Email Letters: June 29, 2017

No on health insurance lifetime limits or caps

One of the ways insurance companies protected themselves and attempted to keep their premiums competitive before the Affordable Care Act was to place a lifetime spending limit (a.k.a. lifetime cap) on every insured person.

The Senate is now considering reinstating lifetime caps to benefit insurance companies, which I think is a very bad idea. What happens if I get sick and hit a lifetime cap, as determined by my insurance company? Do I then lose my hard-earned life savings, file bankruptcy, and die? I hope our Senate has more consideration than that for the American people. America’s healthcare should not make its citizens vulnerable to bankruptcy.



There is no logic or consistency with the Trump presidency

Two thoughts on the incoherency of the Trump presidency. First, the public celebration in the rose garden with Republican representatives after passing a “health care” bill in the House of Representatives. He would later describe this bill as being a mean bill. Why would you celebrate the passage of a mean bill? Perhaps he was totally unaware of what was in the bill since he does not read.

Second, on the foreign affairs front: Trump counts Xi Jiping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and the Saudi royal family as close “friends.” These are leaders of three of the most repressive governments in the world. Meanwhile he has alienated the governments of some of our historically closest allies – England, Germany, France, Australia, Mexico, and Canada. Trump tells the Saudis that he is not there to lecture them. He then proceeds to lecture Cuba on human rights. There is no logic nor is there any consistency. There is no policy, only an intense craving to be liked. Sad!

Grand Junction

Reopening greater sage-grouse management plans for review is ill advised

The Sunday guest commentary by Chris Saeger concerning management plans for greater sage-grouse was very appropriate and timely. The announcement by Secretary of the Interior Zinke to reopen those plans for review is ill advised, although there are many who will likely applaud that decision, including our own Mesa County Commissioners who have voiced their intention to sue the Bureau of Land Management concerning public land use restrictions.

The 2015 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act was a reprieve for communities, sportsmen, outdoor recreationists, the livestock industry and the oil and gas industry. If the sage-grouse would have been listed, many activities that we take for granted here in western Colorado could have been severely curtailed, negatively impacting local economies, jobs and communities. The major reason for not listing the bird was the locally developed sage-grouse conservation plans, which were excellent examples of collaborative, volunteer efforts by private land owners, livestock operators, industry, sportsmen, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, BLM and others. These plans were a compromise by all involved to provide additional protection for sage-grouse and its habitat without the severe restrictions on the use of grouse habitat that would have been imposed had the bird been listed.

To reopen those plans with the intent of allowing additional development on important habitats for sage-grouse, as is advocated by some, is totally absurd and foolish. To do so, again invites the specter of a listing under the ESA if sage-grouse populations further decline with a relaxation of land use restrictions. Listing the greater sage-grouse would result in land use regulations that are much more restrictive than any that occur now under the greater sage-grouse conservation plans. As a result, everyone loses, and the conservation plans along with the cooperation, time and effort to produce them is wasted, not to mention the fact that they may have worked in protecting an iconic bird.

Grand Junction

We must work together to address the issues we face in our country

Apparently letter writer Joan Kelsey was living in some other country than this one when she states there was “no vitriol” during Obama’s terms in office. She must have had the sun in her eyes so she could not read any of the hateful or out-and-out racist bumper stickers that were and are on vehicles around town. And the threats of lynching of President Obama and verbal assaults against Michelle and their children were way beyond ridiculous. So let’s be honest that there has been a fair amount of vitriol from both sides.

Also she neglects to list as President Obama’s achievements: a rescued economy (from one that was in tatters when he took office), an improvement of our foreign relations, a banking system that, for now, has regulations to prevent a repeat of the economic meltdown of 2007, a health care system (however imperfect) and many others. So let’s all stop name-calling and find a way to move forward with the issues we face. Until we return to working together (and yes, you may not get all you want, but neither will those on the other side of the aisle) we can never address the issues we face.

But most of all, I can only hope that Trump does not get a second term. I’m not sure the country can stand it.

Grand Junction

Commissioners responsible for protecting residents and property rights

It is a core responsibility of the Mesa County Commissioners to protect Mesa County residents and our property rights.

Property rights include the vested interest we all have in legal public roads, that allow access to our homes and private land. When substantial legal evidence is presented to our BOCC that a public right of way exists, they must take action to define and protect the interests of all parties involved. They don’t need to pick a side, their only job is to define and defend legal public rights of way in the county. If a group of people lock you out of your property and the sheriff won’t help, and the county won’t help, and you can’t afford an attorney, what do you do? Luckily Mr. Fontanri could afford a good attorney.

