Printed letters, May 28, 2013

I lose respect for officials who use their power, their office’s authority or their job to attempt to influence what they disagree with. That’s bullying.

Isn’t it unauthorized or insubordinate for county sheriffs to place themselves in position to represent every county resident’s personal views on a private lawsuit? I don’t believe that’s why sheriffs are elected. Is that their job description?

My fellow Republicans claim to be against bigger government, but seem unaware that sheriffs are government, overstepping their authority and showing lack of integrity using their titles, offices, influence and any perceived authority to support a privately financed lawsuit. I don’t believe it’s proper or within their authority. Are we setting a precedent for all county employees?

It was pointed out that no county funds were involved, but isn’t it just as improper to misuse a county’s name and influence? Of course, a sheriff can speak his opinion about his office’s involvement, but to campaign against and join a private lawsuit as sheriff? Nah. They have every opportunity to speak their views as private citizens, just like us.

I can only hope that by joining the gun lawsuit, Republicans understand we can see they obviously have only one stand on the issue. That’s great as long as they voice their own personal opinion and not that of a county sheriff on a privately funded lawsuit.

Isn’t it a misrepresentation for a sheriff to join a private lawsuit while still acting as a county employee, representing the county and all its residents? It seems to me Sheriff Stan Hilkey crossed a line if he signed on as Mesa County’s sheriff. Whether or not I agree with the law, neither sheriff nor private citizen Hilkey has a right to speak for me on a private lawsuit.

RALPH HICKS

Clifton

Why are seatbelts mandatory 
but motorcycle helmets aren’t?

How can the people of Colorado continue to have contradictory laws on the books that require its citizens to wear a seatbelt while inside an automobile, yet do not require adult motorcycle riders to wear a helmet when on the road?

I recently received a ticket that cost me $75 for not wearing my seatbelt (no other violations), which I willingly (yet grudgingly) paid because I know technically I violated the law.

Tell me what seems a more dangerous scenario: being in an auto without a seatbelt or driving in traffic on a motorcycle, totally exposed without a helmet?

Please join me in writing our legislators to have this wrong righted. Either put helmets on all motorcyclists or rescind the law requiring adults to wear seatbelts in autos. It only makes common sense. This is something Sen. Steve King ought to consider tackling in the next legislative session.

RAY WHITNEY

Grand Junction

 

Affordable Care Act forces 
a particular kind of commerce

Jim Spehar is certainly right: Elections do have consequences, as he noted in the results of Colorado legislative sessions that favored progressive positions. However, that truth can work both ways.

It seems Spehar might have jumped the gun when he wrote, “When you hear about all that being too ‘progressive,’ just remember that the opposite of that is ‘regressive.’”

Hmm ... let’s check some other “progressive” doings lately, such as the bungling-while-passing-the-hot-potato issue of Benghazi; factions at the IRS targeting conservative groups; maintaining heavy fines, understandably, for oil and gas companies responsible for massive bird kills, but nary a dollar fine for wind farms that, according to a Wildlife Society bulletin, kill upwards of 573,000 birds a year, including 83,000 raptors; seizing phone records of news reporters; and, not least, Obamacare, which the administration defends as legitimate exercise of the expressly delegated power to regulate commerce among the states.

However, as Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University states, “The trouble, of course, is that the mandate (for the Affordable Care Act) does not regulate commerce at all; it forces people into commerce — a particular kind of commerce — on pain of a financial penalty.”

As an independent, I wonder if the next elections will have consequences, too. It will unless enough of the voting public has already succumbed to the progressive opium of the nanny state now that they — excluding the truly needy — prefer to be taken care of rather than embrace the personal responsibility and moral virtues upon which our constitutionally limited government has historically depended.

BILL FORBES

Whitewater

 

Unaweep Canyon protection 
needed in new BLM plan

I have driven Unaweep Canyon numerous times, and each time I’m enchanted. The granite walls impose a sense of grandeur that inspires the mind to wonder and spirits to soar.

As a teacher, I believe that spending time outside is vital to balanced childhood development. Because the serene environment of the Unaweep provides this and so much more, it’s worth protecting to the fullest.

