Email letters, Jan. 7, 2013
Public/private partnerships would aid in nation building
Josh Penry’s recent article about the construction of I-70 was interesting. In it he laments that we no longer attempt such “grand projects.” That’s truly ironic, considering people on the right usually deny that the government can have any role in job creation.
Penry’s column praises what is probably the best example of how public/private partnerships can create jobs and foster economic growth. The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 was a key factor in the postwar economic boom. Since our infrastructure is now in tatters, let’s once again do some “nation building” here at home.
Hopefully, Penry and other Republicans will direct their energies toward helping to create a bipartisan plan to get our country moving again. If instead they insist on creating false crises such as the coming return of the debt ceiling debacle and cause our credit rating to be downgraded for a second time, they will continue to prove that their hatred of Obama exceeds their love for our country.
Coloradans should not sacrifice health for energy
On Dec. 31 COGCC staff released a proposal to increase the distance between well sites and buildings to 500 feet anywhere. For wells within 1,000 feet of a building, operators would be required to notify neighbors and employ measures to address dust, noise, odor and lighting. Operators would also be required to hold a hearing before the COGCC for any well to be located fewer than 1,000 feet away from high-occupancy buildings, e.g. schools or hospitals. Hearings resumed today in Denver, which gives stakeholders and citizens little time to react to this latest proposal.
While some (including COGCC Director Matt Lepore) view this as a meet-in-the-middle gesture to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders, many others don’t agree. Coloradans should not be made to sacrifice our public health and communities at the altar of oil and gas development. Heavy industry does not belong in residential areas, near schools or businesses.
I believe setbacks should be 1,000 feet anywhere. This is a safety issue, as well as a public health issue. Current setbacks (150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet urban areas) are dangerous. Explosions, leaks and spills have happened and will happen again. Rigs have tipped over and will tip over again.
Lepore admits the 500-feet setbacks aren’t meant to address health concerns and never mentions safety, water and air quality. COGA and the Colorado Petroleum Association seek to block citizen testimony at the eleventh hour and demand scientific evidence. Yet scientific studies such as the Battlement Mesa HIA and the Mamm Creek groundwater studies that support citizens’ testimonies have been suppressed and never brought to the table for discussion.
It’s time for Gov. Hickenlooper to be a leader and require the oil and gas industry to adopt rational, common-sense protections for our citizens and the environment.
City Council backroom meetings deprive public of vital details
The Grand Junction City Council is deciding whether to return excess TABOR funds. On Dec. 17, a meeting was held in which council members discussed this topic among themselves. The city has invested substantial funds in technology that allows meetings to be recorded and made available through the Internet. But the council members chose not to record their discussion or to keep minutes. This process is not unique to this issue.
Given the opportunity to publically explain this reprehensible behavior, council members have declined. Apparently they feel that only a few of us think that public bodies have a responsibility to be as transparent as possible in their deliberations.
Council members correctly argue that what they do is legal. A loophole in state law makes the current process legal as long as no official vote is taken. I have attended many of these backroom meetings on other topics, and these discussions generally result in a clear decision without taking an official vote. Then when the issue is raised at an official meeting, there is no substantive debate and the public is thus shut out of the right to observe how the decision was reached.
The meetings to which I object are officially open to the public. But most meetings are scheduled at times that are inconvenient to citizens and are held in rooms that have limited space for spectators. The Sentinel usually has a reporter in attendance, and brief stories sometimes ensue. Four paragraphs reporting a two-hour discussion are unlikely to provide enough information for citizens to understand the thoughts of each council member.
In addition to the meetings discussed above, “pre-meetings” are held in a backroom before each “official” city council meeting. These meetings are the epitome of arrogance and can best be described as ”dress rehearsal.” I have attended many of these and watched other citizens shy away because it takes guts to walk into a small crowded room where a meeting has already started. The clear intent is to allow discussions that are not included in the public record.
We are entering the campaign season for the April election. It is my hope that each candidate will clearly discuss the degree to which citizens should be allowed to observe elected officials in action.
It’s time to scrutinize Tipton’s representation
Rep. Scott Tipton isn’t being very representative these days. He doesn’t seem to understand that people are tired of a government that doesn’t function. By voting against the bill to avert the fiscal cliff, he indicated that he was willing to let the economy spiral into a recession again and send more workers to the unemployment lines.
