Stay in the dark
It is disappointing that Colorado Springs City Council will turn its back on the significant energy and fiscal savings that came from turning off some of the streetlights. The city did a great job of prioritizing lights, leaving them on in strategic locations such as street intersections. The city estimated that it saved about $1.3 million from the general fund; it is estimated that about 47 train cars of coal were saved. Despite people's fears, the city's crime rate showed no change due to fewer street lights.
Despite these facts, the perception is that Colorado Springs is less safe without the lights, so they are going back on in January. I do appreciate that City Council listened to residents who like their streetlights off and created a process to keep them off.
This is a chance for Colorado Springs to truly show that it is looking toward a future that is more sustainable. Every bit of energy we save keeps our air cleaner, puts the need for a new power plant further in the future, and saves our scarce public funds.
Whether you are a "dark sky" person, want to contribute to the city's energy savings, or think there are better ways to spend our limited city funds, now is your chance to request that your nearest streetlight should remain off. Contact the city's traffic engineering office by Dec. 31 (385-2852 or email@example.com).
— Nancy Strong
Regarding Grace Yenne's letter ("Israeli illegality," Dec. 16) about Ahava products from the Dead Sea, the West Bank, etc.:
Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews work together in Israeli enterprises in the West Bank and Israel, and this benefits Arabs. The West Bank economy has been growing, recently faster than that of the United States, partly due to an Israeli approach of helping the West Bank economy develop.
Arabs have had more than 43 years since the Khartoum Resolution of Sept. 1, 1967, when they stated The Three Noes: "...no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." In spite of these and similar Arab statements and actions, they have made several successful peace and land agreements with Israel.
If the Palestinians would return to and conclude direct peace talks with the Israelis, they would get West Bank land. Israel gave land to reach a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979. In November, Israelis reached an agreement with the United Nations to pull back in the Lebanese-Israeli border village of Ghajar. Israel is currently in negotiations to hand over Shebaa Farms on the Israeli-Lebanese-Syrian border. Clearly, Arabs have been successful in negotiating with the Israelis to get land.
If the Palestinians return to direct talks with Israel and make an agreement, they will get the West Bank.
— William H. Escovitz
No need at all
In response to Ralph Routon's "Our big need: a civic center" (Between the Lines, Dec. 9), I can only presume that your omission of the "World Arena" in your article was intentional, for your own reasons.
Colorado Springs is not Amarillo, Texas, thankfully, nor is it Denver, thankfully. As one who bicycles around downtown frequently, and sees the consistent congestion all around that area, I can only imagine just how totally screwed-up things would be with another boondoggle building in that area.
When she was mayor, Mary Lou Makepeace tried to steer things in that direction. Gratefully, and fortunately, enough of the populace dissented and nothing really came of it. I dearly hope, and pray, that the populace continues not to head in that direction. Isn't the World Arena sufficient? I don't have the room here to list all the different events that I know have taken place in that facility.
— Gregory-Alan Johnson
Editor's note: There was a World Arena reference in that column, suggesting that one site for a multi-use civic center (capable of handling many more events of various sizes) could be adjacent to it.
Jim Hightower's article on big banking ("Say 'no thanks' to the arrogant monster banks," LowDown, Dec. 9) focuses too closely on the little everyday fees and misses out on their biggest and most egregious excess: mortgages.
For years, we had a dispute with FEMA and Wells Fargo on the flood-zone status of our house. FEMA has finally made things right, declaring our house was never in a flood zone and directing insurance companies to refund all five years of "flood insurance" money. Wells Fargo still tries to charge us for flood insurance, outrageous late payment fees, interest, etc.
So we refinanced our house privately, avoiding the entire morass of Big-Government-in-bed-with-Big-Mort.
How does this affect the rest of us here in Colorado Springs? Imagine a huge donut hole in the middle of our fair city where 3,000 homes and businesses used to be, and you begin to get the idea. The proposed FEMA flood zone from Fillmore all the way past Patty Jewett (protected by the Templeton Gap levee) will cause bankruptcy and foreclosure and result in an economic dead zone like nothing Colorado has ever seen.
Every mortgage holder will be forced to pay for high-cost "flood insurance," perhaps $250 per month. That's a gaping black hole of $9 million per year.
