Email letters, November 4, 2013
Say “no” to Amendment 66
I generally do not like tax increases, but Amendment 66 has particular impacts not being mentioned in the media blitz. The “$133 per year” is misleadingly based on a taxable income of $45,000 per year. This per tax return. This is not what you earn; it is what is taxable income on your tax return your spouse, your other income (if so fortunate or skilled). Do you, plus your spouse, report this much on your tax return?
If your tax return reports for you and your spouse about $75,000 in taxable income, you, congratulations, owe $1,000 in new tax. This is in addition to your property tax for the school, plus state taxes dedicated to schools.
This is in addition to the more than one-half your property tax already paid for schools if you live in School District 51. It is likely the largest tax increase since the original income tax. It will generate more revenue than any other tax increase ever.
I do not believe the problem is the tax increase. The problems are that it is not a return to the flat tax of 5 percent, and it dedicates the new tax (and probably three other income streams) so that money cannot be used to address other things we expect of government. Don’t we need highways, law enforcement, general welfare, public facilities and higher education?
While we may not trust our legislators, do we want to eliminate the legislative ability to address all other state functions? This is at the cost of most of $1,000 per Mesa County household reporting the local per individual “average” income of two persons.
Vote against the tax return, not because you do not want better education, but because there are better ways to achieve the goal and provide necessary money to public entitles to meet all governmental obligations.
ALAN N. HASSLER
Public education gets real results, deserves better funding
As an educator, I disagree with the radio spots against Amendment 66 by the Western Colorado Business Alliance which state that no matter how much we spend on education we don’t get any “real results.” My family physician, my wife’s dental hygienist, my dog’s vet and the garden section reporter for this newspaper all learned the basic principles of biology in one of my high school classes. These are just a few examples of real results that directly impact our community.
Our science programs in District 51 have always scraped by on minimal funds; we have been one of the lowest-funded districts in the state for years. How many more children would have decided on careers in science had we had better funding for lab equipment, supplies, computer technology, field trips, job shadowing, etc.? I don’t know the answer, but in science education funding makes a huge difference.
Paper neglected to mention big, outside donors for union candidates, Amendment 66
On Saturday Emily Shockley had a huge front-page picture and story about Ed McVaney donating several thousand dollars to local school board candidates
because he cares about our children being educated.
In the meantime, Pat Stryker has donated $200,000 for union candidates and for Amendment 66. Bill Gates and New York Mayor Bloomberg each donated $1 million to pass Amendment 66 to raise taxes for everyone in Colorado.
Will Shockley be reporting on these big donors? Oh, wait! Election Day is Nov. 5. There won’t be time, will there?
Diversion of public money to private schools a form of segregation
I read Saturday’s lead article headlined “Deep pocket donor is elusive” with interest but without getting a clear sense of some serious distinctions. On one hand a billionaire, Ed McVaney, who does not live in our county, invests in private, religious schools through a voucher system that allows public school funds to be funneled away from public education in the name of “choice.”
On the other hand, the teachers’ union puts money into a progressive school board slate — a slate that supports union teachers and public education and does not support siphoning funds to private and, in many cases, religious schools, through a voucher system.
Wasn’t the civil rights movement driven, to a significant degree, by the demand to desegregate our schools? That all Americans had the right to equal opportunity through equal access to a good education? We thought we won that battle.
But now, in the name of “free choice,” the battle is now waged to create elite, private schools, in many cases religious schools, funded through our taxes that we assumed were to support quality public schools. To distort a famous quote, “segregation by any other name is still segregation.”
Finally, in support of teachers’ unions, let me tell you a story about my niece who is a Special Education teacher in the Milwaukee, Wis. school system. The present governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, killed the public employee unions, including the teachers’ union.
My niece was attacked and bitten twice by an out-of-control student. She asked for help from the school administration but could not get any relief. Because she did not have a union to represent her issue, a union that could have given her clout in support of her request for relief, she had to threaten to quit her teaching job at the advice of a therapist. She had been consistently rated as a highly efficient, effective teacher.
So, to take it back to where we started, should we support McVaney’s school board slate of anti-union, pro-private schools, private voucher positions, or should we support the slate that supports local union involvement and our public school system? It’s your answer. It’s your vote.
Healthy political discussions are key to a brighter future
I have had the privilege of visiting eight countries outside of the United States, and one common thread that was apparent in all of them was how much more attuned they were to not just their own country’s politics, but the world, as well.
In this country, if you follow events closely, you’re considered a “political junkie,” whereas in other countries you are an average citizen. We now have at least two generations that have lived their suburban lives with both parents working, after-school activities and summer vacations in the family station wagon. Social gatherings have had an unwritten rule that the two subjects that were never discussed were politics and religion.
