Email letters, March 24, 2014
At-risk students’ attrition rate reflects CMU’s systemic flaws
University trustees are asking the wrong question with regard to counseling services and screenings as they relate to student attrition. On- or off-campus access to services for students in crisis isn’t the burning issue. What really needs to be looked at are the systemic failures at the university that contribute to attrition amongst at-risk students.
As the parent of one of those students (who was recruited by CMU), I believe our family’s experience has been that poor academic advising, inexperienced instructors and a lack of communication between departments are the greater threat.
Across the board our son’s experience academically and socially on campus hasn’t come close to meeting reasonable expectations. The stress this creates for a “normal” student, let alone a one with any kind of disability, is overwhelming. Anxiety, depression and feeling like a failure are just the tip of the iceberg. This says nothing of the cost financially.
While almost everyone in the classroom and administration at CMU is responsive and personable, at the end of the day nice doesn’t keep your kid in school — a system that works does.
KAREN A. DAVIS
WCAF once again sets sights upon ‘God-fearing people’
Again the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers are out after those nasty God-fearing people. You know — the Christians and other religious weasels who are always trying to sneak their faith into the public forum, thereby duping the poor fools who might not know how badly their sad little intellects are being abused by these deceivers.
The entertaining irony is that the WCAF professes an allegiance to “freethinking.” Yet, according to its strict purview, personal consideration of religion, publicly expressed, is beyond the rational inquiry and speculation of a real honest-to-goodness freethinker.
I always wondered why a self-respecting atheist, secure in his own “faith,” would care what those religious nut cases were doing, anyway.
God help us.
Refusing to sign up for health care is ironic
Choosing not to sign up for health care because “the fine is only 90 some odd dollars” is tantamount to not reading a good book for fear of ripping the pages.
It’s not about the fine; it’s about your health.
President has lost credibility both abroad and at home
Credibility is essential for a leader’s success. Unfortunately, Obama has lost all credibility on both domestic and foreign policy fronts. At home, his policies of wealth redistribution, excessive government spending and class warfare have crippled our economy. Growth defeating policies such as raising the minimum wage and Obamacare are job-killers.
He has become the Pinocchio president because of his lies advocating his signature achievement, Obamacare, as well as over the Benghazi incident, the IRS scandal and so many more. It is almost impossible to believe anything that is spoken by his administration.
His foreign policy is weak and feckless, and it appears to be directionless, losing the confidence of our allies and encouraging our enemies to recklessly pursue their illegal national goals. They know that we will do little other than to rhetorically challenge them. America has become a toothless tiger, no longer feared or respected worldwide, as demonstrated by our actions, or inactions, in Egypt, Libya, Syria and now Crimea.
Because of Obama’s history of obfuscation and inaction, there is little hope that we can reverse the Russians’ annexation of the Crimea, and it is time for Obama to grow a spine and reestablish our leadership overseas. Leading from behind was never acceptable.
We have been given one great advantage, as Russia’s economy is critically dependent on high oil and gas prices. America’s abundance of hydrocarbon resources gives us the capability to drive down these prices, should we choose to expand the exploitation of these resources to the maximum. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be on Obama’s “climate change” agenda.
Obama has “Carterized” both our domestic and foreign policies to the point of impotence overseas and economic stagnation at home. I pray that somewhere in America we have a Reagan-thinker who has the heart and gumption to become our next president and return our country to the vision of our founders.
It is possible to be both a Christian and a freethinker
I am so tired of hearing from the atheists and freethinkers about their views on Christianity.
I am a Christian and also a free thinker, because I can express my views to whoever I want to. Whenever I have a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness come to the door, I listen to what they have to say and then I say what I have to say. I think freely and can make my own choice of who I want to serve.
So, why do the atheists and so-called free thinkers get so much media coverage every time they see something they don’t agree with?
There is an old saying that says there are no atheists in foxholes. The day is coming when even atheists and their freethinkers will wish they had not turned their back on the truth of God’s word.
When I was in grammar school many years ago, we started every day with prayer. It did not hurt anyone nor was anyone offended. When prayer was taken out of the schools is when the real rebellion started among the students, parents and schools.
God gave us all the free will to do what we want to do, but if we choose to not serve the Lord we must face the consequences. Thank you, Daily Sentinel, for letting me share my feelings on this subject.
Gun background checks cramp individuals’ freedom, privacy
D.B. Cooper (there’s a name with some history) wants to know how clear-thinking people could oppose background checks for gun purchases. If it really matters, here’s a bit of the other side.
