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Open letter

Dear Editor:

Open letter to county commission candidate, Michael Whiting.

A few months ago, you asked me to sign a petition for your name to be included as a candidate for Archuleta County Commissioner. I agreed, having known you for 5 years or so. We’ve skied together, drank a few beers, and I admire your desire to serve in a position of trust for the people of Archuleta County.

But now I am worried that you may be turning into just another one of those “politicians.” You know the ones we all despise for lack of accountability, ethical conduct, and transparency (which is one item you recently quoted as a reason for running). Based on your actions in your recent, previous employment, can you please define these terms, and explain how you have in the past, and would in the future, fulfill these in your actions as our county commissioner?

I want to vote for the bright, progressive candidate who will balance the requirements of economic sustainability while preserving the land, environment, and way of life that we have all moved here for. Please help me reconfirm my original thought that you would be the right candidate to vote for.

John Barborinas

Good choice

Dear Editor:

I have known and worked with Fred Uehling, candidate for Assessor, for several years and want to make a few comments in his favor.

We served together on the Board of Directors of the PLPOA while he was Treasurer. During discussions of problems and situations I found his opinions to be well thought out and well presented. He was always polite and self-controlled during negotiations, characteristics which should be very useful if elected.

As a treasurer his reports were clear and timely, He was very effective at describing our financial position. No doubt this was due to his long experience as a CPA.

Neither candidate for the office of Assessor has particular experience in that very technical field. I believe that Fred has a background and a proven ability in technical matters to make him a good choice for assessor.

Thank you,

Jim Carson

TEA People

Dear Editor:

Mr. Porco has it slightly wrong. It’s “fear” not anger that is “translating into a groundswell of support” for TEA people (it’s not a party, and tea is not being served).

Too often liberal Democrats and “spend money” Republicans forget that “We TEA People” are Taxed Enough Already, and want smaller government. We TEA People know for certain there is too much money sloshing around in Washington (and here in Archuleta County for that matter) that is being wasted on frivolous ideas and lazy people. We fear they will keep doing it if we don’t elect responsible representatives

Prez. Dwight Eisenhower was a socialist? Can I have a link to that site?

As for TARP by Prez. Bush and Hank Paulson, so far it’s a Republican success. At first expected to cost the US Govt. over $350 billion, as of Sept. 30, 2010 it’s $51 billion. Republicans can be proud of that, even TEA people. Of the $245 billion invested in banks, over $169 billion has been paid back. Mr. Porco’s Bush/Paulson smear is exposed .

It’s the Obama administration that TEA People fear, and rightly so. He has quadrupled the deficit, and halving it by 2013 is his South Chicago dream. BamBam will add another $1 trillion to the historic $700 billion by Bush. Bush created a Medicare drug entitlement that may cost $800 billion in the first decade. Obama has proposed a $634 down payment on a new government healtcare fund.

Prez. Bush was first to spend 3 percent of the GDP on federal antipoverty programs, but Obama has increased that spending by 20 percent. Bush presided over a $2.5 trillion increase of the public debt through 2008, but BamBam’s budget would add $4.9 trillion from the beginning of 2010 through 2016. (Bush and Obama share the 2009

The new TEA People saying is Obama et. al is destroying the future of America.

He and his minions have got to go. And on Nov. 2, TEA People will usher them out.

Camille Cazedessus

Conflicts

Dear Editor:

I have been following with interest the ongoing debate over Bob Hart’s potential conflicts of interest. There are those of us who feel that Mr. Hart’s continued ownership and management of Hart Construction would interfere with his ability to do the job of Commissioner and will hurt the County’s ability to do business. On the other side, Mr. Hart’s campaign supporters like Marcy Mitchell, say that this is an attempt to divert attention from the “real” problems in this important election year.

I am a taxpayer and voter here in Archuleta County, and I have seen all sorts of attempts to divert attention from real issues. That is not the case here. Mr. Hart’s conflicts of interest are a “real” issue.

