Email letters, Oct. 31, 2012

Former marshal’s deputy urges legalization of marijuana

I work for a group of law enforcement officials who support Amendment 64 to legalize and regulate marijuana. Below is an article from one of our speakers. We think it’s a slightly different perspective that your readers may not have heard before and would be interested in reading.

“As a former Colorado law enforcement officer, I believe Amendment 64, for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, is a responsibly drafted measure that I urge voters to support. Many states now have initiatives on the ballot to reform the marijuana laws that cost millions and ruin thousands of lives. I hope we are among those to regulate and tax marijuana in a safe, responsible way that allows us to invest in schools rather than jails.

“According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Amendment 64 would save more than $12 million in law enforcement costs that could be spent investigating murderers and rapists rather than the marijuana offenders who currently fill our jails. The state spends more than $30,000 a year for every prisoner in its care – each of whom will forever after have trouble getting a job, paying for college or a house, even voting. All these things serve to further alienate them from the community, making them more likely to commit more serious crime in the future and less likely to become productive, responsible citizens.

“What’s worse, as a marshal’s deputy, I soon learned that this law enforcement approach just doesn’t work to improve public safety; in fact, it makes it worse. A recent Columbia University study revealed that it was easier for teens to buy marijuana than alcohol. Amendment 64 would regulate marijuana to ensure that adults are the only customers and that when they do buy the drug, they are assured of a pure product. This regulation system would also significantly reduce the power of the illegal gangs who currently control the trade, making our streets safer.

“Best of all, Amendment 64 will generate $46 million in new revenue, $24 million of which will go to our schools. In a time of budget cuts, this money is much more needed to educate our kids than to punish people for a consensual “crime.” Let’s get our priorities back where they should be. Please vote Yes on 64 this November.” —Jason Thomas, Former Marshal’s Deputy and Detention Officer and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials who, after fighting the war on marijuana, now advocate for its end

DARBY BECK
Assistant Director of Media Relations
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Silver Spring, Md.


Jo Ann Baxter right candidate for House District 57

So far, 50 political action committees have contributed to Bob Rankin, the Republican running for state Legislature in House District 57. Among his individual contributors, 15 are lobbyists and 17 work in or with the oil and gas industry. More outside interests are financially involved in Rankin’s campaign than people who live in and contributed from the three counties that House District 57 comprises.

How did Rankin get so many associations and industries to “endorse” his campaign? Perhaps because just two years ago he ran an unsuccessful campaign in Pitkin County against Sen. Gail Schwartz in Senate District 5.

In that campaign, he claimed to live in Aspen in an 878-square-foot condo. Now, he lives in a 7,256-square-foot, $1.6 million home on 5.3 acres just 30 miles down the road in Garfield County. He’s owned both properties since at least 2000.

Rankin and his financiers really want a seat in the state legislature, and he’s willing to move anywhere and say anything to get elected. What I see in Rankin is a political opportunist, beholden to so many outside, big-money interests before he’s ever been elected to any public office.

In its endorsement of Jo Ann Baxter, the Post Independent said in part that Rankin’s’ “views tilt too far to the right.” And, to the highest bidders, I would add.

With Rankin’s hands in the pockets of so many special interests, will your voice be heard?

The contrast with his main opponent, Democrat Jo Ann Baxter, couldn’t be more profound. Baxter has tirelessly traveled between Craig and Carbondale to meet as many people as she possibly culd.

Please visit Jo Ann’s website to see how hard she has worked to connect with voters and how her life and experience will serve us all in the state Legislature, http://www.joannbaxter.com.

Vote Jo Ann Baxter for House District 57.

KIM DOYLE WILLE

Carbondale

Why does Romney keep his money outside of the U.S.?

With the presidential election less than a week away, I have one simple question. Why would anyone want to vote for someone (Mitt Romney) who hides much of his wealth offshore in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands?

While what he does is perfectly legal, it certainly isn’t terribly patriotic. Why doesn’t he keep his money in the U.S? That would certainly seem to be the right thing to do for someone who is seeking the highest office in our land.

