Printed letters, April 20, 2012

Last weekend proved to be a tale of two conventions. In Pueblo, we saw Democrats emerge fired up and ready to go for President Obama. Republicans, on the other hand, came out of Denver deeply divided and still undecided on who to support.

I say chalk it up to Barack Obama’s consistent leadership as president and Mitt Romney’s inability to provide any clarity on who he is or where he stands.


Grand Junction

Oil shale technology has changed since ‘Black Sunday’

At a recent hearing on a proposed Mesa County resolution regarding the latest oil shale environmental impact statement, opponents of the resolution repeatedly brought up the specter of “Black Sunday,” that date in 1980 when Exxon suddenly closed the doors on its oil shale project in the Piceance Basin. People at the meeting seemed to think of it as an argument against current oil shale development.

In case these folks missed it, a lot has changed in the intervening 32 years. Technology, for example — how many smart phones, DVRs, laptops and GPS devices were around back then? For that matter, how many directional drill bits and computerized rigs were in operation then? Not surprisingly, the technology related to oil shale has managed not to remain static for those 30 years either. We’ve come a long way baby.

The source of funding for oil shale development has also changed. As Commissioner Janet Rowland pointed out in the hearing, the Exxon project, the shutdown of which caused so much regional misery, was directly subsidized by the government. Current oil shale efforts are entirely funded by private risk, not public dollars, unlike renewable energies such as solar — think Solyndra. (OK, maybe some things don’t change).

The fact is that Black Sunday was a terrible social and economic tragedy for the Western Slope, and ought to be recognized as such. But similarly, the Titanic was a terrible tragedy as well, and the response was not, thankfully, to discontinue maritime travel.

Oil shale’s opponents, if they feel so inclined, can go back home to their 8-tracks, disco balls and Jimmy Carter campaign buttons, and wallow in the tragedy of that day. The rest of us prefer to look to the future.


Grand Junction


We need real numbers on county employee exodus

I read with great interest the article by Mike Wiggins regarding the county employee exodus, presumably over the ongoing pay freeze. Normally, Wiggin’s articles are a lot more forthcoming with relevant facts. However, this time he seems to primarily report percentages, which means little to the average reader since we are not aware of the number of county administrative employees.

The numbers he cites are that the rate of people leaving is 17.5 percent for 2011, up 1.5 percent over previous year, but down 3.5 percent for the year preceding that. He goes on to point out that the typical turnover range for public public sector is normally in the 12–14 percent range. The question is: What does the increase really mean in real numbers of employees?

For instance, if we have 1,000 county administrative and clerical employees, which I would think is abnormally high, we are only talking about 15 people more than the previous year. This hardly seems like a catastrophic exodus unless we are talking about front-line administrators. 

Wiggins normally does a much better and thorough job of explaining things in terms that the average taxpayer and citizen can understand. I hope he will visit the subject again in a future article and give us more meaningful numbers. As it stands now, since private sector jobs are at a minimum, it sounds like the county administrators are simply clamoring through Wiggins’ article for more employees, wage increases and increased benefits.   


Grand Junction


Democrats are responsible for many positive actions

I am responding to Mike Bambino’s April 17 letter in which he blames Democrats for everything that is wrong with America:

Bambino needs to take a basic American history course to learn about the origins of our country before penning any more ill-informed diatribes. He might learn that America was founded on the principal of religious freedom, and that our school system was not established to preach Christianity.

Attempting to blame liberals and the public schools for the “filth” in this country shows an appalling lack of knowledge, combined with one individual’s narrow version of truth.

Without those godless Democrats, we would not have Social Security, Medicare, the G.I. Bill and a host of other successful social and educational programs that have strengthened this country.

Personally, I don’t know how Republicans can proclaim their love for God, fill our churches every Sunday, then go and vote against virtually every policy that helps the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled, etc. As Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

I don’t know what church Bambino attends, but in my experience hatred and intolerance have never been Christian values.




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