Email letters, October 28,  2013

Amendment 66 supports teachers, students, schools

There seems to be a lot of “Monday morning quarterbacking” going on lately regarding the school board elections. I looked it up to make sure I understand what it is: “one who criticizes or passes judgment from a position of hindsight.”

Let’s see. Do they know teachers use their own funds to purchase teaching aids they feel are necessary? Would they like to attend endless meetings after a long day of teaching? Would they offer a safe place for children in not-so-safe home lives?

How about the teacher who had a chunk of ice thrown at her head on the playground? She confronted the child, and he swore at her. In the principal’s office, the parents wanted to know what SHE did to make their child talk that way. Fortunately the principal showed the parents to the door and told them they could come back when they could treat his teacher with respect. All in a days work.

I worked in School District 51 as an aide. I felt very privileged to work with such professional people. I started an art program at a local elementary school with funds from the Pastel Society of Colorado. It gave kids an opportunity to create. Hopefully, all the schools will be able to provide art education in many forms. I have voted to increase my taxes because I think the teachers, children and schools are worth it

PENNY CREASY
Grand Junction

Enforce Simpson-Mazzoli bill to deliver immigration reform

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

On the day President Obama pushes for amnesty The Daily Sentinel has an editorial calling for the very same thing.

We already have an immigration reform law on the books. It was passed in 1986 as the “Immigration Reform and Control Act.” It is better known as the Simpson and Mazzoli bill.

Simpson-Mazzoli rests on three promises. The government would make a concerted effort to control the borders; an effective employee verification program would ensure only legal workers would be hired; and one-time amnesty would be granted to people illegally in the United States.

Only the last promise was kept. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with other proponents of amnesty, scuttled the first two promises.

We are hearing the same promises from advocates of amnesty that were made for Simpson-Mazzoli. The editorial lauds the amnesty bill as it would “significantly beef up immigration enforcement ... nearly double the number of Border Patrol agents ...  [and] require completion of 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border.”

The editorial’s assertion that “reform is fiscally conservative” is laughable. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the budget deficit would shrink by $900 billion if the bill were passed. They also estimated in 1967 that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990, not the actual $110 billion.

“The solid support in this region” is dubious at best. The editorial cites a poll by America’s Voice as an authority. This organization states on its website, “We must make what we want clear: immigration reform MUST include a clear path to citizenship!”

If the question on Table 4-1 of the poll were changed to deny illegal immigrants citizenship until the borders were secured and the e-verification was in place, I would venture to say that there would be no solid support for immigration reform.

JOSEPH A. LUFF   
Grand Junction
 
Fracking in state actually has strong record of health, safety

While activists would have you believe that the oil and natural gas industry has been fighting to cover up numerous spills, accidents and violations of state regulations, the industry’s actual track record indicates otherwise. Their stellar record, combined with Colorado’s stringent reporting rules, has made Colorado a shining example for the safe, environmentally-friendly development other states are striving toward.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires all oil and natural gas operators to publish the hydraulic fracturing ingredients used in each individual well on fracfocus.org. All Coloradans are allowed and encouraged by the industry to access this database. State regulators and medical professionals also have access to additional detailed information on chemicals used, should an accident occur.

Fracking has an excellent safety record, and just like every other industry in America, the companies that use fracking are closely regulated under a complex set of federal, state, and local laws. And they should be. State and federal agencies such as COGCC and the Environmental Protection Agency are responsible for protecting our air and water quality. Despite investigating numerous accusations, neither agency has ever found a connection between water contamination and the fracking process.

When it comes to the facts about fracking, Coloradans should go the extra mile and learn firsthand about the industry that’s producing in their own backyard. You might be pleasantly surprised when you actually get the facts.

