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Health care battle

The health care industry is gearing up to fight President Obama and progressives in Congress on health care reform. Insurance companies oppose a public option increasing competition by lowering costs. In other words, they make less money. The insurance and health care companies make obscene profits from a broken system.

On April 2, the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent a letter saying: "We believe it is important for you to know that virtually the entire 77-Member Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) prefers a single-payer approach to health care reform. Therefore, it will come as no surprise as you work to craft comprehensive health care reform legislation, that we urge the inclusion of a public plan option, at a minimum, in the final legislation. We have polled CPC Members and a strong majority will not support legislation that does not include a public plan option that is supported on a level playing field with private health insurance plans."

Please take time to contact congressmen and support them in passing health-care reform.

— Jeremy Cook

Colorado Springs

Don't count on county

The county's Motor Vehicle Department has apparently decided that the cards they mail for registration renewals are now "friendly reminders" and not mandatory for them to send out — huh?

My mother and I had the same experience, and got the same speech. We never received our cards. I knew mine was due and went there. When I said I'd never received my card, the clerk replied, "Oh, that's just a friendly reminder; we don't have to send those out." Uh, how are people supposed to renew by mail? "Well, they can do it online."

Yes, it is our responsibility. My mother is 77, and like many seniors, not out and about much, nor does she own a computer. She was waiting for the card. She only realized it had never shown up when my sister was pulled over while driving her car and (luckily) received a warning. I took my mother to the Motor Vehicle Department — same speech, literally. The clerk proceeded to blame the post office (seeing as we've been there 40 years, not likely). Not only did they charge her a late fee, they charged extra for the time missed.

I wonder how many others had this happen ... either someone screwed up badly and they sent the "friendly reminder speech" memo to cover their butts, or they've devised yet another scam.

So, a "friendly reminder" to the folks of El Paso County: Check your tags, as you may not get a card in the mail!

— Susan Hoekstra

Colorado Springs

See county response in Noted.

Differing outlooks

During debate on House Bill 1317, which would prevent selling state school sections to the Army for PiƱon Canyon expansion, Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, framed the issue as competition between Southeastern Colorado and Colorado Springs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I wish for Colorado Springs a healthy, diverse, sustainable economy. But it's in danger of falling into unhealthy dependence upon federal welfare, overdependence upon military and an unsustainable economic situation. Some in the Springs want to use the federal government's economic and legal powers to put ranchers in Las Animas County out of business to keep the city's economy afloat.

Landowners should be able to sell, lease or keep their land without government intervention. HB 1317 doesn't say anything about private property or limit landowners from doing whatever they'd like with their property. It only addresses what the state may do with state school sections, an endowment dedicated "in perpetuity" to benefit public schools.

It's improper for legislators to tell private-property owners what they can do, but it's very appropriate for Congress to tell our military how to spend our tax dollars in trying to get our land. It's also appropriate for state lawmakers to determine the fate of state lands.

Colorado Springs is experiencing tough times, falling in Milken Institute's best-performing cities from 96th in 2007 to 111th in 2008, while Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction and Pueblo advanced. Greeley topped them all, ranking 20th, not because of military presence, but because the Vestas wind energy company has located there.

Colorado Springs' decline has come during military expansion, while other Colorado cities have improved without depending on the Pentagon. I hope the Springs flourishes, but without destroying our healthy, sustainable agricultural economic base in Las Animas County.

— Doug Holdread


TABOR thoughts

Nice article ("TABOR tyranny," cover story, April 9) by J. Adrian Stanley. Lots of research, probably some accuracy, and maybe we are in trouble. But can you imagine what taxes here would be without TABOR?

How many times have our local tyrannical pollies (Aussie for politicians) asked us to approve spending, and the public has turned them down again and again — then, they just did it anyway?

Doesn't TABOR provide for the pollies to present their needs to us? Have they ever? Wouldn't they just prefer to sucker-punch us with enterprise fees?

They will find a way to get into our pockets, with or without TABOR.

— Jim Pezoldt

Colorado Springs

Required reading

"TABOR Tyranny" by Adrian Stanley is the best TABOR explanation I have seen for years and should be required reading for anyone requesting a ballot and all elected officials!

As a newly elected City Councilmember, I face the probability of voting to further reduce city services as revenue continues to decrease below predictions. We can only protect public safety so long by cutting quality-of-life services and infrastructure maintenance.

