Email Letter: August 9, 2017

Whitewater energy proposal threatens valley’s watershed

For 54 years, my family has lived, worked, and raised cattle on upper Whitewater Creek Road where our ranch is located. Usually, the only real problems we had to worry about were paying the mortgage, property taxes, and how much snow would fall each year to provide the water we use to irrigate our fields, water the livestock, and raise crops. Most folks not familiar with the area would be surprised to know that we have excellent soil and just enough water to raise every vegetable and flower that can be grown in Mesa County.

Now, however, the most concerning problem is underground. Fram LLC is proposing to develop 108 oil wells in the Whitewater area between Palisade and Highway 50 along the base of the Grand Mesa. This area is watershed for not just ranchers like me, but for all of Grand Junction. The watershed does not stop at the top of the Grand Mesa. Rather, it extends well down into the high mesas and valleys, entering Whitewater Basin and all the way down to Highway 50. The creeks in this area run year round and there are also springs that I rely on for water for my ranch. What would happen if any of these were contaminated? Fram plans to use hydraulic fracturing technology to drill directionally. They will cement the top of the hole, but you can’t control where the chemicals go underground.

One of the proposed well sites is on private land, my land, developing federal minerals, creating a split estate situation. Under state law, I can only comply with this proposal. However, I can raise my concerns with the BLM and the city of Grand Junction. I ask you to do the same, as people who rely on this watershed for your drinking water and as taxpayers. I understand that this proposal will bring some jobs to the county. However, water is the most important resource we have, without it every other industry in the valley would not survive. We must hold this project to the highest standards possible to protect it.


Moderate sales tax increase would help address crime problem

Crime is a growing problem in our community. And while many factors contribute to an increase in the crime rate, a lack of police on the street and an underfunded District Attorney’s Office are certainly major parts of the equation. Addressing these shortfalls is a key component to a solution.

As property and violent crime have increased in Mesa County at a far faster rate than neighboring counties, our Sheriff’s Office has been stretched unacceptably thin. The number of police per capita in the county is far below the rate maintained by many other counties in the state, most of which are not plagued by our rising crime rate. A minimal sales tax increase of just .37 cents on a $100 purchase would allow the sheriff to hire enough deputies, and give those officers the support and resources they need to actually stop crime, and not just react after crimes are committed.

The District Attorney’s office may be in even worse shape than our Sheriff’s Office in terms of adequate funding. Not only is the DA’s office understaffed – this office has fewer attorneys than comparable Judicial Districts, but operates with about half the support staff (investigators, victim advocates and the like) of those districts. Furthermore, Mesa is the only county of its size to see the public defender’s office better funded than its DA. The public defender has roughly the same sized staff as the DA. It needs to be remembered that the DA’s office handles every criminal case in the county – the public defender handles only a fraction. This imbalance tips the scales of justice in favor of the criminal, at the expense of the victim.

A sales tax is the fairest tax that can be levied given that our public safety agencies are used by more than just property owners, but by visitors as well. A modest 0.37 percent increase is a small price to share to give our cops and DA’s a fighting chance.

Grand Junction

Mesa County has historically failed to vote on bright future for D51 students

Megan Fromm’s searing indictment of Mesa County voters in a recent Denver Post op-ed for not approving any money since 2004 for school infrastructure hits the nail on the head. She states that an entire K-12 generation has not seen any money spent on schools and that these voters have abandoned any effort to provide any kind of a bright future for District 51 students. It’s appalling that teachers in this district should have to pay money out of their own pocket for school supplies, work in buildings with crumbling infrastructure, use District 51 textbooks that are woefully out of date or host financial campaigns like “Stuff the Bus” at the Mall, which shouldn’t even be necessary.

Mesa County voters, according to Fromm, “have not just tightened our wallets but they have cut off our nose to spite our face.” These voters have been brainwashed by the talking heads in the conservative media into not paying for anything worthwhile, even something as important as the future of our young students. They have been brainwashed way beyond common sense to believe that the citizens of this great country should only vote for an ongoing austerity program.

Mesa County voters’ mantra these days is “Made America Crappy Again!” That about sums it up.

Grand Junction

League of Women Voters to sponsor program about problem solving courts

There is a way to keep addicts out of jail and promote recovery. It is a problem solving court, an expansion of drug courts that combine treatment and the judicial system. Brenidy Rice, the state’s problem solving court coordinator says, “You can’t punish someone out of addiction.”

Colorado has 79 problem solving courts: eight are adult mental health courts, seven are juvenile, 27 are adult drug courts, six are veteran’s courts, 13 are family drug courts and 16 are DUI courts. Mesa County is only one of two counties with no problem solving court in Colorado. Chief Judge Brian J. Flynn declined to talk to the League of Women Voters about this alternative.

On Monday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalists Church, 536 Ouray Ave, the League of Women Voters will sponsor a program about problem solving courts, which will be open to the public.

We have two outstanding speakers. The first will be Martha Amos, a local counselor who recently worked at the jail. She wrote her recent doctorate dissertation about drug courts in Colorado. The second speaker will be Doug Hanshaw, Problem Solving Court Coordinator in our neighboring district that includes Delta and Montrose.

Please come, learn, and become an advocate for our community.


