Email letters March 7, 2013

Editorial aptly assessed flaws of Senate Bill 195

It’s always interesting when on occasion a Sentinel editorial position lends particular insight into a controversial subject that enlightens all of us, regardless of our political bent.

Spot-on is a recent editorial describing Colorado Senate Bill 195, the poorly conceived feel-good proposal to shift responsibility for any nefarious use of “assault weapons” to manufacturers and distributors. 

By law, these presumed corporate partners in hideous crimes would be directed to “…sell only when they have established reasonable grounds…” that a gun won’t be used as the law-writers fear.  This is unenforceable nonsense, and we can only wonder how such foolish composition ever made it out of a legislative committee.

The integral problem with this law is that use of the word “reasonable” lends no clarity.  The time that legal challenges to this new statute would spend in court is inestimable. 

Consider it likely that more lawyers have made more money from the single word “reasonable” than any other in the English language.



Strong, mobilized citizens can create smart energy policies

The time has come to unite the myriad land struggles peppering the Western Slope, the Front Range and the great open lands of the western United States.

In the Roaring Fork Valley a wide coalition resists drilling in the Thompson Divide. In the Colorado River Valley individuals continue to raise their voices to protect health, water, air and wildlife. On President’s Day more than 40,000 people marched on Washington, D.C. to tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and move #Forward On Climate. Tthis week, citizens delivered over 30,000 signatures to Governor Hickenlooper for a moratorium on fracking. Yet policy makers and industry continue their rallying cry:“Drill, baby, drill.”

The beautiful new video by the Thompson Divide Coalition shows just how serious our fossil fuel addiction has become. Some say that natural gas is a clean, bridge fuel. Our fevered climate cannot afford to burn even one fifth of current reserves. founder Bill McKibben has said, “The bridge fuel concept would have been effective 25 years ago. Now it’s just a shot of methadone.”

Just as an addict will destroy relationships with his most beloved, our country is on the brink of laying waste the American frontier for temporary access to a fuel that poisons us.

Fortunately, we have the technology, policy tools and emerging business models to pursue an alternate path: energy efficiency, renewables, conservation, restoration and communities revived by resource sharing. In the last twenty years, indicators of Americans’ happiness have consistently declined, even as energy and material consumption has increased.

Enough is enough. In this country of innovators, we can create life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness independent of environmental wreckage. Power exists as a relationship, and each one of us has the ability to stand up, make change within our immediate lives and inspire systemic reform around us.

In the North Fork Valley of Paonia and Hotchkiss, more than half of residents wrote handwritten letters to the BLM and packed the house at public meetings. In response, the BLM has twice postponed the sale of gas leases on our precious agricultural lands because of pressure from the community. Mobilized across the western states, the citizenry is strong enough to turn the tides on extraction.

This Sunday, March 10th at 5pm, will host a national video conference call to strategize next steps for the climate change and fossil fuel-free movement. Local screenings across Colorado offer the opportunity to customize action to each community, including in Carbondale at Third Street Center. Log on to to join the effort. If you can’t make it, find another way to empower yourself. has a list of seven action steps directly relevant to our ski-resort state.

This is the movement of our era. Let’s build a future we believe in, together!


Name change for monument requires inclusion of more scenic areas

I read with interest the recent article by Gary Harmon in the March 4 edition of The Daily Sentinel concerning changing the name of Colorado National Monument to “national park.” While this is a noble cause, we need to look at the big picture. As admitted by Colorado State Marketing Officer Aaron Kennedy, the reason is simply to improve “marketing.”

Having recently retired from the National Park Service as a park ranger for 35 years, in 13 NPS areas in seven states, having traveled five continents visiting parks, and being a lifetime “student” of national parks’ history, I assure Kennedy that he is correct. People know a national park is the best of the best and will travel far out of their way to visit.

However, we need to look beyond a simple “name change” if we want to truly change the image. By management policy National Parks represent those areas of substantial size and character with more than one “big quality” i.e. Yellowstone-geysers, wildlife, waterfalls and more.

CNM is a monument in name because it’s simply there for the incredible red rock formations, nothing more. If it becomes a National park it would be the fourth smallest National Park and I question its worthiness to be lumped with Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon.

