Email letters, Oct. 10, 2011

The impact to the sea services of coming budget cuts

A Senate-House “super-committee” is currently deliberating on how to reduce the federal budget by 1.2 trillion dollars over the next decade. The prospect of far-reaching cuts in the National Defense budget is on the horizon and already enacted reductions of $464 billion will greatly impact America’s defense over the next decade. If the Senate-House “super-committee” fails to achieve a budget reduction plan by Nov. 23, then an arbitrary spending cut could reduce defense spending by a total of over $1 trillion. It seems likely that the House and Senate Armed Services Committees will attempt to spread the impact of these massive budget reductions across the services in their future planning. However, the prospect of reductions in America’s key Sea Services-the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard-should be viewed with special concern. Cuts of the scale now contemplated will exacerbate a number of negative trends already impacting the sea services and could prove to have a debilitating effect on America’s future ability to respond to crisis.

The Declining Naval Fleet: The Navy has been downsizing for more than two decades. In 1989, the naval fleet consisted of almost 600 ships. A reduced rate of building, combined with ship scrapping, has resulted in a current fleet of 285 ships. It is certainly accurate to assess today’s warships as more capable than most of the ships that made up the fleet in 1989. Newly built ships incorporate advanced weapons and propulsion systems, and next generation electronics and computer systems provide a greatly enhanced picture of the operating environment. The difficulties that arise are due to fact that with fewer ships a higher operating tempo results, meaning more of the Navy’s assets are deployed and fewer are in maintenance or training status at any given time. Currently, 43% of the fleet is forward deployed-resulting in higher maintenance costs for naval ships and aircraft as they inevitably experience more wear and tear. Under the already enacted budget cuts the fleet will soon be reduced to approximately 263 ships, perhaps fewer, as the large number of ships built in the 1980s are decommissioned at the end of their normal 30 year life span.

Marine Corps: The Marine Corps, after nearly 10 years of combat in the Iraqi and Afghan theaters, is in need of extensive re-capitalization of ground equipment and aircraft. Expeditionary warfare has always been the Corps’ core competency, with Marines being a “rapid response” force unparalleled in impact, transported by ship and deployed from landing craft and helicopters. But that traditional mission is in jeopardy with cuts already in the works, eliminating the next generation amphibious assault vehicle and delaying the operational capability of the F-35B multi-role fighter. The deployment of the F-35B, which is designed to replace the Marine’s aging aviation assets, has slipped to an estimated 2014 date and total numbers of aircraft will likely be reduced.

Coast Guard: Most people think of the Cost Guard as providing lifesaving and disaster relief, but its mission requirements extend much beyond those vital functions. This smallest of the military services maintains aids to navigation, oversees pollution clean up efforts on our waterways, combats drug smugglers, conducts safety inspections of commercial vessels, contributes to the International Ice Patrol, and is responsible for port security. The missions keep expanding as the service’s ships and aircraft age. The largest Coast Guard cutters, those capable of extended operations at sea, average 41 years in age-well beyond the expected life span of naval vessels. The service currently faces a bleak situation with many of its ships and aircraft needing immediate replacement. The only alternative has been to take a number of older ships out of service that are eating up the maintenance budget. This induces more wear and tear, as the remaining ships, aircraft, and crews work harder and longer in the attempt to cover the gaps.

The responsibilities have not been reduced: Maintaining the Sea Services will be essential to America’s national security far into the future. Even as combat operations are scaled back in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will experience only a slight reduction in their global missions. The Navy will still be our “forward deployed” force ready to respond to any contingency, its ballistic missile submarine force will still have a primary role in nuclear deterrence, and the service will continue to be called upon to for disaster relief around the world. The Marine Corps’ rapid response capability will continue to be called upon, and the Coast Guard’s role in homeland security will likely continue to expand.

Our Sea Services provide the power, flexibility and versatility to meet developing global challenges. America’s national security and ultimately, our sovereignty and ability to protect our citizen’s way of life, will be dependent on maintaining these forces. We must not impair this.

JOHN R. STEVENS
United States Navy League
Grand Junction

Wagner does little to further civil discourse

I wrote my comments about Rick Wagner’s column last week in “You Said It,” not because I was responding to his editorial, but to his inflammatory beginning hook paragraphs. I was asking why would The Daily Sentinel publish this ill-informed hyperbole.

I was raised Catholic and we would pray for our relatives and friends who had gone before us on All Souls Day. From the amount of candy that is in the stores right now I would say that Halloween is not just popular with the left wing. From the editorial’s opening paragraphs, you would think Halloween is only for pagans and terrorists (left wing, of course).

