Email letters, Jan. 3, 2012

Colorado should legalize marijuana

As I read, “Pot backers could get question on 2012 ballot” on Dec. 28, I’m excited for Colorado’s future. Cannabis (marijuana) prohibition is one of America’s worst policy failures in history and Colorado may become the first state to end the ignorance.

A sane or rational argument to perpetuate cannabis prohibition doesn’t exist. Cannabis prohibition causes increased hard-drug addiction rates, crime, corruption, erosion of human rights, contempt for laws, etc. and does nothing productive. Nothing.

A Montana news article (Study: States that legalized medical pot see decrease in traffic fatalities, beer sales, Dec. 28, 2011, The Missoulian), even indicates cannabis prohibition may be responsible for thousands of traffic deaths through out the country.

Ending cannabis prohibition is one of the most important issues of our time.

STAN WHITE
Dillon

More funding needed for primary-care physicians

As stories about health care continue to dominate the national news, we want to thank Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and five of their colleagues for taking the lead to address critical health care workforce issues in the United States. Numerous recent studies have documented that Colorado, like most states, needs more primary care physicians.

These physicians are often the best resource not only to identify and treat illness, but also to mange overall patient care. The evidence shows that people who establish strong relationships with a primary care physician reduce their health care costs, and they tend to live longer with healthier lives. Primary care physicians are the fulcrum around which a patient-centered medical home can operate to achieve better health care results.

On Dec. 21, Sens. Udall and Bennet requested that the Institute of Medicine conduct an independent review of the governance and finance of our system of graduate medical education (GME). Medical school graduates must complete residencies before they can practice medicine in this country as board certified physicians. For years, residencies nationwide have been funded primarily through Medicare and Medicaid. However, it has become clear that this country does not have a plan to produce the workforce it needs, as substantial GME funding is used to train specialists. Also, many residencies in Western states receive fewer dollars than residencies in the East, although overall costs to run the training programs are relatively similar.

GME is in desperate need of a serious overhaul in order to address these inequities and assure that the primary care residencies receive adequate funding to train physicians to produce the primary care workforce to meet the nation’s health care needs. We are grateful to Sens. Udall and Bennet for their efforts to address this critical public health issue.

HONORABLE KRISTEN L. MIX, Chair
Commission on Family Medicine
ANTONIO PRADO-GUTIERREZ, MPH, MA, Executive Director
Commission on Family Medicine
Denver

Show power through voting

It seemed to me that the comments of both Ron Neal and Richard Doran, in the Dec. 29 edition of The Daily Sentinel, reflected the general disappointment and frustration with our political structure I hear from all sides today. Both seem to hint vaguely at revolution as a direction to a solution. I couldn’t disagree more with such a thought. 

We have and have had since our beginning, a simple, practical, inexpensive solution to our socio-political situation, but, for a lot of excuses and practically no reasons, we continue to fail to use it. We have control of the final source of power — the vote.

To my knowledge, we have neglected or carelessly used this tool ever since my first presidential vote back in ‘44. We have a duty that we have failed — to use our vote to control our Congress. Because of the importance of their job, we gave Congress great authority, nearly unlimited funding, access to the worlds greatest facilities and talent.  Then we practically ignored them — except for a day or two every couple of years. They know that not one of us may know, for even a day, what they do in Washington, once they leave town. (Of course we can and do know all we need to know — how we like the job they do running our country.) By now they have fabricated super-cushy, royalty-like positions, including perks, pensions and privileges for themselves far beyond what Joe Voter may ever, realistically, aspire to have. And we keep voting them back into office, effectively telling them we approve of their work and want them to keep doing what they have done.

Does anyone believe that as long as we keep sending the same folks back to D.C. We may realistically expect any noticeable change?
 
RAY LASHLEY
Grand Junction

We should support projects that benefit us all

I read in the paper about different groups of people apposing projects like coal mining, power plants, gas drilling, oil drilling and almost anything that would benefit the good of the people. Hoover Dam and the Palisade Hydro plant and the road up the Colorado Monument and other projects would have never been built with today’s mentality.

RAFAEL A SALAZ
Grand Junction

Special thanks educators working in tough economic times

The ending of the 2011 holiday season is a great time to reflect and give thanks for the many good things we enjoy. And certainly recognizing and giving thanks for the many public employees, who invest their time and efforts for an effective public sector is in order. Included are the municipal, county, state and federal employees, fire fighters, volunteer fire fighters, charities and the many volunteers to various agencies. Holidays for many public employees such as police, sheriff, state patrol and firefighters will be just another working day while most of us enjoy the time off. So to them a special and heart full thanks.

And a special thanks to our teachers and the educational support staffs. During these trying economic times there are a lot of hurting families which reflect on the students and their performance in the classroom. Our teachers and administration are on the front line of dealing with the economic challenges of our communities. Many times our teachers are expected to correct behavioral problems where parents have failed. Yet our teachers are expected to perform to established state and federal criteria that do not take in to consideration the extra classroom challenges our economic times cause. Added to their frustration is the recent defeat of 3B and what message was sent to our teachers and education community as a whole.

