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Reasons to say no

As the time to vote arrives, it is important for Coloradans to take a closer look at what exactly is on the ballot. Proposition 101, Amendment 60 and Amendment 61, if passed, all have potential to significantly damage the funding of public services statewide. By voting against 101, 60 and 61, we will not lose essential revenue for education, road maintenance and emergency medical services.

First, 101 would cause the government to lose more than $2 billion per year. Car registration fees would be dramatically reduced, along with the primary source of money for preschool, kindergarten through 12th grade, and higher education. Funds for upkeep of highways would disappear, which would be hazardous for drivers. Ambulances and other medical emergency services likely would become unavailable to many communities.

Amendment 60 would decrease local support for schools by 50 percent. By 2020, local funding would be cut by $1.22 billion. Colorado would be left without a way to replace lost revenue, and, for the first time, many higher-learning institutions would have to pay property tax. Colorado school districts would have to lay off thousands.

If Amendment 61 passes, the state will be virtually unable to borrow money. Short-term loans are often used for construction projects, roads, universities and hospitals. This would make it impossible to finish long-term projects. Tens of thousands of construction jobs would be lost.

Voters should vote no on 101, 60 and 61 to save an estimated 73,000 people from losing their jobs.

— Sarai F. Rodriguez

Colorado Springs

PPLD threatened

It is important for local voters to understand that a vote in favor of issues 60, 61 and 101 will decimate the Pikes Peak Library District. If these measures pass, over 40 percent of the library system's annual budget will be eliminated. Over 150 positions will be cut and six to seven branches will close. This vote would single-handedly destroy what has taken years to build and what is undoubtedly the best bang for our buck, the best dollar-for-dollar investment that we as taxpayers can make in our community.

We see bumper stickers that tell us "freedom is not free." Well, this holds true not only for our fighting men and women but for our entire population as well. The reality is that our local library system supports our freedoms by helping to educate our citizens, by instilling a lifelong love of learning in our children and by providing a resource for all our residents. And it does so in an incredibly cost-effective manner.

Benjamin Franklin started the first library in the American colonies in 1731. He and the other founding fathers recognized that an educated population was essential to fostering and preserving our democracy. Pikes Peak Library District is the embodiment of those thoughts.

Please vote NO on 60, 61 and 101. Please say YES to our community.

— Craig A. Anderson

Colorado Springs

Mowle's strengths

The responses to the Citizens Project's candidate questions for clerk and recorder (paid insert, Oct. 14) are quite revealing, and they reinforce my support for Tom Mowle.

Question 5: "Is there any conflict of interest for the Clerk and Recorder, as the county's chief election officer, to serve in the leadership of a political party?" Candidate Wayne Williams noted that the time demands of party chair were incompatible with the clerk's responsibilities, but he was silent on the many other forms of political "leadership" and involvement. He also addressed these issues only "at election time." His response gives no clear idea of what level of political involvement he deems consistent with the job as elections chief.

More curious, given his assertion that he must "ensure elections are run impartially, accurately and fairly," is Williams' response to Question 4 about fair elections. Williams repeats national Republican talking points about election issues. Fair enough; I assume he believes in these issues even though none have ever been a significant problem in Colorado. But Williams then makes an unfounded attack on the "Democrat [sic] Party." Besides this partisan attack being contrary to his pledge to be "impartial," this candidate who wants to run our elections does not know — or refuses to use — the correct name of the Democratic Party. That is not impartial, and it is not accurate.

Candidate Tom Mowle has clearly pledged that as clerk and recorder he will not advocate for any candidate or issue on the ballot, and he will hold no party position. Mowle has proven his integrity and competence in his Air Force career and as El Paso County public trustee. Tom Mowle is the right choice for clerk and recorder.

— Gary Fornander

Colorado Springs

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'Smart mayor,' please

I hear a lot of complaints about current and past mayors, so I'm confused about a plan to give them more power. Having a strong mayor is a good thing, but only if it's a good mayor, and that's obviously not guaranteed.

If they only had a brain, they would change the name of their campaign from "strong mayor" to "smart mayor," paint the sidewalks outside City Hall yellow, give the police water pistols, and hire Professor Marvel as a consultant. But I fear it's all just smoke and mirrors...

Stop that, Toto! You look ridiculous in those slippers!

— Steve Suhre

Colorado Springs

Strong solution

Teaching courses in state and local government at the college level, I am frequently asked: "What are the merits of the proposed strong-mayor form of government for Colorado Springs?"

