Email letters, Feb. 1, 2012

City County and county commission should modify their legislative prayer

Contrary to Robert Burkholder’s recollection in his Jan. 30 letter “Teachings from the Bible are essential to our country” — as Gary Harmon can confirm — I had nothing to do with the Ten Commandments controversy in 2001. Nevertheless, the resolution of that controversy remains highly instructive today.
 
The initial plan was to position the Ten Commandments monument (a donated marketing vehicle for Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film) by itself on the City Hall’s lawn.
 
After the Denver American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) intervened by suing it, Grand Junction agreed to comply with the Constitution (as interpreted by our federal courts).
 
Former City Councilman Reford Theobald proposed the solution that was ultimately adopted (and to which the ACLU acceded) — positioning the Ten Commandments where they stand now, among replicas of other, non-religious documents which contributed to the formation of the United States and the freedoms we all enjoy. Subsequent Supreme Court cases affirmed that such a combined display was not an advancement of religion.
 
Thus, only under threat of a lawsuit did Grand Junction recognize that the Bible may be the oldest — but not the only — source of our laws and liberties. Thus, the First Amendment also protects religious minorities from the potential tyranny of religious majorities by prudently separating church and state.
 
The current issue of sectarian invocations is exactly analogous. However, rather than wait to be sued, I suggested that the Grand Junction City Council and the Mesa County commissioners modify their respective “legislative prayer” policies to comply with the latest federal court ruling on the subject — thereby saving us taxpayers the cost of any litigation that might ensue from their continued obstinacy.
 
Indeed, I also recommended that they adopt a joint policy — consistent with clear guidance offered by the 4th Circuit — that would likely enable nonsectarian nondenominational religious invocations to continue unchallenged.
 
BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

Getting National Park status will only decrease our area’s quality of living

As a lover of the Colorado National Monument, I have a question to ask relative to a change in its status. What’s in it for the monument itself?

How will the hoped-for influx of visitors and tour buses benefit this treasure? How will they do anything but degrade it, especially given the Park Service’s chronic lack of funding.

The benefits of this proposal would seem, instead, to flow to corporate motel and restaurant owners along I-70. Exploitation of the West’s public resources for the benefit of the few is an old and sad tradition.

Exchanging this birthright for the mess of pottage represented by a handful of low-wage service jobs does nothing positive for the monument or for our area’s quality of life.

CARL STRIPPEL
Grand Junction

Give tax credit for buying American

I have long been a believer that capital gains should not be taxed at a lesser rate than income earned from working hard. However, this idea doesn’t appeal to the millions of people in our country who take advantage of the capital gains 15 percent tax rate (myself included).

I also am quite concerned about the need to create jobs in our country that can bring down the unemployment rate and re-establish the middle class.

Here is a suggestion that could help:

Tax capital gains income at the same level as earned income. However, allow a person to avoid paying that added tax amount by purchasing products manufactured/assembled in the United States equal to the difference. For example; if I had capital gains in 2011 of $50,000 and a 30 percent tax level on earned income, I could avoid paying the 30 percent rate on capital gains by purchasing American-made or assembled products equal to $7,500. Food and fuel would not be included.

The government would develop a listing of companies whose products would qualify. All American manufacturing or assembling companies would apply to be placed on the listing. The value of a product must exceed $10. Automobiles manufactured or assembled in the country would qualify. Used products would not. Homes, boats,  tools, clothes, bedding, are some qualifying examples.

An individual, to qualify for this feature would be required to keep proof of purchase in the same manner as one who keeps proof of contributions to organizations.

JOHN LORENTZEN
Grand Junction

Funding is needed for Alzheimer’s Project Act

The recently passed National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) authorizes development of a national plan to deal with one of the most significant health threats facing our nation today: Alzheimer’s disease.

Implementation of the act should include finding both treatments and a cure for a heartbreaking disease which touches more families each day. America’s population is rapidly aging and age is the greatest risk factor for the disease. Time is therefore not on our side and action now is critical. Congress must understand this and move quickly to support a plan to carry out NAPA.

More than 5 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s disease; 72,000 of those are in Colorado. And Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect the person with the disease; it impacts the entire family. The burden can quickly overwhelm caregivers — affecting their savings, jobs and even their own personal health.

Alzheimer’s is the only non-preventable and non-curable disease in the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. We need a federal commitment in order to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease.

Tell President Obama millions of families are counting on him to fulfill the potential of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act when he releases his upcoming Budget Request to Congress.

Alzheimer’s can’t wait. Be a part of history and one of the largest petition drives undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Association. Sign the petition calling for a strong National Plan for Alzheimer’s today at alz.org.

LINDA MITCHELL, President and CEO
Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado
Western Slope Office
Grand Junction

Oil shale development is a boondoggle

Oil shale, reminds me of the old tale of the man who built a house with a fireplace made from oil shale. The first time he started a fire in the fireplace his house burnt down. So is this story true?

Oil shale development is a tale, too.

Here’s the scenario. Take a clean produced energy source like natural gas or clean electricity or nuclear such as the proposed Green River Nuclear Plant and use all that is required to heat the ground, or freeze the ground, or dig the ground up, or set off “small” nuclear blasts to access kerogen. Kerogen is like the Alberta Tar Sands’ Bitumen, it is low grade, immature, thick and dirty burning gunk.

The logic here is use a clean, high-energy source to produce a dirty, costly, low-energy fuel that costs more energy then what the kerogen can produce after refinement.

Oil shale development is a boondoggle. It is a way to get more taxpayer money for exploration and research and development for the oil companies. As a Republican, I am tired of having this corporate
welfare for companies that make and take billions in profits from the American public and give nothing back except clean-up disasters that soak taxpayers for the cost.

Proud pre-1980 Republican, Eisenhower built the freeway system when taxes on people like Romney and Gingrich was a effectively 91 percent. Nixon ended the war in Vietnam and put forth the first comprehensive all-American single-payer plan like Medicare for all Americans.

What happened to the future-vision of Republicans? Even our own district representative is willing to sign onto a fiscally reckless boondoggle like oil shale development.

Speculate oil company profits based on best business decision practices, knowing that failure means consequences to the company and not to taxpayers.

BENITA PHILLIPS
Palisade

Central High School was right to ban unbecoming dancing

There are four traditional high schools in District 51. Make no mistake, the dance move known as “freaking” happens at all dances at each school.

Kudos to the Central High School’s Student Senate, teachers and Jody Diers for directly addressing a behavior that is unbecoming of all students. If you find the informational video offensive, I suggest you chaperone a dance. Chances are good you would celebrate the fact Central took a stand.

I’m a proud parent of a Warrior.

MARGERY GRANDBOUCHE
Grand Junction



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