Printed letters, July 31, 2013
The efforts to convince us that our economy is “just fine” or “picking up” (or would be if we were just willing to share a little more of the burden with increased taxes) are ongoing and overwhelming.
On closer inspection, though, we see sales tax revenue is down as is property tax valuation. The EPA has instituted 6,000 new rules since 2012, further adding to our regulatory burdens.
Thus, the determined effort to close down energy development in the name of “responsible” development, along with scary stories about fracking and other evils, should be questioned. It is a well-known economic fact that a vibrant economy consists of workers spending their wages, buying homes and sending their children to our schools.
Additional benefits in western Colorado have come directly from energy in the form of direct payments to local governments and schools from energy profit on public lands. Much of western Colorado is federal land, and these benefits are, by law, shared locally. Thus we have PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) funds and Secure Rural Schools funds which flow to counties and schools. These can be very significant ($800,000 to District 51 a year ago).
In 2012, however, the feds deducted $1.6 million from the 2011 payment. Secure Rural Schools funds also received a deduction of 6 percent for sequestration. School Trust Lands have had their equity captured, as well, notably in the closing of the Vermillion Basin, while coal revenues have declined by $13 million.
As a lifelong resident of Colorado with my entire adult life spent in Mesa County, I remember oil well rigs, slag heaps and sump ponds. It is a far different picture today, but, to listen to the environmentalists, you would not know this. It is gross misunderstanding of economics to believe that you can shut down this vital industry and still enjoy the quality of life that drew us to this area.
Critics should understand different energy processes
If people want to condemn hydraulic fracturing and drilling, I would suggest they do in-depth studies of both, and I don’t mean what is out there by environmental groups. I mean studies by people who study what happens and the results from what was done.
Hydraulic fracturing and drilling are two totally separate operations with differing results to the same end. One frees the gas or oil, and the other gets you to the gas and oil. So, if you want to be for or against these, at least do an in-depth study before making a decision on what the effects are.
Courts shouldn’t set bond for most misdemeanors
Here are a few random observations on recent Mesa County and Grand Junction issues:
✓ The jail overcrowding problem is a self-created ploy to increase spending in the face of declining tax revenue. (Check your last assessed valuation notice. Mine was down by 25 percent, hence property taxes are less.)
The inept courts here need to stop requiring bond for every release from jail pending a trial. To have 88 inmates in jail for misdemeanors is absurd. Release nonviolent, non-recidivist arrestees on their own recognizance. just as traffic offenders are released every day. Most other states do this, and the FTA rate is no different than in Mesa County.
✓Janet Rowland, the former county commissioner, is dead wrong on the job of county government. Recently we spent a week in Jefferson County, where there are miles of open space, beautiful parks and a first-class recreation center.
The quality-of-life issue is subjective but in many ways Mesa County is not a draw for new businesses or upscale employees. It’s funny how Silverthorne and Breckenridge have beautiful rec centers built by the ski industry. Where is the Halliburton-Encana-Williams rec center here in Grand Junction?
✓ The City Council decision to appoint rather than hold a special election to fill the two vacancies is an arrogant disregard of the citizens’ right to elect their council representatives. I have no doubt the majority will find like-minded people to join them.
City politics are grist for new television show
Oh, my, aren’t politics so much fun here in ole Happy Valley? Now that we no longer have the no-brainer incident, we can move on to the other issue of the wicked witch of the north trying to, and mostly succeeding, manipulate the Grand Junction City Council.
And all this without even running or even attempting to actually get elected to a position on the council. Makes you wonder how many votes she’d get if she actually ran, instead of being the grand puppeteer pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Maybe this could all be turned into a soap opera that could all end up on one of those reality TV shows. It could be called “As the Valley Churns.”