Email letters, Sept. 22, 2011

U.S. should be world leader in oil shale

Since the field hearing in Grand Junction back in August to discuss the “roadblocks to development of oil shale” hosted by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and Dick Lamborn there has been much attention given to both the perceived good and bad possibilities of oil shale development.

Hopefully, these talks will be effective in leading to the implementation of a real federal energy plan in the United States that is consistent and done in a way to incentivize commercial production of oil shale.

The United States has the largest and richest reserves of recoverable oil shale in the world and they are found in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. It’s estimated that there is more than three and five times the amount of oil located in Saudi Arabia. Unemployment in Colorado is 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate in Utah is 7.5 percent and nationally the unemployment rate in the United States is 9.1 percent.
The development of oil shale, in addition to other domestic energy fuel sources could lead to energy independence and a much needed economic boost for the United States, but the current approach displayed by the federal government of regulatory uncertainty and the fact that between administrations the process has become very political in nature discourages the development of oil shale production in the United States.

The United States should be the world leader in oil shale technology, as well as other domestic fuel resources but why should the energy industry invest millions and millions of dollars into research, if they have no clear path of a return on their investment? Companies are continuing to develop new technologies that someday will lead to a commercially viable method of development, but in order for these companies to continue to invest in environmentally responsible oil shale technologies, consistent regulations and stable oversight from the Federal Government are necessary.

BILL JOHNSON, Utah Community Representative
United States Congressional Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels
Vernal, Utah

Getting rich to pay fair share penalizes small business

It is very sad to read Bill Grant’s column. Many people who read such writings will undoubtedly be influenced by the impassioned rhetoric and will not take the time to research whether the facts support the position the author espouses.

While most people would support Grant’s desire that rich pay their fare share, Grant makes no attempt to inform the reader about the actual rates paid by the different income brackets. Here are the facts:

According to 2009 IRS data (as reported by the Associated Press), taxpayers making over $1 million paid an average of 24.4 percent of their total income. Incomes between $100-125,000 paid 9.9 percent and those earning between $50-60,000 paid 6.3 percent. Furthermore, in 1980 the top 5 percent of wage earners paid 37 percent of the total taxes.  By 2007 the taxes paid by this 5 percent had grown to 57 percent while making only 33 percent of the income. Comparatively, the bottom 50 percent made 13 percent of the income, but paid only 3 percent of the total tax.

That’s right — as tax rates have fallen, the tax system is not becoming less progressive as Grant laments. Rather, the rich are paying more of the total and an increasing share of the burden related to their share of the income.

Further, there is literally no credible data to support the claim that middle class taxpayers pay higher taxes than millionaires. Sure, there are some millionaires who hire legions of lawyers to avoid tax. For every one of those people, however, there are dozens of small business people who are dutifully paying their fare share and more.

Like Grant, I want a fair shake for the middle class. Unfortunately, in an attempt to penalize the Warren Buffets of the world, we are likely to end up declaring war on the small businesses that have created nearly 80 percent of the new jobs in America over the last 30 years.  Do that and we will not have created a fair shake, we will have created a disaster that will last well into the next generation.

Grand Junction

Additional funding is essential for District 51

On Sept. 8th, The Daily Sentinel published a story about two school board candidates, Ann Tisue and Aryan Leany, who oppose the mill-levy override, Referred Measure 3B. Misunderstandings about 3B have been expressed by numerous people in the editorial and You Said It sections over the past few weeks.

According to Ann Tisue, “Many businesses would go out of business because of the tax impact.” In reality, because of reductions in assessed property value in Mesa County, most home owners and business owners would not feel an increase in taxes, on the contrary, property owners will see a decrease in taxes.

The override is only for six years. Hopefully the state will see an economic turnaround by then. It is hard to fathom how someone professing to have children’s best interests in mind would oppose the override.

Another comment made recently was that we shouldn’t raise taxes until we raise test scores. District 51 has shown growth in both the CSAP and graduation rates. Often these remarks are made while comparing public schools to private schools (both religious and secular) as well as charter schools. Unlike charter and private schools, public schools don’t get to choose their students, or their number of students. Public schools don’t have the ability to raise tuition to manage class size. In fact, District 51 gets $6100 per student per year as compared to $10,000 nationally. We are one of the lowest funded districts in the State. And Colorado is one of the lowest education funding states in the Nation. That puts District 51 in the bottom of the funding barrel.

One other misconception is that the money the District already gets from the state is not spent wisely. Having been involved with negotiations with the District last year, I researched District 51’s budget as compared to peer districts throughout the state. The data shows that in both General Administration and Total School Administration, District 51 is not “top-heavy,” but comparable to or lower than other districts. Actually, District 51 puts a larger percentage of its money into Instruction than 11 of the 13 districts researched. Researched districts include Cherry Creek, Jefferson County, Douglas County, and others.

