Printed Letters: September 22, 2016

Editorial on Amendment 71 needs challenging

Tuesday’s Sentinel editorial on Amendment 71 needs challenging. It is definitely not “too easy to amend the state constitution.” Actually, it’s very difficult and costly. If proponents really want rural voices to matter, they would change the voting process to require a majority in every district.

They would not change the petition process to require percentages of petition signers from every district.

Petitioning the ballot (AKA We the People exercising our right to decide our rules of governance) doesn’t do anything except give all registered voters the opportunity to vote on the issue, so it doesn’t matter where the signatures on the petition came from. And the reason people amend the state constitution rather than a statute is because state legislators can’t change the constitution on whim, like they can the statutes. Imagine if TABOR (which started out as a petition) were a statute instead of a constitutional amendment.

The Sentinel makes it sound nefarious that paid petition gatherers are involved in the process, instead of more truthfully pointing out that any initiative must collect almost twice the number of signatures actually needed in a very short amount of time – something nearly impossible to do on Uncle Bob’s farm outside of Craig when you have to take time off from work to do so.

All this smoke and mirrors about the petition process, and how rural areas aren’t represented, is fake. Sure, we aren’t represented as well at a state level as more populous areas – but that has nothing to do with petitioning, and everything to do with representation.

The proponents of Amendment 71 don’t want to admit that they don’t want you to participate in government. They just want you to sit back, shut up, and let them decide what is best for you (and your wallet). Vote NO on Amendment 71.


Tipton a supporter of multi-use access to public lands

I want to thank Congressman Scott Tipton for his commitment to ensuring continued access to and enjoyment of our public lands. I keep hearing Gail Schwartz’s adds accusing Scott Tipton of selling off our public lands, but my experience with Congressman Tipton has been just the opposite.

My husband and I have been enjoying our public lands and national parks since we moved to Colorado in 1978. Jeeping and off-roading are our preferred method of doing so, and Scott Tipton has been a huge supporter of multi-use access to our public lands.

Scott Tipton was a co-sponsor of HR 1581 – Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act that gives off-road vehicles greater access to land that is not suitable for wilderness designation.

Scott Tipton’s bill gives people with off-road vehicles access to public land only where that activity has been determined to be appropriate. Gail Schwartz’s ads are plainly false and I want to thank Scott Tipton for his continued work on public lands.

Grand Junction

Chamber set itself up as adversary of local wage earners

Diane Schwenke, the CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, was the narrator of an ad seen on TV Tuesday night urging viewers to vote No on Amendment 70 in November’s election. Amendment 70 would raise the minimum wage in Colorado to $12 per hour. Clearly, as always, the local Chamber sets itself up as the adversary of local wage earners.

For years, the street talk is that the local Chamber has been very vociferous in advising new businesses in town to keep wages down in a way that intimidates those businesses.

Schwenke’s appearance in this ad advances the usual threat that the only result of passing such a rise in the minimum wage would result in lost jobs. In other words, if you want to keep your job you better vote No.

So why the loss of jobs? The assumption should be that a well-run business has just enough employees to handle the sales volume. In other words, employees have to go and either you won’t be able to buy the things you want or the service will have to suffer. Not mentioned was a rise in prices or a reduction in profits, or both. The key here is what percentage of employees is at minimum wage and, as a result, how much do prices have to be increased to compensate for lost profits. Also unsaid was the inevitability of lost profits, which may not be inevitable at all.

Finally, also unsaid was the possibility for increased sales due to better paid employees. Apparently, rather than the Chamber advancing better business practices and programs to improve sales our local Chamber feels that it is an ongoing effort to race to the bottom with employee compensation.

Is our local economy a reflection of those practices? Squeeze, don’t expand because people can’t afford to buy. I wonder why?

Grand Junction


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Ms. Schumm has subscribed to what some of us see as the erroneous notion of “direct democracy”, something which the founders of this nation, by various devices, such as the division of powers, the electoral college, etc., sought to prevent particular groups of individuals or interests, to get their way by inflaming passions.  That is what those such as Ms. Schumm (as well as others) never learned in all of their schooling on government or in history class.

The Constitution is not the place to legislate simply because one does not get one’s way.  Constitutions, whether the U.S. Constitution or the State Constitutions, should be looked upon as in place to provide two things. The first is to provide for the basic structure of a government and the second, to establish basic principles upon which that government is based, and to which all must adhere.

Neither is it true, as Ms. Schumm claims, that people have not the opportunity to participate in government.  The real truth is that most either do not know how, or are simply too “lazy” to do so.  That is true, as most have not the slightest clue what is happening at the County and municipal levels, never mind why.  The “local” level might be a better place to begin. Then, after familiarizing themselves with that, they might then what is happening (or not happening) at higher levels.

Our founders were much concerned about “direct democracy”, which is what such as Ms. Schumm is advocating.  It is not because they did not believe in the process of democracy, but because they recognized that it was (and still is) subject to the citizenry (and the electorate) being inflamed and controlled by momentary passion, something which is clearly evident here on the Western Slope.  One need not go to the State and Federal level to note that such is occurring.

“Tip” O’Neal, former Speaker of the U.S. House once stated that elections are won at the local level, something which is true.  However, that does not mean that, when dealing with State and national issues, one should use only personal and/or parochial concerns (which far too many do) as their sole or primary criteria.  In fact, they should not do so as that creates little else than divisiveness within the population. It is also something which many unscrupulous politicians use in order to gain or retain office, something which is at times referred to as “pandering to the mob”, with fear and “self-pity” most frequently used in such efforts, something which then allows those individuals to portray themselves as “saviors” or “messiahs” crying, “believe me and trust me” and I will save you.

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