Email letters March 31, 2014

Cancer survivor remembers loving support from classmates

Over the last few days I have been thinking a lot about what I was doing 34 years ago. I was 9 years old, going thru chemo and recovering from a left leg amputation because of bone cancer. I was fighting for my life, the doctors had determined from all their tests and knowledge that cancer would kill me within months.

Of course, when I was a child, they did not tell me just how “terminal” they thought my cancer was. My parents knew … my friends’ parents knew. My friends knew I was really sick and might never come back to school.

I was 9 years old, so I was all about fun, I organized wheelchair races in the halls of the cancer unit at Children’s Hospital, I practiced wheelies in the recreation room, I hung out at the nurses’ station when I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night, and I made my night nurse take me to see the babies when all was quiet.

I remember other things, too. I remember puking my guts out because chemo does that. I remember thinking I might die because I was puking so much I couldn’t catch my breath. I remember my hair falling out in clumps at the lunch table at school. I remember people thinking I was a boy because I was bald. I remember my mom yelling at God. I remember praying every week that my blood test results would be good so I could have my chemo because I knew I needed it to stay alive even if it felt like that was what was actually killing me.

It was so exciting when I got to go to cancer camp and be around other kids who had cance, too. To be normal … that was cool. I remember being devastated when Stephanie’s cancer spread and she died shortly after that first cancer camp. I remember Mary … my friend from cancer camp ... her cancer was very similar to mine. We both had one leg . her cancer came back and she died. I remember Paul . we stole Hershey bars from the kitchen at cancer camp and we always laughed so much. Paul’s cancer came back and he died, too. I began to wonder how long it would be before my cancer came back.

Do you know what my friends and classmates were doing 34 years ago? They were 4th graders just like I was. They were making me cards and gifts. They were visiting me in the hospital. They were asking their mothers what cancer is. They were praying that I would get better. Do you know what their parents were doing? They were praying that their child would not have to experience the death of a friend at such a young age. They were bringing meals to my family and helping with my younger siblings. They were bringing their kids to the hospital to visit me.

I tell you this so you will understand after the events of this week that I am pretty sure that school rules and dress codes were about the last thing on Delaney or Kamryn’s mind. I’m pretty sure their mothers were just so proud of those girls that the dress code never crossed her mind. I’m sure sad that the school was too blind to see the bigger picture … that a child has cancer and her friends are her lifeline to life and normalcy and their support is better medicine than what the IV delivers.

I am here to tell you that while I was going throughcancer at the age of 9 and all that came with it, I will forever thank God for giving me such wonderful, caring, compassionate kids to help me and encourage me. Adults were great but the support I received from kids my own age was priceless.

ELISA BLAIR
Fruita

Do human rights trump the human dignity of the unborn?

How ironic that Texas is lambasted by some because of its capital punishment laws for convicted murderers, and demonized by some for upholding abortion limits that protect the pre-born innocent!  Planned Parenthood (GJSentinel, March 28) called the ruling “terrible,” preventing access to ‘safe and legal’ abortions for thousands of Texas women.” 
   
Certainly, abortion is a sensitive issue, involving, in each case, moral, emotional, spiritual and physical health implications for both mother and child.  But, in our sexually liberated (read: enslaved) hook-up culture, one wonders just how many abortions are treated as little more than an easy out for licentious lifestyles
   
In Britain, (First Things Journal, March 28) recent revelations exposed “hospitals incinerating the remains of aborted infants as clinical waste, in some cases doing so to generate electricity for hospitals.” In the last two years alone, “more than 15,000 aborted and miscarried babies” were incinerated by 27 National Health Service providers.  Recycling was never so creative … or ghastly.
   
I wonder if Planned Parenthood, or its ilk, feels this is “terrible.”  Has our society passively accepted that the preborn are little more than, as journalist Tom Wilson describes, “biological matter… devoid of value” and thus “permissible to be used for some mundane and utilitarian purpose”?
   
We hear much about human rights, but what about human dignity, as those created in the image of God?

BILL FORBES
Whitewater

Are property rights being handed over to private companies?

Oil and gas companies are working hard to get the state assembly to pass a bill, SB14-093, that would reinstate their ability to use eminent domain power for pipelines. The bill passed the Senate 24-10 with bipartisan support, but fortunately it also has bipartisan opposition, and we need to make sure it dies in the House, which will take it up beginning April 4.

