August 31, 2012
For the dogs reading this
I read with interest about the latest improvements being considered at Bear Creek Dog Park, in the southwest quadrant of the city, by the El Paso County Parks Department. If you haven’t had the pleasure of walking your dog there, this park encompasses a large area covered with natural vegetation, studded with trees, and dotted with picnic tables. In April, additional improvements were made to the park including rest rooms, a paved parking lot, a year-round water for dogs’ fountain, dog-wash facilities, and temporary holding kennels. A future improvement being considered is the addition of an agility course for pooches.
Contrast this utopia with the dog park that serves the residents on the southeast quadrant of the city at Palmer Park at Maizeland and S. Academy. A chain-link fence surrounds a flat, sand-covered area the size of a baseball field dotted with a couple of benches and several felled tree trunks in the center.
Understandably, Bear Creek Dog Park does not discriminate, and all residents of Colorado Springs are welcome to walk their dogs in this park. However, it is only a convenient distance away for those residents that live in the southwest quadrant of the city. So, for all dogs who might be reading this, choose your ZIP code carefully, as all dog parks are not created equal.
We deserve a lot better
I fully support The Gazette’s Aug. 28 editorial on the Drake Power plant, and the mayor’s questioning of the rushed agreement with the local inventor.
Scott Hente’s attitude on this outrageous spending of the public’s (yours and my) money strikes me as arrogant.
To use such a high amount of our hard-earned money on cleaning up an obsolete power plant is absurd.
Why not explore more efficient means of energy production such as cleaner burning natural gas?
Other council members’ use of name calling and profanity tells me that their level of maturity is not high enough for the position. We deserve a lot better.
John G. Wood
Decision is a personal one
Huzzah, huzzah for Daniel Cole’s op-ed about the GOP and abortion. Abortion rights, gay rights, and stem cell research have no place in a political discussion or in the plank of a political party. They are private rights between one or more individuals and their conscience and or religious beliefs. The decision of when life begins is a personal one. Some faiths believe at conception; others believe when the newborn can survive outside the womb. At the very least, government involvement represents an infringement on our personal rights. At the extreme, government involvement infringes on the separation of church and state.
Rush is a truth teller
Re: “Overexposure to Rush” (Aug. 28): In defense of Rush Limbaugh, he does state that he is a truth teller. If he were not honest, he would have lost his audience and the truth-checkers would have run him off the radio years ago.
We venture to say that the people who listen to Rush and his “cronies” are better informed than those who only listen to and read the biased media. Oh, by the way, we also think he is entertaining. Perhaps the letter writer would rather the people listen to the lunatic ravings of Chris Matthews and his ilk.
Terry & Doris Tucker
Needs to read his book
Fox News has a liberal commentator, Juan Williams, who referred to Ann Romney as a “corporate wife.” Asked by a co-panelist what he meant, he said she is a kept woman enjoying all the luxuries of a very wealthy family life. Juan must have been asleep for the first part of her speech, saying all the hardships endured in their early marriage, later her battle with MS and breast cancer.
Every time I see Juan, he is in a Brooks Brothers suit that costs over $1,000 and I’m sure he gets a healthy six-figure income from Fox News. I’m assuming that makes his wife a kept woman.
Personally, I don’t mind wealth created by talent and hard work as the Romneys and Williams did. Let’s compare that to Mrs. Obama who is living an opulent lifestyle of overseas vacations, her own plane and personal staff, paid for by your and my tax dollars. It’s obvious Juan is a 100 percent cheerleader for President Obama, but he needs to reread his own 2006 book, “Enough” where he talks about “the culture of failure” of black leaders in America.
Mayor’s arbitrary choice
Closing the FREX bus line on Aug. 31, which connected Colorado Springs to Denver, was a mayoral decision. The mayor went against the vote of the City Council that wanted to keep FREX running longer, with the idea that maybe it was possible to find additional funding for the financially struggling service. The mayor seems to have taken the easy way out by just shutting the bus down. To some, it seems to be more of a show of ‘strong mayor’ decision, showing that he knows best or can do pretty much what he wants, and if he doesn’t want to search for additional funding, he doesn’t have to. Shut it down, he said.
