Email letters, Sept. 26, 2012

Military discharge form essential to receive benefits

I’ve had the honor of working for the Colorado State Veterans Home in Rifle for more than six years now. We help veterans come into our home to receive care, whether it is for short-term rehab therapies, respite care (for the caregiver), long-term nursing, dementia/Alzheimer’s care or even hospice care. We also can accept spouses of veterans, but only if our veteran percentage will allow us to accept a spouse for the same types of care.

One of my biggest roadblocks in helping veterans’ family members or the veterans and spouses themselves is locating their military discharge paperwork that shows their proof of service.

The DD-214 form shows the service member’s entry date and whether the veteran was honorably discharged, as well as a discharge date. Sometimes the DD-214 will confirm where the veteran served—in what states or in what foreign countries. I cannot stress the importance of having this form in your files.

The DD-214 could help a veteran receive well-deserved benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Having the form can also help family members with burial benefits, even in obtaining an American flag at their local post office after the veteran passes away.

If records are available through the federal VA system, you can obtain a copy of a DD-214 by going online at Vetrecs.archives.gov. The website will step you through the process in filling out all of the pertinent information. It usually takes 7-14 days to receive the copy of the DD-214.

Try to make finding this form in your files or obtaining a copy a priority so you can have it readily available.

LISA ADAMS
Rifle

Brady Trucking owns land zoned for industry

I brought up the issue with Brady Trucking and rezoning down by the river for the park that they want built because Brady Trucking bought the land because of its zoning. Now they want to rezone it, which leaves Brady Trucking holding the bag, and it isn’t full of flowers.

So, if you want to change the zoning down there, don’t leave Brady Trucking holding the bag or anyone else that bought land down there because it was zoned to suit their needs when they bought the land.

I still say if you want the land, buy the land. Don’t leave someone holding the bag.

CURT CLAUSSEN
Grand Junction

Inaccuracies abound in flap over wind farm bird deaths

In a letter published Aug. 22 Larry Brown throws out a slew of arguments on the wind production tax credit that are misinformed and downright inaccurate.

First of all, wind is a free energy source that is abundant in Colorado. The wind production tax credit has bipartisan support in Colorado, including eight of nine members of the Colorado congressional delegation, because it has created good clean jobs and has led to the production of reliable, affordable and clean energy. The tax credit has attracted more than $60 billion in private investment nationally that more than pays for itself in taxes paid by wind farms.

Like any human structure, wind farms do have an impact on birds but not close to the scale Brown states. The wind industry works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce the estimated 200,000 bird deaths from wind farms. This might include careful consideration of the initial placement of wind farms to altering production during bird migration.

To add some perspective, the USFWS estimates that up to 976 million birds are killed by smashing into buildings and household cats kill 500 million birds.

The wind industry’s close cooperation with the USFWS has led to avoiding bird deaths in the first place, and good communication with federal agencies has prevented large fines and penalties.

PAUL DIAZ
Whitewater

President made good call in Chimney Rock designation

Western Colorado Interpretive Association could not agree more with The Daily Sentinel’s recent editorial. The designation of Chimney Rock was an appropriate recognition. 

Located in southwest Colorado, Chimney Rock National Monument contains 47,000 acres of dramatic rock formations and the remains of an ancient settlement. The designation will permanently protect Chimney Rock while bringing attention to the area, boosting tourism and helping the local economy.

President Obama’s executive action comes as a bill to give the area monument status stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate after a bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., passed the Republican-controlled House. We should also applaud Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who introduced the measure in the Senate; he was pleased that the president had intervened after being urged to do so.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows presidents to designate monuments as areas of scientific, archaeological or geological importance. We thank President Obama for taking decisive action to designate the Chimney Rock National Monument and protect a place of great importance to our nation’s shared cultural heritage. 

CHRIS MILLER

Executive Director, Western Colorado Interpretive Association
Delta

Exactly what tax loopholes would go under Romney/Ryan?

Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan have proposed reducing taxes. They say that they plan to pay for this reduction, plus balance the budget and reduce the national debt by closing loopholes in the tax system. I’m in favor of closing loopholes, but what loopholes are they planning to close?

Romney and Ryan have stubbornly refused to discuss what they plan to propose to Congress. The amount that can be gained by eliminating oil depletion allowances, carried interest and similar preferences that are taken advantage of by only a small number of taxpayers (generally higher income ones) is far too small to produce the revenue needed to accomplish their goals.

It would seem that the loopholes they have in mind must be items that apply to a large number of taxpayers. It seems probable that they are concerned that revealing their plans would cost them a lot of votes. A likely loophole is the home mortgage interest deduction. Another might be that from charitable contributions. To get to really big savings, could they have in mind taking away the deduction from state income and property taxes?

If indeed they took away these common deductions, then it’s likely that all taxpayers would revert to the standard deduction. So, for this approach to be effective, the standard deduction would also have to be eliminated.

Admittedly this is entirely speculation, but until Romney and Ryan come forth with specifics we are left with our guesses as to what their election would do to the common man’s taxes, or for that matter, the other aspects of our lives.