ANDY WIESSNER

Snowmass

National health care would align U.S. with policies of other countries

David Schrum’s letter on Oct. 24 made about as much sense as Clint Eastwood’s rambling drivel at the Republican Convention. It took him more than 300 words to tell us he is a far rightwing tea partier who opposes national health care and the president that brought it to us.

National health care brings us in line with the rest of the free world, and I, for one, am thankful to Dr. Michael Premenko for his efforts in this endeavor.

AL AMIRAULT
Fruita

Eliminate pesky regulations that prohibit risky practices

What regulations on our banks, energy companies and Wall Street need to be eliminated? Perhaps we should eliminate any of the current regulations on banks’ lending practices.

Regulations, for instance, that prohibit practices that caused many of the borrowers through the past few decades to end up upside down in their mortgages without a clear path out of their dilemma. We certainly should allow balloon payments to create a favorable payment on the front end of the loan.

Yes, by all means, offer variable rate mortgages that eventually serve to get the borrower in trouble. Another lending practice we should pull regulations on would be accountability on home improvement loans that are used for anything but improving homes. We should also eliminate any debt to income ratio when funding loans.

Another area that stands in the way of profits are regulations placed on the high rollers on Wall Street. Why should the public be protected when it costs them major profits while dealing with regulations? We need to get out of the way and let them fill their coffers.

Possibly we should eliminate regulations on our energy companies so that they are not properly regulated on their leases of federal and private lands, so the only requirements they have is to drill and or mine. We might eliminate any federal requirement to reclaim the lands that they leave scarred and worthless. After all, it is very expensive to remediate their mess.

There is also no need to monitor the closure of mills and mines—just let the exposure risks to the public go by the wayside. By the way, there is no need to require safe mining procedures and conditions.  After all, what are the few deaths of our miners when it comes to impeding profits?

Quoting David Glasgow Farragut, “Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.” Maybe for the current political arguments it should be, “Damn the regulations and full speed ahead.”

Drill, baby, drill. Loan, baby, loan. Cut, baby, cut.

REESE (SKIP) HUGHES

Grand Junction

To protect Garfield County resources, votes yes on 1A

The end is near! As long and arduous as this election season has been… it WILL be done next Tuesday. Now is the time for some last-minute thoughts and hopes for the future.

1A, the ballot measure to protect our ranchlands, rivers and recreation economy, is important for Garfield County. The program has been designed with care and concern for the citizens, landowners and tourists who come to Garfield County. We live in an incredible place and NOW we have the ability to look to the future and vote YES in favor of this proposal.

A YES vote:
• works with willing landowners to preserve the county’s water, wildlife and working lands.
• provides landowners a viable financial option for preservation.
• affords communities the ability to fund projects of their own (trails, parks, boat ramps) and leverage millions in other funds in the process.
• makes good economic sense to invest in the economic stability and continued growth/ health of Garfield County.

Vote yes on 1A ,,, vote for the future …  vote today.

MARY NOONE

Glenwood Springs

Keep opinions on editorial pages

To begin, I would like to say that I respect how well The Daily Sentinel knows its community. From what I gather, Grand Junction is a predominantly Republican town that would very much like to see President Obama out of power.

That being said, I am not fond of seeing bias in a respectable form of media. As an up-and-coming writer, I believe that our newspapers should be as balanced and unbiased as possible. Stories should be reported factually, without being diluted by opinions. Newspapers should allow and encourage readers to decide for themselves how they feel about a topic, an issue or a candidate.

It was unethical when you placed a large “Romney for President” headline at the top of your front page, though I’m sure many of your readers were happy about that. I often agree with The Daily Sentinel’s perspectives, but adding that kind of bias to your front page is simply bad journalism. I would appreciate it if you keep your opinions in the editorial pages.

DAKOTA BEHR

Grand Junction

Menger asks for ‘unique chance’ to promote Western Slope needs

With Election Day so close at hand, I would like to make a couple of final logical statements regarding my race with Jared Wright for House District 54.

In a meeting with fellow Republicans last month in Boulder, Republican Chairman Ryan Call stated that if Tim Menger wins his house seat, the demographic of the house makeup will be tied at 32 representatives each for the Democrats and Republicans. He stated “...that would put Mr. Menger in a powerful position to determine control of the Colorado House with control of the agendas and committee chairmanships.”

