Email letters, April 25, 2013

Local leaders’ support of park status speaks volumes

The historic dream to re-designate the Colorado National Monument a national park appears closer to fruition than ever before. The cities of Fruita, Grand Junction, and Palisade first led the way now a host of others including the Colorado National Monument Association, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Grand Junction Chamber and Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association have followed.

Why? Tourism is a clean and coveted industry. Visitors don’t use schools or services, but their dollars benefit both. Grand Valley lodging and sales tax revenues are down, and Mesa County unemployment numbers hover above 9 percent.

Only national park status will convince foreign tour groups that land at our regional airport and then hit the road for national parks (costing the Grand Valley hundreds of thousands dollars in estimated losses) to stay and enjoy our valley’s first-rate shops, wineries, and recreation. Changing the name won’t do that.

With its ancient ruins, mysterious petroglyphs, rare fossils and dinosaur footprints, thousand-year-old pinons and exposed collage of time, the monument exceeds National Park Service qualifications to join other “first-tier” national parks.

Congressman Scott Tipton and Sen. Mark Udall’s two-year study group confirmed NPS would operate our national park exactly as it currently runs our national monument. No changes to bikers, homeowners, or recreationists. Air quality classification, boundaries, and Glade Park access remain unchanged.

As for visitor traffic, tours groups are now at their lowest numbers in decades (500 visited in 199; 125 visited last year). They are directed to arrive late morning and generally completely miss bikers who wisely ride the earliest morning hours to avoid the searing summer heat.

Those of us committed to this labor of love often burn the midnight oil to confirm facts. We are overwhelmed by the possibilities and decidedly underwhelmed by those who rush to publicly heft “red flags” to park status before they bother to establish a single fact.

That local leaders such as Tillie Bishop, Bernie Buescher, Tim Foster, Jamie Hamilton, Bruce Benge, Josh Penry, Robert Bray, Shane King, John Williams, Rudy Sharp, Jack Neckels and numerous other leaders, citizens, hikers, bikers, organizations and businesses have evaluated the facts and chosen to support the goal of a national park should speak volumes to our community about its intrinsic value.

Our community stands together now as it once stood behind John Otto in 1907 to create something truly great and unselfish for generations to come.

Wallace Stegner was right when he said, “National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best, rather than our worst.”

The time for legislation is here. Our community is assured a voice in the drafting. If you have ever gasped in wonder at its shadows and light, powered your bike beyond its winding crest at sunrise, hiked its sheltering canyons or reflected from your own “private” precipice, you already get it.

Sincerest thanks to all who step up to support and lead the way. Learn the facts at http://www.gjforparkstatus.com.

TERRI L. CHAPPELL
Grand Junction Region Citizens for a National Park
Grand Junction

Secure border before reforming any immigration legislation

Both parties are selling us a bill of goods. Without a secure border, reform will never work. I listened to a congressman explaining how it will give us access to a whole new group of people with skills.

What skills? We have a couple million college graduates applying for work at McDonalds. Let’s get them to work first.

How many illegals do you think look at the fence and say, “If I can get across, there’s a job for me at Microsoft”? They need to look into climbing a fence into India or China. That’s where Apple, Verizon and G.E. do the hiring.

I’m not against immigration. I’m against buying voter blocs.

DON McCLUNG
Parachute

Park status would impact residents’ quality of life

I’m in complete agreement with the Huffakers’ April 23rd letter to the editor, concerning the name change of the monument. Quality of life is very important to my husband and me, as Redlands residents, as well as to the thousands of others living out here. We are the citizens who would be most impacted by the proposed name change from monument to park.

Changing the name to park doesn’t necessarily bring in more tourists, as has been noted at Sand Dunes and Black Canyon Parks. Tourism should never be relied upon as a sure source of income for an area, because lean years do happen. Also, it doesn’t produce good-paying jobs since most of the employment would be service related, a portion of which would be part-time and seasonal.

A dirty little secret about park status is land grabbing, and little is said about it in the media and elsewhere. But it does happen. Private property rights are meaningless to the feds, and Glade Park and the Redlands would be prime targets for “buffer zones.” Who wants to lose their land to a name change?

The impact on the land from enticing more people to visit (if that actually happens) should be of great concern to our local environmentalists. People habitually “love the land to death” and our beautiful monument could physically change and not for the better. It really isn’t big enough for park designation, and the roads are way too narrow.

So, I certainly hope Udall and Tipton will think twice about changing the monument’s name and also our good way of life.

SUE BENJAMIN
Grand Junction

Grand jury drug indictment pertains to immigration debate

In a sweeping investigation by local and federal law enforcement with suspects moving between destinations such as Southern California and Atlanta, a grand jury indictment accuses 36 people of various roles in an alleged drug organization that was selling pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine in Mesa County and being supplied by a source in Mexico. This from the headlines of Thursday’s Daily Sentinel (4/25/2013).

Yet Michael Bennet and Mark Udall make no connection whatsoever to Mexican cartels having any influence on Colorado, if we are to take the babble they send in canned literature when one sends them messages on their own websites.

All they see is 12 million voters the minute we make illegal aliens citizens? Why would we make “ILLEGAL ALIENS” citizens? My ancestors came through Ellis Island and lived on reservations in the East and in Oklahoma.

We have a process in this country to become a citizen, and if one has convictions on one’s record that pretty much denies one the privilege to become a citizen, does it not?

So, instead we arm cartels with state of the art weaponry, deny our citizens the rights to the same protections, tax them higher to pay for welfare babies and citizenry, and then reward the illegal perpetrators with rights for committing crimes and offenses against the country they illegally entered?