During the 3B pre-election discourse there were many ill timed, ignorant and even stupid comments made to and about our teachers and the support staff. Increases in state and federal mandates coupled with the expected reduction in state funding will only increase the pressures on the classroom teachers and educational community. So regardless of one’s position on tax increases for schools or any other public issue this is a good time to put aside the various philosophical positions and say thanks to all of our public employees. Let’s tell them they are respected, valued and very much appreciated.
May we all have a happy, prosperous and compassionate New Year.

KEN HENRY, Mayor
City of Fruita
Fruita

It’s time to take back our Congress

Every citizen should be involved in discrediting and replacing the current dysfunctional and corrupt two-party system and replacing it with the system that is spelled out in the Constitution which states that the people will elect their representatives .

Representatives are now selected and elected by the political parties which is not in accordance with the Constitution. These representatives only represent the party elites and their agendas and the donors to their campaigns which amounts to legalized bribery.

The American people must be reminded that most of our problems can be traced back to the Republican and Democrat Congress that is responsible for instituting the Patriot Act and the foreign trade acts such as NAFTA. the undeclared unfunded wars, the split estate laws concerning natural resources, the discriminatory income tax laws, and unprotected national borders etc. which violate our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and have destroyed our jobs, our economy, and our country.

It is time that the people take back our government and our Constitution and elect public servants who will serve all the people not just those whom they agree with. This can only be accomplished if all candidates for public office have to petition to get on the ballot and are publicly financed and subject to term limits.

GARRY EVENSON
Battlement Mesa 

County Clerk could do more for voters

International law and standards promulgated by the Carter Center’s Democracy Program require that — to constitute a genuinely “democratic election” — “voting must be by secret ballot so that ballots cannot be linked with voters who cast them [and] the secrecy of the ballot must be maintained throughout the entire electoral process.”
 
Accordingly, Article VII, Section 8, of Colorado’s Constitution mandates that, regardless of the method of voting, “secrecy in voting is [to be] preserved.” Remarkably, such is not now the case in Republican-controlled Mesa County.
 
Moreover, to constitute truly “democratic elections,” maximum transparency and public access to relevant information before, during, and after “secret voting” is also necessary – both to insure the integrity of elections and reinforce public confidence therein.
 
Accordingly, the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”) makes election records subject to disclosure – except those that could facilitate identity theft. CORA thus impliedly assumes that it is practically impossible to glean (i.e., “link”) a particular voter’s election choices from any public records. Unfortunately, such is not the case in Mesa County.
 
Rather, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner denied a CORA request for election records on grounds that disclosure could (at least in theory) compromise voter anonymity – and then demonstrated how a peculiar combination of ballot “styles” and administrative reports could permit identification of a voter and how they voted.
 
Reiner’s public admission that her own ministerial procedures may violate the Colorado Constitution’s “secrecy in voting” stricture is cause for bipartisan concern, because it raises the specter of potential voter intimidation.
 
Likewise, Reiner’s efforts to “bootstrap” on those unconstitutional procedures to justify circumvention of CORA should also be a matter of both public and media concern – because it has compromised transparency, exposed Mesa County taxpayers to liability for substantial attorney fees, and could lead to the nullification of local elections.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

City erred in changing concessionaire at Tiara Rado

I was just at the Pinion Grill (Irons) at Tiara Rado Golf Course and noticed that is was closed and that the city picked concessionaire will no longer be providing food and drinks at the restaurant. The previous managers had conducted a brisk business for over 10 years which provided concessions for golfers, a good restaurant for the citizens, a neighborhood meeting place and paid the city a fair return for the facility.

It appeared that the city, based on erroneous information, removed the previous manager and staff resulting in a loss of 5–8 jobs, ended a good relationship with the neighborhood which supported the facility throughout the year, and cut off the income stream for the facility. Now the city/taxpayers have a vacant building that requires maintenance and expensive utilities with no income.

Hopefully the city has a new plan; possibly reinstate the previous, successful business men.

GARY ROBERTS
Grand Junction

Republicans should forget asset-testing

Never let it be said Colorado Republicans let practical thinking or even let legality get in the way of their version of conservative ideological purity.

State House Republican majority leader Frank McNulty is reported to be proposing Colorado reinstate asset-testing for Medicaid recipients, even though numerous studies indicate such tests aren’t worth the time and money to administer.

According to the Denver Post, House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, a former budget analyst for the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said the state changed its policies on asset-testing for poor seniors to save money.

“A couple of years ago, the asset test for certain populations of Medicaid was removed for very good reasons, because the only way you got on Medicaid was you sold everything you had, and then you were on Medicaid and you were basically indigent and we had to take care of long-term care,” Ferrandino said. “And it cost the state more. So the idea was, we wanted to make sure seniors can get on Medicaid without selling their homes and all their assets so we don’t then have to put them in nursing homes.”

