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    Editorial | Columnists | Letters
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    Columnists


    Our pro sports teams need better management

    DICK 
    HILKER
    Contrary to popular belief, the role of the columnist is not just to criticize. He/she also is obligated, upon occasion, to provide solutions.

    Today, we will do just that.

    The topic for today is the decline of two of our most cherished professional athletic franchises and civic treasures, the Broncos and the Rockies.

    In recent seasons, The Crush has turned to mush, and the Rox seemly have obtained perpetual underachievement.

    We citizens and taxpayers, of course, have a deep interest in quickly reversing these troubling trends.

    After all, Broncomania and Rockies Fever are what fuel the civic spirit. And we have pumped nearly a half-billion in tax dollars to purchase new stadia for these ventures, supposedly to help insure their success.

    Now, however, fan allegiances are wavering.

    Bronco fans, which have provided sellouts every year since the Spanish-American War, are in the early stages of general apathy. And the Rockies, who have set almost every baseball attendance record imaginable, now will have to struggle to find customers to put cups in the Coors Field cup-holders.

    Here's what they need to do.

    ROCKIES: According to "official" financial figures released last week by the major leagues, only seven of the other 29 teams had significantly higher incomes than the Rockies last year.

    If the numbers are to be believed, the Rox should be sitting well fiscally. Yet the club is on the verge of reducing the player payroll next season, a move that will likely accelerate the team's tailspin into oblivion.

    Instead, the Rockies need to slash expenses in other areas.

    Compare these numbers. The Rockies, a team that finished in the cellar, had virtually the same income ($131 million) as the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that made the playoffs.

    The Cardinals' player payroll was at least $10 million higher than the Rockies. Yet, the Cardinals lost only $6 million last year while the Rockies lost more than $9 million.

    St. Louis apparently runs a much more efficient organization. It hopes to build a stronger team next year while the Rockies are in a cutback mode.

    What the Rockies need to cut is fat.

    They might study the Cardinals' organizational chart.

    BRONCOS: The club has one mastermind, but it needs two.

    Conventional wisdom in the National Football League is that one man should not be both head coach and general manager. With Mike Shanahan, the Broncos are bucking the trend and now, since the retirement of Sir Elway, are doing so unsuccessfully.

    Coaches' demands for "total authority" are ego trips.

    At best, the team now has mediocre talent.

    It is the result of bad decisions.

    Most of the free-agent acquisitions have been busts, and last year's draft has not provided a single player of consequence.

    Instead of throwing multimillion dollar bonuses at marginal players, it needs to hire another "genius" in the front office. Dick Hilker is the former editor of the Lakewood Sentinel.


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    Giving hope to our teenagers this holiday season

    JAN COUCH
    There's a sickness spreading through our community and it's deadly. During the past six weeks, three Green Mountain High School students have committed suicide. Last year, 47 children between the ages of 10 and 19 committed suicide in Colorado. Ten of those more than 1 5 of the total teen suicides occurred in Jefferson County. In fact, our county recorded more teen suicides than the other large counties throughout the state.

    Is it just a sad coincidence that Jefferson County is under attack again? Who knows. But the latest round of suicides, is strikingly similar to what happened at Bear Creek High School in 1998 when several students killed themselves in shocking succession.

    The community at large probably wouldn't know anything about it the school district for better or for worse does not like information about suicides leaked to the public. However, at the time I was a reporter for the Jefferson Sentinels and the aunt of one of the young victims called and asked me to do a story on the tragic death of her nephew.

    The facts alone were bewildering. This was not some unpopular teen-ager struggling with substance-abuse problems or lack of family support. No, this young man came from a wonderful, loving family. His parents had asked him to go out to dinner with them one evening, and he respectfully declined. When they arrived back home, they found their son hanging in his bedroom. They had not the slightest clue what torment was raging in their son's mind. He was handsome, smart and athletic. His family lived in a beautiful new house, and he enjoyed the best of material possessions. But most importantly, he was loved, not only by his immediate family but an extended one as well. Clearly, this young man had everything to live for, but for whatever reason, he could not grasp the wonderful possibilities that awaited him.

    Somehow, on that seemingly normal Saturday evening, that young man lost hope. He committed the ultimate act of self-destruction, and his family and classmates would never be the same. Today, it appears that another epidemic of hopelessness has descended upon our community of teen-agers once again. Does anybody really care and what are we going to do about it?

    For one thing, if you are a parent, it's time to check the emotional and spiritual pulse of your own children. Especially during this holiday season, give some careful thought to what they really need, but not in terms of what you can buy them at the mall. I was thinking more along the lines of hope.

    It seems like the one thing teen-agers need most is hope. Real hope that lasts beyond the next 10 minutes. Hope that says there is a reason for living and participating in the future.

    Many of you who have read my columns over the years know I'm a Christian. And so, it's that Baby in the manger who gives me hope when the days are unsettled and times grow dark. It's the hope I give to my daughters this year when there will be very few presents under our tree. To me, the hope of Christ is the most precious gift either of them could ever receive.

