Printed letters, November 25, 2013
On Nov. 18, our county commissioners voted unanimously to support the proposition that each Colorado county have its own seat in the state House of Representatives or Senate.
The commissioners appear to be aware that there are 64 counties in Colorado and 65 seats in the House of Representatives. Based on the 2010 Census, Mesa County has a population of 146,723, while San Juan County has a population of 699. Our commissioners appear to support a plan whereby each San Juan County voter’s vote is worth almost 210 times that of a Mesa County voter.
If Colorado intends to follow the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing the equal protection of laws to all persons, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating the principle of one person-one vote based upon that amendment, then the concept of guaranteeing each Colorado county its own seat in the Legislature would mean that — based on Colorado’s total population of just over 5 million, as counted in the 2010 Census — we would end up with a Legislature consisting of 7,181 members.
Each member would naturally have to have a staff of several people to answer the telephone, write his or her speeches, fend off disgruntled constituents and make dinner reservations. So, this would add at least 28,724 people to the public payroll, assuming that each member would have a minimum of four staffers.
The state would either have to build an entire new Capitol building to house the new employees and legislators, or move the legislative session to run June through September and hold the sessions at the Pepsi Center.
If the Mesa County commissioners’ intent is to keep the House of Representatives at 65 members, while guaranteeing that each Colorado county has at least one member in the Legislature, they should be recalled immediately for supporting the disenfranchisement of Mesa County voters. In addition, Commissioner Steve Acquafresca should withdraw his name from consideration as a candidate for the state Legislature because of his support for a proposition that would disenfranchise Mesa County voters.
Designated bike lanes create some serious safety hazards
Where I used to live, bicycle commuting was easier because roads did not have bike lanes.
On Monument Road, motorists must swerve into the oncoming lane to miss cyclists “voting with their handlebars” against the bike lanes, presumably to avoid the inevitable debris wherever the sweeping effect of passing car tires is disallowed.
Bike lanes guiding cyclists toward opening car doors are potential death traps. On mixed-use trails like the Riverfront Trail in Grand Junction, pedestrians get buzzed by cyclists who don’t give a proper passing warning.
Trails committees not only seem blind to these hazards, they hype this stuff as a panacea (“for the children”) and even demand funding priority over items such as law enforcement agencies.
Bike lanes and mixed-use paths are not substitutes for bikeable roads. They also do not reduce the knowledge and judgment needed to ride without harming oneself or others. And people who do not realize this get coaxed onto bikes they can’t ride safely. We end up with more people (with and without spandex) cycling like confused wildlife, a danger to all and an embarrassment to safe cyclists.
For safer cycling: 1) Eliminate the opening-car-door traps ASAP. Warn children to avoid them. 2) Eliminate remaining bike lane markings, so car tires can sweep gravel from the full, shared width. 3) Money permitting, widen roads. 4) Remove bike lanes from the Urban Trails Master Plan. Instead, indicate wide, debris-free roads. 5) Minimize bike versus pedestrian interactions by limiting mixed-use paths. 6) Related to all the above, get trails committees out of the bike traffic planning business, not just to save money, but to reverse their mistakes and pave the way for safer cycling.
Colorado needs new rules for oil and gas air quality
As a practicing respiratory therapist for over 30 years, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of lung disease on the citizens of our community.
The quality of the air we breathe is important to everyone, but especially to those people who have to cope with diseases such as asthma and emphysema.
Colorado is aiming to be the healthiest state in the nation and recently, Gov. John Hickenlooper took a step in that direction by proposing rules to keep Colorado’s air clean and healthy.
I am thrilled that these proposed air quality rules contain strong protections against the pollution from the oil and gas processes.
It’s encouraging to witness collaboration between the oil and gas industry, environmental groups and the governor’s office. I look forward to seeing this collaboration continue until the these rules are made final.
Colorado would be the first state in the nation to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas operations, greatly decreasing the impact these processes have on our climate.
Colorado must lead when it comes to protecting our health and combating climate change. These rules would make us a trend-setter across the nation, so let’s make it to the finish line and finalize rules we can be proud of.
RICKY R. SMITH