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Press Release

SpringsTaxpayers.com –an organization committed to holding local government accountable– announced today its support of legal action filed on behalf of Old North End Property Owners for the Enforcement of the Master Plan, Inc. (ONEMP) that would stop the narrowing of Old North End Neighborhood streets, including N. Cascade Ave.

The complaint, filed on April 2, 2018, names the City of Colorado Springs, and Kathleen Krager in her official capacity as Senior Traffic Engineer for the City. ONEMP is asking for a temporary injunction to halt the work on N. Cascade Ave. Although the Planning Commission has never approved the plan, outlining of the new lanes narrowing N. Cascade Ave. to one lane in each direction commenced last week. 

 The President of ONEMP, Gerald Weiss, also sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council members asking them to direct, “Ms. Krager to stop the unapproved process until the Court has had a chance to review whether Ms. Krager has the unilateral power to install this new alignment without the promised review by the Planning Commission.” The Planning Commission has previously heard and voted down some of the changes that Krager is moving forward with.

  “Is the City so committed to its agenda of narrowing our roads against our will that they are willing to start the process before approval and before our court date,” area resident Ed Snyder asked. “These are our roads, we live here, and it is the height of arrogance for the City to press forward without our consent.”

 “Trying to implement these lane reductions against the wishes of area residents and without the approval of the Planning Commission is not acceptable,” said Laura Carno, founder of SpringsTaxpayers.com. “When lane changes were implemented on Research Parkway in 2016 against the wishes of the area residents, the removal cost the City over $10,000 of taxpayer money.”

 SpringsTaxpayers.com suggests that concerned citizens who oppose this road narrowing, whether because they live in the area, commute through the area, or work or attend school in the area, share their opinions with City Council at its normal bi-weekly meeting on Tuesday, April 24that 1:00 at City Hall. Although this topic is not on the agenda, anyone can make comments to City Council in the public comment portion of the meeting. Those speaking will each have 3-minutes to address City Council. Those not able to attend can email the City Council at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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by John Stossel

  What should be done about school shootings?
    After the horrible shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump suggested that some teachers carry guns. "We need to let people know, you come in to our schools -- you're gonna be dead."
    Anti-gun activists were horrified.
    But they probably didn't know that many teachers have brought guns to work with them for years.
    Some teachers at the Keene Independent School District in Texas carry concealed weapons at school.
    "We know our staff and our teachers are gonna go" defend students, Texas' Keene Independent School District superintendent Ricky Stephens told me for this week's online video. "Do we want them to go with a pencil or go with a pistol?"
    Stephens acknowledges that an attacker might have heavier weaponry than his teachers' handguns. "It's not much, but it's better than nothing," he argues. "If you go there with nothing, you have no chance of stopping anything."
    His teachers saw how in Florida the "school resource officer" simply waited outside during February's school shooting.
    "It made me mad," a teacher in Stephens' district told us. She's glad she carries her gun. "We have to have a fighting chance if something should happen." For my video, superintendent Stephens asked us to obscure her identity. He doesn't want potential attackers to know which teachers are armed.
    Opponents of armed teachers fear that guns will create new dangers. But even though teachers carry at hundreds of schools, I could find only one instance where one of those guns hurt a student. A California teacher accidentally discharged his weapon at the ceiling. A student was cut by falling debris. That's it. One minor injury.
    By contrast, armed school staffers have stopped school shootings. In Pearl, Mississippi, an assistant principal held a boy who killed two classmates at gunpoint until police arrived.
    No one knows how often armed teachers deter shootings. The media can't cover crimes that are never attempted.
    Of course, the media distort proposals to allow teachers to carry.
    One commentator shouted, "Teachers should not be required to protect!"
    But no teacher is required to carry. It's voluntary. Those who want to can bring their guns to school.
    On MSNBC, pundits criticized President Trump for advocating "arming" teachers, as if he'd proposed a federal program.
    He didn't. He just talked about "armed educators." Since lots of teachers already carry guns, all a school has to do is allow some to bring their weapons to work.
    The Keene district, however, does go further. "The school purchases the gun, and we register them to (some of) our teachers," says Stephens. Those teachers get 80 hours of firearms training and are paid an extra $50/month.
    I gave Stephens grief about creating a "new government program." Why not just let teachers bring their own guns to school? Stephens explained that he wants teachers trained on the same gun "so if a gun is dropped, another teacher will know how to use it."
    I pushed back again. "Why create a program at all?" There's no epidemic of school shootings. In fact, non-gang, non-suicide shootings have declined over the past 25 years. It's media hysteria that makes it seem like there's an increase.
    I said to Stephens, "School shootings are much less of a threat to students than driving, suicide, drowning, even suffocating!"
    "Exactly right," he replied. "But we do train our kids in school how to not suffocate and how not to drown. ... One shooting is more than we would want."
    Certainly Stephens' armed teacher program is cheaper than what my town does.
    New York City spends millions of dollars stationing police officers in schools. Here, and in most blue states, suggesting that teachers be allowed to bring weapons to school horrifies people.
    "They don't understand," says Stephens, "a responsible trained teacher with a firearm is better than having a teacher with nothing."
    It's good that America has 50 states and many school districts. That allows for different experiments. Politicians in New York City hire extra police officers, but in Texas, the staff at the Keene school district can serve and protect.
    John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