Stop and think of what this could mean for the interests of Mesa/Delta counties, as I will be given a unique chance to interject our needs in front of the rest of the state. With my promise of not taking unfair sides or weighing any decision on party affiliation, the best choice will always be made.

This is indeed a one-time opportunity to move our Western Slope needs forward. Let’s take a logical look at what else is bound to happen when my two-year term is up and 2014 rolls around. The Democratic Party will not fail to run a candidate for District 54 again. Unless I do something like saving 50 puppies from drowning in a swollen, flooded river in the next two years, I will be forced to lock horns also with the Democrats the next election. This will place me in a solid third place with registered voters. The chances for my winning a second term will diminish.

My opponent for this race has used half-truths and outright prevarication to try to discredit me in the last three weeks. He does this because trashing me is the only leg he has to stand on. With his proven bad ethics of lying and robbing creditors with the blanket of bankruptcy, the entire moral fortitude of the Republican voting citizenship is now laid out in the open for all to see. If Wright is elected, then it will be apparent to all that an “R” in the house seat means more than honesty and financial sense. By voting me into the seat, Republicans will have passed the test.

I would like to ask ALL voters of District 54 to give me this one chance to help bring everyone’s needs to the Colorado House floor in 2013 and 2014.

TIM MENGER
Whitewater

Davis a ‘breath of fresh air’ as Montrose County commissioner candidate

Kjersten Davis would be a breath of fresh air in the trio of county commissioners representing our Montrose community. She is honest, approachable, positive and level-headed. I like her ability to listen to people’s concerns.

We desperately need a representative who is a team player and knows how to collaborate with others. As a school board member and president, Davis has proven her ability to be up to the challenge of being a county commissioner.

NANCY KELSO
Montrose

Man with gun near GJHS received undue punishment

I read the article sometime back on the gentleman who had the gun around the Grand Junction High School. At the time I was concerned about the events that transpired and what happened to the
gentleman in question. This particular question can affect many of those that have decided to carry a weapon for protection, not only at home but elsewhere.


First, I am impressed that the students were observant to see the weapon and reported it; however, my concern is that where the gentleman was and where the kids were. According to the article,
he was riding his bicycle on a public sidewalk parallel to the high school grounds. This brings up the question why was he considered being on school grounds.  In my research through Colorado statutes, there is currently no law on a distance from a school that you must be, if carrying a weapon (i.e. in California you cannot carry within 1,000 feet of a school).


Colorado is also an open-carry state, so should you not have a concealed carry permit and ride or walk past the school and you are on the public sidewalk and not on school property,
you would be doing so legally. This would be my interpretation of the law that I have been able to research and ask input from the state.

For someone apparently covered by the current gun laws in Colorado, I am not sure why the gentleman received the punishment that he did. This could affect many people in this area on a daily basis, going past many of our schools that sit on the street with only a sidewalk separating the street and school property.


ARTHUR EDWARDS

Grand Junction

Stand united against Amendment 64

In the closing days of the 2012 election season I want to add my voice to the chorus of individuals and groups in Colorado who oppose Amendment 64.

I’ve been heartened to see resolutions come out of our local D51 School Board, as well as the Colorado Education Association and many local teachers unions and affiliations.

It’s no accident that those involved in education at the elementary and secondary levels are uniting against the amendment to legalize marijuana in Colorado. Amendment 64 would permanently alter the Colorado Constitution, making the possession and use of marijuana, with certain restrictions, a protected right in our state.

Supporters of the pot amendment tout its similarities to alcohol. One thing is sure; the law prohibits the use of alcohol by minors, but that doesn’t prevent some youth from obtaining it. The same would be true of pot legalized for the use of adults—the kids would still find a way.

Politically diverse parties have united against Amendment 64 in behalf of Colorado’s children. The social/emotional problems of students who are exposed to drugs and drug use in their homes are altering the landscape of our public education system. Few teachers will talk about the additional services, such as informal counseling, intensive educational support and a safe haven that they provide to children whose lives and learning are disrupted by drugs. But there is a population of students whose parents lack the ability or will to properly care for their children because of substance abuse and addiction. In nearly all cases, the addictive lifestyle begins with marijuana.