JACK KINGSLEY

Grand Junction

See movie, then vote

I would encourage everyone who is planning to vote in the presidential election to take the time to see the movie 2016 prior to casting his or her vote.

M.E.OUELLETTE
Loma

Barrow correct in using byline in his AP ‘opinion piece’

I am glad that Bill Barrow of the Associated Press had the courage to use his byline in the Sept. 25th article headlined “Decision 2012: Someone has to win.” At least we know this is an opinion piece, since most AP articles are opinion pieces, not genuine reporting, and do not carry bylines. So, apparently it is Barrow’s opinion that the Republican convention was “lackluster.”

In my opinion it was terrific. The speeches were terrific, plus viewers and delegates were not subjected to Sandra Fluke’s ranting.

It is apparently also his opinion that Republicans are “growing restless.” Yes, they may be growing restless, but for an entirely different reason— to have a president who is not so self-absorbed that the country is going to hell with no leadership. Vote Romney!

JANET BLACKMAN

Grand Junction

Taxpayers cannot sustain public sector jobs, Social Security

After I read Jim Spehar’s column on the county’s jobs and economy, an image of two pyramids came to mind.

The first pyramid consists of a ranking of top employers; the apex is almost entirely made up of the public sector. The broad base is the private sector with about 9 percent missing. My fear is that the public sector will sooner or later crush taxpayers.

If the public sector creates private jobs, as Spehar asserts, let us have them go out and create those jobs and lower the county’s unemployment rate to the state level, better yet to the historical average of around 5 percent.

Once again, repeat after me: The government doesn’t create jobs. Only the private sector creates jobs.

The second pyramid is Social Security, affectionately known to the politically incorrect among us as a Ponzi scheme. A base of 42 workers supported the first retiree in 1940; today Spehar is supported by fewer than three. Theoretically, he knows each of them. They are his two children and son-in-law.

Every month Pharaoh Spehar and the other 55 million of us receiving social security checks are borrowing $500 each and sending the bill with accrued interest to our grandchildren.

Neither pyramid can be sustained. The latter is also immoral.

JOSEPH A. LUFF

Grand Junction

Politicians no longer immune to wisecracks, other criticism

Things change. I get it. I remember $100 worth of groceries not fitting in one sack and no car seatbelts, cell phones or laptop computers. Changes all, but brought on by technology. We eventually warmed to them, though some took years.

Other drastic changes came quickly that will take some getting used to. Most recently, record unemployment, millions more on welfare, increased poverty and a crippling deficit. But, the public seems OK with those. Go figure.

Here’s another change I’ve noticed lately. I thought politicians were supposed to be immune to criticism. Apparently not. I read that the Democratic Party was upset with wisecracks and jokes about the president’s frequent golfing. So upset, in fact, they hired a lobbyist for the golf industry to contact a few notable offenders to suggest they cut it out. That, plus Obama’s tweet countering Eastwood’s “empty chair” bit, and you have what’s known as “rabbit ears.”

For years I was the official scorekeeper for a Denver softball team. Part of every game was “smack talk.” Players, including the pitcher, were warned never to respond to criticism. To do so guarantees more of it, impairs performance and labels your team “rabbit ears.”

Looks like Obama and his team have it. Unfortunately, our enemies know what that means, too.

AL CARLEY
Grand Junction

Coloradans still don’t have right to vote by secret ballot

Gary Harmon’s report (“Judge says ballots with bar codes OK for elections; Voter activist stunned by ruling” Sept. 23, 2012) and Bill Grant’s follow-up column today (“Despite federal court setback, fight for secret ballot continues”) bode well for the future of the “secret ballot” in Colorado.


Because Marilyn Marks raised a “matter of first impression” in the federal courts—whether Americans in general and Coloradans in particular have a fundamental constitutional right to vote by “secret ballot”—she faced daunting legal hurdles.  Even though most citizens presume they have such a right, our own election, officials argued to the contrary – at taxpayers’ expense.


Judge Arguello conservatively interpreted existing law by ruling that voters have no legal “standing” to challenge non-secret elections in federal court absent proof of “concrete and particularized, actual or imminent” injury caused by the lack of ballot secrecy.


However, the whole purpose of the secret ballot is prophylactic – to eliminate any possibility of linking voters’ identities to their ballot choices.  Historically, the mere fact that election officials are sworn to secrecy has not proven sufficient to prevent abuses.


Moreover, after ruling that she lacked jurisdiction to reach the merits of Marks’ claims, Judge Arguello nevertheless ruled from the bench – without as yet publishing a written opinion – on substantive issues of both state and federal law.


Thus, either her rulings were mere dicta, or state law questions should have been certified to the Colorado Supreme Court for an advisory opinion.  Therefore, while Marks is still awaiting a written opinion, she plans to appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit.


Meanwhile, Marks has provided an invaluable public service by exposing the apparent fact that Colorado’s constitutional mandates for “anonymous” and “unidentifiable” ballots do not yet mean that Coloradans have a constitutional right to vote by secret ballot.


BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

 



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