E-mail letters, Feb. 25, 2011

Front Range water groups
must protect our resources

Regarding the Feb. 16 article, “Fisheries weigh options for, against diversions”:

We appreciate The Daily Sentinel’s coverage of the potential impacts of the additional trans-mountain water diversion projects being proposed by Denver Water and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. The article contains several statements that bear clarification.

First, Denver and Northern are not entitled to build the new projects regardless of their
impacts to fish and wildlife resources in western Colorado. The water rights for the projects only establish a place in the water rights priority line. But, to build the projects, the proponents must secure necessary federal, state and local approvals. To win these approvals, Denver and Northern are required to take steps to avoid fish and wildlife impacts.

Second, it is inaccurate to say that Denver and Northern will divert the desired additional increments of water whether the projects are built or not. Think about it for a minute. If Denver and Northern can take the additional water without the projects, why would they spend millions of dollars to permit and build them?

Third, Denver is proposing to spend $5 million to $7 million to mitigate impacts of its project, but these funds will be directed at impacts on South Boulder Creek and the North Fork of the South Platte River. Denver is offering virtually no mitigation for the Fraser and Williams Fork basins — the two basins that will bear the brunt of the impacts of the proposed Moffat project.

Soon, Colorado Division of Wildlife staff will be called upon to advise the Wildlife Commission on measures needed to protect fish and wildlife resources from the impacts of the proposed trans-mountain diversions. We urge the DOW to base its analysis on sound science and to fulfill its responsibility to protect these priceless natural resources.
Mely Whiting, Counsel
Trout Unlimited
Colorado Water Project
Pagosa Springs

Easy to see why cuts
should be made in education

It’s not hard to see why Gov. Hickenlooper would look at spending cuts in the Department of Education as part of the solution to the budget problem. With education taking up over 40 percent of the Colorado budget and spending about $8.6 billion annually, it’s not surprising the governor would think there could be some savings to be had there.

Nobody begrudges good teachers making good money, but we also have teachers taking up valuable class time showing Al Gore and Michael Moore movies, teaching political correctness and other questionable agendas.

We would all do well to remember that throwing more money at a problem does not ensure greater success. For instance; Colorado spends about $9,600 per pupil, while Japan spends about $3,700 and Germany $4,700. Both of these countries routinely score higher on international math and science exams than their U.S. counterparts.

There is not a bureaucracy anywhere on the planet that can’t be streamlined to run
in a more efficient manner. Let’s encourage streamlining our school systems to be more effective and to get more bang for the buck. Let’s keep encouraging our good teachers to do well, and let’s get the poor teachers up to speed or get them out the door.

It truly is about the future of our great country and the future of our children.
David Foster
Grand Junction

Unions and politicians
kick problems down road

The public unions have got a stranglehold on the taxpayers. There was a time for unions in prior years. Workers were being oppressed and mistreated, but that time has long since gone. Now the unions have become the oppressor and the taxpayers are paying the price.
The states are broke, America is broke, real unemployment/underemployment is closer to 20 percent than 10 percent, which means less tax dollars are being collected. But the unions, along with President Obama and the Democrats, refuse to make any serious

The government spends over $3 trillion a year and they can’t find $100 billion in savings? That’s like the average household not being able to save $100. They all say the situation is unsustainable and must be corrected, but seem happy to put another band-aid of some type on it and kick the can down the road again.

Nothing ever seems to get resolved. Every election we listen to speeches on energy independence but here we are again with rising gas prices and banned drilling in our own country. I’m sure 2012 will be no different. I often wonder if the government really cares about rising gas prices.

We have to listen to politicians complain about Social Security, but nothing ever gets done. Kick the can again. Medicare and Medicaid, the same story.

Both parties have dodged solving the problems for years. The time has come to get something done before our economy is completely destroyed. Everybody is so busy blaming the other side and worried they won’t get re-elected. As Mark Twain once said,
“Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress, but I
repeat myself.”
Neil Riddle

Don’t let enviros block
Elk Creek Mine expansion

It is time to tell environmental extremists to keep their noses out of our business.

These extremist environmental groups are now opposing a tiny expansion of the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset. The Elk Creek Mine employs over 350 people in our area and is a huge local economic driver. Without this expansion, production will slow down and mine lay-offs could occur.

