Email letters, February 26, 2014

Parents who smoke marijuana must shield kids from effects

When I first learned that marijuana had been legalized in Colorado, my initial reaction was:  “My life is really happy without marijuana, but I guess if there are some people whose lives are so miserable that they need to smoke pot to be happy, who am I to stop them?”  However, the issue is really not that simple.  

Others’ decision to smoke marijuana can impose significant costs on people who choose not to use it.   For example, if somebody who is high on pot drives a car and kills my wife and kids in a crash, then his “happiness” can cause me unhappiness.  If their enjoyment of marijuana causes them to neglect their work and lose a good job, then taxpayers who do not enjoy pot will be required to support the unemployed pot smokers with welfare, food stamps, medical care, etc.   

 I am especially troubled when I hear of parents who smoke marijuana.  An old classmate of mine who teaches 1st grade has a student who comes to school every day reeking of pot smoke.  The poor kid starts the day high from secondhand pot smoke, but then later when the high wears off he falls asleep, unable to learn. 

How sad that his parents could be so selfish and irresponsible.  When they chose to become parents, they took on the responsibility to love, teach, and care for their children, not to pursue their own selfish wants.  I believe that each child is a beloved spirit son or daughter of God, whom God has sent to earth to learn and grow from this earthly experience before returning to Heaven.  Heavenly Father has entrusted us parents with their care. 

Our family relationships can be forever, and are worth sacrificing for.   The greatest joys in life come from nurturing family relationships and selflessly serving others.  True and lasting happiness will never come from selfish pursuits like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, riches or fame while neglecting children and spouse.  Teenagers need a parent’s good example of foregoing immediate gratification in order to achieve more important goals.

Colorado law now gives us the freedom to choose marijuana.  I hope that we will use that freedom to make wise and responsible choices, and to consider the long-term consequences (to our families and our communities) of doing otherwise.  I will choose to vote NO on Fruita’s proposed marijuana retail shops, because I feel they are not in the best interests of the community.   I believe that the huge tax revenues that have been promised to promote legalization will quickly evaporate anyway as users learn to grow their own.  



National park status would only further pollute our air

If we’re concerned about the air quality in our valley, we should think seriously before changing the Colorado National Monument to a national park.

If the monument becomes a national park, more busloads of visitors will travel up and down the two-lane road that crosses it, leaving exhaust fumes. There will also be more RVs and other vehicles, making for more exhaust fumes. The buses could also be idling at every stopping place.

We are in a valley boxed in by mountains. These mountains provide us with gorgeous scenery, but they also give rise to the inversions that trap pollutants in our valley for extended periods. Do we want the added pollution that a national park would bring?

Grand Junction

Lions Club Carnival sent wrong message to children about sweets

I would like to comment on the recent Grand Junction Lions Carnival, which I attended with my four-year-old son last weekend. First, it is important to acknowledge the Lions Club members, their history and all of the wonderful things they do for our community. The point of my letter is to prompt a change in our thinking as related to nutrition and chronic disease, not judge the intent or efforts of the gracious volunteers or Lions Club members.

After walking through a haze of smoke outside, I was absolutely shocked when I entered the Two Rivers Convention Center and saw in front of me a massive shelving unit of cakes. Thousands of high-sugar, high-fat, frosted cakes. More shocking were the people shoving their way in with the hopes of winning a cake.

As I turned to my right, there was another booth, this one spinning a wheel for the “prize” of an 800+ calorie, two-liter container of soda. The next booth offered up eggs and bacon – yes, real eggs and bacon as the prize. Again, people were pushing their way through, quarters in hand to score a dozen eggs. Where was the carnival?

Enstrom’s candy was there, too, offering up candy and ice cream. When I refused the ice cream, the volunteer looked at me like I was crazy. Sugar and more sugar. I am not certain what filled the brown grocery bags as I was too afraid to look inside. When I ventured in to the “kids area,” my heart sank as I saw kids surrounding a table filled with leftover Valentine’s Day cookies, cakes and candy. How can a child say no to an adult handing out sweets covered in bright frosting and sprinkles as though it were a healthy piece of fresh fruit?
According to Colorado Department of Public Health data, more than half of Colorado adults are obese or over-weight. Colorado’s childhood obesity rate is now taking the lead, and our county is no exception. In fact, Mesa County’s obesity rate is above the state average.

Why does this matter? It matters because we all need to take responsibility in managing this costly epidemic.

When an organization such as the Lions Club hosts booths of processed, unhealthy foods, it sends the message that this is the norm. It may seem insignificant for a child to see cakes stacked 6-feet high, but it sends the message: this is acceptable. The normalization of binge-eating and eating poorly needs to stop, and it begins with each of us as individuals.
The costs associated with obesity are simply unacceptable. Reuters reports that “obesity in America is now adding an astounding $190 billion to the annual national health care price tag, exceeding smoking as public health enemy number one when it comes to cost.” Obviously this does not include the emotional and psychological costs of obesity and poor health; especially for our children.

Good nutrition is a key component of managing all chronic disease, not just obesity. As most of our children do not receive basic education in the area of nutrition or wellness, it is even more important for adults to lead by example. We do them no favors when we promote unhealthful eating behaviors such as seen at the “carnival.” It is possible to raise funds without cookies, cakes and candy.

My hope is that each of us can make small changes related to our health and that over time, we can begin to positively impact the health of our families, our community, our state and our nation.