The current form of city government in the Springs is the council-manager form. It is seen as ideal in homogeneous cities with small populations where there is widespread agreement on city goals and the role of city government in the community.

When cities grow in population, however, they tend to become more diverse and less unified in their political attitudes. It is at this point that many scholars argue council-manager should be replaced with strong-mayor.

It is my observation that Colorado Springs citizens have become sharply divided in recent years toward the role of city government. I see one side arguing for an expansive and proactive role for city government. In this view, city government "leads the way" in such areas as economic development, job creation, improved quality of life, and a high level of city services.

The opposing view prefers a small role for city government, emphasizing low tax rates, strict limits on city expenditures, greater economy and efficiency in the provision of city services, and less intrusion of city government into city residents' lives.

The main argument for strong-mayor is that a strong executive, elected by a majority of city voters in a runoff-type election, will be able to negotiate and broker agreements between the various political groups in the city. The strong mayor, in short, will have the political muscle to break the current philosophical stalemate that plagues our city and produce real and unified city progress.

— Robert D. Loevy

Colorado Springs

Take a deep breath

In this election, registered voters are deciding whether to ban medical marijuana centers in unincorporated El Paso County. If this passes, it will have several negative effects.

First, rural patients no longer will have safe access to their medication. Under House Bill 1284, medical marijuana centers are under tight regulation and operate in a controlled and safe environment. If you value the patient-doctor relationship and the right for patients to safe access to medication, a ban does not make sense on many levels! Our government should not be able to strip away the rights of patients!

Second, a ban will affect our economy. With the recent recession, the MMJ industry has grown and helped many local people avoid losing their jobs, including carpenters, electricians, construction workers, engineers, accountants, etc. Previously vacant properties now have tenants, putting money in the pockets of local landowners. A ban of dispensaries will have a trickle-down effect on the local economy: People will lose their jobs, construction projects will be abandoned, and government revenue will decrease.

Third, voting no on 1A would ensure that medical marijuana businesses would stay highly regulated, secured, and out of our neighborhoods. By banning the centers, the MMJ business will be pushed into our neighborhoods. Your next-door neighbor could be dealing MMJ without your knowledge. This increases the risk of home invasions, fires and other hazards. In addition, the black market could once again dominate this business. Our neighborhoods will be safer if the business is kept in regulated centers.

As a patient, I urge you to look at the facts and make the right decision based on common sense. Vote NO on 1A!

— Audrey Hatfield

Colorado Springs

MMJ: It's safer

To readers and thinkers and those who care: I am a 68-year-old woman with multiple medical problems, including advanced degenerative osteoarthritis in almost all of my body. I take pain meds, but try to limit them because of the fear that they may damage my liver, and also because of concern for addiction.

I have not applied for an MMJ card yet, but hope to in the near future. With that I hope to be able to pick a dispensary that will provide me with the natural medication I feel would be the best for me. That medication is marijuana, in any and all forms.

This letter is written, short but heartfelt, in hopes it will be read by all who care, and all who believe in choice! This is a matter that should be between a patient and his/her doctor.

To close down any chance I would have to access a natural and proven healing medication by shutting down the MMJ dispensaries is beyond comprehension. Please vote NO on 1A. It's the right thing to do.

— Carolyn Caplan

Colorado Springs

Maes in the mirror

The way the Republican Party has treated Dan Maes since his primary win says a lot more about the Republicans than it does about Dan Maes!

— Linda Neese

Colorado Springs

Neighborhood risk

In the years prior to Colorado's medical marijuana Amendment 20 passing in 2000, any patient unable to grow his own medicine had to purchase black-market marijuana from street dealers. Amendment 20 removed the criminal connection and provided protection for the acquisition, possession, manufacture, production, use, sale, distribution, dispensing, and transportation of marijuana for medical use for patients and their caregivers.

The caregiver model worked reasonably well for the first few years but was hampered by the limitation of only five patients per caregiver. El Paso County had only 95 patients in early 2005 and needed only a few caregivers to supply their medicine. Subsequently the courts invalidated the patient limit, and dispensaries arrived to provide a wide variety of cannabis medications previously unavailable through the rudimentary caregiver model. Patient numbers increased dramatically; the most recent registry report indicated El Paso County had 3,961 patients at the end of January, and we likely have at least twice that number today.

A dispensary ban would push thousands of patients into our neighborhoods to purchase from unlicensed caregivers. So instead of having regulated dispensaries operating in commercial or industrial areas, voters would be forcing MMJ operations into our neighborhoods.

Don't let this happen. Keep your community safe. Please vote NO on 1A to keep our communities from being overrun by unregulated caregivers.

