Worth the effort
Our City Council has made a difficult call that it would be better to place just a single measure on this November's ballot — the critically important mill levy increase that will prevent deep, harmful cuts to core city services.
So while I am sad that we will not be immediately gearing up for a massive grassroots campaign on the need to sunset the portions of TABOR that are wasteful and inefficient, it is good that now even the supporters of the status quo have publicly acknowledged:
• TABOR's ratchet-down formulas will not enable our city to recover when the economy improves;
• TABOR's forumulas for calculating city growth and inflation are inaccurate;
• Colorado Springs is placed at a disadvantage by being the only city in the state that has to abide by separate, often conflicting, local and statewide TABOR mandates.
Heartfelt thanks to the hundred people who already pledged to work to keep the parts of TABOR that empower citizens — requiring voters to directly approve all new tax increases, while sunsetting the rest.
I would also like to thank Independent publisher John Weiss for helping spark this important debate on this flawed measure.
Our education campaign has just begun. To lend a hand, e-mail me at email@example.com.
— Vicki Taylor
TABOR Reform Campaign
When I first learned of the city's plan for stoplight cameras ("Watch for the cameras," Noted, Aug. 13), I contacted Mayor Lionel Rivera, my district Council member and the at-large members. The mayor was the only one who responded, saying it was a done deal and he supported the move. No one else bothered to respond. In a follow-up, I asked the mayor if the public would have a chance to review the contract. He referred me to the person in charge of the contract, who told me the public would not have access to the contract until after it was signed.
This whole thing was rammed through with no chance for public comment. The mayor did assure me of two things: There will be no altering of yellow-light timings when cameras are installed. Also, the vendor will be paid a flat rate and will receive no revenue per ticket. We need to hold him to these commitments.
Other cities have made such promises but have broken them. Numerous cities have installed the cameras, reaped a few months of good revenues, then when revenues drop, they shorten yellow-light timings to the minimum allowed by law. Other cities have simply kept lowering yellow-light times until revenue ensures a profit from the cameras, regardless of the law.
Short on funds, City Council has decided this is a good way to collect money. If safety were really the issue, they would review and adjust yellow-light timings, as the feds recommend. But, of course, there is no money in that.
— Niel Powers
There is disagreement over health care. Insured Americans like the status quo. Others receive Medicare, TRICARE or VA benefits — government health care. Approximately 46 million have nothing.
Daily, Americans face the same fate as those 46 million due to layoffs. The insured encounter medical crises and face bankruptcy due to denied claims, increasing premiums and co-pays. Or they're canceled because they're "too expensive."
Medical insurance doesn't equal "you get what you pay for." Opponents argue they don't want the government between them and their doctors. Guess what? The government is already involved in our everyday lives. Imagine if an insurance company owned our municipal services ...
You wake up to use the toilet and an EOB prints from the tank: "Deductible not yet met." Muttering, you trudge downstairs to make coffee, but the same notice is on that tap. Forget the shower, laundry, dishes and garden. Thirsty? How about the kids and Fido? Your lawn is dead, so the spark from your neighbor's mower (he has water insurance) ignites your grass. You dial 911, but the dispatcher claims you need a pre-authorization before they'll send the fire truck. You can't turn on the garden hose to protect your house — no water.
Your now-homeless family meets with a legislator who wants to place these services in the hands of government instead of Greed and Profit. However, insurance companies have organized protesters who don't allow supporters to speak. They make death threats and call the president a Nazi. They lie to frighten people.
Sound familiar? What happened to civil discourse? No one said we all must agree, but we can discuss our differences as reasonable human beings.
After all, look at what our Continental Congress accomplished 233 years ago.
— Deb Stover
Today's death panels
It was not until recently while I was driving and saw a handmade sign declaring what President Obama's health care plan "represented" that it dawned upon me exactly what was going on.
We currently have death panels already in place, not of a government-run variety, but of a profit-driven kind, presided over by soulless accountants and lawyers.
We currently have an entire industry that goes by the motto: "You're sick, go home, take an aspirin, die quietly." Which, coincidentally, sounds exactly like what these increasingly violent and very loud hecklers at the town hall meetings have been saying the Obama plan would do to our health care system. A bit on the ironic side, and quite typical of the conservative media's propaganda campaigns that have caused this nation so many problems.
