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Remember the name

Your Long Story Short (Oct. 8) mentioned that our last municipal election had two incumbent Councilors facing no opposition, and yet now we had 19 applicants for the District 3 seat. One name consistent with the election and now is mine. My family hasn't lived here 100 years and I have very little name recognition, but I was a worthy candidate.

I am 39, married, mother of four. I have a master's in school counseling and am working on an MBA at UCCS. I am a graduate of the Republican candidate school, and I'm in the Community Planning and Design program, among other boards. I'm not a land developer, business owner or blogger. I'm interested in my community and have been regularly attending meetings and numerous city events.

Before the last election, I announced my candidacy for the District 3 seat but withdrew to become more knowledgeable on city matters. My only purpose in applying for District 3 was to put my knowledge to work, actively participate in a variety of neighborhood issues, prioritize necessary city services, and represent a diverse population in District 3.

Issue 300 is detrimental to this city and I do not support it. Because of our tax structure, the poor economy and using one-time funds, we now face necessary cuts, but 2C will help us for 2010 and citizens will need to support solutions for years to come. I want public safety to be a priority, parks and open space cared for, prideful neighborhoods and successful businesses. Now is the time for strong leadership, innovative thinking, citizen involvement, communication and accountability. It is not a time for personal agendas.

I believe I am the fresh leadership that so many people are talking about.

— Lisa Czelatdko

Colorado Springs

Donut holed

Mayor Lionel Rivera was recently interviewed regarding the appointment of a Council replacement for Jerry Heimlicher; he stated that he wanted someone with ideas on how to revitalize South Nevada Avenue and Academy Boulevard.

Who is he trying to kid?

It is no mystery why downtown, South Nevada and Academy business districts are ailing. It is a direct result of City Council's policies of subsidizing growth on the east and north sides. Council has pursued the most expensive type of development — sprawl — at the expense of our quality of life.

All of us who live in the older parts of Colorado Springs are paying for this as Council hands out tax incentives and pays for sprawling infrastructure. Meanwhile, we watch our neighborhoods and parks deteriorate and business vacancies skyrocket. We are not the first city to face these challenges, and we could learn from the experience of other cities who have invested in their urban centers with great success.

City Council's philosophy that "growth pays for itself" has been disproved over and over again. No matter what happens with the upcoming funding initiatives, it is critical that Colorado Springs residents elect Councilors who care about the people living here now, who will stop subsidizing sprawl and who have a vision that values our quality of life.

— Nancy Strong

Colorado Springs

Cut city salaries

The big guns are shooting every day in hopes of getting 2C passed. The Gazette has articles every day quoting managers from the city espousing how bad everything is going to be if the 2C measure doesn't pass.

This is a full-court press. Parks and transportation are the worst moaners of all. Now the police and fire chiefs have joined the fray. For many years, police and fire have been protected from budget cuts. The most absurd item was a letter by part-time and temporary people on the city payroll who have been pressed into action.

It's unusual to have the more liberal thinkers from the Independent join forces with the people feasting on our tax dollars at the public trough. None seem to care about increased property taxes or the financial burden on retirees and seniors. Why not add to the financial burdens of renters?

I add my recommendation to others: Cut salaries of all employees making more than $75,000 by 10 percent beginning Jan. 1. Eliminate any consideration of a pay increase for all city and Utilities workers in 2010. That would also include all employees at the enterprise boondoggles, including Memorial Hospital. If 2010 is going to be devastating, now is the time for everyone to participate in the economic downturn, not just homeowners.

I can already hear the scoffing at such a nonsensical proposal. It's not likely City Council will have the courage to even consider it. Like this country, our politicians and city managers want someone else to bear the burden of their ineptness.

— Duane C. Slocum

Colorado Springs

Supporting 2C

There are many reasons why I love living in Colorado Springs, but our parks and trails are the crown jewels of our city. Gen. William Palmer and other generous visionaries gave us a gift when they donated land to the city specifically designated as park land. It was their legacy to future generations, and it has truly benefited every citizen who lives here. Our parks and trails are the fabric of our community. My sons grew up playing and hiking in the parks, and our family made lifelong friends there.

Now it is our turn. We have an obligation and an opportunity to carry on Gen. Palmer's vision and ensure Colorado Springs continues to have beautiful and well-maintained parks for our families to enjoy. I will be voting yes on 2C because I believe it is the right thing to do now for the future. We should all be pulling together to do our part for Colorado Springs.

— Pete Lee

Colorado Springs

Why we're rattled

I would like to field a comment over the reply from publisher John Weiss to Mr. John Olson ("Why kill snakes?" Letters, Oct. 8) concerning a rattlesnake that was killed above Williams Canyon. As a snake and reptile lover, Mr. Olson was deeply concerned as to why the snake was killed.

The way I see it, the question and concern is not really about the incident and motivations by which the snake was killed. Given the circumstances that day, the swift human response to a potentially lethal threat on a heavily trafficked trail was quite understandable. The trouble as I see it comes in making the occurrence public in such a crude manner.

To us readers, the image and expectation of the Independent and staff is one of open-mindedness, tolerance, taste and truth. As Mr. Olson pointed out, rattlesnakes are an important part of the ecosystem and have the same right to exist as any other creature. I feel that choosing to publish such a photo conveys a certain smug disrespect and a distasteful attitude of dominion over the life of a fellow being that was taken.

— Ralf Martin


Backing branding

Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group (PPBHG) has been the subject of criticism ("Who are we, anyway?" News, Sept. 17) for hiring a marketing consultation firm for almost $100,000. The consultants will assist PPBHG with branding.

