If it ain't broke ...
Panhandling as a First Amendment right: Buried in all the rhetoric from both sides was the fact that there already are plenty of laws on the books. I think we, as citizens, need to know those laws — clue: downtown businesses might help people know their rights and the laws — and hold our City Council and law enforcement accountable to do their jobs. When you see someone breaking the panhandler laws, call the cops. If the cops are too busy to respond today, because let's face the fact that there could be a rape or murder happening — deal with it.
But chances are that the criminal will repeat the pattern of behavior — so keep calling the cops. You can make change happen by being committed to the cause of truth and justice. But bringing out the big guns of the ACLU vs. City Council just shows me that there is a lot of posturing and politicking going on. What confidence can you really have in a city government that just keeps buying more ink to put more things on paper instead sticking to their word as it is already written. And I fully support the ACLU — but really this? This is where you are choosing to draw a line in the sand?
Cut the rhetoric. We all need to just do our jobs. Report crimes when you see them. Police respond to crimes. City Council is free to go about the business of fixing things that are really broken vs. things that are not.
— Charlie Mussi
Pit bull exception
Gandhi stated that a society's moral character is revealed by how it treats its animals. Certainly mindful people will want animals to be treated humanely and not discarded like so much trash. One of our cats was adopted from a neighbor and the other one came from the Humane Society.
We do have to question your comments about pit bulls, however ("Tough world for canines," City Sage, Nov. 28). It's not a matter of whether these dogs can be faithful and loving and loved companions (although the thought of four pit bulls in bed with me or anyone seems wildly bizarre).
The problem is that these animals were specifically bred and developed to fight and kill, and their natural inclinations sometimes override loyalty to their master. Couple this natural inclination with inbred "hold and shake" jaws and "gameness" (high pain threshold) and you have a killing machine that's very hard to defend against should they decide to attack. Just ask the numerous victims of pit bull attacks in our city during the past year.
This line of reasoning has led Denver to outlaw the possession of these animals. In 2005 the Colorado Supreme Court upheld Denver's ban, stating "pit bulls inflict more serious wounds than other breeds. They tend to attack the deep muscles, to hold on, to shake, and to cause ripping of tissues. Pit bull attacks were compared to shark attacks."
No one is saying that these dogs can't be lovable — just like those tigers in the American Furniture Warehouse commercials. But by now it's well known that tigers are ill-advised household pets. Pit bulls might seem like the perfect watchdog, but if they seriously injure the next-door neighbor or a family member, that's a real problem and possibly a great tragedy.
— Paul Dahlsten
As of this writing, it appears that local fracking is to take place in spite of much opposition. May I cordially suggest that the water that is forced into the ground with all of its toxic chemicals be sucked back up into tankers and the water delivered to the owners and managers of Hilcorp Energy Co. to use at their offices and homes.
The tankers can be hooked up to their plumbing and used for dish-washing, laundry, drinking, cooking and bathing. This seems to be the only reasonable thing to do with this water that is being forced into our water systems and wells. If this water is good enough for our local supplies and streams then it should be good enough for their private use.
— Jane Madden
City Council's recent preliminary decision to allow fracking within city limits is alarming. Residents in the Springs and El Paso County need to wake up and curb this shortsighted and foolhardy decision by their elected officials.
As a lifelong resident of the Springs I can only assume that Councilors Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan, Merv Bennett, Brandy Williams, Lisa Czelatdko and Bernie Herpin, who voted in favor of the oil companies' request to drill, are not getting all of the facts. Here are just a few reasons why fracking in beautiful Colorado Springs is an outrageous proposition:
• Fracking is an extremely water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid — typically a mix of water, sand and chemicals, including cancer-causing benzene — are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. Colorado Springs is suffering from a multi-year drought and municipal authorities are already scrambling to ensure enough drinking water for the city's future. By Council's reasoning it is okay to allow oil and gas companies to not only use this precious water, but to poison it.
• Fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act due to a loophole negotiated in part by Halliburton in 2005.
• Fracking will not ease the local or even the national energy situation. Natural gas generated by fracking is being sold in foreign markets to maximize corporate oil and gas profits. It is not necessarily available for domestic use. So, the Colorado Springs City Council has voted to trade the city's beauty and water supply for profits benefitting oil and gas companies? Really?
Over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and Vermont, France and Bulgaria have stopped it.
I urge everyone to look into this matter and to guard against the slanted arguments put forth by the oil companies. Then call your city councilor and ask them to change their vote.
— Carol Kennis Lopez
History repeating itself?
As a student of history, I have been struck by the unintended consequences of our decisions within the last century of progress. Several examples should suffice. First, from the 1890s through the 1920s farmers on the western plains were encouraged to plow up the prairies to plant more wheat. When the price was low, farmers just plowed up more dry-land prairie and planted more wheat. And what was the result? An ecosystem that had been stable for millennia was destroyed and my parents and grandparents barely survived the 1930s dust bowl.