Mr. Hart tries to narrow the problem to only times when Hart Construction submits bids for County contracts, and offers to recuse himself from decisions on those contracts. This is, of course, the most obvious and direct example of his conflict of interest, when he would be forced to recuse under State law. But Mr. Hart’s conflicts and the problems they would cause go much deeper. His failure to address this is in itself is alarming.

Mr. Hart would clearly have direct and indirect influence over construction in Archuleta County: from approval of new development projects, to code enforcement and approval of new construction and remodels, to decisions over County road and building construction, improvement and maintenance. As County Commissioner, Mr. Hart would be in a position to influence decisions by the BoCC and within the departments the BoCC controls that could either benefit Hart Construction or put its competitors at a disadvantage. That is also conflict of interest and a real problem.

Whether or not Mr. Hart shows restraint in the use of these powers, his personal financial stake in the outcome makes all of these decisions suspect, and a target for lawsuits.

This has the potential to create conflict within the BoCC, delay important decisions and projects, and reduce the overall effectiveness and credibility of County government.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Hart that qualified BoCC candidates should not be dismissed simply because they have a business stake in the community or have conducted business with the County. But Mr. Hart does not own just any business. He owns one of the largest construction businesses in the County. Given the huge role of County government in all construction within the County and the potential for County Commissioners to influence decisions affecting all projects, Mr. Hart’s potential conflicts cannot be resolved short of selling his business.

Archuleta County has many highly qualified individuals that could be excellent County Commissioners and do not create the problems and paralysis that come with Mr. Hart’s level of conflict. One such individual, Michael Whiting, is currently running for the position.

Jaime de Graaf

Water expert

Dear Editor:

Water, big deal! stated Ellen Roberts’ husband at the La Plata County Fair when asked about Bruce Whitehead’s experience and resume as an expert in Colorado water. Yes, Mr. Roberts water is a big deal to Montrose, Montezuma, La Plata and Archuleta counties. Water is the engine that drives the Southwest economy.

I am voting for Bruce Whitehead for State Senator because of his broad expertise and ability to get the job done.

Senator Bruce Whitehead is the only water engineer in Denver. He speaks for Southwestern Colorado and has the only true background in water. The Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Bruce Whitehead defends agricultural and recreational water in Denver with firsthand knowledge. As a rancher from Hesperus his Western heritage gives him an advantage over Roberts an attorney.

Ellen Roberts says check my voting record. Well, I did and it stinks. The Colorado Conservation Scoreboard rated her voting record at 31 percent. She voted against teachers SB191, pregnant women HB1021, kids HB1131, clean energy SB100, HB1001, water HB1051, HB1358 and small business HB1193.

She says it’s hard being green. It must be when her voting record says she really doesn’t care about water or clean air. You can fool some of the people part of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Southwest Colorado cannot be fooled by Ellen Roberts.

Bruce Whitehead has the credentials, integrity, and statewide respect to be our Senator. His influence in Denver has been recognized by earning the Pinnacle Award from the Farm Bureau as the top legislator in the Senate. Across Colorado Bruce Whitehead is known for his resume, ethics, and knowledge. Our senator is respected because he is known for telling the truth not catering to different audiences in different zip codes.

Republicans, Unaffiliated and Democrats are standing up for Senator Bruce Whitehead in November. Make a smart choice and vote for Senator Bruce Whitehead to protect our natural resources and Southwestern counties.

Chris Dolphin

Durango

Fair treatment

Dear Editor:

Ask the candidates if they believe that Colorado is being treated fairly by the energy extraction industry. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Colorado derives 1.6 percent of state tax collections from severance taxes on ail and gas extraction. Our neighboring state of Oklahoma obtains 10 percent of total tax collections from severance taxes on oil and gas where profits are taxed at 7 percent. New Mexico obtains 14.7 percent of tax revenue from severance tax, and Wyoming makes 45.4 percent of total tax collections from energy taxes. Pennsylvania has proposed at tax of 5 percent on the value of the gas extracted plus $0.047 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas removed.