With our over-reliance on sales tax, we are at the mercy of an economy largely out of our control. As Adrian correctly demonstrated, the TABOR "ratchet-down" effect will also hamper restoration of services when the economy recovers, unless voters allow use of excess revenue to restore those services.

What is the solution? It's obvious by 1A that citizens don't want to spend tax money on keeping or attracting businesses. This complicates a recovery because, as more businesses fail, more property tax will shift to the remaining businesses and on to consumers.

What is the answer? A good start would be to change the way the baseline is calculated for next year's revenue. Our budget has been reduced, but our population and need for services have not. Change TABOR, allowing us to establish a "rainy day" fund to see us through down years. A partial shift to property tax would be very complicated, with tax and charter modifications likely requiring multiple ballot issues, and all would have to pass to be successful.

We will tighten our belts and make the best decisions we can. Isn't that why the citizens elected us?

— Bernie Herpin

Colorado Springs

Election aftermath

With our city election behind us, I congratulate incumbent Jerry Heimlicher on his victory, and I thank the citizens of Colorado Springs who informed themselves and voted. I also thank those who had the courage and vision to support my candidacy.

I asked them to leave behind a 100-year legacy of growth addiction to embrace a modern, sustainable economic model that recognizes perpetual growth is not possible and not even profitable. That's a major change. To get this close in a race against an incumbent — who outspent us more than two to one — shows the citizens of our community understand the times are changing.

I also thank the Independent news staff for spending nearly two hours learning about me as a candidate and discussing the issues. I wish more of that conversation had found its way into the pages of your paper. As our city's major daily shrinks, perhaps the Independent can step in to fill the void. Many voters wished for more news coverage of the election issues.

While I was disappointed the Independent did not endorse me, I note the voters agreed across the board with the newspaper's recommendations. With the exception of the City Council race, I'm pleased to see that result. I don't think the Independent's endorsements are meant to be predictions, however. I hope they can be beacons highlighting a forward-thinking path for our community.

It's too early to make predictions or decisions about the next City Council race, but should I elect to run, I hope to earn the Independent's endorsement in 2011. Meanwhile, I pledge to keep up the conversation about true sustainability.

— Dave Gardner

Colorado Springs

Open the closet

Before he was elected president, Barack Obama spoke out against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in our armed forces. About 13,000 servicemembers have been discharged under the law, and more than 800 positions were mission-critical. The policy has cost the military nearly $364 million since it took effect in 1994.

I hope Obama fulfills his campaign pledge to eliminate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from the department's funding requests. Not withstanding the economic viability, we need to end a discriminatory policy that prevents brave and qualified citizens from serving their country.

— Sharlene White

Santa Fe, N.M.

Let's listen in ...

I can't stop fantasizing about what goes on inside the Gazette:

Head Editor enters the conference room, humming "Money, Money, Money, It's a Rich Man's World." Others file in, commenting on Bill O'Reilly and the cost of security guards in gated communities.

HE: "OK, what today's headline?"

"The usual. 'Doug Bruce won't give up, attacks leftist teachers union again.' Sub-headline: 'Failed schools want even more sky-high paychecks.'"

HE: "Be sure to write that the unions' positions are "bleating screeds" and "knee-jerk shrieks." (Happy murmurs.)

HE: "Which syndicated columnists are we using today?"

"Charles Krauthammer, who touts again the Bush 'Doctrine of Pre-emptive War,' knowing someday any nation could possibly attack America."

HE: "Neat. Go with it. What else?"

"George Will. You know how obscure and convoluted he gets; how he loves those big words that confuse everybody. Readers think he's brilliant since they can't understand what the hell he's saying."

HE: "More thoughts?"

"We must be vigilant about protecting our Ultimate Secret: We are not as much Libertarians as Plutocrats. We hate government except the expensive part, military and police, which protect the rich from invasions and thieves. And we like highway taxes. Gotta have roads to get around and make a buck. Schools? Let 'em home-school. Libraries? Let 'em buy their own damned books. (Loud assent, some derisive laughter.)

"And we can't let people see that anything controlled by government and funded by taxes is socialism. Like the socialistic military, Medicare and Medicaid. And like socialistic highways, and Head Start and Social Security."

HE: "Amen. Keep the faith, guys!"

(Voice from the back: "I miss Leona Helmsley.")

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

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