It’s a no-brainer to designate a University Boulevard adjacent to CMU campus

Am I the only one reading the paper shaking my head at the lunacy of arguments being made by a few people opposing a name change for North Avenue? A few short years ago, Grand Junction played host to a sleepy little state college no one really paid attention to. Now, we’ve got a growing university that hosts over 10,000 students every year. It’s crazy for Grand Junction not to take advantage of this fact and claim its rightful place as this region’s university town. A no-brainer way to claim this place would include designating a University Boulevard adjacent to campus – like virtually every other town that recognizes the importance of hosting a college or university has done.

And let’s not kid ourselves. Drive from one end of North Avenue to the other and you’ll see a once bustling corridor rotting on the vine. To be sure, changing the name of the street is no silver bullet. However, looking the other way as more and more merchants close their doors along North is not an option.

City Council – change the name and find a way to invest in sprucing up this corridor. For once, let’s take a little pride in our community.

Grand Junction

The Daily Sentinel fights the good fight

Though I no longer live in the Grand Valley, I grew up here and it’s a place I’m proud to call home. I still visit my family in Grand Junction multiple times a year, and one of the ways I keep connected with the community is through The Daily Sentinel.

Unfortunately, whenever I read their stories online, they’re almost always accompanied by a slew of comments from people who attack their journalism for whatever reason they deem fit. I studied journalism in college, and though I did not end up pursuing a career in journalism, I want to voice my defense of their journalistic ethics.

Right now, the leaders of our country are leveraging an attack on the free press. They deem any news they don’t like as “fake,” and do their best to discredit the press at any opportunity. Many people are frustrated with the press, and want to blame them for biased reporting and for curating falsities. Though some news agencies do bias left or right, the majority of the staff working in journalism are sticking to the journalistic code of ethics, and reporting fact-based information. The crew at The Daily Sentinel is fighting this good fight.

I’m not a liberal, and I’m not a conservative. I look to bipartisan news sources to form my opinions – as should everyone who strives to come to a balanced outlook on politics and life as we know it. The culture that the Trump administration is trying to sow is very dangerous to our democracy. They have even gone as far as to launch a “news” station known as Trump TV, with the goal to influence its viewers to adopt the beliefs held by the administration. This walks the line of state-mandated propaganda, and should not be a source of news for the American people. It’s neither fair nor balanced news, and it’s unethical journalism, if we can even call it journalism.

We’re living in an age where our own people are attacking the very fabric of our democracy. My ask is this: Instead of going out of our way to try and discredit our local newspaper, why don’t we do our best to hold them accountable for providing fair and balanced news? I assure you they are striving to do this every day.

Come on guys, we’re better than this. Let’s stop assaulting our free press with nasty comments and start supporting them to keep doing better and better.


Global climate change situation demands strategic action

The Earth will burn from heat trapping CO2, or the Earth will freeze from saturated particulates reflecting sunlight back into space. It’s not unlike the old Twilight Zone episode where a woman is delirious, suffering from the heat because the Earth is moving toward the sun, then awakens from her fever to find that the Earth is moving away from the sun, and freezing.

We can enact reforms and create jobs, but the situation demands strategic action. This controversial thing called “global warming” is not a gradual, naughty, endless progression. Once the critical tipping point is reached, there is no return. In our naive way, we are creating the ignition source for the destruction of life on Earth. We are the “match.”

When things go awry, methane hydrates on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean will erupt in the magnitude of ten thousand billion tons. These methane hydrates will ignite, dispersing eight times the CO2 derived from methane. England could become a Sahara, but not before the jungles of Africa and South America are incinerated. Beyond that point, things could reverse, and in the wink of an aeon, the oceans could freeze.

The strategic idea is to balance, then minimize the CO2, and the particulates, before the critical tipping point, by law, as needed.

Grand Junction

Trump is not a voice of reason in sensitive North Korea negotiations

Trump. “Is this the man you want to have the nuclear codes?” asked Hillary Clinton during the election campaign. Today, President Trump continues to demonstrate why he should not be in the Whitehouse. During this sensitive time of negotiating with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, the president warns, without any known consultation with his advisors or Congress, that if North Korea continues to threaten the United States, “there will be fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

We are now allowing two bullies on the playground with the capability to blow up the school, but in this case, destroy parts of the world, its inhabitants and hurt its precious atmosphere for centuries. Where is the voice of reason? As Margaret Mead said, “We have no where else to go… this is all we have.”

Grand Junction

Oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Outdoor retailers, including more than 100 Colorado outdoor companies and Colorado businesses, signed a letter opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The $887 billion spent on recreation on public land is enough reason to protect this renewable resource. Sen. Cory Gardner indicated he would vote with Alaskan lawmakers who want to drill on
the 1.5 million acres of coastal plain, recognized as the “cradle of life” by Arctic Gwich’in people who have survived on caribou for 20,000 years for their spiritual, cultural and physical existence.

The Arctic Refuge is one of the largest remaining complete ecosystems in the world, containing the greatest animal diversity in any circumpolar region and is highly sensitive to development. In 1980, Congress doubled the size to 19 million acres to “conserve fish and wildlife populations and their habitats; including the Porcupine caribou herd to fulfill international treaty obligations, and to provide for subsistence uses.”

Trekking the Arctic Refuge I saw small herds of caribou turning into thousands pouring over the passes on their way to the coastal plain to calve. From a ridge I saw the lagoons and rich grasses that support the animal species tourists come to see, and 200 bird species that fly to six continents. There are no roads, no human trails; you can hunt, fish, kayak, canoe, raft, backpack and experience wilderness as it was created. This pristine wilderness is public land and belongs to every American.



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