Never had corruption seen elsewhere
I would like to respond to the recent viewpoint expressed in the recent editorial "Colorado Springs is a hotbed of hipsters"... As the editorial says "Success is Cool" and to that I agree. But the success Colorado Springs enjoys did not just happen because we changed the form of government.
Colorado Springs has always attracted people looking to enjoy our natural beauty, close proximity to world-class skiing and hiking and our cost of living. Gradually, over many years, hundreds of dedicated people have worked hard in service to our community to maintain those virtues. To claim that the previous form of government was "corrupt and dysfunctional" is a gross misrepresentation and an assault on the integrity of previous elected officials, administrators and employees.
After 39 years in law enforcement, 11 as your police chief and six more as city manager, I feel qualified to speak about corruption. There are many things for our city to be proud of and high on the list is the ethical, conscientious, dedicated public servants we have had. We have never had the type of corruption seen in many cities across our county. Nowhere in the campaign to change our form of government were allegations of corruption ever mentioned as a motivating reason. For The Gazette to assert that was a reason is inflammatory and irresponsible.
Where patriotism is not forced
Since Winland Sisk seems to think being patriotic should be compulsory, I would like to suggest that it is he who would feel more comfortable in North Korea where patriotism is mandatory, rather than the NFL players he would like to send there.
Personally, I am thankful to live in this great country, where thousands of soldiers have given their lives to preserve the freedoms the Constitution of the United States gives us, including our First Amendment rights. The freedom of speech has been interpreted by our Supreme Court to include acts such as not saluting the flag. The NFL players who kneel are well within their rights. They are not burning flags, which the Supreme Court has also ruled is permissible under the First Amendment.
I would urge Sisk and those with like minds to read West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court case which said children cannot be required to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
A growing number of American citizens are placing patriotic acts and symbols above the supreme document of our country, the U.S. Constitution. I would like to remind these people that saluting the flag and singing the national anthem do not make one patriotic.
True patriotism comes from appreciating the freedoms our Constitution gives us, even if we do not agree with the lawful ways in which some citizens choose to exhibit those freedoms. In an opinion from the above referenced case, Justices Black and Douglas wisely stated, "Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people's elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions."
Let the NFL players kneel if they choose. Let us be thankful that we live in a country where patriotism is not forced and where we can speak our minds freely and openly.
Looking at the bigger picture
Thanks to Megan Murray and Patricia Chavez for their letters (Gazette op-ed Oct. 11) that express the views of many Americans at this time.
Look at black history for a bigger picture of the NFL protests. The movie "Marshall" is coming out this week. I recommend seeing this movie along with reading the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Devil in the Grove", by Gilbert King, which gives more of the Thurgood Marshall story and his fight for racial justice in recent times.
Wildlife and drilling don't mix
Recently, I visited Washington, D.C., to meet with Colorado legislators regarding attempts to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
The incredibly remote, unaltered refuge provides nesting habitat for over 200 species of birds that migrate through all fifty states. In Colorado, birding festivals in Monte Vista, Steamboat Springs and Lamar rely on migrating Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. The arctic's significance extends far beyond Alaska.
In addition, it is inappropriate for arctic drilling to be included as part of the budget: it disallows vigorous debate on this extremely critical nonpartisan issue, and it is clear that the estimate on potential drilling revenue is overblown. As one with a background in finance, I find it irresponsible for those with fiduciary responsibilities to move forward with this.
Many of us are concerned for the birds and the wildlife. Fishing and hiking guides' livelihoods are in jeopardy. Colorado breweries have gathered to take a stand.
The Senate is expected to vote in the upcoming week. Make no mistake: wildlife and drilling cannot coexist. It is my sincere hope that Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner act to keep the Arctic Refuge out of the final budget.