Printed letters, December 31, 2013

First responders around the world must be shaking their heads in disbelief at Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed campaign to have Colorado residents put out wildfires coming their way, as recently reported in the Durango Herald.

This campaign is dangerous.

While we’re still reeling from the worst wildfire seasons in Colorado history, our governor is now preparing for his annual State of the State address with no sign of supporting aerial firefighting that can contain wildfires sooner, limit firefighter exposure, increase public safety and reduce final cost.

Instead, he is advancing one of the most reckless ideas of his career. Training rural residents in firefighting is a smarter option, he says, than using a professional well-trained firefighting force with appropriate air support.

Rather than gamble with the lives, property and environment of Colorado citizens, our governor needs to make sure we are fully prepared for the next big wildfire — with powerhouse support from the air.

And for the 2014 wildfire season, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” With four million acres of dead trees surrounding our precious watersheds, Colorado is one lightning strike, one careless match strike or one act of arson away from a devastating fire that can hurt Colorado for generations.

The governor wishes he could pass the wildfire response issue off to the Western Governors’ Association, but those governors have their own wildfire problems.

For us, Waldo Canyon was a $400 million disaster. Black Forest has cost us an estimated $300 million. And this doesn’t count the long-term impact of stunted economic growth and environmental damage. No more talk. Colorado must be its own wildfire savior.

Let’s not have our governor double-dare our rural residents, against all common sense and good judgment, to put out wildfires on their own. We need professional, coordinated initial attack — with a Colorado Firefighting Air Corps that is always at the ready to provide powerful aerial support.

Our governor needs to step up and show the courage of leadership before “Colorado Burning” is a headline in international news — again.

SEN. STEVE KING

Grand Junction

Is the airport’s main runway 
truly out of FAA compliance?

I would like to commend The Daily Sentinel for increased coverage of our airport. It is indeed an important part of our local economy. We must all pay attention to what goes on there to ensure its continued success.

“Turbulent Times” from the Dec. 23 paper paints a fairly rosy glow over recent events, wherein former director Rex Tippets and a few hardy souls dragged our sleepy little backwater airport kicking and screaming into the 21st century and along the way delivered huge economic benefits. An apologia is not as appropriate as balanced reportage might have been.

Several of the airport board members appointed during the past year had no involvement with decisions made prior to their tenure nor with the lawsuit’s allegations. They seem to be thoughtful and genuinely concerned with governing the airport appropriately and should be able to handle the upcoming challenges.

I urge the Sentinel to keep close watch on the cost overruns already occurring on the new administration building. I attended an airport board meeting approximately a year ago at which the architectural firm and Tippets presented the cost to the board at approximately $4 million. The current estimate is $7.7 million, with construction still in the early stages. This alone would appear to put into question Gregg Palmer’s assertion that Tippets “ran a tight ship financially.”

I would be interested in seeing the documentation regarding the “out-of-FAA-compliance runway” quoted in the story. As a pilot, I can attest to the excellent quality of the main runway and question the necessity of a complete reconstruction. It appears that many of the expansion and reconstruction plans are based on economic projections formulated before the current economic downturn. Most of us are interested in responsible use of taxpayers’ money, and I urge the current board to revisit those plans in some detail.

I am a member of the Grand Junction Airport Users and Tenants Association, but these are solely my opinions.

GUY PARKER

Palisade

 

Single-payer insurance 
would boost health care

It has been a goodly number of years since I earned my Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriting designation and about 25 years since I retired from a major insurance company.

One of the things I learned is that the states have the power to regulate insurance as long as they effectively do so. That doesn’t allow an insurance agent in state A to sell a policy in state B according to the regulations of state A to a customer that is subject to the regulations of state B.

If this were possible, the process of insuring a fleet of trucks for a business engaged in interstate activities would be so much simpler than it is.

If the states don’t effectively regulate insurance, then insurance becomes a matter for regulation by the federal government. Single-payer health coverage would certainly make life easier for all health care providers. How about everyone buying all their insurance from the federal government?

S. MILES JOHNSON

Grand Junction



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