Email letters, August 12, 2011

Montrose County commissioners keep making headlines

The Montrose County commissioners are always providing headlines. In late July, first came the headline about the Montrose Memorial Hospital prevailing in court over the Board of County Commissioners.

Next came the headline “It’s not over yet” with an ignoble quote from Commissioner White that Judge Herron was “out of his league” and that White was “concerned” that the judge did not understand the issues. If accurately reported, what an incredibly ill conceived statement by a public official.

Certainly, judges do error and that is why we have appellate courts. While I predict that Judge Herron’s decision will be affirmed, my primary concern is the disrespect shown by Commissioner White to the judiciary.

The Aug. 4 headline described the recall effort that has been launched against the commissioners. That action, by the way, has been smoldering since the last election. The real significant news, however, was on page A13 that day, under the caption “One Year Ago.” Vice-chairman of the 7th Judicial District Performance Review Committee, David White, praised Judge Herron, stating that the judge’s performance was “very good” and that “He is a fair judge.” I guess Commissioner White’s opinion must have changed over the past year. Yes indeed, Montrose County is certainly a lawyers’ Garden of Eden. How truly sad since it is the residents and property owners in Montrose County who continue to pay the awful price of the Commissioners’ folly!


Bright Colorado Initiative will save jobs

Josh Penry raised some important issues in his Aug. 5 column about ballot initiative 25, also known as the Bright Colorado Initiative, which will give Colorado voters the opportunity to stop continued budget cuts to public education; revenue generated through this measure will be earmarked for public education (preschool through higher education.)

Unfortunately, Penry also perpetuated misinformation that is likely to alarm some readers. I, for one, was alarmed by Penry’s statement that “a recent economic study” projected that the initiative “would result in 119,000 lost jobs” — until I did some research and discovered that this statement was patently false. (Whenever a writer cites a statistic without referencing its source, I am skeptical.)

To set the record straight, the “recent economic study” to which Penry refers was written by a consultant who was hired by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable. According to one of their recent press releases, “CSPR actively follows tax and budget related legislation and initiatives” in Colorado. From what I can gather, CSPR also actively opposes any tax and budget related legislation which could generate revenue for the State.

Concerning the Bright Colorado Initiative, the study predicts that “by 2017, employment would be 30,500 lower” than with current tax rates. This figure is significantly lower than the “119,000 lost jobs” touted byPenry. Apparently, Penry calculated the sum of the study’s projected joblosses over five years without realizing that the applicable table in thestudy showed accumulated job loss predictions. With or without the BrightColorado Initiative, the study predicts job growth in Colorado for the next five years. The point of contention is the rate at which that growth will occur. Notably, the study is also careful to mention in its summary and conclusions that “measurement of future effects of policy changes is a difficult statistical exercise … therefore, any forecast of the effects of a single state’s policies should be embraced cautiously.” In other words, the job loss projections are speculative and anything can happen in the next five years given the current political and economic climate.

In the larger context of funding for public education and the issue of jobs in Colorado, I would contend that Colorado is already suffering from job losses directly related to funding cuts for public education. Average class size continues to grow and instructional time continues to decline right here in Mesa County. District 51 has been forced to eliminate a number of teaching and instructional aide positions in response to recent budget cuts. The Bright Colorado Initiative can help to restore some of these jobs.

Penry also states in his August 5 column that the Bright Colorado Initiative is “trying to return Colorado to its 1990-levels of state taxation” when the state was “mired in recession.” In truth, the tax rates proposed in the Bright Colorado Initiative were in place from 1987 until 1999, a period during which Colorado’s economy experienced both growth and decline, as is typical for nearly any period longer than a decade.

Colorado voters will face some tough choices this November. Mr. Penry should bear in mind that they deserve accurate information on which to base their decisions. I am one voter who is ready and willing to pay more than lip service to the ideal of a world class education for Colorado’s students, and I fully support the Bright Colorado Initiative for the sake of Colorado’s future.

Grand Junction

We need to promote basic industry to win back jobs

On every news channel and in every paper we hear a common theme; we need to create jobs to get the economy back on track. The government thought we could buy “shovel ready” jobs and spend our way into prosperity and job creation. All that did was buy us a mountain of debt, reduce our credit rating and bring our country to the brink of disaster.

Congress and everyone with an opinion may have ideas but we see no action, no results, no progress, and no move towards a stronger country. So I would offer up another idea and opinion. Let’s revitalize what built this country over the past two hundred years, a proven method of success, and at no cost to the taxpayers. Let’s promote basic industry and business, the backbone of our achievements.

The fantastic part of promoting basic industries is it not only creates direct employment but it creates three to four support jobs for every direct job it creates. If we give the green light to basic industry they will do the rest. A mine with 500 employees will add another 2,000 jobs to support it. A sawmill with 50 employees may add 150 to 200 additional jobs. In addition to the jobs created basic industry produces items necessary to the strength and growth of our country.

How can we accomplish this now and not 15 years down the road? Our government, who represents us, must relax the volumes of red tape, regulation, and unnecessary requirements which make investment in new projects all but impossible. If we are serious about solving this growing crisis we better act before it’s too late. Life is a two way street and we must be willing to give a little if we want to achieve the goals of full employment and no debt.


Columnist prescriptions for change show uncommon sense

Congrats on the column written by Rick Wagner titled “Prescriptions for change at the federal, state and local levels” in the Aug. 11, Daily Sentinel. It certainly demonstrated uncommon sense — so refereshing.

Vote out incumbents

Now that our dedicated, hard-working congress people, having moved mountains to bring forth mice, are off on a well-earned vacation, this might be a good time to assess their enormous contribution to our general welfare.
There are some polls bandied about which indicate a certain displeasure with these selfless stalwarts. This indicates, I think, a failure to appreciate the difficulties and pressures of the job.
Consider that Congress is outnumbered 4 or 5 to one by lobbyists, each pushing his own agenda and contributions. Try to imagine the pressures of choosing the most productive one, or playing one off against another, or engineering a deal to suck in several at once. It’s no simple thing, I’m thinking.
Always they must be on guard against touching the third rail, rushing to catch Grandma going over the cliff, all the while wrapped in the flag.
Then there is all the correspondence which must be answered with heart felt passion, promising to keep each writer’s concerns at the forefront of his thinking as he considers coming legislation.
And even though he does his level best to cut taxes and spending, while increasing benefits, there are nitpickers who complain about problems for their grandchildren.
We should be thankful, and yes, proud, that these selfless public servants should willingly give up hearth and home to do battle in the jungle of Washington, holding at bay the cruel world that assails us at every turn.
Let us remember that these worthies gladly took on this arduous task simply to give back to their country, which had been so good to them. We can best honor their commitment by voting for someone else next time. Let’s give them a well-earned rest and a chance to enjoy a token pension and turn their expertise to an essential and productive lobbying job.
Grand Junction


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