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Senate needs to pass House bills
The House of Representatives, in this 111th session of Congress, has already passed 420 bills since January 2009 ­— that’s 420 bills waiting for authorization from the Senate leader. The Senate has refused to take up these House bills because they’ve been wary of a Republican filibuster.
The Senate is able to pass all of these bills and make them law immediately by simply calling for a majority vote of 50 senators, including the vice president/president of the Senate, Joe Biden. Congress has the votes to change the filibuster rule so that a true majority of votes is the measure of the work of the people. While  Republicans will scream their heads off, they must make these changes to not only show the fortitude the Democrats have, but to do the correct action for the general welfare of Americans. We will then see the entrenched re-elected Republicans for their true colors while showing “the people” that Congress means business. Showing the Democratic Party is a party of the people, for the people.
Here’s a partial list of the bills the House has already passed and are now just in need of approval by the U.S. Senate:
• The Paycheck Fairness Act, which addresses pay gaps between men and women. Do Republicans believe women should be paid less than men?
• The Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes Prevention Access and Care Act. Do Republicans believe people with diabetes should go undertreated or untreated?
• The Audit the BP Fund Act, which makes sure BP is paying people hurt by the Gulf oil spill as quickly as possible — and makes BP accountable for the cost of keeping track of where the money’s going. Congress does not owe the company an apology.
• “The Stop Foreigners From Hitting Grandma Act,” a.k.a. the Elder Abuse Victims Act. This doesn’t really have anything to do with foreigners, but our fellow Americans seem to automatically dislike people from other countries, so this should help just in case the Republicans think an “elders abuse victims act” doesn’t sound patriotic enough.
• The National Bombing Prevention Act needs no explanation and Congress should move on this.
Senate, please get going on these. As for the House, create a better version of Michelle Obama’s “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” to improve our kids’ nutrition. The Senate has already passed this bill, and the House should make sure that the bill does not cut food stamps to underprivileged people.
We must take care of people who have less than we do or we cannot generally call our nation “Christian.”
All of the above make common sense and must be done now in order to ensure the Democrats get voted for in 2012 to remain a voice for the people.
I am not trying to threaten anyone; I am merely pointing out the in-your-face facts, as did my friend Michael Moore when he gathered the above information.
Monica F. Koziol

Classrooms need concealed-entry point
They got lucky in Marinette, Wis.
In the aftermath of the death of student Emily Keyes in a Colorado high school, I suggested to the sheriff that every classroom have a concealed-emergency entrance area — a “thin-wall” area wide enough for a forced entry by law enforcement.
Only teachers and those with access to the school framing design would know where the secret entrance was. Inside the classroom, it might be the wall behind the flag or the area behind the teacher’s desk.
Retrofitting every classroom in America with an emergency-concealed entrance point might be useful. Certainly new schools ought to consider hostage situations, which are happening too often. Of course Columbine should provide the answers since we always hear about copycats and anything related to the massacre of 1999.
It would take carpenters only a few hours per room to make a hole in a wall, depending of course on rerouting of wiring or utilities inside the existing framing. Simply install a header and remove a stud, then reapply sheetrock or other easily breeched break-away paneling.
Steve Schweitzberger

Columbine secrets must be told
Columbine is in the news again, this time in connection with the tragic events involving the Australian twins who apparently entered into a double suicide pact. We should not be surprised that the stories about Columbine keep coming so many years after the murders. I don’t believe there can be final closure because much of the truth about that horrific day and the events before and after it remains closely guarded secrets.
There’s a saying in the mental health community: “We are as sick as our secrets.” This is true not only for individuals but also families, organizations and even large institutions. But secrets have a way of continuing to surface until they are finally told. It’s almost as if the secrets themselves are struggling to find the healing light of truth.  
I know and worked with former and current Jeffco employees who today still protect secrets about Columbine. The people I am thinking of are good, honest and decent people who actually believed, as they were told, that keeping quiet is the right thing to do. But they, like many others, have been swept away by misguided policy that places the interests of the “institution” above the interests of the very people the institution exists to serve. The result is institutional secrecy, and it’s hard to stand up against it. It takes on a life of its own and becomes self-perpetuating.
Perhaps no better example of the devastating effects of institutional secrecy is seen more clearly than in the Roman Catholic Church. Years and countless millions have been spent protecting pedophile priests while enabling the continued abuse of innocent children — all in the name of protecting the financial interests and public image of the church and a few in power. And while no more are all public officials crooks and liars than are all priests pedophiles, the results of institutional secrecy are the same: continued sickness and harm to people.
Thankfully, church leaders are now beginning to acknowledge the truth and in doing so make way for healing and lasting improvements.
That has yet to happen at Jefferson County.
I urge my friends and former Jeffco colleagues who still today carry the heavy burden of Columbine to look deep inside and ask yourself one question: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Pay close attention to how you feel, and then act accordingly. Finding the strength to tell the truth will forever change your life and the lives of many others for the better.
And for the rest of us who are fortunate enough to not carry secrets as heavy as Columbine’s, we can do our small part by demanding that institutions not be given priority over the people they serve. That will make it easier for the good people who hold positions of power to eventually act from a place of integrity rather than fear.
Jim Moore
former Jeffco county administrator