Email letters, Aug. 10, 2012

As last wild river on Colorado Plateau, Yampa is a treasure

Credit creativity and collaboration from all parties for good Yampa River flows in drought.

During the 2002 drought 10 years ago, the Yampa River nearly went dry. This year, with those memories of river closures for recreation, threatened fish populations from low dissolved oxygen and high water temperatures, and a fear of a call on the river from senior agricultural or industrial water rights, groups from all sides came together and worked out a mitigation plan which released water from Stagecoach Reservoir to benefit all.

This elevated flow in the Yampa was negotiated with help from the Colorado Water Trust, the Upper Yampa Conservancy District, the City of Steamboat Springs and local agriculture, energy and recreation companies, along with environmentalists. If it wasn’t for everyone working together, the river could have been ankle-deep with fish kills while taking huge hits on the recreational and agricultural economies that sustain northwest Colorado.

Upstream reservoirs are needed for all uses, and the example from the Yampa during this 2012 drought is one that we can all hold high as a creative and collaborative effort.

The fact is that the Yampa River is the longest river remaining in the entire Colorado River basin that still retains an unmanaged runoff. As a wild river, with small storage from a half dozen reservoirs that don’t impact spring runoff or impound large amounts of late season water for specific releases, the Yampa still functions today as it has since before the area was settled.

Due to its remoteness in northwest Colorado and less stress from a large population, the Yampa has been spared the dewatering and control that all other major rivers in the upper Colorado River system have witnessed. This allows the Yampa to retain endangered aquatic and terrestrial habitats while providing all Americans with a chance to experience and enjoy the last wild river on the Colorado Plateau. This is something that we should respect and hold in high regard.

The wild Yampa River is a recreational, agricultural and environmental treasure. Unfortunately, Gorsett’s somewhat fear-mongering, anti-environmentalist letter represents a fringe opinion that isn’t held by most Americans and certainly doesn’t represent the feelings of those of us in northwest Colorado whose livelihoods and lifestyles depend on a wild Yampa River.

Everyone is allowed an opinion of course, but Gossett should wake up and tune into today’s world. Instead of tilting at windmills, he should open his eyes and see the amazing collaboration, partnerships and dedicated individuals who are working hard to find complex solutions for the difficult problems of water management in an arid, desert environment.

Recreational Representative
Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable
Steamboat Springs

Olympics a welcome relief from national politics

In my always-humble opinion, the Games of the XXX Olympiad couldn’t come at a better time. This might be the single-most timely event in our history. What a boost the 2012 London Olympians are providing in a world that is engulfed in economic crisis, warfare and turmoil. Let’s hope it reminds us of how greatness is achieved.

With all of the national media’s political doom and gloom coverage of the presidential election, isn’t it refreshing and uplifting to witness the athletes, young and old, not only demonstrate what’s made this nation great, but exhibit not merely personal pride, but genuine patriotic pride in their performance and for the opportunity to represent our nation?

What a contrast the Olympic “arenas” are to what takes place in the “political arena.” Just consider these examples: Olympic spirit of unity vs. political class warfare; Olympic sportsmanship vs. political “dirty tricks;” and Olympic pride in achievement vs. political gloat of deception. There’s more, but that’s enough!

Consider, also, the dissimilarity between the “podiums.” I get truly emotional when I see the athletes on their podiums shed tears at the playing of their national anthems; but I get absolutely remorseful when I observe politicians mouthing redundant words and playacting sincerity from their “bully pulpits.” How inspiring when the athletes “mouth the words” of their anthems, while even our most prestigious politicians often convey attitudes of indifference.

The media interviews also provide a contrast. The Olympians are abundant with heart-warming positivity, while politicians abound with negativity. Enough said here, too!
In final analysis, isn’t it inspiring to see our U.S. athletes openly demonstrate what makes this country exceptional: the freedom to achieve greatness in their individual efforts with timeless dedication to improvement through repeated practice and development of skills. ,,,  then, to reap rewards accordingly? Doesn’t this also define our nation’s concept of free enterprise where businesses in the private sector “compete and achieve” in the marketplace, ultimately, to be rewarded for success?

My country ‘tis of thee ... let freedom ring!


