Email letters, August 21,  2013

State threatens own revenue stream by mandating less coal consumption

Your recent editorial opposing the federal government’s withholding of Colorado’s share of mineral lease payments is right on target, as also outlined in an article the same day which detailed the state’s position.

It is not just the federal government, however, that cuts off Colorado’s receipt of money from minerals produced here. Other threats start right here at home. In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills designed to curtail coal use at power plants throughout the state through increased mandates for higher cost energy such as renewables (SB 13-252) and natural gas (HB 10-1365). 

Laws such as these pick the pockets of Colorado taxpayers and consumers. According to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, approximately 75 percent of coal mined in Colorado is produced from federal leases, accounting for $59 million in revenues to the federal government. Forty-nine percent of that, or approximately $29 million, comes back to Colorado under a formula that provides money for public education and local government projects.

Coal mining also creates more than 19,000 jobs in Colorado’s economy, and jobs at the mines pay average wages and benefits in excess of $115,000 annually.

If the state mandates less consumption of coal, it threatens its own revenue stream as companies will not lease or pay royalties on coal they cannot mine and sell. Criticizing the federal government is appropriate, yet public officials should also remedy the damage these laws have inflicted right here at home.

President, Colorado Mining Association

Congress should not intervene in Colorado River management

We have recently been reading a number of stories regarding discussions over the future management of the Colorado River. Disturbingly, one of the suggestions that have been cropping up is to invite Congress in to help do that managing for us.

This could not be a bigger mistake. Federal control over our water means subordinating our authority over the allocation of our resources and potentially forfeiting our property rights. One need look no farther than how our local ski resorts have been treated by the Forest Service to get an idea of what wider federal control of our water could mean.

Water law in the western United States had been determined by interstate compacts and other local agreements, not by federal government micro-management, and there is a reason for that. Not only are we the best stewards of our resources, and can do a far better job of deciding how best to utilize those resources, but inviting Congress to make those decisions would cede control of our water to a body where California outnumbers us more than 6 to 1.

Federal management of water would very quickly become a game of politics, with allocation going to the benefit of particular donors, political allies and vote-rich states. Do not kid yourselves that the federal government would think twice before using water as a political weapon.

All of us, especially those of us who live on the West Slope, care deeply for our water resources and are concerned about issues such as allocation and maintaining adequate supply to meet growing demands. But any attempt to try to solve these issues by letting the federal government get a foot in the door would create far more problems than it could ever hope to solve.

We strongly urge everyone who cares about property rights, and Colorado’s right as a state to manage our natural resources, to reject calls for congressional intervention into management of the Colorado River.


Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado

Heavy industry in Montrose County does not merit special use permit

A special use permit allows specific exception to zoning regulations from a list of acceptable exceptions for a particular parcel of land.  The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act allows special use permits based upon a finding of compatibility with surrounding areas.

Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel of land when the rezoning is at odds with a master plan and current zoning restrictions. The rezoning may be for the benefit of a particular owner.

If Montrose County commissioners approve the special use permit for a huge gravel, concrete and asphalt industry three miles south of Montrose, I believe they will be using the special use process as an excuse to spot zone.

Proponents of this heavy industry are touting property rights of landowners. Property rights are important, especially for the residents living on three sides of the proposed site. These existing homes, subdivisions, farms and businesses comply with county regulations and have been in the area for decades.

The industry site was purchased in November 2012. The purchaser knew the land is zoned agricultural/residential and is designated wildlife habitat. Within three months of the purchase, a special use application was submitted to Montrose County. There was never any intent to use this land as it is zoned.

Property rights are not absolute. I own property south of Montrose and might want to raise cattle. However, my homeowners association rules do not allow livestock because the smell, noise and ugliness of a barnyard would negatively affect adjacent property owners. If I want to live here, I have to follow the rules. The same concept applies to all property rights.

Read Sign the petition.  Help us remind Montrose County commissioners they were elected to serve all county citizens, not a handful of influential landowners and backdoor promoters.

Tancredo did not promise ACP to remain in party after 2010

Recent “reporting” suggests we need to briefly recount the chaotic events of the last gubernatorial election here in Colorado.

The Republican Party was in the unenviable position of fielding someone who was described by the state chairman as the worst candidate the Republican Party had ever put forth and that any vote for him was a “wasted vote.”

