Email Letters: July 21, 2017

A bike tax could go to improve cycling community, access, and education

As a Libertarian I am primarily a low tax kind of guy, but in the case of Sen. Ray Scott’s idea of bicycle taxation I come down more in support than against it. To be sure, this would affect me as I have six bikes in my garage, including three carbon fiber road bikes that would buy you a nice used car in value. I ride at least three times a week and take my bikes with me over the 10-state area I cover for work. I have seen great biking communities, decent ones, and others where I wouldn’t get my bike out. I’ve biked in Portland, Missoula, Idaho Falls, Boise, and Scottsdale, just to name a few, and trust me, biking does have an impact on infrastructure in any number of ways and are not limited to: Bike friendly sidewalks, and pathways, dedicated bike lanes, shared bike paths, reconfiguring curbs so bikes can transition across driveways and corners, etc.

1. Cyclists want greater access, more bike lanes, more paths and more acceptance. This impacts development in easements, set asides for greenbelts, wider sidewalks.

2. It impacts drivers who see lane reductions, shared lanes and may need a good education about sharing the road.

3. It requires education of both cyclists and drivers so they are not communicating via honking, yelling, and one fingered salutes.

Bicyclists share the road and in many cases have the right of way, so there is a case for taxation to get representation and more access. We want our voices heard, so we should then pay our fair share for the use, just as we do for our vehicles that use the roads and occasionally carry our bikes. I will give Sen. Scott the benefit of the doubt and assume he is not trying to punish cyclists, so as long as the majority of the tax revenue for bike registrations is used to improve the cycling communities, access, and education, color me a supporter!

STEPHEN FULLERTON
Grand Junction

Atheists and Freethinkers should not give city council invocation

I am appalled that our city council would even consider having the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers give invocation at their meeting. (Not the first time?) Whatever happened to “In God we trust, ” or “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord?” Our nation and our city council is so succumbed to the pressure of political correctness in our desire to be inclusive that we honor other gods as though our true God is just one of many. We must confess that we no longer fear God and have lost all wisdom. May God have mercy on us!

GARY REEDER
Grand Junction

Our elected officials need to work on making health care affordable

The debate over our nation’s broken health care system can be extremely personal and contentious, but as our nation’s leaders struggle with this issue I hope they concentrate on making the Affordable Care Act (or its replacement) be what it never was: affordable.

Sen. Gardner has been a vocal leader in the fight against the massive premium increases facing many Americans. He pushed bipartisan legislation addressing opioid addiction and assisting in fast-tracking the development of new medicines and treatments. He has also been one of a small group of Republicans trying to create the Senate’s repeal and replace fix of Obamacare.

If Sen. Gardner and our other elected officials truly want to fulfill their promises and relieve the financial burden hurting many Americans they will continue to work to lower premiums for working families and individuals. At the same time, they must push back against the overregulation of the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, due to burdensome regulations the average time to develop a drug is ten to fifteen years. This drives up costs, causes shortages, and more importantly causes the delay of lifesaving drugs that may never reach the patients they are intended to help.

It is tempting to demonize a faceless industry as they are an easy target when many of us debate the issue, but rhetoric doesn’t bring about results and results are what we Americans need and deserve.

I urge everyone to remind our elected officials in Washington to help us all and keep this issue where it should be: about patients and their treatment.

ANGELA WETZEL
Grand Junction

Don’t get a dog if you cannot be a good pet owner

If you think it is ever OK to hit, throw, kick, or beat a dog, please don’t get a dog. If you think it is OK to lock your dog up in the garage, or leave it chained up in the yard, please don’t get a dog. If you think it is cute or funny to let your kids ride your dog like it’s a horse, or pull them around on their toys, or let them sit or stand on your dog, or hit them with their toys, then please don’t get a dog. If you think it’s OK to not provide daily fresh food and water to your dog, please don’t get a dog. If you think its OK to never take your dog for a walk, or play fetch or tell it that a good dog it is, then please don’t get a dog.