Grand Junction

It’s simply wrong to claim Jesus Christ was against gays

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer contemplates signing a law in the name of religious freedom that makes it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay people because it violates the religious beliefs of certain people. But on what are these religious beliefs based?

Are they based on the Bible? There is no record anywhere to be found about Jesus saying anything about homosexuality. Go ahead. Check out all four gospels, and you will find it a futile endeavor to find any comments made by Jesus.

Sure, other historical figures in the Bible make disparaging comments about homosexuality, but you can’t take that seriously. That’s like believing that anything that Donald Trump says about any topic is to be taken seriously. Trump is not God and neither are these historical figures. What did Jesus have to say? Absolutely nothing.

A religious person can create any belief system he or she wants, but the belief that gay people violate some religious doctrine that’s in the Bible is not based on anything real. It is certainly just a creation by people who don’t like the gay community or the “gay agenda,” whatever that is.

Then these same people claim that God is on their side with absolutely no proof whatsoever.

Grand Junction

Rob Kurtzman has earned high marks around state

I would like to offer my unequivocal support for Dr. Rob Kurtzman for Mesa County coroner.

I am the chief coroner for Pitkin County, and I have worked in our coroner’s office since 1987. In the 22 years that Kurtzman has been in Grand Junction, I have worked with him extensively. I have worked with many other forensic pathologists, as well, all over Colorado and in Oklahoma where I originally worked as a state medical examiner.

Kurtzman has consistently been the most thorough, professional and thoughtful of any forensic pathologist with whom I have worked. His demeanor with the families of decedents is compassionate, and his ethical standards for dealing with law enforcement, the courts and other agencies are impeccable.

Kurtzman’s reputation around the state is excellent, and he has served many jurisdictions with his expertise.

Death investigation is not just about doing an autopsy or filling out papers; it is about the living. It is about those left behind and doing the job with highest level of professionalism. It serves all of us who benefit from everything from understanding what happened to improving public safety, medical care and the future of our community.

I believe your community needs Kurtzman as coroner to achieve this. Thank you for your consideration.

Pitkin County Coroner

Exxon CEO’s participation in lawsuit is hypocritical

The chief executive officer of Exxon is fighting to stop construction of a water tower that would support drilling on the land that borders his 83-acre horse farm. His lawyers say the drilling would harm the land values of the horse farm and the values of the neighbor’s land.

I guess what is good for all of us is not good for the rich and powerful, even if it is where they get their money. Another reason not to trust oil companies: They don’t care about the rest of us.



 ‘Forest Service is pursuing a sensible, long-standing policy’ regarding ski areas

While it remains locally fashionable to falsely accuse the federal government of seeking to “grab” western water rights via a “flawed policy” (“Legislature makes it clear feds shouldn’t grab water”), Sentinel readers deserve better from its editors.

What’s missing from the Sentinel’s opinion and ignored by Scott Tipton’s legislation is the underlying fact that the Forest Service is pursuing a sensible, long-standing policy requiring “that ski areas surrender water rights to the U.S. Forest Service as a condition of obtaining their permits to operate on lands administered by the Forest Service” – so that private rights to “beneficially use” public water obtained from National Forests under Colorado law remain dedicated to that purpose.

Since 1983 (under Republican Ronald Reagan), Forest Service permits required ski areas to title water rights used for snow-making in the name of the United States – thereby ensuring that such water rights “run with the land” and cannot be readily transferred for other purportedly “beneficial” (commercial) uses – to the potential detriment of successor ski operators, local communities, graziers and/or the national forest itself.

For 20 years, that common-sense policy was inconsistently enforced (but not “waived”) — and some Colorado ski areas obtained water rights without properly titling them. 

In 2004, Republican George Bush’s Forest Service began requiring joint ownership of those water rights with the U.S., while dubiously “grandfathering” older noncompliant permits.  In 2011, President Obama’s Forest Service sought to restore consistency to the policy by requiring compliance as a condition for permit renewal.

In December 2012, a federal court – without ruling on the renewal conditions – ordered the Forest Service to withdraw its directive, pending completion of the public process required by the Administrative Procedures Act.  That process is ongoing, and should properly result in re-ratification of the Forest Service’s prudent 30+ year-old policy.

Grand Junction

Attorney general must enforce, not change, our country’s laws

I learned at a very young age in social studies classes (U.S. history) that for any society to thrive and succeed, some type of social order was necessary.

I learned that our system in the United States was based on the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, or as it was known, the rule of law. I learned that these rules (laws) stemmed from the people of our country and were to be implemented by our elected officials, local, state and federal.

I hope fervently that today’s students are obtaining the same knowledge. It is now apparent that especially at the federal level, established laws (rules) can be implemented or changed at the whim of the U.S. attorney general, who is charged (I learned) with enforcing the law of the land. I cannot find anywhere that his job description (swearing to defend and uphold the Constitution) has changed. As we have seen for at least the past five years, this is not the case at all.

Without citing each case in point, the latest whim by Eric Holder is to advise state attorneys general that they need not defend any laws if they consider them discriminatory – effectively giving the green light for states to stop defending bans on gay marriage.

Putting the issue of gay marriage aside, how in the world does Holder think he is above the rule of law? We know that is what his boss believes. And, of course, the very next question is whether Colorado Attorney General John Suthers will uphold our laws — laws he has sworn to uphold.

Grand Junction


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