Well, guess what? Now “Hope and Change” are dominating both of those subjects. I have lived in New England, the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast, and I am amazed at the number of middle-class citizens that shrug their shoulders and have [ital] no idea [ital] how pending elections or legislation will affect them on a personal level.
With the reported amount of middle-class citizens who didn’t even vote during the last presidential election, it appears the political apathy has not subsided. Politics and religion are both fascinating subjects for discussion, as long as emotion can be kept out. A lot of people out there with conservative values still give the shrug response. I encourage everyone to bring the taboo subjects up with family and friends. Have healthy discussions; just check the emotions at the door. Our very future depends on it.
Public schools must own the problem of dropouts
My concern is with blame placed on parents, environment, media, etc. for the problems in our public schools. I have heard blame placed by my children, by my students, by my fellow workers and by my government. Most of the time the problem was caused by the action or inaction of those placing the blame.
The problem is that we have a high percent of students failing or dropping out of our public schools. That problem did not exist when my children went to school 40 years ago and is far less now in private academies and parochial schools. Our public schools must stop the blame game and address the problem as their own.
House 992 could bring on another economic crash
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 992, the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act. This bill prevents the SEC from regulating derivatives. Derivatives trading was largely responsible for the Great Recession of 2008.
In 2010, the Dodd Frank Act was passed in an effort to gain some oversight into these complicated financial instruments. HR 992 will strip from Dodd-Frank any regulatory power the government has over derivatives trading.
This bill was literally written by CitiGroup lobbyists. They reviewed the language proposed by the House. Then, the CitiGroup lobbyists revised the language to better suit their desires. CitiGroup lobbyists authored 70 of 85 lines of the bill.
Why would Rep. Scott Tipton and all but one U.S. House representative from Colorado vote in favor of this law? Simple. Nearly $22.5 million was spread among House members to persuade them to vote in favor of it. That’s right — they were bribed.
If this bill passes the Senate, President Obama will likely veto it. With enough support, however, the bill could be enacted despite the president’s veto. This will result in a future crash like we saw in 2008 — the American taxpayers bail out the “banksters” who once again reap billions in profit. Privatize the profits; socialize the losses. That is the Wall Street mantra.
Enough is enough. Our assets, including homes and investments, the U.S. economy and the world economy are not something for irresponsible bankers to gamble away in a rigged game of chance. Have we learned nothing from the disaster that was 2008? While Congress foments the dysfunctional right-left divide, they have once again unlocked the treasury to give big finance a chance at our money.
The only way to stop the corruption in politics is to get money out of elections and politics in general. That means publicly funded elections of limited duration. The opponents will shriek with hysteria: “It’s unconstitutional!” Remind them: So is bribery.
JAMES P. GUTHRO
Sentinel’s Outside section, pictures of events praised
I want to thank you for the pictures and article and layout of the front page of your Outside section on Wednesday. My office had not talked about one of your pages in quite a while. It inspired some to go hiking to see these sights and talk to each other about fun things.
With times like ours, it was nice to hear people talking about positive things and not worry so much. The paper needs positive news when it can get it. And, honestly, any one of us could see ourselves in those pictures. Thank you. I also appreciate the picture that you take of the events around town. Keep up the good work. I remain a loyal reader,
Educators can get legal protection from other sources
I am a retired teacher, having taught in the Denver Public Schools, Fort Collins and Grand Junction. I was a member of the NEA for a number of years.
However, once I learned more about the organization, I promptly dropped my membership! With all the discussion about the upcoming election of school board members, and in light of the fact that the Sentinel chose to dedicate the front page of Saturday’s edition to a private citizen who donated money to certain candidates, (his right by law), I feel it only fair that the paper inform readers of the other side of the election…the NEA and those individuals who support its views who are also donating money to candidates. I believe many, if not most, teachers do not realize what their NEA dues support.
The NEA is the largest professional org. and largest labor union in the US, with 3.2 million members, a staff of over 550 and a budget of more that $310 million! It is one of the largest lobbies in Washington. The NEA is a factor in modern liberalism, according to Wikipedia, and typically supports the Democratic Party. Conservatives, libertarians, parents’ rights groups and others criticize it for opposing types of education reform designed to weaken the union’s hold on public education and it’s focus on teachers benefits and political policy making above gaining a better learning experience for students.
In 2012, 95percent of NEA political donations went to Democratic candidates. This does not represent the diverse political views of the membership. The union funds the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Center for American Progress, Media Matters for America, National Council of LaRaza, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, ACORN and AIDS Walk Washington. Are these matters of public education?
The NEA membership is not cheap - $558 per year for dues to the national, state and local level organizations. Members are recruited even while they are still in college, and many join largely because they fear legal action and need the insurance and legal representation. Teachers need to be told (and are not) that there are other organizations that offer the same legal protection.
