Email letters, March 4, 2013

ATV motorists in backcountry predominately young, fit

Being a veteran/former Air Force officer and co-chairman of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, I find it extremely troubling when non-veterans (in particular) purport to speak for those of us who have proudly served (and sacrificed for) our country and who today are fighting to protect our nation’s public lands heritage from the likes of OHV overuse and abuse.

We hear the excuses. “ATVs allow the old and physically limited to hunt or access our public lands.” We’re all for responsible access, but the 17,700 miles of Forest Service roads in Colorado provide plenty of access.

Besides, any game warden will tell you that 9 out of 10 folks on ATVs are young men in their 30s, healthy and fully capable of walking. They make a conscious choice to use ATVs -— cutting corners and doing things the easy way.

Bill Sustrich, an 85-year-old WW II veteran (and NRA life/benefactor member), says, “I recognize there are some physically challenged vehicle users. Visit any nearby Veterans Administration hospital for some good examples. However, the majority of present-day, off highway and all- terrain vehicle users are young, healthy and fit.”

U.S. Army veteran Paul Vertrees adds, “What these motorized hunters won’t tell you is that as road and OHV trail density increases in an area, the quality and size of wildlife habitat declines significantly. Once a certain level of motorized use occurs during a hunting season, the elk will completely abandon an area and often move onto private land. The result is that the motorized hunting crowd has, in effect, denied their own access to the very game they pursue.”

DAVID LIEN, Co-chairman
Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Colorado Springs

Democrats try to tamp down gun manufacturer’s fears

In Sunday’s paper an article the Democrats are trying to assuage Magpul’s fears on the new gun laws they are trying to pass.

First Democrats want to pass a law that limits what size magazines they can produce—unless they are sold to out-of-state buyers.

Second, Democrats still want them, however, to stay in Colorado so that the state can have access to the revenue they will produce.

I find this hypocritical at best. That is like a grocery store that sells milk in your town, but cannot do so unless it sells it to those in another state. But the government gets the revenue from the store’s sale.

I only hope that those who pass more of these laws are around if, God forbid, one of these terrible crimes
happens again. They will realize everyone tried to tell them it would happen again; we just did not know when.

Criminals do not care about Democrats’ laws; they have their own agenda.

Grand Junction

Good data a prerequisite for good discussions

Gun regulation is one of the most emotional issues of this decade. A major problem in discussing this issue is finding and using valid “facts.” 

In his March 1 letter to the editor, Roy Weaver claimed that “incidents of firearm injuries, including death, have been . . . dropping significantly over the past several decades while the number of privately owned firearms has doubled.”  Weaver added, however, “I don’t have the precise figures at my fingertips.” 

Well, here are some reasonably “precise figures.”  Compilations of data from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), that tracks this type of information,  by Bloomberg show firearm related deaths increasing from 1979 to 1992; decreasing from 1992 to 1999; and finally increasing continuously to 2011, the last date data was available (ref. web post by Bloomberg entitled American Gun Deaths to Exceed Traffic Fatalities by 2015, published 12/19/2012).     

Firearm-related deaths only “decrease” over the last few decades if you draw a straight line from the maximum in 1992 to the present day value (31,672 firearm related deaths) and neglect all the data in between.     

There is also no doubt that the number of firearms sold has been significant in the last few years, but again data published in the Washington Post from several different sources show that the number of households in the United States owning guns has been steadily declining from 1959 until 2010, the last year data was available.     

One might conclude from this observation that the majority of guns being sold are bought by those who already own guns and not necessarily new gun owners (The Washington Post, Twelve Facts about Guns and Mass shootings in the United States, published 12/14/2012).

Good and reliable data can provide a basis for good discussions.  Facts are always facts, and opinions, well, they are usually just more warm air.


Sentinel needs to let up on Unfug story

Even when you’re an expert at beating a dead horse, simple common sense would tell you that at some point the horse is dead and it’s time to take the train.

Duffy Hayes’ Saturday article reporting that an “an analysis of thousands of pages of emails Mesa County commissioners exchanged” obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed essentially nothing should be a wake-up call to the Sentinel that the Unfug firing story is kaput. There’s nothing there.

There is no question that when it obtained the emails from the Mesa County commissioners that the Sentinel was digging for something sinister and conspiratorial to indicate impropriety in the release of Chantal Unfug as county administrator.