There are many dogs living lives of misery. There is no such thing as a bad dog, only bad owners who don’t have the maturity, time, or patience to be a good guardian to a dog. If you live next door to a bad dog owner do not be afraid to speak up and speak out. Animal cruelty and abuse is everyone’s business.

JACKIE JAMES
Grand Junction

Reader agrees with former sheriff’s letter to the editor

I am in total agreement with Rieke Claussen’s letter in the Sentinel, and in support, I should like to draw your readers’ attention to an article in The New Yorker July 24, 2017, titled “How Trump is Transforming Rural America,” in which the writer, Peter Hessler, uses Grand Junction to make his point. It is well worth a read.

Quoting “Voters have also not approved an increase in the sales tax since 1989. The next ballot will propose a rise of about a third on one per cent, in order to fund local law enforcement and public-safety services. Even as crime has risen, resources have dropped: the county currently has 1.15 deputies per thousand residents, in comparison with a state average of 2.28. Police departments are so understaffed that many areas aren’t patrolled.”
Please support Sheriff Claussen (retired) when voting time comes around. He knows what he is talking about.

IRWIN STEWART

Grand Junction

Bears shouldn’t be killed due to our ignorance and carelessness

It happens almost every year in the late summer: Food sources for black bears begin to dry up and the bears head out in search of alternative food sources to prepare for the upcoming winter. Their search for food oftentimes brings them into rural areas and urban neighborhoods. Often, the mere sighting of a bear is reported to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the animal is trapped, ear-tagged, and relocated (Strike 1).

However, according to CPW policies, if a tagged bear is reported a second time (Strike 2), it is destroyed. I have been an avid big game hunter all of my life and I have developed a deep respect for all game animals; however, I find CPW’s liberal application of their “two-strike” policy for bears to be a shameful and disrespectful practice. Across the State, CPW will kill several hundred bears each year simply because they are in search of food and are frequenting residential areas.

People living in bear country need to wise up and learn how to live with bears by keeping trash properly contained, not leaving pet food outside, keeping a clean camp, etc. Bears are an icon of the American wilderness and should not be snuffed out simply due to someone’s ignorance or carelessness. There are two-legged predators that live among us day-in and day-out that pose a much greater risk and threat to our communities than the occasional wandering black bear.

MIKE GARDNER
Grand Junction

Let’s hope candidates’ success inspires other women to step forward

Experts often point to fundraising as a persistent difficulty that female candidates face when running for office. Conventional wisdom is that men have an easier time raising money – that the “Old Boys Club” allows them to tap into resources that are unavailable to women.

In Colorado, that’s not true. Democratic women here are showing they are adept campaigners and fundraisers. They’re tapping into the “New Girls Network” we’ve been working to build in the Centennial State.

Gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy is the only woman currently seeking the Democratic nomination in a crowded field. She outraised all her competitors last quarter raking in nearly $340,000. So did, Brittany Pettersen, who bested all her male opponents’ numbers in her run for Congress in Colorado’s 7th District.

On the state level, Democratic women are stronger than ever too. Tammy Story, a candidate for Senate District 16, out-fundraised her opponent nearly two to one and Faith Winter, running for Senate District 24, outraised her primary opponent 15 to one.

As the executive director of Emerge Colorado, which trains Democratic women to run for office, including Story and Winter, I know that women can overcome any obstacles set before them and outrival their male opponents in spades. This is especially true when we give them the tools to succeed and a network of like-minded women who have their back.

These women prove that women have what it takes to be successful and savvy fundraisers and candidates. Let’s hope their success inspires other women to step forward.

JENNY WILLFORD

Emerge Colorado
Denver

It’s critical that we dispel the misconceptions around marijuana in our state

I applaud the Sentinel editorial board for bringing attention to the issues surrounding the distribution of our marijuana taxes. It’s critical that we dispel the misconceptions around marijuana in our state.

As their piece points out, Colorado voters were sold a bill of goods. The millions of dollars that the Marijuana Policy Project promised us for our schools, and the billions of dollars in tax revenue we constantly hear about in the news have yet to meaningfully impact school districts across our state.

