. It passed, with 55 percent of voters in favor. The amendment and subsequent legislation created a property tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens who have owned their homes for 10 years.

Back in December 2003, I blasted our Republican-controlled state House and Senate along with Republican Gov. Bill Owens for going around the wishes of the voters by suspending this legislation for three years. Balancing the budget on the backs of seniors caused great hardships to many folks and was very disturbing.

Now, in 2009, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter sees the same need to cause great pain and suffering to our seniors. Ritter wants to suspend that same tax exemption and maneuver around voter wishes.

In these tough economic times, when we are in such a deep recession, it is certainly not the right time, nor would it ever be the right time, to increase the tax burden on our elderly. By doing so, Ritter is targeting some of our most vulnerable citizens. Many seniors are on fixed income and struggling with ever-rising health care costs. In addition, they will now have to pay more to register their autos, thanks to Ritter.

Shame on Gov. Ritter for wanting to fund his other projects by raising taxes on the elderly. As a lifelong registered Democrat who supported Ritter and even helped raise money for him, I am now hoping he is a one-term governor and I will work hard to defeat any re-election ambitions he might have.

Steve Plutt

Lake George

Ruin and ridicule

Me? I was never a greed-head type who might try to "magic" money out of thin air. I like to make my living by actually producing valuable products or providing needed service. So I would never accept a bonus given to me for doing a poor job, driving my employer into ruin and ridicule. As a patriot, I could never take this bogus bonus money paid by taxpayers.

Hey AIGers, where is your sense of ethics? Where is your sense of shame?

Shannon C. Davis

Colorado Springs

Growth: the big issue

Dave Gardner is the only candidate for City Council who is willing to question the status quo of how our city is being run. It is the same status quo that will be increasingly inadequate to prevent the "Denverization" of Colorado Springs.

A recent criticism that Gardner's bid is too focused on growth seems unfocused itself. To many of us, growth is the overriding issue. If development is the answer to our city's prosperity, why has doubling our population since the early 1980s resulted in government woes long before the current national fiscal crisis? If development is the answer to city's prosperity, why are our citizens continually forced to bear the burden of infrastructure expansion serving new population with woefully inadequate accountability placed on developers?

As Dave eloquently states, we are Band-Aiding our problems and not addressing the cause: growth. Having someone like him in our city leadership is exactly the balance we need for refocusing on our quality of life. Quality, not unbridled quantity, benefits all of us, not just a select few.

Bruce Hamilton

Colorado Springs

Selling our soul

The idea in "City 4 Sale!" (News, March 19) that each city vehicle, park, park bench, ball field, employee uniform and city event is an opportunity to help businesses large and small make money, combines the aesthetic appeal of vandalism with the moral virtue of pimping.

The fact that the city has hired an out-of-state firm to choose what gets defaced, rather than having such decisions made by people directly accountable to local residents, makes official assurances that all approved "tagging" will be "tasteful" ring especially hollow.

There is one quite tasteful form of spontaneous visual art on public property that I would miss. In some neighborhoods, young children draw cheery pictures on sidewalks with colored chalk. The temporary nature of these illustrations nicely complements their visual manifestation of the innocent joy of childhood. Perhaps our city leaders should take it upon themselves to explain to these artists, and their parents, that in the future this activity will require an up-front payment to the city, or will be forbidden because it doesn't help any businesses make money.

Kurt Foster

Colorado Springs

Rolling Rock Canyon?

Our city's leaders are desperate for funds to keep the town running. Most residents apparently have not yet grasped that ancient political axiom: "You pay low taxes, you get a low-class city."

Now comes word that our leaders may resort to selling advertising spaces on city properties as a frantic effort to get a bit more cash. This would be done "tastefully," they say, so the town would not look like the fence at a baseball field or the paint job on an race car.

Depending on which generation you were born in, this idea seems swell, groovy, nifty, boss, far-out, awesome, dope or wicked. We could go further and sell the names of city sites to big businesses, as has been done in some sports stadiums. So let's get on it.

For starters, Pikes Peak could be renamed Budweiser Mountain. Far out!

Acacia Park might become Victoria's Secret Meadows. Groovy! Nevada Avenue turns into Hershey Highway. Boss!

Garden of the Gods? Winnebago Park. Nifty! Memorial Hospital can be Glock and Remington Center. Awesome!