What’s happened to civil discourse? Obviously some people believe the hyperbole.

MARY MCNERTNEY-GRAVES
Grand Junction

Developing the Roan would create jobs

The Daily Sentinel’s piece about the environmental groups opposing energy development of the Roan Plateau was terribly one sided, so one sided that not once did the writer use the word that best describes why the Roan should be developed, jobs.

Western Colorado is facing the worst employment situation in the nation, and the writer could not even manage to mention the fact that drilling on the Roan would result in hundreds of new jobs for many years? I for one think it is outrageous that environmental groups are blocking access to this vast energy resource.

The environmentalists have comfortable jobs funded by big liberal donors. It is sad that they make their living opposing energy projects like the Roan that would result in jobs for the rest of us.

JON K. DYER
Grand Junction

Palisade should vote to ban dispensaries

There is much confusion about how Colorado ended up holding the bag for marijuana dispensaries. In 2000, voters approved Amendment 20 to the Colorado Constitution which allowed patients with serious debilitating illnesses access to medical marijuana by either growing up to six plants for themselves or a care giver to grow it for them or buying Marinol at a pharmacy. There was no mention of a commercial industry or of retail shops.

From 2000 to 2009, Colorado had a total of 4,000 medical marijuana card holders. Then in 2009, there was a dramatic change when U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced they would not be prosecuting dispensaries in medical marijuana states, resulting in a huge boom in the commercial marijuana industry. Hundreds of dispensaries popped up all over Colorado and the number of card holders skyrocketed from 4,000 in 2009 to 120,000 today. The Colorado Department of Health says that only 2 percent of these cardholders have cancer, aids or glaucoma.

The marijuana dispensary in Palisade was allowed to open through a special emergency meeting of only three out of seven town board trustees with no hearing or public in put.

The impact of these businesses has been alarming. According to the Colorado Department of Education, marijuana expulsions have increased in the last two years by 40 percent statewide. Due to increased availability, there has been a rash of marijuana related crimes and accidents in our county: armed robberies and beatings, a drive by shooting, a father giving marijuana to his 14 year old daughter and her friends, a sheriff’s deputy run over by the cemetery, a woman hit and killed while walking her dog and the list goes on.

None of this was anticipated or included in the amendment voters approved in 2000. Since the state legislature passed H.B. 1284 allowing counties and municipalities to ban dispensaries, 75 towns have shut them down. Ft. Collins citizens gathered 7,000 signatures to put the question on their November ballot. Now Palisade residents have the opportunity to protect our town from the influx of drug related problems.

Please vote “Yes” on 2B when you receive your mail in ballot and keep Palisade a good place to live.

DIANE COX
Palisade

Vote Tisue for School Board

In less than a month, voters here will be electing a candidate for School District B, choosing between Ann Tisue and Cindy Enos-Martinez, the incumbent.

I heard both candidates speak at a recent Chamber of Commerce event and was impressed with what Ann Tisue had to say because it was refreshingly different from the usual school board way of thinking. She believes strongly in the American Dream and that the way to achieve it is to improve the quality of education that our children receive.

The present school board has been OK and I feel they do care about the children. But, I think it is time for a change and fresh new ideas and to get away from the status quo and the old ways of thinking.

Ann Tisue would like to see core subjects more strongly emphasized and excellent teachers rewarded and retained. She wants to promote both student and school accountability, and to represent well both parents and taxpayers.

It is to be noted that she has received the official endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce.

Voting Ann Tisue onto the School District 51 Board will be a good start to improving the education our children and grand children receive.

SUE BENJAMIN
Grand Junction

Penry wrongly characterizes protesters

Josh Penry starts his latest column by summarily dismissing the Occupy Wall Street participants as “Gen X burnouts, progressive astro-turfers (huh? . . I don’t get that one) and labor bosses,” then implies that they are most likely “skipping work” — perhaps this is a euphemism for “unemployed” that Josh applies to people he does not approve of.

In any case, I’ve been watching coverage of this movement on the news, and it doesn’t seem to me that Mr. Penry’s conclusions are at all correct. This group seems to be composed of people of diverse ages, backgrounds, social strata and political leanings, all sharing a common frustration with the breakdown of our institutions which has led to growing disparity between those who reap the rewards (while contributing nothing) and those who bear the burdens. They are really not that different from Mr. Penry’s friends in the Tea Party, though the two groups have chosen different targets for their angst. For the Tea Party, it’s bloated, corrupt, self-serving government; for the OWS folks it’s the greedy, amoral corporate/Wall Street elites.

