Our View: Colo., remember voters’ wishes

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Dec 172009
 
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

Colorado’s fiscal situation is a mess.

Last week, the governor announced his budget for the 2011 fiscal year. As has been par, the budget proposal included a variety of cuts to numerous budget lines including more than $50 million in cuts to higher education.

In addition, the proposal also included numerous increases in allocations and tax credit cuts — something unusual for the state.

Under Colorado law, taxes cannot increase more than 6 percent in any given year. Tax hikes also require voter approval, and in a state as stingy about tax money as this one, voter approval is often hard to come by.

However, a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling determined that repealing tax breaks and credits does not constitute an actual raise and does not, therefore, require voter approval, and that is just shady.

Colorado is in trouble; there’s no doubt about that. Anything we can do to balance the budget without cutting more social services and education funding is a plus, even if it means cutting bull semen tax credits (apologies to the state’s ranching community).

But, when Colorado constitutional law demands voter approval to raise taxes, voter approval needs to be the final say, not just a consideration overruled by a group of legal experts. By legal technicality, cutting tax breaks may not be an actual raise, but on a fundamental level — on the taxpayer pocketbook level — this proposal is nothing if not a hike.

Budgetary concerns need to be a top priority for Colorado’s lawmakers and voters, but circumventing the state Constitution and voters’ rights seems more than a little totalitarian. Colorado’s government needs to remember for whom it works for.

 Posted by at 10:58 am

Not all U.S. veterans are treated respectfully

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Dec 172009
 
Authors:

This week’s outpouring of thanks to fellow veterans and myself was humbling. We fail to remember those we lost anywhere near as often as we should.

With the passing of Veteran’s Day, for many come the memories of loved ones lost. For the veterans however, come the memories of comrades lost. The impact is no less, just different.

During the week of Veteran’s Day, the story of Adam Hermanson is made so much more infuriating.

I first met Adam at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. I do not remember the first time I met him, but I remember thinking how different he and I were.

We deployed to Iraq at the same time in 2003. He and his eventual wife Janine deployed to Kirkuk Air Base. I was on the team sent to Baghdad. We flew from Utah to Qatar on the same flight and parted ways there.

Shortly after we returned in summer of 2004, Adam and Janine married. They made quite the interesting couple, and it was quite the contradiction to see timid Janine with Adam, sometimes the loudest guy in the room. I am happy to say their marriage outlasted my own.

I had not spoken with the Hermansons since 2006 when I left Utah for Boston. Through the social networking miracle that is Facebook, I got back in touch with Janine this summer.

Janine told me she and Adam had both separated from the Air Force. She was going to school and working in a dental office, while he was working for a security contractor in Iraq. It was obvious Janine missed Adam badly and could not wait for his return so they could move their lives forward.

On Sept. 1, I was on Facebook when I was instant messaged and asked if I had heard about Adam. The unofficial word was that he had died from non-combat related events.

I started making contact with friends I have still in the Air Force closer to the situation and heard through reliable sources that Adam hadn’t shown up for work. When his coworkers went looking, they discovered he had died in his shower.

It turned out that Adam had been electrocuted. Adam was the 19th shower-related electrocution fatality in Iraq. The company he worked for, Triple Canopy, dismantled the wiring in Adam’s room by the time an investigator arrived.

It is my belief that Triple Canopy lied to Janine and the rest of Adam’s family when they notified them of his death. The events since then have been nothing short of disgraceful. While Janine struggles to deal with losing her husband, she fights to learn the truth.

Triple Canopy claims Adam’s death is not its responsibility, and another contractor, KBR, also denies any wrongdoing. Janine is meeting with Congressional members today to discuss Adam’s death.

While I and every other veteran appreciate the outpouring of gratitude this week, Janine is left fighting, pushing Congress to hold someone, anyone, responsible for what CNN reported to be the negligent homicides of 19 servicemen and veterans. CNN’s report was based on a report from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division.

It doesn’t matter that Adam was no longer wearing our uniform. Adam was a brother, warrior, husband and one day would’ve been a father.

Adam knew going back to Iraq that going into private security held risks. He was willing to risk snipers, Improvised Explosive Devices and myriad other risks both in the Air Force and as a contractor.

That he died in his shower while getting ready to carry out the day’s mission is unacceptable.

These are difficult answers, but our once-and-always servicemen and women deserve better than the treatment these deplorable corporations have provided.

Their families deserve better, and we deserve better.

Thanks to all who expressed their gratitude during Veteran’s Day. I ask anyone who finds this story appalling to contact your representative and senators immediately. Insist they move forward aggressively to hold someone accountable.

Seth Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 10:57 am

Suicide a pervasive problem

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Dec 172009
 
Authors: Robyn Scherer

Today is a very special day for many people in the world. No, it is not because it is Friday the 13th, or because Thanksgiving break is only a week away. It is because today is To Write Love On Her Arms Day.

This day is organized to help people suffering with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide, according to www.twloha.com, the Web site dedicated to this movement.

According to the Web site, TWLOHA began in the spring of 2006 when a group of friends wanted to raise money for a friend in need. Their friend was struggling with depression and addiction, and needed help paying for treatment.

As the message spread, the response was phenomenal. The Web site states that in the past two and half years, it has responded to more than 80,000 messages from people in 40 countries.

“These are issues of humanity, problems of pain that affect millions of people around the world,” a passage on the site reads.

