Printed letters, October 2, 2013

Recently, school board member Jeff Leany said, “Douglas County is 15 points ahead of us (on Transitional Colorado Assessment Program scores). Why wouldn’t we want to emulate that?” This question displays an alarming lack of understanding of what has happened in Douglas County.

First, Leany makes the incorrect assumption that the current Douglas County school board is responsible for increasing TCAP scores. In fact, by comparing the 2009 and 2013 state data, you can see the district has decreased its lead over the state average in all core academic areas. Prior to the current board taking over, Douglas County was “Accredited with Distinction.” That is no longer the case.

Second, while it has increased the number of upper administrators by 10 percent, it has decreased the number of teachers by 1 percent, which is especially alarming when you consider the district has gained more than 6,000 students during the current board’s tenure. This has increased the average class size by 11 percent.

During the same period, the average teacher salary has decreased by 5 percent and the school board made the superintendent the highest-paid public school executive in Colorado, paying her $280,350 a year.

Third, Douglas County is now one of the least transparent school boards in the state. Overall it went from being 8 percent closed to the public before the current board to being 49 percent closed to the public with the current board.

Brian Malone, a man who was arrested for taking video of a meeting of the Douglas County school board, will be screening his documentary “The Reformers” Oct. 7 at the Mesa Theater.

Ironically, the same day that the Sentinel reported Leany’s admiration for the Douglas County school system, the Denver Post reported 200 parents were rallying in support of their teachers outside the district’s administration building.

Knowing parent satisfaction in Douglas County is at 38 percent and teacher satisfaction is at a staggering 14 perecent, the real question for Leany is: “Why would we want to emulate that?”

DARREN A. COOK, President

Mesa Valley Education Association

Grand Junction

Past, current board members 
served in nonpartisan fashion

I had the honor to serve with one of the finest school board members we will ever have, Harry Butler. I am offended that letter writer Sue Benjamin, in her letter to the editor, would even suggest that Harry and I, both Republicans, were “highly partisan.” I feel that Harry, Greg Mikolai and I listened objectively and voted accordingly. We did not have an agenda.

I do not know what school board meetings Benjamin has attended, but in the last two years, I can only recall two split votes. The first one concerned the clinic agreement with Community Hospital. That vote was 4 to 1. The clinic has been very successful at providing quality health care for the employees of District 51, along with saving the taxpayers money.

The only other split vote (3-2) was this past spring over approval of the MVEA contract. It should be noted that on the last day of negotiations with MVEA, the most critical in the process, the only members present to represent the school board were Mikolai, Butler and me.

It saddens me that some have taken to spreading such misinformation about our school district to win an election. I think Butler would be very disappointed in the tone the election has taken, as am I. He didn’t believe that partisan politics had any place in our schools or with our students. When you vote for representatives to the school board this year, think about the falsehoods spread by certain people.

I think Butler would have preferred that caring people vote for the nonpartisan candidates — Mikolai, Tom Parrish and John Williams, who care more about our students and their learning.


Grand Junction


If Obamacare is so great, 
feds should sign up, too

Unhappy with the 20-plus-hour speech of Sen. Ted Cruz, in a Sept. 26 letter to the editor, writer Al Amirault suggested the “far righties” should try a new approach of allowing Obamacare to be implemented and, if it’s harmful, Americans will repeal it.

But on the same page as Amirault’s letter, we learned from George Will’s column that “no major entitlement, once tasted, has been repealed.” So, after reading Proverbs 27:6 from the Bible, I wonder if Amirault’s suggestion is a “wound from a friend” or a “kiss from an enemy.” I choose to believe that Amirault wants what is best for our nation.

In the spirit of what’s best for our nation, if the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is as beneficial as they claim, I suggest the far-lefties should try the new approach of insisting that President Obama, his family and his elite friends should also be forced into Obamacare with us non-elite folks. When the chef refuses to even consider taking even a taste of what he has cooked up and does everything possible to protect his loved ones from his cooking, are we time-wasting obstructionists for not diving right in?

In the aforementioned column, Will suggested that “members of Congress and their staffs must experience the full enjoyment of the ACA without special ameliorating subsidies.” Why does Obama want Obamacare for my children, but not his children?  Why are all the wonderful promises of Obamacare already proving false? It almost seems like Obamacare is only for us useful idiots, not the president or his special interest groups, nor for members of Congress and their staffs.

Was Cruz wasting time, or was he delaying disaster? No matter. The food is ready. Eat up, folks.


Grand Junction


Editorial failed to include 
key info on air pollution

It my understanding that greenhouse gases are one of the major factors in creating a warming climate. There are several facts that dispute what was stated in The Daily Sentinel editorial regarding methane gas.

The University of Texas study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved taking direct measurements of actual methane emissions — as opposed to estimating emissions through indirect methods such as engineering formulas, as has often been the case in earlier studies.

According to data in the University of Texas study, operators in the Rockies may be releasing up to 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually into the atmosphere through fugitive emissions — i.e., leaky equipment — instead of getting it into a sales line.

From a greenhouse gas perspective, that is the equivalent of pollution from almost 560,000 passenger vehicles. And at $3.00 per million cubic feet of natural gas, it represents an economic waste of more than $75 million per year.

