Email letters, Oct. 16, 2012

Vote out incumbents in Garfield County

Regarding the upcoming elections concerning the board of county commissioners, the voters should be aware of the shortcomings of this governing body.

This governing body is set up on a partisan basis and as such can never serve the interests of all of the residents of the county since many of the residents are independents or not members of the two-party system.

The commission consists of an odd number of members, which means that if one party has a majority there is no need for negotiation and compromise on issues and lends itself to a dictatorship or, as in the case of Garfield County where all members are from the same party, becomes a totalitarian dictatorship. This has become very evident especially in their decisions involving the gas industry and their reliance on big state government agencies such as the CCOGC to make decisions for them instead of using the powers vested in them to serve and to protect the residents of the county.

Until such time that this system is changed, the only defense the people have is to regularly change the composition of the board members. In Garfield County this means voting out both of the current incumbents; otherwise, there will be no change in governance of the county.

Battlement Mesa

Tipton ought to debate Pace at Fort Lewis College

I am one of the many young adults entering the world of higher education with the hopes of earning a four-year college degree and giving back to this country. I was raised in Leadville, so it was easy to fall in love with the mountains, the town and especially Fort Lewis College. Even though my college career at The Fort is young, I have not been disappointed by my choice in school.

There is one factor I am ashamed to admit went into my calculation as to where to go to school: cost. An inescapable fact is that a college education is very expensive. I was mindful that, compared with many other schools in our state, Fort Lewis College is more affordable. I am not from a wealthy family, and one of my greatest fears is being unable to afford college or amassing so much debt to live in it my entire life. The problem is that even with the more affordable cost here, I am not able to afford college expenses even with just my family’s help.

This is why I am grateful to federal student aid. Without Pell Grants, Work Study, loans and other programs, I have no idea what I would do. And it is not just I. Many students are terrified of the cost of college, and these programs are a tremendous help.

What this help means is simple: We can find some relief from worrying about financing our education and can focus on earning our degrees. College gives us the opportunity to broaden our minds and take all we have learned and give back to our communities as productive citizens. Without the support that these programs give us, it would be close to impossible to realize this dream.

Unfortunately, many members of Congress are in favor, whether they intend it or not, of making it more difficult to afford college. From where I stand, there seems to be a belief that only the wealthy deserve to have access to the full benefit of a higher education. I say this because it is only the wealthy that have the resources necessary to be able to attend school without any federal student aid. It is a fact of our lives that earning a full ride academic scholarship or an athletic scholarship is incredibly difficult. Local scholarships (which in my experience tend to be worth from about $250 to $1,000) are incredibly helpful, and we truly appreciate them, but even with several of these scholarships our need is still great.

I found it disappointing that Rep. Scott Tipton supported the Ryan Budget in Congress; a document that, among other things, would push many of us off federal student aid programs such as Pell Grants. I understand the need to lower our nation’s debt, but I find it frustrating that Rep. Tipton’s position seems to be that my friends and my fellow students are on our own rather than members of a nation where we all look out for one another even in the hardest of times. I find it insulting that he does not think we are worth the investment, that anything we could give back to our communities and our country in the future is not worth the money needed to help us get to that threshold today.

I believe we should support Sal Pace for representative of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in this November’s election. Sal is a believer in education and supports many of the programs I have mentioned. He understands that we as students need support today so that we may give back to our communities—local, national and global —tomorrow. Sal has faith that we are well worth the investment. Many of us are willing to put in the effort it takes to earn a college degree; all we ask is to be seen as worthwhile investments, not frivolous expenses.

I hope I am wrong in my summary of Rep. Tipton’s positions and that he will agree rather than refuse to debate Pace here at Fort Lewis so that he can explain his positions on higher education.


More businessmen such as Ray Scott needed in government

In response to The Daily Sentinel’s endorsement of attorney Dan Robinson for House District 55, he’s not the man for the job at this time. Ray Scott is. His knowledge of the energy industry and business eminently qualifies him, as well as his political savvy gained over the past two years. Because the local economy is so weak, we need more businessmen, such as Ray, in our state government instead of more attorneys. From what I’ve seen, attorneys always make government more complex and expensive.