    Earlier this month, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation's Report Card, was released. It's not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.
    The atrocious NAEP performance is only a fraction of the bad news. Nationally, our high school graduation rate is over 80 percent. That means high school diplomas, which attest that these students can read and compute at a 12th-grade level, are conferred when 63 percent are not proficient in reading and 75 percent are not proficient in math. For blacks, the news is worse. Roughly 75 percent of black students received high school diplomas attesting that they could read and compute at the 12th-grade level. However, 83 percent could not read at that level, and 93 percent could not do math at that level. It's grossly dishonest for the education establishment and politicians to boast about unprecedented graduation rates when the high school diplomas, for the most part, do not represent academic achievement. At best, they certify attendance.
    Fraudulent high school diplomas aren't the worst part of the fraud. Some of the greatest fraud occurs at the higher education levels -- colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college. Here are my questions to you: If only 37 percent of white high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 70 percent of them? And if roughly 17 percent of black high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 58 percent of them?
    It's inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and cannot perform at the college level. Colleges cope with ill-prepared students in several ways. They provide remedial courses. One study suggests that more than two-thirds of community college students take at least one remedial course, as do 40 percent of four-year college students. College professors dumb down their courses so that ill-prepared students can get passing grades. Colleges also set up majors with little analytical demands so as to accommodate students with analytical deficits. Such majors often include the term "studies," such as ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender studies and American studies. The major for the most ill-prepared students, sadly enough, is education. When students' SAT scores are ranked by intended major, education majors place 26th on a list of 38 (https://tinyurl.com/pjmga9y).
    The bottom line is that colleges are admitting youngsters who have not mastered what used to be considered a ninth-grade level of proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic. Very often, when they graduate from college, they still can't master even a 12th-grade level of academic proficiency. The problem is worse in college sports. During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.
    How necessary is college anyway? One estimate is that 1 in 3 college graduates have a job historically performed by those with a high school diploma. According to Richard Vedder, distinguished emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University and the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in 2012 there were 115,000 janitors, 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders and about 35,000 taxi drivers with a bachelor's degree.
    I'm not sure about what can be done about education. But the first step toward any solution is for the American people to be aware of academic fraud at every level of education.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        When World War II ended, Washington, D.C.'s population was about 900,000; today it's about 700,000. In 1950, Baltimore's population was almost 950,000; today it's around 614,000. Detroit's 1950 population was close to 1.85 million; today it's down to 673,000. Camden, New Jersey's 1950 population was nearly 125,000; today it has fallen to 77,000. St. Louis' 1950 population was more than 856,000; today it's less than 309,000. A similar story of population decline can be found in most of our formerly large and prosperous cities. In some cities, population declines since 1950 are well over 50 percent. In addition to Detroit and St. Louis, those would include Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
        During the 1960s and '70s, academic liberals, civil rights advocates and others blamed the exodus on racism -- "white flight" to the suburbs. However, since the '70s, blacks have been fleeing some cities at higher rates than whites. It turns out that blacks, like whites, want better and safer schools for their kids and don't like to be mugged or have their property vandalized. Just like white people, if they have the means, black people can't wait for moving companies to move them out.
        At the heart of big-city exoduses is a process that I call accumulative decay. When schools are rotten and unsafe, neighborhoods become run-down and unsafe, and city services decline, the first people to leave are those who care the most about good schools and neighborhood amenities and have the resources to move. As a result, cities lose their best and ablest people first. Those who leave the city for greener pastures tend to be replaced by people who don't care so much about schools and neighborhood amenities or people who do care but don't have the means to move anywhere else. Because the "best" people -- those who put more into the city's coffer than they take out in services -- leave, politicians must raise taxes and/or permit city services to deteriorate. This sets up the conditions for the next round of people who can do better to leave. Businesses -- which depend on these people, either as employees or as customers -- also begin to leave. The typical political response to a declining tax base is to raise taxes even more and hence create incentives for more businesses and residents to leave. Of course, there's also mayoral begging for federal and state bailouts. Once started, there is little to stop the city's downward spiral.
        Intelligent mayors could prevent, halt and perhaps reverse their city decline by paying more attention to efficiency than equity. That might be politically difficult. Regardless of any other goal, mayors must recognize that their first order of business is to retain what economists call net positive fiscal residue. That's a fancy term for keeping those people in the city who put more into the city's coffers, in the form of taxes, than they take out in services. To do that might require discrimination in the provision of city services -- e.g., providing better street lighting, greater safety, nicer libraries, better schools and other amenities in more affluent neighborhoods.
        As one example, many middle-class families leave cities because of poor school quality. Mayors and others who care about the viability of a city should support school vouchers. That way, parents who stay -- and put a high premium on the education of their children -- wouldn't be faced with paying twice in order for their kids to get a good education, through property taxes and private school tuition. Some might protest that city service discrimination is unfair. I might agree, but it's even more unfair for cities, once the magnets of opportunities for low-income people, to become economic wastelands.
        Big cities can be revitalized, but it's going to take mayors with guts to do what's necessary to reverse accumulative decay. They must ensure safe streets and safe schools. They must crack down on not only violent crimes but also petty crimes and misdemeanors, such as public urination, graffiti, vandalism, loitering and panhandling.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

