Email letters, October 30,  2013

Travel management areas are replete with hiking opportunities

Quiet users have the freedom to enjoy all of the 1.4 million acres in the Grand Junction and Dominguez Escalante National Conservation Area travel management areas. Let’s not forget that it’s completely legal to walk off trail on public lands. As a quiet user myself, I shake my head when quiet users complain about needing more trails. Grab a GPS and go; the best hiking is off trail.

Approximately 4,200 miles of legal motorized routes are in these travel management areas. If we estimate each motorized route is about 10 feet wide (most are smaller), this represents an area of only 5,000 acres or 4/10th of 1 percent of the 1.4 million total public acres.  Can you imagine hiking on a legal motorized right of way that has been providing access to our youth, handicapped and elderly for the past 50-100 years and then actually complaining about the fact that you heard a motor running?  It would be like riding a mountain bike along Highway 50 and complaining about traffic. We need to bring common sense back into the equation. If you don’t like hearing a motor while you’re hiking, don’t hike on a motorized route.

Nearly all of the motorized routes on our local BLM lands are legal right of ways based on Colorado law, CRS 43-2-201, and Federal Revised Statute 2477. The BLM only has proprietary authority on 99 percent of our public lands in Colorado, as revealed in CRS Title 3.

Since jurisdiction over our public lands and our legal right of ways has not been ceded to the federal government, the BLM can’t legally close legal right of ways on our public lands. Under Colorado law, the right to vacate a legal right of way has explicitly been given to county commissioners.

BRANDON SIEGFRIED
Grand Junction

It’s time to wake up to realities of Obamacare

Let’s see. All the Democrats voted for a bill that they never read, the president attached his name to a bill that he has no idea what is in it, the government will spend a billion dollars trying to activate it, and Secretary Sibelius is in charge of initiating a bill that she herself doesn’t understand. Now we find out that the government has been lying to us saying we don’t have to have it if we like what we have. Wow! Wake up, people.

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

Pramenko should write about health issues in column, rather than Obamacare

I read most of Dr. Michael Pramenko’s columns in the paper and disagree with almost everything he says. This is a man with a great deal of training and knowledge that could be used in his columns to serve a lot of people.


He devotes a great deal of print in the paper pushing for people to jump onto the wagon for the Affordable Care Act. This man, a medical doctor, spends way too much time with political issues trying to push a really bad program down our throats.

Can you imagine the good he could do if he got off the political soapbox and talked to readers about health?  Preventative medicine, what to expect when having a medical procedure performed, how to pick a doctor who is right for you, how to deal with child diabetes, how to deal with aging problems.  In general — how to be healthy and stay that way.


No one really gives a hoot about how he feels about you liking ACA. If he wants to be a politician, then remove the “doctor” from his shingle and replace it with “This is just my opinion, because I really don’t know what is good for the people.”


I challenge Pramenko to give up politics and do some real and meaningful good for his community. I guarantee he will find a great many more readers will respect what he has to say when he writes of things that he knows about that will help them have a better life. Obamacare is not the answer. A good doctor will do more good than jumping on his soapbox with nothing more than an opinion.


DAVID SHRUM
Grand Junction

Health care exchanges take toll on privacy

Regarding the article “Medicaid app stalls insurance sign-ups” (Mon. Oct. 28), I’m surprised there isn’t uproar in Colorado over the state requirement that everyone seeking healthcare tax credits be forced through the welfare system. Just to see plans and costs, I must tell the government everything about my household: who lives here, my relationship to them, what properties I own, my banks, the institutions in which the money is held and the last two numbers on the accounts. Perhaps that’s why it’s called a “health care exchange,” since the shopper is trading his or her material privacy for a possible tax subsidy.

A certified PEAK advisor told me, “God help you if you qualify for Medicare.” Imagine trying to disentangle yourself from the state once it decides you must take welfare against your desires. The state should be interested in discouraging the growth of welfare rolls. This is political farce worthy of Anton Chekov; it is both potentially sinister and completely laughable.

The PEAK website notes that the wait time to be accepted or denied Medicaid can range from immediate to up to 45 days. Until you pass this hurdle, it’s my understanding you can’t shop health care. This burden placed on state administrators and taxpayers is mostly unnecessary since most applicants probably neither want nor qualify for Medicaid.

The application system here in Colorado is likely to discourage broader health care coverage. Freedom from unnecessary government intrusion is one of our highest-held national and local values. People who need the tax credits to afford health insurance may opt out rather than have a deeper relationship with Big Brother.

STEVE FERRIOLE

Glade Park
 
Amendment 66 would fund District 51 in essential areas

School funding in Colorado needs to be transparent and equitable for districts throughout our state. We need to target our dollars where they can make the biggest difference — closing the achievement gap and supporting under-resourced students and districts. Amendment 66 is an innovative solution that will bring these necessary changes, rewrite our outdated school finance policy and set our state on a path to improve the future of education for our kids.