To get support of the American people and do what’s right by the intent of policy we need to seriously consider expanding the Monument, perhaps including the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, other adjoining BLM lands and perhaps even Westwater Canyon to make it a truly grand national park. Not only would this make it worthy of the name “National Park” it would create a true destination area for visitors from around the world to visit that would rival Moab, southern Utah, northern Arizona and similar areas. It would then boost tourism and economies.

Simply changing the name without changing the integrity, the character, the size and the recreational opportunities will perhaps boost tourism a little, but most people will know that nothing has really changed.


Oil shale now a viable energy source for U.S.

Once again, experts and scientists have confirmed the environmentalist extremist movement’s worst fears – that oil shale is a viable energy resource that could fuel our nation and our economy for well into the future, provide a “bridge” fuel if necessary and free us from foreign sources of energy, especially from volatile regions of the world such as the Middle East.

For starters, Dr. Jeremy Boak from the Colorado School of Mines debunked the environmentalists’ myth that oil shale would use huge amounts of water, pointing out as well that some of their beloved green energy sources – such as ethanol – use far more water than any oil shale operation could even begin to think of using.

Most importantly, in describing oil shale as having grown out of its infancy and entering adolescence, Boak affirmed that this is no longer a dream resource, but a reality waiting to be tapped.

That is the good news. The bad news is that our own government appears to want to do everything in its power to keep that from happening, such as taking 90 percent or more of America’s oil shale land off the table for development.

Meanwhile, other countries around the world, such as Australia, China, Israel, Estonia and Jordan, are actively and successfully developing their own, much smaller, oil shale deposits.

If Jordan and Estonia can figure out how to do it, I am quite confident that the United States, which landed a man on the moon and invented the iPad, can surely find a way. A good first step would be to follow the advice of the people who know what they are talking about when it comes to oil shale and remove the artificial obstacles that have been placed in the way of developing this valuable resource.

Grand Junction

House speaker Ferrandino misunderstands Coloradans’ priorities

The priorities set by our current Democratic Colorado House and Senate are becoming increasingly negative to the values of the majority in Colorado. We are quickly moving into the absurd, immoral and ridiculous management of Colorado’s political system.

What are these “priorities”?  Civil unions are number one, followed by making Colorado a marijuana vacation destination. Then we take on gun control, not tailored to Colorado specifications but a carbon copy of a national East Coast agenda.

The current Legislature will not even discuss Jessica’s Law to impose stiffer sentencing for sexual predators. It is a law that 44 other states have already passed. We are now quickly moving to require the police to be trained to know what a dog means when it barks. Really?

Mark Ferrandino, our first openly gay house speaker and New York transplant, said on national TV, “I think we know what’s in Colorado’s best interest.”  Ferrandino does not know what’s in my best interest. His priorities are self-serving and do not represent the citizens of this state.

This Democratic House and Senate doesn’t seem interested in the almost daily hit-and-run occurrences, addressing the future traffic bottlenecks in Colorado, the rising costs of secondary education or, for that matter, even supporting K–12 education and its rising costs. I hear no discussion of our budget shortfalls and the increasing pressures to maintain a balanced budget.

Ferrandino and his Democratic cohorts are addressing their priorities and have no idea what’s in Colorado’s best interest. I would hope the voters remember the path the current Legislature is taking this state down and correct it.


Vote “No’ on Measure A for good of greater society

Here are three reasons you should vote ”No” on Referred Measure A, (i.e. “No” to industrial zoning on the riverfront).

First, one doesn’t have to look too far for scenarios similar to the issue we face on our riverfront today. For example, some guy buys land near a school and hopes the city will give the green light to build a strip club.

Zoning or variance after the fact to suit the personal gain of a property owner at the expense of the city’s planning and best interest of its citizen should not happen. In this instance, approval is just as inappropriate as allowing industrial zoning on the riverbank. The existing community asset trumps the intruding interest.

Secondly, once I-1 industrial zoning is in place, it forever opens the door to anything from junkyard to hazardous waste disposal by the next owner of the property—signed, sealed, delivered.

Thirdly, the particular property owner’s proposed conciliatory narrow easement for a bike path to marginally connect the parks on both sides of this industrial property would be under water during many spring runoffs.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a vote for or against business or jobs.