The bill would reinstate the industry’s ability to build pipelines through public and private property when negotiations to buy or lease the land fail. It’s a right the companies enjoyed from 1907 until 2012 when the Colorado Supreme Court reinterpreted the old law, stripping the private oil and gas companies of the eminent domain power.

I’m confident a lot of Democrats and Republicans oppose giving private companies eminent domain powers, but unfortunately most of us are not members of the Legislature. Private entities should not have the power to condemn private property for the purpose of transporting oil and gas through pipelines that cross private property whether the owners agree or not. After all, we can’t vote them out if they abuse this power.

Now is the time for opponents of this power grab, Democrats and Republicans alike, to let their state representatives know that SB14-093 should be decisively defeated. Please call your representative now because you can be assured the industry’s lobbyists are working day and night to get it passed.

MARILYN HUGHES
Longmont

Legislators, public must keep focus on negative factor

Legislative battles over contentious issues are by their nature long and uncertain in their outcome. The battle for the negative factor is as contentious as any fight we have had at the legislature, and the results still hang very much in the balance.

The budget proposed by the governor explicitly named as one of its assumptions that the negative factor will remain at $1 billion for the next several years. Taking the governor at his word, even if we are successful in obtaining $100 million to buy down the negative factor this year, the negative factor would still remain at $900 million for the next several years, rather than $1 billion, unless we are successful in our fights for more money in future years. Even a small victory this year will leave much work to be done.

We also know there is enough money in various programs proposed within the Student Success Act and other bills already in the queue at the legislature to fund a buy down of the negative factor of more than $150 million. If all the new monies proposed for gifted and talented, ADM, transparency, READ and other similar programs were added to the $100 million already proposed to buy down the negative factor, we would be north of $150 million toward the negative factor. If we could do away with new mandates and bills attaching more strings to existing mandates and redirect those monies to buy down the negative factor, we might have a deal we could live with for this year.

Finally, we know that the governor’s budget proposes spending levels for school finance that will keep a balance of at least $400 million in the state education fund – a state savings account for money that is collected from taxpayers for the sole purpose of funding the education of Colorado kids. The governor’s staff and the Joint Budget Committee argue that keeping such a hefty balance in the state education fund is necessary to ensure that there will not be deep cuts to school finance in the future.

We disagree with this policy. Local, elected school boards know how to manage budgets. School boards and their superintendents know how to make tough cuts, hold the line on salaries, maintain adequate reserves for future contingencies and do more with less. School boards can run a budget as well as the state, maybe better. School boards can hedge against possible future cuts as well as the state does, maybe better.

Rather than maintaining a large state reserve, revenues collected for education should be put into the School Finance Act so that local school boards and their staff can provide services to kids. That money should not be parked in a state savings account. If in the future the legislature must again cut school finance, it will do so. Local school boards will again determine how best to make those cuts in local communities. In the meantime, however, monies collected for our public schools will have been used in the way taxpayers intended those monies to be used – for kids.

Over the past five years, the Colorado legislature has taken more than $3 billion out of school finance through the negative factor. The negative factor is now projected to continue at a rate of $1 billion a year for the foreseeable future. During the same five years that the negative factor was created and imposed on school finance, a half dozen new and major education reform bills have been implemented in Colorado.

If public education in Colorado is to build a better future, we must continue to focus legislative attention on the negative factor, rather than new mandates. But we can only do so if board members and superintendents sustain their efforts.

KEN DELAY
Executive Director
Colorado Association of School Boards
Denver

WCAF video objection based on intent of First Amendment

I wish to correct several misapprehensions and outright errors in three recent letters concerning the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers’ role in the school proselytizing incident.

First, the event was not a lunch and it was not held at a local church, but rather on school grounds.

Second, the so-called healthy activities included offerings of junk foods and drinks to entice children to attend.

Third, students were not told in advance that they would be subjected to a religious video.

Fourth, we at WCAF are proud of being freethinkers by endorsing a rational, nondogmatic approach to issues of all kinds, including the locally hot topics of separation of church and state, and, e.g., evolution and climate change. (And we do support as an organization, and individually, local charities such as Catholic Outreach and the Salvation Army.)

We are not opposed to children being taught religion in a noncoercive manner. But it should be outside of school hours and definitely not on school property. Young impressionable minds should not be exposed to aggressive proselytizing through the inadvertent or deliberate actions of a schoolteacher. We do not use the term ”religious nut cases” for those who would push religion in the public sphere, but recognizing that there are such types we should all be alert to such efforts and resist them strenuously.