In addition, Ute Creek Canyon provides challenging hiking experiences and ample screening from any traffic noise or other visitors. The varied terrain of this area provides outstanding recreational opportunities, such as hiking, backpacking and photography.

The areas in Unaweep Canyon and along the scenic byway should be protected to the fullest in BLM’s resource management plan.

GREG WECKENBROCK

Grand Junction



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“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.  However, according to Justice Scalia in Heller, “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited – i.e., can be “infringed”—by “prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons”.

Thus, readers familiar with such inconsistent interpretations of the Second Amendment should welcome the participation of Sheriff Stan Hilkey, et al., in the constitutional challenge to Colorado’s recently enacted “gun laws” – even if doing so is arguably “unethical”—particularly when they are doing so at minimal taxpayer expense (assuming that Attorney General John Suthers diligently defends the statutes’ constitutionality).

As public officials sworn to uphold both the state and national Constitutions, the Sheriffs deserve an unambiguous determination of “what the law is” – and will be indisputably bound thereby.  As elected officials answerable to voters, they are understandably inclined to embrace the views of their most ardent supporters.  As law enforcement officers, the public relations benefit of their participation may even protect their subordinates by preventing confrontations with constituents armed with “assault rifles”.

In Heller, Justice Scalia effectively erased the “prefatory clause” from the Founders’ text by giving it no practical effect.  Nevertheless, the Second Amendment is totally silent as to the government’s authority to regulate the design, manufacture, and sale of “arms” in interstate commerce and does not limit its power to tax them under Article I, Section 8.
Thus, limiting the size of magazines should pose no constitutional issue.

Likewise, while the Second Amendment guarantees (most) citizens the right to “keep and bear arms” (at least for self-defense), nothing therein constrains governmental power to “regulate” how such “arms” are acquired.  Therefore, minimally intrusive “universal” background checks for all gun sales (to prevent criminals, terrorists, and the insane from legally acquiring “arms”) are well within the bounds of constitutionality.

Hopefully, by resolving ambiguities in Second Amendment jurisprudence, the Sheriffs’ lawsuit will contribute a valuable public service – but not achieve the result they desire.

Contrary to Bill Forbes’ purportedly “independent” critique—“Affordable Care Act forces a particular kind of commerce” (May 28, 2013)—of Jim Spehar’s recent column, Forbes parrots all-to-familiar “conservative” talking points.

Thus, in his Benghazi hearings, Congressman Darrell Issa cynically evinced partisan contempt for any genuine truth-finding purpose of his “oversight” committee by refusing to call witnesses requested by Democratic members and preventing those with knowledge of the facts – like Ambassador Pickering—from testifying publicly.

Likewise, Issa’s investigation revealed that the IRS had been misapplying the law as to tax-exempt organizations for years – to the benefit of purported “social welfare” groups claiming to have been “targeted” as “conservative” (rather than “flagged” as “political”).

Similarly, while oil and gas companies are subject to criminal and civil penalties under federal statutes for spill-caused bird kills, wind farms are not liable – because those laws require “knowing” or “wanton disregard” for eagles and/or migratory birds.  Meanwhile, some 100,000,000 birds are killed annually by flying into windows.

Lawfully subpoenaing phone records of reporters implicated in national security “leak” investigations (as Republicans vocally demand) pushes the limits of the First Amendment and may justify more robust federal press “shield” laws (which Republicans oppose).

Meanwhile, “the Affordable Care Act forces a particular kind of” long-overdue and much-needed competition within our “free enterprise”, for-profit health care “system”. 

Thus, even though Time Magazine has comprehensively chronicled “Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” (March 4, 2013), Republicans still seek to sabotage “ObamaCare”.

Recently, California demonstrated that premiums for basic medical insurance coverage under ObamaCare’s cooperatively operated state insurance exchanges will likely be much lower than previously predicted.  Rather, competition between health insurers for new customers generated by those exchanges will both hold down premium rates and, in turn, incentivize health insurers to demand that providers stop overcharging them.

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