        The cable bill was the last straw, says Kristin Tate. "That's the one that really made me mad."
        Comcast included $36 in charges for mysterious things like "utility tax" and "government access fee."
        That motivated her to research obscure taxes and put what she learned in a new book, "How Do I Tax Thee? A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off."
        Rip-off? Even limited government needs some taxes to fund basic functions.
        "Yes," says Tate. "But politicians are cowards. Instead of creating a tax, they magically create these little fees (so) they don't have to tell their voters they raised taxes."
        Voters don't often notice the sneaky taxes.
        Yesterday was "Tax Day." It was April 17 this year because April 15 fell on Sunday and Monday was Emancipation Day. But by calling April 17 "Tax Day," the media miss the big picture. Income taxes make up less than half the tax most of us pay.
        We also must pay payroll tax, corporate tax, gift tax, gambling tax, federal unemployment tax, gas tax, cable and telecom taxes, plane ticket tax, FCC subscriber line charges, car documentation fees, liquor and cigarette taxes, etc.
        People can't keep track. For my latest YouTube video, Tate asked people, "What's your tax rate?" Tourists in Times Square said that they thought they paid about 20 percent. But they left off the hotel taxes, airline taxes, etc., that push Americans' total tax load to almost 50 percent.
        When you pay those hidden taxes, you may assume they go toward useful things, but Tate knows her taxes pay for government waste.
        "Extreme inefficiencies, pensions that are to die for -- these amazing salaries that these public workers get that are just laughably above market." New York City's average subway worker makes $155,000 a year.
        Politicians suggest their extra taxes go, not to fund those big salaries and "pensions to-die-for," but to pay for the specific services for which the taxes are named. Tate says that's rarely true.
        "Cable bills and cellphone bills both have an 'Enhanced 911 Fee.' Consumers were told 911 fees were necessary to make upgrades to emergency communication needs. (But) after it was updated, instead of taking away the tax, it just stayed there."
        Chicago doubled cellphone fees to fund its Olympics bid. The Olympics rejected Chicago -- but the tax remained. Now Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to raise it again.
        More. They always want more.
        "New York City has an eight-cent 'bagel-cutting tax,'" says Tate. For some reason, unsliced bagels are not taxed.
        California has a 33 percent tax on fruit bought through a vending machine.
        Maine imposes a one-and-a-half-cent per pound tax on blueberries shipped out of state.
        Because these taxes sound petty, governments disguise them, says Tate, using "important-sounding language -- like 'documentation fee,' 'service charge,' or 'equalization fee.'" But most of the money raised just goes to the general budget.
        "Wisconsin just renamed its 911 fee the 'Police and Fire Protection Fee,'" says Tate. "But actually, none of that money directly goes to fire or police protection. Instead it goes straight into the state's general fund."
        And they still can't fund the pensions the politicians promised government workers.
        Tate adopted two dogs and then learned that New York City imposes a $34 per year "pet licensing fee."
        "I won't pay it," says Tate. "I am technically breaking the law."
        She's braver than I am. I try to follow government's stupid rules. And if I broke them, I wouldn't announce it. I figure the IRS is eager to punish government critics like me.
        "I'm totally comfortable talking about that," said Tate. "They can come track me down."
        They may. Governments go to great lengths to collect taxes.
        "Seattle purchased lists of people buying pet food and mailed them threatening letters," says Tate. "The county's pet-licensing agency made more than $80,000."
        Governments should drop the pretense and just charge one huge "everything tax."
        Of course, then taxpayers might wake up and realize what's been done to us. That's one thing politicians (SET ITAL)don't(END ITAL) want.
        John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2018 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM