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From the week of August 16, 2001

Down the Drain

Bowled over:Patricia Calhoun's "Flush With Success," in the August 9 issue, was a sad commentary on the state of the news business in this town. True, it was ludicrous that the Giant Flush at the new stadium -- whatever anyone chooses to call our Bowlen Bailout -- was the biggest news of the week. (If the Super Bowl is ever played in Denver, can we call it the "Toilet Bowl"?)

But after pointing this out, Calhoun proceeded to write about it herself. Isn't that adding insult to injury?

James Manning
via the Internet


That's Sprawl, Folks!

Hell, no, we won't grow!Alan Prendergast's "Scenes From a Sprawl," in the August 9 issue, made me want to cry. I hope Berthoud is successful in keeping its small-town character, but this seems to be a losing battle.

Every time I drive to Boulder on Highway 36, what I see -- or don't see -- makes me sick. Those beautiful views of the mountains are now blocked by one tacky subdivision after another. Now it looks like the views from I-25 won't be any better.

Ginger Fowler
Aurora

Population boomtown: In response to yet another attack on development (in addition to Prendergast's most recent article, see also "Scenes From a Sprawl," January 14, 1999; "The Middle of Somewhere" May 17, 2001; "Snap Judgments," November 9, 2000; "The Big Squeeze," November 2, 2000, etc.), how many more articles on urban sprawl are going to be published before anyone confronts the problem rather than its symptoms? The media (and politicians) treat population growth as if it were some mythical beast visited upon the innocent citizenry by the maniacal gods. It's not. It is caused by having babies. If you are a woman and you have more than two children, you are the problem.

Don't like seeing the natural beauty of the land soiled with housing developments? Stop having so many goddamn babies. Don't like the idea of adding two or four or eight lanes to U.S. 36? Stop having so many goddamn babies. Want to do something about the present power shortages affecting Western states and prevent the coming water shortages that have been predicted? Stop having so many goddamn babies. Want to increase teacher-to-student ratios in the schools? Want to decrease prison populations? Tired of obscene housing prices? Want less pollution? Fewer greenhouse gases? Less dependency on foreign oil? Want to really save the whales? Stop having so many goddamn babies. What part of the connection don't you understand?

I realize that for many women, having babies is the only thing that can make you feel special. Or perhaps you lack the courage to stand up to your culture, or your pope, or your spouse. So let me try to glamorize the alternative for you. If you can't keep your knees together, we're dead as a species. In a bizarre twist on natural selection, humanity will become a failed evolutionary experiment precisely because we were too successful. Not today or tomorrow, but eventually. The signs are there, for anyone willing to see them.

If you think urban sprawl is unpleasant, try extinction.

Michael S. Jones
Boulder

Little housing subsidy on the prairie: Sprawl is simply government-subsidized housing for homeowners, $110 billion per year in the form of mortgage-interest deductions, capital-gains exclusions and property-tax writeoffs. These tax gimmicks are supported by three powerful special-interest groups: the real estate lobby, the banking industry and the homebuilder/contractor lobby.

Families with yearly incomes of over $100,000 receive the major share of the subsidized-housing benefits. The main economic effect is to inflate the price and size of homes while diverting investment away from other sectors of the economy. The home-mortgage interest deduction costs the federal government more than twice as much as is spent on low-income housing assistance and low-rent public housing. There are no limits or restrictions on it -- the deduction applies to summer homes in Aspen and beach compounds in Key West. It's worth about $5,000 a year, on average, to individuals making more than $200,000.

There are no facts that support the real estate industry's contention that these tax gimmicks promote home ownership. Canada has the same rate of home ownership as the United States, without the benefit of the tax subsidies.

Help stop the renters' penalty!

Abolish all forms of homeowner-subsidized housing!

John Cassella
Denver


Weed It and Reap

The Denver pest:Harrison Fletcher's August 9 "Buggin' Out" is an excellent article. It covers all the Integrated Pest Management measures to be effective in invasive species management; I certainly hope the readers of your publication enjoy and take the article to heart. Leafy spurge is an incredible monster, along with a long list of accomplices on the scene -- none of which are to be taken lightly.

A friend and colleague from the Bureau of Reclamation shared your articles with me. Biological control of these species is the ultimate answer if implementation is suitable in your given ecosystem and meets the survival criteria. We have been extremely busy releasing biological control agents into our infestations, and we are seeing some remarkable control occurring from some agents in this harsh environment. Your article spells out some of the shortfalls; however, we must proceed and give the invasive species an array of known agents and pathogens for control.

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