Depression is a real issue. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 14.8 million American adults suffer from major depressive disorder. This disorder is more common in women than in men.

Now, let’s look at the people in our own lives and at ourselves. Can you think of a time when you were depressed? You can feel depressed without being clinically diagnosed with it.

I know that I can think of one time. I was 4 when my parents started the divorce process. For the next nine years of my life, there was a custody battle. For several years, I went back and forth from house to house. In August of 2000, I moved to live with my mother, and that move is probably what saved my life.

Each of us faces that turning point — that one defining moment when things have the opportunity to change. I did not choose to take my moment, in fact, I ran away. Literally.

I was lucky though. I was forced to take that moment, and I will be forever grateful. Sometimes it is hard to see the opportunity and to take it. Sometimes it takes others to help us. That is what this day is about. It is about reminding others about how much they are cared for, and how much they matter. It is about hope. It is about recovery. It is about love.

In 2006, 33,300 people committed suicide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Although that number does not seem like a huge one in our population, each of those people who took their own lives have family who still grieve for them.

I want you to think about people you have known who have committed suicide. Can you think of any? I know I can. I can think of several people I’ve known some who have taken their lives. The most recent was this last spring on this very campus.

It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to understand why, and the grieving never ends for some people. You always wonder: What if? What if I had given that person 10 extra minutes? While you can’t blame yourself, sometimes it’s very hard not to.

Each and every one of us have people out there who care for us and who love us. You may not know it, and you may not see the impact you have on people. Life is tough. It really is. But there are several people out there who can help you, if you seek help.

It is estimated that two-thirds of people who suffer from depression never seek help, according to the TWLOHA Web site. Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. Depression is treatable, and life is too good to pass by.

Today is your chance to show those around you how much you love them. Write love on her arms, his arms and your own arms. Love is a powerful emotion, and you never know whose life you may save by letting them know you love them.

Virgil said it best. “Omnia vincit amor.” Love conquers all.

Robyn Scherer is a senior animal science, agricultural business and journalism and technical communication major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 10:53 am

Ramtalk

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Dec 172009
 
Authors:

To the guy on the bus with the pot leaf as the background on his iPhone: Solid first impression. Keep up the good work.

Espn play of the year: Spin move around the Greenpeace guy to stiff arming the abortion guy in the face then kneeing the religious nut in the nuts and finishing safely in the library for a score.

I love watching freshman having to go Fred Flintstone-style to stop their bikes.
To the guy who threw a snowball at a squirrel and then tried to pet it: Don’t give up. It might bite your finger off if we are lucky.

Walking through someone’s cloud of smoke in the plaza is comparable to swimming through a warm spot in the pool.

Today I considered becoming a stripper so that I could have more money to spend on clothes. Ironic?

 Posted by at 7:36 am

Deadline for voting for band in Spring Concert is Friday

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Dec 172009
 
Authors:

Students looking to give their say about who should perform at the CSU Spring Concert must do so via their RAMweb accounts by Friday at 5 p.m.

The concert, produced by student activity coordinators ASAP, will take into account the student voice, unlike last year’s Homecoming concert featuring Lupe Fiasco, which was decided by a committee.

Bands include Dropkick Murphys, Gym Class Heroes, Jack’s Mannequin, Jimmy Eat World, Pepper, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Rise Against, Shinedown, Silversun Pickups and Snow Patrol.

To vote, students must log into their own RAMweb accounts, and once logged in, click the small box with a guitar in the top right corner.

After the votes are tallied, ASAP will compile which band was voted for the most.

From there, ASAP Concert Coodinator Brooke Cunningham said, the organization will contact the bands through an agent to start negotiations.

Cunningham said the signing price varies if the band is on tour or if extra money needs to be spent to fly them to Fort Collins.

“If negotiations do not work out with the most voted for band, then negotiations will be held with the next band down,” Cunningham said.

ASAP’s budget for the concert is estimated at $40,000.

During the decision and negotiation process, everything will stay confidential and quiet until the contract is officially signed.

Cunningham estimates students will know who will perform around March. The concert is scheduled for April, which was moved from Homecoming due to its magnitude.

“The concert was pushed back because the concert is huge,” Cunningham said. “We wanted to have enough time to make sure everything was planned perfectly.”

Staff writer Louie Page can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:36 am

Ink Dec 01

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Dec 172009
 
Authors: Ryan Levitt
 Posted by at 7:17 am

Life on the Edge – Dec 01

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Dec 172009
 
Authors: Dave Anderson
 Posted by at 7:14 am

RamTalk November 16

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Dec 172009
 
Authors: Heidi Reitmeier

Am I the only one that worries about a squirrel flu outbreak?

I find it completely necessary to have a dance celebration when I find a parking space within a block of my dorm.

When I’m a pedestrian, I hate the cars that don’t stop, but when I’m in my car, I hate the pedestrians. Does that make me a hypocrite?

Being hungover 100 percent affects my plans to be productive.

Does anyone else feel like they’re part of some museum exhibit when they see a tour go by? “Look. A real live college student.”

I’d like to congratulate the kid in my anthropology class for the epic fail he had in trying to start the “slow clap” after the movie we watched was over. Go you.

 Posted by at 6:51 am

Campus Eye November 16

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Dec 172009
 
Authors: Michael Kalush
 Posted by at 6:49 am