Don't play 'gotcha'
Clearly, 2C infringes on homeowners' freedom — as much as $126 in the first year for a $262,000 home. So how does any homeowner decide how to vote on 2C?
Start with: "Is there any evidence that says we simply cannot believe the city?" In other words, "Have Council members contributed to a financial scandal in recent years calling their integrity into question?" If not, remember this Council was elected to govern.
If you do not like the way Council and individual members do their job, then support their opponents in the next election. But without a firm reason to believe 2C money will be diverted, why run the risk of voting against 2C? That vote would severely hurt our city, just to show we do not like the way Council governs.
If you believe 2C is a close question, support your city and then divert your efforts to turning out Council members. This is no time to play "gotcha" with parks, swimming pools and public safety.
Instead, vote for the needed 2C funding. Then focus on just who should be your city representatives.
— Bob Dyer
Change needed, not 2C
City Council, it's time for a change. The path you are on is not viable and is detrimental to this beautiful city's future.
The folly to build an Olympic building was wrong. You have now put Colorado Springs at risk for fires, medical and police emergencies that will go unanswered, bus riders with no transportation, and a budget growing out of control.
You unwisely choose not to contract out for street work and repairs, allowing citizens to continue driving on substandard streets. Using city workers means we taxpayers pay to fix the shoddy job city workers did, instead of having work guaranteed by an outside contractor.
Measure 2C should not pass. Again we are asked to give you money when you have proven you don't know how to handle the money you've been given.
You pushed a tax promising to improve public transportation. Then you created a second bus company increasing the city transit employee count while cutting routes and hours. Now transit faces more cuts, stranding hundreds who rely on that bus. Statistics show a record number of people rode the bus last year, meaning less impact on environment and less traffic. And you ask us for more money.
It's time for you to quit doing the same thing and start doing something new. Listen to the citizens. Not the big churches and developers. Call a meeting and invite people to speak, new people with ideas on how to improve our city. See for yourself that it's not just "little old ladies" (as was written in the Gazette) that rely on public transportation. It's also the disabled community, physical and mental, and many high school students.
It's time for a change and this change must happen now.
— Christopher Brock
It's crunch time. The election is here. The city is at stake. No more time for histrionics from the ubiquitous (he seems to be everywhere!) Doug Bruce and his assorted ditto-heads. No more time for pleas from police, firefighters, Pioneers Museum, Rock Ledge Ranch, the parks department, people who use swimming pools, senior centers, bus drivers.
The presumably wealthy voters in this town seem poised to give them the figurative finger.
Those who oppose 2C, the tax increase, seem to say: 1. It's all a fake, just politicians doom-saying. There's plenty of money and all will be well; 2. The politicians they elected can't be trusted to make decisions about money, hence TABOR, which has proved to be a hideous disaster. But if they don't trust the politicians, why did they vote for them? 3. Government is our enemy, the problem, not the solution, so keep your money in your pocket. We'll hear from those folks later about snow on their streets, potholes big enough to crack axles, vandalized and dusty parks, and a spike in unemployment as even more city workers are laid off. They will turn to that despised government, and if they get put on hold when calling 911, or if a late fire response means a home of cinders, they will try not to remember their votes against government.
As for your home's value, if you think it has gone down significantly in the past year, just wait until you see its worth when city services crumble even more than they already have.
Take a long, long look at your ballot and think things over. Time's up.
— Larimore Nicholl
Trust on the line
This election is not just about voting yes or no, it's about trusting our City Council to do the right things once they get or don't get the additional millions from 2C.
As a 2005 Council candidate, I learned our recent and current Council makes tax/fee decisions using three rules: unwritten, unspoken, but obvious.
1. Don't do anything that hurts existing wealth.
2. If you must cause financial pain to existing wealth, ensure lower-income residents pay more than their fair share.
3. Don't do anything that increases the principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) of a new home.
Larry Small's proposed property tax/sales tax adjustment grossly violated these three rules. I contacted Larry to express my support and to say his idea would be looked at as insane. Violating the rules and promoting a tax structure a fiscal conservative like me agrees with would not be tolerated. His tax idea was rapidly quieted. His proposal was a significant step to make our city's funding more fair and sustainable.
Jan Martin's proposal also violates the three rules but gives Council the ability to comply with the three rules after the election. I pleaded with her to indicate how the money would be spent, or at least to create a citizens advisory committee to provide taxpayers with a modicum of assurance. Council has already resolved to eliminate the business personal property tax if 2C passes. A resolution is a sure thing, but Council refused to indicate by resolution how it will spend the additional tax money. Instead, Martin stated: "The measure is designed with the intent to keep city departments at the 2009 funding levels."
My trepidation is summarized in the common saying: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
— Al Brody
Why kill snakes?
As a lover of reptiles (snakes in particular), I was deeply offended by the Oct. 1 Slice of Life photo, showing a group holding a dead rattlesnake like some kind of trophy. When I read the caption and saw that it was none other than the publisher of the Independent so proudly smiling behind the dead reptile, I was even more offended and was compelled to write.
As a longtime fan of your newspaper, I was disappointed, to say the least. When encountered in the wild, rattlesnakes are easily avoided and are an important part of the ecosystem. How about a legitimate explanation for why this animal was killed?