Educators of special needs children have a unique role in supporting children whose lives have been harmed by drugs. Some learning disabilities are the result of exposure to drugs, including marijuana, while in the womb. Parents who are using are often unstable and place their children in stressful and dangerous situations. Children from such environments exhibit learning problems, anxiety and social symptoms that result from the addicted lifestyle of their caregivers. One of the noblest acts of the modern educator is providing a sense of safety and stability to children who are exposed to drugs at home, knowing that when they return home from school, that safety and stability may disappear.

Amendment 64 proponents have effectively deceived people from both ends of the political spectrum with arguments of “limited government” and “individual liberty.” The experiences of states such as Alaska that have previously legalized marijuana are proof that government does not shrink, but will grow as a result. The legalization and regulation of marijuana give the government new taxing powers and requires the creation of new agencies to regulate the retail distribution of pot.

Drug-related crime — not possession arrests, but property and bodily crime — and traffic accidents will increase. Teen pot usage will increase, and the educational system in Colorado will be further burdened with higher dropout rates and lower academic achievement. The military is already facing a numbers crisis with a dearth of new recruits. Potential recruits who have a history of drug use can be disqualified on moral grounds. Legalized marijuana will increase the number of disqualified recruits, adversely affecting our military readiness.

Studies on marijuana use by teens have shown that those youths who choose to abstain usually do so because it’s illegal. The law is important to our children. It informs the moral impulses of young people. The law should be an exemplar and teacher.

Children are magnifying lenses for adult issues. The impact of legalized pot in Colorado may be minimal in the adult population, but its effects will be magnified through the children who are exposed to it, directly or indirectly.

Marijuana use denigrates the moral culture of our communities. It weakens homes and families. It harms the ability of children to learn and function. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that inhibits emotional development and cognitive functioning. It impairs memory and ambition in adults. And its intoxicating effects increase the potential for accidents on public highways and in the workplace.

Coloradans must ask themselves if they want their surgeons, nurses, pilots, teachers, childcare workers, mechanics, truckers, chefs, miners or anyone upon whom they depend, to smoke pot before they come to work. Under Amendment 64, they will have the right to do so.

Vote no on Amendment 64. Do it for the children.

MARJORIE HAUN
Grand Junction

Mass media students ought to examine bias in other news outlets

In their criticism of The Daily Sentinel for an Oct. 14 front-page article of “blatant promotion for one presidential candidate” it is encouraging that the mass communications students at CMU are “committed to serving the public with objectivity and integrity”. This attitude is certainly needed in major media and journalism where bias is rampant.

I’m concerned, however, that these busy students’ keyboards may catch fire and their fingers become repetitive-motion damaged by pointing out bias in the media. Certainly, if they will call out The Daily Sentinel for bias, they must also be contacting The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, public TV, et al.

Silly me! These are journalism students; they only notice bias when it’s in favor of right-leaning issues or candidates. They wouldn’t know left-leaning bias if it bit them on the nose. If they did, they wouldn’t have time to be students; they’d be so busy complaining about bias.
 
All of this makes me wonder, what ever happened to Denny “no bias in the media” Herzog? 

RICK L. COLEMAN

Grand Junction

Tipton shows respect to veterans, but not enough commitment

I read with great interest, a recent letter lauding Congressman Scott Tipton for his advocacy of veterans. As a military veteran myself (with service in the First Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom), I am not nearly as certain of his commitment. The writer cited as one example Rep. Tipton’s support for the “revised Stolen Valor Act” (the original bill, which later became law, was introduced by his predecessor). While the new bill did pass with near-unanimous support, it was interesting to note that the representative was not among the 107 bipartisan co-sponsors of the measure.


The two veterans/military related bills he did introduce were originally initiated by his predecessor and of the 160 or so bills he co-sponsored, fewer than a dozen, by my counting, have relevance to veterans. In the 3rd Congressional District, which has the state’s second highest population of veterans and includes one of the state’s two VA hospitals, this constitutes a less-than-enthusiastic show of support and leaves an array of veterans’ issues still awaiting the representative’s attention.