In the announcement of the cancellation, the ‘mayor’s office’ suggested that riders would be able to find other means of transportation: cars, van pools, public transportation. Right. Just that easy. The mayor arbitrarily made the choice to sever the bus link between the two largest Colorado cities. He could have followed the council’s advice and kept it going while working to find a solution. It was a lot easier to close the FREX. No work needed in that.
The mayor and the ‘mayor’s office’ response about alternative options for former FREX riders reminds me of Marie Antoinette’s when told the people had no bread. ‘Let them eat cake,’ she said. The mayor said pretty much the same thing about FREX riders, ‘let them drive or take van pools.’ Or maybe they could walk. Obviously, not the mayor’s problem. He made the decision and now the two major cities of Colorado have lost their connection. Too bad he couldn’t have extended FREX a few more months at least, and too bad he didn’t work at finding a solution.
Joseph J.H. Redner (former FREX rider)
What business are we in?
We are vulnerable by having a large investment in electrical generating plants, which result in us being a small player in a big game that is undergoing a lot of change. This unfortunate position is the same as we enjoy (?) with Memorial Hospital. However, we are extricating ourselves from that situation as I write this.
It is unfortunate that the City Council has gone along with Colorado Springs Utilities in making an investment in unproven technology for coal burning. Should the process be proven successful, then what? Do we share in future profits from use of the process elsewhere? City Council needs to ask themselves just what business we are in and is being a venture capital investor really what we are here for. I think not.
My preference would be that Utilities be tasked with being the absolute lowest cost producer of electrical power. Any expenditure not consistent with minimizing generation cost be eliminated. This would make our electrical generation business a very desirable acquisition by a company that is a real player in the industry. The generating plants could be sold at an optimum price (with suitable stipulations for rate increases) and the funds be put to good use for the citizens. I hope PERA does not raise its ugly head in such a sale.
Still the best bet in town
In the early ’80s, I watched my neighbors tear off and repair the damage to their roofs done by the solar heaters they installed in the ’70s.
In the ’80s, I listened to some kind of Colorado Springs runs off natural gas and propane campaign.
In the ’90s, I saw people retrofit energy-saving furnaces in their houses that sounded like a 767 taking off. In this millennium, people are once again bolting solar equipment on their roofs.
Through all of this, Martin Drake Power Plant has been steaming away, and the city mayor or City Council or both have been promising a downtown revitalization, a baseball field and a convention center.
Power plants are efficient at producing power, and household appliances are efficient using that power. Electricity is a good carrier of power, but it has to be produced by some other fuel, and for every foot away from the power plant you run electricity, power is lost. The next closest plant is miles away. Unless super-conducting wiring is invented, we start using less power or downtown businesses come to grips that shopping malls have been invented and come up with a practical plan — Martin Drake is still the best bet in town.
As citizens we need to realize that the mayor, the City Council and the Colorado Springs Utilities administration, are transient, but we are here to stay.
Not our problem anymore
Let’s think about “privatizing” and “outsourcing” for a minute, not just as a quicky fix for a big problem. Look at it logically: how are we really saving money? Is it cheaper to provide a service by adding a middleman/contractor to the equation — someone to make a profit from this enterprise? How is that cheaper?
That’s easy. We take away from the actual service provider, who gets paid less. We don’t care if the worker has health insurance or retirement. I mean they’ve got Social Security (until we can figure out a way to get rid of that). Surely, those old folks can get by on a thousand dollars a month.
When we take the public out of public service, it’s not our problem anymore. That’s the beauty of privatizing: by mugging the workers we can make a handsome profit for some entrepreneurial sort who happens to be good buddies (big donor) to the mayor, or whatever political figure holds the power to sell the public works. No, the taxpayer rarely saves a dime. That’s not the real point, is it? It’s high time we outsourced Mayor Steve Bach!