Both groups should understand that they each have legitimate points of view, and realize that it’s the unholy alliance between elected officials and the corporate / Wall Street cartel that is at the root of our problems. Perhaps then they could work in concert to help get the country back on track.

I also believe that most of the OWS protesters would have nothing but admiration for Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs was a productive, innovative, passionate entrepreneur who gave back to the world much more than he took. He is unfortunately the exception more than the rule, and should not be confused with the Wall Street sleaze who care only for themselves, and who bankroll the campaigns of professional politicians, Mr. Penry among them.

ROBERT WHITEHORNE
Grand Junction

Sentinel coverage of high-school football is appreciated

Thanks to The Daily Sentinel sports department for re-instituting a long-lost feature: the list of high school football scores. This is one of my favorite parts of the sports page, since there are so many West Slope schools in different classifications and only a few games actually receive write-ups.
The football scores are also of interest to me as a native of the eastern Colorado plains (Wray), whose schools are generally of little interest to the west slope. And with Grand Junction High School being the No. 1 ranked team right now, fans want to know how the other 5A powerhouse teams are doing on the Front Range.
This is a good example of a local feature that is extremely difficult to find anywhere else. There are, I suspect, only a handful of newspapers in the state that cover schools from 1A to 5A.
KURT NEUSWANGER
Grand Junction

Invested money is what helped make Apple

The first entry in the “You Said It” column recently is very instructive. All you “99 percenters” out there must be perplexed by the statement that you are not productive. Assuming you still have a job it must be very confusing that all those hours you spent at the job have accomplished nothing, meaning not productive. Isn’t it amazing that merely having money and investing it is, seemingly by definition, productive? Truly, we definitely should be forever beholden to those who finance whatever endeavor we are a part of, and in which we produce nothing of consequence. Without them, our lives would be meaningless and useless. We should be ashamed of our very existence.
Now you might understand what the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are all about. All those unproductive people out there despoiling the aural and visual atmosphere where the only really productive people reside. Primarily gamblers, true, put hugely productive. The demonstrators should be worshipping, not complaining. And we apparently have some of our masters here, too. Your very presence is disgusting to your superiors who have to put up with your burdensome, non-productive existence.
Out of curiosity, could the sainted Steve Jobs have accomplished what he did without help? Did he have outside financing? Could that money, alone, have been “productive”? Or was it just one of the necessary elements to be accumulated, unproductive people included, to provide for a going, “productive” enterprise? Was it Jobs or the invested money that made Apple what it is? Just curious.
JOHN BORGEN
Grand Junction

Changing colleges’ names to ‘university’ is name inflation

Regarding The Daily Sentinel’s Oct. 9 editorial “Naming Nonsense,” I am an alumnus of both Mesa Junior College and Western State College, so I have no bias toward either. I find the Sentinel’s questioning to WSC’s objection to Mesa using “Western” unacceptable as Western has been part of WSC’s name since 1923.

However, all and sundry have missed the fact that calling with them universities is the nonsense. My Webster’s defines the term specifically as “one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelors degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master’s degrees and doctorates.” Mesa offers one masters and Western two (mostly online); neither offers a PhD. We are all aware of “grade inflation” in our school system and now, admittedly nationwide, a “name inflation” phenomena has sprung up among four year colleges.

I am saddened to see both of my alma maters jumping on this bandwagon and consider it naive, if not verging on false advertising. However, Western has precedence on “Western” in their name and was perfectly correct on not wanting Mesa to dilute their brand and confuse us all with synonymous names.

LORALEE KERR
Grand Junction

Fair Tax and balanced budget would give power back to the people

The Daily Sentinel’s Oct. 9 editorial regarding Rep. Scott Tipton’s balanced budget column certainly brought forth a major problem in a simple balanced budget attempt. But by including a balanced budget tied to a specific percentage of the GNP, all of the concerns in the editorial go away.

I know of no other way to stop party politics from overwhelming federal fiduciary idiocy.

A balanced budget tied to a fixed percentage of GNP and the Fair Tax would put the federal government back under the control of the people. The foundation for most of the political power plays provided by the current tax code and budget favoritism would be eliminated. The politicians would lose effective political control over both the generation of federal revenue and the spending of federal funds.

When the child continues to abuse and damage the toy, take the toy away.

