Printed letters, May 6, 2011

In their commentary in the May 1 edition of The Daily Sentinel, advocating the merger of State Parks and Recreation and the Division of Wildlife, Sen. Gail Schwartz and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg omitted four important facts.

First, several conservation organizations, including Colorado Trout Unlimited, have serious reservations about the appropriateness of the merger.

Second, the two agencies were merged previously for nine years. Because their functions differ more than Schwartz and Sonnenberg would have us believe, the merger was abandoned in favor of the current situation.

Next, DOW is a self-financed agency; whereas, State Parks depends to a considerable extent on funding from the Legislature.

Finally, the economic benefits of the presumed efficiencies are not quantified. In fact, the merger bill does not prescribe how the merger would work. Rather, we’re just promised that the details will be worked out after the merger is done. How smart is that?

It’s also probably relevant that Sonnenberg is said to be a longtime antagonist of the DOW.

JOHN TRAMMELL Grand Junction

State rules apparently raised insurance rates

I received my new bill for my boat insurance from my insurance company. Last year my bill was $54.78. This year my bill is $100.

I called the insurance company to find out why the bill had doubled. The representative told me that the state of Colorado had set a minimum limit of $100 for all boats, motorcycles, ATVs, recreational vehicles and God knows what else.

I am curious: Would you call this extortion, bid rigging, a windfall profit to an insurance company or Big Brother out of control?

I thought I had seen the height of government corruption with what is going on in Washington, as well as the road and bridge fees that were not voted on by the people of Colorado, but were imposed on vehicle owners in Colorado anyway, only because they were called fees not taxes.



Cutting chess classes may hurt test scores

I am a student at Mount Garfield Middle School and I would like to tell you that the school board is cutting all chess and Spanish classes.

I am mainly worried about chess, as it is one of my, and so many others, favorite classes — not only for enjoyment purposes, but because it can also help many students on standardized testing.

Did you know chess is a proven way to strengthen academic growth and it increases 90 percent of students’ standardized testing by over 15 percent? How great is that?

Also, just as a side note, so many students are put into lower-level classes simply because of their scores on a test. It is my belief that the students should get a choice in what classes they take, especially when it comes to exploratories.

After a two-year study of students playing chess for one hour a day, students showed growth in all subjects and in some cases even improved fantasy and imagination, which so many children today are losing due to video games and TV.

So please do the right thing. Reach out to the public for a student and so many others who are in love with the great game of chess.



Amtrak service is costly for taxpayers

Melinda Mawdsley did a good job in her May 1 article about her Amtrak journey to Denver and back. However, her “Amtrak turns 40” highlight box failed to mention some additional Amtrak facts to consider:

In 2008, the California Zephyr was subsidized (by U.S. taxpayers) at $192.77 per passenger (for a taxpayer cost of $59.4 million). The Southwest Chief was subsidized at $162.90 per passenger (for a taxpayer cost of $45.9 million).

That means a total taxpayer cost of $105.3 million of borrowed dollars, just for these two routes of Amtrak.

In these times of horrendous federal spending, perhaps if Amtrak could convince 60 percent of its passengers to purchase one of those $8.50 hamburgers that Melinda bought— then raise the price of each hamburger to $265.20 — we would not have to borrow the $105 million to begin with.

Or Amtrak could raise fares $256.70 each — but then Mr. Kuhlman may have to re-examine his ride-versus-drive analysis. I think both hamburger and fare sales would then be way down.

Let’s be honest. Passenger rail service in the Washington, D.C.-Boston corridor makes sense. There are few other areas of this country that lend themselves to passenger rail service — no matter how fast the train goes.




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