    For those parents who can't accept the message of the Christ child even during this season named for Him you still have a responsibility to your family to find a reason for hope, a vital reason for living. Then convey that hope to your children in an atmosphere of love and acceptance. Because, no Sony Playstation or Mustang convertible or Tickle Me Elmo doll will ever provide the hope our children so desperately need.

    Don't expect to find real hope during the course of an afternoon shopping spree. You'll have to spend some time tracking it down in your mind and heart. It may even require some painful soul searching and a significant commitment of time. But once you find it, there is nothing more wonderful than sharing the reason for your hope with your family. May it be the best Christmas present they've ever received. Jan Couch is a former reporter and editor of the Lakewood Sentinel.


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    Letters


    Be ready for the Tom Booher as the Rev. Jim Bakker act

    Right now, Tom Booher in anticipation of the possibility of being found guilty for assaulting Councilman Ray Elliot, is probably working on his best imitation of the Rev. Jim Bakker. One can only imagine the tears streaming down his face, pleading for his savior, City Council and the citizens of Lakewood to forgive him for imploding on Election Night and physically assaulting Councilman Elliot.

    Tom, that act may have worked for the Rev. Jim Bakker, but it won't fly in Lakewood. At some point in your life, you need to take responsibility and be held accountable for your actions. Seize the moment, Tom. Instead of trying to sniffle your way through this one, raise your head high, take responsibility for your atrocious actions, and resign from City Council so the city you claim to want to serve can move forward with a City Council that doesn't live in fear of when your next meltdown is going to occur. To ask Mr. Elliot, the citizens of Ward 4 and Lakewood to simply forgive, forget and let this all fade into the sunset would only compound the shame you have brought upon yourself, your family and those who elected you to office.

    Don Ferega

    Lakewood


    Small town USA in Lakewood

    If anyone's looking for an excuse to pack up the kids and set out on a drive to see small town USA at Christmastime, we've got just the ticket. It's right here in the heart of old Historic Lakewood. Two Creeks Neighborhood is really twinkling this year.

    Two Creeks Neighborhood (bounded by Sheridan and Wadsworth boulevards on the east and west, and West Colfax Avenue and West 6th Avenues on the north and south) recently hosted our annual Holiday Lighting Contest. This year's contest brought in over 20 entries and we wish we could have given a prize top everyone who entered.

    Congratulations to the winners in the following categories:

    Extreme: First place: 6215 W. 8th Ave.; second place: 865 Gray St.; third place: 7310 Broadview Drive.

    Complex: First place: 6733 W. 14th Ave.; second place: 1447 Ames St.; third place: 7160 W. Ninth Place.

    Simple: First place: 1220 Upham St.; second place: 815 Kendall St.; third place: 801 Crescent Lane.

    Most Patriotic (must have entered as such): 6480 W. 10th Place.

    The Two Creeks Neighborhood Organization wants to wish all of our neighbors a happy holiday season, and we hope that you'll come and share our holiday spirit.

    Deb Jones

    Linda Marceca

    Lakewood


    School board hard at work

    On November 29, I attended my first school board meeting and let me tell you, our board members are dedicated to what they do for our children. What got me to my first meeting? I went to support the application for Free Horizon Montessori, a new charter school in Jefferson County.

    Being new to the process, I was surprised to see there were several items on the agenda, all of similar importance. The board members had literally reams of paper documents in front of them that they had reviewed in advance of the meeting. They were prepared, engaged and sincerely working hard to benefit the needs of our community and our children. And they have several meetings each month.

    My biggest surprise came when I asked someone sitting next to me if being on the board of education was his or her full-time job. When I found out they are volunteers, I about fell out of my chair.

    If you have never been to a school board meeting, you really have to go at least once. Take a look at these people in action working hard to benefit your kids.

    Kim Dushinski

    Lakewood


    Foster Elementary works

    We are writing to address our concerns about the way Colorado measures the performance of public schools using the Colorado Student Assessment Program test. The test is available in Spanish to students who are not yet ready to be tested in English. However, the students with proficient test scores on the Spanish CSAP tests are not considered in the school's evaluation. Given that Colorado schools educate many students for whom English is a second language (ESL), and many who speak Spanish as their first language, this practice creates an inaccurate an unfair assessment.

    Our children attend Foster Elementary. Foster is a school that has not met the performance standards, and yet Foster is an excellent school. Foster has dedicated teachers, involved parents and well educated, enthusiastic students. Foster educates a very diverse set of student. Our ESL students represent many different cultures and speak many different languages, including Spanish, Russian, Croatian, Bosnian (Serbo-Croatian) and Yorba. Because these children are not native to English, their CSAP test scores tend to be lower during the time it takes them to transition fully into English instruction. The school may well be providing outstanding education to students, yet the proficiency measures suggest they are not.

    It is important to consider why a school has lower CSAP scores, to avoid making changes where a school is in fact living up to our expectations and providing a good education to our children. When assessing a school's performance, Colorado needs to consider the number of ESL students at a school, as well as consider the scores of the Spanish CSAP tests in order to make a fair assessment of a school's true performance. If we set up a system that rewards school with less ESL students and penalizes schools with more ESL students, then we risk encouraging discrimination against these students and we risk the dismantling of schools that work well.