TOM HOWE
Hotchkiss

Dilemma in Palisade

In reading the Sample Ballot, trying to figure out the options of Palisade’s two ballot issues 2A and 2B, I have a dilemma. Issue 2A is a proposed transaction fee of $5 dollar upon each transaction for purchase of marijuana items sold in the only dispensary remaining in Mesa County.

Everyone agrees the additional levy is warranted, of course everyone will vote “Yes” on 2A for the sake of helping our struggling coffers. Yes?

The second issue is 2B, weather to keep the only marijuana dispensary left in Mesa County ppen. “Yes” votes will remover it once and for all. “No” votes will keep it as a viable business in Palisades and until our populations reaches 4,000 before a second dispensary can be established.

Now here’s my dilemma. Marijuana cardholders who purchase their marijuana would be happy in keeping the dispensary open. Medical marijuana is sold by 1/8 ounce at a time and up to two ounces per week. Most purchase their marijuana at 1/8 to 1/4 ounce per sale range, resulting in a transaction fee between $20 dollars to $40 dollars per ounce, with that fee going to the town of Palisade General Fund.

Issue 2A could be viewed as a discriminatory tax imposed upon a select group and product. This tax doesn’t apply for aspirin or cold medicines at Family Foods, or prescription at the pharmacy for that matter. It appears those who vote “No” on 2B (keeping the dispensary) will also vote “No” on 2A (tax each transaction) in order to keeping there cost down. Yes?

The town administration is hoping 2A will pass, no matter what 2B does? A “No” vote on both 2A and 2B, the dispensary and patients wins and the town coffers remain Empty. A “Yes” on 2B, the town coffers also stays empty because the dispensary is removed. Guess it’s simply a matter of money over image of Palisade. See my dilemma.

PAUL J BROWNE
Palisade

3B backers need to change their message

After reading Democratic co-chair for Mesa County, Arn McConnell’s letter of his support for Referred Measure 3B on funding for Mesa County schools, I couldn’t help but notice how much it sounded like President Obama telling the country we “had” to pass the stimulus bill to keep unemployment from going over 8 percent.

According to Localschooldistricts.com the facts are: per pupil spending Mesa County is $6698, Montrose County is$7628 and Cherry Creek is $9278. Mesa County ranks 170 out of 178 in per pupil spending in the state, not last but in the bottom 10 percent. In achievement, in ranking of elementary schools, Mesa County ranks 90th, Montrose 101st and Cherry Creek 29th. It looks to me that Mesa County and Cherry Creek are getting a pretty good deal for their money.

There are many people that are on fixed incomes and businesses that are just hanging on, raising taxes on them is going to be a big deal. If the people who are trying to get 3B passed are saying that they want to use the Obama/Democrat method of just throwing money at a problem and or using class warfare (they are spending more money than us) I don’t believe that it will pass. Mesa County residents see their children’s education as important and if you really are just thinking of the children should we not be focusing on achievement rather spending?

What is needed is a positive vision of where the extra money will be used, very specifically, in an effort to put our children in the top 25 percent or even 10 percent in achievement and have some accountability to back it up. With a message like that, I think that Measure 3B will have a much better chance to pass.

MICHAEL HIGGINS
Grand Junction

Jobs puts a positive face on the evil 1 percent

Believe it or not, there are liberal Democrats who are flaming capitalists. Steve Jobs was one of the best examples. He was politically liberal, but hired accountants to keep his corporate tax bill as low as possible so he could employ his capital to create even better products and even more good jobs. That’s how he became one of the wealthiest of the 1 percent that the Wall Street protestors are attacking. Jobs puts a face on that 1 percent evil.
President Obama believes in government leadership in creating jobs. Obviously, the government’s invention of the internet paved the way for Jobs, but Jobs’ creative genius and persistence in seeking excellence is not something you can stimulate by throwing taxpayer’s money at it. You need to keep capital in the hands of capitalists in order to see it grow. The reality is spreading wealth doesn’t create more wealth to spread or new jobs.
The President’s former Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones and the President’s close advisor, SEIU’s former President, Andy Stern, are just two of the President’s supporters who are behind these protests against capitalism. One of their primary targets has been Apple. The Apple logo was on the flag they have been burning at their protests. Steve Job’s death serves to bring attention to how effective U.S. capitalism has been. I bet most of those demonstrating don’t make the connection between jobs and Jobs. Perhaps they should.