JON HAUBERT
Director of Communications
Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development
Denver


EPA regulations could derail economic recovery

I support efforts to make our environment cleaner, but environmental regulations need to take into consideration the importance of keeping our economy on track. The EPA’s proposed approach to regulating existing coal-fired power plants won’t do that – in fact, it will derail our lowest-cost source of electricity and further derail a critical section of our western Colorado economy.

I’m also concerned the EPA’s proposals will hurt already struggling businesses with higher electric costs; without affordable energy, industry cannot survive. Not only will this hurt the poor and elderly on fixed incomes with higher utility bills, it will also destroy many high-paying jobs in our coal mines that play a crucial role in our local economy.

I encourage residents of western Colorado to attend the EPA hearing on this issue on Oct. 30 in Denver, and I hope my fellow citizens will join me in sharing their concern. This issue impacts us all. If you cannot make the hearing, the EPA is accepting comment via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Please join me and make your voices be heard.

DON SUPPES

Republican Candidate for Colorado Senate, District 5
Orchard City


Mikolai puts student needs first in decision-making

Having worked very closely with Greg Mikolai over the past four years, I believe he is clearly the best candidate for the seat of School Board in District E.

There has been much written about the Mesa Valley Education Association supporting candidates in order to influence decisions about spending of the District 51 budget. With Mikolai, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You see, Mikolai is not influenced in District 51 decisions except by the students. Mikolai is very thorough in the gathering of information from all sources before making decisions, and he believes that all students can learn
with the appropriate teachers, support staff, administrators and parental support. He listens to them all and makes educated decisions based on facts, not party affiliations.

Party affiliation and “reform” are a top priority for some, but Mikolai believes members of his staff are working their tails off with fewer resources than before and student growth reflects his belief. Over the past four years, Mikolai has overseen a 20 percent reduction in the D51 budget and worked tirelessly to see that the cuts stayed as far away from student learning as possible.

When confronted by the MVEA on salaries, Mikolai worked with the teachers to a consensus resolution of cutting salaries by cutting days off the teacher’s contracts and freezing salaries. That’s not being “bought” by the association, as some would imply; it’s simply working with the teachers on what is best for their students.

I urge you to think logically about your vote for District E and not what your political affiliation directs you to do. Mikolai stands for students and deserves your vote.

JIM SMYTH
Grand Junction

County commissioners ought not to cut GJEP from budget

A Mesa County across-the-board, 5 percent budget cut is the same strategy as the sequester at the national level.

Every economist I have read says the sequester is putting a pinch on local economies that heavily depend on federal dollars, like Mesa County.

Now our county commissioners propose a similar no-thought-involved, ax-wielding budget cut for our local government. More pinching on local economic vitality is what I see there.

The sheriff and district attorney have been high-profile protesters of their budgets being trimmed in this indiscriminate way.

I am going to advocate for a less vocal but very important organization’s budget - the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. GJEP is a private nonprofit organization that works as the official economic development agency of the Grand Junction. GJEP’s small staff works day-in and day-out to try to bring businesses to the Grand Valley. Their mission is to grow our local economy by recruiting and aiding businesses to locate, relocate or expand here.

Anyone in small business, like I am, knows that tough economic times are when you most need to advertise. Advertising and advocating are what GJEP does for our economy. To cut back its funding now is like wielding that budget ax in the direction of the economy’s golden goose, if we have one.

The bottom line is I suggest the commissioners trim the budget with a scalpel rather than an ax and GJEP be one of the budget items they do not cut.

DOUG VAN ETTEN
Fruita

We no longer choose to live as a nation of free citizens

The purpose of a prep school is to prepare its students for what follows. The last time I saw it the U.S. Air Force administered an oath of military service to its officers that reflected the original intent “So help me
God!” That seems to have been General George Washington’s addition to the oath administered.

This seems consistent with the writings of Washington — both before he was elected president and after.

There seems to be no disagreement that he kissed the Bible he had sworn his Oath upon.

His first Inaugural Address acknowledged God.