Ray wants to go back to the State House because he has been upset with the status quo in Colorado government and wants to continue doing something about it to help his constituents in HD 55, as well as the Western Slope.

Ray has been endorsed by fourteen organizations, including Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, Colorado Association of Realtors, Colorado Medical Society, NRA, and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

He supports reducing regulations on businesses to promote growth and job creation. Dan Robinson wants more regulation of business and the resulting growth of government.

For seniors, Ray helped win back the Homestead Exemption Act, which reduces their property taxes. If re-elected, he will be working on an amendment to this act to allow seniors to move and keep their exemption. He is also against Obamacare, which Robinson supports, and the resulting weakened Medicare.

Ray is also interested in a bill that would implement the conversion of government vehicles to compressed natural gas. 

He is a strong backer of school choice, responsible production of natural resources and support for the Second Amendment; he opposes circumvention of the Tabor Amendment. A vote for Ray is a vote for the people of the Western Slope!

Grand Junction

Endorsement of Romney neglected issues of concern to many

Your commentary about “Elect Mitt Romney as president of the United
States” was a nice, long article, but you didn’t bring forth so many things that people wonder about. 

How about women’s rights? The GOP voted against the Lily Ledbetter act, and they want politicians to manage women’s health care rather than women and their doctors. Why hasn’t Romney showed more tax returns and why does he have so much money overseas? Why does he send jobs overseas and invest in a Chinese factory?

From his comments at a private fundraiser about the 47 percent, I get the feeling that he does not care much for the middle class, veterans, old people, children or students. Also, he tends to lie a lot and he can’t make up his mind about what he believes.

Your commentary was good, but it did not change my mind. I will still vote for President Obama as I did last time.


Obama a better choice to handle vital issues

I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia. Governor Romney needs to square with the American people why Australia and New Zealand have socialized medicine and yet are still able to have double the number of small businesses we have. They’re much better off than we are.

Romney needs to demonstrate much more knowledge of what’s going on in other countries. Today’s economy operates worldwide. We can’t bomb our way into prosperity. At best Romney will do for the U.S. what Schwarzenegger did for California. No miracles.

We are much closer to a major war with Romney than Obama. Netanyahu is ready to hit Iran as soon as possible and drag the U.S. into it. Witness his red line performance at the U.N.  Romney is right behind him. Are Americans ready to pay for another major war? Where are Russia and China on this?

Finally, climate change is happening now.  This is an extremely dangerous situation, especially for young people.  Those who travel out of the country are very aware of increasing global weather changes. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and most of the Republican Party exist in total denial. Democrats are much more in touch. Our children and grandchildren will pay the greatest price.

Although far from perfect, Obama is a far better choice for handling the above issues. Furthermore, he is more in touch and much better liked in western countries and throughout the world.

Glenwood Springs

Congress must revise Clean Water Act

  Forty years ago on Oct. 18, the United States Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972. It was a great victory for not only the environmental advocates but also for humanity in general. Our rivers, streams, and lakes fell under the newly organized (1970) Environmental Protection Agency as far as passing and regulating standardized tests on the amount of toxins polluting the waterways.

Before that time, Lake Erie, the smallest of the Great Lakes, had died.  No life existed between its shores whether fauna or flora. Beyond the casting of beer bottles and trash from its shores, chemical pollutants flowed freely from factories during the highly industrial era, everywhere.

The food chain had been broken severely, but it took the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, for the study of the population decline of the national bird, the bald eagle, to bring attention to the lawmakers.  Scientists found that the eggshells of the eagles were so thin that they cracked easily and the embryos were not able to survive. 

In the early 70s the manufacture and use of the pesticide, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, DDT, was banned in the United States.  DDT did not dissolve in the waterways and was saturating the fish, at the bottom of the food chain that were being eaten by the eagles and human beings.  DDT had been used by nearly everyone from rural farmers to urban gardeners up to that time.