Blame for housing crisis should rightly go to Dodd-Frank team, not President Bush

A recent letter writer to a western Colorado newspaper claimed, “The conservative mind is governed by fear.” I happen to have a conservative mind dominated by disgust.

I am disgusted with both political parties for getting us into the mess we are in, and lacking the courage and Initiative to begin to get us out. Our national debt is more money than all future generations will be able to pay off. The liberal answer is to pile on more debt in a futile effort to eliminate the debt.

I am disgusted with claims that President Bush caused the recession which lies on the shoulders of the Dodd-Frank team which would not allow brakes to be put onto Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac permitting home loans to go to people who could not afford the houses they were buying, leading to the housing crisis and the demise of the nation’s economy.

As a conservative, I support the republic as established by the Constitution. I have no fear of democracy.

I am disgusted with corrupt union practices such as accumulating great sums of money from sometimes unwilling participants and using this money to swing liberal policies. The idea that one has to have access to a huge bankroll in order to be successful in politics is totally revolting to me. And, of course, both liberal and conservatives are guilty of this.

I have no fear of legal immigrants since my father and grandparents on both sides were legal immigrants. However, not enforcing laws against illegal invaders is disgusting. I am disgusted with the federal government telling a state that they cannot legally enforce a law not being enforced by the feds.

Other imagined fears in the letter, of African-Americans, of women (except for my wife), of science, would require space in a second letter.

We should all be proud of this great country without regard to our political leanings.


Birth control should not dominate women’s vote

If the women’s vote can be bought by the offer of free contraception, then we have defined ourselves and we get what we deserve.

Grand Junction

Lawsuit was not intended to limit military voting rights

The suit filed by the Democratic National Party, The Obama for America Campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party was not seeking to disenfranchise members of the military.

The timeline leading to their action goes like this: After the 2004 election, Ohio allowed early voting for all its citizens. They could cast votes until the Monday before the election. This evidently resulted in a good voter turnout for Obama in 2008. The GOP-controlled state legislature then passed voting laws that moved the deadline to the Friday before Election Day.

The problem was the Absentee Voter Act for uniformed and overseas citizens that provided early voting for military citizens. The secretary of state for Ohio decided that the previous Monday voting deadline would stand for military citizens only, denying early voting to the rest of Ohio’s citizens.

So, the Democrats don’t want the voting period shortened for military but wanted the early voting opportunity extended to all citizens of Ohio. This is clearly stated in their complaint wanting to “restore in-person voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day.”

The disenfranchisement of a group of voters is indeed the issue. The least we can do is stand up and protect everyone’s right to vote.

Grand Junction

Pinyon Mesa road closure disappointing

I reacted with utter disappointment after learning of the recent closure of South 21 ½ Road leading up to Pinon Mesa. As an avid outdoor explorer, I respect private property rights, but when landowners conspire to close public access or make public access more difficult, it constitutes theft from the American people on a grand scale.

It has happened on the Front Range; it has happened in California; and now our opportunity to access the vast landscape so close to Grand Junction is being threatened, not just on Pinon Mesa, but also at the foot of it on Clark’s Bench, where last summer, a small BLM in-holding switched hands. Now the new landowners are attempting to close public access on a trail that is hundreds, if not thousands of years, old—effectively creating their own private playground with a big chunk of our land.

With respect to the upper section of South 21½ Road, Mr. Grossman of the Grand Valley Trails Alliance is absolutely right: “It’s an amazing resource.” Shame on Mr. Mays and Mr. Tipping who have not only stolen one of the only two reasonable access points to Pinon Mesa from the Grand Valley, but with this publicity, also attracted the attention of the entire readership of The Daily Sentinel. This hidden gem has now been thrust into the spotlight, and I invite everyone up to see where the high desert transitions into the mountains and consider what has been lost.

I would be curious to hear where the county commissioner candidates for November’s election stand on the issue of access to our public lands, and I wonder if those who passed the consent agenda on March 26 actually read it or were familiar with the area.

Whatever the case, they made the wrong decision, and now we can only hope that the very reasonable Judge Bottger sends this underhanded deal back to the county for review, especially considering the historic precedent of previous denials for vacancy.

Keep closing access and limiting what many of us live here for, and we are going to be left with riding shuttle buses to the most popular trailheads that are left.


