Email Letters: May 5, 2017

Bears Ears is worthy of monument designation

We just returned home from a week at Bears Ears National Monument. It is not only beautiful, but was home to thousands of pre-Utahans 800 and more years ago. Learning and speculating how they lived is fascinating.

Exploring ruins and rock art, some difficult to find, is an adventure. Even as my old body screamed for relief, we hiked to ancient ruins. Our discoveries were worth the pain. And not every ruin is hard to find. For present day residents, the monument is an opportunity for local business. Several people in the business told us tourism is up 20 percent this year because of the monument designation.

Unfortunately, lots of politicians oppose preservation of the land and evidence of ancient cultures. Some in Utah want to seize the land to commercialize or sell for development. State ownership would likely require high entrance fees, strangling tourism. Parks and monuments are often initially opposed locally; embraced a generation or two later.

One very successful business owner told me local opposition comes from residents who want to turn back time. I understand the desire to return to long ago happy times that may not have been so happy when we lived them. No one has successfully reversed time, but some try. This fantasy is not unknown in the Grand Valley. That successful businessman thrived because he recognized and embraced the present.

Not only is Bears Ears threatened, but Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colorado and Grand Staircase-Escalante in south central Utah also have been targeted. We’ve explored these monuments too. All are worthy of protection. Bears Ears may exceed national park standards.

Utah’s politicians do not seem to appreciate what they have. Scenic and cultural value does not impress them. Go see for yourself – Bears Ears is less than 200 miles away.

GENE GOFFIN
Glade Park

Tipton voted to take away your health care, close our hospitals

It is critical that every resident in Colorado District 3 knows what “our” Representative, Scott Tipton, voted for in Washington. He voted to take health care away from all the working poor currently covered under the Medicaid expansion (149,000 Colorado families). He voted to raise premiums on everyone over age 50 by $3,000-$5,000 a year. He voted to allow insurance companies to raise premiums on those with preexisting conditions (about half our population) with no cap. Both these groups will probably drop insurance rather then pay the unaffordable premiums. He voted to allow even employer insurance companies, to again put caps on how much they will pay on policies annually and in a lifetime – allowing the return of medical bill bankruptcies.

In short, he voted to close every one of our rural hospitals and clinics in Western Colorado. No hospital can sustain expenses when nearly half the population is uninsured. He did this despite the efforts of the AARP and all medical providers being against this legislation.

Remember this! Regardless of what happens in the Senate with the AHCA, Scott Tipton voted to take away your health care and close our hospitals.

CAROL NUDELL
Eckert

Many will be devastated by not being able to afford healthcare

Our Republican Congress, including Scott Tipton, have finally passed a bill that will repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act and get rid of “affordable.” Paul Ryan repeatedly said everyone would have access to health insurance. Everyone does have access to health insurance now. Stop by an insurance agency today for a quote. They’ve got it, but you may not be able to afford it.

I’m not as concerned with how this will affect me as it will affect many others. A workplace accident and a boss who didn’t pay his workman’s comp bill left me totally disabled. Fortunately, this also qualified me for Medicaid and Medicare. I love this health insurance, which I paid into most of my lifetime, and I wish everyone could have such great care. Medicaid for all is a good idea, and our country can do this. Insurance companies can make their profits from auto, home, and life, etc. It is morally wrong to profit from a person’s health.

I have friends and family, Republican and Democratic, who would be devastated by not being able to afford their healthcare. This bill is now going to the Senate, where one Democrat and one Republican represent us. Will their votes cancel each other out, making Colorado voiceless? Will Cory Gardner vote to help the people he is supposed to stand for, or will he vote to make
the richest two percent just a bit richer?

MAUREEN MILLIGAN
Montrose

Our protected lands remain a cultural necessity

Last Wednesday President Trump signed an executive order that firmly places our national monuments, and our western values, in the cross hairs. Now, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, will spend the next 120 days recommending which monuments to reduce in size, and which to eliminate altogether. Effectively under siege are any national monuments designated after 1996, including the beloved Browns Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients, and Chimney Rock here in Colorado.

By means of opening the door to review, the administration has questioned the necessity of any land use designation that is not strictly commercial or industrial. To those with limited interaction with undeveloped places, the need to retain them for future generations is unclear. According to the National Park Service’s visitation statistics for last year, however, there were more than 500 million combined visits between national parks and national monuments. This protected land is by no means unused, and remains a cultural necessity.

This executive order is, by its very nature, the same government overreach it claims to address. This overreach is being conducted on behalf of industry, against the values of equity and liberty guaranteed by public land.

The Trump administration is conducting an unprecedented assault on the legal foundation for any cultural and ecological preservation. The Antiquities Act is essential for maintaining the 188 national parks and monuments in the U.S. With 80 percent of Americans in support of continuation of national parks and national monuments, rescinding even a single monument designation would be out of step with public sentiment.

