Your green at work
In advance of Earth Day, April 22, here's what your city's Public Works Department is doing:
First, there will be free bus service on Earth Day, and during military appreciation month in May, active-duty military can ride for free. To carpool or vanpool, call 385-RIDE.
The Fleet Division has used alternative fuels since 2003 to reduce emissions by over 9 million tons of CO2. In addition, the Division helped pool vehicles to reduce operating costs by nearly $20,000 per year and improve fuel economy.
Engineering is embarking on the largest construction materials recycling effort ever on a city project with the second phase of the Woodmen Road-Academy Boulevard intersection, where upwards of 75 percent of materials will be recycled.
The Sustainability Office is using grants to retrofit existing facilities, saving approximately $90,000 a year. Staff also adopted the garden outside City Hall as a demonstration project, growing enough local food to feed one adult for a year, donating harvests to Care and Share.
The Traffic Division is installing 300 arterial LED streetlights in key locations, working with the Sustainability Office and Utilities to roll out a community-building LED streetlight program. More than 120 residential LED streetlights will be given away through a variety of contests where we will try to build community through LED adoption.
Our Streets Division is recycling all concrete that is taken up when replacing curb, gutter and sidewalk. The city continues to lead the state through its tire rubber asphalt program and other recycling programs.
You can enter to win a residential LED streetlight by reporting a unique pothole in May or June. Call 385-ROAD and provide details and pothole location — or use the city's GoRequest app to report them from your iPhone. Yes, there's an app for that.
Join us for a bus ride on Earth Day or enter to win an LED streetlight!
— Nick Kittle
Public Works Team Leader
City of Colorado Springs
The Independent is to be commended for doing some background checking on the conventional wisdom in this town.
It is repeated over and over that the huge military presence here is good for the whole economy. It has been repeated over and over by local officials that more helicopters are needed to fight future wars, and that that will be good for the local economy.
Recent stories in the Independent have raised serious questions about both assumptions. It took courage to do those stories in this community, where political correctness would dictate otherwise. We have the chance now to debate these issues with many more facts on the table.
We have politicians and opinion-makers constantly repeating another refrain: "We need to have more economic diversity." But then they turn around and say the first step toward that goal is to get more dependent on the Pentagon. More diversity down the road sometime, but not yet.
Thanks for opening some space in our political arena.
— Bill Sulzman
As a professor of "tax law ... of the ancient world," David Cay Johnston ("Sham I am," cover story, April 14) might want to become apprised with the actual tax situation in today's America. In December 2007, the Congressional Budget Office provided the effective combined tax rates for federal income, payroll, corporate and excise taxes by quintile of earners (cbo.gov/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8885/12-11-HistoricalTaxRates.pdf). The 2005 results were revealing.
The top 1 percent of earners earned 18 percent of total income, but paid 28 percent of all taxes under an effective total federal tax rate of 31 percent.
The top quintile of earners earned 55 percent of total income, but paid 69 percent of all taxes.
CBO dispelled the common wisdom that the middle class bears most of the tax burden. In fact, the percentage of tax burden borne by these citizens is consistently and often substantially less than their percentage of the total national income:
The fourth quintile (upper-middle class) earned 20 percent of total income, but paid 17 percent of all taxes under an effective rate of 17 percent.
The middle quintile (middle class) earned 13 percent of total income, but paid 9 percent of all taxes under an effective rate of 14 percent.
The second quintile (lower-middle class) earned 8 percent of total income, but paid 4 percent of all taxes under an effective rate of 10 percent.
The poor pay nearly no net taxes, as government subsidies cover most of their withholding taxes for Social Security and Medicare: The lowest quintile earned 4 percent of total income, but paid 1 percent of all taxes under an effective total federal tax rate of 4 percent.
Thus dies the urban myth that the rich do not pay their fair share of taxes.
— Bart DePalma
Love the spin by the Indy on the recent election, especially the headline praising Jan Martin's mandate. Yes, she did garner the most votes. Yes, she was the only avowed liberal tax-increase-lover in the City Council race. The rest of the candidates beat up on each other, while Ms. Martin received 8.327 percent of the total Council votes. That doesn't seem like much of a mandate.
The Indy reported Scott Hente wanted to be Council president. If voters want the status quo, the old-school kind of thinking and continued control by the HBA and Chamber, Hente is your man. As far as I know, he has never voted against any proposal by Utilities. Rate increases come regularly and Hente never objects. Living high up on the hill and building million-dollar houses evidently caused Hente to forget how the rest of us live.
Sallie Clark can get all excited about the new people; however, it will take some strong wills and leadership by Brandy Williams, Lisa Czelatdko and Angela Dougan, along with Val Snider, Tim Leigh and Merv Bennett, if anything is really going to change.
The other desire for many of us more conservative types is hoping the other mayoral candidates will put aside their differences and get behind Steve Bach. There is little dispute that Richard Skorman is a good human being. He is just not the right person for "real change" unless we want to plod along during the next four years.
I have great faith in the voters of Colorado Springs. Now is the time we all need to pull together. Skorman would be a very good chief of staff; he is just not the one to make the tough decisions concerning budgets, staffing, Utilities, benefits, PERA, Memorial Health System, etc.
— Duane C. Slocum
Editor's note: Election results actually say Jan Martin received 11.12 percent of the total at-large vote. But there were 403,638 total votes. If everyone who participated in the Council election selected five candidates, that would come to about 80,700 voters. To be safe, let's assume 85,000 people cast a vote for at least one at-large candidate: Martin couldn't get more than one vote from anyone, so her 44,901 would calculate to about 53 percent. That's a mandate.