He issued more than one national days of prayer and thanksgiving—and even days of humiliation, fasting and prayer as President—and before that as a general.

He presided over the Constitutional Convention. There he acknowledged God and even attended the divine services at the Reformed Calvinistic Church on July 4, 1787.

He was even aware of the Congressional Passage of the Northwest Ordinance July 1787. As president, Washington signed the version passed by Congress in Aug. 1787, with Article III intact. “Religion, Morality, and Knowledge being necessary to good government and the Happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Washington signed the U.S. Constitution and would have understood the Article VI clause, “No religious test shall be required.” Yet He took the Oath required and added, “So help me God!”

He was also made aware of the congressional passage of the Bill of Rights. Sept. 25, 1789. He was requested to set aside and proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to mark the passage, which he willingly agreed to. (Oct. 3, 1789) in which he proclaimed it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge God. ... It would be most inconsistent for him to not add, “So help me, God!” than it would have been for him to add what had been neglected.

The standard for our system of laws is the fundamental laws the Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, The Northwest Ordinance, and the U.S. Constitution. Any who have read Joseph Story and his seminal Commentaries on the Constitution can see what the intent of the oath administered was.

They can in like manner understand that when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were adopted “the general if not universal sentiment in America was that Christianity should be encouraged by the State.” The behavior seen today in our government and our courts would have caused — if one agrees with Justice Joseph Story “universal disapprobation if not universal indignation.”

That it seems not to suggest we no longer defend our Constitution and way of life. That the enemy, foreign and domestic, are ceded to by our government too much of the time of late—suggests we have chosen to die by suicide rather than live as a nation of Free men through all time, as Lincoln suggested.

ROBERT BURKHOLDER
Fruita

Educators must address needs of businesses and government
 
I will support more money for our federally funded, union-controlled public education system when they address the needs of our businesses and government.

I am not interested in free busing, free lunches or more teachers in non-essential curricula. I am interested in having well-educated, qualified people to work for solutions of the problems that we have. I want to see graduates having better math, reading and reasoning skills.

As for teacher evaluation, I taught adults the skills needed for work in business and industry for more than 20 years. If you want to know my effectiveness as a teacher, ask my students.

RON BRAUKHOFF
Grand Junction

Tipton caves in to Democrats, should lose in 2014

Scott Tipton’s attempt to dodge amnesty questions raises serious concerns over his assumed tea-party-aligned stance against it.

On Oct. 25th, at his town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Tipton dodged a question regarding his position on immigration reform from a Palisade peach farmer, and instead wandered into the more politically neutral waters of reforming the guest worker program.

Tipton stated he wanted it to be easier for guest workers from foreign countries to come to the United States to work because American businesses needed “more workers.” During my chance to speak, I dropped my prepared question regarding his vote to reopen the government and extend Obamacare funding, and instead asked him to answer the question asked by the lady from Palisade he dodged regarding immigration reform with an amnesty resembling provision, and to state his position on it.

I likewise asked while he was on an immigration note, to explain why, in his eyes, with 7.2 percent unemployment or 11.3 million people out of work (that number does not include those who have quit looking for work) that he felt the need to flood the dwindling job market with foreign workers, inevitably depriving U.S. workers of otherwise available jobs.

He completely refused to answer that question as well, instead diving into a scathing rebuttal of my opening comment criticizing him for compromising his principles by voting to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

Tipton deserted the more conservative House members and caved to Obama’s and the Senate’s irresponsible approach to our out-of-control fiscal issues and the train-wreck, job-killing Affordable Care Act.

We must have representatives in Congress who can last longer than 16 days in battles over our crumbling fiscal house. Tipton has proved he is not to be trusted to protect constitutional government and true fiscal reform. Bring him home in the 2014 primary.

ALDEN SAVOCA
DeBeque

Obamacare sparks cancellation of thousands of health plans

Obamacare isn’t a failure. At least it seems to be accomplishing one of its objectives and that is eliminating private health-care insurance companies.