— John H. Olson
A reply from publisher John Weiss: While hiking in the hills above Williams Canyon in Manitou Springs, championship runner Matt Carpenter came running past us, pausing to exclaim, "I just killed a rattlesnake after I almost stepped on it. I didn't even see it until it recoiled to strike!" His legs were shaking. Carpenter showed us the dead snake, just 20 yards up the trail. We took it down to show to some kids, as well as share with friends who eat snake. They took it to skin and consume.
We agree that while it is wrong to kill any reptile — even a rattler — just for fun, he was right to have killed it since there were lots of hikers, children and dogs in the area. People should be on guard for rattlesnakes this time of year. On warm days after a cold spell, they are desperate to soak up some rays, so humans need to be extra vigilant.
Carpenter, after doing research, reports that about 8,000 people are annually bitten by poisonous snakes in the U.S., but fewer than 10 die. If bitten, apply a wide constricting band between the bite and your heart. Then get to a hospital ASAP. Finally, don't panic!
Siding with Snyder
Some friends and neighbors have asked whom I support in the Manitou Springs mayoral race, and my answer is easy. I support Marc Snyder.
I served on the Manitou Springs City Council for 10 years, four of those with Marc. He served as vice mayor when I was mayor. I trust Marc's vision on infrastructure sustainability and his environmental stewardship. I trust his ability to attract new businesses and to lead a strong and engaged community here in Manitou Springs.
More importantly, Marc has proven by his years of dedication that he will do the hard work, in what can be a thankless full-time volunteer job.
— Mark Morland
Snyder, Part 2
Marc Snyder has my complete support for mayor for Manitou Springs, in part because I see him as a tireless activist for the community. Marc was the first chairperson of the Open Space Advisory Committee when I met him. As a charter member of the committee, he spent many long hours and meetings drawing up the open-space plan ... no small task. After quite a few years, he turned his energy to the planning commission, learning the ins and outs of Manitou's rules for the built environment. Later, Marc was elected in 2003 to City Council, where he has served the community well.
These are all volunteer positions that take lots of time and often aren't always pleasant. I appreciate his service. I find Marc to be good-natured, fair-minded and an intelligent asset to any effort. Since he moved to this fair little town, Marc has been very active in learning, loving and protecting the Manitou he loves ... the Manitou he moved here for. He's got my vote!
— Becky Elder
The Independent's Oct. 1 news story "The golden years," misrepresented Colorado Springs Utilities' use of temporary employees to maintain a safe and reliable utility system.
In recent years, we have cut 200 positions, avoiding $14 million in annual operating costs, while serving 14,000 more customers. When it comes to seasonal work or short-term projects, the responsible use of temporary employees makes solid business sense, saving time and money. As we are asked to do more with less, temps help us maintain or even boost service levels without adding full-time staff to the bottom line.
To stay lean, we currently use temporary employees to read customer meters as we transition to automated meter reading (AMR). These positions will be eliminated as AMR is fully implemented in 2010.
Highly specialized temporary employees — often utility retirees — provide seasonal support when overhauling massive power units or responding to temporary service outages.
These are just a few ways we are using temporary employees to keep costs down and better respond to the needs of our community.
— Mark Murphy
Colorado Springs Utilities
Tell me lies
In response to Sharlene White of Santa Fe, N.M. ("Freedom of what?" Letters, Oct. 1), what makes you think articles written on the tea parties and Glenn Beck are telling the truth? Oh, I see, it is in print, therefore it must be true. Writers would never sway a story to fit their agenda, now would they? If you believe everything in print and what comes out of mainstream media and sometimes the Independent (sorry), I have some dry land in the Everglades I can sell you dirt-cheap.
If you can give me exact statements by Beck or Rush Limbaugh that are lies, then we can talk. If you are just repeating what you hear from others, grow up and get out once in a while from that artsy liberal little hole they call Santa Fe.
I have yet to see violence come from attendees at tea parties, but I have seen violence spawn from liberal protesters time and time again. Since when is standing up for what is right, wrong? Where in your book does it say we must be silent?
I see, since Obama is black, we are not allowed to question his actions because then we are being racists. I find that people who call other people names know they can't win the argument on facts, so they resort to name-calling. Did you know the stimulus started with Bush and we were against it then also? Republicans started the mess and now the Democrats are escalating the ante.
We don't hate anyone, Sharlene. I watch Glenn Beck all the time and I am not afraid or paranoid.
— Gail L. Vaught
Editor's note: Sharlene White, who has written letters to the Indy for years, is a former resident of Colorado Springs.
To Ms. White of last week's issue who doesn't consider righty blowhards' diatribes as "free speech," I'll bet even the editors of the Indy cringed at that sentiment. Hateful, misleading and ignorant speech is absolutely protected by the First Amendment. And nothing we're hearing now is any worse than what went on in the 18th century when that amendment was drafted.
If the right keeps up this level of overblown rhetoric toward President Obama for the next eight years, it will still be a minuscule fraction of the hate speech leveled against the former president. Boycott FOX News 'til the cows come home, but regulating free speech is in conflict with our most important founding principle.
— Bill Mendelsohn
Capitalism, the economic system, lauds competition that always results in winners and losers. Should we have a system that routinely produces losers? It also has contributed to a culture where even the most mundane event can be intensely criticized, allowing the critic to have a win without actually claiming it.
Consequently, when an artistic contribution comes along that dramatically challenges assumptions — a marker of great art — the critic apparently feels his role is to find something, anything, to find fault with.
You can do better than this, Jonathan.
— Jim Simson