Despite Mr. Fontanri’s attorney submitting 140 documents showing the route was a historic public highway, the commissioners failed to support the effort of defining the historic route and they failed to protect an elderly Mesa County resident’s private property rights. Mesa County Code (3.10.6) has specific instructions on how to vacate a legal public right-of-way, but Mesa County Code has no instructions on how to submit a request to reopen a legal public right of way and protect a landowners property rights.

It appears that the benefit of the doubt goes to the people who erected a gate and locked out Mr. Fontanri. Based on my observations over the years, this has been the case since the late 1980s in Mesa County, largely the result of county attorneys who feel it’s more important to stay out of such matters, than to protect the rights of the people who live here.

I’m confident we will change in Mesa County. We are neighbors to eastern Utah and Garfield County; both are great examples with many success stories of how to protect legal public rights of way based on the rule of law.

Grand Junction

Unique connection exists between constitution and middle class

“The Crisis of our Middle-Class Constitution” by Ganesh Sitaraman is a rich history of our unique constitution describing the connection between the middle class and our constitution.

The book exposes the biggest threat to our liberty as the transfer of wealth and property out of the hands of the middle class into the top 1 percent. Our Republic is not designed under a class warfare constitution that attempted a balance between the very rich and the poor, such as in Great Britain or in ancient Rome. We do not have a House of Plebeians that will check the power of the Patricians Class, or a House of Commons with the House of Lords. Class warfare constitutions understood inequality would exist in society, but as inequality is a threat to stable government, checks to the balance of power were put in place (often painfully).

We no longer have a representative government thanks in part to Citizen’s United. Now our voice is dependent on our monetary donations and as “mediocre” individuals we cannot match the substantially larger monetary influence of the industry complex. If redistribution of wealth is a dirty word to you, then looking at the latest graph of wealth in America should induce a long hot shower, because there has been a huge redistribution of wealth out of the middle-class, not to the poor, but to the very richest Americans.

You may have worked hard and feel confident that you are safely protected by your investments and your middle class status, but all of us are a prior medical condition, a medical procedure, a flood, an economic downturn or another deregulated bank scandal away from loss of home and savings. We should know that our constitution was designed to function under a healthy middle class, and the middle-class is crumbling. Now every policy decision should be judged about this transfer of wealth and the question should be about who benefits, and how does it protect our uniquely constructed constitution and our middle class.

Grand Junction

Those in support of BCRA are rendering a verdict of reduced health care

Matthew 25:43: “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” The sad manifestation of this verse is, those most in support of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” are those who profess most to lead their lives by the book from which the above verse originates.

Our esteemed Sen. Gardner, along with those who support this bill, are rendering a verdict of reduced health care by cutting Medicaid to those he and many of his supporters claim closest heritage to – the rural people of Colorado and the nation.

How did we get in this mess?

Franklin D. Roosevelt may have said it best: “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” When 2018 rolls around let us remember that.


Grand Junction

Resilient Federal Forests Act would allow for continued degradation of our environment

Our congressional representative Scott Tipton is co-sponsoring a bill, HR 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, which, among many of its destructive features, is aimed at increasing and streamlining timber production in national forests and other federal lands.

Through the use of something called “categorical exclusions,” the bill would prevent any public participation and side step any environmental analysis requirements as required under the current National Environmental Policy Act. Such exclusions would apply to timber production projects of between 10,000 and 30,000 acres of land. It would also eliminate any requirement to protect old growth forests. Another of the “categorical exclusions” will allow for clear-cutting in projects of up to 10,000 acres, under the guise of creating what is called early successional habitat for wildlife.

In a time when we already know that each acre of forest protected stops the threat of deforestation and environmental degradation, this bill proposes to take us in exactly the opposite direction. It allows for the continued degradation of our environment while denying the public its rightful voice to participate in decisions that affect all of us. It sends a chilling message that our voices don’t matter, and that careful consideration of how we use our lands doesn’t matter either.

Is this the kind of leadership we want in District 3?


Rescinding or resizing Bears Ears would violate the Antiquities Act

There isn’t a lot of “there” there in Interior Secretary Zinke’s recommendation that Bears Ears National Monument be shrunk, broken into smaller pieces and opened to more oil and gas drilling. There’s little rationale to support such significant changes.

To justify shrinking BENM, Zinke says he wants to protect the lands important to Native American tribes. The 1905 Antiquities Act states that the areas protected should be the “smallest area compatible with the proper care and management.” But with over 100,000 ancient cultural and sacred sites, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition proposed that the monument be one-half million acres more than it is. It currently is the “smallest area.”

Native American heritage is irreplaceable – once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Zinke’s changes would upset the balance of uses whereby existing drilling and mining continues and antiquities are protected. If rigs and wells become more important than our history, that balance is at risk.