Regarding air quality, the University Texas study did not focus on volatile organic compounds whatsoever, and it has been documented in several studies that oil and gas production in Colorado is far and away the leading source of ozone-causing pollutants.

What Colorado needs to do is require that gas and oil drillers practice methane control. Studies show this is possible and has major benefits when practiced in the correct fashion. All this points to why the state Air Quality Control Commission’s upcoming rule making is a big opportunity for Colorado to protect us from further pollution problems.

Colorado has the chance to set a new bar on methane and air pollution safeguards. Let’s work together to make this a reality.


Grand Junction


Claim illogical that oceans
are soaking up the heat

In the news the other day, it was said by some anti-coal-fired-power-plant group that the atmosphere has been cooling for a while now, but the heat is going into the ocean and killing the fish. All this is due to the power plants and refineries etc.

Common sense tell us that heat goes up and out. Besides, Earth’s center core is several million degrees Fahrenheit.

I think this group should go down in the ocean and check for heat escaping from Earth’s core and heating up the water.


Grand Junction


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Leany and Tisue are merely using the school board as a spring board to their perceived election to other office(s). Tisue wants desperately to privatize education.

Gary Yeager’s letter – “If Obamacare is so great, feds should sign up, too” – reflects continuing confusion about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and illustrates the dangers of endorsing simplistic solutions to complex problems.

The core purpose of the ACA is to make affordable health insurance available to those who do not already have it.

Because the federal government has “more than 50 full-time employees” and partially funds health insurance for its employees under the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the ACA – as originally drafted –  treated all federal employees (including Congressional Members and their staffs) just like employees of any large corporation that provided health insurance, i.e.,  they were ineligible to obtain health insurance from “ObamaCare” insurance exchanges.

In September 2009, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) – the same irresponsible “Tea Party” panderer who falsely alleged that the ACA contained “death panels” that could “pull the plug on Grandma” – injected an amendment (accepted by Democrats) which codified into “ObamaCare” the very sentiments Yeager expresses.

In fact, the so-called Grassley Amendment required Members of Congress and their staffs to obtain health insurance from ACA exchanges, but made no provision for premium payments.  Under the FEHBP, the government pays 72% of health insurance premiums, and that amount is included in gross compensation for calculating pension benefits.  In effect, as written, the Grassley Amendment could dramatically cut the pay of current staffers and reduce pension benefits earned by long-serving public servants.

While Grassley’s Amendment could have restricted itself to Members of Congress only (not staffs), it didn’t.  Consequently, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has promulgated rules which treat Congressional offices as small businesses (fewer the 50 employees), and requires each Congressman and Senator to determine which of their staffers will remain eligible for FEHBP and which must use subsidized exchanges.

Raphael is a person that evidently did not get to enjoy science in school. But I’ll try to help him a bit. Heat is energy. Heat flows from an high energy location to a lower energy location. That energy is transferred by 3 means:
1. Conduction through an interconnected medium.
2. Radiation which is energy transfer that occurs without a medium being necessary.
3. Convective circulation.
But common sense does not just “tell us that heat goes up and out”. That is an observation of a particular heat transfer following the stated laws of heat transfer and thermodynamics. Burning wood in a pellet stove is an example of a system doing that. Combustion of pellets creates hot gases that heat the stove box. The stove box conducts heat to the outside metal of the stove. That hot surface puts heat in the room by Convective circulation of air heated by conducted heat to the metal now conducted to the air. The metal box also heats the room and anybody standing in the room by radiation. The closer one is to the source the greater is the intensity of energy received. The heated waste gas of the combustion is lighter than the incoming air replacing it and buoyantly (but oft aided by a fan) rises up a flue pipe and out to the colder outside air. Hence, common sense is fed by an observation of “up and out”. What was overlooked was all the subsystems that heated the house interior and you in three ways.
Now the earth is providing heat from its’ molten core, but the conduction path is resistive because of poor conducting materials. So without receiving solar (sun) radiation, the earth would freeze as outer planets have from being so far out. So our atmosphere and oceans form convective currents and circulate heat energy from solar radiation heat energy. Some of that solar heat is reflected and that forms a “thermostat” effect. The earth can and has frozen completely because the reflective snow and ice became too much and continued to completely cover the earth. Continental drift and extreme volcanism is believed to reshaped ocean currents and added gases to the atmosphere to assist in melting the ice until a cyclic rhythm was again established.
But adding gases, CO2 and Methane, to the atmosphere causes a retention of solar heat, that in turn melts more ice an snow and the earth becomes even less reflective. Heat is removed from the water melting sea ice, so more heat of the radiation goes to the colder body and so does heat from the air. As the oceans warm more closer to atmosphere temperatures, then the heat starts going to both air and ocean. The two are not in synchronization all the time.  That air was not “getting cooler”, it had just slowed greatly on its’ increase to be deemed “within seasonal natural variations” and climate change opponents seized that to blow their propaganda.
Now Raphael, does that help your common sense feeling adjust to what you are seeing and hearing of complex thermodynamic interacting systems?

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