As Zinke makes his recommendations to the President, I hope that he remembers that the west is made up of an active citizenry, along with ranching and oil interests. By honoring all of our existing monument designations, we retain the local heritage and values intended by their widely popular adoption.

DAVID K LAGRECA
Grand Junction

Tipton’s loyalty lies with his party, not the people of Colorado

Rep. Tipton put his party before the healthcare security of Coloradans with his vote to repeal the ACA (Obamacare). He decided to gut the protections the ACA guarantees people with pre existing conditions, and that means these people are at risk to lose their healthcare coverage. The Republican’s assertions that their underfunded “high risk pools” will protect anyone with a pre-existing condition is an empty promise. Colorado tried these pools a decade ago but it was a dismal failure. It would take over $30 billion a year to cover everyone who qualifies, but the Republicans are only offering a small fraction of the true costs. This means many people who have medical needs could be left out in the cold.

What the Republicans have neglected to say is this is not really a healthcare bill at all; it’s actually a tax cut in disguise to give billions of dollars to the rich at the expense of hard working Americans. We deserve better than this; we deserve to have healthcare protections against going bankrupt if we get sick. We deserve to have the peace of mind that we can get health insurance even if we’ve had an illness, but that seems unimportant to Rep. Tipton.

Rep. Tipton felt it was more important to go along with this political stunt to give President Trump a legislative win than to protect our healthcare, all on the backs of Colorado citizens. The only possible hope is this bill has little to no chance to pass the Senate. Perhaps Colorado voters will remember where Rep. Tipton’s loyalty truly lies in 2018. It certainly isn’t with the people of Colorado.

WILLIAM T WILLIAMS
Hesperus

The Antiquities Act is increasingly relevant to our time

I found Roland Reynolds’ Wednesday letter to be very disturbing, showing an inadequate understanding of why national monuments are designated and misunderstanding of the processes involved in establishing these monuments. Review a piece of the 1906 Act (16 USC 431-433):

“That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments . . .”

First, the Antiquities Act is not antiquated. Despite its being written in 1906, it is increasingly relevant to our time when priceless prehistoric and historic places and artifacts are disrespected because their value is not understood. They are all we have of the past. The groups that protect them – native peoples, archaeologists, historians and museum personnel as well as their stewards, volunteers and the monument staffs – have been consulted in many cases, such as Bears Ears, where extensive conversations with locals, native people, and former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took place before that monument’s designation.

Second, places designated as national monuments are places of beauty, respite, and wilderness where a precious ecosystem resides and, with protection, flourishes. Local control, despite what Mr. Reynolds says, often translates into inroads for commercial interests. Envision public lands and national monuments utilized and destroyed by “economic” interests, ATVs, desecration of rock art, destruction of native sacred sites, drilling, and so on. Federal designation is some protection for history, beauty and public access for enjoyment of the wild and traditional sacred sites.

With commercial interests blatantly salivating with thoughts of national monuments’ designations being reversed (if that is actually legally viable), it is naïve to think that local control without proper funding or commitment to wild places and historic and prehistoric treasures would be a shoo in for preserving these places. The federal Antiquities Act, far from being antiquated, preserves lands, ecosystems, history, and the wild for our children and grandchildren.

ELLEN K. MOORE

Grand Junction

Law regarding rolling coal is on the books, and it just needs to be enforced

I read an article in the paper regarding diesel truck owners that modify their engines so they can emit a large amount of smoke upon acceleration. “Rolling coal” was, I believe, the term used.

We already have a law on the books that should be enforced. Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-412 (2)(a): “The air quality control commission shall determine the minimum emission level of visible air pollutants from diesels which shall be considered to create an unreasonable nuisance or danger to the public health, safety, and welfare. Such minimum emission level shall be based on smoke levels attainable by correctly operated and maintained…”

And CRS 42-4-413; “Visible emissions from diesel-powered motor vehicles unlawful – penalty, COLORADO REVISED STATUTES – owner or operator of a diesel-powered vehicle shall cause or knowingly permit the emission from the vehicle of any visible air contaminants that exceed the emission level as described in section 42-4-412 (2) (a).”

These drivers/owners should be held responsible and penalized. We have a right to report these individuals to the Colorado State Patrol. Write down their license plate number, note the location, date and time and contact the State Patrol. The law is on the books, and it just needs to be enforced.

CHRISTOPHER MENZIES
Grand Junction

The Antiquities Act remains vibrant

What part of American constitutional history does Roland Reynolds (“Antiquities Act is antiquated”) not understand? Apparently, it is the “federal” part where the Constitution was structured to increase centralized federal authority because “maximum governance at state and community level” under the Articles of Confederation had proven ineffectual – even after enactment of the Land Ordinance of 1785 (creating the standardized survey system still used today) and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (providing for the eventual statehood of lands acquired by our new nation from England in the Revolutionary War).

