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On the very rare occasion when terrorism touches American lives, it is usually homegrown, locally produced, the perpetrator's appearance disturbingly that of an average citizen. So it is here in Colorado Springs — the local office of the NAACP damaged in daylight hours (see here) by a fellow citizen having an amateur's touch with explosives, a muddled sense of rage and confused exit strategy.
It is always past time to disavow such a set of mind, to work against the small subset of local culture that may applaud the action or remain indifferent to its motives. Now is the time, in the wake of this fortunate but graphic misfire, to show our solidarity with one another and to avow what is obvious, that we all share our common humanity.
More than ever the membership of the NAACP and the members of our community they represent require our active support. The association welcomes members of all races and denominations, and it measures its strength in numbers. I have been considering joining for some time. Now is that time.
— Cecelia Jacobs
'Shallow and pointless'
Your story about municipal court ("Our day in court," cover story, Jan. 7) was shallow and pointless. The only serious discussion noted that we have 11 part-time judges for four courtrooms. (I think five exist.) The presiding judge said working five days in a row would make one "nutty as a fruitcake." State judges have a five-day work week.
Those 11 people get lifetime government pensions. They threatened to sue if City Hall held them to their original contract offering no pension. City Hall was bluffed by parasitic lawyers.
Other ignored issues:
1. People who want their "day in court" have a "court costs" fine added to their sentence. Taxes pay for our courts, established "to secure these rights" according to the Declaration of Independence. Now, insisting on your rights costs extra. That is corrupt coercion to intimidate citizens to pay their tickets, whether guilty or not.
2. One must pay an extra "fee" for a jury trial, though guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
3. We lack evening and Saturday courts. To have a trial, you must take three days or more off work: arraignment, pretrial, and trial. Judges don't serve our needs; we serve theirs.
4. People get jury trials in under 1 percent of the cases. Judges consider us a nuisance, not a citizen or customer. A trial is more work than their assembly line processing of McJustice.
5. If we had six full-time judges, we would have lower costs and higher productivity. Each judge would work five out of six days per week (not Sunday). That would fill the five courtrooms. The sixth judge would fill in for vacations and sick days. We would not need referees, magistrates, etc.
The Independent upholds its 300-word limit strictly, so read more at "Municipal Court" at douglasbruce.com.
— Douglas Bruce
Can we agree?
Shortly after the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, we did what Americans often do in the event of a tragedy. We took a poll. Pew released findings (on Aug. 18, 2014) that stated 44 percent of the respondents felt "the case raises important issues about race that need to be discussed." As the 2014 books are closed, the question is, has the discussion started?
Could we agree that police put their lives on the line all the time and that we expect them to do a dangerous job objectively, fairly, without prejudice, in blind alleys and darkened stairways, in rain, snow, gloom of night? And could we agree there is often little recognition of the stress, hazards and disrespect officers endure on a daily basis, and for undertaking this task police receive decent pay and a great deal of "the benefit of the doubt"?
Could we venture that, as in any population group, there are some people who do not always exemplify the more noble nature of customer service, especially in our inner cities, which could be viewed as abuse, which would then demand a response beyond that benefit?
The latest Pew poll finds Americans by 2-to-1 say police departments nationwide don't do a good job in holding officers accountable for misconduct, treating racial groups equally, and using the right amount of force. If we could only agree on one thing, would it be that we have to be able to at least acknowledge our own faults and failures to even approach "Exceptional" status? Because in reality the discussion has been going on for some time. Some of us are just unable or unwilling to hear it.
— Max Clow
Election of our mayor and City Council are critical steps in moving our city toward addressing the planetary crisis of climate change.
Council defines the nature of the systems we build and support that make our life together work. It defines the uses of property through zoning and building codes. It sits as the board of directors of Colorado Springs Utilities. It defines the way in which waste is collected and creates much of our transportation system.
City government has designed and operated those systems on a fossil-fuel-based energy system and a development model reliant on economies of scale. An underlying assumption is that no biological or social costs exist, and growth can and should be unlimited. Government regulation has been perceived as a burden and interference in achieving that growth.
This has yielded some really bad decisions. For instance, the Southern Delivery System was designed to provide water for more housing development. That water will be pumped using fossil fuels. New construction will continue to be permitted to heat and light its interior with fossil fuels. Development farther from city center, served by fossil-fuel-powered garbage trucks operating in an anarchy of competition, beat up the roads we build to provide fossil-fuel-powered vehicles more miles to get to work, shop or entertain ourselves.
New leaders must be elected who understand the responsibility to quickly redesign all these systems. Building codes and zoning could require new construction to use passive solar, geothermal, active solar and wind-generated power. City buildings can be immediately retrofitted with solar power, and parking structures should contain electric-car recharging stations. CSU should not provide new services to construction not primarily powered by renewables.
Who is running to change our dependence on fossil fuels? Or have the deniers and oil and gas interests silenced hope for such change?
— Bob Kinsey
Green Party of the Pikes Peak Region
In last week's Street Smarts installment, respondent Danny Eurich's last name was spelled incorrectly. We regret the error.