When this investigation found nothing snarky, gossipy or otherwise untoward, Hayes wrote an article complaining that the emails “showed that there was no discussion among commissioners about either the Jan. 18 meeting or the Jan. 22 firing, nor was there any discussion about Unfug’s status generally via email.”

Perhaps Hayes would like readers to conclude that the absence of talk about Unfug means that there was something afoot so deep and menacing that our county commissioners dared not transmit it via emails.

What will Hayes’ next move be in the saga of Unfug’s firing? Perhaps he will subpoena county commissioners’ text messages. It should be fun to see how he interprets thousands of LOLs, BRBs, LMAOs and the especially crafty RBTLs.

Let it go, guys. Just let it go.


Grand Junction

Volunteering is like filling pockets with sunshine

In response to listening to the broadcast on 97 FM Christian Radio for “Habitat for Humanity,” I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a recommendation.

I recently had done some research in various local and national news articles regarding volunteering, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the impact volunteering has had world wide is astronomical.

I am absolutely privileged and honored to share my experience. I, now more than ever, feel as if I am equal in value to the most prominent movie star, a president or even a queen of a small country.

Volunteers get presidents elected, feed the hungry, prevent wars and fight
them. They house the homeless and clothe the naked, visit prisoners and free them inside their steel bars.

They rebuild the brokenness of poverty, tutor the handicapped and bring about enthusiastic hysteria during Olympic Games…etc. Without them I honestly wondered how the world would survive.

I have volunteered my services off and on since I was 13 in hospitals, churches, prisons, food banks, school, etc. For me, the most profound and significant out of all of them, however, has been where I now volunteer, the “Re-Store” for “Habitat for Humanity.”

It may possibly be because of where I am in my own life’s journey, or that I have grown enough spiritually, emotionally and mentally to appreciate what it means to be a part of something bigger than my own four walls. Something that honestly revolutionizes lives—mine included.

I’ve met two out of more than 500,00 families for whom Habitat has built new homes, and I stand in awe of the “humanity” Habitat represents that shows through the joy of their hearts as new homeowners who are equal in value as others more fortunate.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But, in a selflessness act I have become a bit selfish, because it is I who is blessed. In turn, they have honored and respected me as if I were a queen of a small country, one they were building a castle for. For me, they have.

I have indisputably found my home in the warm, loving environment of the family of Habitat. “You shine your light like a city on a hill…”

If ever find yourself asking about your purpose, go, run and find it in the commitment and dedication of sacrificial service. Volunteer! As for me, I thrive in a Habitat for Humanity as a witness to “pockets full of sunshine”—mine included!


Grand Junction

Politicians must stop spending money they do not have

I’m sure we all got one of those “registered voter” thingies in the mail recently. It’s the one that explains the latest referendum proposal. It sounds to me like another excuse to override TABOR.

It seems our politicians are constantly finding reasons to raise and spend tax money they don’t have. They claim we need those projects now and TABOR prevents that from happening. Well, duh! That’s what TABOR’s supposed to do.

There’s no doubt all those proposed projects would be nice. But, overriding TABOR is just an invitation to do it again and again until they can figure out how to repeal it altogether.

After all, I suspect it’s just “the camel’s nose under the tent,” with the ultimate goal being to eliminate TABOR, allowing them to raise taxes any time without approval. If you can’t afford to build something now, then wait until you can.

It’s the “buy now-pay later” attitude that’s got the national debt all monkeyed up.

For crying out loud, show a little patience. You act like a bunch of little kids sometimes.


Grand Junction

Firing of Chantal Unfug secretive, political

We have been waiting for explanations concerning the firing/resignation of County Administrator Chantal Unfug. Well, I’ve had enough. If Lyle Dechant believes the open meetings laws are obstacles to overcome, we need to see his resignation.

If our county commissioners, all three of them, believe they are above the law, we need to see their resignations.

There is no way to have a public meeting as required by law and the county administrator to not know about it. If these commissioners are found to have deleted emails to protect themselves, I want to see criminal charges.

The truth is, and we all know it, this was political.

Grand Junction

Colorado already has swath of roadless land

David Lien’s letter of Feb. 28 has prompted me to respond with some additional information that he conveniently omitted.