Is it any wonder that the energy companies have been punching holes in our western landscape at a furious pace for the last several years? Our legislators have encouraged this in the name of promoting jobs, but most jobs are done by drilling rig specialists who come in with the rig and leave when the drilling is done. What is left behind is service buildings, storage buildings and roads for periodic maintenance of the facilities.

The Southern Ute lands include some of the richest gas deposits in the country and the Tribe, through wise leadership and wise counsel, has negotiated deals with the companies that have been hugely profitable for the Southern Ute Nation (High Country News, July 19, 2010). A few years ago, there was a ballot initiative aimed at bringing Colorado’s severance tax more in line with those of some neighboring states. The energy companies conducted a massive advertising campaign saying to people that their energy bills would increase if the initiative passed. It failed. Most of us in the Pagosa Lakes area do not own the mineral rights under our properties. We could wake up one morning and find a drilling rig nearby.

Norman French

Verify

Dear Editor:

As I have said before, you cannot believe/trust what a candidate/politician tells you, especially during a campaign.You can only look at what they have done to see where their values are and to get an idea of what they will do in the future — like Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” So, let’s see what the candidates for the 59th District have done to support the citizens of the 59th District and southwest Colorado.

J Paul Brown has lived and ranched here for the last 34 years. During most of his adult life he has been involved in activities to improve things in this district and in SW Colorado. In addition to being a local businessman and rancher, he has served on Board of Directors of the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, and the Centennial Investment Company. He has been the Chairman of Region 9 Economic Development District and President of the Colorado Wool Growers, La Plata/Archuleta County Farm Bureau, and the Pine River Southwest Ditch Company. He was a La Plata County Commissioner for 4 years, on the La Plata County Planning Commission for 3 years, and on the Ignacio School Board of Directors for 12 years. Among other things, he has been, or is, a member of the San Juan Basin Health Board, the Colorado Counties Inc. Public Lands and Land Use Committees, the La Plata County Economic Development Council, the Durango Area Chamber Resort Economic Development Committee, the La Plata County Home Rule Charter Commission, the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) Legislative and Policy Committees, the San Juan Forest Grazing Advisory Board, the Colorado Cattlemen Association, the La Plata/Archuleta Cattlemen’s Association, the American Sheep Industry Legislative and Policy Committees. J Paul’s web site has a list of his values and the things he supports. It tracks well with the activities he has been involved with and things he has done here in SW Colorado.

What about his opponent, Brian O’Donnell? A quick check of the O’Donnell website shows a large list of “Will do” items (promises unsupported by a record of “Have done” items for verification). In fact it looks like a conservative wishlist — lower taxes, cut wasteful spending, protect our water, create jobs, improve business environment, improve schools, support responsible drilling for oil and gas, support balanced budget, etc. His list of ‘Have done’ items showing his past activities to try to make these things happen is, however, somewhat sparse. He is the Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation to improve public land management throughout the Western United States and he served on the steering committee for the Obama campaign’s national energy and environment policy committee. In fact, the only thing I can identify that he has done that specifically supports the 59th District and the people who live here is he bought a house in 2005 and pays property taxes to La Plata County.

It’s easy to see that there is only one candidate who has shown the dedication and interest over time to get involved with organizations across Colorado and to work to protect the citizens in the 59th District and help improve things in southwest Colorado — J Paul Brown needs to continue his work in the state Legislature.

Jim Huffman

Desecration

Dear Editor:

Downtown looks really beautiful today. Color everywhere. Landscape, leaves, bright blue skies. And then the lovely message on the front of the former City Market. “Keep out!” in big, sloppy spray-painted lettering on the boarded up plywood. (Maybe it’s a message from Pagosa to Kroger.) Get out and take your ghetto sign with you. First, you abandon our community and now you desecrate. Is this necessary? How ‘bout a simply no trespassing sign.

Elizabeth Keefe

Raising the bar

Dear Editor:

After looking at the merits of the Archuleta County Education Center’s Ballot Issue 1B, I’m convinced this measure is a positive move for our community.

Surveys and studies prove time and time again that higher education is desperately wanted and needed for Pagosa.