I entered as the ACP candidate because time to run as a Republican had run out. I received almost 38 percent of the vote, and the Republican received 11 percent. By the election, almost every Republican elected official in the state had come out in support of my candidacy.

The Daily Sentinel printed a story that alleged I had promised the American Constitution Party that I would remain an ACP member after the election in 2010. That is NOT an accurate statement of our understanding.

Our agreement was reached based on a mutual benefit and had no time commitment attached. I have never portrayed it otherwise, including in many news stories and in sworn testimony as a witness in a lawsuit brought by a Republican operative in September 2010. The purpose of the suit was to keep the ACP off the ballot.

It is certainly true that I have many times been at odds with the “leadership” of the Republican Party. So be it. I have taken the oath of office eight times and know the words well. There is nothing in there about parties or presidents. The oath is to uphold the Constitution. That is the document and set of ideas to which I swear loyalty.

Republican candidate for governor

Opponents of Obamacare rely on misinformation, bad faith

Partisan opposition to the Affordable Care Act is attributable to a repugnant combination of false premises, inaccurate information and “bad faith.”

First, Republicans claimed that “we have the best health care system in the world” — even though our “free market” hodgepodge of for-profit providers, charitable institutions and public programs isn’t really a societal “health care system” at all.

True, individuals who can afford it (and/or reliable health insurance) obtain exemplary health care in the U.S., but millions of Americans are denied access to affordable care.

Second, “Tea Partiers” insist that “we can’t afford ObamaCare” – ignoring the facts that the U.S. was already spending twice as much per capita on health care as other developed societies, but ranked well down in most measurements of health care quality.

Thus, even they should agree that “we can’t afford” a “free market system” in which out-of-control health care costs incessantly drove up health insurance premiums and health insurers maximized profits by denying coverage and/or legitimate claims.

Nevertheless, in 2012, their chant was “Repeal and Replace” – but with what?

Irresponsible demagogues dishonestly call ObamaCare a “government take-over of health care” – when it is not. Rather, it reforms the health insurance industry and expands public access to affordable health insurance, using both individual/employer “mandates” and competitive insurance exchanges.

That “market-driven” approach was initially proposed by the “conservative” Heritage Foundation in 1992, was successfully implemented in Massachusetts in 2006 under Republican Gov. Mitt Romney (“RomneyCare”) and was endorsed by Colorado’s Rep. Governor Bill Owens and our own Club 20 in 2008.

Only when President Obama embraced that consensus did partisan Republicans cynically disavow their own idea — spreading a smokescreen of misinformation swallowed and still being regurgitated by “Tea Partiers.” Now, that same Heritage Foundation is sponsoring the “De-Fund ObamaCare Tour”!

Thus, Republicans + “Tea Partiers” = “Repugnicans.”
Grand Junction

D51 could have better repaid loyalty of deceased custodian

On Aug. 14 at Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Leroy Cotts was laid to rest. He served two tours in Vietnam, then worked for Fruita Police Department and finally worked many years as a custodian for District 51.

He worked many years at Fruita Middle School and Fruita 8-9 before transferring this year to Central High School, where he was helping ready the school for the new school year at the time of his unexpected death. Leroy was a loyal member of the District 51 custodial staff.
School District 51 did not return Leroy’s loyalty. No one from the administration notified the schools or staff members of his death or funeral. Other than Gene King, director of maintenance for School District 51, no administrator repaid Cotts’ loyalty by attending his funeral.

One would think the school administrators from the schools where Leroy worked would at least send one of their number as a formal representative. Even though the funeral was during the first week of school, there is no excuse for not taking an hour to show you care.

No school board member cared enough to show Cotts some respect. Are they so busy fighting each other that they don’t have time to repay Cotts’ loyalty by sending a representative to the funeral? Where was a member of the superintendent’s office?
The only group visual at the funeral was retired teachers and staff members, as well as a couple of current staff members. In the past few years teachers and other staff members have passed away with representatives of School District 51 in attendance at funerals. Why not for a custodian?

It is sad to see that the mutual respect and loyalty across the school district a few years ago has been traded in for a “them and us” attitude.

Leroy Cotts was warm, generous and courteous to administration, staff and students. Those of us who care will miss him.


Retired Teacher



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