Contrary to Reynolds’ baseless assertion, the 1906 Antiquities Act does not “clearly skirt constitutional intent.” Rather, Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution (1787) states that “Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”

Thereafter, Congress “disposed of” millions of acres of public lands – including generous grants to veterans, to homesteaders, to miners, to railroads, for irrigation projects (which benefited the Grand Valley), for timber harvesting, and to all the newly admitted states (77 million acres for public schools and another 21 million acres for higher education).

However, even after authorizing creation of national parks and national forests, among the additional “needful rules and regulations” Congress enacted pursuant to its intended constitutional authority was the Antiquities Act – which recognized that not all public lands “were created equal.” Rather, some contain “historic landmarks, historic structures and artifacts, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” which the president may deem worthy of special and immediate protection, especially when they are threatened with despoliation by private interests (as was the Grand Canyon in 1908).

Thus, Reynolds’s argument rests on the false premises that all “historic landmarks, historic structures and artifacts, and other object of historic or scientific interest” on our public lands or under our public waters have already been discovered, that the shameful history of abuse of our public lands is a “closed book,” and that – absent the Antiquities Act – the future of our public lands is already adequately protected from the ravages of overgrazing, over-fishing, illegal timber harvesting, and now motorized “pot hunting” and vandalism by citizens of local communities enabled by pandering politicians.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

Healthcare vote reeks of political grandstanding versus improving lives of constituents

I watch in dismay as our Republican leaders can’t effectively repeal and replace Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Representative Scott Tipton has claimed to have made an attempt to improve the American Health Care Act or TrumpCare and by all appearances has failed.

At the time of Tipton’s vote there was an incomplete analysis for which he and voters could not make an educated decision. Even Senator Lindsey Graham (R) said, “The bill should be viewed with caution.” This hurried vote reeks of political grandstanding versus improving the lives of his constituents.

Here are some of the remaining issues:
- There had been no public hearings.
- There was no final text.
- There was no updated Congressional Budget Office score.
- It was opposed by virtually every patient advocacy group and everyone in the healthcare industry.
- Congress was exempted from the new rules that allow states to waive essential benefits.
- It will raise premiums dramatically for older people.
- It will remove protection against being turned down for a pre-existing condition, which now includes domestic violence, sexual assault, C-section, and postpartum depression.
- It would steadily gut Medicaid spending for the very poorest.
- It would remove coverage from at least 24 million people, probably more.
- It would slash taxes on the rich by about a trillion dollars over ten years.

As the process digresses and health insurance premiums increase, I ask that you keep this in mind when entering the voting booth in 2018.

DAN MILLER
Mancos

City of Grand Junction’s roads are in terrible shape

I think we should all start sending our alignment and suspension and tire repair bills into the City of Grand Junction. It is criminal negligence that they have allowed the roads to get so bad. Criminal. They are committing a crime against all those who must drive their streets. The streets in Fruita and Palisade and Mesa County are taken care of, but not Grand Junction.

JEREMIAH HABECKER
Clifton

Taking health care away from millions of citizens is not to be celebrated

What an amazing day! Republicans and the president are celebrating taking health care away from millions of citizens. Making people more miserable is a “win?” Remember Obamacare, the ACA? The first letter stands for affordable. There is no way that the lies Republicans are telling about the “replacement” for the ACA reveals what has to happen. There will be millions of people losing their health care and what remains will be unaffordable for millions. Why?

Nobody seems to be able to cogently explain why the ACA had to go. It seems that the main reason was that it represented a major accomplishment for Obama and his administration – in your face, Obama – and the other seems to be for freeing up money to compensate for yet more tax breaks for the very rich.

The kicker is the prohibition of mandated required insurance. I say, fine, if you want to go without a safety net then make it mandatory that free care will no longer be available at emergency rooms and other places. It should also be mandated that any such services couldn’t be done as charity or welfare. If they were still allowed to provide services it would be at the expense of all of the rest of us. Fair is fair. One of the things being celebrated is “freedom.” Great, but freedom backed up by mandated services is not freedom. It is public charity, a Republican no-no.

Finally, the last nail in the coffin of separation of church and state was hammered in today. Church’s can become political action committees. Fine, again. Now take away their tax-exempt status. The exemption is based on the organization as a public service and is therefor non-partisan. We now have corporations with personhood. Churches have joined that status.

Pay up and support government!

JOHN BORGEN
Grand Junction


COMMENTS

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
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Actually, Mr. Borgen, Trump’s executive order on religious rights changed nothing that wasn’t already in place. It was merely a directive to the Justice Department involving existing law. The ACLU was all set to sue over the issue, and they stopped because his order was nothing but an excuse for a photo op.

Thanks Mr. Iles. I have since writing discovered that fact. Nevertheless the exemption is based on being a valuable public organization and the exemption is given governmentally hence, it must remain non-partisan to hold the exemption. That’s an opinion not based on law. There may be laws on the books allowing partisan activity and, if so, I think they should be repealed. How many church’s do we have in this town that enjoy the exemption and how many stick to non-partisanship?

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