Thomas Jefferson’s call for a wall of separation between church and state has become enshrined in our culture as the embodiment of the First Amendment’s intent rather than being — as implied in one of the letters — a mere historical footnote to it.
 
EARLE MULLEN
President
Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers
Grand Junction


Citizens urged to do homework to vote wisely in mid-terms

Prior to the last election for Congress, Gallup polls showed that over 90 percent of voters were dissatisfied with the job the current Congress was doing. Of those surveyed, 80 percent felt Congress was more interested in serving special interests than those who voted them into office. These numbers were consistent with surveys done by CBS News and The New York Times around the same time.

This being said, we should assume that most of these inept politicians lost their seats in office. Amazingly, 91 percent of the incumbents who ran for re-election won.

This is not a new phenomenon; it has prevailed in our society for the past four decades. It appears that it is easier to vote along party lines or by name recognition, than doing one’s homework and putting the most qualified person in office.

We are coming up on another chance to change the status quo. It goes unsaid that the people we have entrusted to run our country have not been taking care of business. We can only influence a small part of the results of the election process, but it is our small part. We should all plan on doing due diligence and understand who it is we are putting into those seats.

All the information is at our fingertips, with a keystroke or two on our computer. Perhaps it is time to start holding those, to whom we have entrusted our quality of life, accountable.

JOHN KUFAHL
Grand Junction

Mom upset by Christian show lucky she’s living in America

Pity poor Kara Taylor. She had to endure the indignity of having herself and her children exposed to the hated gospel of Jesus Christ while at a museum, of all places! Where are the freethinkers of western Colorado when you need them? Call out the National Guard and American atheists; an unspeakable travesty has taken place in Fruita.
 
Christian puppets, pamphlets and music “foisted” upon her unsuspecting children? I guess members of the group putting on the show barred the doors until after their “indoctrination” was complete. God forbid (no pun intended) that she be thankful that someone cares about the spiritual needs of her children. You know, the old “Easter” thing about an empty tomb somewhere and a great gift to all men.

Taylor should be thanking God Christians were putting on the performance, the same kind of people that were instrumental in the founding of our once-great nation. Had she lived in Algeria, Sudan or any other Muslim countries, she’d have had the privilege of accepting the Koran at the point of an AK-47 instead.
 
Indeed, blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Conversely, the woes we experience in this country that has abandoned its spiritual heritage are only too obvious to anyone who cares to look.
 
RICHARD PUTER
Grand Junction

Citizens of Mesa County urged to stop recycling politicians

My wife and I relocated to the Grand Junction area almost 18 years ago now. We have also lived off and on in other states in this great country of ours. But never have we ever lived in an area, Mesa County, where the people continue to recycle politicians like they do here.

These politicians are like professional leeches in that all they want to do is live off the government and collect money for doing nothing to actually help the people who elect them. They say anything and will do anything to get themselves elected and then turn around and rob people blind just to continue to try to live the lifestyle they believe people owe them.

I am not affiliated with any of the so-called parties that supposedly serve the people. I quit believing the lies and “bs” that all and any politician puts out a long time ago. But I do believe that if the people continue to just recycle the same old politicians that they’ll get the same old “bs” and never ever realize that there are actually two sides to a coin.

Good luck to you and your recycles.

JAMES OWEN
Fruita

Letters to editor recently full of local issues

The letters to the editor section has been full of all local issues now for a good while.  Are there no letter writers out there, other than I, who are worried about the direction this government is taking us? 

My last couple of letters were quite critical of President Obama — even maybe a little sarcastic. They decried the direction the nation is taking under this president, such as military force levels heading to pre-World War II levels, destruction of some Navy weaponry or failure to improve same, and so on.  If the government is hell-bent on looking for income or reduction in budget, why not some means testing for Social Security?
 
Do we have a new standard?  Local OK, Federal no, criticism of Obama no. Whatever the new standard may be, it would be nice to know.
 
CREIGHTON BRICKER
Grand Junction

Mesa County GOP coronates wrong man for commissioner

The county GOP has surely gone mad. It isn’t enough that Democrats are slapping the GOP around in the media nationally (and getting by with it). Republicans have to shoot themselves in their feet here in Mesa County, as well.

After all the infighting that has gone on among the WSCA, tea Partiers, GJResult, and the Mesa County GOP, one would think the county GOP would be looking for someone who has the necessary knowledge, skills, and honest background necessary to fill that position, and make Mesa County look good in the process.
 