District 51 schools have made many sacrifices in the form of lost programs and jobs, but the feds and the state have not made any reductions in mandates. As load increases and compensation decreases, morale suffers. Please vote for maintaining a strong and educated workforce here in our valley. Money from Referred Measure 3B stays here in our District to benefit our kids for the next 6 years.

Grand Junction

Frustration over Powerhorn pass increases

I would like to take this opportunity to express my extreme displeasure with the new price structure put into place by the new owners of Powderhorn, the Gart brothers and Mr. Daly. I was hoping that with the current change in ownership that many long-needed improvements would be put into place, including the addition of new runs and a high speed lift.

Although many new innovations have been promised in the near future, the only change that I have seen is a huge increase in lift prices to those of us that have been loyal to the resort over the years, season pass holders. This has been done under the guise of claiming the lowering of prices but changing the age groups for seniors. We (seniors) make up a very large percentage of the skiers at Powderhorn, especially during the week. Perhaps those in Vail can afford to pay higher prices, but a very large portion of the residents in Mesa County, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Paonia and Delta are just getting by on fixed incomes.

Mr. Daly stated that he wants to bring back those skiers that drive right past Powderhorn to other ski areas such as Vail and Aspen. Well, this is not the way to achieve that goal — perhaps we should start car pooling so that we can avoid Powderhorn all together.

Powderhorn can now claim to be one of the most expensive resorts in the state, offering one of the shortest seasons and the slowest lifts of any comparably priced ski area. I would urge all those affected by this “lower pass price” campaign to express their feelings to Mr. Daly and the Gart brothers.

When challenged by the media and letters to various newspapers, about the 400-plus percent increase to those 70–75 and the $70 increase to those 60 – 64, the new owners responded saying that they were putting age groups and prices more in line with other resorts. This is interesting in that the first tier for seniors starts at 60 at Cooper. 61 at Sol Vista, 60 at Sunlight and 62 at Monarch and Purgatory. The new prices and age limits for the top senior tier was not listed for any of the resorts as of Sept. 20.

Another surprise was some of the new season pass prices for adults (not seniors) at several Colorado resorts: Cooper, $209 with three free days at Powderhorn) ,Monarch, Sunlight and Echo-Sol Vista $320,  - Copper and Winter Park (combined) $459 with six days at Steamboat. Aspen, 70 plus, $399 unlimited four mountains, Copper $369, Echo, $169 and 65 plus $149, Loveland, $359, Monarch $339, Cooper $209, Sol Vista $320 and Copper/Winter Park combo with sux days at Steamboat $459.

Yes, there are other resorts that are much more expensive, but their facilities, service and quality are far superior to that of Powderhorn, i.e. Vail and Breckenridge. However, for what we get for our “lower prices, (well except for those that fall in the new age bubbles), there is absolutely no comparison. I can’t wait to see what the 2012/13 season will bring in the way of new “lower” prices. I would urge everyone to express their outrage at the way management at Powderhorn twisted their advertising and how easily they blow it off when our community challenges the changes. I have a little less than a month to decide on purchasing a Powderhorn Pass. I will be spending that time searching for possible ride share opportunities to other resorts that welcome us older folks and offer longer runs and faster lifts. Please join “Powderhorn Young at Heart” on Facebook to share your ideas and concerns.

Grand Junction

Voters should be able to verify election results

Do the voters know Mesa County Clerk Reiner shares the allegedly secret information sought by Colorado citizen Marilyn Marks of Coloradans for Voting Integrity ( with Democratic and Republican representatives, but withholds it from all others? Party representatives take no oath of confidentiality. None is needed because ballots are not identifiable, despite what Clerk Reiner would have you believe. This information should never be secret or withheld from minor parties, press, or public.

Marks requested under the Colorado Open Records Act to review records of Mesa’s electronically voted 2010 General Election.

The clerk complains and expresses the following worries in her newsletter:

Providing the electronic records costs a lot of money. (Not true; Marks offered to pay for retrieving and copying the records.)

The ballots would not be preserved. (Marks merely wants electronic copies on a DVD — not original records).

Voters will think their votes are not secret. (Surprise! Votes once cast are never to be secret, but who cast specific votes is known only to the voter because Colorado requires voters to cast anonymous ballots. In the very rare instances of a one-voter subgroup record, Marks asked the clerk to withhold that electronic ballot record, if a traceable record exists, to avoid any chance to identify the voter through connection to the voter’s pollbook entry. Therefore, because no one can tell who cast a particular ballot, the clerk’s concerns about future voter intimidation or vote selling should evaporate.)

The county’s vote-counting device is under suspicion. Marks wants to independently verify its count. She will not be able to identify you. Don’t voters want to know how their vote-counting device checks out? Voters and the legislators in South Carolina are shocked and dismayed that the same equipment used there has produced thousands of erroneous counts.

