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LETTERS: Look out for all size vehicles; don't weaken air quality protection

By: Gazette readers
July 17, 2017 Updated: July 17, 2017 at 4:20 am
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Classic Motorcycle

Look out for vehicles of all sizes

"I didn't see him", is probably the most used excuse from vehicle operators after they have turned left in front of a motorcycle (or bicyclist) and injured or, most sadly, killed the rider of that motorcycle. I bring this opinion up because of the recent death of Capt. Patrick S. Jones, at Dublin and Tutt. Although I haven't seen it published yet, I am willing to bet it has been said.

I do note that the articles I have read do quickly point out that the motorcyclist was "speeding". Well folks, I drive that stretch of road nearly every day and the normal flow of the traffic is 5 to 15 miles an hour over the 45 mph speed limit. Not right but that's the reality of the road. However, I digress.

When the "didn't see" excuse rises, I have a tendency to believe it. Why? The operators do not see the motorcycle because they don't look for it and don't recognize it as a road vehicle. I firmly believe that most drivers look for mass coming toward them. Drivers look for and see the front of a car, the massive front of a SUV, a huge diesel power wagon jacked 3 feet in the air, etc. I more often than I care to remember have had people ignore my existence on the road.

Do you want to minimize these types of negligent injuries and deaths? All vehicle operators must learn to look for all sizes of legal road vehicles and respect their right of way. Just look, see, and respect! It really isn't that hard, but in the mean time I will "cover" my brakes and expect you to turn in front of me.

Robert Johnson

Colorado Springs

Questions on the legality of SWENT

Those of us who lived in the city prior to 2010 well remember the Stormwater Enterprise or SWENT. Having failed in the past to get voters to support funding for the city's stormwater program at the time, the city felt it had the authority, without having to go to the voters, to establish an "enterprise" and fund it by charging property owners who had constructed improvements on their properties a fee. As a result of the divisiveness among the property owners caused by the SWENT, and the city having no desire to test the legality of SWENT in the courts, the City Council decided to terminate it in 2009.

Obviously, our mayor and most of our City Council members now feel certain that they cannot make a case strong enough to get the support of the voters to approve a tax increase to fund the city's backlog of stormwater needs. So instead of asking for a tax increase, which would allow the city to more efficiently manage the stormwater program within the existing city organizational structure, they seem to be determined to resurrect the SWENT.

The city has been relying on Colorado Supreme Court decisions made in the 1980s that "seems to allow any government service to be financed by a fee that bears some relationship to the benefit produced by the service." However, since the city wants to collect these fees and administer the stormwater program through an enterprise, it is possible that TABOR, which the city approved in 1991 and the state in 1992, just might prevent them from doing so.

"Enterprise," as defined in TABOR, is "a government-owned business authorized to issue its own revenue bonds and receiving under 10 percent of annual revenue in grants from all Colorado state and local governments combined." In Nicholl v. E-470 Public Highway Authority, the Colorado Supreme Court addressed how to determine what is and what is not an "enterprise" according to TABOR's definition of the term. They did so by breaking the definition into three components: is it government-owned; is it a business; and does it receive less than "10 percent of its annual revenue in grants from all Colorado state and local governments?" Applying this breakout to the city's proposed Stormwater Enterprise:

a. The proposed SWENT meets the first test, as it would be government-owned.

b. Next, the court said "The term 'business' is generally understood to mean an activity which is conducted in the pursuit of benefit, gain or livelihood." It appears that the proposed SWENT would not meet this test, but if the city did implement the SWENT and were challenged, it would be up to the courts.

c. Finally, the city is asking for $17 million to fund the SWENT, which means they could accept no more than $1.7 million in grants each year. However, in 2015 alone, the city claimed to have received $7 to $8 million in stormwater grants. In addition, the proposed SWENT will be receiving $3 million per year from the Colorado Springs Utilities, presumably in the form of grants. To satisfy this test, the proposed Stormwater Enterprise would have to either refuse any grants over the 10 percent limit or be prepared to go to court.

My question to the city is: if someone were to challenge the legality of the SWENT in the courts, is the city absolutely certain they would prevail?

Vince Rusinak

Colorado Springs

Don't weaken air quality protection

While summer ozone season is in full swing, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering the "Smoggy Skies Act," a harmful bill that would delay life-saving ozone standards.

Ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, is dangerous - and widespread. Millions of Americans are especially vulnerable, such as Colorado's 380,500 children and 106,600 adults with asthma.

H.R. 806 deserves the name the "Smoggy Skies Act." It would delay ozone protections for years and permanently weaken one of the nation's strongest public health laws, the Clean Air Act. This bill would make it harder to protect people from asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and premature deaths from ozone pollution.

Thanks to the Clean Air Act, our nation has made great progress in cleaning up ozone and other harmful pollutants. Still, millions of Americans live where the air is unhealthy to breathe and, literally, can threaten their lives. Weakening their protection is simply wrong.

Members of Congress, including Rep. Doug Lamborn, need to save our lungs and vote no on HR 806, the "Smoggy Skies Act."

Christie Malnati

Greeley

What were the political parties?

Loved the article in the July 14 paper on the people pulling their voting registration or making it confidential so presumably the Presidential Commission on Voter Fraud won't see it. One fact you forgot to put in your story, which the counties of course know, is what percentage of these folks were Democrats and what percentage Republicans?

Stephen Coonts

Colorado Springs

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