This might appear to be a frivolous expenditure to some; however the primary objective of these services is to define PPBHG's relevance within our community and to make sure people know how to access one of our most important resources. PPBHG is a large mental health system that has a lot to offer.

In addition, critics were questioning why PPBHG would pay a marketing consultant, yet not pay for detox services (Lighthouse). The implication was they are not utilizing their funds wisely. Keep in mind, the Lighthouse was an ongoing operation that was losing almost a million dollars annually, while the consulting fee is a one-time expenditure.

I am as disappointed as the next person that the Lighthouse did not stay in operation. This was a state-of-the-art facility paid for by a cooperative effort of the public, private and nonprofit sectors. However, we cannot blame PPBHG for its closure. As a community we failed to finance its operation. As is typical of our community, we do not want to fund critical services, but we complain when they are not available. The irony is that instead of financing the operations of an existing detox program in a facility we built as a community, we are constructing a new detox facility and operating it under a government agency: the sheriff's office.

— Ken Barela

Colorado Springs

Be more Nobel

No doubt many are shocked by President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It seems somewhat ironic that the man in charge of the biggest war currently being conducted on the planet could win this honor. Perhaps the award is more in recognition of his willingness to adapt diplomacy to world issues on many fronts, and for this effort he should indeed be recognized. This approach stands in stark contrast to the Bush years of bully tactics on the world stage that reduced our image to a laughingstock (if one could find anything remotely funny in Bush's arrogant smirk).

Certainly the pundits will find new fodder in this, and new accusations and incriminations will arise. They are comparing apples to oranges. How quickly we forget about being bombarded with lies, suspicion and hatred, two actual and many potential wars, a ruined economy and an ignored environment. Yet some level the playing field by declaring those who cried out for relief in those eight dark years were perpetrators of hate speech. Many believe those responsible for leading us down that path to perdition (which almost certainly included international war crimes) should be brought to justice, something that Obama, perhaps to his credit in the name of compassion, has so far resisted.

We have magnified the presidency into something no one person is capable of taking on, far beyond the Founding Fathers' intentions. Then we pile all our expectations and disappointments on someone who, after all, is just a person, susceptible to human failures and omissions. Until each of us takes on our personal responsibility for creating a just and humane world, division, doubt and the resulting inhumanity and numbing isolated separation will rule.

Regardless of how we view Obama's honor, it is a time for reflection and historical contemplation, not reactionary rantings.

— Paul Dahlsten

Colorado Springs

Save the land

A writer asked a worthwhile question regarding designated wilderness in Colorado: When is enough enough? The answer: Not enough, yet.

Unlike many other states, Colorado is blessed with numerous pristine natural areas, some congressionally designated wilderness areas, some awaiting designation. These wildlands — portions of national parks, forests and Bureau of Land Management lands — attract millions of visitors and several billion dollars annually, providing huge economic benefits at low cost.

In addition to enriching lives and the economy, wilderness creates clean air, pure water and wildlife habitats within self-sustaining natural communities.

Colorado's best public lands strategy lies in designating eligible new wilderness areas while sustainably fostering both wilderness and the millions of acres of public domain outside wilderness using multiple-use management. Just as rivers originating in Colorado water much of the nation, so must the state continue — and heighten its role — as a key repository of America's wild heritage.

— John Stansfield


Ice breaker

In front of our home last weekend, there were six accidents caused by black ice in two hours. It appeared that speed wasn't a factor.

In past years, CDOT was out sanding the moment conditions started to become dangerous. I can only presume that budget cutbacks have affected CDOT and other services that we have all relied upon. The downside is injuries and wrecked vehicles; but towing companies, hospitals and body shops should have lots of new business.

I lay the blame on Doug Bruce and his ilk, who have done everything to de-fund government services, and hope that enough people wake up before the next election to vote for increased funding for essential services.

— David Johnson



One-trick ponies

In response to Gail Vaught's letter of Oct. 8 ("Tell me lies"), I don't need to fact-check Glenn Beck. I'm sure his facts are in order, in an absolute sense. It's really not about the facts.

Ronald Reagan: "Facts are stupid things."

Facts are the foot-soldiers in the war of ideologies. People are very, very good at filtering for information that confirms their world view, while discounting ones that are contradictory.

Mark Twain: "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

No, facts alone are not enough. You must look to a person's agenda. What motivates the agenda, and why?

Albert Einstein: "If facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."

I do not care for Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk, as they weave a few facts into vitriolic, fantastical, liberal-bashing narratives. They are one-trick ponies who pander to their audience and add little of substance, thought, or value.

John Adams: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, or inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

— Dan Marvin

Colorado Springs

Thinking small

I own a small consulting company. In the 15 years since the Clinton administration proposed reform of health care and medical insurance, I've watched the premiums we pay for my employees increase tenfold, as our coverage got worse. Now I'm working hard to make sure we pass real health care reform that reins in the rising costs.

When I talk to my clients and friends, I realize a lot of people don't understand the full costs of health care. People who get coverage through their employer need to see that growing costs eat into wages, make it less likely that we can hire new workers, or drive businesses into bankruptcy.

Across the country, more than one-third of small businesses have been forced to reduce benefits in recent years. Since the early 1990s, about a third have had to drop coverage for employees altogether. It's hard for small businesses to create jobs if they also have to bear the weight of skyrocketing premiums.

Congress must pass real health insurance reform in 2009.

— Deborah Crowley

Colorado Springs

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