E-mail letters, Sept. 27, 2010

It’s time to do something about homeless children

Famous physicist, Richard Feynman, once said “reality is comprised of those things that won’t go away, simply because we do not believe in them.” The time has come for our community to accept the fact that we have homeless children in our midst. How we treat these least amongst the least of us is a shame.

Anyone staying at the Homeward Bound homeless shelter must be out by 8 a.m. They cannot return until 5 p.m. For a homeless man or woman over 18, there is the Catholic Outreach day center. Here, they can get out of the searing heat/bitter cold/rain/snow/wind. They can wash their clothes, take a shower, drink coffee, make a phone call, and send and receive mail. Children are not allowed in the day center.
Do you care? Nearly half of all homeless children are under the age of five, so school, and after school programs do not apply. Currently, homeless mothers (and fathers) ride the bus all day to escape the elements. They sit in the mall, worried that they will be kicked out for not buying things. They walk. Colder weather is on the way. Do you care?

Our city council knows about this issue and is sitting this one out. The same with numerous non-governmental agencies and governmental agencies. The faith-based community seems to be A.W.O.L. on the issue also. If the tragedy of homeless children is to be justly and equitably resolved, it may well fall upon the shoulders of the average citizen. Do you care?

Then do something about it.

Grand Junction

Bennet, Salazar vote for the people

Here are three good reasons to vote for Michael Bennet and John Salazar this November. When the chips were down, they voted for people, not big corporations. Washington Republicans, in every case, took the side of big business, big insurance companies, and big financial dealers.

First, Bennet and Salazar voted for banking reform which strengthened government regulation of the financial industry. Virtually every Republican voted against reining in free-wheeling Wall Street banks that made risky junk investments and toppled the economy. Republicans were not serious about regulating Wall Street and they will coddle Wall Street donors again if we elect them in November.

Second, Bennet and Salazar helped insure 31 million more Americans. That’s 31 million fewer people who won’t file medical bankruptcies, won’t swell the welfare rolls and won’t walk away from expensive hospital bills. Insuring America is an economic benefit to everyone.

Third, Sen. Bennet and Rep. Salazar supported campaign finance disclosure laws, a bill which every single Republican in the Senate opposed. A vote for their Republican opponents is a vote for more murky politics, funded by foreign business interests and shadowy millionaire contributors.

We deserve better government than what the Republicans offer. Slick slogans and emotional arguments won’t bring good government. Only taking tough stands against big corporate lobbies will bring power back to the people.

New Castle

Salazar has pushed to save our way of life

John Salazar has represented the 3rd District with a centrist vision since 2003. As a Blue Dog Democrat, John has pushed for pay-as-you-go responsible fiscal policies throughout his tenure in the House of Representatives.

It is true that John voted for the $789 billion bailout. What has not been said is that every one of his harshest critics got a tax credit as part of that bailout.

It is very a dangerous year in politics. Irrational thoughts prevail. Vicious accusations without merit fly like wild demons across the TV and the radio. That bailout stabilized school districts, cities, towns and states across this nation, protecting the jobs of teachers, firemen and police officers. While the stimulus may not have created as many new jobs as hoped, it has given us, as a nation, time to adjust to a new realization, a chance to redevelop a new economy in America that will drive jobs and growth into the future. This fact has been largely ignored or denied by the right.

The right has become satiated within their delusions, their rhetoric and no longer question themselves, no longer question how their proposals will affect the economy. They do not question how their vision will effect our civilization. It is time to look around you, and think about our civilization.

What are you willing to give up in your daily life? Are you willing to forgo the safety you currently enjoy to drive to your job or the grocery store, or drop your son off at his football practice? Are you willing to slash the fire department budget, only to have your house insurance skyrocket? Are you sure the right is the right choice to lead this nation from this recession. Think very hard before choosing your next representative.

Grand Junction

Unions should have democratic voting process

On Sept. 24, Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, wrote a very wordy letter about how elections for unions to organize and represent workers will be conducted under the new National Mediation Board rule. It appears to me that working men and women will finally be afforded the same democratic process as the rest of our democratic society. It is how we elect our city, state and federal representatives, senators and the president of these United States. If the chamber is a democratic organization it is probably how she got her position. As the saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”


Amend. 60 and 61, Prop. 101 will hamstring our government

For eight years it was my honor to serve as the state senator from Mesa and part of Garfield counties (Senate District 7). At times, I found that the lines seemed blurred with what was going on at the federal level and what we were doing at the state. 