Sadly, such is not the case. The Mesa County GOP has “coronated” (the paper’s word, not mine) a man once accused of plagiarism and, obviously, not the sharpest pencil in the box for county commissioner or any other elected office.

Some may have forgotten about chronic wasting disease, and this same person’s view of it. Someone born in Colorado should have known better. McInnis thought the Rocky Mountains a “natural barrier” to animals infected on the eastern plains that would keep the disease from our western deer and elk herds.

I suppose he had forgotten that these same animals live in a mountainous state, and the Rockies are just another hill to them. Not only did McInnis think it – he was unconscious enough to voice that opinion to citizens, sportsmen and hunters.

I don’t know about other folks in Mesa County, but I can tell you this: There isn’t enough money in Colorado to get me to vote for Scott McInnis for dog catcher – let alone county commissioner. I can only pray that Bill Pitts and Gregg Palmer are able to petition themselves onto the ballot. For our county commissioners, we do not need people who are dishonest or lacking in common knowledge.
 
DAVID F. ZULIAN
Grand Junction

Excessive federal regs often drain water companies dry

I read with interest Gov. John Hickenlooper’s comments regarding water at the Club 20 gathering last week. As he stated, it seems so logical to raise the height of the dams in Colorado so that we can retain and have more water available. I’m probably not the first to point out that would be nearly impossible.

Hickenlooper said his critics about starting a brewery/restaurant were proven wrong. But had he wanted to expand his brewery/restaurant the first time and been faced with more than nine years and hundreds of thousands of dollars and untold dedicated man-hours constantly attempting to comply with mandated federal government regulations, where would his brewery/restaurant be today?

Water companies in Colorado that have infrastructure on federal lands (that’s where most of the water comes from) that wish to expand their facilities (i.e., raise their dams to store more water) face years and years of unbelievable government bureaucracy and red tape attempting to meet federal requirements from multiple federal agencies. They often have to give up because the effort is too time-consuming, too costly and too frustrating to continue.

If Hickenlooper’s office really thinks storing more water in Colorado is going to add value and substance to his state water plan (which, of course, it would), perhaps he should have his appropriate staff talk to and provide assistance to the personnel at the Overland Ditch and Reservoir Company in Delta County.

The Overland has been attempting for years and years to raise its dam just three feet to store pre-1922 decree water, which is the most valuable water to Colorado stakeholders.

TOM HOWE
Past President
The Overland Ditch and Reservoir Company
Hotchkiss

Coward who vandalized truck has no tolerance for First Amendment

This letter is to the liberal coward who has no tolerance for the First Amendment rights of someone who dares to have a bumper sticker on a red Ford truck that says “Repeal Obama Care.”

Under what law or Constitution do you have the right to scratch obscenities on the tailgate of the truck? Be a decent person and prove me wrong by stepping up to the plate and paying for the damage to the vehicle you did.

We do not bother liberals, in fact have several liberal friends, and would not damage any of their property just because we do not believe as they do. A word of advice: Keep your hands off other people’s property unless you can pay for the damage you do.

LORIE CULLUM
Grand Junction

GOP assembly receives coverage, while Democrats’ assembly ignored

I spend a lot of advertising monies on The Daily Sentinel; this may have to end. The following is why: GOP assembly received front-page coverage on March 30.

After the Mesa County Democratic Party’s assembly, I wrote to Jay Seaton, publisher of the Sentinel, asking if there would be the same blackout of news at the Mesa County Republican Party’s assembly. He assured me that the Sentinel’s policy is to not cover assemblies unless there is some
controversy.

I knew the Sentinel would be at the GOP assembly, which makes me wonder about Jay Seaton’s comments after the Democrats’ assembly was not covered. All that happened at the Democrats’ Assembly was a woman coming out of the woodwork to challenge Sheila Reinhart and comments about Abel Tapia running against Tipton. To actually hear something out of the mouth of Abel Tapia, one would have had to attend the Spring Fling, where both he and a sitting U.S. senator were given the podium, but received no notice in the Sentinel.

Not only was the GOP assembly covered, but the Sentinel sent a business reporter to do the coverage and its top photographer. Here we get to see not only how the assembly voted, but how the candidates think. Democrats are still a mystery to Mesa County because the local newspaper provides zero coverage when they meet.

My little birdie gave me the wrong vote totals on the sheriff’s race. Steve King has got to be really motivated now. He needs a job and he just gave up a “sure thing.” Pennington announced his candidacy at a meeting of the Mesa County Patriots – the rabid Second Amendment group that I frequently criticized as a columnist for their extreme views.