The Federal Register states that in Colorado 4.2 million acres of Forest Service land are already designated as roadless. The website of Canyon Country Wilderness lists 1.2 million acres of BLM land as “largely roadless.”

So, the amount of land already designated as roadless is a swath one mile wide, stretching from Utah to Kansas about 19 times. It seems as if we’ve got quite a bit of roadless ground in this state already.

Isn’t it nice when our friends from Colorado Springs, Boulder and other distant places take such an interest in our backyard? I, for one, say leave us alone. It ain’t broke, so don’t try fixin’ it.



Monument lacks grandeur compared to Yellowstone, Zion

Changing the name of Colorado National Monument to a national park is wrong.

National park status designates the finest natural treasures in our country. National parks are not designated to increase tourism and boost the local economy. They preserve and present to the public the most special places.

Colorado National Monument is nice, and I visit it often. It, however, does not have the grandeur or size that warrants calling it a national park. To do so diminishes all those national parks that are truly special. It simply is not in the same league as Yellowstone, Zion or Grand Canyon.

Renaming the monument is like saying the Dalton Trumbo bronze in front of the Avalon is as special as the Lincoln Memorial.

Glade Park

High court to rule soon on Section 5 of Voting Rights Act

The impending Supreme Court decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder as to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) portends a watershed in the political history of the United States.

Article I, Section 4, of our Constitution (1787) granted states authority to “prescribe” the “time, place, and manner” of federal elections, but empowered Congress to “make or alter such regulations.”

In 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) granted citizenship to former slaves and suffrage to male citizens over age 21.

The Fifteenth Amendment (1868) prohibited states from denying and/or abridging any citizen’s right to vote “on account of race [and/or] color” and empowered Congress to enforce that prohibition “by appropriate legislation.”

In 1876 our Supreme Court – in United States v. Reese (right to vote denied for failing to timely pay a tax) – held the Enforcement Act of 1870 (which criminalized violations of the Fifteenth Amendment) to be not “appropriate” (and thus unconstitutional) because an operative section of the act failed to repeat the language of the Fifteenth Amendment.

Thereafter, states enacted poll taxes and literacy tests for “new” (i.e. black) voters, but “grandfathered” prior (i.e., white) voters.

In 1884 the Supreme Court ruled that “grandfathering” was unconstitutional, but it took the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (1964) to ban tax payment as a prerequisite for voting.

Section 5 empowers the Department of Justice to protect minority voting rights – before they are violated—by requiring specified jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting laws to obtain “preclearance” from the department of any new voting laws.

If Section 5 is invalidated, the department can seek enforcement in federal courts only after violations occur – and its already sequestered resources will likely be overwhelmed by the ongoing voter suppression efforts of Republican-controlled state legislatures.     

Grand Junction

How did feds gain control of local services?

Your feature article entitled Sequester Pressure makes one can’t help but wonder how we got to the point where Washington has made such an intrusion into our everyday lives.

While I do not question the accuracy of the article by Gary Harman, I do question why it seems that the federal government seems to have its tentacles in all these local “services.”

Had the responsibilities for most of these items been left to our local and state governments, would the sequester really be necessary or be such a serious threat to us here in Colorado? Would it really matter? Think about it.


Grand Junction

Unfug’s firing does not demonstrate open, transparent governance

Duffy Hayes has done a superb job of tracking the treatment of Chantal Unfug’s firing. To quote his last article: “A Daily Sentinel analysis of the emails sent and received by Unfug and the three commissioners between the dates of Jan. 8 and Jan. 22 ... showed that there was no discussion among commissioners about either the Jan. 18 meeting or the Jan. 22 firing, nor was there any discussion about Unfug’s status generally via email.” 

Having read the emails provided, it is quite clear Unfug had no inkling of her upcoming firing.

It is also patently obvious that Pugliese, Justman and possibly Aquafresca had plenty of discussion regarding the matter. This occurred, most probably, before 18 Jan. 18 meeting, to which they all answered, including the city attorney, “I don’t know” to many of Hayes’ questions.

Did the outgoing commissioners perhaps start that firing ball rolling before the new commissioners were even sworn in? Or after? Or at all?

I suspect the Colorado Sunshine Law was violated to the nth degree. If it was not, I would gladly entertain a discussion with the current commissioners to explain why not. Fat chance of that, I am sure.
This does not bode well for a transparent and open environment for our city government.

Grand Junction


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