Mexico doesn’t treat us that way. Why do we treat illegal (there’s that word again) aliens (oh! another one) that way?

Then, to top it all off, when one does take the time to write one’s elected officials, one gets a canned letter of condescending demeanor, telling one to visit their propaganda sites of socialist engineering.

Don’t even get me started on the state houses of Communist elite. Sign me “from my cold, dead hands” around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

RICHARD BRIGHT

Grand Junction

Nation too ‘war weary’ to express thanks to soldiers

I guess we’ve finally become “war weary” because any mention of writing soldiers these days is met with unconcern.

We’re so busy with mundane routine and the never-ending quest for the almighty dollar, there’s no time for thoughts about soldiers. But, isn’t what they do each day what allows us to be as unconcerned as we are?

News is about everything except soldiers, the rotten economy, unemployment, gun control and senseless murders.

There’s a war raging in Afghanistan, and CNN’s version of what’s going on is pure fantasy according to one front-line soldier.

Some of his thoughts follow:

“This country blows! It’s not even a country. There’s no roads, no infrastructure, no government. It’s an inhospitable rock pit ruled by 11th century warring tribes.

These guys are Huns, actual living Huns. They live to fight, it’s what they do it’s all they do. Roaming packs of savages, cavemen with AK-47’s.

CNN calls them “smart”. They’re not smart. They’re “cunning”, like jackals and hyenas, sneaky, ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They’re hateful parasites who create nothing and destroy everything.

Please, fellow Americans, turn off the “candy” news. CNN’s story line is utter BS, not truth, but designed to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials.”

Pretty powerful stuff, eh? We sit around enjoying the freedom to be unconcerned while he does the heavy lifting. Don’t you think his job at least deserves a card or letter?

AL CARLEY

Grand Junction

Aspects of election bill require more public input


Now that the virulent right-wing opposition to House Bill 13-1303 – the “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act” – has been exposed by The Daily Sentinel (“Flier assails Mesa County clerk.” April 21), deemed “laughable” by its editors (“Attack on Reiner anything but fair,” April 23), and gained notoriety in national media, it’s time to revisit the substance of that legislation.


As chronicled by Bill Grant (“Legislators should not rush to pass election act without public comment,” April 17), the bill seeks to expand voter participation in what will become predominately “mail-in” paper ballot elections. While its rabid opponents cite an alleged potential for widespread “voter fraud,” Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler has already proven that such fears are the product of paranoia — not evidence.


Republicans have long sought to prevent “voter fraud” at all costs — even if that includes denying and/or suppressing some citizens’ constitutional right to vote, while Democrats seek to expand and guarantee that right — even if doing so means accepting a statistically insignificant but detectable incidence of attempted registration and/or voter fraud.


Truly “democratic” elections should be conducted by impartial officials using only a “secret ballot” and remain entirely transparent before, during and after elections.


Therefore, HB 13-1303 creates a Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act Commission – an “impartial” panel capable of evaluating the recommendations of the Colorado County Clerks Association.


However, HB 13-1303 allocates two commission seats to the CCCA without requiring that quasi-public (if not partisan) organization to disclose its outside sources of lobbying funds, makes no reference to either ballot secrecy and/or election transparency and then “sunsets” the commission in 2015.


Thus, the public policy questions remain whether HB 13-1303’s wide-ranging election law changes should be implemented before or —better — after the commission considers both public input and that of the election rights experts to be appointed by the governor, and whether the commission should be made permanent (like the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission).

BILL HUGENBERG

Grand Junction

Now’ is a good time to simplify, modernize election procedures

The Colorado County Clerks Association told every member of the legislature and the secretary of state’s office late last year that we were interested in talking about new legislation to simplify and modernize our elections.

Why now? We are in an off-year election year, when it is far easier to implement changes. No one wants to do that in 2014 during a major election. Also, Colorado’s election technology gives us secure voting, whether a vote is cast by mail or in person.

Clerks are already using the technology required in the legislation. The new law will make elections more uniform throughout the state and make elections more budget-friendly to counties.

Many thanks to Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker and many others who put hours into crafting a bill that simplifies elections for voters, modernizes the system and saves counties money. Their goal was to make it simple for voters. They get ballots in the mail for every election, and they decide how to vote – by mail, dropping ballots off or voting in person.

New registrations (which would be allowed through Election Day) require a Colorado ID or a Social Security number and an address that can be verified. Real-time connections to the voter database will decrease the possibility of voter fraud.

This is not the time to delay. This is the time to make these changes, before another general election rolls around.
DONETTA DAVIDSON
Executive Director
Colorado County Clerks Association


Mesa County taxpayers to foot new administrator’s sweet deal

Well, it’s good that Mesa County has a new administrator, even though the county supervisors never explained why they fired the previous administrator.

I imagine the contract negotiations were tough, as the new administrator was the only qualified candidate to apply for the job. (I guess the county and the country are out of recession with full employment for all.)

According to the April 23 Sentinel article, the new administrator, Tom Fisher, will receive a boost in the salary for this position, in addition, to 10 extra days of paid vacation and 15 extra days of paid leave so he can deal with his other job as an officer in the Utah Army National Guard.

If I add in the number of paid national holidays to the total number of paid vacation and guard-duty days, the number comes to about 65 workdays or 13 workweeks. That’s one-fourth of a year.

Wow, an increase in salary, a second (part-time?) job and Fisher only has to be at his county administrator desk 39 weeks out of the year.

What a sweet deal the county supervisors made for Fisher, and what a bad deal for the citizens of Mesa County who are stuck with the bill, a full year’s pay for only three-fourth’s time on the job.

One can only wonder at what the additional perks might be in that contract with Fisher.

MICKEY SHANABARGER

Fruita



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