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LETTERS: Copper Ridge; SDS; PERA; and more

March 4, 2011
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Kudos to The Gazette

Finally, some sense is being written on the Copper Ridge project (Mar. 3, Our View: “Big new mall needs to share the cost”.) I agree that it is completely irresponsible to subsidize a brand new development under the guise of “urban renewal” when down the road, two malls, plus many other retail centers, are teetering on financial collapse. In the upcoming election for our new mayor and City Council members, their position on this issue will be key to my vote.

Sue Bigus

Colorado Springs

 

Right project at right time

Wayne Laugesen’s Our View, “A promise of ‘jobs’ means yes to SDS,” Mar. 2, supporting the Southern Delivery System, is spot on. For all the reasons he states, SDS is the right project at the right time. We will never have another opportunity to permit and construct a project of this complexity and size.

When we, both as City Council members and as the board of directors for Colorado Springs Utilities, made the final votes approving SDS, I reflected back on our city leaders in the 1950s who took similar action to authorize the Blue River project — our first major trans-mountain pipeline. In the 1960s, our city leaders took another bold step with the Homestake pipeline — the largest such water project in our history up to that point.

Both of these major water projects were not to supply only water for the current residents, even though those residents, and Utilities water users, experienced increased water rates to pay for these projects. No, they were investing in the future of their city — just as early city leaders realized that the water in Fountain and Monument creeks wouldn’t sustain city growth and ensured that the reservoirs on Pikes Peak were constructed.

If not for the vision of these past city leaders, it is likely that most of us would not be here and Colorado Springs would still be a small town of fewer than 30,000 people.

The decision that our current leaders have made will help ensure the future vitality of our city, even if another house is never built. Not being located on a major river, Colorado Springs must depend on snowmelt far from our city for its water. And we must have a reliable and redundant water delivery system to get that runoff to our faucets.

I am proud to have been but one vote that will benefit generations to come. It isn’t often that an elected official gets to make such a historic decision. And it would be extremely shortsighted to elect anyone who doesn’t realize the importance of our decision.

Bernie Herpin

Colorado Springs

 

Fiscal and social insanity

The current Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association program is unsustainable and must be drastically modified.

I just had lunch with a retired Colorado schoolteacher. He and I retired about 22 years ago. Prior to retirement, we golfed and skied together. He always said I should buy the drinks because as a corporate executive, my salary was much more than his. His job was more challenging than mine because he had to discipline dysfunctional kids for the entire nine months he worked. I had a cushy job that only required producing products for an international market on time at a profit. I also dealt with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, union organizers and other government busybodies during the Carter administration. If the bottom line was negative, I was fired. Schoolteachers rarely get fired.

Twenty-two years ago, a teacher with 30 years’ service could retire at 90 percent of base pay for a typical $35,000 a year. A typical corporate pension for 40 years service was at 40 percent of base pay, for approximately $40,000 a year. The corporate retiree gets no cost-of-living increases and pays $500/month for health insurance. The schoolteacher received generous cost-of-living increases over most of these 22 years, so now his PERA pension exceeds his corporate buddy’s pension by at least $5,000 a year.

M y teacher buddy, whose income exceeds mine, can’t understand why I don’t want more taxes taken from my pension to support PERA and the Colorado public unionized school system. The public employees pension system in Colorado is strangling the taxpayers. We need a governor like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to stop this fiscal and social insanity.

Bob Conover

Colorado Springs

 

A good news story

Thank you for the outstanding coverage of the Magnificent Mountain Men club’s indoor free-flight competition that appeared in the Feb. 28 edition of the Gazette.

The article by Jakob Rodgers with the photo coverage by Jerilee Bennett captured the spirit of the event and presented this hobby/sport in a very positive light.

The Gazette is to be congratulated for giving this good news story such prominent coverage.

We all are hearing how the USA is falling behind the rest of the world in our ability to produce outstanding science and engineering students. Model aviation has been an activity that has produced aviators and astronauts, as well as many of America’s top engineers and leaders in the aerospace industry. With a little bit of luck, some youth of the Pikes Peak area will see the picture of Ray Boyd and his grandson and ask “How can I do that?” This could well be the launching point for another leader in science and engineering.

Jerry Murphy

Manitou Springs

 

A race to the bottom

Colorado is in more trouble. According to the respected fiscal experts at the University of Denver, Colorado’s fiscal structure is unsustainable.

Endless cuts to our schools, roads, parks, protective services and colleges won’t create new jobs. And as the study from DU shows, even though the economy is recovering somewhat, our state won’t be able to pay for basic and essential services without serious, long-term reform.

Coloradans have a choice. We can continue making huge cuts in education, health care, our parks and natural resource protections, and all the things that make Colorado a great place to live. Or we can come together around a plan to increase revenue. We are in a race to the bottom — to become last in the nation for education funding. Colorado is 48th in funding K-12 education and 49th in funding higher education, and we are falling faster every day.

As the DU study showed, the only choice we have is to keep making huge cuts from K-12 and health care, or to raise revenue. The past few years have seen more tax breaks for businesses — and a tumbling economy; record profits — and soaring unemployment; huge cuts to education at all levels — with no impact on our insolvency. The experts say we can’t “grow” our way out of this mess, and we’ve proved we can’t cut our way out. Let’s listen to reason and do something now to save our state, its schools and our future, before we really do bottom out.

Martin Wolf

Colorado Springs

 

Totally exhausted resources

Congratulations to John Horner (March 2) for daring to mention the unmentionable — overpopulation — in a city that idolizes growth. As one who has seen Colorado Springs quadruple (and the USA triple) in size, I wonder why we don’t worry that in only 150 years the USA will have a population density of present- day Haiti — a place that has totally exhausted its resources.

Richard Bradley

Colorado Springs

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