Yes, FEMA is about to impose a huge "modernization" tax on central Colorado Springs, and Big Mort is licking his chops and rubbing his fat hands together with orgiastic, equity-induced, pre-foreclosure glee.
Get out while you can.
— Jeff Lane
Kill the problem
Proposal for another Republican economic stimulus tax cut: The new Death Tax exemption.
If you can't find a job, just blow your brains out before the end of the year and you will be eligible for a 17 percent deduction on your income taxes. Take your wife and kids with you and you'll get an additional credit of $5,000 per body. Burn down your house and take off an additional $1,000 from your tax bill. Destroy your car and we'll throw in $750 more.
This ought to boost the home construction and automotive industries, as well as our brothers in mortuary science. It will relieve the strain on the budget by reducing payouts for unemployment, food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security.
— Steve Luera
At long last
Don't Ask Don't Tell has finally been repealed. There are a few (Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, some generals and others) who feel that this is a dark day in American history.
However, having come from a long line of military men, I would question the capability of any subordinate to accomplish tasks that they had very publicly indicated would be detrimental to the organization.
As such, attention should be given to making changes in the military chain of command to optimize a plan put forth by our government.
Make no mistake, this was inevitable. The youth of our country have no use for discriminatory practices.
If some of our leaders believe it is detrimental to operations to have gay and lesbian military personnel, I question how we could work with global partners in any type of joint effort.
Which "wacky" countries already allow gays and lesbians? Well, they are: Canada, England, Israel, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia (yes, Russia), and others.
Whom did we ask to join us in Iraq and Afghanistan? Was it those countries that, like us, don't allow gays in the military? Those are Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Cuba, Peoples Republic of China, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen and others.
While we have taken more time than our "friends of the world" to reach this conclusion, our own private sector has been, for decades, making major progress.
The largest U.S. companies have taken great strides in addressing diversity. They have found, through much research and experience, that diversity, including sexual orientation and even gender identity, equals productivity, which equals profit.
Most large organizations not only have massive diversity programs, they actually actively promote and advertise these programs. They know there are valuable assets in every segment of our society that can enhance their efforts.
The same will happen in our military. Including all who want to serve will only make us better. But more importantly, it is the right thing to do.
— Bill Mead
The federal government ordered the military to racially integrate in the late 1940s, but because discriminatory practices had been so widespread and so firmly ingrained for countless decades, many service members were still struggling with racial integration when I joined the Air Force more than 20 years later. A sorry state of affairs, but I thought the Air Force's leaders were handling it fairly well: I remember being told in no uncertain terms that all of us were going to work together and get along. Period.
Counseling was offered for those finding it especially difficult to adjust. People were indeed mingling, getting to know each other, getting along, and working together just fine. When service members are told what to do, they do it — it goes with the job.
Which brings me to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). Obviously, any policy that arbitrarily singles out a specific group of people for derision and punishment, whatever the rationale, is hopelessly stupid.
There's a big difference between then and now: While a great number of service members stubbornly opposed racial integration decades ago, the vast majority of today's service members have no problem with their gay colleagues serving openly and honestly (conclusively demonstrated by Pentagon research and polling). Granted, a minority of service members want to maintain the status quo, but if their leaders tell them to "get over it," they will — it's part of the job.
It wasn't the military standing in the way of phasing out this asinine policy. And a Gallup poll indicated 70 percent of the American people opposed DADT. So who was causing the problem, so adamantly opposed to progress, to heeding the will of the American people, to honesty, to fairness?
Sorry, I can't tell you. (Doing so might anger and embarrass conservative Republicans.)
— Fred Kormos
Leaks and weeps
Nobody likes leaks these days, even if they're just the ones in your eyes.
Somebody (I won't say who, but her initials are Sarah Palin) wants to make a gender issue out of crying politicians. It's not a gender issue; it's a political issue.
Who wants a weeper in the White House? Or a crier in Congress? Or a sniffler in the Senate? Maybe she doesn't realize that old "town crier" thing meant something else?
Is she saying that she needs to cry and wants to be president so everybody has to change so she can get her way? If we decide not to change, we may have found a use for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's berms and she could start her own website called LeakyWeeps.
I expect to be wearing hip waders in 2012.
— Steve Suhre