    STEPHANIE BARRETT

    Foster Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization


    We need action for empty council seats

    I have sat here and read and not said anything for too long. Now I just have to say something.

    The empty seat on the City Council needs to be filled with the elected right away. The people have to be represented. They voted for that seat, and it still remains empty. So I'm getting tired of all the redirect and all the time wasted talking about what to do.

    My opinion is stop talking and do something. If we need a special election, so be it. If the charter needs changed to get the people represented, then let's get it done. If you educate the people about updating the charter - and I mean educate - send out fliers and invitations tell everyone that we have some problems that need to be addressed with a special town meeting. Let everyone that wants to respond - and those that don't - have no say in what happens.

    Then at that meeting, let the majority rule on changes that need to take place so that the voters of Golden can be represented the way in which they voted for and should be. The only way of changing any situation to better oneself or others, is though education. I believe that the City Council should do everything in it power to see that the people know exactly what is going on with their town.

    It seems like a hard job, but there are many resources at the council's disposal, like televised town meetings, special fliers, videotapes of council meetings and a number of other ways.

    Maybe I'm way out of line here. But I believe in action and not just talk that usually brings up more problems. My prayer is get the people represented now.

    Why wait? The chair is empty that is not good. The people that voted should be represented.

    Mark Johnson

    Wheat Ridge


    Civic foundation auction a success

    The Golden Civic Foundation had another auction on Nov. 10. The financial goal was achieved although the net proceeds haven't been determined as not all bills have been received. The success of the auction will benefit the schools and many charitable organizations in Golden, not the foundation. Most of the net income already has been distributed to these organizations.

    It takes many dedicated individuals and generous businesses and individuals to have a successful auction. The board of directors and I are extremely pleased with the generosity the Golden Transcript provided for this year's auction. Not only did the Transcript donate auction items, but also it devoted considerable space in the paper for the auction. We are extremely gratified with the coverage provided for the underwriters and gold contributors as well as the frequent announcements about the date of the auction. We are very confident that the publicity provided by the Transcript led to a sell out crowd and the generosity of the donors and attendees.

    We thank the Transcript again for your support and want to especially recognize Tisha Cox and you for your willing response to many requests for a photographer and auction coverage.

    CHUCK BAROCH

    The Golden Civic Foundation


    Olde Golden Christmas a success

    Thank you. Olde Golden Christmas was a great success. We couldn't have done it without your help. Your dedication to Christmas and the community is greatly appreciated.

    More than 6,000 people attended the candlelight walk. We made it on Channel 4 and Channel 9, as well as Home and Garden Television, a national cable television station.

    We are looking forward to working with you again next year.

    Carol Ann Bowles

    Olde Golden Christmas director


    Despite economy, tax surplus rises

    The economic slowdown that began in the third quarter of 2000 already was well underway on Sept. 11. Since then, job losses and a further decline in revenues in key sectors of our economy have occasioned higher federal social spending while dampening federal tax collections.

    Nonetheless, fiscal 2001 resulted in the second-highest federal tax surplus in history and the fourth consecutive year of surpluses in the federal treasury. These surpluses have been used to pay down more than $1/2 trillion in federal debt.

    Today, putting Americans back to work is of vital importance not only to ensure our economic health, but also to generate the additional tax revenues needed to finance the war on terrorism. That is why President George Bush has called on Congress to pass an economic security bill to reduce tax burdens on job creation, so our economy can grow.

    The sensitivity of the federal budget to the overall health of the economy is just one of the important facts that can be gleaned from this year's annual report. You can view the annual report at: http://www.house.gov/tancredo

    Tom Tancredo

    State representative


    Traffic remains a problem

    Mayor Gretchen Cerveny's recent voter poll showed most folks that responded are unhappy with the traffic problems in the neighborhoods. This was one of my main issues in the race for council. I am tired of the constant flow of violators on 41st Avenue between Pierce and Jay streets.

    Dean Gokey called for traffic calming devices and self-policing. Traffic calming costs money, which the city does not have and self-policing just does not work.

    Last year, I offered to buy the two stop signs needed to put a four way stop at least a quarter of the way between traffic signage, to no avail from the city. There is not a stop sign or speed reducing device for more than a quarter mile on 41st, making it a speedway of sorts. Forty-first is a main street for pedestrian traffic for the three schools in the area.

    Now I see the city has put up more signs in the school zones and other places which threaten double fines and strict enforcement. According to Mr. Gokey, traffic fines do not work as the courts just lower the fine anyway.

    Is it not clear that enforcement is the answer? Signs are just an idle threat unless backed up by active enforcement. If the regular patrol officers cannot enforce the traffic laws, pull the traffic unit off Interstate 70 and put them in the neighborhoods.

    I have taken the liberty of producing two new signs for Wheat Ridge, which seems to be the norm.

    Lenny Ortiz

    Wheat Ridge



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