Email letters, March 29, 2012

Vote ‘Yes’ on Issue B to keep pot shops out of Fruita

Should Fruita vote “Yes” on Issue B to keep pot shops out of their town?

A Colorado Sheriff’s report warns: Pot shops greatly increase accessibility and use; make pot seem more socially acceptable; reduces the perception of risk – both legally and psychologically. These are risky messages to send to our youth.    

The facts are: Expulsions for marijuana in Colorado schools increased by 40 percent after the shops opened; more teens are treated for marijuana addiction than all the other drugs and alcohol combined.    Fruita Monument Vice-Principal Todd McClaskey “saw an increase in marijuana violations the same time dispensaries opened.” Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey reported: “We are seeing a lot more kids using (marijuana) than ever before — they have no perception of risk.”   

Is pot harmless? Since 1974, THC levels (hallucinogens) have gone up from 1 percent to 20 percent through hybridization making it much stronger and more addictive. This is especially damaging to areas for learning in young developing brains.

Concerning sick people who benefit from medical marijuana, only 4 percent of the 100,000 cardholders have a verifiable illness like cancer, aids, M.S., or glaucoma. They’ve had constitutional access through care-givers since 2000. Medical marijuana has also been available in pharmacies since 1985 in a safe form called Marinol (used to treat nausea, vomiting and appetite).   

Regulating pot shops hasn’t worked. In the last couple of years, the number of cardholders in Colorado jumped from 4,000 to 100,000. 15 doctors wrote 75 percent of those prescriptions. Excluding the 4 percent with legitimate illnesses, pot shops have only fueled widespread abuse by giving people a license to get high.
This picture is a lot different from what Colorado voters approved in 2000 to help seriously ill patients.  Vote “Yes” on B to keep pot shops out of Fruita.


Republicans were essential to passing civil rights act

In his March 27 letter to the editor Tim Pace sure has an animus toward the Tea Party, even to the point of claiming Tea Party rallies are celebrations of racism. Not just untrue, but such smears are meant to promote the fake narrative that conservatives and Republican are enemies of racial and religious minorities.

Pace even distorts history in claiming Republicans just went along, compromised with the Democrats, to pass the major civil rights acts of the 1960s. Wrong. Democrat-led filibusters would have killed those bills, but were broken by Republicans. The acts would never have passed without the overwhelming and historical GOP support for civil rights.

The Republican Party was formed to fight slavery and later Jim Crow segregation. Surely we all remember the Civil Rights Act of 1875, passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Republican president but bitterly opposed by Democrats.

But, Democrats would say, we’re not that way anymore. True, but Republicans never were.


Omitted paragraph was important to Brook’s column

I am curious as to why The Daily Sentinel chose to omit a very significant paragraph in David Brooks’s article dealing with our health care system. For the benefit of readers who are unaware of this omission, let me quote from the original New York Times column:

“In that tradition, [‘He (Obama) centralized goal-setting while decentralizing decision-making.’] My own view is that the individual mandate is perfectly acceptable policy. We effectively have a national health care system. We all indirectly pay for ill, uninsured people who show up at emergency rooms. If all Americans are in the same interconnected healthcare system, I think it’s reasonable for government to insist that all Americans participate in the insurance network that is the payment method for that system.

Did the Sentinel leave out this paragraph for space-saving reasons or because the editors thought it would not play well in this conservative community? David Brooks is one of the very rare conservatives who presents his arguments based on reason and fairness rather than rigid political convictions and can thus be led to acknowledge that “the individual mandate is perfectly acceptable policy.”

Even liberals can appreciate his arguments and in some cases be convinced by them. But perhaps that is expecting too much from the bomb throwers on the far right who view the Health Care Act as a socialist (and Muslim?) plot. In any case, it would be honest policy for the Sentinel to indicate when and how it is redacting opinion columns from other sources.

Grand Junction

Public input is essential is determining stewardship of public lands

In Pete Kolbenschlag’s comments to David Ludlam, his question regarding “the self-interested aspirations of a single private industry” is important and requires further comment. Mr. Kolbenschlag speaks to the fact that for many decades, often in direct contradiction to rancorous industry rhetoric, resource extraction on public lands has taken a primary role in United States land policy, frequently to the profound detriment of other competing and equally valuable public interests.

While policy dictates that land managers involve the public, observation suggests that their actions are largely cosmetic and that decisions to drill, mine, log or graze are often foregone conclusions in any proposed action. This is disingenuous in the extreme as the lands are public, and the public should, indeed must have the right to have its views not only acknowledged but strongly and honestly considered.