It’s fine for him to say we need to get spending under control — the American public agrees with that. It’s not fine to hold the government hostage to his point of view. The Republican House should pass a bill showing how its members would cut the federal budget. That would be a productive way to start the dialogue. They should NOT threaten to shut down the government when the debt limit comes up, since it is Congress that actually created that debt.
As the voting public, we need to pay closer attention to the way Tipton represents us. We want a government that works, not just his displays of brinkmanship to please an extreme minority.
Obama unfairly blamed for restricting rights
Many conservative Americans hate President Obama because they think he is a socialist/communist and he is taking away your rights and freedoms. Really?
Name me one right, freedom or liberty you don’t have now that you had before Obama took office.
In fact, who has taken away union and workers rights? Who is limiting the rights of Americans to vote? Who is prohibiting women’s reproductive rights and their right to choose? Who is denying people the right to love and marry whomever they please? These are just a few of the many rights, freedoms and liberties being denied the American people by Republican governors and their conservative legislators.
Conservatives say they want a smaller government, yet they want a government big enough to control people’s lives. What is the definition of hypocrisy?
Sentinel’s nature photos enjoyed both near and far
We so enjoy the beautiful nature photos that appear regularly in your paper. My 90-year-old mother-in-law is in an assisted living facility in Oregon, and we always include several of them when we write to her. She in turn shares them with the other residents.
Kudos to the photographers and to the paper for printing so many in colors.
Patient Centered Medical Homes help Coloradans get best possible health care
The Colorado Academy of Family Physicians thanks Gov. Hickenlooper for his efforts to expand eligibility while strengthening our state’s Medicaid program. Coupled with the insurance exchange program where affordable private insurance will be available, nearly all our state’s citizens will have access to primary health care. This will truly be an impressive achievement with wide-ranging social, health and economic benefits for our state.
Simply insuring more people, however, does not automatically grant access to quality health care. As your family physicians, it is our responsibility to assure that every patient gets the best possible care. All patients deserve high quality, cost effective, comprehensive primary care, oriented to their individual needs.
Physician-led Patient Centered Medical Homes bring together a team of health professionals providing each patient with the right care, by the right professional, at the right time. Properly run PCMH’s are proven to significantly reduce costs while improving quality and the patient experience. As the largest medical organization representing primary care physicians, CAFP is a leader in promoting these medical homes as essential components in Colorado’s health care system.
ROBERT BROCKMANN, MD, MS, FAAFP
President, Colorado Academy of Family Physicians
United Arab Emirates benefits from spreading misinformation
Only in the United States can the United Arab Emirates be a major financial contributor to a Hollywood film that sheds unproven, poor light on the oil and gas industry.
The United Arab Emirates is laughing all the way to the bank. Not only can it financially support propaganda to steer the U.S. into further dependence on foreign oil and gas, but also it will be paid handsomely for it.
Tax everyone at same rate, insist parties work together
I’ve been around for 77 years, and I’ve seen a lot and heard a lot.
First of all, everyone in the United States needs to pay the same percent of taxes. It would make everyone happier, and it would improve our economy. The more money you make, the more taxes you pay. No loopholes.
Also, we do not need Democrats and Republicans fighting against each other. We need good American men and women in all government offices. They are splitting our country wide open.
We had a war in the United States back in the early days that split this country. We don’t want that to happen again. Why can’t the people of the United States see this? We need people who can work together in harmony and get this country back on its feet. We need a strong president to get this started.
BOB L. ARNETT
Ten rules could allay concerns about energy development
The premise that the public must accept everything the gas industry demands is flawed. The people have the right to demand high stewardship standards for all activities on our lands. Were the following rules implemented, most in the community would likely be mollified:
1) 100 percent transparency from resource extractors on all processes including full disclosure of all chemicals used.
2) Posting of substantial bonds prior to permitting anywhere in the state.
3) Swift, severe penalties for any pollution resulting from extractive activities on public lands with a permanent moratorium on further permitting to any offender. Fail once and you’re done. Period. No exceptions.
4) Better capture of royalties with a meaningful percentage mitigating damage done to communities, roads and other infrastructure.
5) Improved approaches to drilling near schools, homes, water supplies and critical infrastructure. A mere 350 feet is senseless and irresponsible.
6) Permanent moratoria on drilling in obviously special places. Food production regions, watersheds, areas with active aquifers, beautiful landscapes, critical wildlife habitat or corridors must be exempted from resource extraction activities.
7) Better capture of waste methane and other toxic hydrocarbons from the wellhead.