What are we teaching our children if we say it’s OK to open industry, dumps and waste disposal on our vital waterways?

There should be no fence sitting on this issue. You either vote “Yes” because you want to see industry on the river or you vote “no” because industry on the river is inappropriate, an affront to all the efforts that precede this decision, and you vote “No” because you want parks and recreational access along our waterways.

Either way, a river will always run through it. In one case, it will just pass us by.

Grand Junction

Democrats, apathetic citizens create society of robots

Thanks to the Democrats and an apathetic citizenry, we are becoming a society of robots.

In the last four years, Democrats have imposed more than 6,000 strangling, suffocating, unnecessary regulations on the nation’s businesses and citizens.

Out of the other side of their mouths they SAY they want to “create jobs.”  All the while they are stifling creativity, self-reliance and risk-taking. The Democrats are destroying the country’s energy supply. We are on the featheredge of running out of power. No nation has ever become a manufacturer on intermittent and unreliable power. Read windmills and solar.

And now, Democrats are voting to abrogate our FREEDOM. They are doing their best to destroy our God-given rights and emasculate the Second Amendment. Are they stupid enough to think that even ONE of their idiotic anti-gun measures would have prevented any of the carnage committed by the lunatics?  Are they REALLY that stupid?  They are politicians first, and since they won an election, they think they have to do something - even if it’s wrong.

Maybe state Sen. John Morse thinks we should hold Boeing and American Airlines liable for 9-11?  Or we should hold Ford and the dealership liable when an irresponsible drunk driver gets behind the wheel and kills innocent people?  Morse must be really stupid.

As for me, I am tired of being treated like a robot.

Grand Junction

Orthodox Christians need not apologize for religious convictions

In Bill Grant’s column (Religion at its best and worst in fight over civil unions bill, March 6), there seemed to be much emotion spilled, but very little substance. Echoing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) as a “hate group,” Grant piles on with “an intolerant, exclusionary and bigoted form of religion.” 

It’s true that some forms of religion are just that. However, it is increasingly clear that wherever Christianity is taken seriously—and lived intentionally—there is always the risk of being considered intolerant, exclusionary and bigoted. Throw in “ignorant” to boot! 

Of course, there have always been pseudo-Christianities, devoted to a Christ and a faith of their imaginations in order to conform to the tastes and moods of the age, not least our own. These “re-imaginings” notwithstanding, Orthodox Christianity takes the biblical meaning of marriage and our human sexuality seriously in this present culture which has granted the government the powers to define and redefine marriage, and where the final authority in sexual activity is merely “consenting adults.” 
Christianity also takes seriously the biblical model of home and family.

It’s interesting that the SPLC, which, in its earlier years, rightly pursued civil rights causes, and more recently has pursued fundraising for poverty, calls the NOM, which is pro-life, pro-family, and pro-marriage, a “hate group.”  If the SPLC is truly interested in the poor, perhaps it should take a cue from the Heritage Foundation, which “released results of a study that found that children growing up with married parents (biblically defined as mother and father) are significantly less likely to live in poverty. Living in a stable home was found to raise children’s chances of escaping poverty by 82 percent. Only seven percent of children in families living below the poverty line had married parents. ‘Marriage remains America’s strongest anti-poverty weapon, yet it continues to decline,’ wrote the study’s author, Robert Rector. ‘As husbands disappear from the home, poverty and welfare dependence will increase, and children and parents will suffer as a result.’ (Salvo Journal, winter 2012)” 

Salvo journalist Terrell Clemmons continues:  “Today, the SPLC continues its ferreting out of so-called hate groups from its Montgomery headquarters, a $24-million, six-story building the locals refer to as the ‘Poverty Palace.’  According to tax records, at the end of 2010 the SPLC was sitting on ‘private investment funds’ exceeding $200 million, with top execs collecting salaries well into six figures. They have stamped out poverty quite splendidly-for themselves. There’s big money in hate.”  I wonder if living in excess, while millions you claim to represent continue to wallow in poverty, might be considered a form of hate.