Lawsuit a bid to help every voter in Ohio

It is important to set the record straight on the lawsuit and military
voting controversy in Ohio. A letter from Juanita R. Williams published Thursday, Aug. 9, was a complete hoax in attempting to pretend that President Obama was suing to restrict military voting.

In the last presidential election, early voting regulations in Ohio allowed residents, military and non-military alike, to cast their votes in person up to and including the Monday before Election Day.

In 2011 Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature modified these early voter regulations to restrict the voting period for nonmilitary residents to end at 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election. There was no change to the early voting period for voters in the military.

The lawsuit is attempting to reinstate the early voting period for everyone in Ohio to what it had been in prior years. Attempts by Romney and conservative blogs to falsely incorporate this lawsuit into their scripted political campaign lies should be protested by all who support equal voting rights.

Grand Junction

Fracking raises more than just health, environmental question

Fracking. It sounds like a dirty word and it is one. Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” By contrast, fracking by any other name would still smell.

It would smell of farmland in Pennsylvania rendered unsalable because of fracking fluids seeping into the irrigation water. It would smell of 25 percent of children in a small town in Texas developing asthma because of odors associated with fracking fluid.

More importantly, it would smell of corporate greed. The chief offenders are Encana, Exxon Mobile (of Exxon Valdez fame), Conoco Phillips and the Koch brothers, David and Charles, who now are now trying to secure land in the Bear Creek area.

And don’t forget Halliburton Corporation. When G.W. Bush’s vice president had been in office only two weeks, he managed to rewrite the national energy policy. Cheney’s amendment to the water safety law is called the Halliburton Loophole. Halliburton is now the nation’s number-one fracker.  It gives new meaning to the phrase, “Go for the gold.” Even as vice president, Cheney managed to rake in more than $1 million for his corporation from 2001 to 2005.

Recently a group of western Coloradans met in Washington with 5,000 other “anti-frackers” to require public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking on public lands. Unfortunately, the Halliburton Loophole had already negated this requirement.

Up to 7 million gallons of water are needed to frack a single well. Yet America is presently in a drought situation. The water used in fracking comes back up contaminated with cancer-causing and radioactive elements with which municipal sewage plants are ill equipped to deal. Then much of it gets into our drinking water.

So, who benefits from all this? The money-hungry corporations whose greed knows no bounds. The fracking of America is a health and environmental question, but it’s bigger than that. The real question is, “Who rules America? Moneyed corporations or the people? Are we to be a democracy of, by and for the people, or a plutocracy of the domineering rich?  The choice is yours.

Grand Junction

Secret Service, not Dems, responsible for turning away attendees at presidential speech

Unfortunately, he Daily Sentinel’s editors erroneously ascribed the headline “Dems mishandle distribution of tickets for president’s speech” to Richard A. Janson’s on-line letter (August 9, 2012), implying that the distribution of over 2000 tickets for President Obama’s speech at Grand Junction High School on August 8, 2012, was “mishandled” by the local or national Democratic Party.

However, the text of Janson’s letter does not support that conclusion.

First, Janson claims he arrived “an hour early” – which means about 4:30 p.m., since the Daily Sentinel’s front page on August 8 announced that the President would speak at 5:30 p.m.

Second, only twelve people were actually refused admittance to the speech – including my own 91 year-old Republican mother in a wheel chair, along with my sister and brother.

Third, the doors were locked at about 4 p.m., when President Obama arrived at the site “earlier than expected” – as evidenced by the “police cordon set up around the school.”

Fourth, the venue had a capacity of 2500 and over 2300 people attended – including a fire marshall there to enforce the capacity limit. Thus, the sheriff’s deputy who “explained that capacity had been reached” was mistaken.

Rather, fifth, and as The Daily Sentinel’s editors (but apparently not Janson) surely knew, the Secret Service – not the “Dems”—had absolute control over all security precautions (which apparently included arriving earlier than the Sentinel was informed).

Hopefully, there were no credible threats against the President emanating from Western Colorado that justified the heightened security measures (including a helicopter and an armored car). However, the Secret Service has never forgotten that President Kennedy was assassinated after the Dallas Morning News published his motorcade route and time schedule on November 22, 1963.

That’s why my family and I all thank the Secret Service for its vigilance – regardless of our personal disappointment.