Amendment 66 stabilizes how we fund our education and puts the dollars into classrooms, starting with preschool and full day kindergarten, thus giving every child a strong foundation for success.

Each year that we do not adequately invest in developing the minds of the next generation is possibly another year we are responsible for costly remediation, diminished earning potential and the growth of current and future public programs. These costs may then contribute to ongoing budget shortfalls at the state and local levels.

The seven counties of Senate District 5 and our school districts are very diverse with different levels of need. In fairness, all districts should benefit from this new funding formula, which provides adequate resources to attract and retain top-performing teachers. Districts in SD5 will see increased funding in key areas for at-risk students, English language learners, special education, and gifted and talented programs. Finally, there will be a first-of-its-kind website that will enable parents to monitor exactly how dollars are being spent in their children’s schools — ensuring your taxpayer dollars are spent on effective programs.

Let’s invest in our future and move our schools — and all of Colorado — forward. Please join me in supporting Amendment 66.

GAIL SCHWARTZ
Colorado State Senator
Senate District 5
Denver

Where is the America of yesteryear?

“Where have all the good jobs gone?” Along with the America I knew? It’s all changed, all screwed up, all unacceptable. If I do go out and find a good job, they take half my wages in taxes to pay for BS programs I don’t know about or care about. Then they turn around and charge me half of what’s left for health care, if I’m lucky enough to have a job where I get enough hours. I’m forced to buy health care I don’t want from a snake-oil salesmen on the phone telling me I have to go on the website to get registered first and then they can help me obtain a high-priced product of dubious content. “Ponzi scheme” comes to mind.

How about you read that part real slow to everybody there, Nancy? Why are we not storming the White House? Why are we not storming our representatives’ offices? Why are we taking this without a fight? Call your rep if you can, as with all things digital, it seems our White House switchboard is having some problems, too. All of our elected officials can’t hear from the people   how bloody convenient that is. This is ludicrous. Just post it on the web and let the NSA take it in for you.

RICHARD BRIGHT
Grand Junction

Government revenues have fallen in last 13 years

In September, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a timely report entitled:  “The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook” (revised Oct. 22).

Historically, Republicans have enthusiastically embraced the Congressional Budget Office when its reports suit their ideological purposes, but cynically question the CBO’s credibility when its findings do not comport with their pre-conceived notions.

The CBO’s recent report confirms that government revenues have fallen from 20 percent of GDP in 2000 to 15 percent today – and are at their lowest (as a percent of GDP) since 1950 (when the GDP was $293.8 billion, versus $1.66 trillion today). Consequently, only a 4½ percent increase in revenues, further spending cuts of 4½ percent, and/or a combination of both will close the annual “Fiscal Gap” and maintain both deficits and debt at sustainable levels. If revenues were increased by 4½ percent, government revenues would be only 16 percent of GDP.

Without addressing specific alternative policies, the CBO impliedly rejects Republicans’ exclusive reliance on more spending cuts:

If policymakers wanted to minimize both the short-term economic costs of shrinking the deficit very quickly and the longer-term costs of allowing large deficits to persist, they could enact a combination of changes in tax and spending policies that would increase the deficit in the next few years relative to what it would be under current law but would reduce deficits later relative to what would occur if current policies were extended.

Because the CBO’s budget projections assume only a 2 percent annual rate of GDP growth, the foregoing impliedly endorses President Obama’s proposals to borrow more now and invest in accelerating the economic growth that will sustains future deficit reductions.

By contrast, the austerity policies imposed by Republicans since 2010 have reduced our annual growth rate by one percentage point – equating to 3 percent of GDP and $700 billion — thus making our fiscal problems even worse.


BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

Many educators join union to gain liability policy

I taught in School District 51 for many years, and I was a union member the entire time. I’m here to tell the truth about that union.

Most teachers belong for this reason: the $1 million liability policy that is included with membership. It’s a sad commentary on our society that educators feel the need for such a policy, but I would not have taught, tutored, coached or driven students anywhere without it.

Are teachers activists? Just ask any building union representative, and you’ll hear that few union members attend the meetings. In fact, union reps will report how difficult it is to get teachers simply to fill in a one-page form listing items for possible negotiation. When given a choice between catching up on grading or attending a union meeting, most teachers will choose grading every time.

During the recession, teachers, like others in this valley, had their salaries frozen; they also lost days of service, essentially lowering their pay. It was as hard on their families as it was on yours. Also, teachers’ health insurance covers much less and costs them more, just like yours. Yet there are no demonstrations and certainly no strike votes. The teachers’ union is hardly an entity to fear.

Yes, there is an organization in the U.S. with the agenda of ending public education and making all schools “private.” Then you will pay for your children’s’ education, and members of this organization will profit. Hint: It’s not the teachers’ union.

SANDRA HAULMAN
Loma



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