In Colorado we are mandated to balance the budget every year whereas at the federal level, unfortunately, deficit spending is allowed. To balance Colorado’s budget, even in better economic times, was no easy task. As an example, voter approved mandates for K-12 education automatically carve out 44 percent of the state budget. The Colorado general assembly must use the remainder for other critical needs such as roads, bridges, higher education, law enforcement officers and corrections facilities while still maintaining a balanced budget. If Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 are adopted by the voters eventually all of these (except K-12 education) will suffer dramatically.

Under the proposed Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, the state and local economies will suffer from jobs lost (currently estimated at about 73,000, most in the private sector) and the curtailment of much needed services at a time when we should be striving to encourage job growth and grow our economy.  The loss to Mesa County will be in the millions; we will see further reductions in law enforcement creating more opportunity for the criminal element to get away with their crimes and increasingly less maintenance for our streets and roads, no new highways or other major public projects and longer lines for access to government services such as drivers licenses services and vehicular license tags.

I encourage voters to educate themselves on the impact of these ballot issues which are known as the “ugly three” for good reason.  They are bad for the economy, bad for representative government where you make the choices based on state and local needs and bad for our children’s future.  I join leaders in both political parties and organizations throughout the state in urging you to vote “No” on Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.

(former) State Senator District 7

New union rules are progress for working people

A recent letter in The Daily Sentinel set forth a grievous mischaracterization of the National Mediation Board’s new rule for union elections in the aviation and rail industries (“Senate should reject the latest union plan,” September 23).

Let’s get the facts straight: The board’s new rule simply allows the majority of votes from voting employees to determine elections. The original process assumed voter intent by counting non-voters as “No” votes. That’s analogous to counting all non-voters as votes for the incumbent in a presidential election.

So there’s no question that the rule change made major strides toward ensuring fair and democratic elections for aviation and rail workers, regardless of their stance on unions. Senate Republicans wasted no time trying to undo that progress for working people, and we should all be relieved that they didn’t succeed. 

Executive Director
American Rights at Work
Washington, D.C.

It seems as though the Personhood Amendment is back for an encore despite the fact that the voters of Colorado soundly defeated this amendment two years ago. This amendment is virtually the same. Only two words were changed most likely to obfuscate the issue. Also you know what they say about people who keep repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome.

The amendment is designed to stop abortions. It goes far beyond that and may even be unconstitutional since it does not provide for preserving the mother’s life.

In additional, since it defines a human being as existing from the moment of conception, there are a number of currently popular contraceptive methods being used that could be outlawed even though there is no proof that these methods interrupt a pregnancy.

Other consequences include the possibility that a pregnant woman who causes a traffic accident that results in the loss of her fetus could be charged with manslaughter or even worse, murder. Anyone observing a pregnant woman smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages would have to report her for child abuse as well as any pregnant woman who fails to get prenatal care. The Department of Human services will go nuts just trying to keep up with all of the reports.

I urge you to do just what you did last time this amendment was presented and vote “No” on Amendment 62, the personhood amendment.

Grand Junction

Buck wants to restore the original intent of the Constitution

It is disturbing that democrats and Sen. Michael Bennet are running misleading ads against Ken Buck claiming he wants to rewrite the Constitution. If they knew and understood the Constitution, they would know that it wasn’t until April 8, 1913 when Amendment XVII was ratified that senators were elected by the people of each state. That is when the Constitution was rewritten.

All Ken Buck said is that we should go back to what the founders of the Constitution wanted, which was that each state’s elected representatives would select the senators. Whether you agree with Ken Buck on this issue or not, we don’t need a senator like Michael Bennett who does not have a basic understanding of our Constitution.

Grand Junction

Name change could make a big difference

I read with great interest the recent front-page story and editorial on the benefits of changing the name of Colorado National   Monument to Colorado National Park. Just this past weekend, my husband and I met two couples traveling in Mesa County from out of state. When we asked them if they had visited Colorado National Monument, we were met with blank and disinterested stares.

When we explained that the Monument is a unit of the National Park Service, their interest began rising. When we told them that the Monument is comprised of dramatic red-rock sandstone canyons, we had said the magic words and they decided to visit. Which makes me ask: If a name change from Monument to Park is in the works, why not change the name entirely to give those beautiful canyons a more descriptive title?

