Email letters, May 24, 2013

State swim meet at CMU merited more coverage

As your article in Saturday’s paper stated, our local District 51 swimmers, Tyler Fair, Logan Young, Calvin Wright, Carlos Mathews, Brock Curry and Sam Jordan, swam well in the state swim meet prelims, but didn’t qualify for the finals. Their season ended, but that shouldn’t mean your responsibilities as a local newspaper was over.

Hundreds of out-of-town swimmers and their supporters traveled here, stayed at our hotels, ate at our restaurants and hoped to wake up Sunday to read the final results of the state swim meet in our local newspaper. But there was nothing. Not a photo, not a story, not even a list of results.

The results were amazing and definitely newsworthy. Mesa University’s natatorium proved to be a very fast pool. A standing-room-only crowd witnessed more than two-dozen All-American swims, as more than half of the 12 events saw new state records set. The 50 freestyle record had stood for more than 20 years!

Records are not just meant to be broken. They’re inspiring. And it’s the media that spread the inspiration. The Daily Sentinel motivated a lot of swimmers by telling the Missy Franklin story, but every newspaper covered her by just getting generic information from the wire services. Your newspaper has to be special to our local community, and to those who come to our community. There will be no local story if the Sentinel does not commit a reporter or commit a photographer or at least ask for results. Your coverage of the 5A state swim finals was as if it never happened.



People of northwest Colorado deserve more time on BLM plan

Kudos to the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado for asking for additional time to evaluate proposed new changes to oil shale regulations that could have a huge impact on northwestern Colorado.

While the current administration seems to regard oil shale as little more than an annoyance to try and brush aside (like other forms of energy development that the president doesn’t understand or agree with), to those of us who live in rural northwestern Colorado it is kind of a big deal. Oil shale is an immense resource, and its development could be an economic renaissance for our region. Unfortunately, Obama’s BLM has done all that it can to prevent the industry from taking hold. It appears that the recently released new regulations for oil shale development are following the same track and offering even more cheap shots at the industry in an attempt to keep it down.

Whatever the extent of the new regulations, the people of northwest Colorado, who would be most affected, deserve to have enough of an opportunity to review the documents and figure out just how they will impact the local economy and the future of our communities. Haven’t we all just about had enough of Washington D.C. and the environmentalist lobby making our decisions for us?


Karis board commended for The House

I would like to make two comments concerning the article about The House and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood. First, I commend the board of directors of Karis, Inc. on stepping up and creating the program called The House. The problem of homeless teens in Mesa County has been well known and well documented for many years.

Karis’ board is not only is meeting this problem by creating a place for homeless teens to stay but its members have gone beyond just providing a roof over these teens’ heads. They have developed a full program to walk beside these young people and give them guidance to become productive members of society. Yes, they have had some failures among the 70-plus youth that have stayed there, but they have also had some significant successes, including one young lady who now is a student at CU Boulder and a young man who after many years of constant conflicts with his family is now home and dealing with family conflicts in a positive way.

Now that the Karis Board is aware of the issues that the neighbors have expressed, I believe they will face them head on and do what is necessary to make the neighbors comfortable with the presence of The House in the neighborhood.

Second, I will like to apologize to the neighbors if our church created any of the concerns in the neighborhood about traffic congestion and cars parked on the street. During ShareFest 2013 on April 13 and 14, we had a large team of youth and adults building a new back deck for The House. During that weekend we had quite a few cars parked in the street. Had we been aware of the concern about traffic, we gladly would have parked elsewhere.

I would also like to offer that if John Henry determined that the sprinkler head he has replaced was damaged during that weekend, we would be more than willing to reimburse him for that because we could have been the ones who broke it.

On the concern of smoking in places that are not on the premises of The House, during ShareFest weekend we built a separate brick area in the backyard of The House as a place for people who smoke to sit and smoke.

Although we absolutely don’t condone smoking by youth, we realize that some youth who smoke live at The House. To keep them from going out front or elsewhere, we provided a place within the confines of the fenced backyard.

I hope that the group running The House and the neighbors in that area can build a positive relationship that will both help our homeless teens and let the neighbors feel comfortable in their homes. Our church is partnering with The House and together we care about neighbors and neighborhoods and we want to help make this right.

Director of Outreach Ministries,
First Presbyterian Church
Grand Junction

Council’s decision to skirt TABOR a disappointment

The recent Grand Junction City Council action disregarding TABOR (the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights enacted statewide in 1992 to limit the growth in government), and voting to continue its practice of picking the pockets of city taxpayers demonstrates clearly that it is the same city government, just a different day. For those of us who thought that the election of a new slate of City Council members, (some of whom passed themselves off as Chamber of Commerce types), would finally bring a taxpayer friendly council, we were wrong.