8) Better well pad wash procedures limiting air or ground releases of methylene chloride and other organics.
9) Strong controls to limit fracking in drought-affected watersheds.
10) Ensure that gas drilled in the USA, stays and is used in the USA.
The assertion that modern culture needs access to energy resources is correct. What is unacceptable is unconscious and irresponsible despoiling of lands we inhabit, visit or just know exist as they were. An important human value is vigilant stewardship of air, water, land and wildlife.
We can likely coexist with wise energy development; however, industry has a long way to go to achieve full public acceptance. Honest implementation of the above provisions will likely achieve more public support. Continued intransigence, however, will only lead to further battle.
MITCHELL GERSHTEN, MD
Consider societal differences in approaches to gun control
In a recent letter, Paul Kelly presented some “statistics” on non-accidental violent death, but to me his numbers are confusing. From 1900 to 2012 there were in excess of 150 violent conflicts around the world. Some were civil wars, but most were wars between nations and government entities.
For example, just think of World War II or Vietnam. These were wars involving America fought on foreign soil. In this long list of wars no war or conflict was fought on American soil, so the number of Americans who have died as a direct result of a conflict with the American government is quite small, although the number of Americans who have died in foreign conflicts is substantial.
In fact, if one reviews a list of conflicts (see http://www.war-memorial.net/wars_all.asp) one will quickly realize that more people have died from international conflicts (death from a foreign government) then have died from civil conflicts (death from own government). So the “worst mass murders in history” were committed by governments, but those deaths were not only the result of guns, as suggested by Kelly, but also other weapons of mass destruction, and the governments involved were predominantly foreign, not local.
So, to argue that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution legalizes weaponry ownership by American citizens to defend the citizenry from our own government seems a serious intellectual stretch, based on our history and our form of government. With the exception of the Civil War, this country has seen less danger from “the government” than from foreign governments or extremist groups.
We are supposed to have a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In other words, WE are the government, which may have more to do with living in a reasonable conflict-free country than all the guns in citizen hands.
After all, Japan is a reasonably stable country with very strict gun ownership laws and in the latest accounting only 11 people died in that year from gun violence. So there are societies where gun control does work, it just depends on the priorities and mindset of “the people.”
Congresswomen’s photo shopped picture is misleading
On Jan. 4 the Associated Press released news that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi edited (photo shopped) the photo of the swearing in of the Democratic congresswomen. Only 57 of the 61 women showed up for the scheduled photo. Her aides digitally altered the official photo to show images of the four absent members in the photograph.
Does this show the lack of responsibility of our elected officials to be at the appointed place at the appointed time for a scheduled event?
Is this another example of our elected leaders “altering” history so as to show their agendas?
LARRY M. HEAD
Media should give more coverage to San Antonio shooting
On Dec. 17 two days after the Connecticut shooting, a man went to a restaurant in San Antonio to kill his ex-girlfriend. After he shot her, most of the people in the restaurant fled next door to a theater. The gunman followed them and entered the theater so he could shoot more people. He started shooting and people in the theater started running and screaming.
It’s like the Aurora theater story plus a restaurant!
Now aren’t you wondering why this isn’t a lead story in the national media along with the school shooting?
There was an off-duty county deputy at the theater. She pulled out her gun and shot the man four times before he had a chance to kill anyone. So, since this story makes the point that the best thing to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun, the media are treating it like it never happened.
Only the local media covered it. The city is giving her a medal next week. Just thought you’d like to know.
So why isn’t this being covered in the media either nationally or locally? Police carry guns to protect themselves, and occasionally they protect you, as well.
Second term for Obama will damage our representative democracy
I don’t know for whom Margaret Durrant voted for, but if she voted for Obama she is getting what she voted for with Obamacare and government takeover of our lives. If she voted for Romney, she should have worked harder to get him elected.
After four more years of Obama, we will be closer to Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia then the representative democracy envisioned when our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.
We need reform in bloated government – now
We’ve all heard the saying “good enough for government work” and I wondered what that meant until my daughter told me about a task she was given on her new government job. She said it was something that had taken her three days to do in her private world job and that same task took three weeks. She was appalled, but nobody seemed concerned because it was normal.
It obviously means that wasted time, indifference and complacency about doing everyday tasks is normal.
Another goes, “Government shouldn’t do anything a private company has listed in the phone book.” It’s true. Private companies usually do most things better than government. Take, for example, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest private employer. In 50 years it’s risen from nothing to the industry giant it’s become today. Competent management, smart marketing and non-union labor are no doubt keys to that success. Maybe we should have Wal-Mart type executives fixing the current government mess.
