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LETTERS: El Paso County master plan; pursuing the vagrant lifestyle | Opinion

El Paso County master plan

As chairman of the Black Forest Land Use Committee, I take exception to Tom Cronin and Bob Loevy (April 4) regarding the new El Paso County master plan. They claim that a major cause of concern in unincorporated El Paso County is the 5-acre “ranchettes” that have large lawns and consume huge amounts of non-renewable Denver Basin water. The reality is that the ranchettes spread out the development and preserve the water (as well as the trees and wildlife.)

I live on one of those ranchettes and we do not water any lawn nor do most of our neighbors. It simply takes too much water and we are very water conscious. The newer developments may have a small patch of lawn but are not “surrounded by big lawns” as Tom and Bob claim.

The real danger is in the dense, urban developments like Sterling Ranch and The Ranch that almost all have lawns. These dense developments are always approved by our County Commissioners in zoning that is supposed to be 5-acre lots. At present, Sterling Ranch (5,225 homes) and The Ranch (2,200 homes) will all use non-renewable water and they outnumber all of the current homes in the Black Forest. The bottom line is that dense, urban development outside the city limits should not be allowed unless they can connect to city water.

Tom and Bob also say it is a “challenge” for county residents to have to drive into the city for groceries, gas and movies. We love living outside the city, away from the congestion and noise, and don’t mind a drive to get things. Furthermore, most of us work in the city and can get those things when we are in town.

Terry Stokka

Black Forest

Pursuing the vagrant lifestyle

I too regularly ride the trails along the downtown creeks and encounter the camps that Mike Karn identified as “homeless encampments”. How we identify and label populations is important. Most of our “homeless” are in the shelter system, trying to get into housing. They are not the crowd that trashes the parkland trails, litters with used syringes, steals bicycles and shopping carts and panhandles at intersections and on ramps. That population, that one of our City Council members labeled the “hipster homeless”, are the ones that create the very visible messes that our City is constantly cleaning up after.

Our ever-expanding homelessness industry appears unable to tell the difference between someone who is homeless and someone who is pursuing the vagrant lifestyle. They certainly are not taking the time to hear each and every person’s story as to why they need the help. The aid and handouts they provide that helps homeless folks move off our streets unfortunately is, at the same time, telling vagrants to “Stay homeless”. It is OK to ask questions! It is OK to say: “I’m sorry, no more for now. We are not in the business of enabling vagrancy”.

There is a reason that the vagrant camps are clustered around the Springs Rescue Mission, south of downtown. The Mission is doing great work with the truly homeless population. Unfortunately, they are also really supporting our vagrant population. A number of Rescue Missions have revised their programming in the last 10 years, in order to address this issue of enabling. (I have a list of 6 or 7 in hand). It can be done! It is way past time to make some changes in our local homeless services in Colorado Springs.

Matthew Parkhouse

Colorado Springs

Parents have had enough

It is not only the pandemic. Many are disgusted by the decline in student performance, lack of focus on important basics that help students succeed in life, such as math, science, English, grammar, reading, debate and engagement in honest open discussion… parents are seeing the results in social engineering and indoctrination play out across this nation. Suicide, pornography, violent games, crime, irresponsible sex education that exploits young minds, even addiction to technology… enough! The pandemic has forced parents to pay attention to the curriculum and instruction as it comes into their homes online. They’ve had enough.

Wendy Smith

Colorado Springs

Being a black man in America

Growing up in Spotsylvania County, Va., my father warned me about the “white man.” My father, who grew up in South Carolina and served in Vietnam, told stories of black men caught with white women being lynched. He told me about our cousin, arrested one night and found hanging in his cell the next. I was told to sleep in my car, not look for help, if it ever broke down late at night. He never stood for the national anthem at sporting events; he said it “didn’t apply to black folks”. He often reminded me that, after massacring black churchgoers, the police treated the suspected murderer to Burger King before taking him to jail.

After 37 trips around the sun in the South, marrying a white German woman, and fathering six children, I know he was right to warn me. When I was 12, a Spotsylvania County deputy threatened to “make me disappear” after I called his house. At 26, a white woman called the police and said she “would make sure I would not see my daughter grow up” because she knew I was on probation.

I moved to Colorado Springs to escape the oppressive air of the South. The blissful ignorance afforded to those who “don’t read the news” is outside my budget. It is impossible to escape the range of emotions and fear associated with being a black man in America. I cannot afford to get mad; it could cost me my life. So, I write.

Jamil Aaron

Colorado Springs

It works both ways

Years ago when I lived in Virginia I was punched in the face by a lady who wanted my shopping cart. I fell to the ground. She quickly grabbed my cart & went into the store. She exited through another exit. The police were called and I went to the hospital — concussion, headache, bruised face, black eye. The next day detectives came to my door. They asked what happened. I told them. It turns out this “lady” was a police officer and she went to her station she worked at and filed a report saying I assaulted her.

I was arrested, fingerprinted and booked in jail. I was released on bond with a court date. Cost me $1,500 to get a lawyer. My lawyer had found she also had an assault charge from college in North Carolina. The case dragged on with her delays. A lot of stress. My case was finally dismissed, she was found guilty, ordered to attend anger management classes and never have a gun.

She was told she could resign or be fired. She resigned. She got a job working in the jail teaching inmates how to read and write. I could not sue the city because she was not on duty at the time. I could not sue her — she transferred her assets to her boyfriend, I did not get a settlement of millions, I still have nightmares and headaches. Oh, by the way, she was black, I am white. It works both ways!

Sharon Pacheco


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