• The laws are predicated on the asinine assumption that is reasonable to have, wandering around loose in society, convicted (not alleged but convicted) felons who are so dangerous we have to restrict everyone else’s rights to accommodate the felons. That’s like addressing rape by requiring all women to wear government-controlled chastity belts and submit to background checks for consensual sex because it’s so inhumane to incarcerate rapists.
• It’s always easy and always reprehensible to sacrifice somebody else’s freedom for your perceived security. My rights are not yours to barter away. If you are really bothered by the risk, buy a shotgun and some ammo and then never leave your house. If you think the trade’s worth it, trade your own freedom.
• If background checks worked, identity theft would be impossible. Trust me; it’s just as easy to pass a background check with a stolen identity as it is to open a fraudulent credit card account.
• While these checks are a great way for the government to keep tabs on the law-abiding (something our government is not supposed to be doing), there is no evidence that they reduce crime at all. But then I suspect reducing crime was never more than a pretext, anyway.
Opposition of Misken. Tipton to affordable access to health care raises questions
M. Todd Miskin’s response to my critique of Will Eidson’s distortion (“Grant’s venomous opinion of Tipton is mind-boggling”) of Bill Grant’s column (“ACA could be Tipton’s Achilles heel”) regurgitates a chain e-mail that circulated in 2009, misrepresented the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and was debunked by “FactCheck.Org” in “Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200” (August 29, 2009).
As reported then, “the chain e-mail purports to give ‘a few highlights’ from the first half of the bill, but the list of 48 assertions is filled with falsehoods, exaggerations and misinterpretations. We examined each of the e-mail’s claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate.”
Thus, as the article opined, rather than provide a truthful analysis of the ACA, Miskin’s source “shows evidence of a reading comprehension problem on the part of the author.”
For example, “Section 152” does not “provide insurance to all non-U.S. residents even if they are here illegally.” Rather, it expressly prohibits “discrimination in health care.” Page 143 states: “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
Likewise, the provisions on “pages 58-59” facilitate electronic payments for health care services between providers and insurers, authorize standardization of electronic funds transfers, but neither mention nor extend government authority over “an individual’s bank accounts.”
Thus, the real question is: Why Miskin would continue to promulgate proven falsehoods about the ACA long after they were discredited. Is Miskin malevolently dishonest, or does he willfully remain so uniformed and blinded by ignorance that he failed to fact-check his own sources before foisting his hogwash opinions on others?
Why do Misken and Scott Tipton still oppose affordable access to health care?
Constitution gave Congress power to control settlement
Does Brandon Siegfried have a constitutional lawyer to back up his statements regarding BLM rights of way and Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution? How can something specifically relating to the establishment of Washington D.C. and the donation of land by existing states, namely Maryland and Virginia, have anything to do with states created 100 years later by Congress?
The clause states that the seat of government will have all jurisdiction over the “District (not exceeding ten Miles square”) and that the two states offering the land would “cede” their jurisdiction. Not that this lasted. Virginia withdrew its side of the diamond of D.C. just before the Civil War, because it was afraid Washington, D.C. would free its slaves.
Siegfried might try researching the Homestead Act and specifically the added Desert Lands Act. Part of the reason the Constitution set up a central government is so Congress could control the settlement of uninhabited land.
This was even part of the earlier confederation to provide the government with money to operate. Congress could sell land and create new states. Colorado was allowed to become first a territory and then a state by Congress. And the Desert Lands Act required homesteads to have water rights. No water, no land patent for the homesteader.
Our current public land was left over after all the water rights were allocated. And Congress, through the Department of the Interior and the BLM, still controls it. These lands are essentially not part of the state.
That’s why western states receive Payment In Lieu of Taxes for public land. The state can’t collect property taxes on it. But it does receive PILT, royalties and other benefits as a result of government control.
It’s time for Sentinel to report on federal stimulus funding
The Daily Sentinel article on county budgets and funding was most informative. Now how about a follow-up article on federal stimulus funding for local construction projects?
It strikes me there was a lot of construction on roads, Colorado Mesa University, the airport and other public projects during the recession.
Current president does not live up example set by Roosevelt
These United States once had a president, whose initials are T.R., who had a slogan: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Our current president speaks a lot, draws (and ignores) some “red lines” and has decided to reduce the “big stick” to a small branch.
This does not impress the rest of the world, and certainly does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s meaning. This bothers me, for one, because we are losing our standing in the nations of the world.
Medicare-for-All might remedy health care woes
Mike Bambino’s display opinion piece had both strange contentions and a plausible solution regarding America’s health care. High premiums, huge deductibles, medical-related bankruptcies, potential Medicare insolvency and millions literally dying because of no insurance was the scenario [ITAL] before [ITAL] Obamacare.