In an attempt to move quickly before public outrage could galvanize taxpayers against such action, the city administration scheduled a “workshop” to inform the new council of the city administrations’ current practice of excluding sales taxes, approved by the city voters prior to the enactment of TABOR, from the limits imposed by TABOR. By their twisted logic, arguing that the voters had consented to remove these tax revenues from TABOR limits before TABOR was even enacted.

This workshop was scheduled just two days after the county took action to reverse course and side with taxpayers by mandating that county staff start including all sales taxes in the annual revenue limits set by TABOR, thanks to the courage of commissioners Rose Pugliese and John Justman.

It appears that just as happened in the county, the city began its larceny from city taxpayers in 2007, without a meeting or vote of City Council, after then City Manager Laurie Kadrich met with and followed the lead of then County Administrator, Jon Peacoc in conspiring to skirt TABOR, so as to avoid refunding money to taxpayers which would have otherwise been required under TABOR.

While City Council workshops are open to the public, historically the council has used them to receive information from city staff on issues of import to be discussed at an upcoming council meeting. The public has not typically been allowed to speak, and the council has not usually taken formal action until a subsequently scheduled council meeting.

Last Wednesday, however, that all changed. Only three members of the public were in attendance, so Mayor Susuras unexpectedly opened the workshop for public comment and, after brief public comments, then took a vote of council as to whether to continue skirting TABOR.

That vote revealed that the only friends of city taxpayers on the current council are council members Marty Chazen and Rick Brainard. The votes in favor of continuing to exclude sales tax from TABOR revenue limits by council members Boeschenstein, Doody and Butler were to be expected. Council member Boeschenstein was not even present for public comment and left his “proxy vote” with Mayor Susuras.

However, it was both disappointing and galling to witness the hostility and contempt of council members Susuras and Norris toward the city taxpayers. The voters and taxpayers of Grand Junction deserve better.

Grand Junction

Our health and energy needs must be balanced

Dick Prosence of Meeker wrote that “the green machine” thwarts economic progress as a result of the Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other laws and regulations promulgated to secure our health and well being.
The reality, however, is not so simplistic.  We do need our regulatory framework to protect against and remedy events such as the Gulf oil spill, the Parachute Creek leak, building with asbestos or milling uranium with inadequate safeguards, ozone pollution from smokestacks or automobiles and other sources spewing contaminants into the atmosphere.
On the other hand, the reality is that with best management practices already known to industry (particularly oil and gas) and with tax credits to incentivize renewable, clean sources of energy such as sun, wind and biomass (as oil and gas have been incentivized for decades), we can protect our health and simultaneously support our economy.

We know that our terrible inversions in winter-time Grand Junction cause residents to be hospitalized and/or leave the area for days or weeks at a time. While they are out of production, we lose the economic benefit of their work, recreation and spending. We can also surmise that these conditions discourage visitors — and their dollars — from coming to the valley.

While industry may incur initial costs in meeting regulatory standards, these costs can be transformed quickly into higher profits (think methane capture or Prius sales). It is time that we looked for positive solutions that address our energy, environmental and economic well being as complementary, rather than antagonistic objectives.

Grand Junction

Protection for Unaweep Canyon needed in BLM’s management plan

I have driven the Unaweep Canyon numerous times and each time I’m enchanted. The granite walls impose a sense of grandeur that inspires the mind to wonder and spirits to soar.

As a teacher, I believe that spending time outside is vital to balanced childhood development. Because the serene environment of the Unaweep provides this and so much more, it’s worth protecting in the fullest.

In addition, the Ute Creek Canyon provides challenging hiking experiences and ample screening from any traffic noise or other visitors. The varied terrain of this area provides outstanding recreational opportunities, such as hiking, backpacking and photography.

The areas in Unaweep Canyon and along the scenic byway should be protected to the fullest in BLM’s management plan.

Grand Junction

Recall governor and Sens. Schwartz and Hamner

Gov. Hickenlooper, Sen. Gail Schwartz and Rep. Millie Hamner should be recalled for voting by their feelings with classic political correctness as they violated the Second Amendment in voting for Colorado’s new gun laws, which will not restrain any lawbreaker but which have handicapped and weakened the self-protection of law-abiding gun owners.

They’ve also contributed to the loss of millions of dollars to Colorado by the many firearm-related organizations and thousands of hunters who are going elsewhere.


Governor asked to explain fairness of deaths caused by Dunlap

This letter is to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who says that he has doubts about the fairness of Colorado’s death penalty.

He needs to explain to me what was fair about Nathan Dunlap killing four people point blank because he was fired from his job. He needs to explain to me why this individual is still on this earth and why he needs to have his execution delayed.

Did Dunlap delay the execution of the four people he killed? The only thing wrong with the Colorado death penalty is Hickenlooper. And, no, he does not have my vote.