We have already seen difficulty at the Bowie Mine. The same could happen at Elk Creek if they are not allowed to pursue their business plan and their routine coal lease modification.
The goal of these extremists is to tie projects up in endless bureaucracy. Their tool of choice? Teams of lawyers, lobbyists, and community organizers. They attempt to brand themselves as groups of “concerned citizens.” But, we all know better.

Groups like Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, WildEarth Guardians, and Western Slope Environmental Resource Council don’t hire dozens of attorneys and lobbyists to stop a minor coal mine expansion by holding bake-sales and getting $20 a year from local “concerned citizens.”

Their money comes from powerful outside interest groups. It is unclear what their ultimate goals are. However, we do know they are anti-coal and anti-fossil fuel. They feed on the emotions of gullible people – many from outside our area – who think they are saving the world.
Unfortunately, it falls on reasonable locals to fight and save our communities. We may not have millions of dollars to hire lawyers and fund national advertising campaigns. We may not have a team of lobbyists at our beck and call. However, we do have voices and votes. We need to tell the Forest Service, BLM, and our local and national elected officials that we support the Elk Creek Mine expansion.
Most importantly, we need to tell these outside interest groups to mind their own business.
Charles Green
Grand Junction

Government pension
plans are unsustainable

The best arguments against government unions were made by President Roosevelt in the 1930s. Government unions are fairly new in our history. They are a privilege, not a right. 

When Congress passed pension reform in 1974, the law didn’t apply to government pensions. The consequence of that regulation was it made pensions too expensive for many corporations. That resulted in these pensions giving way to 401k plans. Today, most people retiring from corporations don’t have big pension benefits. They have to rely on their 401k plans and their own savings. 

Many government employees have much better pension benefits and, in many cases they have contributed little to those plans. As a result of not being restricted by the regulations placed on private companies, these government plans are not well funded and will require serious reform. What we see in Wisconsin is what has to be done across the country.

It scares me when even a few of these teachers compare their protests to those in the Middle East. Political oppression is what we see in Libya, not Wisconsin. I pray the problems in the Middle East don’t end up with gas costing $10 a gallon. That will wreck our economy and contributing more to health insurance and pensions will look good.

Government has failed to fund its pensions. In 40 years it has been unable to help us reach energy independence. The debt they have incurred can’t be maintained. We need to encourage more responsible government, as we see happening in states like Wisconsin.
Dave Kearsley

Tea partiers demonstrate
they’re great at publicity

I have to hand it to the tea party Republicans: They know how to run a campaign.

While we should be worried about figuring out how to keep the billionaires from coming up with scams that will ruin our economy again while they get richer, the Republicans have managed to get the public to think the major problem is that teachers, nurses and other government workers are lazy, tax-avoiding scum who are breaking the economy.  I’m not quite sure how they did it, but it is brilliant.

Despite the fact that unions have been losing power and influence for decades, they’re the biggest problem we face. No, the big problem is not the millions out of work (that’s obvious, because the Republicans are cutting jobs, so jobs must not be that important). It’s not the lackluster economy (also obvious because the Republicans are doing anything they can to keep the spotlight away from it since they gained power), and it’s not global warming (since they don’t even believe in it).  It’s those unions!

And it’s not enough that the unions have already given in on every financial point. It’s not enough that they have conceded to higher pension contributions, lower pay, or whatever it has taken to allow the richest to keep their tax breaks.  The unions must be destroyed. While I don’t believe in what they stand for, I’d want a tea partier to handle my publicity any day.
Peter Westcott

We can’t protect everyone
from themselves

It is always a sad thing when individuals get killed or murdered, even by Somali pirates.  However, to use such incidents as a means of making political points can only evoke feelings of disgust and revulsion.

What happened off the coast of Somalia is now being used by some to take political pot shots at the administration. Those who are doing so are not at all familiar with the story.  If they were, they would know that the victims knew well ahead of time (as we all did) that the area which they were entering was extremely dangerous.  But, they are the ones who made the decision to place themselves in harm’s way.

One of the rules of life is that a fool can never be protected from him and herself. Our armed forces, Navy, Coast Guard, etc. are busy enough with what needs to be done without taking on any additional burdens caused by the irresponsible, or those who are lacking in simple common sense.

This country has enough problems, challenges and burdens without taking care of those who believe that they can do anything they want, whenever they want, then expect to get protected or rescued when something goes wrong.

