Email letters, January 16, 2013

Contact Bennet, Udall to urge reform of filibuster rules

Since the inception of representative government and the universal installation and respect for a one representative-one vote system of ethics, the rule by majority has made way for a political system of fairness within which majority rules. For many years, there merely existed an option of each senator or representative to simply vote (thumbs) up or (thumbs) down. The notion of a single vote being cast which would override many other votes had been unknown until relatively recently in the Western world of democracy,

While the above one representative-one vote system is a cherished principle, it is no longer the case in the U.S. Senate. Today, one member of this legislative body has the ability to completely freeze the intentions of a very solid majority. This phenomenon of undemocratic government has come to be known as the filibuster.

In order for one senator to stall a piece of legislation, he may merely rise to the floor, and in effect, monopolize it by reading a phone book to successfully shut down a piece of legislation. As a result, useful, creative, healthy and democratic pieces of legislation have died in the last two years or so. Bills designed for postal reform, the Violence Against Women Act, the farm bill and a bill authorizing relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy all passed through the Senate on a bipartisan basis, but they have been ignored by the House.

Yet, the Senate is as much of a problem as is the House. Senators can and have invoked filibusters at whim. Today no one even needs to read a phone book. A 40 percent minority can bring a piece of legislation to a screeching halt.

Yet, this can be altered. There exists a narrow window of opportunity for Americans, through their designated representatives, to reinvent democracy between now and Jan. 22. The reform of the filibuster which has destructively paralyzed America’s political process now stands as a distinct possibility: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have the opportunity on Jan. 22 to change the filibuster’s “silent form.”  He will, however, need strong support from the rest of the Senate.

What we can do is to reinforce the message to our senators that we expect them to work toward the end of a finer, fairer form of American democracy. For Coloradans, the following information is vital:

Michael Bennet – (202) 224-5852
Mark Udall – (877) -768-3255

JAMES A. MISCHKE, MSW, LCSW

Professor Emeritus of psychology, sociology, and social work
Dine College
Cortez

Take simple precautions against onslaught of flu bug

What has been called the worst flu season in a decade could cost companies billions of dollars in lost work time, slower growth in productivity and higher employee health care costs, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Statistics such as these mean it is very important that businesses have a plan to handle the flu this season. Businesses can ask employees to take several basic precautions:

• It’s not too late to encourage employees to get a flu shot as the flu season usually continues through February.

• Hang fliers with common-sense tips to slow the spread of germs as flu bugs can live for two to eight hours. These posters can encourage frequent hand washing, covering one’s mouth and nose with tissues when coughing and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

• Make sure to make it easy for employees to wash their hands and get hand sanitizer by making it readily available.

• Assess whether your work culture encourages those who are sick to stay home. Not only will workers be less productive than when healthy, they are likely to infect their coworkers. Allow those who are sick to stay home until they feel better, and let them know they will not be penalized for doing so.

These simple precautions can help workers avoid or lessen symptoms while helping keep their business place healthy, too.

DR. ELIZABETH KRAFT
Medical Director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado
Denver

Social Security funds belong to citizens, not government
 
Oh, my, how the kettle calls the pot black. We have been told that Republicans use scare and threat tactics to deal with the country’s financial woes. So, who are the first group of people that Obama threatens if Congress does not up the debt limit? Seniors on Social Security and ex-military on disability.

Why not threaten welfare recipients, food stamp recipients and those collecting unemployment? Obama is more certain to get a response if he threatens the most vulnerable people in the country. On top of that they are the ones that have served their country and worked their whole lives supporting the economy of the country. Obama has experienced neither of these.

People need to remember that Social Security is NOT an entitlement, but bought, owned and paid for by workers. The money belongs to them, not the government. Unless you are self-employed, half of the money is paid for by the employer. The self-employed pay the entire amount. So, where do the politicians and president get the idea that the money belongs to the government and they can use it to threaten the people?

Technically the Social Security fund is not part of the budget process, but a stand-alone fund designated for one purpose and one purpose, period. The politicos have so distorted the entire system by using the money for other things and not replacing the money taken out of the Social Security account.