Last month, 80 community and business leaders attended the Pagosa Springs CDC Strategic Planning Retreat. From 28 possible area needs, secondary education was ranked the #1 priority. By a mile.

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously endorses Ballot Issue 1B.

Mayor Aragon and the entire Town Council unanimously endorses Ballot Issue 1B.

The Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce unanimously endorses Ballot Issue 1B. This alone is a first. The Chamber never endorses anyone or anything.

Why are they so adamantly behind 1B? Because they are progressive, informed and are doing their best to do what Pagosans want. Expand educational opportunities, which will provide new jobs and create a healthy, vibrant community.

Whether for political or pocketbook reasons, some will argue “no new taxes.” This is not a Front Range perk. This is solely for our benefit. Some argue no new taxes because they don’t have children in school. I fit in that group but I would like to think if the advantages that the Ed Center will be able to provide will help one person, I’ve left my legacy. The average homeowner will pay $2.90 more a month in taxes.

There’s the “show me the benefits” and “where’s the money going.” I questioned that also. The only thing I can say is read the informational ads in The SUN or stop by the Ed Center. They will be happy to explain it in detail.

I know from firsthand knowledge, people move away from Pagosa because there are no accelerated programs or college tutorial classes. They decide not to move here because we don’t have these types of programs that other communities have access to. These are the type of programs the’Education Center is trying to provide.

More than GED and non-credit on-line courses, a student will have access to first rate technology that will provide real time professors. A student can achieve a college degree without the dorm expenses. Recertification required by teachers will negate the need to leave town for recertification. That also includes the county commissioners.

The Education Center has subsisted on grants. Those grants are drying up and the Ed Center can’t depend on grants any longer to keep their doors open. The only guaranteed way for the Ed Center to continue serving the public by providing after school tutorials, college degrees, business training and recertification is thru you. Vote Yes on 1B.

This is a chance to stop the decline Pagosa has experienced and take the opportunity bull by the horns. We have kicked opportunity in the pants too many times, only to be proven wrong. This is our chance to do something good for our community. Vote Yes on 1B.

JoAnn Laird

Real solutions

Dear Editor:

With the election only less than a month away, I fear that Archuleta County may lose its chance for effective local representation in the State Legislature. Brian O’Donnell is focused on important local issues while J. Paul Brown’s campaign shows little understanding of our local concerns. I have not heard Brian’s opponent, J Paul Brown, proposing real solutions to real problems in Archuleta County.

Jobs. With the housing market collapsed and with little prospect for short-term recovery, we need to create new jobs in Archuleta County, including a way to replace the downtown City Market in Pagosa Springs. O’Donnell pledges to work with local business and community leaders to build a business incubator program that will make it easier for folks to start up small businesses; strengthening small banks and credit unions, and make sure that small businesses can actually access credit; phasing out the personal property tax for small businesses, which is a disincentive for manufacturing; and supporting innovative local projects like the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership. Brown only talks in generalities about freezing taxes and reducing regulation.

Education. Archuleta County schools do not get their fair share of state resources. The number of second home-owners we have in this county skews the funding formula, and as a result, Archuleta County schools get less state support per pupil than other counties with similar income levels. O’Donnell pledges to make fixing this formula a priority. Sadly, this education funding formula we are faced with in Archuleta County isn’t even on Brown’s radar.

In all my conversations with Brian O’Donnell, he has shown that he supports local-first, grassroots solutions to fixing our economy, making sure our schools get their fair share of state resources, providing fiscal discipline to our state budget, and insuring that Denver to hears the voices of folks in Archuleta County. In contrast Brown seems to be running for the US Congress, not Archuleta County. Brown continues to rant about the UN, while O’Donnell knows and will act on the issues before the residents of Archuleta County. We cannot afford a representative who knows or cares little about Archuleta County.

I will be voting for Brian to be our representative, and I hope you join me.