MARY C. EBERLE, member
Coloradans for Voting Integrity

Rettig Farms should have been included in story

We read with interest, The Daily Sentinel article about peppers, featuring Okagawa Farms. We were disappointed that Rettig Farms wasn’t included. They also have different chili varieties and allow people to pick their own.

They have, like Okagawa, many other produce items. They are very reasonable and the owners are very knowledgeable and helpful. They are located on Highway 50, half-way between B 1/2 and C roads on East Orchard Mesa, on the west side of the highway.

Thank you for your kind attention.


Passing Obama’s job act is critical

Business adds jobs as demand goes up. Less demand because of job losses means less product sold, and it does not matter if the job lost is a government job or a private one. Big business is hoarding their money because they do not have demand, and they can always make their employees work longer while they are so easily replaced. Giving big business more tax cuts just gives them more money to save.

Taxes are now at the lowest rate in modern history. Many corporations pay no tax at all. Every spurt in the economy since World War II had a higher top tax rate with less loopholes. Since business is not going to hire more people without demand, who is left to hire or to spend money on infrastructure but government?

We also know we cannot afford to spend money we do not have, so it makes sense to raise revenue. The most logical place to raise revenue is from those with higher income who escape the tax rate that the middle class pays, largely investors and big corporations. Shared sacrifice.

The most dangerous thought now is the idea of protecting the wealthy while putting the burden for the deficit on the middle class. The only “class warfare” going on is against the shrinking middle class. Wage earners are losing.

Like approaching Niagara Falls, danger grows in delaying as the current toward double dip becomes irreversible. It is time for those who hate Obama to get over it and do the right thing now by passing the American Jobs Act, putting many back to work and giving tax relief to small business. Otherwise we lose a year in the classroom, have less safe streets, and a crumbling infrastructure.

Grand Junction

Liberals unjustly attacking Tipton

The liberal left is already attacking Congressman Scott Tipton with innuendos and lies. This only shows how desperate they are to win the 3rd Congressional seat back. It will not happen.

Congressman Tipton is voting in Congress exactly the way the people in our district asked him to vote. He is representing us, not the power brokers in Washington, D.C. Congressman Tipton had the courage to hold town hall meetings, unlike his predecessor. He answers questions and tells attendees he will talk to them one on one, as well.

His enemies are trying to create a scandal out of nothing, and it is pathetic. I, for one, will work for his campaign, donate to his campaign and vote for him again.

Grand Junction

How do we define “rich”?

I see and hear, constantly, the words “rich,” “super rich “wealthy” and “fair share.” So what does each mean in practical terms?

Where does “rich” begin?  Is it $250,00 for a single taxpayer and $280,000 for a husband and wife? Is it $1 million, $2 million, $3 and on up to 1 billion?  Where does super rich begin?  $90 million, $100 million, $200 million?  Just where do we define that all those above (fill in the amount ) are rich, wealthy, super rich or obscenely rich? 

What are the low, medium, and middle income ranges?  I am sure we could peg those also. But where is “fair share” defined?  I cannot find that anywhere.  Who decides that?

As for the Buffett Rule, I would propose that any individual’s total income, regardless of source (wages, investments, whatever) is above, say, (you pick) million has to pay a specific tax rate. And if it is in the billion-dollar range, pay twice that tax rate. This would get Buffett paying more and it might be his “fair share.” Just list all the billionaires and stick them with a straight across the board 60 percent of whatever income (no deductions) they may realize.  This is the Get Buffett Rule.

Then we could define the “classes” quite easily by specific income ranges. Low, medium, middle, wealthy, rich, super rich and obscenely rich. At least this spreads the class warfare out more evenly than the current all-of-us versus the rich.

Grand Junction

America Invents Act will create jobs

I admit that it’s inappropriate for me to critique Obama’s intentions. Nor will I try to comprehend the reasoning behind his latest latest creation, the “pass it now” jobs bill. Maybe there was validity in the of the president’s demand to “pass it now” even before there was a bill to pass. Say what?
As for the bill itself, there are many well-qualified experts expressing observations and especially questioning how jobs can be created by raising taxes through the elimination of certain tax breaks. Say what?
Although the jobs bill has been the big news, my speculation is that Obama may have finally inadvertently taken action that actually will create jobs. On Sept. 16, he signed the Leahy-Smith “America Invents Act” (HR 1249) which is designed to reform the U.S. Patent Office’s procedure for processing patents, since there are approximately 700,000 applications backlogged in limbo. Say what? While this had to be a no-brainer decision for Senate passage and presidential approval, isn’t it an excellent example of our federal government’s “sense of urgency” during our time of crisis?
Further speculation is that many of these patents will result in new products and product improvements, along with new technology that will not only expand existing markets but open new opportunities, as well … with the bottom line being job creation.
Isn’t it ironic that there are those who do manage to inadvertently be creative without actually realizing it?


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