Those who don’t want to be run over by a train should first stay off the tracks when they see a train coming. Those who step on the tracks then whine when they are struck, or complain when someone else doesn’t pull them off, are behaving like spoiled brats. Those who defend them are no better.
Robert I. Laitres

Editorial had no more substance
than Limbaugh comments

The Daily Sentinel’s recent “First-lady follies” editorial strangely opined “when (Rush) Limbaugh and others are relegated to rummaging through her meal scraps for attack material, the first lady doesn’t have much to worry about.”

Perhaps not, but when western Colorado’s chronicle of record makes a few tongue-in-cheek comments from a radio talk show host the subject of an editorial, it could be that it’s editorial board should probably worry about finding something meaningful to write about.
Vaughn Park
Grand Junction

GarCo commissioners are
too tied to energy industry

Ever since the boom in gas drilling started in Garfield County, the political majority on the Board of County Commissioners has been making decisions that have, in my opinion, been turning our county government into an unregulated corporate anarchy to the detriment of the residents, property owners and voters who reside here.
Based on this, I was very disturbed but not surprised by the recent story concerning the fact that these commissioners now want to take over control of the county master planning in order to apparently serve the interests of their corporate masters and contributors.
This is a perfect example of how the corrupt and dysfunctional two-party political system works, especially if one of the parties is in control of the government. This brings to mind the adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It is interesting that all three of these commissioners are opposed to big government and the regulation of business and corporations, yet two of them have spent the majority of their careers depending on this very government for their livelihoods and the other one is involved with an industry that derives private profits from public lands that are highly regulated.

I think it is critical that those who are not minions of the two political parties take action to remove these politicians from office and replace them with individuals who will restore our county to a representative form of government.
Garry Evenson
Battlement Mesa

Richards has he right stuff
to serve on the City Council

Simply put, I support Jacob Richards run for Grand Junction City Council because he is an honorable man who has the motivation and determination to bring that same honor to the City Council.

Honor is a virtue that a man gives himself. It may be in many forms, sometimes it’s what he says, when he speaks the truth or refuses to bear false witness against another person.

Sometimes it’s what he does, such as maintaining an organization Like “Housing
First-No more deaths.” Jacobs’ work with this group means going out in sub-zero weather to be sure no homeless people are in danger of injury or death from exposure.

Sometimes it means standing up and speaking out when others are intimidated to do so, even if it is an unpopular or not politically correct in the eyes of some people.

Yes, Jacob knows that for evil to succeed, all that is needed, is for good people to do nothing. He has all the better virtues of a great leader.

If one should take a closer look at Jacobs’ life, they would see scars from a life wrought at the school of hard knocks. Making the best of every tough situation, becoming a better man through it all. Yet through all the trials of life, he has maintained a certain dignity and compassion beyond compare. I admire Jacob for being both outspoken, yet willing to listen.

I know Jacob to be all these things and more. I am proud to be his friend and support his run for office, here in Grand Junction. Consider this: Honor is not easily won or kept, although it is one the few things none can take away from a man who will stand and show the world his convictions and courage
Charley “Twodogs” Shaw

Park status could radically
change monument experience

The tone at the Feb. 23 forum, regarding the possible designation change of Colorado National Monument to national park status, was resoundingly in favor of the proposed change. But it’s a two-edged sword.

The national monument is currently being managed and operated as a national
park, according to Sen. Mark Udall and Superintendent Joan Anzelmo. So the only
reason for Congress to change the designation would be for political gain and/or increased user fees.

Locally, the only reason for the desired change, as expressed by the majority of the commentators at the meeting, is for increased prestige and visitor numbers. That equates to a benefit for business, and with that point I agree. But those increased numbers come at a very high price.

If you now enjoy the monument for hiking, biking, touring or simply a place to find a little serenity, you understand that those can be challenging endeavors with only 738,000 visitors a year. Give it park sp Park that’s now “on the map.”  with three or four times the
numbers to contend with.

Riding your bike in front of a tour bus without enough power to pass, which itself is holding up dozens of sightseers behind it, will assuredly change the experience — probably negatively, and probably for all involved.

Colorado National Monument simply cannot sustain the increased usage that would inevitably result from a change to Colorado National Park, or whatever the name might end up to be. The infrastructure is limited to what exists there now. There is no way to expand the volume of facilities to match the volume of visits that will occur.