Ranging from the disability claims backlog, to GI Bill issues, mental health services and long-term care of the wounded, veterans of the 3rd Congressional District had expectations that the representative would consider their causes at least as important as the other interests he so enthusiastically promotes and advocates for. In this regard we have grounds to be disappointed.


While I imagine Congressman Tipton has a healthy respect for those of us who served in uniform, I wish he had done more these last two years in Congress, beyond occasional platitudes and Veteran’s Day emails, to demonstrate his commitment. On Election Day, 3rd Congressional District veterans should consider these factors when deciding which candidate genuinely considers their interests to be a priority.


JOE McBURNEY

Grand Junction


Domestic, international failures mar Obama’s term in office

In response to Hamon Lisnow’s support of Obama’s accomplishments these past 3 1/2 years, the “results” should be stated in follow-up to your recognition.

Let’s look at Obamacare that was pushed through with “we must pass it to know what is in it” comment by Nancy Pelosi. Well, we know it is going to cost much more than we were told. We know Obama took $716 billion out of Medicare to reduce the projected cost of Obamacare. Then, he immediately reduced benefit amounts to doctors and hospitals and called it waste and abuse within the system.

If you are like me, over 65, and need elective surgery for, say, a knee replacement, it won’t happen. The 15-member panel in D.C. will approve a cane, then crutches, then a walker, and finally a wheelchair. If you are on Medicare and don’t have a doctor, good luck! If we maintain the Medicare and Social Security programs as is, those 55 years old and younger will most likely outlive both programs.

The Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act reports indicate that even within the Obama Administration this is not the case. Women are not being paid the same as their male counterparts for the same job. Oops!

Next, the war in Iraq ended, as was the Bush Plan. Osama bin Laden was located and eliminated as a result of Bush administration interrogations at Gitmo. Wait, it is still there?

On a side note, 2000 Great Americans were lost during the battle against terrorism during eight years of Bush leadership as Commander and Chief. We know this because the media ran the totals every evening, unlike today’s news reports. It seems to be ignored that we have lost more Great Americans in 3 ½ years under the current Commander and Chief and Iraq is not in play. Makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

Back to the General Motors bailout that resulted in unfair treatment of employees if you were on the wrong team. The teams are Team Union or Team Non-Union. Full benefits were paid to 28,000 UAW workers but 41,000 non-UAW workers were not, and 100,000 GM dealerships were chopped. Great plan, right!

I would like to add some accomplishments you ignored. Obama said $1.4 trillion was un-American in 2008 and he would cut it in half. If you check the “results,” oops, he tripled it.

Then the “Fast and Furious” program was an attempt to increase gun control. We have a border guard and 1500 Hispanic deaths reported as a result, oops! Now, we are being attacked at embassies in Libya, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Morocco, and Sudan. Oops!

TOM KEENAN
Palisade

Legalizing pot will not end war on drugs

I was astonished to see an ex-cop from Denver do a pro-Amendment 64 ad on the basis that the “war on drugs doesn’t work.” The fact is that the war on drugs will not go away just because the use of one illicit drug becomes a protected right. There will still be meth, cocaine, heroin and scores of designer narcotics, pharmaceuticals, off-the-shelf substances and unregulated pot that will come across the border and continue to spread in all parts of the country. Legalizing pot will not end or even put a dent in the war on drugs. That argument is another deceptive fallacy.

The first solution is to physically secure the borders and enforce current immigration law. Continue random searching of vehicles coming from Mexico and Canada, and patrol the skies over the borders using drones. Allow border states such as Arizona to enforce existing law and use technological innovations to secure their own borders.

Drugs in America are not a result of too much government. They are a symptom of a spiritual and moral crisis in our civil society. The War on Drugs will not end until the war against God and morality is ended, parents and our social institutions begin to model moral behavior for the younger generations, and governments end constraints on religion in public spaces.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

America needs a spiritual revival to address the problem of drugs in our homes, schools and communities. Permissive laws that encourage the sale of destructive substances will only add to the moral crisis that is already destroying us from within.

MARJORIE HAUN
Grand Junction



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