The latter is the disjointed, heavily bureaucratic approach to this scenario that kowtows to the unnecessary 20 percent middlemen cost of the for-profit, insurance industry. We could have Medicare-for-All (M-for-A) that would alleviate our Obamacare or a no-Obamacare monstrosity. M-for-A would even do as Bambino suggests: provide basic medical care to everybody.
But M-for-A would only be a governmental [ITAL] payment[ITAL] system. Physicians, hospitals, etc. would still be running their own private enterprises, and patients could still buy any additional care they could afford or see fit. Bambino’s suggestion of a value-added tax to fund this basic care seems better suited to our federal income tax mess, in my opinion.
How about paying for M-for-A via simple increases in the existing payroll/employment Medicare portion deductions, seniors’ Medicare parts A and B pay-ins, and contributions from unemployment and welfare checks? Everyone pays in, everybody gets basic care.
Get communities to adopt coordinated care/nonprofit systems to administer M-for-A (like our own Rocky Mountain HMO system) and health care efficiency goes up, costs get reduced and free-enterprise stays in our health care delivery.
WCAF hypocritically denies freethinking rights of others
Members of Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers are hypocritical humbugs. They claim to be “freethinkers,” but want to deny to others an exposure to a source of human knowledge and experience that is old as dirt.
WCAF would deny children the knowledge of a facility where they can visit and recreate, fearing exposure to an alternate world view. I support their right to be “freethinkers,” but detest their denying others the opportunity to think freely. If our children are to learn and think for themselves, they must be exposed to and allowed to understand all sources of thought, not just nihilism.
With regard to the separation of church and state, that was never the intention of the First Amendment, but was a comment by Thomas Jefferson 20 years later. The original 13 states each had a different, official state religion, and many refused to ratify the federal Constitution unless it stipulated there would be no overriding federal religion.
This was so important it is the First Amendment, it’s why religious organizations support our nation, and it’s why our nation and the WCAF must tolerate other world views and free speech, as well.
Fruita’s ‘edgy’ slogan shows alarming disrespect to women
Sunday’s headline, “Edgy slogan proves over the top for Fruita,” and article, made me cringe, as I recalled hearing middle-school boys on school grounds during lunch break laughing at the word “rape” while looking at girls.
The article on Anita Hill, who still receives threats because she came forward about sexual harassment from Clarence Thomas, who was rewarded by his Supreme Court appointment, was also in the paper.
With the multitude of rapes reported and those not reported in our military, and recent incidences involving higher ranks of military noted by escapades of General Patraeus, and the current scandal involving Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who gets off with a “slap on his hands” because the chief prosecutor Lt. Col. William Helixon wanted to stop the prosecution, it makes me wonder why any parent would want his or her daughter to join the military.
One of the factors that contribute to poverty in the U.S. and in the rest of the world is gender inequality, as noted so often in reports from The World Trade Organization, Journal of International Economics, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Center for American Progress.
In a recent course I completed from Wesleyan University, “You can Change the World,” the inequality of genders was one of the biggest reasons for world poverty, and this applies to our country, as well. As an example, single-parent women frequently find themselves on a limb financially because, for the same job, men are paid more, women less, which does mpact their children’s chances in life.
Then, the fact that a municipality would actually pay tax money to a public relations company to provide “edgy” mottos for publicity: “B…..ride.” Why, when women have to work harder and have more education than their male counterparts to get a job, would a municipality pay to hear slogans demeaning women — wives, daughters and grandmothers?
Weigh whether investigations are more essential than reports
Well, here we go again! The Sentinel loves to malign Republicans.
We can say that Dean Havlik is a Republican, but that has only been for a few months, as someone advised him it would get him more votes. Rob Kurtzman has been a Republican his whole life.
Hundreds of reports were incomplete? But Kurtzman completed the autopsy investigations, filed the death certificates with the state and made sure that if anyone requested a report that it was completed.
No requests went unanswered. Mesa County’s ability to accurately tract and report community deaths has not been hamstrung, because that information comes from statistics filed with the state. In fact, autopsies are down in Mesa County.
Those performed in 2013 are lower than they have ever been. Are there some of those deaths that should have been investigated? Who’s to know? Is the current county coroner really fulfilling his position? What’s more important, assuring that a questionable death is properly investigated, or completing a report after the death certificate has been completed and filed with the state?
Havlik cynically switches parties to strengthen bid
The county coroner’s position will be contested in the next election cycle. The present coroner, Dr. Dean Havlik, has been in office from 2007 to the present. Dr. Robert Kurztman, the previously elected coroner, who served from 1998 to 2006, announced his intent to seek the coroner’s office once again.