Orthodox Christianity’s pro-life stance is also attacked as intolerant and hateful. Anthony Esolen, in the latest issue of Touchstone Journal, writes:  “Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early feminist and depiser of Christian marriage, decried abortion as a crime of men against women. Feminists now decry restrictions on abortion as crimes of men against women. They say Mrs. Stanton would agree with them. I fear they are probably right. For Mrs. Stanton’s focus was never on the humanity of the child. It was on the power relations between men and women. The feminists, too, do not wish to acknowledge the humanity of the child; it is a casualty in the greater war.”

Peter Singer, Australian philosopher and bioethicist at Princeton University, has declared “the life of a fetus is of no greater value than the life of a nonhuman animal… and no fetus is a person.”  Of course, he also advocates infanticide in the first month of life, active euthanasia for the elderly and even bestiality. No one should be surprised at what is permissible once the biblical, Christian belief in the sanctity of human life is discarded. As someone has noted quite descriptively, “Once the camel sticks his nose in the tent, you may soon expect the whole smelly body to follow.”

As for Sen. Pat Steadman’s comment, “To those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate, I’d say, ‘Get thee to a nunnery… away from modern society,’” perhaps he has not paid much attention to the unraveling of modern society, what with economic meltdowns, mass killings, pampered athletes signing contracts for $200 million for 10 years while health and human service organizations are overburdened and underfunded, a massive welfare state on the rise, and the millions of dollars spent annually on internet pornography keeping in lockstep with the growing trends of child sex abuse and spousal unfaithfulness. Is it hateful for Christianity to offer an alternative to such tragic realities?

Rep. Carol Murray rightfully voted her conscience on Senate Bill 11. But her reason given, that “Jesus taught us to love one another,” does not conform to the kind of love Jesus taught and manifested in his life. A simple reading of the Gospels shows that Jesus’ love for people never meant issuing a green light for people to follow their own inclinations and moral preferences.

Any concerned parent knows that love should never be confused with permissiveness. Jesus’ harshest words were directed at the self-righteous, but he also taught, “from out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, perjury, slander.”  We don’t need more laws in this society as much as redeemed hearts, and the cost-effectiveness of the latter is beyond measure.

At the very heart of Orthodox Christianity is the faith that is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Today’s pseudo-Christianity, along with many unbelievers, will take the Jesus Who “loves,” but not as one come to save us from our sin.

If it is hateful for Christianity to say what the Gospel says—that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and that true peace and joy is found, as Jesus taught, by the one who prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” then so be it.  Jesus loves sinners, but His grace is not cheap.

And this is why Orthodox Christianity must never apologize for holding steady in the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ, and persevering, even when accused of being hateful or worse, in the defense of the moral and ethical doctrines undergirding the sanctity and integrity of human life, created in the image of God. 


Grant’s column addresses familiar societal tensions

Bill Grant’s timely column – “Religion at its best and worst in fight over civil union bill” (March 6) – exposes familiar tensions underlying pending issues of public policy.

As to LGBTQ rights – including civil unions – there is an obvious tension between the sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence (that “all [wo]men are created equal”) and the plain constitutional language of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, on the one hand, and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, on the other.

Recognizing the Judeo-Christian heritage that informs our secular legal system, the task of legislatures is to disentangle religious-based prejudices from non-discriminatory legal imperatives. Thus, the legal rights implicit in marriage can be conveyed to gay couples via civil unions without infringing on the sacerdotal traditions of church weddings.

Meanwhile, as suggested by Carol Murray (R-Castle Rock), the task for religious leaders is to disentangle the virulent intolerance of Leviticus from the Golden Rule.

Similar tensions also threaten women’s fundamental constitutional rights to abortion and contraception. Because adulterous evangelists too often espouse sexist religious doctrines, pedophile priests, and/or rapacious rabbis, any religious doctrine that would deny distaff citizens their “unalienable rights” should merit no deference before the law.

Our Supreme Court will confront the ongoing tension between the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in Conference of Catholic Bishops v. Sebelius (re:  ObamaCare’s health insurance contraception provision).

In that case, the questionably constitutional Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 threatens to re-“establish” the primacy of disparate religious beliefs by permitting them to trump even religiously neutral civil laws of general applicability (not intended to interfere with religion) if they “substantially burden” the “free exercise of religion”—unless “narrowly tailored” to further “a compelling state interest.”

Grand Junction


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