Since the first of October, hundreds of thousands of private insurance plans have been cancelled because they can’t meet Obamacare requirements.

As a result, we’re one step closer to our health care being totally controlled by the government. A wonderful plan, if you don’t get sick.


BOB STRONG
Montrose

Readers should know the rest of the Mormon story

Joseph Smith founded the Mormon religion in 1830; According to historical records, he has more than 30 wives, 11 of whom were married to other men, says Richard L. Bushman, a Mormon historian (http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org).

Smith was significantly older than 11of his teenage wives (http://www.familysearch.org), D&C 132:62-63).  Smith was jailed for ordering the destruction of a printing company that was going to expose his multiple wives. While he was in jail, guns were smuggled into him and he shot several people before being shot and killed himself. (http://www.lifeafter.org). Jesus warned of those like Smith, saying “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Mormons banned African-Americans from becoming priests until 1978, citing a supposed god-given policy.

Like other cults, Smith made many false prophecies;for more information list of false prophecies by Moron leaders, visit; (http://www.carm.org/mormonism). Note that Mormons will usually respond to these facts by saying that his prophecy must have taken place in the spirit world, since it clearly did not occur in the physical world. Failed prophecy is one of several reasons the Book of Mormon has been significantly modified by the Mormon Church sine the original writings of Smith. However, truth does not change – it is eternal, and does not need to be adapted over time.

Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings to both of them. They believe that there are many gods and that God used to be a man on another planet; God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163,321,516). Mormons hope that they will someday become gods themselves and have a world of their own. Mormons believe that the sacrifice of Jesus was not enough to make the completely right before God, and they have to do good works (missions) to earn enough favor to become gods. (D&C 132:20) Please pray they may see the truth, and the truth will set them free.

MIKE NEVINS
Grand Junction

Conservatives also have objected to oil-gas industry

In Friday’s letter to the editor, Sarah Young, as numerous other writers in the past, attempts to blame everyone from the federal government to liberals and the governor for making an unsustainable environment for the oil gas industry.

Yet, when FRAM Oil wanted to drill for oil and gas between Palisade and Whitewater, the conservatives of Mesa County said, “Wait a minute. What about the environmental impacts?” So, apparently environmental impacts do not seem to matter as much if they are somewhere else. Except we will gladly take the jobs if they are somewhere else.

TOM GAHAGAN
Grand Junction

Amendment 66 would mean demise of TABOR

A redux of Initiative 22, which Coloradans firmly rejected at the ballot box, is back to haunt us this Halloween.

Amendment 66 bypasses TABOR and our flat-tax rate of 4.63 percent, favoring a two-tiered tax system. It allows the general assembly to change income amounts to their assigned tax rate percentages annually, without a vote of the People. Goodbye TABOR.

TV ads espouse that music and art classes will return to the classroom.  They are deceptive; nothing guarantees it. The 5 percent - 5.9 percent tax rates equate to 8 percent - 26.6 percent increases of what comes out of your pocket for the state tax collector. The under-over amounts used to determine your income tax, currently $75,000 can be diabolically changed to different amounts yearly, allowed in this law.

Subsequent years can see $40K-$50K as the low-high amounts. Amendment 66 does not have a sunset clause, placing 66 in the Constitution, guarantees higher taxes forever. The people’s right to vote on tax increases is no longer required. TABOR dies.

Denver politicians can’t be trusted to be good stewards of our government today. Call it Amendment 666 the “Politicians’ Mark of the Beast” on unlimited higher taxes. Vote “no way!”

FRED LITTLE
Peyton

Williams, Parrish, Mikolai would make fairest decisions

As a wife to a teacher who is not a member of the teachers’ union, I’m curious as to when this school board election became a battle of candidates for the teachers’ union vs. those against.