City Hall will be renamed the Pampers Building. Dope! City Auditorium becomes Disney Arena. Swell!

These are only a start. But there's money to be made! Wicked!

Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Answering Balink

An article ("Balink dislikes state proposal," Noted, March 19) quotes County Clerk Bob Balink asking why would people want to drop off ballots at polling locations. Here are a few reasons:

If you vote using a mail-in ballot, you are asking the clerk to cast your ballot for you. The clerk may not cast your ballot, for a variety of valid reasons, and you may be disenfranchised. To avoid the possibility that an eligible ballot might not be cast, some voters want to bring their completed ballot, without a ballot-return envelope, and cast the ballot themselves. Properly, election officials should verify the voter's eligibility, and that the voter is returning the correct ballot, before recording the transaction and permitting the voter to cast their ballot.

Why would a voter want to do this rather than vote in the precinct or early-voting locations? Several reasons, including:

In a mandatory mail-ballot election, voters cannot vote in their precinct or an early-voting location.

If a voter chooses to use a mail ballot in order to have extra time to study issues and carefully mark the ballot, this would afford some voters the time to do so without depriving them the opportunity to cast their own ballots into the ballot box.

In some counties, precinct and early voters must vote using direct recording electronic equipment. Some do not trust these machines.

Mail ballots enclosed in identifying ballot-return envelopes are not secret. Some object to non-secret ballots as a matter of principle and because it violates the Colorado Constitution.

Al Kolwicz

Colorado Voter Group


Stress tests

"The war, on drugs" (Cover story, March 19) addresses many issues on drugs in the military. There are just too many U.S. soldiers who have serious mental problems, and the Department of Defense is trying to medicate the problems away. It appears as though too many soldiers are being redeployed, some on more than two tours of duty. In addition, a large percentage of soldiers do not have a high school diploma, as many as 20 percent.

When my son was getting information about enlisting in the Armed Forces some 20 years ago, every recruiter told him that if he didn't get his high school diploma, he shouldn't bother coming back. Now, it seems that the U.S. military has scraped the bottom of the barrel and is short of new recruits.

Drugs are a huge problem in the U.S. in general. Look at the cocaine wars in Mexico. Military and civilian authorities are swamped by the problem. No wonder the military relies on drugs in combat instead of expensive, labor-intensive therapy.

The only answer may be to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The downside is to abandon the women in those countries. If the misogynistic Taliban gains power, every woman in Afghanistan will go back behind windows painted black and out of education and employment opportunities.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Don Smith

Upper Kedron

Queensland, Australia

Familiar strategy

So there have been a couple of goofs and controversies with the Obama administration already. May I suggest a better way of handling them?

Start off by declaring an "orange alert" and follow up with the Pentagon releasing a statement that the military just thwarted a potential attack on American soil.

This worked over and over again for the Bush gang, and all the people forgot why they were so upset with them.

Works for me!

Jane Madden

Colorado Springs

Transit troubles

My financial crisis includes the use of public transportation. Unfortunately, Colorado Springs has no public transportation worthy of the name. For someone from Washington, D.C., where everybody seemingly rides the bus or subway, the difficulty involved in utilizing the bus here amounts to culture shock.

The online schedule matrix requires a degree in computer science to use. There is no help available in person, at the downtown terminal or by phone. Even relatively short commutes involving a transfer will take an hour, if not two or more.

Now the budget cuts will lead to further erosion in service starting April 1. Out of frustration, I looked for the underlying reasons that a city, as supposedly refined and progressive as Colorado Springs, could not have a transit system that contributed to quality of life.

TABOR has had a serious detrimental effect on communities to implement a fair system of taxation that would allow for necessary and desirable government services. It has eroded advantages that allowed Colorado to experience enviable growth and prosperity during the 1990s.

Some past proponents have reconsidered TABOR, and in hindsight see it as deeply flawed. However, not all have political courage and will to vote against it. TABOR has created a situation where state government is seriously underfunded, and the various departments are at odds over the funding that is available.

Colorado Springs has the added burden of a more restrictive local TABOR. In depressed times, it quickly suppresses revenues and services. In more prosperous climates or periods of recovery, it continues to repress revenue and slow the return of services to their previous levels.

Dan Creamer

Colorado Springs


"Pushing up Daisey" (7 Days to Live, March 19) should have stated that Mike Daisey's first book was published in 2002. The Independent regrets the error.

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