Email Letters: September 18, 2017
How can we not pay for the improvement of our children?
It occurred to me just the other day the volume of work that was taking place on the roads in my community. Though I was occasionally frustrated with the disruption, I was thrilled with the number of improvements. What a blessing after so much deferred maintenance; new pavement, quality chip seal, new roadways! It was only after a drive down a stretch of Riverside Parkway, seeing the signage acknowledging Measures 2A and 2B that I realized that it was our vote as a taxpaying public that allowed these road improvements to very quickly take place.
I am writing not merely to speak to the wonder of new roads, but to the bigger issue of how wise communities see themselves, and deal (as a group) with their needs. More fundamental than rights-of-way are the elemental needs of our local school district; School District 51. If we are willing to indebt ourselves for the improvement of our roadways (as seems right), how can we not indebt ourselves for the improvement of our children? And yes, your children are my future. The argument has been made that 3A and 3B are not the answer; that all monies should go to the classroom and to teaching. In my mind that is naive. No institution the size of School District 51 exists without enormous physical plant, without “layers of administration” to accomplish day-to-day tasks. The city and county are good examples; efficiencies even in times of very low tax revenue.
It has been flippantly said that taxing the public does not produce prosperity. Of course it doesn’t, it merely creates the kind of positive, forward thinking, educated environment where prosperity flourishes. I know how I will vote (and why)... do you?
Responsible energy development will help protect our sporting heritage
Like many people across the West this time of year, I’m getting ready for the start of hunting season. I have my favorite spots and places I’m hoping I get a chance to check out. But one area I no longer hunt is what used to be called Colorado’s mule-deer factory, which was known for being so prolific. These days, the White River herd in northwest Colorado numbers an estimated 30,550, a dramatic drop from more than 100,000 in the early 1980s.
A number of factors could be at play, but there’s no denying oil and gas drilling and the accompanying infrastructure – new roads, pipelines, tanks and compressors – have had a negative impact. The Bureau of Land Management projects that another 15,000 wells could be drilled in the area in the next 20 years. A recent report by Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development portrays that part of Colorado as a cautionary tale. With the Trump administration pushing “energy dominance” on public lands, it’s up to sportsmen to speak out for balanced development.
We need to learn from the past and take the time and the effort our public lands, fish and wildlife and sporting heritage deserve. Colorado sportsmen, more than most, know the value of a better balance of energy development in building back our magnificent mule deer herd resources.
President, Colorado Wildlife Federation
For prosperity’s sake, vote yes on 3A and 3B
Our schools are in dire need of assistance. In Mesa County, we are way behind other counties in Colorado in spending per student. Furthermore, Colorado is behind most other states, and the United States is behind most other developed countries in the same benchmark. We are doing a shameful disservice to our youth by spending only a relative pittance on their education, evidenced by our schools that are literally falling apart.
I’m frustrated when I read flippant arguments by Phyllis Hunsinger such as “taxing ourselves into prosperity.” Of course we tax ourselves so that we can be prosperous! Our military protects us, our law enforcement officers keep law and order, and our schools and teachers help educate our youth, all so that we may be prosperous. For prosperity’s sake, we cannot afford to let our schools fall into further disrepair.
No one can look me in the eye and say they are for education and against measures 3A and 3B. Our kids need this one!
City should not consider partnering on bungled proposition
I opened Saturday’s paper to read about one more questionable proposition that our beloved city “representatives” are considering.
Why is the city partnering with anyone to improve the underperforming Two Rivers Convention Center? We gave over management to Pinnacle Venue Services because they were absolutely, positively sure it could be a moneymaker. We couldn’t afford to be involved anymore so why are we getting involved again?
The Reimer brothers will be given the land to build their hotel on — meaning we lose a parking lot — oh but wait! We will have another parking lot — after we tear down the building the city paid $750,000 for (even though it only appraised for $500,000). Oh but wait! Then we are going to buy the old Wells Fargo drive-through for parking. Guess who now owns that property? Right — the Reimer brothers. And I wonder how much we are going to pay them for it? I’ve no doubt they’ll make a good profit.
The city magically found $3 million to dump into an already losing venue that someone else manages? That $3 million could pay for 68 police officers for one year — or 10 officers for six years. I think that would be a way better use of the money than continually dumping it into an empty hole.