I’ve read letters that paint Mikolai, Williams and Parrish as pro-union and Sluder, Kanda and Lowenstein as anti-union. While it’s an effective distraction from more important qualities we should focus on when deciding who we want to make critical choices for our students, much of the information presented is also inaccurate.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of listening to each of the candidates discuss his perspective on many topics. How the candidates feel about the teachers’ union was one topic. I am now learning that some of the candidates have changed their views, taking on a stronger anti-union stance. However, previously they all had strikingly similar views, taking a mostly neutral stance, simply recognizing the union as a group they with which would need to be able to negotiate.

Inaccuracies aside, though, does this topic really carry so much weight that it’s what people want to base their votes on? Regardless of how one feels about the teachers’ union, in our current society the idea that teachers have too much power in our school system and are somehow trying to get in the way of doing what’s best for the very students whose success their livelihood depends upon is ludicrous. Additionally, isn’t it ironic that the same people who are spouting their distaste for the teachers’ union on
one hand, which is composed of teachers, are then spouting a desire to empower teachers on the other?

An issue I feel is more worthy of serious reflection, with regard to this election, is what reform or changes the candidates desire for our district. I will contend that all the candidates recognize a need for change, but it is in the pursuit of responsible and thoughtful change that these candidates differ.

There is a difference in how they’d like to create change, the placement of where they feel change would be most effective in our district and their thoughtfulness regarding implementation of any major changes.

Mikolai, Williams and Parrish have discussed reform that revolves around innovative classrooms, empowering teachers to implement creative teaching methods, smaller class sizes, more art, music, opportunities for all students, etc.

Sluder, Kanda and Lowenstein have focused on reform that would hurt the quality of education for too many. Their discussion has revolved around diminishing the English Language Learner program, extinguishing the teachers’ union, getting us back to the basics and handicapping our public education system in favor of privatizing education using a voucher system.

We need school board members who have the ability to fairly and justly think through, pick apart and examine potential reform and any foreseeable impact changes may have on ALL community members. I feel confident that Williams, Parrish, and Mikolai will do this.

JESSICA MULVEY

Grand Junction



COMMENTS

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While Joseph Luff (“Enforce Simpson-Mazzoli bill to deliver immigration reform”) rightly questions whether Congress has learned appropriate lessons from the failed attempt at immigration reform in 1986, he incorrectly implies that neither S.744 (“The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013”
—crafted by the “Gang of Eight” and already passed by the Senate on bipartisan vote)
nor H.R. 15 (the same-titled House version currently languishing in committee) does.

In fact, both versions incorporate the “three promises” contained in Simpson-Mazzoli, and add provisions to both effectuate those promises and create an enforceable regime for permitting increased numbers of both agricultural workers and highly skilled foreigners to legally enter and at least temporarily remain in the U.S.

Both bills provide for interim “legalization” of undocumented immigrants who register, satisfy stringent eligibility requirements, and pay a $1000 fine – thereby self-sorting worthy potential citizens from those subject to immediate deportation.

Because the 1986 reform failed due to lack of political will to enforce legal sanctions against scofflaw employers who hired undocumented immigrants, both bills provide for mandatory use of “E-Verify” by employers – a technology not yet available in 1986.

Both bills provide for a 13-year “pathway to citizenship” which cannot even begin until border security meets objective statutory benchmarks and “E-Verify is fully deployed – precisely what Luff suggests.  S.744 would spend $46.3 billion on enhanced border security (following the Corker-Hoeven “border surge” amendment doubling the Border Patrol); H.R.15 would spend “only” $8.3 billion (the Senate’s original number).

Thus, Luff’s pejorative use of the term “amnesty” is dubiously uninformed (at best), and his effort to discredit the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) is “laughable”.  The CBO did not exist until 1976, and thus – in 1967—could not have underestimated the eventual costs of Medicare.

Meanwhile, as the Sentinel aptly opined, the currently “broken” immigration “system” is costing us billions in futile enforcement expenses and lost revenue.

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