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Four out of 10
Regarding your story "Our day in court" (cover, Jan. 7): Does anybody wonder why — as your article states — violations are up by 29 percent and traffic violations are up by 50 percent? Maybe because government revenues are increasing, after years of shortfalls, and now Colorado has enough money to again expand its prison system. Could this mean convicting people under assembly-line justice depends on how much money is in the coffers? And not based upon real crimes. Nobody cares that regulatory infractions are now turned into criminal cases.
I like Judge Grant's advice to everyone in her kangaroo court "that if they have no prior convictions, they should consider pleading not guilty." Why should it matter if a person has prior convictions? If you're innocent, you're innocent. How many times have I seen innocent ex-felons plead guilty because they know they don't have a chance with a public pretender representing them? And if they go to trial, guaranteed conviction with maximum sentencing.
How many times have I seen Springs prosecutors convicting on drug possession combining the weight of the container with the substance as evidence for total measurement of the drug — just to add another decade or so of prison time? Anyone who has been involved with our venerated system of justice knows you are guilty until convicted.
Maybe you should report cases not spoon-fed and report those secret proceedings that are not in front of the public, cleverly cloaked in corrupt legal processes disguised as constitutional. In years of seeing Colorado Springs injustice, I estimate that 40 percent of prisoners are serving time for crimes which they did not commit or there was no proof. Maybe you should do some investigative reporting on the hundreds and thousands of cases showing how unjust our system of justice really is.
— David King
In "Long Story Short" (Jan. 7), you state "alleged [shoplifter] hauls seem to have changed lately, from gadgets and electronics to things like baby formula. It's one thing to say thieves don't deserve mercy. It's another to say people who steal diapers should be dealt with harshly."
What you fail to recognize is that the majority of shoplifters that steal this type of item sell their stolen goods on places like Craigslist and eBay because those items fetch the highest prices. Most shoplifters do not do it because they need the items, they do it to make money from selling them as quickly and anonymously as possible.
— A. Kay
Rise in the east
Regarding talk of a new high-rise downtown: Would it be more acceptable to everyone if it were built somewhere other than downtown? Stetson Hills comes to mind since a) there's no historic fabric to disrupt b) it has easy access to I-25, UCCS and two of the area military bases and c) the City for Champions proponents want to move the Sky Sox elsewhere anyway.
— Michael Griffin
Regarding "More pension tension," News, Jan. 14:
Part #1: When the exercise began regarding divesting the city of Memorial Health System, Attorney General John Suthers and city attorney Patricia Kelly warned the commission to resolve all PERA issues before proceeding, on two separate occasions. This advice was ignored by the commission.
Part #2: A new committee was formed to continue the work of the old commission, and members of the new committee never attended prior meetings or had any history to work from. These flaming geniuses (some of whom, I might add, are still allowed to muck around in city affairs), with bad legal advice, came up with this surefire way to make their plan a "win-win." It didn't happen.
Part #3: Today. After spending $2.3 million in legal fees, paying $190 million to PERA, and having a health foundation on a possible financial abyss, maybe the prudent thing for the city to do is terminate their agreement with the Denver law firm and write the check! Next, better screen the applicants for these committees for competency and realize that some of these business people and politicians that are selected are not all what they're cracked up to be. They were definitely in over their heads on this issue.
Part #4: There was a much better way to do this, but no one would listen, and Joe Citizen was excluded from the process. The taxpayers are stuck with this one. Don't believe me? Just wait for the next exciting installment!
— Gary Casimir
I see that there is a movement afoot to recall City Councilor Helen Collins. I have to ask: Why?
I know a few from District 4, and none want this recall. Is this recall even from constituents in her area? Could it be from outside interests who would benefit financially from getting a financial hawk off Council?
Even though she is not "my" councilperson, what she has done so far, I like.
First, she refused to take the "perks" of office such as the expense account for travel and the tax-paid meals, stating it is against the city charter to do so.
Second, she came out against the stormwater tax initiative!
Third, she wanted to return excess TABOR money to taxpayers. That is why we voted for TABOR, wasn't it? What is wrong with that? Yes the city needs money, but it should be up to the taxpayers to vote on whether or not this money gets used for parks, or stormwater, or whatever.
Fourth, she always seemed to vote against utility rate hikes. I know the city needs money to function, but City Hall gets something like $30 million from excess utility revenue called PILTs (payments in lieu of taxes). I believe that these violate Issue 300, which we voters approved in 2009 to phase out those illegal payments over eight years and lower our utility rates.
If citizens want certain things, then let them pay for their desires. They can send their TABOR checks to the city and say, use it!
I wish we had more like Collins on City Council, who do watch expenditures! I urge all who may vote on a recall to keep her on Council. Tell "outside" interests to go away!
— Helen Sabin
Helping the homeless
As a Christian, God has shown me to be involved with permanent solutions for our homeless in Colorado Springs.
Estimates of how many homeless we have roaming our streets are 2,500 in the winter and near 4,000 in the summer months. Most dwell in the downtown area, and beds available for overnight stays range around 400 with the Salvation Army, Springs Rescue Mission and other locations. Homelessness is bad for our storefront businesses and tourism, and makes safety in our parks an issue.
Becoming homeless is not usually by choice. It is estimated that at least 25 percent of the homeless (nationwide) have mental conditions and need to be on medication. There are several areas in the development of human beings that need to be addressed:
• Working instead of panhandling
• Helping the homeless get the basics of food, shelter and medical care
• Tackling the heart issues so they won't continue to choose to live on the streets
• Giving the homeless choices on how to live
Later this month, surveys will be conducted to determine the numbers and needs of our homeless population. At the next Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Advisory Board meeting on Feb. 12, a report will be given by our police department on the status of safety in our parks.
How we treat people who have the least ... is who we really are ourselves. Being accountable with our tax dollars and donations is key to a permanent successful solution.
No matter what your faith is ... if you would like to join a weekly discussion on homelessness in Colorado Springs you are welcome. Come to the Panera Bread in University Village next to Costco on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
— Charles H. Castle
More disdain, please
I'll believe your newfound "We Are Charlie, Too" stance (Jan. 14, p. 3) when I see you have the same disdain for Muslims that you have for Christians.
— Joseph C. Hunter
• After publication of "Pay as you grow" (SimpliCity, Jan. 14), Colorado Springs Utilities informed the Indy of additional measures it offers to encourage water conservation, including a landscape conversion incentive, business and residential rebates, and free classes.
• Also, a copy-editing oversight left two errors in last week's Seven Days to Live section: Dustin Diamond's book was published in 2009, not 2014, and musician Porter is Willy, not Willie.
We regret the errors.