The one to which I belong is the Christian Education Association, and it is [ITAL] strictly [ITAL] dedicated to protecting teachers and keeping them informed of their rights under the law. And it is one-fourth the cost.
Can Greenwald return to U.S. without fear of prosecution?
Roger Cohen asks a significant question about journalist Glenn Greenwald in the Oct. 31 edition of The New York Times.
Cohen writes, “American society will also benefit from Greenwald’s ongoing revelations about out-of-control surveillance. He has testified before the Brazilian Senate, and should be allowed to testify before the U.S. Senate. He says, ‘I am definitely going back, I refuse to be exiled for a lie.’
“He deserves assurance that he can return to the United States without facing arrest.”
So, what is it? Can American journalist Greenwald return to his country without fear of President Obama’s “justice” department?
President’s promises ring hollow, especially after botched website rollout
President Barack Obama has made so many promises and intellectual statements over the past few years. To wit:
• “I didn’t know about Fast and Furious, or the NSA spying on Americans, or the NSA spying on the leaders of our key allies, or the IRS targeting conservatives.”
• “We will bring this individual who made this vulgar video, which resulted in the attack on Benghazi, to justice.”
• “I will hold those individuals accountable who are responsible for the attack on Benghazi.”
• “I will hold those accountable that are responsible for the IRS targeting of conservatives.”
• “I have campaigned in all 57 states.”
• “Our new healthcare plan will result in a cost savings on average of $2,500 per year, per family.”
• “My guarantee is if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor ... period.”
• “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan ... period.”
• “No one can take that away from you.”
Sadly, all of the above statements from Obama are false … period. Now, millions of Americans have had their current health care policies canceled, and/or have been separated from their well-established family physician relationships as a result of Obamacare. And almost a billion taxpayer dollars wasted on a nonfunctioning website.
Obama supporters defiantly laughed that this bill got passed without anyone even reading it first, and without a single Republican vote. Sadly, what those supporters didn’t seem to realize is that this bill was rammed down their collective throats, as well, and now many of them are seeing their doctor relationships and their healthcare policies being canceled, too.
Two questions: Might this just be their chickens coming home to roost?? Is anyone aware of Obama ever holding anyone accountable for anything?
District’s latest charter school now in its permanent location
This past Monday (Oct. 28) was a very exciting day for our students and staff at Juniper Ridge Community School as we held classes for the first time in our permanent home at the old Caprock site on 24 1/2 Road. A special thank-you is due to so many in our Grand Junction community who have been instrumental in making this possible.
One of the strengths of District 51 is its broad support for alternative education. Our thanks to the board of District 51 for approving us as Grand Junction’s third charter school We are also deeply grateful to Superintendent Steve Schultz and his staff, who have been so good to work with as we have created and now operate our school. Thank you for your guidance and continuing help in so many areas.
Vineyard Church graciously gave us a home for the first two months until our permanent home site was complete. Thank you so much for making us so welcome.
Thank you to Home Loan State Bank for assisting us in financing our modular units. We are fortunate to do business with a local Grand Junction bank, and it is a pleasure to work with.
Starting our new school has been an enormous adventure. We are so appreciative of the 120 families who have had the faith and trust in our vision and our staff and have supported us with their patience and personal efforts as we’ve prepared our school site for the children’s arrival.
Chair, Board of Stewards
Juniper Ridge Community School
Good old boy system thrives in Mesa County
The Republican Party determines Mesa County politics. The 400+ Republican delegates determine who will appear on their ballot. In other words, those few delegates effectively determine who gets elected for the thousands of Mesa County citizens in EVERY election.
For example, Sheriff Rick Claussen was term-limited by 2002. Claussen decided to “flip” to badge to Stanley Hilkey and, of course, the party’s delegates then put Hilkey on the ballot. The fix was in, and Hilkey was elected to two terms.
Two terms was the max for any candidate as determined by the voters. But Hilkey and his buddy, District Attorney Peter Hautzinger, wanted more and did not want their six-figure salaries to end. These two went to the “good old boys” that control the politics and convinced them to ballot them for another term. The boys did not disappoint them, and, of course, they got what they demanded.
Now both Hilkey and Peter are out the door and have circumvented the original intent of the voters two-term plan. But we are not done here; Hilkey is flipping the badge to Steve King, formerly an underling at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department before he decided to run for state Congress. Will King get elected? Of course, the “fix” is already in.
So, both Hautzinger and Hilkey leave office with less-than-stellar records. Hilkey couldn’t find the killer of Paige Berkfeld, and Hautzinger, who didn’t even take the case to a grand jury, where he had nothing to lose, will go out without providing an iota of justice for a young woman killed in her prime. He will give the case to King, whose record in the state House was also lackluster.
Conclusion: The fix is in and proof that the good old boys are still alive and well in Mesa County.