Both are qualified, but Kurtzman has more experience and a reputation as the expert in forensic science and autopsies, the primary functions of this office. I then read Sunday that Kurtzman is being attacked by Havlik for not completing reports over 7 years ago. So, if you are not the better forensic scientist, attack your opponent as not being a good government bureaucrat.
Kurtzman is a Republican, and Havlik is a registered Democrat. But wait, recently Havlik announced he switched parties to become a Republican after being a lifelong Democrat. It is obvious why; most voters in this race would vote their political party affiliation.
So, in a general election, in a predominantly Republican county, as Mesa County is, the Republican, Kurtzman would win the majority of Republican Party-affiliated votes and win the election; hence, Havlik’s motive for switching parties. Therefore, rather than the election to be decided in a general election, Havlik is forcing the election to be decided in the Republican primary. Then Havlik cynically stated he made the switch to give voters a “choice in the elections.” Total bull — he has limited the choice of those who only vote, or can vote, in a general election.
This might be politically wise, but what does it say about Havlik’s integrity? To switch parties to win an election (then lie about the reasons for the switch) implies no philosophical standards, no backbone and no willingness to pay a price for values. To Havlik, his party affiliation is just a means to an end. Isn’t this the very attitude that has turned off so many Americans in the past few decades? What Havlik is doing is prostituting his values to win a political race, selling his soul, at any cost.
Shouldn’t what we stand for mean more than what is personally beneficial? Is this the type of man we want as coroner, the person who makes important judgments on death investigations? I don’t believe so.
In this upcoming election in the Republican primary for county coroner, support the candidate of competence and integrity. Vote for Kurtzman.
Republicans urged to support Bill Pitts in Saturday’s assembly
As Mesa County Republican delegates go to the general assembly Saturday, I hope they remember that Gregg Palmer was on the Grand Junction Airport Authority while the apparent wrongdoing was happening, which caused the FBI to make its raid.
We don’t need him in any elected position. He can’t tell right from wrong. I’d surely support Bill Pitts. He definitely knows the difference.
Ann Tisue praised for raising concerns about Title I pupils
Thank you to Mesa County District 51 School Board Member Ann Tisue for her letter to the editor March 18, “Poor and minority students also deserve American Dream.”
In her letter, Tisue has the courage to ask all of us how we can attract and retain qualified and dedicated teachers in our schools, and thus have higher levels of public school student education achievement in order for students to attain the American Dream.
Fortunately for our students, a few of the answers to her question are right here at home. And, as a Mesa County resident, father of a student and husband to a District 51 teacher, I, along with Tisue, have a sincere interest in improving educational achievement for children in our schools.
The conservative magazine National Journal recently wrote, “States that spend more on students tend to rank higher (educational achievement) and states that spend less rank lower.” How do Colorado and Mesa County rank?
The state of Colorado ranks 35th in per-pupil funding among the states, while Mesa County per-pupil funding is 25 percent less than the Colorado State average. Colorado also ranks 35th among the states in teacher pay, while Mesa County teacher pay is lower than the Colorado state average. And about 60 percent of Mesa County students achieve basic overall academic standards.
So, why is Colorado and especially Mesa County education spending so low? In that same National Journal article, the summary explanation of the shortcoming in Colorado education funding is as follows: “heavy reliance on local property taxes with inadequate (and unequal) State aid to support low
wealth.” Furthermore, in Colorado, “legal controls on State taxation (TABOR) have degraded local property taxes.” Colorado has low property taxes compared to other states, and Mesa County has low property taxes within Colorado.
Tisue is asking us all an honest and difficult question: How do we attract and retain better teachers and help our children (especially poorer students) achieve better educational outcomes?
Increased Colorado and Mesa County per-pupil education funding, in and of itself, is not the overall solution to greater opportunity for all Mesa County students to attain the American Dream, but it evidently has a great deal to do with it.
Penry should think twice before lambasting ACLU
I applaud Josh Penry’s avid use of his freedom of speech and civil rights to say and do what he pleases by making use of the public media. The ACLU has always taken up these rights for him and all people, regardless of how unpopular that right might be with various other groups. One-fourth of his column listed ACLU
history that is unpopular with him.
The GOP platform states “We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government.” “All security measures and police actions should be viewed through the lens of the Fourth Amendment; for if we trade liberty for security, we shall have neither.” Perhaps Penry is not familiar with his party’s platform, or once again his willingness to uphold the mission statement and the constitution surfaces only when both conform to his purposes and desires. I feel this is true of many of our city leaders, as well.