Personally, I remember so well the pungent smell of the pesticide. Once, in the early 60s, my family was on a picnic with friends and although he always drove, my dad could not remember where we were. His memory loss frightened us. Later we learned it had been a slight stroke.  The day before the picnic he sprayed some of the fields and ditches with DDT.  Dad passed away in 1998 from lung cancer; he was 84.

Yet, the Du Pont Chemical Industry continues to manufacture and sell DDT in other countries, and its residue continues to collect in waterways, even into the oceans.

This is why I am asking our congressional leaders to revise the Clean Water Act and to keep monitoring all of our waterways. There have been two Supreme Court rulings to water down the original Clean Water Act.  The first ruling in 2001 concerned “isolated” ponds — those not connected to a larger body of water — are not protected under the Clean Water Act.  In the second ruling in 2006 the “Supreme Court failed to uphold Clean Water protection for many wetlands and tributaries of larger rivers and lakes,” according to the recent Earthjustice report. “The fate of nearly 60 percent of waterways in the U.S. remains uncertain as a result.” (Rapanos v. United States and United States v. Carbell)

There is one more reason, too. Since the month of October is Breast Cancer awareness month, I think of my sister, Betty, who died in 1987 from breast cancer; she was 48, married with five children. I will always blame the use of DDT.


Vote yes on Amendment S

Forty years is a long time to hold on to anything—especially something
that’s broken.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is trying to modernize the decades-old state employee personnel system, and it’s way past due. Among other things, Amendment S would do away with strict standardized testing for potential state employees and allow for use of objective criteria much like the private sector. Amendment S will also give our returning veterans a deserved preference in state hiring. 

At its core, Amendment S will allow the state to consider a broader pool of applicants and hire the best-qualified candidates for all positions. The best people will ensure our state government runs efficiently and effectively—benefitting taxpayers and ensuring the state attracts and keeps great companies. 

Amendment S is one of those rare measures endorsed by Republicans and Democrats, employers and employees, because it will streamline government and help Colorado attract and retain talent in both the public and private sector. 

A lot has changed in 40 years. The phones we carry in our pockets have replaced computers the size of a Mini Cooper.  We are competing with other states and other countries for the best people—we need a government that is agile and modern and delivers services effectively to its citizens.  The reforms in Amendment S are the right change to keep Colorado competitive and one of the best places to grow a business.

I will be voting YES on S and hope Colorado will join me to ensure our economic future remains strong and our state government is effective and efficient.

Chairman and CEO, DaVita Inc.

Colorado should keep marijuana illegal

Colorado voters have a big decision to make this fall about the future of our children and our state.

Amendment 64 seeks to legalize up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes. If passed, this measure would harm our children and our Colorado brand.

Nationwide, drugs other than alcohol account for about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A recent survey found that 6.8 percent of drivers, mostly under 35, who were involved in accidents tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

That’s exactly what happened on the afternoon of Nov. 12, 2004, when 15-year-old Rachel Kelly was walking with a friend to a grocery store near Greeley West High School. A driver who was high on marijuana hit Rachel, dragging her under the vehicle and turning her life upside down.

But beyond tragedies on the road, the legalization of marijuana would have a huge impact on our children. Already, 42 percent of teens have tried marijuana by the time they graduate from high school. And one out of 10 teens today report being “heavy” marijuana users, smoking the drug at least 20 times per month.

Children who are exposed to marijuana are more likely to have problems with memory, problem solving and paying attention in school. Established science also tells us that marijuana is addictive and that instances of addiction increase among those who start abusing the drug at a young age.

We also have to consider how the legalization of marijuana would impact our Colorado brand. We can’t afford to become known as the marijuana epicenter of the United States, where businesses face legal uncertainties about employees who smoke and possess a drug that’s illegal under federal law.

This November, it’s our responsibility as parents, brothers, sisters and Colorado residents to vote “no” on Amendment 64.

Weld County District Attorney


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