— Robert Wiley

Colorado Springs

Don't cut too deep

I encourage citizens to look beyond the simplistic (but seductive) ballot description offered for Proposition 101. The 20-plus active and informed citizen volunteers on the county's Citizens Budget Oversight Committee are convinced 101 would make it impossible for El Paso County to adequately support the critical public-safety functions of the sheriff, district attorney, coroner and transportation. Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 have negative impacts that extend far beyond the state's operations. County government services, volunteer fire departments, our school districts and the cities and towns of Fountain, Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, Monument, Calhan, Palmer Lake, Ramah and Green Mountain Falls would all be hurt. Our quality of life would be diminished and the value of property reduced.

It is projected that 101 would reduce available revenues for county government services by $13.3 million in 2011. That number would grow each year, and the five-year total impact would be approximately $93 million — more than the county's total general fund budget for 2010. The passage of 101 would immediately and dramatically reduce the county's ability to maintain the safety of roads, highways and bridges.

Amendments 60 and 61 would result in further revenue reductions and would virtually eliminate the county's ability to take advantage of funding mechanisms to replace worn-out equipment, rebuild crumbling roads and provide efficient, properly maintained buildings for county offices, departments and agencies.

It is the opinion of our committee that there are no additional large areas of savings to be found within the county's budget, and the passage of these issues would result in dramatic cuts to critical public safety and transportation-related services.

— Richard Williams, chairman

El Paso County Citizens Budget Oversight Committee

Judging too fast

I understand that Americans who voted for Democrats in 2008 have decided to vote Republican this year because they are disappointed with the efforts of the Democrats to completely end the recession. As a teacher of logic and critical thinking, I am puzzled by this attitude, even as I am aware that the Democrats have not accomplished all they claimed they would.

It is a fact that the Bush administration, over eight years, failed to continue the inherited Democratic balanced budget and overspent to such an extent that it raised the debt to $1 trillion, half for war-making and military occupations. Since the Obama administration took over, it has slightly reduced unemployment, created a modest number of new jobs and begun to reverse the negative aspects of unregulated insurance and investment corporate power by passing Republican-compromised laws on health and financial reform.

Polls indicate a majority of voters are calling for a Republican return to power. These are the same Republicans in Congress, and new ones running for the first time, who created the crisis or approved of those practices. The underlying reason for this dramatic shift back in favor of the party responsible for the problem has no support in logic.

It took eight years of Republicans to create the crisis. It will take more than two years for the Democrats to normalize the economic climate. Perhaps the justification for voter resentment is found less in logic or critical thinking, and more influenced by emotional rhetoric, lobbyists' millions or punishment for those who now hold a slight majority of the power.

Having served as a state, city, and town legislator, I know that by following a democratic process, it takes more time to produce lasting improvements and a greater majority to do it.

— Bill Durland

Colorado Springs

Best regent for CU

In today's uncertain economic times, it is more important than ever for Coloradans to have access to quality universities at an affordable cost. That is why this year's race for CU regent-at-large is so important. Melissa Hart, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, is the person Colorado needs to represent their interests on the Board of Regents.

She is an experienced and smart educator who is incredibly devoted to the students she teaches and the community she serves. Melissa genuinely cares about the students, the community, and the state of Colorado. I know because I was in her class. Additionally, I worked with her to start the Public Service Pledge Program, which rewards law students for taking on public interest legal work and representing indigent communities that may not otherwise have access to legal representation. Melissa is running because of her commitment to keeping tuition affordable for all Coloradans and working to make sure CU serves all Colorado communities.

In contrast, her opponent, Steve Bosley, has raised tuition at CU every one of the six years he has been a regent, including a 9 percent tuition increase in May 2010, the maximum increase allowable by law. Additionally, Bosley has talked about cutting need-based scholarships as a way to fund CU. Fewer scholarships means that college is out of reach for more Coloradans. Colorado can't afford Steve Bosley.

We need a CU regent with a commitment to serving the students and future students of our largest public university. I urge you to join me in voting for Melissa Hart.

— Jessica Polini

Colorado Springs

Corrections

• In the Local Musician category of our Best Of Colorado Springs readers' poll (cover story, Oct. 14), we gave an incorrect website for the second-place winner. Stuart Pray's website is actually stupray.com.

• In our Oct. 21 Best Of coverage, we misidentified Veda Salon & Spa as a chain business. Veda is actually an independent business whose three Colorado Springs locations purchase, use and sell Aveda products.

We regret the errors.

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