Email letters, Oct. 18, 2011

Not all state employees are classified staff

I am a computer tech at Colorado Mesa University. The work I do supports our local university and ensures that our economy is prepared for the future. All too often, politicians try to score political points by attacking public employees. This is why I read with concern The Daily Sentinel articles about state workers over the last week.

First of all, politicians need to know that not all state workers are alike. I am a classified state worker, part of only a small subset of the overall state workforce. The personnel system I am under is different than that of managers or professors, and there are widely varying personnel systems among different employers across the state. There is as much variation among public sector workers as there are private sector workers.

Politicians should know that our benefits are already subject to a hard cap based on years of service, something the Sentinel article doesn’t mention until the last paragraph. The Sentinel article, and the politicians, also confuse accruing sick leave with getting paid for sick leave. You accrue sick leave so that you have it in case of catastrophic illness, like cancer. But you don’t get paid benefits for accrued sick leave – you get benefits for unused leave under a very strict cap, after years of work and a series of other reductions and caps.

The Sentinel’s figure on how much the state may owe is also off base. It presumes all state workers are classified employees, which they aren’t, and it presumes all state workers get paid for the maximum amount of accrued sick leave, which they don’t. Big numbers can be deceiving, and the Sentinel made a lot of high-end assumptions that aren’t true of me or any other state classified employee.

Our group of classified state workers is offering to meet with Rep. Bradford to talk about these issues and give her a fuller picture of who we are, what we do, and how we support Grand Junction’s economy. In the spirit of working together, I hope she takes us up on it.

TOM ORRELL
Grand Junction

District needs to teach the basics

I have an idea: How about School District 51 stop whining that it doesn’t have enough money for teachers, and using the excuse that other districts spend over $8,000 per child per year, and District 51 only spends $6500 per child?

That excuse is wearing very thin for at least a couple of reasons: First, districts that spend more per pupil are just maybe the same districts where parents earn more per capita than the Western Slope.  Second, the cost of living in those districts that spend more may be somewhat higher than in Grand Junction.  It has been known for some time that the Western Slope was behind the Front Range in terms of income levels for the same type jobs. 

Nearly everyone who has come forward to support 3B, mentions that we spend less on our kids than other districts. So what? Is that reason enough to override TABOR? This writer doesn’t think so.  Better the district concentrate on teaching kids what they need to learn, and, it isn’t how to use the iPhone, a calculator or a computer. That can come much later — when they can purchase their own. 

First, they need to know reading, writing, including spelling and be able to perform basic mathematical functions, without the use of a calculator or computer. Mathematics is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, along with decimals, and fractions for those of you who don’t know. All the above tasks should be able to be performed with a pencil and paper only.

As a second idea, teach responsibility. All kids should be held responsible to learn the three “R’s,” prior to anything else. We have done away with any ability teacher’s had to correct unruly kids.  Schools have instituted grading on the curve, Ritalin use has become widespread, no child is held back, even if he or she flunks, because of over-crowding.  Districts are using different ways of grading college level entrance tests, which naturally show that more kids are ready for college – yet, kids keep dropping out of college because they aren’t prepared for the grind. 

Today’s kids come to school with cell phones, calculators and the schools furnish computers. Where is the opportunity for them to learn math, if all they have to do is punch a few buttons?  And the district wants to throw more money at the problem?  If the district gets their wish, what does society get? More graduated seniors, who struggle to read the newspaper, can’t perform basic math without a calculator and don’t know how to write a resume, a business letter or fill out an application. That’s not the way to spend our taxes.  “No” on 3B.

DAVID F. ZULIAN  
Grand Junction

All businesses will be affected by tax increase

I am a small business owner and I oppose Referred Measure 3B. I just heard that Colorado Mesa University endorses 3B. My question is who pays their property taxes? Taxpayers? Why wouldn’t they support it.

Every business large and small will be affected by this tax increase. The increase will be passed on the consumer. If you are a residential property owner you will pay twice. Your own taxes and increased costs in products and services from all businesses. The argument that the kids education will be hurt is not all true.

As an employer we have problems finding graduates that can count back change let alone be able to write or spell. I don’t see that changing just by dumping good money after bad. The school district needs to adjust their budgets to a reduction in funds just as we all have had to adjust our budgets.

CHRIS MENZIES
Grand Junction

Change is needed in CMU football

As an 1985 alumnus who follows Colorado Mesa athletics, I believe it is time to start the search for a new direction in football. We had average players and won most of the time. There are some good players being recruited but wins come very seldom. This is coaching. C’mon, man. Donnie knows how to coach and so does Darren. Not sure about the others.

New college name may require new coach in football.

BILL JOURIS
Class of 1985
Altoona, Iowa



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