By contrast, here’s a look at how our government manages things:
U.S. Postal Service – established 1775 – 237 years to get it right - over budget and broke
Social Security - established 1935 – 77 years to get it right - soon to be broke
Fannie Mae – established 1938 - 74 years to get it right - broke
War on Poverty - started by LBJ in 1964 - 48 years to get it right - still rampant domestic poverty
Medicare/Medicaid - established 1965 – 47 years to get it right - almost broke
Freddie Mac – established 1970 – 42 years to get it right - broke
Department of Energy – established 1977 to lessen dependence on foreign oil – 35 years later no closer to independence than before.
And now, Uncle Sam is taking over the nation’s health care system. From the examples above, I imagine we’re in for a rough ride.
So, TAXES and ENTITLEMENTS are being blamed for most of the mess. Really? Government doesn’t waste money elsewhere?
A long history of overspending, welfare “freebies,” foreign aid and mismanagement are just a few of the reasons our taxes will never be high enough. So, the first cuts will be military pay, Social Security and Medicare. Not the above. Count on it. It’s insane, normal operating procedure, but insane.
We need reform and we need it now, before it’s too late. The choice is clear: growth and prosperity or eventual failure, as we see from their past attempts.
With the current occupant of the White House, I’m sure we’ll see a continued backing of the government employee unions. They in turn will ensure the continuing bloated bureaucracy and its insanity until we’re all broke.
Enact term limits, make legislators work from home states
There really is an easy way to fix the legislative branch of our government. Term limits have been suggested for years with no end result. However, a way to gain automatic term limits is simply to say: “No matter how many terms people are elected for, they may only get retirement pay for the first four years of service. They will get no free medical beyond the first four years, or any other benefits they now collect forever. They can pay their parking tickets, pay for their food at the congressional cafeteria, and start treating their jobs as jobs and not entitlements.”
They can dramatically cut the costs of running the government: With today’s mass media and electronic communication capabilities, there is absolutely NO reason for a congressman or senator to live in Washington. They can live at home with their constituents and serve their needs on a daily basis. If they feel a need to be in Washington, it should only be for Inauguration Day and State of the Union address. All other business can be conducted from their home state electronically, requiring a lot less overhead to do their jobs.
This would reduce the associated costs of having to live in two homes, and it would virtually eliminate lobbyists, as they won’t pay to travel to all 50 states to fight for an issue. It would help keep the elected in touch with the reality of what their constituents deal with on a day-to-day basis, and I would be willing to bet they would get a lot more done, such as an annual budget.
Often, the best solution is the most obvious and easy solution. Unfortunately, the folks that need to enact such rules just happen to be the ones who currently abuse the existing system at our expense. There has never in my lifetime been such a useless bunch of elected people from the president on down, so it would be my guess they will never do anything to fix the terrible situation they have created. As long as the voters keep electing these truly worthless people to office, our system will continue to operate in the worthless way it currently does.
Who is entitled to charity?
Reading the You Said It column every week, we read about the thanks people are giving for the acts of kindness they’ve received from Good Samaritans, usually in restaurants. Said Samaritans supposedly make some kind of determination that the recipient(s) seemed to be needy.
I wonder why none of the stalwart self-righteous, self-reliant and very vocal local conservatives don’t confront these apparently needy recipients of charity and ask them why they are being so extravagant as to be in a restaurant in the first place. Surely the money that they will waste by not fixing meals at home will further contribute to their obvious needy appearance and general lack of self-restraint.
I can hear the chorus now saying that private charity is preferable and admirable and one can make a first-hand judgment as to whether the recipient is worthy of your compassion or not.
Ah! There it is. Government programs are susceptible to some undeserving people gaming the system, and the best way to keep that from happening is to not have safety net systems in the first place. Or is “some undeserving people” the wrong terminology? Romney became the hero in the eyes of many conservatives by implying that virtually anybody receiving money from the government was a slacker preying on the righteous. People were mentioned, but strangely business organizations were not.
So, is tough love required to keep people in line and keep them from being spoiled and dependent, or is all the controversy really about who should be getting the people’s money from government, or preferably directly from consumers before it is ever laundered by useless government? This relates to the hatred of taxes by some of these righteous citizens. Taxes by government put a useless middleman between big money and its access to your money.