Printed Letters: May 11, 2017

Broadband access will improve local economy
There have been a number of editorial comments and columns recently about ways to improve and expand the local economy. Broad-based internet access is the one that will address all sectors.The April 10 issue of Time Magazine has a special report, “What it will take to rebuild America.”

One section (pp. 34-35) is “Internet for all.”  Rob Blick, a teacher in an underserved community in Appalachia, is quoted as saying about broadband, “It just seems to me it’s the modern-day equivalent of the interstate highway system.” The article is pessimistic about the Trump administration’s FCC chairman Pai’s will to support the already fragmented government systems attempting to fill in where commercial interests fail consumers. This leaves many citizens and students in more rural areas without vital access to what is fast becoming a necessity for education, modern jobs, local entrepreneurship and informed governance. Comprehensive internet access has far greater potential for increasing economic development here on this side of the divide than an event center, but is probably not going to be done by any single local government entity.

It seems it is time to revisit the broadband issue and I challenge the Grand Junction City Council and the county commissioners to work with the library board, the District 51 school board, and appropriate other possible local allies, such as CMU, our legislative representatives and/or other neighboring county governing bodies, to explore a system that would benefit the entire area, and perhaps eventually be the pilot for the universal access on the entire Western Slope.

Grand Junction

Western Colorado deserves better than Scott Tipton
Congressman Scott Tipton cast his vote to support the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The reckless and shortsighted approach of this legislation cannot be understated.

In Tipton’s statement defending his vote, he claimed that the bill provides assurance that those with pre-existing conditions will have access to affordable health insurance. This is a blatant lie — the AHCA allows insurers to charge more to people with pre-existing conditions, meaning they can easily be priced out of the system. One in four adults have a pre-existing condition, so this will certainly affect a large share of residents in western Colorado.

I grew up in the Grand Valley and now study health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I have my issues and concerns with Obamacare, but this bill is not a solution. I am worried about how this law will affect my friends and family back home, and it concerns me to see shameless lies spouted by Tipton.

This leads to a question — what is a Congressman’s responsibility? Shouldn’t he look out for the interests of his constituents? Shouldn’t he try to improve the health of his community? Aren’t we paying him to give careful consideration and thought to the policies that affect the people of western Colorado?

If so, he failed to fulfill his duties. It was a shameful vote, and he should be held accountable for putting Coloradans at risk.

Boston, Mass.

Hearings should be limited to pertinent questions
Why does it take 15 to 20 politicians to question witnesses at a Congressional hearing? At any of these hearings you find that there are about two or three from each side who ask pertinent questions and are there to get answers while the remainder are there to make political speeches or statements and who try to make the other side look bad. I watched one senator waste all of his time, and our time, asking questions that started with “Would you suppose,” “Is it possible,” “What if,” “Could it be,” etc. trying to lead the witnesses to answer some hypothetical that will embarrass the other side. I, for one, am suffering from congressional hearing fatigue!

Why can’t the chairman and the ranking member of these committees agree that they will allow only three or four people max from each side to ask the questions submitted to them by the other members? Hearings could be reduced by hours and perhaps both sides and the public would get answers to the reason why they are there in the first place. If the Supreme Court can make the most important decisions for our country with only nine members, why can’t Congress?

Grand Junction

Can we employ ‘pass through’ mechanism at a county level?
Friday’s paper related a story about a state-level solution to the hospital provider fee issue. Proposed is the establishment of a stand-alone government enterprise for the purpose of avoiding TABOR revenue caps. Can such a mechanism be employed at the county level to allow county officials to “pass through” grant funding (such as the recent $5 million grant for the expansion of the local psychiatric hospital) without coming under the TABOR constraints?



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