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In a fiscal (pot)hole
For all the recent popular griping about the condition of our roads, cratered pavement is just the most visible result of a systemic problem that nobody seems to be talking about: For decades, Colorado Springs has been building itself into a financial hole, paying for public works with the revenues from new developments that 20 years on don't generate enough property tax or business activity to pay for the upkeep and eventual replacement of the pavement, pipes and services they rely on.
The immediate problems with the city budget, stormwater, roads and so forth are pressing, but as residents of this beautiful city we need to start talking about what can be done to put the Springs on a sound long-term course.
Should we copy Boulder and place an absolute limit on how far eastward the city can expand?
Shrink the costs of pavement wear by replacing large sections of our oversized roads with Dutch-style cycle tracks?
Or make local bus service frequent and convenient enough to be competitive with driving?
Allow mixed-use redevelopment of the many dead strip malls?
All of the above?
Maybe these sound far-fetched, but clearly something major needs to change unless we want to keep on digging a deeper (pot)hole.
— David Emery
The following is taken from testimony I gave at the Colorado Springs Utilities board inauguration meeting on Earth Day. It was not included in the minutes of that meeting.
Happy Earth Day, following the hottest March worldwide on record and with the smallest polar icecap for the same comparable month in recorded history. I speak on behalf of Colorado Springs citizens/electric consumers who believe that climate change is the most critical issue of our future security — and the Pentagon agrees with us.
Forty-five years ago, we created the Environmental Protection Agency to address this and other issues related to the health of our biosphere. Since then utilities, fossil-fuel corporations, chemical corporations and other polluters have spent millions working to undermine the EPA's legitimacy and in fact the legitimacy of government in general to regulate, and thus protect citizens' lives and the environment's health.
CSU has been insensitive to the reality of fossil fuel use in climate change. The Southern Delivery System was built to ensure sufficient water supply for additional growth and development of the city, and to my knowledge not one solar panel was employed to pump this water up to Colorado Springs.
Surely the argument that the sun doesn't shine all the time cannot be of issue in this particular enterprise. And the cost of solar is now competitive with coal and gas.
There is an immediate social and planetary responsibility for utility commitments to reduce and ultimately (not 30 years away) eliminate fossil fuels from the energy picture in our fair city. You should use all your powers both as the CSU board and as the City Council to insure that any future development and building within the city be as fossil-fuel-free as is currently technologically and architecturally possible. To do less is unconscionable.
Normative statements of human behavior are not enough to explain the implications of "dominion" and the so-called "stewardship" of the world.
As German sociologist Max Weber argued, one thing is what "should be"; another quite different is what "it is." In a world where the primary principle of human behavior of the powerful established nations is "the survival of the fittest," the planet and its natural resources appear to be more crowded by dominators than stewards.
If that's the case, then "Fill the earth and rule over it" is not another thing than a "God-given right" to use and exploit the earth and its resources as we please. "Dominion," therefore, has become more exploitation and oppression than "responsible stewardship."
What is the solution, then? I don't know, but perhaps we should seek the root cause of our unfortunate man-nature relationship in our religious mindset rather than in science and technology.
As Lynn White wrote in 1967, "More science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink our old one."
— Wilfredo Gutiérrez
What's an atheist or an agnostic to do?
Colorado Springs is known as the home of the religious right. And the Air Force Academy has long had the reputation of trying to imbue its cadets with evangelistic Christianity. The joke is that if a loving, all-powerful God exists, then we don't need an Air Force Academy or any military at all. A loving, omnipotent God will defend us from any and all "enemies." Even if we are killed, we still get eternal life in paradise, so no worries.
Nearly every day we are bombarded with religious proclamations from the gaggle of U.S. presidential candidates, who seem to be trying to "out-Christian" each other. One wonders how long the campaign would last, if a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim or atheist ran for office in Colorado Springs.
The most incongruous presidential candidate is Dr. Ben Carson, noted neurosurgeon, who often mentions his reliance on his Christian faith. It seems he has not noticed that if there is an all-powerful God, that God would have created absolutely everything, including all the diseases that physicians fight every day. And if prayers actually worked, there would be no sick people in the world.
It's still a year and a half till the election. God (if any) help us.
— Larimore Nicholl
Safety on the rails
I was saddened by the unnecessary and terrible train derailment that resulted in eight deaths and hundreds of injuries. The Philadelphia Amtrak was traveling over twice the speed that it was supposed to on those curves.
In a span of 10 months starting in 2013, six people were killed and 126 injured in five similar Metro-North Railroad commuter line accidents. The December 2013 derailment of a Metro-North train in the Bronx was caused by an engineer who fell asleep before his speeding train approached a curve.
It has become very apparent that we need co-engineers on these trains, just like airplanes have co-pilots, so that there is someone there to take over in case of an emergency.
Trains are extremely safe, but some train engineers are not.
— Sharlene White