For example, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area was originally named Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area. Why couldn’t this name be resurrected and applied to the CNM, to be known as Colorado Canyons National Park? This name would tell visitors what to expect and pique their interest in coming to visit. 

In addition, as I   thought about the wealth of national parks in the west, I thought of the Great Circle Tour which is heavily promoted and brings visitors to Zion, Bryce Canyons and the Grand Canyon national parks. How about the Sandstone Circle Tour: our Colorado National Monument (hopefully now a park), Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks? This tour could be jointly promoted by entities within Mesa County and Grand County, Utah, with Grand Junction as the natural transportation hub.

Grand Junction

Legislators should let land-swap bill die

I live in the North Fork Valley and have for approximately 17 years. My family and my friends have enjoyed this piece of public land being offered in the Central Rockies Land Exchange Act for over 30 years where we have been horseback riding, hunting, fishing and camping. We are the ones who have maintained this area and cleared this trail during this time.

I have been interviewed four times by the newspapers which I greatly appreciate; however; after every interview I always have more questions and find that most of my questions don’t have answers.

Congressman Salazar said that the Gunnison County commissioners approached him regarding the exchange of 900 acres of sandstone and rock with no aspens, spruce or foliage for 1,800 acres of some of the most beautiful hunting, fishing and hiking area in the state. Why? So Mr. Koch can ride around 6 weeks a year with his friends and have his own private hunting preserve and cattle ranch.

Mr. Koch can buy anything in the world and be happy doing it, but the public land was set up for small ranches and the public to have access to the national forest and not just at the end of each mountain range. This is why small parcels of land were set aside between big parcels of land; for public access.

Mr. Koch also promised the improvement of the ATV trial to the Thunder Mountain Wheelers for $250,000. This two mile stretch of access from Erickson Springs to the upper 820 trail is supposed to be widened and improved for motorized vehicles; however; the first half mile is owned by others. Do we know how they feel regarding this promise? I can’t believe that all the members of the Thunder Mountain Wheelers were aware of the support they supposedly were giving to this bill when their past president signed his letter. I was invited to present my side of this issue to the Thunder Mountain Wheelers, but was misinformed about the date of the meeting and at this time would like to apologize for not attending.

The way Congressman Salazar went about the implementation of this bill is legal, but it is not right. He has taken a bill through the back door and ignored his constituents that use this public land.

It is obvious by all the letters and articles written in various newspapers that there is much public interest in this land exchange from Delta County residents. There have been many questions left unanswered these last two months that need a public forum where both sides of the issue can be addressed. To accomplish this, all parties involved need to be invited to answer questions: National Forest Department, Bureau of Land Management, state parks, Fish and Game, local and state legislators and most importantly the people of Delta County.

I am asking the bill be publicly rescinded from congressional consideration. I do not believe Congressman Salazar when he says the bill will die at the end of this session and that he will wait to reintroduce the bill next year. If he is not re-elected this November, he will not owe anything to our district which leaves him free to push this bill for Mr. Koch. I voted for Congressman Salazar in the last election and I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I am an independent. I trusted Mr. Salazar to be representative of this district until he misrepresented himself to me last year and did not keep his promise regarding reading and understanding a bill before voting for and passing it, disregarding the people in the district he represented.

I would request that the public also call Sens. Udall and Bennett and ask that their bill be publicly rescinded from consideration as well.

Part of this trail that will be included in the exchange is the only non-motorized trail that accesses this part of the Gunnison National Forest. It is the only trail for horseback riders and hikers to use and trust in the tranquility and lushness of our public lands and enjoy the spectacular views of our surrounding wilderness. If this bill gets reintroduced in 2011 then Delta County should be part of the process.

On Oct. 3, at 8 a.m., a hike is being organized by NWCC to explore the area that is being exchanged for public land outside of our area. Congressman Salazar’s staff from Grand Junction has been invited to attend. This hike will include three miles roundtrip on an easy four-wheel drive BLM road from 7,000 feet, followed by a four miles roundtrip through the Gunnison National Forest starting at 7,400 feet, turning around at 8,000 feet. We will meet at the Paonia Kiosk on Highway 133, then travel by caravan to graveled Gunnison County Route 2 and take this south past the campgrounds at the north end of Paonia Reservoir, then east up a major draw to the BLM road; this point is 24 miles from Paonia.

I strongly urge our congressman and senators to not reintroduce this bill in 2011. Please leave the public lands to us, to give to our grandchildren.



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