But the main reason Colorado is unlikely to reinstate an asset test for Medicaid is that the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act prohibits doing so under its “maintenance of effort” provisions.

Hopefully, the good voters of Colorado will put an end to this kind of nonsensical Republican thinking by returning control of the entire state legislature to the Democrats in 2012.

Having responsible grown-ups in charge is always a good thing.

E. MICHAEL ERVIN
Grand Junction

Wreath organization relies on volunteers and donations

This is in response to Kathryn Heald’s question asking why there were no wreaths at one of the oldest local cemeteries for veterans. The Wreaths Across America program was started by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine. In 1992, he found himself with a surplus of wreaths. With some help from Maine Sen. Snowe, he was allowed to decorate graves in a section of Arlington National Cemetery. He did this yearly, on a volunteer basis, but in 2005 that local program received national attention, and it has grown every year.

In 2007 the Western Slope Patriot Guard Riders took on the wreath program as a volunteer effort at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery. We solicit donations, to cover expenses, from local companies and individuals. This has been a challenge. When we began, there were 800 graves at the cemetery. This year we placed 1,200 wreaths, with the need, and thus costs, growing each year. It takes a huge amount of donations to cover the wreaths at this cemetery.

We provide honor and respect to every veteran that we can. However, our small group can only cover so much ground on a volunteer basis to try to accomplish everything that needs to be addressed. Perhaps, with some added help and donations the program could be expanded to cover the veteran’s section of the Orchard Mesa Cemetery.

ART EDWARDS, Western Slope Assist State Captain
Colorado Patriot Guard Riders
Grand Junction

Economy needs more jobs for employees, not just higher ups

In principle, it is possible for anyone with a good idea and access to funding to create a new business. If successful, the business grows, people are hired to manufacture the product and the entrepreneur becomes wealthy. This works so long as the employees who are actually creating the wealth share in the profits by having well paying jobs that enable them to buy a home, form a family and send their children to college.

The goal of all business is to maximize profits. For the last 30 years, profits have been maximized through off-shore manufacturing. The wealth formerly being shared by American workers has been directed to the Chinese, and others. Our higher standard of living prevents us from exporting enough goods to avoid transferring some of the wealth of the United States to other countries.

Participation in the global economy has left a gaping hole in our economic structure. Along with the real-estate fiasco of the past 20 years, it has produced a major discrepancy between the availability of jobs and the number of those needing work. This is what the “occupy” protests are about. Since the global economy has significantly affected only a portion of the population, many of us don’t understand the plight of the unemployed even though their numbers are significant.

While it is possible in principle for anyone to create a successful business it is not generally understood that it is impossible for everyone to do so. We can’t all be quarterbacks. For capitalism to work a portion of the population has to be employees and only a smaller number can be at the top of the wealth distribution. Our economy works only if those who have wealth provide acceptable employment for the rest of Americans. Otherwise the peaceful protests could become violent.

JACK KINGSLEY
Grand Junction

Americans need to start pulling their own weight

Here’s what I think about America. America is like the New York Yankees. What the Yankees are to baseball, America is to the international economy. Both are in the most capable and competitive leagues, and both compete successfully with the best teams in their league.

But, when the Yankees discover that that they have a player who cannot contribute at the high level of performance compatible with the rest of the team, that player is quickly eliminated from the roster. He is replaced by a new player who can pull his own weight and compete at the team’s high level of performance.

During the past few years, America has lost this recipe for success. The “occupy” protesters are the most recent example of players who cannot pull their own weight for America and who must be replaced on the roster. I must regretfully submit that there are many others in Washington D.C. who are in the same category. I think there are many other countries in the world where both would be much happier.

DR. KENT CARSON
Grand Junction

The axiom “Keep It Simple Stupid” came to mind while reading the January 2 article about closing the agriculture property tax loophole. That’s the tangle tied to laws that grow out of so-called class warfare.

Years ago, if you had a million-dollar house on 20 acres there were all kinds of ways to make it a farm without producing farm income. Sometimes the taxes on the million-dollar house were less than on a $200,000 suburban house. The public squawked, but didn’t get the logical law of leaving the acreage as agricultural, (acreage can provide agricultural income at any given time) and taxing the million dollar house (or any price house) for what it was worth. The Legislature went to work and made any property regardless of size “residential” if it didn’t produce an income. But, of course, there are still ways around it and the new law is hardly anymore sensible because if clout is available loopholes can always be found. Or one can always find a way to simply cheat.

The law could say the house and the lot upon which it sits is taxed “residential.” That would be fair for virtually everyone. The only qualification to the size of the lot would be by degree such as swimming pools and tennis courts or if the house sits on a 20 acre cliff.

I’ve heard about developments on Glade Park in the past regarding developers subdividing for 35 acre lots. The developers paid agricultural taxes but when the lot sold and a house was built, the 35 acres were taxed residential even though you can earn an agricultural living on 35 acres. Now that’s a major loophole, but only for the developers.

EILEEN O’TOOLE
Grand Junction



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