To fight it, make sure your representatives know what you want in reform. Remember, we can always recall our officials if they don't do what the majority wants.
— Clint Udy
Try, try again
Strangely, among the comments from Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., on health care reform, I find something to agree with. He said the only solution at this point is to start over from scratch after the recess. He's right. The arguments on both sides have lost any meaningful substance, replaced by talking points, noise and downright confusion. So, in the interests of moving reform forward, I propose:
A very short, simple bill should be introduced: "The age limit of 65 on qualification for Medicare is hereby repealed. Should any citizen desire to join Medicare, he or she may. A sliding scale based on ability to pay will be applied." The next paragraph: "Tax cuts enacted in 2001, 2002 and 2003 on persons making in excess of $250,000 per year for an individual, $350,000 per year for a couple, or $500,000 per year for a small business, are hereby repealed. Revenue will be used to support the additional Medicare costs."
Republicans will howl, tea baggers will rally, but the people will understand this proposal, and it can pass. Because it is a choice, not a mandate, it is not socialized medicine. All who are happy with their private plans are welcome to keep them. All on TRICARE or other government programs can stay with them or not. It's up to the individual.
Republicans neither desire reform nor will negotiate in good faith. So be it. The White House has yet to wake up to the fact Americans cannot understand nuance. They need a simple proposal that can be endlessly repeated in 20-second sound bites. We elected a veto-proof Senate majority and an overwhelming House majority to join with a Democratic president to enact real reform. It's long past time for Democrats to deliver.
— Peter Lotto
A different prescription
Mike Maday ("That's insane," Letters, Aug. 13) is right. "It is insane to keep doing the same thing over and over." The example staring us in the face is letting the government run anything and expecting it to be well-managed and have cost containment. The examples could fill up this page: Postal Service, Amtrak, Social Security, Medicare, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the entire farm subsidy concept. Add to that the takeover of GM, AIG, banks and now they want to manage our living and dying. That's insanity!
Health care is complex and does need to be changed and reformed. One way would be to let all wage-earners have their own tax-deferred savings accounts. That isn't foolproof, but at least the individual could make decisions about managing the account. The government couldn't touch it, and unused funds would roll over into next year.
Radical reform needs to be done with medical liability. Doctors and medical facilities are paying exorbitant costs and doing excessive testing just to minimize the risk of being sued. We have our share of ambulance chasers. Excessive, unnecessary lawsuits drive up medical costs.
Why not spend a billion or two on teaching good health care, trying to reduce obesity and other maladies? Our health and physical education classes in schools are woefully inadequate. I know, as a substitute teacher for the past seven years in P.E. and health. Our schools have wonderful, dedicated teachers, but the curriculum is not demanding or exciting.
Mr. Maday is either cynical or naïve if he considers the federal government the answer to our health care issues. He needs to get over Obama mania and come back to Earth, comprehending that skipping down the socialist, government-controlled path is not good for America and Americans.
— Duane C. Slocum
We need to start thinking about tomorrow: the aftermath of the November election, in case attempts to increase tax revenue get voted down by tax-hating Springs voters (motto: "Ask not what I can do for my city, what's in it for me?").
As city and county politicians preside over the ongoing destruction of a once-great city, business boosters will need to rewrite their brochures attracting new businesses here. I can envision it:
"Relocate here! A big, famous mountain and invisibly low taxes! Wade through the trash on unkempt trails but think of the tax-money saved with no maintenance crews!
"Home of the U.S. Olympic Committee! Drive by the downtown headquarters building, covered in colorful graffiti by roving bands of unemployed youths! (Note: Keep your windows locked.)
"While downtown, gaze at the gorgeous architecture of the Pioneers Museum. (Closed.)
"Buy a new home in the Ticky Tacky Development, made possible by spending dwindling tax revenues on a billion-dollar pipeline enriching developers! (Do not look for any buses going downtown.)
"See closed parks here and there with crying kiddies who have soiled themselves due to closed restrooms! That's entertainment!
"Look carefully along city and county waterways to view encampments of homeless folks, celebrated as 'rugged individuals' in the spirit of Harry Hoiles, tycoon former publisher of the Gazette here (motto: 'Let the Devil take the hindmost')."
Yes, writing promotional brochures is a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.
— Larimore Nicholl