I read letters like "Cutting NPR's cord" (April 14) and just have to laugh. I find it hard to believe that Don McCullen has ever listened to NPR. If he had, it would be clear to him how different the programing is, compared to a traditional FM station. NPR provides programing that actually costs money to produce. FM radio plays music given to them at no cost.
The only reason people want to cut NPR funding is because they believe that NPR has a liberal bias. I will concede that NPR is not FOX News, but neither is it MSNBC. In fact, very little programing on NPR lends itself to taking a political stand. In McCullen's letter, his sole argument is that we don't do it for any other radio stations, and that Rep. Doug Lamborn wants it to be so.
What NPR provides that no one else on radio does, is culture. Programs like This American Life and A Prairie Home Companion and The Thistle & Shamrock and World of Opera. Culture, Mr. McCullen, is worth supporting, has value.
The truth is the government can't defund NPR because it doesn't directly receive any federal money. The money goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which also funds PBS, which airs terribly seditious programs like Sesame Street and documentaries like The National Parks: America's Best Idea and The Civil War. Lamborn and McCullen don't understand the difference between money spent and money invested. Funding CPB is an investment in a better educated, more tolerant America.
My wife and I paid about $20,000 in federal taxes last year, and about $240 of it went to CPB. Money well spent if only for the joy Sesame Street brings to my nine grandchildren.
— Michael Augenstein
Based upon what I read in the Indy's April 14 edition, three big events were taking place on the same weekend. The once-a-year Indie Spirit Film Festival was occurring as well as the once-a-year Earth Day celebration and the twice-a-year Metaphysical Fair. Oh, and I should not forget the open house at Pikes Peak Community College, since I work there! That makes it four events I wanted to attend.
This next weekend, nothing is happening that I am interested in, and the previous weekend nothing was going on that I wanted to go to. Easter is this weekend, but I don't hide eggs for anyone anymore.
So, how about if next year, the Indie Spirit Film Festival moves up or back, and the Metaphysical Fair moves in the opposite direction. That way we can all go to see what appears to be a fabulous independent film selection, we can all go and celebrate our advances in protecting Mother Earth, and we can all go and get our palms read after buying the best crystals out there! Just a suggestion!
— Jane Madden
Prescription reading glasses I use only while at my computer were scratched and missing one lens, so it really didn't matter that I left them at my uncle's house in Texas. Being two years old, they needed to be replaced. They provided perfect screen focus, so I wanted exactly the same lenses. Last Saturday I went to the provider and was told the prescription is expired. It's against state law to sell me reading glasses!
So I went to Dollar Tree and tried various powers until deciding that power 1 fit my left eye OK and power 3.5 fit my right eye OK. I removed the screws and made one set of readers out of two pairs, spending 2 bucks and saving Medicare a few hundred bucks. The downside is, these readers don't work quite as well as the ones I wanted to buy, so I have to strain a bit, and I have broken state law.
Should I turn myself in?
— Jim Inman
New power source
I totally agree with Phil Stahl ("Be realistic," Letters, April 14) in that solar and wind generation of electricity will not be enough. We need to add wave generation.
As for running bulldozers, elevators, steel mills, glass factories, aircraft and automobile factories, or missile plants, if we convert all sewage treatment plants to depolymerization plants, as well as putting the same in or near garbage dumps, we should, within five years, have enough oil reserves to tell Saudi Arabia where to get off the train.
— Dwayne Schultz
Best way to vote
No! No, no, no! We do not need to move to an electronic voting system, direct or representative as Kenton Lloyd suggests ("It's a new world," Letters, April 7). Moving to an electronic direct democracy is a terrible idea.
Voter fraud would be rampant in an Internet-based voting system. You could have one person taking user accounts of apathetic voters and using their votes to their own agendas. Voting under duress or coercion would also be rampant.
Also, electronic voting is at risk to hackers and other vote-tabulation issues. One moderately well-designed computer virus would make everyone vote for Mickey Mouse or, worse. George W. Bush. All voting should be done on a paper ballot to allow for a manual recount if needed. Electronic voting machines are easy to rig. Electronic voting is a bad idea in any form, be it electronic machines at polling places or worse on an open server that can be accessed remotely.
With direct democracy, voters would all vote for tons of spending and no taxes to pay for it, because everyone loves government services and everyone hates taxes. People would vote against tax measures needed to fund the government, and then vote that the government do many things that we want, like build roads and bridges, or provide for the national defense.
To be plain, the average voter is not capable of keeping the government running when he votes in his own self-interest. This is why a republic, by definition a representative democracy, is the most workable system. Representatives vote for what the people need, not what they want. As frustrating as our representatives can be (Doug Lamborn comes to mind), representative government is better than direct democracy.
All voting should be done by paper, to allow for independent auditing and prevent voter fraud or fixing elections.
— Michael Williams
Corrections and update
• The Long Story Short in our April 14 issue should have noted that David Cay Johnston was thrice a finalist for, and once a winner of, the Pulitzer Prize.
• In the Break story titled "The meme-ing of Hollywood," also in our April 14 issue, the name of Andrew Fischer's movie protagonist should have been written as Richard Rolland, not Richard Rollins.
• This week's ReLeaf supplement includes a story about House Bill 1261, the THC driving limit bill, the status of which changed after press time. It has been amended to include further study before passage.
The Independent regrets the errors and the lack of updated information.