It’s true: the first $40 million of marijuana taxes is required to go to the BEST school construction fund. In theory, this sounds great.

But as the Sentinel editorial board points out, that’s just a drop in the bucket of statewide school infrastructure needs. On top of which, any tax revenues above that $40 million is set aside for administering the state bureaucracy and mitigating the negative effects of legalization. In other words, as things currently stand our schools are never getting any more money than they are now.

Instead of state-of-the-art schools across Colorado, districts like Mesa County Valley District 51 are left asking their communities for more bonds, more levies, and more support, as voters and school officials alike are left scratching their heads, trying to figure out where all the marijuana money went. Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, Harry Bull, said it best: “So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.”

This issue has been a focus for me since Amendment 64 was first passed. It quickly became apparent that the capitol lacked the political will to roll out legalization in a thoughtful and responsible way. My wife and I started SMART Colorado specifically to protect kids as marijuana was commercialized and through that organization we have seen great success in passing reasonable regulations and improving transparency around how this tax revenue is spent.

We can do better than this. We can build the marijuana market that Coloradans were promised by collecting the tax dollars we were promised and further increasing transparency in the way our tax dollars are spent. We can also ensure that the industry is actually regulated as promised, like alcohol, so that we know what strains and what potencies are out there.

We have a long way to go to make this industry “contribute” to our state. We can and must do better.

DOUG ROBINSON
Englewood

Walcher’s simplistic analysis in recent column doesn’t hold much water

In 1974, when I was nine years old, I could mail a letter across the country for 10 cents. My parents may have been considering a new car for $4,000. Had they been more extravagant than they are, maybe even a Continental Mark V (for just under $10,000).

The value of lumber when I was a boy like Greg Walcher (to borrow the recent example put forth in his weekly appeal for more extraction, this time logging) was also lower then than it is today. On the Producer Price Index, it has jumped from around 60 in 1974 (relative to a value of 100 in 1982) to over 200 by the end of 2016. In this regard lumber is like postage and autos and everything else.

A new car with few frills will cost about $18,000 this year. A stamp is $0.49. Accordingly, lumber has increased about 70 percent since 1974 (a similar amount to Mr. Walcher’s example). A new car by about 75 percent. And postage has increased by a little more.

We all want our forests to be healthy. And part of their value is in their use. As watersheds, wildlife habitat, wilderness, recreational lands, carbon sinks, and for grazing, for research and science, and for forest and resource products.

But the boyhood price of a 2x4 isn’t a sound metric for setting policy for public lands or forest health. Mr. Walcher’s simplistic analysis may serve the purpose of rationalizing his ends, but it doesn’t hold much water.

PETE KOLBENSCHLAG
Paonia


COMMENTS

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Mr. Reeder,

Whether you like it or not, every citizen in this country should enjoy the same rights. The government cannot endorse one religion over others, so anyone has a right to say the city council invocation. They expressly stated that they would not censor anyone who wanted to say the invocation of their choice.

Surely you aren’t against people speaking their mind and their beliefs, right? Or is it fine only so long as you agree with those beliefs?

When making a request for presenting the invocation is only “to make a point and shake things up” the presenter and words become insignificant

Bikers are already paying the same taxes and instead of lazy politicians finding more ways to tax citizens they could embrace an opportunity to enhance the tourism and positives such citizens might bring to communities in terms of stimulating an already questionable economy.  Oh yea, and their presence far and away pays for improvements for bike lanes, sidewalk improvements etc.

Ms Willford
  I commend you for your work to help women run for office.  Since you are clearly a democrat your focus on democrat candidates is understandable.  However, if you were truly trying to help all women you would not limit your work to only democrat women.

Mr. Philips,

If it causes people to think about what is going on, it is not insignificant.

Mr Phillips asserts that cyclists are already paying the same taxes but doesn’t clarify as to what. Cars & Trucks that use the same roads as cyclists. If that is the assertion then he is mistaken. And he also asserts that by their mere presence, cyclists pay for improvements and access. This too, is an incorrect assertion. Bicycles are governed as vehicles according to Colorado state law and there for subject to potential, licensing, and yes taxation.

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