This is not an indictment of mining, logging, drilling or grazing, not at all. All of these activities when properly done are vital to our economy and our way of life. Yet, implementation of any plans on public lands simplyaccount for public concerns. For too long, industry has viewed public lands as their fiefdom, to be exploited as they wish, with profits mostly privatized while liabilities are largely socialized. Unfortunately, the “lease it first and mitigate late” approach has far too often been held sacrosanct, being afforded a primacy that comes largely from purely profit seeking motives and the tax revenues those profits generate.

Citizens attempting to exert an opposing view have small voices compared to the power of well-financed resource extraction companies who can afford polished media campaigns touting benefits and minimizing risks. These companies fund expensive lobbying firms whose sole purpose is to direct legislation in their favor. Indeed, while this is a nation of laws, those laws are often written or powerfully influenced by lobbyists from those industries for which those laws are designed to regulate. This leads to processes that are heavily skewed in favor of industry with a concomitant diminution of the citizenry’s other interests.

In recent years, this has been particularly well evidenced nationwide by the oil and gas industry. While I do not in principle object to obtaining the resource, my directives are that many lands with special values should be held exempt from drilling and that all drilling should be properly done and properly regulated. Recent studies of COGCC actions suggest that the agency’s activities have been frequently inadequate. As does Mr. Kolbenshchlag, I too object to the aspirations of a single private industry overriding those of other stakeholders. This model is flawed and needs to change immediately.


What good is approving half of a pipeline?

President Obama may have a good idea by approving only half of the Keystone pipeline. I might try the same thing and save on lawn watering by using only the lower half of my garden hose.

Many support a four-day school week

How long has it been since you stood in front of a classroom of students to teach? For most people reading this, never. And for many making decisions about the direction of your school district, they have not been in front of students in a dozen or more years.

Teachers are with students every day. No one knows education better than teachers, yet when the school board made decisions about funding our school district for the next year, they didn’t listen to teachers or concerned community members.

Teachers know what it takes for students to achieve and that is time for students to focus on learning; time in classrooms; contact time. A four-day week for SD51 was supported by over 86 percent of teachers and 80 percent of community forum attendees, yet the board chose to take the 4-day week, and its $1.5
million in savings, off the table.

Why do so many teachers support a four-day week? It increases contact time with students. In some scenarios, by over 100 hours. That’s like adding 12 or more days to the calendar and increasing student contact time. When the board voted to stay with a traditional calendar on Tuesday, they eliminated the potential savings and have not said where they will find the cuts of up to $4 million for next year’s budget. That burden may have to come at the expense of staff positions. That could lead to more crowding in already crowded classrooms and any teacher will tell you that the more crowded the classroom, the less learning that takes place.

Closing schools should never be an option to save money because that, too, could lead to more crowding. The public is increasing its expectations of teachers, districts and school boards. The public also spoke at several community forums about funding for next year. Those committee members who have dedicated many hours to compiling data from those forums have not yet had their say about the results, but the board has already made their decision.

Having attended many of those discussions, the overwhelming majority of attendees said to go to a four-day week to save money for next year. While saving money is important, more importantly, a four-day week has the potential to save money while increasing student achievement. After all, isn’t that what education is all about? Student achievement?

JIM SMYTH, president
Mesa Valley Education Association
Grand Junction

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is

I wanted to comment on the picture of the lady with the hand painted on her face and her comment about socialism and Obamacare. When people think they are getting something for free, or something that sounds really good, there is usually something they have to give away, which in this case is there freedom of choice and speech. From this point it will only get worse. The next step after socialism is communism. I hope everyone understands this.

Grand Junction

Oil profit figures tell very little

I am currently watching a speech by President Obama demonizing the oil companies for record profits, and laughing my tail off. He is completely out of touch with what it takes for energy companies to operate. He cites $4-plus billion profit by Exxon alone. The question is, does he know what it takes for them to operate and drill?

Let’s take for example, what it costs to drill a well. Williams has 4,000-plus wells in the Western Slope area. Allow for another conservative estimate of 2,000 more wells combined by other companies such as Encana, Oxy, Chevron, etc.

From the leasing process and geological work in the beginning, to the drilling, completion, fracking and flowback and turning over to final sales, let’s take a ridiculously low estimated cost of $1.5 million per well (From my 20 years oilfield experience, I’m sure it’s more).

$1.5 million per well times 6,000 wells equals $9 billion just in this area alone, not counting the operations in other areas by these companies.

I find it rather interesting that the term “profit” is never differentiated between “gross” and “net” profits. I suspect the profit numbers quoted by the president are gross numbers, not allowing for costs like the $9 billion spent in Western Colorado alone.

If someone is going to start quoting numbers, They should state what those numbers are based on, and where they got their information.

Someone once told me, “Figures can lie, and liars can figure.” Go figure that.

Grand Junction


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