DAVE KEARSLEY
Mesa

Good Samaritan helps boy hit by car

Recently, our home phone rang. Caller ID indicated it was our grandson. But a woman’s voice asked if we knew the owner of this cell phone. He’d just been hit by a car and was being taken unconscious to St. Mary’s by ambulance. She’d tried “Dad” on the phone, but couldn’t get through, so she tried us. We immediately called our son’s company to notify him.

It was a long weekend, but our grandson came back from a severe concussion and lesser injuries to where he may well go home today. Our eternal gratitude goes out to the outstanding staff at St Mary’s, and a special thanks to an unknown, but very special lady who took the time to make sure the family knew of the situation.

GARY AND MARION ANDERSON
Fruita

Young people face threats of tomorrow

I am an 11-year resident, a senior and writer in other places. It is gratifying to see changes in Grand Junction residents, the new university and The Daily Sentinel. I deplore America’s wrongheaded reactions to the 9/11 tragedy; incessant wars that divert trillions from public needs into the ravenous purse of the military, industrial, banking, congressional complex; government’s incursion in private lives, our children’s education and local rights.
“Changes in our country” are frightening as a recent writer stated. Each American lives under an umbrella that follows his every act, call, purchase or email. The young want Big Brother. Orwell didn’t expect slavering robots that deem silence as alien and connectiveness as heaven. In 20 years, freedom will end and uplinks to satellites from embedded chips will be their Holy Grail.
Wall Street buries the struggling and poor while stealing from taxpayers, investors and public pensions then resists laws which impugn their larceny.
I support anti-Wall Street demonstrations. I deplore flag-wavers who send our youth to death and terrible injury then stand by as they suffer in underfunded, understaffed veterans hospitals.
Abraham Lincoln’s greatest fear was the unbridled threat of corporations. My greatest fear is for young people, including my son and daughter versus the threats of tomorrow. As local resident and American, I stand appalled.
ROBERT NASH
Grand Junction

Ski resort declined to take a position on uranium mill

This is in response to Don Pettygrove’s letter to the editor in the Oct. 9 issue of The Daily Sentinel. Mr. Pettygrove suggested that skiers not ski at Telluride Ski Resort because the Telluride Town Council is objecting to the Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill proposal which is located in Montrose County.

I am the CEO of Telluride Ski Resort, and was shocked to see Mr. Pettygrove’s letter to the editor this morning while eating breakfast with my wife in a wonderful downtown cafe in Grand Junction. We had come to Grand Junction for the weekend to purchase building supplies and interior furnishings for a new restroom building we are constructing this fall at the top of Chair 5. As an aside, I graduated in 1986 from Colorado Mesa University (Mesa State College back then) and have always enjoyed the Grand Junction community.

The Telluride Ski Resort has declined to take a position on the proposed uranium mill in our neighboring county. The ski company feels this decision should be debated and decided by the local jurisdictions in Montrose County.

The notion that people should not ski at our resort does not feel fair or appropriate under these circumstances. Telluride Ski Resort appreciates our Grand Junction customers and we look forward to continuing our great relationship with the community.

DAVE RILEY
Mountain Village

Drilling on Roan can be done and protect the environment

As someone who is familiar with the Roan Plateau Resource Management Plan, I was disappointed with coverage given that plan in the developing situation article written by Dave Buchanan on Oct. 5. To write about the Roan Plateau only from the perspective of those who view it solely as quasi-wilderness doesn’t do much to inform readers about the hard work of the BLM since 2000 to both fulfill its multiple use mission and adhere to federal law (The Transfer Act of 1997).

The BLM’s Record of Decision for the Roan Plateau was prudent in mandating limited, sequential development which allows no more than 1 percent (350 acres) disturbance annually for this special place. It is also proactive in creating protective areas for wildlife, controlling when and where activity can occur and assuring all surface disturbance is reclaimed before activity can occur elsewhere.

I’ve seen the maps that show what areas are off limits to all drilling because of historic herd migration patterns or eagle nesting sites. Based on the article I’m not sure Mr. Buchanan is aware of them however.

With protections in place we can be assured that the economic boost we sorely need is possible. The up to 1,000 jobs created and the millions of dollars in royalty payments and taxes that will support our schools, roads and infrastructure are important to this area. Everyone is well aware of the current state of our local economy.

It is possible to protect the environment and promote economic prosperity. In economic development circles we are quick to point out that quality of life begins with a good job … and those jobs do not have to come at the expense of the environment as the BLM insured with the Resource Management Plan.
I hope in the future that reporting on the Roan by The Sentinel is more comprehensive and balanced in its approach.

DIANE SCHWENKE
Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce
Grand Junction



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