I understand that the Reimer brothers have a lot invested in the town but if they truly believe that this deal’s a moneymaker then they can invest their own money and shouldn’t need taxpayer money. I quote Kevin Reimer, “We think we found our niche, and we want to keep operating in our niche.” I’d like to be in that niche too where people keep throwing money at me for losing propositions.
It really makes one wonder what backdoor deals go on in this town — first the North Avenue name change that no one got to vote on, now this. I really hope the voters remember these fiascoes next time the elections for city council come around.
Wake up people! You are getting shafted without even getting a kiss!
Recent letter displayed narrow-mindedness toward climate change
I’m surprised by Kenneth Wirtz’s narrow-minded view of global warming/climate change in the Sept. 15 paper. He states, “You don’t have to be a climate denier to question the conclusions of so many.” I question those few who’ve received compensation and manipulated facts to create “fake news” and appease those who profit at our (human and Earth) expense. 99.something percent of reputable scientists all agree there are changes going on. Not that we’ve necessarily caused it, but we’re influencing it.
It’s odd he suggests there’s “so little actual causative data.” Not paying attention to oil companies he supports? They made it known in the ‘70s that their oil harvesting and processing, and our consumption at those rates, would cause an impact to our atmosphere, and it has.
He only goes back 131 years to 1886. Steam was developed in the early 19th Century. Facts from the Weather Channel – 16 of the last 17 years have been the hottest and our storms aren’t just major storms, but are record setters. There are also Antarctic ice cores that show years of pollution progressing through our industrial age. Too young to remember the steel cities, factories, and coal fired power plant pollution turning white snow to black? Remember how critical pollution became in cities like Denver, Los Angeles, and even the Grand Valley? Smog? Air pollution from drilling rigs and toxic methane releases in California?
With so many Superfund problems, do we try to fool ourselves any longer? RoundUp pesticide has finally been shown to be a carcinogen. We’re not just damaging our Earth; we’re damaging each other. Many of the nuclear power plants we’re told are totally safe, have been leaking radiation for years. Pinpointing a smoking gun cause for atmospheric changes is as pointless as dreaming President Trump always tells the truth.
It’s not the government’s job to pick energy winners and losers
The idea that an oil and gas project on public lands could be treated equally with wind and solar projects is sort of amazing to me, and quite encouraging. The Interior Department is something of a throwback, as they seem to take seriously the multiple use doctrine originally intended for lands that we all own.
This quote from Kathleen Sgamma is especially pertinent: “The order still retains the public comment process. By having EISs of a reasonable length, the public will be able to more easily digest and comment on them instead of having to wade through thousands of pages of bureaucratic speak. The Interior Department under President Obama was able to get wind and solar EISs approved in a reasonable timeframe of nine to 15 months, so there’s no reason this Interior Department can’t do the same for all types of projects.”
It’s not the government’s job to pick energy winners and losers, and the NEPA review brevity mandate pays heed to that.
Article about Red Cross could not have been more poorly timed
The Sept. 15 Sentinel article on the American Red cross could have hardly been more poorly timed with thousands of volunteer responders still deployed and aiding many tens of thousands of disaster victims from Harvey, Irma and wildfires throughout the West. The story, presumably attempting to be balanced, gave voice to the social media trolls who spread rumors, inaccuracies, dissension and misinformation about the ARC.
So, ARC President Gail McGovern is rumored to be paid approximately $500,000 in salary. Consider the organization’s responsibilities and the resources that she must try to maintain to meet those responsibilities. Competent CEOs capable of running a major enterprise should and do command good compensation. I say that managing the ARC and meeting all these needs is far more challenging than running a major corporation of similar size – jobs that generally pay far more than Ms. McGovern’s salary.
The ARC must be prepared to respond, virtually instantly, to disasters as varied as a single-family home burning down in our local area to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Americans in Texas, Florida or anywhere else in the country. Meeting the basic needs of the victims of these problems range from providing hotel, meal and clothing vouchers to a family who has lost everything in a fire to setting up shelters to provide health services, food and safe, temporary accommodations for tens of thousands. Often the needs are so great that no amount of aid could be reasonably deemed enough but ARC, like government agencies and other NGOs, marshals all the resources it can under these most difficult circumstances.
It has no guaranteed revenue stream (read that as no taxpayer funding) to allow for detailed budget planning.
