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Letters to the Editor

YOUTH

Community must come together now

Drug and alcohol abuse are serious problems that, unless they are on the front page of the newspaper, we tend to want to ignore — and hope the issue will resolve itself. It's the "They'll grow out of it" syndrome. We ignore the problem as a defense for ourselves.

Frankly, it's a real tough issue that strikes many of our own households, and we don't quite know how to deal with it and don't want to fight our own family. So, we wait until it goes away. But it doesn't go away in our community; it just hits the press more often.

We do need a program to teach prevention of these drugs. But more than that: Next week, maybe violence will be on the front page, maybe advertising geared to kids, maybe teen pregnancy. We need a program to open the capable eyes of our youth to the growing challenges around them and then give them and their families the community resources to use when they need them most. The front range is full of fantastic organizations for families, programs for students, and speakers for schools. The problem is that these resources have never been tapped to their potential. Many families do not even know they exist.

There is a program in Merrimack, New Hampshire that has been successful in the school system in the areas of drug education and personal responsibility for 13 years. It is called "Project Safeguard," founded by director Warren Berry. The Boulder area is in dire need of a program like this to excite schools, parents, and students toward leadership instead of escape.

We pull together, as a community, in a crisis situation but we need to harness the same energy and motivation as a community, from middle school to college to professional businesses, in order to teach the value and skills of solid character, good choices, and a responsibility for each other every day.

I am willing to work on this goal, because it's not a solution that just happens by itself, and I know I'm not alone. Whether it's ecstasy, alcohol, or any number of issues, it affects each of us at one time or another and as a community all the time. If there are others who feel this is important enough to help me, e-mail me at uriah@bouldermountainfire.org or, if you can't get to a computer, call me at (303) 546-0294.

URIAH BUELLER

Boulder


SAFETY

Never leave kids alone in the car

The other day as I returned to my car after dropping my son off at his preschool, I noticed the van next to me was running with two small children inside, alone.

One little boy, who couldn't have been older than two, was kneeling at the steering wheel. I planned on watching them until their mother returned, then giving her the lecture on not leaving children alone in a vehicle.

Within a couple of minutes, the boy pulled the gear shift down and the car began to move toward the sidewalk and school. Luckily, I immediately got into the passenger side and shoved the van back into park. When the mother returned, she was unaware the boy could get out of his car seat, much less throw the van into gear. She heard an earful from me but I was glad I was there to prevent a potential tragedy.

My story will hopefully alert readers into what a potentilly dangerous practice leaving children unattended in a vehicle can be. How many times have we read about carjackings by thieves unaware a child is in the vehicle? Children should NEVER be unattended in a vehicle — not only is it unsafe, it is against the law in Colorado.

The fortunate part of this story is that because of the preschool director's concern as well as that of the Louisville Police Department, an effort is being made to monitor student drop-off at the school. Surprisingly, this is apparently a chronic problem at preschools and daycare centers, especially in the winter months.

Please, NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended, even for a short time.

CYNTHIA SHEEKS

Louisville


RACE

Girl's project to be commended

I would like to applaud the little girl who did the science project, "Does Race Make A Difference?" (Daily Camera, Feb. 14). I would like to further applaud her father for supporting her and taking the issue to the school board. How sad that the adults in the school system are too uncomfortable with the issue of race in this day and age.

I am curious as to what the results of this experiment would have been in a community where children are more exposed to diversity, or within a school district that is not so afraid of dealing with these issues.

I sure hope that this is not an indication of a censored and limited education that my daughter is receiving. I hope that she is getting an education where these and other issues can be discussed openly, honestly, and not avoided. Avoiding this project sends out a message that our schools are not comfortable with handling this topic, perhaps because of a lack of their own education and understanding of the issue. To the children it sends out a message that there must be something wrong with discussing race.

This young lady has won the science fair in my book.

BROOK ATKINSON

Boulder


WILDLIFE

Estes Park exhibit would be mistake

Thanks for your Feb. 7 editorial condemning the possible resurrection of a Plexiglas zoo in Estes Park. I totally agree that seeing or not seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is far more enriching to our psyche than viewing animals being held against their will in small cages.

Kudos to your enlightened approach to wildlife. Hopefully the zoo will never be built. It's unfortunate that a judge's interpretation of the town's ban has overruled the will of the voters when they made it clear they did not want this zoo in their town.

GAYLE JANZEN

Boulder


TRANSPORTATION

City's lack of taxi stands a mistake

I read with great interest Jennifer Hamilton's recent article (Feb. 5) in the Daily Camera concerning the lack of taxi stands in Boulder. As a 25-year resident of Boulder County, this is a problem that has always puzzled me. Boulder is the only city that I have been in that doesn't even have a taxi stand at its main downtown bus terminal. Yet there is RTD supervisor parking on the ground level of the terminal which is located under a parking garage.

What is especially troubling is traffic engineer Bill Cowen's statement that the "The city's master transportation plan treats the needs of cars and taxis the same." This statement shows either a great deal of ignorance or arrogance. Taxis are an integral part of the transportation system of virtually every city in the world. Taxis provide an alternative form of transportation for people who choose not to own a vehicle. In many cases they are the only form of transportation for the disabled and the elderly. In addition, every person who drinks and takes a taxi home is potentially one less hazard on the road. Which of these functions would not be valuable to any community?

The city of Boulder spends literally millions of dollars to build and improve bike paths to promote alternative transportation. The cost of taxi stands would be minimal, maybe a few signs. I'm sure the Daily Camera would be more than happy to promote taxi stands if they were established. What possible reason could there be for not taking this action?

ERIC K. BLAIR

Boulder


FREE SPEECH

Spoken word not our only communication

The assertion made in Patricia Johnson's Feb. 18 Open Forum letter that "money is property, it is not speech" sounds absolutely unbelievable — whether or not, even as she asserts, the Supreme Court agrees with that view as an argument to allow limits on political contributions.

Are we to assume then that the First Amendment is just there to protect the human voice? It is very evident to me that the First Amendment is designed to protect freedom for all forms of communication. Like it or not, political campaigning has evolved well beyond the simple soap box. We have developed new tools for communication. All of these new tools must remain free, too.

The argument for limits on political contributions then goes on that "money can drown out ideas." This is silly. Why pick on money? Ideas, whether good or bad, all by themselves, drown out other ideas all the time. Should we then ration ideas too? Should we control the political campaigning environment? Five minutes and six ideas per candidate?

QUENTIN MCKENNA

Boulder

February 26, 2001

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