Then there is the abuse of just who gets money from the fund—Illegals who never put money into the fund, children that have never had a job, use of phony numbers or use of dead folks’ funds and many other fraudulent uses. Because of all this abuse, the politicos seem to think the money is theirs to use at will. Therefore, Obama seems to think he can scare people by holding back money that is theirs—not his.

As for the disabled veteran, there would be no president or Social Security if these GIs did not put their lives on the line and end up injured in the process.

This is just one more abuse of the Constitution and our laws that continues to be used by the president. Unfortunately, the Republicans don’t seen to have the mettle to stand up to him. I am left wondering how many of these people being threatened by Obama voted for him.

My, my, my … how the screw turns.

DAVID SHRUM

Grand Junction

BLM’s preference would mean fewer routes to explore nature

The Grand Junction BLM office released its new Resource Management Plan on Jan. 13. This office manages 1.2 million acres of public lands that are not in a wilderness area. In the RMP you will notice four multiple-choice alternatives (A-D) that are being considered.

The BLM’s preferred alternative is B. Alternative A is the “no action” alternative; however, a detailed review of this option indicated “no action” is not really accurate. Example: In zone O (Tabeguache Trail/Unaweep Canyon) the “no action” alternative A is very similar to alternative B, and both options represent a 70 percent closure rate of motorized routes. Not exactly no action.

My initial review quickly confirmed the numbers in The Daily Sentinel on Jan. 15. Of the 1.2 million acres the Grand Junction BLM manages in this RMP, 868,100 acres are still open to designated route motorized use. That sounds pretty good until you look at the details. One small detail omitted is nearly half of the 868,100 acres are only open for administrative use — not open to the public. The exact acreage that applies to new administrative routes (formerly public routes) was left out of the table. All other designated route categories had detailed acreage info.


Here are the facts derived from appendix M in the RMP (M-13). They refer to current public motorized routes vs. the preferred alternative B that the BLM hopes to implement.

1. Currently you and I have 3,335 miles of public motorized routes to enjoy in the Grand Junction BLM District (this does not include county roads). Alternative B would reduce it to 1,111 miles of designated motorized routes. That is a loss of 2,224 miles or a 67 percent loss of access.

2. Currently we enjoy 445,400 acres of cross-country travel in the Grand Junction BLM District. Alternative B would reduce this to 0 acres. A 100 percent loss.

3. Currently our kids and families enjoy 12,500 acres of intensive motorized use areas in the Grand Junction, Fruita, Orchard Mesa and Whitewater desert. This would be reduced to 5,400 miles in alternative B. This would be a reduction of 57 percent. They would also completely remove the Whitewater Hill OHV area and limit it to designated routes.

In alternative B you will notice that access for drill rigs and cattle ranchers has largely gone untouched (which is fine). Many of the 980 miles of proposed administrative routes will only be legally accessible by gas rigs, ranchers, outfitters and law enforcement. Cattle lease acres were only reduced from 978,600 to 961,100 acres. So, hunters and motorized recreationists would take the hit.

I think the impacts to our economy, hunting industry, elderly, recreationists and families in Mesa and Garfield counties will be enormous. They are closing down our freedom to explore, which is one of the reasons we all live in the Grand Valley.

BRANDON SIEGFRIED

Grand Junction


Shockley did fine job in gluten-free article

I would like to thank Emily Shockley for her article on Gluten Free Grand Valley. Not only has our Facebook page seen growth and we’ve been able to share and educate each other more, but also our January meeting saw huge growth.

I am excited that Shockley listened to what our goals are for the group and portrayed Gluten Free Grand Valley in a great light. Thanks again for a great article.

ANGELA WETZEL
Clifton

Country heading into ‘European-style’ socialism

Is there any constitutional violation this Congress won’t tolerate?

“Separation of Powers” looks as if it must have been myth all along since we watch them stand silently by while one man dismantles the Constitution.

What we’re witnessing is the replacement of “American-style” liberty with “European-style” socialism.

AL CARLEY
Grand Junction

 

 



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