Instead of carping about ARC rumored funding and support issues from the comfort and safety of social media, concerned folks might consider deploying and seeing for themselves what it’s like working 12 hour shifts in an uncomfortable, over-crowded shelter full of desperate people and being away from home for weeks at a time for no financial compensation. For those unable or unwilling to do that I would suggest opening your hearts and wallets to support those who do. Further, do a little research and confine your social media posts about the ARC to things you can actually verify.
SUSAN AND JERRY NORTON
Reject the attack by the progressive secularization movement
Throughout the history of mankind, religion has been used to build the moral foundation of a culture. This is the case today in both Christian and Muslim cultures. The major difference is many Muslim cultures tend to be lacking in protecting both women and gays.
In the U.S., our culture is based on Judaic/Christian values. Our Constitution protects those with other religious beliefs and atheists. However, those protections were never intended to oppress Christians. In the past few weeks we have seen prominent Democrat Senators attacking judicial appointments because they feared these nominees were devout Christians. They could point to no abuse of the law by these nominees who are already lower court judges. This should not surprise us because there is a notable push by progressive Democrats toward a secular society that restricts people who they deem to be too religious.
In God we trust is being challenged. We have always respected all religions and recently we have done a better job of respecting those with alternative lifestyles. However, it seems the exception is now being made the rule. For example, marriage has always been between one man and one woman. Today, progressives try to make you feel naïve for seeing value in this. Has humanity for thousands of years got this wrong? We should not attack those with alternative lifestyles, but they are called alternative for a reason. We are down the rabbit hole on this issue and many others.
We need to wake up and protect our religious freedom. Reject the attack by this progressive secularization movement.
DAVID A. KEARSLEY
Public needs to know how tax increases will be spent and what results to expect
After reading the Sunday Sentinel I feel compelled to comment on the upcoming tax initiatives for the public safety tax increase and the 3A/3B tax increase for the District 51 school system. I have read all of the impassioned pros and cons that the Sentinel has published. One thing that has been missing from those entities that desire more money, is what I will be getting for my money. No one has produced any performance metrics for the additional monies. Before I vote for any increase I would like to have the following information:
From the sheriff: What are the numbers of incident reports in each of your patrol districts. These need to be itemized by day of the week, time of occurrence, nature of complaint and number of officers assigned to those districts by time and day. How you would use the additional money to reduce these incidents. What benchmark or metric you would use to assign or reassign patrol officers. What results should the public expect from the additional monies requested and what is your plan if those results are not met. How often would you communicate this data to the public?
What I am looking for is a plan for the additional monies. A simple statement of “I need to get back where we were; I need more officers or more equipment” will not suffice. Tell me how my money will be spent and what results I can expect.
From the District 51 school board: Same as the sheriff. What is your plan and how will I know if it is working and what if it does not work? Will you give me my money back?
I have no doubt that there are improvements needed in public safety and education. My doubt is your collective ability to deliver those improvements. These needs did not just appear they have been ongoing. The school buildings did not just fall into disrepair nor did the crime statics suddenly spike. What have you folks been doing? Maybe the best solution is to start with a fresh school board and new sheriff.
How should we design the educational experience?
I always enjoy reading the Sunday paper. It provides hilarity with sadness. Is that good? I don’t know. Now we approach an election where thinking people feel that having more money devoted to education will pay off. We are in a part of Colorado where education funding is meager and in a state where the same thing is prevalent. Do we need to increase funding or is there an existing level of educated people that adding funding is only a waste of money?
Teachers are maybe the most important part of the educational experience. Do you, personally, gravitate to the area where you can be best rewarded for your ability? Teachers don’t?
One of the commenters about the issue in the paper feels that more money for education is wasted. That person seems to be confused about the expenditures she makes. Are they expenses that only satisfy the ego or are they actually investments that are expected to pay off in improvements of some kind? This person seems to feel that any expenditure is nothing but a waste of money. If she had a savings account would she expect a return for the use of her money? How can there be a return on her savings if they didn’t result in an improvement for something? Do people pay interest on the status quo?
Why do so many people locally not understand the way the world works? Education is a combination of the quality of the experience combined with the attitude and diligence you bring to the experience. If you choose not to benefit, you don’t. If your parents have no appreciation for education, the chances are great that you don’t either.
Do we design the educational experience for the lowest common denominator or do we shoot for the stars knowing that some will waste the opportunity of a lifetime regardless of the funding of the system?
Turmoil over DACA reflects Republicans’ refusal to shoulder responsibility
The ongoing turmoil over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) reflects Republicans’ refusal to shoulder responsibility for the mess their own policies created.
