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If you've read the letters to the editor in The Gazette over the past few months, you will conclude one of two things: Bicyclists in Colorado Springs are terrorizing our streets, forcing the city to narrow its roads unnecessarily and making local traffic a nightmare. Or: Bikes and bike lanes are the future of Colorado Springs, luring millennials with their promise of a fitter, greener, easier-to-get-around city.

The Gazette will host a discussion Tuesday on veterans' health in the Pikes Peak region. The discussion, part of The Gazette's Community Conversations series, will kick off at 6 p.m. at the Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St. "In Community Conversations, we at The Gazette are able to engage directly with our audience on important issues of the day and hopefully get their questions answered," said Gazette Editor Vince Bzdek. Gazette senior military reporter Tom Roeder will moderate the discussion with a panel of local experts and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who recently introduced the Veterans Empowerment Act. Click here to RSVP and get your ticket.

The final numbers for the 2018 community survey of the homeless population in Colorado Springs are not yet available, but the total number of homeless persons is expected to exceed the 2017 count of 1,415. The situation has worsened as more Denver metro residents turn south to escape that area's white-hot housing market, pushing prices up in Colorado Springs. That means more people are being pushed into homelessness, and fewer people living on the streets can escape it. So let's talk about what's being done, and what more can be done. The Gazette has invited some of the major stakeholders in this fight to gather for a community conversation starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The city of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, the police department, religious organizations, nonprofits, private businesses, foundations, community leaders, health care organizations and local activists all do their share to address homelessness in Colorado Springs. Yet the problems of the homeless persist. A year after the Springs Rescue Mission's multimillion dollar shelter opened, it's routinely at capacity, and the city is back at square one in dealing with burgeoning numbers of homeless. The final numbers for the 2018 community survey of the homeless population are not yet available, but the total number of homeless persons is expected to exceed the 2017 count of 1,415.

Incentives and partnerships will more effectively address Colorado Springs' affordable housing shortage than new laws or ordinances, five local leaders agreed Wednesday night during a panel on the topic. The panel, hosted by The Gazette, acknowledged the city's shortage of affordable housing, which several said is indisputably linked to the local homeless population. About 50 people attended the 90-minute discussion at the Pinery at the Hill. Median house prices in Colorado Springs hit a record high of $295,000 in January and rents followed suit at $1,141 a month. City officials expect a deficit of 26,000 affordable units in 2019 and project the construction of only about 1,000 additional units by the end of 2019.

The day after House Republicans unveiled their plan for overhauling taxes, four panelists debated what it would do - and what it wouldn't - at the Pikes Peak Center's Studio Bee in Colorado Springs. The public forum, sponsored by The Gazette, Colorado Politics and AARP, featured Tatiana Bailey, the director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Economic Forum; T. R. Reid, an author and journalist known for his reporting in the Washington Post; Paul Prentice, a senior fellow at the Independence Institute's Fiscal Policy Center; and Marvin Strait, a local certified public accountant. "I guess you've all been speed-reading, because they just came out with the proposal yesterday," said Strait, beginning his

In the Netherlands, it takes the average person 15 minutes to fill out a tax return. In Britain, Japan, France and Peru, it's so simple there are no H&R Blocks or tax preparation firms. In Finland, Norway and Sweden, the government fills out your tax form for you. In Sweden, in fact, you can approve your tax return by text. In the United States, however, each taxpayer spends an average of 30 hours per year gathering documents and filling out forms. And they pay $10 billion in fees to tax preparers, and another $2 billion to tax software makers. "We've made it incredibly difficult to pay your taxes," says T.R. Reid, author of a new book, "A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax

What happens next with health care? How will the U.S. Senate's action - or inaction - affect Colorado? Will premiums go down or up more? Will more people be covered or fewer? Will pre-existing conditions be a factor in whether I can get coverage? Will my kids be kicked off my insurance or stay on it forever? On July 21, Gazette Media, Colorado Politics and AARP are hosting a Community Conversation on health care to let you ask your questions about how health care changes will affect you. Answering your questions will be: Rep. Doug Lamborn, El Paso County's Republican congressman; state Sen.

Monday night was one of those rare nights when my family was all in the same room together at the same time. Yet I was watching the Home Run Derby on the flatscreen, my daughter was listening to Pink Floyd via her iPhone and earbuds, my wife was on Facebook checking in with friends, and my son was monitoring his fantasy baseball stats on his computer. We were in the same room, but we were in multiple parallel universes at the same time. The dark side of all our shiny, whiz-bang personal technology is that it has balkanized us from one another, probably allowing us all to pursue our own peculiar individual interests within the pretty echo chambers we've bought that feed and encourage our separateness.

Sides sparred Friday night over two ballot measures that have made national waves - one, aiming to socialize Colorado's health insurance industry and the other, legalizing lethal prescriptions for terminal patients. The debate, held on the Colorado College campus, was part of The Gazette's Community Conversations as ballots arrived in voters' mailboxes and each side angled to make a final pitch to voters. It was moderated by senior political correspondent Joey Bunch. Here are some highlights: The first debate addressed Proposition 106, a measure that would make Colorado one of just a handful of states that allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients.