Email letters, May 9, 2013
School District 51 merits applause for reading scores
School District 51 greatly deserves our applause for the third-grade reading scores reported in today’s paper. The district beat the state by one percentile point and has continued a several-year trend of improvement somehow accomplished at a time with less available resources than ever.
One thing missing from the article is a teacher’s truism that the public needs to learn. The saying goes, “From kindergarten to third grade kids learn to read. After that they read to learn.” That means a kid who is below proficiency in reading at third grade is going to have a much harder time in school. Everything we can do to get kids reading proficiently pays off over the rest of their school years and, of course, in their lives.
As parents, grandparents and community members, we need to pay attention to this measurement of local education. You should know your child’s proficiency and work to get him or her above reading level.
If you don’t have a child in schools, a volunteer reading mentor program at School District 51 has a documented record for improving individual students’ reading. Every bit of effort to help kids with reading pays off later. It saves money and improves lives.
Schwenke’s column on unions shows her Republican stance
I would like to address the Diane Schwenke column about labor unions. The bill she refers to does not allow workers on strike to receive unemployment benefits. It would allow employees locked out of their jobs by no fault of their own to receive unemployment benefits.
An example of this is when grocers such as Albertsons, Safeway and King Soopers have a labor dispute, say a strike at Albertsons. King Soopers and Safeway then lock out their employees to put pressure on the Albertsons employees to end the strike.
The employees at Albertsons receive strike benefits from the union, not the state. The employees at King Soopers and Safeway get nothing, but still have mortgages, rent, utilities and other responsibilities.
It appears that Diane Schwenke, being the true Republican that she is, shows us once again what the Republican Party thinks about the working- man and woman.
Energy bill a win for state, should be signed into law
Thank you for standing with clean, renewable energy in Colorado. As an owner of a small renewable energy design and installation firm in Western Colorado, I believe expanding renewable energy to all corners of Colorado will help my business and the local economy and will help keep our air and water clean.
Increasing Colorado’s renewable energy standards for rural electric co-ops offers rural Coloradans what they want: more solar, less pollution, more energy security and diversity, and more rural Colorado jobs. Thank you, Gov. Hickenlooper and your energy office, for supporting SB252.
This is a win for Colorado, including more wind and solar jobs throughout the state and on the Western Slope. This is a major step forward for Colorado as we work to drive toward a clean energy future.
Please keep the momentum going on SB252. Sign it into law and champion all it does for Colorado.
Oil shale industry will surmount glitches to provide energy, jobs
The radical environmentalist movement is probably rejoicing over the story in the Sentinel last week that told of one oil shale company’s technical difficulties with a downhole heater. They will no doubt take it as a sign from God (or Mother Earth) that oil shale is simply beyond the capacity of humans to ever develop.
I’m a little more optimistic, in that I have been around long enough to know that mistakes and setbacks are all a part of progress. I also know that such problems are hardly unheard of in a high-tech industry such as oil and gas. With each attempt this company, and others like it, are getting closer to finally producing highly efficient energy from oil shale.
Once they get the kinks worked out, we could have access to generations’ worth of domestic energy, right in our own backyard. This breakthrough could mean the return of hundreds of good-paying jobs to western Colorado, a healthy regional economy after the last few years of recession, and a chance for our young people to stay here after college and make a good living.
And, if the history of man’s capability for invention and technological improvement in a free market is any indication, the success of this technology could even spur advances in other areas of human endeavor.
But, of course, the environmentalists are not interested in any of that, and just point to stories about technical holdups as proof that it can’t be done.
Thank goodness this has not been the prevailing attitude throughout most of human history, or we would never nave gotten the combustion engine, electric lights or the printing press — three things, come to think of it, that the environmentalists would seem to be fine without.
CHS students ask community to help with canned food drive
I am a student at Central High School. My class is doing a service-learning project to help people who cannot afford food in our town, and we would like to get our project out to as many people as we can.
We are going to hold a canned food drive May 22 outside of the Clifton City Market. All of the canned food is going to families and people in need of food. We would really appreciate help getting the word out.
Chained CPI would hurt young citizens the most
Chained CPI, the latest proposal to diminish the effectiveness of our Social Security system, would hit young people the hardest.
Since the change would be also applied to Veterans Administration disability, young disabled vets and young disabled people relying on Social Security would be the hardest hit.
Young people who are lucky enough to stay healthy until their full retirement age would collect a drastically reduced benefit compared to current retirees in inflation-adjusted dollars. The longer you collect, the deeper it cuts.
Likewise, a disabled veteran in her 20s now would see her income slashed by thousands of dollars yearly if she’s fortunate enough to live into her 80s.
Chained-CPI is a cruel system that assumes that if your budget is cut, you can substitute something cheaper. Can’t afford chicken? You can substitute red beans and rice. But what if you can’t afford your prescription? What do you substitute for that?
Stealthy congressional decision-making curbs citizens’ constitutional liberties
The U.S. Congress has deteriorated into a corrupt oligarchy. It no longer generates legislation by “regular order,” that is by numerous and open committee hearings with the ability of all elected members to participate equally in the formation of legislation.
Rather, legislation is now formed by a “gang” (Implying unlawful activity) of eight, 10 or 12 congressmen behind closed doors, gathering support of other legislators by secret deal making.
Recall the Cornhusker Kickback during the Obamacare debacle? Stealth input comes from labor unions, corporations and other special interest groups seeking government largess at taxpayer expense.
Legislation finally emerges from these “gangs” in the thousands of pages, which no one has read or understands, and is loaded with billions in pork to assure the re-election of incumbent members. Then, after little or no time allotted for non-gang legislators or the American people to consider the ramifications of these secret legislation packages, they are passed into law in the dark of night.
Legislation, once passed, disappears into the federal bureaucracy, managed by, among others, 30-plus “czars” (even the language is totalitarian) appointed by the president who are accountable only to him. Legislative results emerge months or years later as laws and rules published in the Federal Register at the astounding rate of 8,000 pages a month.
Clearly, so many laws are already in effect, and most are not, and cannot be, enforced. Immigration and gun control laws are two excellent examples; administrations selectively enforce these laws to punish their enemies and advance their political agendas.
This oligarchy works to limit the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution and to increase government tyranny over our personal lives. In a republic the people are sovereign. Our country has deteriorated into a moribund socialist state in which the government is sovereign and guaranteed to fail.
Stahl’s column on halting domestic violence an important call to action
Have you noticed the recent increase in articles concerning domestic violence and rape, involving victims ranging from a six-month-old baby girl to children and girlfriends? This used to be a subject suffered in silent shame by women and children the world over, but no longer.
So, I was pleased to read the column in the Sentinel entitled “Halting domestic violence requires more than trivial politics” by Mike Stahl, CEO of Hilltop Community Resources.
He concluded his thought-provoking column by stating, “Please join me in this challenging endeavor of breaking the cycle of violence. Stand up to domestic violence. Support your local domestic providers through donations, volunteerism and advocacy. Educate yourself on the facts, share what you learn and use this unfortunate situation as the catalyst for change in our community.”
Many years ago when I lived in another state, I sensed the need for a battered women’s shelter. I went to the local newspaper owner and asked if he would allow me to hold a fundraiser in his backyard to raise money for such a shelter. He agreed and the event was successful.
I then asked a church if I could use its facilities to show a film, host a speaker and sell items. That fundraising event was also a success, allowing me to rent a house, hire staff, get volunteers and open the first women’s shelter in a three-county area. It still operates today and has expanded to meet an ever-growing need.
As we have seen in our own community, domestic violence affects people of all classes, not just the poor. Wives of doctors, ministers and police officers can be victims. The difference is they can afford to go to a motel, take off to “visit” family and avoid telling friends about their secret, shameful experience.
Teachers see bruised children but often don’t pursue the subject. Neighbors hear loud shouting from next door but say nothing, believing it’s none of their business. Wrong! It is everyone’s business.
Offer help, even if it’s not asked for. Call Hilltop if you are in doubt or have questions. It’s the least you can do to stop this vicious, silent, secret problem.
Benghazi heroes abandoned by those higher up in command
Wow! You watch one news agency and hear its account direct from people that were in Benghazi, on the ground or in the state agency the night of Sept. 11 and you hear sincere concern. You also hear more questions as to why soldiers loaded and ready to deploy were told to stand down.
You hear accounts of heroes that were frustrated wanting to do more, begging for help and told, “Uh, nope, don’t think so, we can’t help you.” Those are the last words a soldier in desperate circumstances wants to hear from officials all the way up the chain.
Then you switch channels and hear, “Oh, it’s all political, made to make the president look bad” and “Hillary was a hero — she did what she could.”
My, oh my, it seems it does matter, and somebody in office screwed up big time.
“Oh, but we are going to fix it!” Cowardice, tyranny, ignorance, lack of common sense and absolutely no accounting for their whereabouts, while good men died in defense of an American consulate under terrorist attack.
Sure glad two more big breaking stories are out the same day to take some of the spotlight off the cowards in office. How did you sleep, Mr. President?
GJHS lauded for providing team uniforms to Special Olympians
I would like to take a moment to publically thank whoever is responsible at Grand Junction High School and Pomona Elementary School for seeing to it that their students going to Special Olympics were able to wear school T-shirts.
I have two sons with severe autism, which means in a lot of ways they may never be like their peers. While it is true that many people with autism are able to be a fully functional part of their community, it is not the case with my children.
Having a severe diagnosis means that they have severe problems, and will probably never participate with any kind of team sport or band or other activity that would give them cause to wear the uniform that marks them as a part of their school community.
I was so very pleased when my 18-year-old son came home from attending this year’s Special Olympics with a “Tiger Pride” T-shirt on. I didn’t pay for the shirt. The school provided the shirts to the students so that they could represent the school.
It is a trivial thing to wear a T-shirt that has your school’s name and mascot on it. For my son, though, who is so far from being accomplished and polished, it means something that most people take for granted. It means that he is a part of a school.
It means that he is part of a school that is proud to have its colors worn by a young man who has no real idea what those same colors mean on the back of the quarterback on Friday nights, or on the marching band members who celebrate the Grand Junction Tigers with their pomp and skill.
My son is not independent enough to go to a football game, and the noise and confusion might even freak him out. But his not being able to understand all that did not stop the generous people at the school from saying, “This is your day in the stadium. We are proud to have you wear our colors.”
It hasn’t always been the case. My son has been with the school district
some 11 years now, and every year he has gone to Special Olympics. Last year the special education teachers and coordinators at Redlands Middle School sent a plea to parents of kids on sports teams to lend “official” shirts so that the kids could look like a team.
Sometimes the teachers have purchased matching colored shirts so that the kids looked like a group, but he never got a school shirt to wear. This is the first year he came home wearing school colors.
I have no way of knowing if he was happy about it or not. He doesn’t have the ability to tell me what he thinks or what he feels. But having been a parent to a tiger in the past, I know what orange and black mean to the community, and as a parent, it makes my heart swell to know that when he walked into Stocker Stadium Tuesday morning, he did it as a GJHS tiger.
So, thank you, Grand Junction High School, and the community you represent, whose generous hearts saw to it that my son walked into the stadium wearing school colors.
Thank you for looking past his inabilities and celebrating his abilities. Thank you for recognizing that he, too, is a Grand Junction tiger and a part of the pride.
Teachers’ summer pay reflects reduced pay during school year
Do not confuse Bud Markos (letters May 9, “Teachers are not …”) with the facts. Teachers are ONLY paid during the summer if they have their monthly pay reduced during the school year.
Christmas, spring and other holidays are for the kids to have a break and spend time with their families. Maybe we should have teachers report anyway and teach ghosts.
When people such as Markos bother to find out the pay (out of a teacher’s pocket) put back into their “kids,” he might change his mind. Some kids, are abused (mentally, physically and otherwise) and teachers become their friends, confidants and parents. Many are homeless. Many have challenging jobs.
I am glad Markos had the opportunity to brag about how hard he works at whatever.
Chamber’s primary function is to promote business community
In Wednesday’s paper the top headline was “$8M aviation deal is a go.” This West Star project will bring jobs to our economy. Even most liberals have to admit this is a good thing.
It is West Star who hired Rick Brainard and put him into an influential position. Our community, including the Chamber of Commerce, trusted its judgment. Do I blame West Star for not knowing that Brainard would slap his girlfriend? No, of course they wouldn’t have hired him if anything like this were on his record.
Seems Brainard no longer works for them. The paper did a good job of putting these stories next to each other.
Now does this stop “liberals” from trying to tar and feather anyone who was associated with Brainard before they found out who he really is. Liberals have always targeted the chamber.
Promoting the Grand Junction business community, such as West Star, is the primary function of the chamber. Liberals generally are not big supporters of business concerns (low taxes, fewer regulations) and have loved taking advantage of this Brainard mess. Don’t be fooled. The liberal mantra is “never let a crisis go to waste.”
We’ve seen a lot of this recently in Colorado, to include new gun control legislation that hurts our image nationally with hunters. Hunting is big business here, too.
Liberals are not good for business here in western Colorado.