EDITORíS DESK: Not your fatherís campground

       Meetings aren't for everybody, but if you're among the people we've been hearing from recently, then there's one this Tuesday, Jan. 27 (1:30 p.m. at the Gold Hill Police substation) that you might want to attend. The subject is the homeless population. Not the hard-luck families stuck in shelters who are desperate to find work and get their lives back. No, this meeting concerns the misfits, drunks, mental cases and/or downright criminals who, in deciding they have a right to camp anywhere they like, have come to be our Westside "neighbors." Unfortunately, these bums (I believe I'm using the right word here) are not the kind of neighbors any of us would choose. They take no responsibility for the messes they've made of their lives nor those they leave in their ad hoc camps along Fountain Creek and other once- attractive natural habitats. Also, and this may be sad news to church people and other compassionate souls who make special trips to give them sleeping bags, coats, food and whatnot, the bums aren't really that impressed. According to an authoritative source, it's not uncommon for them to wreck a sleeping bag, leave it in the dirt somewhere and go grab a new one that's been donated.
       Here's a problem with this meeting, though. If you go and complain, be prepared for a cold reaction from some people who, instead of trying to understand your desire to upgrade your neighborhood, will label you as a narrow-minded bigot who fails to appreciate these people's need for freedom. Well, so what. City officials will be at the meeting, and they need to hear it from us. The City Attorney's Office has clearly been dragging its feet on the constitutional-rights allegations that stopped the camp cleanups in October. And maybe this rights business can be turned on its head. How about our rights as taxpayers? How abour our liability if uninspected, illegal camps cause wildfires or disease or spawn crime?

- K.J.