Let us be conscious of the effects that will surely come with the proposed change. Let us carefully consider this proposal and recognize that “Power of Place,” as the headline on Anzelmo’s recent column called it, could be radically transformed if we allow the bottom line to guide the discussion that is now beginning to take place.
Bill Wagner
Grand Junction

Where are the jobs
Tipton said would come?

I have a question for Congressman Scott Tipton, since I can’t make his public appearance.

Where are the jobs he promised? He claimed to have a plan for jobs. Lets see it. You’re on the clock Mr. Tipton.
John A. Ijams
Grand Junction

Don’t blame teachers
for education problems

We spend so much time attacking the results of the problem rather than the problem itself. I would venture to say that most teachers are not to blame for the greater part of the problem that we now see in our education system. The problem is the system itself.

Between Engal v. Vitale (1962) and Abinton v. Schempp (1963), both prayer and Bible reading were removed from public schools. With them went the foundation for Truth and Moral Conduct. Data from Wallbuilders shows that, since those two rulings, violence and immorality have skyrocketed while standardized test scores have plummeted.

The problem facing my peers is not incompetent teachers. It is a system that, in the name of being “religiously tolerant” and “politically correct” has narrowed its vision to humanism alone as an acceptable ideology.

Discernment — the ability to tell between what is right and what is almost right — has been abandoned because suggesting that there is right and wrong might make some kids feel uncomfortable. We forget that the way we look at our world matters because it shapes how we think, and our ideas have consequences.

No longer is man a respected being, created in the image of God, called into life with a purpose and a destiny, but the great-grandchild of goo, descended from apes, risen to where he is by chance, coming from nowhere, going to nowhere. And we wonder why life is no longer valuable. Why most of my peers have no motivation.

A sense of purpose and a love of learning have been replaced with what feels good at the moment and the regurgitation of information onto a test. We are left stranded in the midst of a godless world, told that we are nothing but bewildered animals wandering through a meaningless history, destroying the planet while we do so, meaningless, hopeless. And you expect to fix it with another test?

My generation is a generation in desperation. We want to feel meaning and destiny in our lives. We need adults who will stand against the rising tide of humanistic thought, forget about being politically correct, and fight for our future. Teach us the reverence of God, and love for our fellow man; knowledge and even wisdom will follow.
Trisha A. Yeager
Grand Junction

Laurie Kadrich has shown
her budget bona fides

Recently, I phoned News 11 concerning a story they ran on the upcoming building projects in Grand Junction. I was referred to a phone number with city management. I phoned the city number and left a message.

I received a call in the afternoon from City Manager Laurie Kadrich. She answered my
questions in a clear and professional manner. She went on to explain the funding sources for the capital projects in the city and why these projects are progressing.

Bottom line from my conversation is that we have a city manager who understands that they have a budget and they develop the systems to stay within the budget parameters. Good job Ms. Kadrich.
Earl R White
Orchard Mesa

More local input needed
on possible park designation

On Feb. 23 at Mesa State College, I was present at a community forum regarding the possible designation of Colorado National Monument as a national park. The meeting, was billed as an opportunity to ask Sen. Mark Udall, who is considering carrying a bill in Congress which would change the Monument into a park, questions regarding the potential name change. In reality, the event turned out to be nothing more than a glorified public relations opportunity for the senator and other local leaders seeking a name change.

The event was largely dominated by individuals who read from prepared statements supporting such a designation — many of whom have a vested economic self-interest in supporting such a designation, such as the head of the local Visitor and Convention Bureau, and the founder of a local outdoor clothing company – and who are not necessarily representative of the broad mosaic of our community at-large.
If Colorado National Monument is to become a park, it is an issue that should first be discussed openly and at great length within our community, as such a designation would invariably bring much change to our valley. It would result in increased development and usage of public lands surrounding the monument, and could fundamentally alter the rural ethos and cultural identity of both the monument and our community at large.
If a decision were to be made without significant local input, it would be a terrible disgrace to all who call western Colorado home. I urge all who live in the valley to call the local offices of Sens. Udall and Michael Bennet, as well as Rep. Scott Tipton, and tell them you demand your voice be heard before a change be made.
Landon Bain
Grand Junction



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