Do we have laws in place for harassment or impeding traffic and public safety, vulgar public displays and loitering in school zones? Is it illegal for religious and political representatives to knock on our doors or approach us on the streets? Is this law necessary or is it another way of removing any uncomfortable signs of
class-ism, poverty, alcoholism and mental illness that walks daily on our streets?
Does a business suit, high heels or an expensive pandex sports outfit suitably hide these realities? Is the city council going to prevent the Girl Scouts, Salvation Army bell ringers, and political groups from doing what they do — or the vendors at the Farmers Market?
Oh, I forgot, Penry says, “they just can’t harass the elderly or the disabled” that the ordinance defines as “at risk.” The fact is that a large majority of homeless solicitors are disabled and afflicted with mental illness that our community also seems uncomfortable with. A minority of affluent members of our society condemn poverty and begging, unemployment and “anti-social” behavior to keep the business downtown sector free of undesirables so the prestigious Avalon can bring culture to our city for those that can afford it. This the city council supports but not the outreach housing projects for the homeless.
If you want the homeless off the streets, provide homes. Don’t take away the park where the homeless hang out so that the people with homes can hang out near the business sector of town.
Also provide the much-needed group homes that provide supervision or even a stepping stone to independent living we all desire. Instead of reducing the facilities and programs for mental health care, increase them. Exchange jail time with something that is more productive rather than more laws that benefit only the conforming members of society. That way when you are approached by someone needing assistance, you can turn them down with a clear consciences, not feel you were contributing to alcoholism and drugs, and instead save all your money for the expensive salons, restaurants and clothing stores downtown.
I sincerely hope none of Penry’s children develop mental illness or suffer the tragic trauma of war that results in so many homeless veterans that came from homes just like his and mine.
By the way, Josh, “We the People” means all of us, including the homeless. That’s what the ACLU is trying to tell us. Do you know anything about the bath tub sculpture the city has on Main Street? The unjust treatment of the Dalton Trumbos, nonwhite citizens, the disabled, women and many others is what the ACLU tries to prevent.
It’s extreme; it stands up for the rights of everyone, even the unpopular ones like you and the homeless.
Religious puppet show at Fruita dinosaur museum lured viewers in under false pretenses
I am a mother of five who has held a family museum membership for several years. This past fall I was very upset by an incident at the Dinosaur Days exhibit in the Fruita museum, but was initially reluctant to speak out. The recent attention to church advertisement in a District 51 school compels me to write this letter now. I hope that the lateness of this statement does not in any way minimize what remains an important issue.
The schedule of events at Dinosaur Days included a puppet show. All five of my children were very excited to see the puppets perform. The schedule of events gave no indication as to what sort of performance this would be, but obviously I assumed it would be related in some way to dinosaurs.
My children and I were near the front of the queue when it was time to enter, so we were able to sit in a nice location near the performance area. The announcer introduced the puppet troupe as hailing from a local church, which had not been mentioned in the printout I had viewed, but did not initially concern me.
The puppets popped up wearing cute dinosaur shirts and the dinosaur-themed puppet show began … or so I thought. It became immediately apparent that the puppet show consisted entirely of church-related themes and had absolutely zero content about dinosaurs. This was very stressful to me. as my home is not a religious one and no one in my family actively practices any religion.
The conversations I have had with my own children regarding religion are that when they are old enough to evaluate, apply logic and consciously choose a religion, then they are welcome to do so. I was incensed to have a religious presentation foisted on my children in disguise as a learning or entertainment experience about dinosaurs.
It would have upset my children to leave the performance, and since we were seated near the front, it would have disrupted other attendees, as well, so we remained seated. It is my recollection that every song performance by the puppet troupe was a Christian song, including “God is greater than the Boogie Man” and “My God,” sung to the tune of “My Girl.” I am absolutely certain that there was zero content regarding dinosaurs, aside from the aforementioned dinosaur on the puppets’ shirts.
The show both began and ended with an invite for children to attend the church. Children stood at both doorways offering flyers for the church as attendees left the room.
It is highly inappropriate for any type of religious indoctrination in an environment in which families come to learn about science and enjoy a museum. This was not a learning experience of any kind, but was proselytizing at its most blatant. The fact that the show was not advertised as being Christian in nature or performed by a church is most concerning, because it seems designed to trick families and children into sitting through a live advertisement for a church. A puppet show at Dinosaur Days by the church could have been appropriate had it been devoid of religious content and actually included material about dinosaurs.
At the absolute very least, the show should have been described on the schedules as being put on by a church and containing religious themes, so parents could make the informed decision on whether or not it would be appropriate for their families to attend, based on their choices about how to present religious information to their children.
KARA M. TAYLOR