Outsourcing has issues, too
I’ve been a resident of Colorado Springs for six years and when I read Mayor Steve Bach is planning to outsource many of the city’s activities, I felt compelled to voice my thoughts.
My background is 40 years with a state department of transportation, the last 10 in charge of statewide construction and maintenance. I realize staffing in the city and Utilities may be too large during these economic down times and cost reductions are in order.
Once paving and patching equipment are sold, there is no longer a need for in-house expertise and the city is now at the mercy of the lowest bid contractors. Several years ago the state where I was employed sold all their mowers (several hundred) and put the work out to contract. For reasons too numerous to go into here, the state resumed mowing operations in-house three years later, incurring the cost of purchasing new mowers and training new personnel.
Snow removal is even a bigger issue. I assume the city has trucks, plows, sanders, and chemical spraying equipment necessary for winter operations. What happens to all this equipment when snow removal is outsourced? This equipment, particularly trucks used for summer work, can’t sit idle all winter. In my previous employment, once the state liquidated winter operations equipment, it was required to pay an up front mobilization fee to successful contractors to outfit trucks with the above stated equipment. Then comes the issue of prompt response time when a storm hits. Contractors cannot afford to sit idly by for a call to action. If the city expects that level of service, I would imagine they will be paying a “standby” fee.
With this said, maybe careful thinning of management at city government and Utilities is in order, but I strongly recommend not outsourcing. A wiser decision might be to keep the work in-house and retain those well-trained and experienced professional employees now on board, particularly those people with boots on the ground.
Appreciate emergency crews
In the recent article on the Waldo Canyon fire burglaries, an important mindset is highlighted. An anonymous person offered a $50,000 reward for information on the burglaries. This exemplifies the city’s apparent anxiousness for information on the fire.
While the police and firefighters protected and saved people’s homes, residents asked earnestly about the cause of the fires. The problem lies within their choice. Many people ardently sought information about the cause of the fire, while they could have discussed issues pertaining to the imminent threat. The impatience for information diverts the attention from the proper appreciation we should show emergency forces.
In the same way, the extravagant reward for information on the burglaries shows unnecessary impatience. People seek information, while law enforcement officers are working hard to compensate the victims’ losses very successfully. The article highlights the fact that police recently arrested three suspects on suspicion of burglary. They released no information because it could hinder the investigation. A plea for information at this point becomes unnecessary and diverts the mind set from the proper appreciation we should show. We should focus less on obtaining unnecessary information about the Waldo Canyon fire and more on appreciating firefighters and law enforcement officers.
Obvious conflict of interest
When you vote November 6, concerning the term limits for all El Paso County elected officials, regardless of how you vote, all current two-term officials will remain eligible to serve a third term.
Why? The current ballot language states that the law becomes effective for “…any election held after Nov. 6, 2012…” therefore pass or fail, your vote will not impact any existing two-term official.
My point is not about term limits, but about a perceived conflict of interest.
The El Paso Board of Commissioners (BOCC) has the power to approve the ballot language, and two members will lose their jobs unless the ballot is written to protect them for another four years.
The two members at risk voted to defeat a motion to change the language during the July 7, 2011, BOCC meeting. It stated that if passed, the change will apply to “any person who currently holds” office because it is effective “in any election held on or after the November 6th, 2012” election.
Maybe the two BOCC members had good reasons, but their participation in the vote is a conflict of interest as the vote was whether to protect their own jobs. This should be corrected to remove all appearance of impropriety.
I respectfully ask the BOCC revisit and take another vote on the ballot language. I respectfully ask for Commissioners Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey to recuse themselves.
I don’t know either one. As far as I know, both have served well and honorably; public servants of personal integrity. Therefore, recusing from this BOCC vote is something they should be able to do without hesitation. That said, it will take courage because if the ballot language does change, both will lose their jobs after the election.
As officials in positions of trust, I submit that doing the right thing now will show that trust can be given again.
It’s about doing the right thing and trust.
Because it matters.