According to my tea party friend, Pennington will have their support in the primary. If he loses to King, they will support whomever of the independent candidates seems to have the most momemtum – Harlow or Hudson. The GOP rabble-rousers really dislike King. If Pennington wins the primary, I’m going for the write-in — it’s self defense.

ORVAL FRADY
Grand Junction

It is time for Sen. Harry Reid to resign

Exposed! Finally everyone is beginning to understand that Harry Reid simply reads whatever speech is placed in front of him and has no real memory or concept as to what it is all about — nor does he care as long as it is against the other party. I think he would read his grocery list if it were placed in front of him.

Sorry to see someone losing it, but it is time for Old Harry to step down.

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

Lady Mavs, coach earn thanks for ‘pure basketball’ season

Thank you for a season of pure basketball as we fans experienced this past winter and spring from a dedicated and talented group of young women and their coach. It was nice to see the stands become more packed as the season progressed when fans began to realize what a special season we were witnessing.

Many of us will long remember this season and this team and the records it set. As a fan and an alumna, I am proud to have been part of all of this. God be with you, and best wishes for the future, whatever it may bring, as you benefit from the lessons and memories you take with you from this experience.

I also want to thank Patti Arnold for her dedicated coverage and well-written articles in The Daily Sentinel.

ALTA R. WADLOW
Graduate of Mesa Junior College 1952
Grand Junction

Silbernagel’s writing prowess and empathy merit recognition

With the retirement of Bob Silbernagel, several items are noteworthy. In his capacity as editorial page editor, he has written many opinions that have been vehemently disagreed with. To those that disagreed, don’t worry. Bob has suffered to have a number of friends (myself included) who frequently pointed out the error of his opinions. But with friends like that …

But Bob is what he professionally always wanted to be — a writer. His passion for his craft has required his attendance at many awards ceremonies. “Also-ran” awards have never made it to his mantel.

Bob’s extensive research in writing “Troubled Trails” finally gave some balance to the Meeker massacre and the plight of a proud people, the Utes.

On a personal level, for those who don’t know Bob, you would find the type of person that gives his jacket to his old dog on a chilly night in the mountains. His wife and kids bring that same level of empathy and warmth, as well.

I wish the Sentinel success and inspiring young writers to bring integrity and passion to their craft.

ALAN D. MOORE
Palisade

Garco deputy coroner thanks Connor, Kurtzman

I wish to thank Dr. Melissa Connor, associate professor of forensic science, and Dr. Robert Kurtzman, forensic pathologist with Rocky Mountain Forensic Services, for their invaluable help with identifying the skeletal remains found within our county.

We are currently working on missing persons cases within the county and unidentified remains found in past years. Their continued support and increasing scientific knowledge will hopefully bring closure to some of these cases.

BILL HODGDEN
Deputy Coroner
Garfield County
Rifle

Parents may rue the day they decide to delay educating kids

The case could be made that the motto of a good portion of the residents of Mesa County is “I have made my decision, so don’t confuse me with the facts.”

The school board voted unanimously to change the age at which a child can start kindergarten. The data overwhelmingly supports that decision. Now parents are looking for alternative places to start the education of their children early.

Later, when the same parents demand extra help for their little “snowflakes” who are not doing so well because of the parents bad decision years earlier, I hope the Board of Education has the courage to tell those same parents “hire a tutor.”

D.D. LEWIS
Clifton


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To Mr. Puter: Religious proselytization has no place in museums, which are secular institutions unless clearly designated otherwise, like a museum about the history of Catholicism or Christianity. It was wrong to “surprise” Dinosaur museum patrons by injecting religion into a children’s puppet show, and the museum has acknowledged that.

Kara Taylor’s letter makes it clear that inappropriate religious promotions are commonly and unexpectedly occurring in lots of venues in our area, and she does a service by letting us know that. Secular institutions like schools, governments and museums need to be alerted when such inappropriate proselytizing occurs, and reminded it is unacceptable.

The illegal promotion of Fellowship Church’s youth indoctrination center in a public school, along with promising children more sugary junk foods than their mothers would allow, and luring them with spectacles like vandalizing cars, and a “middle school homework bonfire” are questionable at best, and inappropriate at worst.

Keep things in perspective: Had it been an Islamic, Hindu, B’Hai, Sufi, Rastafarian or Jewish youth indoctrination center that was promoted at Grand Mesa Middle School, howls of protest would have welled up from the community.

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