Grand Junction

Where is Bill Grant’s morality for victims of Nathan Dunlap?

On Dec. 14, 1993, Marge Kohlberg, 50, Colleen O’Connor, 17, Benjamin Grant, 17, and Sylvia Crowell, 19, were shot in the head and killed while they were working at a Chuck E Cheese restaurant by Nathan Dunlap for $1,591. Bobby Stephens, whom Dunlap shot at pointblank range in the face in the same incident, positively identified Dunlap. With a mountain of other evidence confirming he was the killer, Dunlap was found guilty by an Adams County jury and sentenced to death May 17, 1996.

The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld his conviction and sentence three times, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case last month. “In the final analysis, it is the horror of the crime itself that looms large in our (decision),” Justice Rebecca Kourlis wrote. “Dunlap killed four people and seriously wounded a fifth. He did it without provocation or cause, but rather with a brutal contempt for human life.”

Before we can have a discussion on morality with poor, old Bill Grant, it is important to remember why Dunlap finds himself in his current situation. Poor, old Bill would like to give the impression of the superior morality of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber compared to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Kitzhaber has placed a moratorium on the death penalty in Oregon, and Texas has executed 235 people in the last 11 years. I am sure that poor old Bill thinks that Gov. John Hickenlooper’s “temporary reprieve” for Dunlap is a win for death penalty opponents.

Hickenlooper says, “That such a level of punishment really does demand perfection.” I think that all Hickenlooper has shown his weakness in his inability to confront evil in our society. He wants to push the decision off onto someone else.

Where is Grant’s morality for Marge, Colleen, Benjamin, Sylvia and Bobby? Where is his morality for their families or an outraged community? Is perfection possible?

Grand Junction

Marcia Wieland deserves thanks for concert to benefit Jenkins

I am a member of the Shumann Singers, directed by Marcia Wieland. Thursday night I attended the Aaron T. Jenkins benefit concert coordinated by Wieland, who is the choral director at GJHS, and I witnessed a miracle.

No, no one walked on water. But by the evening’s end it was obvious that Wieland had not only taught her high-school students to sing with a talent usually reserved for college-aged choirs, she has taught them how to love and care for one another, and especially for Aaron who lost both of his parents last year even as he was making his successful transition from high school to college student at CU.

If all of us together could make one giant collective miracle-wish, wouldn’t we wish for a world of beauty and music where people love one another? That is exactly what I saw Thursday night, and not for a moment was I wishing I could walk on water, because after this concert we were all walking on heaven’s solid ground.

Perhaps you missed the concert. But you can still become a part of this miracle of love and music. Earlier this week, we all witnessed how teachers in Oklahoma literally laid down their lives to protect their students from a devastating tornado.

And right here on Thursday night we in Grand Junction witnessed a teacher who continually lays down her life to teach her students and all of us so that we can become the miracle of music and love that has already been given to us ... if only we choose to accept it.

Please consider a donation to Aaron (who is not a charity but a wise investment in miracles) at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


IRS underlings in Cincinnati created political firestorm
While Glenn Menard is not alone in bemoaning the unsurprising fact that government bureaucracies often prevent public officials charged with overall responsibility from anticipating and/or proactively responding to “crises” based on timely and accurate information (“Leaders don’t plead ignorance of decisions,” May 24), Menard’s lame lament betrays his own irresponsible ignorance of relevant details.

Thus, the “Fast and Furious” fiasco began during the Bush Administration, but Bush’s outgoing and fully informed attorney general did not brief Eric Holder about it. Thus, President Obama and his AG remained unaware of the DEA’s failed operation until previously seized weapons turned up at a border patrolman’s murder scene.

As to “Benghazi,” both the president and Secretary Clinton necessarily relied on the best intelligence then available – which was more accurately refined over time. We now know that Ambassador Stevens twice declined security support from our military, that his contract security detail was lounging around away from their automatic weapons when the attack began and that – even though Secretary Clinton was apprised while the attack was still in progress – it was already too late for anyone to do anything about it.

As to the “AP investigation,” since Watergate the president is legally prohibited from any involvement in ongoing DOJ/FBI criminal investigations. Because Attorney General Holder was privy to the leaked classified intelligence and thus was interviewed by the FBI as a potential “suspect,” he properly recused himself from the AP matter. Had the president been “informed” or Holder remained “involved,” inquisitors of Menard’s bent would be asking, “What did they know, and when did they know it?” – implying political influence.

This predictable outcome is confirmed by the “IRS audit” matter, wherein underlings in Cincinnati haplessly created a political firestorm that is now exposing widespread abuse of tax-exempt status by – particularly – “conservative” groups seeking to conceal their donors’ identities.


Grand Junction


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