Another misstep was the feeding of antibiotics to beef cattle and other farm animals to mitigate crowded conditions in feed lots and make animals put on weight more quickly. We now realize that we have bred supergerms.
Currently, we are faced with the economic promises of hydrolic fracking. There is a windfall to be made from this natural gas boom. Virtually unlimited clean-burning fuels right below our city. But does everyone know that just one well destroys 5,000,000 gallons of water, lacing it with toxic chemicals? This is water that cannot be used for agriculture, cannot be filtered, or be used to put out fires; it cannot be recycled.
I got out my most recent utilities bill to see just how much I personally pay for beautifully clean, sweet water. For the first 999 cubic feet of water I pay just under 3 cents per cubic foot. I then pay just over 5 cents per cubic foot up to 1,500 cubic feet. The companies who frack for natural gas will use 66,845 cubic feet (5,000,000 gallons) of water for just one well. What will their usage rate be? Why should I xeriscape my property or try to conserve if we have all of this water to frack with?
— Elaine M. Doudna
Editor's note: Over the weekend, Councilor Tim Leigh announced he would indeed change his vote during a second reading. For more, see here.
Looking for integrity
As another right-wing-manufactured crisis grinds to a climax in Washington, its cynical view of voters in general, and seniors specifically, astounds me.
Back to 2010 — the tea party's takeover of the House is sparked by a spate of ads accusing those hideous Democrats of cutting $500 billion from Medicare. Fueled by the deep pockets of FreedomWorks, AFP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, victory is achieved. Huzzah.
Fast forward to the presidential/vice presidential debates of 2012. Nominees Romney and Ryan take the administration to task for cutting $716 billion from Medicare through Obamacare. Never mind that Paul Ryan's tea party-backed budget used that very same "saving" to slay the deficit dragon.
Two weeks ago, Speaker Boehner sends his counter-proposal to President Obama with an $800 billion cut in Medicare. Hypocrisy?
Look, Speaker, I understand that negotiating with Cantor's shiv in your back is uncomfortable, but you cannot really think the public doesn't notice this verbal backflip, can you?
Denial is tough to resolve. The Republicans vowed to make President Obama a one-term president and failed miserably; predictably, they need a target for their venom. Why don't they target the source: the echo chamber — the right's commentary-entertainment complex that lied to them. All of the strategies and polls and pronouncements of Rush, Sean, Karl and Billy-Boy were so much hooey, and now it's time for the adults to take back the room and have a serious talk.
Where is your integrity, Mr. Speaker?
— Steve Schriener
Bach and Drake
On the whole, I am very pleased with the job Strong Mayor Bach is doing. There's a new sheriff in town and he's cutting waste (and personnel) left and right. He's certainly in a sticky wicket when it comes to our dirty power plant just south of downtown.
I'm not surprised to hear the preliminary results concerning the volume and toxicity of the plant's pollutive output. I have some friends who bought cheap houses downwind from the plant, and many have breathing problems (one died of lung cancer).
The budgetary restraints that Bach and the city are facing seem to favor privatization of power production in the Springs. What are the long- and short-term effects on utility rates? I think it's safe to say they will increase.
This dilemma requires serious thought on the part of our leaders moving into the future. I'm assuming that the world doesn't end on 12/21 (much to the dismay of malcontents who would prefer a global reset), and we must prepare for ethical, clean, affordable electricity going into the next stage of development. Privatization of utilities usually results in higher rates for the consumer. This increase may motivate consumers to use less power. My cinema-quality, home theater uses 27 watts. Reduction of consumption is the ultimate answer.
— Kenton Lloyd
An open letter to the President of the United States:
As you are trying to avoid the cliff, during your negotiations to raise the marginal rate of the wealthiest 2 percent, insist on taxing all earned income (wages, salaries and commissions) and all unearned income (capital gains, dividends and interest) at the same rate. Think of it as fairness. Why should income that is received by investment be taxed at a much lower rate than income derived from working? Is it a different color or spend differently or feel different?
When the Republicans took over in 1921 (president and Congress) they lowered the tax rate of capital gains to 15 percent. It always remained less than the marginal rate until the Republican president (Ronald Reagan) and a Democratic Congress raised it to the same rate as ordinary income in 1983. It remained at that rate until a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) and a Republican Congress lowered it to 20 percent a decade later.
The rate for capital gains and dividends was lowered to 15 percent by a Republican president (George Bush) and a Republican Congress. Eighty percent of all unearned income goes to the top 20 percent. So even if you raise the marginal rate for the 2 percent, the wealthy will still not be paying their fair share.
All of the top 10 wealthiest people in America derive most, if not all, of their income from dividends and capital gains. The top three and the 10th are the only ones that actually made their money. The other six inherited theirs. Shouldn't they pay the same rate, or more, as the people who make a lot less money and actually perform some work? Mr. President, think of FAIRNESS.
— David M. Justice