Grand Junction

Muddy glasses cause misunderstanding

I have to apologize for the mud on my glasses (or something) when reading the paper Thursday morning; I misread the tax part.  Sorry, Mr. Ashby.  I’ve just grown used to the president getting slammed by many around here, which is too bad.

So, I am sorry, and I did put my foot in my mouth. My comment on the Save the Coal sign stands.


Correct language use important for clear thinking, clear writing

A few years ago, the City of Grand Junction created a stir when it released a logo featuring a small “g” and small “j.” Because the first letters are properly capitalized, people concerned about correct spelling and punctuation were understandably worried. The city reversed its decision, and our children now see the proper name properly capitalized.

As the years have rolled by, there’s been widespread concern about the use of language in e-mails and text messages. Many words are abbreviated or simply misspelled. Reporter Edwin Newman asked in his book Strictly Speaking, “Will America be the death of the English language?’”

Recently, The Daily Sentinel published an education-related section entitled “Back2School.”  And in a story concerning test scores in our local public schools, the reporter alluded to last spring as “this spring.” I hope the Sentinel editorial staff deliberated before publishing such incorrect usage.

I also hope students can discern the difference between correct usage and pop culture language, because it appears that the local daily paper assumes they can. In his book, Newman contended we should care about correct usage because clear thinking and clear writing are inseparable. Here’s hoping clear heads prevail with clearer writing in future stories about education.

Grand Junction

History shows ineptitude of big government

Let me get this straight. The president says that fiscal policy in place since Templars invented credit is wrong and won’t work? Was this line of thinking developed by the process of NOT providing a budget or being able to balance a checkbook?

I’m pretty sure that blowing $800 million into the wind and not being able to account for a lot of it tells me that isn’t fiscal responsibility that I care to be a part of. +
It isn’t government’s job to create jobs! It’s business, large and small, that does that.

Let’s name one thing that the federal government has taken over and run, making it more efficient, more profitable, and a good business model. Um, the Postal Service comes to mind.

Let’s have the Dems ruin the housing market again by forcing banks to make loans to low income, high risk clients just because everybody should be equal and own a home! If that’s the case, then let’s have Congress and the president work for nothing, take the same medical benefits they are shoving down our throats and allow illegal immigrants to claim 10 dependents in Mexico on their tax returns. (Can somebody explain how an illegal FILES a tax return?) 

I have played by the rules all my life. Even when Dad wasn’t around, we called strikes fairly, and, if tagged out at home, we fessed up. I wouldn’t even play golf with this guy; he’s a walking Mulligan.

Get government out of business, out of my wallet and out of office ASAP. I personally don’t feel a bit charitable when government demands half my paycheck and then tells me it needs more because government personnel are too stupid to keep track of what they took prior. Go back to Washington, D.C.

The most efficient time in this government’s history is when Congress is in recess.


Grand Junction

Local TV stations gave short shrift to president’s visit

You’d think the president’s visit to Grand Junction would be big news on TV. I watched the evening news on three of the for-profit channels, and on two, they couldn’t switch to the Republican Party counter message fast enough. They briefly covered only the basics of the presidential visit but couldn’t be bothered with what he had to say.

Then, with whiplash speed, they switched to a local Republican, and boy-oh-boy, there was plenty of airtime for getting out the party line. The third channel at least presented what the president had to say before lavishing time on local Republicans.

It seemed blatantly slanted to me, because the real news item was the president’s visit and speech. The rest was free political advertising. But that is how “news” is packaged in the Grand Valley.

Grand Junction

Campaign ads show disregard for integrity

I’m sure you’ve noticed that campaign rhetoric has gone on the “down low” a little earlier than usual. Unlike past campaigns, poor taste ads and common decency don’t matter.

Using any means necessary for survival is human instinct; that’s what this looks like—a desperate struggle for survival.

Someone on the old TV program, Dallas, once said something like, “Once you get past the integrity roadblock, a lot of things are possible. ” Listening closely to the ads makes me wonder if that isn’t true.

I have these questions. If we’re being spoon-fed the vile stuff now, won’t it only get worse in September and October? Is there any decency “line” that can’t be crossed anymore?

Future ads will no doubt be new and more shocking as we near the election. Even though they’re disgusting and mostly unbelievable, they’re also hilarious and definitely creative. What’s next? I can hardly wait!

Grand Junction


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