First, DACA was prompted by Republicans’ obstinate refusal to enact any version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (“DREAM”) Act – as introduced between 2001 and 2010 – and/or S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2012 (which included “Dreamer” protection). While both DREAM Acts and DACA required “extreme vetting” of qualified applicants, the most significant difference between the two is that the former include clear pathways to citizenship (and thus voting, which Republicans fear and seek to suppress), while the latter merely defers deportation for three years at a time under certain conditions – which could be renewed (now, only by Oct. 5, 2017, under Session’s recent rescission).
Second, DACA only applies to otherwise law-abiding illegal entrants born after June 15, 1981, who were children under age 16 when they entered the U.S. prior to June 15, 2007. According to the Heritage Foundation (“The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer,” May 6, 2013), of the 11.5 million “unlawful immigrants” estimated to be in the U.S. in 2013, 2+ million (18 percent) arrived prior to 1990 (following Reagan’s 1986 “amnesty”), 4+ million (38 percent) arrived in the 1990s (including 1.5 million under George H.W. Bush’s 1989 Executive Order), and 5+ million (45 percent) from 2000 through 2011 (at a rate of 850,000 per month under George Bush prior to the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis, but net zero thereafter). Moreover, because only applicants who were continuously resident in the U.S. for at least five years after 2007 were even eligible to apply for DACA, it does not apply at all to any of the 750,000 (6.5 percent) arriving after 2010 (which includes the surge of unaccompanied non-Mexican refugee children in 2012-2014 prompted by gang violence in Central America and the “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008,” signed into law by George Bush).
Third, in 2014, it cost on average of $23,000 to deport one illegal entrant – which means that it could cost as a much as $18 billion to deport 800,000 Dreamers (not to mention the billions in economic and tax revenue losses caused by their departure), but perhaps only half that if the Trump administration violates DACA’s express promise to Dreamers by using the personal information provided in their applications to track them down. Of course, such a treacherous betrayal would afford added grounds for legal action under both the Due Process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments and the Zone of Privacy implicit in the penumbra of the 1st and 4th Amendments to our Constitution – thereby further increasing the costs of Republicans’ irresponsible and needless “fools errand.”
Foolish to continue use of carbon-based fuels to detriment of life on planet
The Wirtz letter – “What caused the major storms before climate change?” in the Sept. 15 Sentinel – seems to be addressing the concerns in my letter of Sept. 7.
There have always been major storms on average about every five or six years which is a way for nature to release the thermal energy (heat) accumulated in the oceans. However the storms are no longer major but have increased in intensity and go beyond major to extreme as the result of the unnatural rise in ocean temperatures. This rise in temperature results from the greenhouse effect of carbon in the atmosphere.
In addition, the 131 years, documented by the Colorado State University meteorologist is a fraction of the almost 400 years since the Industrial Revolution, which started the accumulation of toxics into our atmosphere. This accumulation was small at first but has increased geometrically since then to the point now of serious warming of the earth’s climate.
It is true that the industrialization of the modern era depended on the combustion of carbon-based fuels but it is foolish, now having the means to minimize and eliminate their use, to continue using them unabated to the detriment of life and the natural processes on the planet.
ROBERT A. TALLARICO
Causation between human air pollution and change in climate is confirmed through observation.
In planning a weekend trip to the Grand Mesa, I do not look at the weather forecast for Moab, Utah, or Moab, Israel. When looking at long-term trends in climate, I do not consult the weather forecast. When so many confuse the local climate or even American climate for global climate, and confuse weather for climate, it is difficult to discuss global warming intelligently. Scientific jargon should be the same as simple spoken English, but it isn’t. It is true, America has by and large avoided large hurricanes in the last century – but globally, the number and strength of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons have been affected by changing global climate – and the causation between human air pollution and this change in climate is both understood mechanically through simple physics, as well as confirmed through observation.
Finding the one dentist out of three who hates chewing gum, or the several doctors out of a thousand who still advocate tobacco, so as to justify bad dental hygiene or a tobacco addiction is to delude yourself with bad medical advice. Seeking the rare climatologist or meteorologist who denies climate change, or the human cause for it, to justify air pollution and other bad habits is also self-delusion.
Air pollution, whether in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, large or small particulates, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, ash, or smoke – whether from agricultural burning or tobacco smoke – is hazardous, disgusting, avoidable, expensive and unnecessary.