Zinke proposes breaking up BENM and protecting bits and pieces rather than keeping it whole. He should ask his land managing staff: is it easier and most cost effective to manage a large area or lots of small parcels?

Public lands also draw tourists. As the Secretary said: “[There are] tangible economic benefits our parks bring to communities across the nation.” The Four Corners area relies on visitors to Colorado’s parks and monuments – as well as to Utah’s Bears Ears. Mesa Verde’s 550,000 visitors spend $55 million annually. “Heritage tourism” is a job-creating, small business supporting, safe and non-polluting industry. If BENM takes a hit, our economy will too.

Not only would rescinding or resizing Bears Ears be legally unprecedented, it would violate the Antiquities Act that was signed into law by President Teddy Roosevelt, the father of our National Parks. Ironically, when Zinke became Interior Secretary, he called himself a “Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist.”

It’s a good thing Teddy’s not here to witness this travesty: he’d be rolling over in his grave.

President & CEO
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Sen. Gardner should review health care bill, and let constituents know how it will help them

I just had to write this letter when I read what Cory Gardner said about the Senate version of a health care bill. Sen. Gardner said on Tuesday, June 27, “I am beginning to review it.” These words come from one of the thirteen male senators who comprised the committee that wrote the

Really? Really? He is just beginning to review a bill that his committee created? What was Sen. Gardner doing during those committee meetings? What part did he play in the writing of this bill? Was it the part about cutting Medicaid? The program that pays for two-thirds of the residents of nursing homes, treatment of opioid addicts and for children, who through no fault of their own, need help. Was it the part about insurance companies having the freedom to drop basic coverage, such as emergency room visits? Who is going to pay for those visits if the insurance companies don’t help? Us, that’s who! Or was it the part about shifting responsibility to the states? Sen. Gardner does live in Colorado doesn’t he? He must have seen the yearly struggle by our legislature to balance the budget.

I am hoping that once Sen. Gardner gets a chance to review the bill that he will find it to be “mean” just as the House version is. I hope he gets to know his constituents in Delta County. After he is done reviewing the bill, I hope he will let us know how it is going to help us.


Recent letters illustrate illogic upon which gullible Trump supporters rely

In contrast to Rose Johnson’s (“Proposed health-care bill is bad for women”) and Drs. Rowan, Johnson, and Young’s (“Proposed health care bill would reverse progress on epidemic”) cogent letters, Wednesday’s offerings from Paul Currie-Mills (“If Mueller were a man of honor, he would recuse himself”) and Joan Kelsey (“Trump keeping the campaign promises that got him elected”) aptly illustrate the fact-free illogic upon which gullible Trump supporters rely to avoid admitting that they’ve been conned.

As the Sentinel opined when Mueller was named Special Counsel, both Republicans and Democrats regarded him as the most “honorable man” for the job. Now that “the direction he plans to go with this investigation” is to “follow the money” and pursue evidence of criminality, Currie-Mills would have him recuse himself for doing his job! By that dubious “logic,” so-called “President” Trump – not Mueller – should resign.

Similarly ridiculous is Kelsey’s baseless assertion that Trump “is keeping the campaign promises that got him elected.” By any objective analysis, Trump is still relying on lies to obfuscate the putrid “bait and switch” confection that Kelsey still gullibly swallows.

During what Kelsey obnoxiously characterizes as “eight miserable years of the Obama administration,” we “tolerated” recovery from the financial crisis, restoration of our auto industry, 75 consecutive months of job creation (yielding 15.6 million new jobs), the draw down of two wars (a central campaign promise), and the extension of access to affordable health care to millions of Americans. “Miserable?” – my ass!

Kelsey’s selective memory “forgets” the vitriol aimed at President Obama from day one: Republicans vowing to obstruct every constructive policy initiative, Trump spouting “birtherism” to undercut his legitimacy, and a record number of assassination threats.

While Obama’s abortive “red line” avoided a third Middle East war and allowed the orderly destruction of much of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, Bush’s invasion of Iraq created ISIS and Saudi Arabia armed it.

While the ACA tried to leave existing doctor-patient relationships intact, its proponents failed to anticipate the contrary causative business decisions of many health insurance companies and retiring older doctors.

While President Obama could have done more to publicize Russian interference in the 2016 election, he could not have stopped it. Republican governors refused federal assistance and Republican congressional leaders resisted the intelligence consensus, but Obama may have thwarted even greater disruption by personally confronting Putin.

Thus, “if President Trump does nothing else,” he abetted Putin’s objective by denying Hillary Clinton the presidency. Whether Trump, Manafort, Flynn, Kushner, etc., were all involved in a criminal conspiracy to do so remains to be seen.

Grand Junction


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