Terry Pickett

Obamacare

Dead Editor:

The first provisions of the hated “Obamacare” government takeover of healthcare became effective Thursday, September 23. According to the attack ads against Democratic candidates, all of us lost our right to choose our own doctors, our medical care was suddenly rationed, our taxes rose $500 billion, and Medicare was cut to the bone on that terrible day. Of course, absolutely none of this is even remotely true, but is sounds good in the slogans over good sense world of Tea Partiers and Republican “tell the voters any lies to scare them into voting for our candidates” approach to what now passes as political dialogue. Let’s take a look at what actually did become effective on September 23.

First, young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26. Second, insurers must now cover a wide range of recommended preventative services, such as mammograms, immunizations, and colonoscopies, hopefully allowing people to be diagnosed and treated before they get deathly ill. This will certainly save out health care system significant costs over time. Third, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children under 19 if they have pre-existing conditions. Fourth, insurers can no longer use a mistake or technical error to cut off coverage after a person gets sick, except in cases where the consumer has made an intentional falsification. Fifth, insurers can no longer impose lifetime or annual coverage limits. Finally, consumers have greater rights to appeal an insurer’s decisions.

That’s all that has changed. These don’t seem very radical to me, but rather give all of us rights that we should have had all along. Why are laws that keep kids’ and adults’ insurance from being cancelled when they get sick, that keep families from being bankrupted by medical bills, or that give patients rights to fight the huge legal departments of billion dollar insurers considered “socialism?” Aren’t these fair and compassionate measures that should be supported by all Americans of good will, and particularly those of faith?

It is particularly maddening to listen to the protests of older Americans who are already on a government-run health care plan, Medicare, a “public option” if there ever was one. None of us would willingly give Medicare up, I am sure, despite its socialistic roots! Sadly, a recent survey by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of the country’s seniors still believe erroneously that the law created a new government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare. How can people fall for such deception? In truth, the legislation aims to capture productivity savings in the health system to save Medicare money. And the “doughnut hole” in Bush’s deeply flawed and wildly expensive Medicare Part D drug coverage will be closed over time. Medicare certainly does have some long term economic problems that must be addressed, but this is not the fault of the current health care reform law.

Of course, the insurance industry is up in arms. Many have notified their customers that premiums will increase dramatically in 2011 because of these provisions. Analyses of the law’s immediate impact by a number of non-partisan groups, including one large insurer, Highmark Blue Cross of Pennsylvania, estimate a mere 1-2 percent true impact on premiums. So, what will actually increase dramatically in 2011 is the insurance companies’ already outrageous profits. It escapes me why so many people are so anxious to protect the profits of the insurers, rather than looking at what the law does for them and their loved ones.

Of course, none of this matters to Republicans who will use any hyperbole to win back Congress in November. So, if you don’t care about getting preventive care to keep from getting ill, if you wouldn’t mind having your or your children’s’ insurance cancelled when you or they get sick, or if you are positive that you will never get so sick that you might be impoverished by medical bills, by all means vote Republican. They have already promised to do their best to roll back these benefits!

John Porco

No Dry Gulch

Dear Editor:

A few years ago, we experienced an event not unlike that portrayed by Meredith Willson in “the Music Man.” Whether our flim flam man left with full or empty pockets, I do not know. I do know is that we “bought the farm;” er, I mean the ranch. The stranger had a solution to a problem that he would create. Our problem was a “water shortage.” The drought of 2002 had stressed our water system, and the nerves of our residents. The stranger had only to magnify this concern into a fear, and he did so. His solution was not a band. It was land. He called for the purchase of a reservoir site; a site to which it is rumored, he had connections. We were “dry gulched” by this stranger. When the locals began using less water each year, an affliction was set loose on our water system, and another on its personnel. The first sucked up water at an increasing rate. The amount of water that was treated, but not delivered, rose at a rate of 10 percent per year. Leaky pipes and paper losses were the “reasons.” The second affliction was apathy, apathy toward the diagnosis of these losses. Our demand for water has been level for nearly a decade. Meanwhile the amount of water treated that “disappears” is now 30 percent. The need or a new reservoir can be postponed for decades, if these losses are addressed. Keep Dry Gulch dry!

John S. Ramberg

Editor’s note: The claim that 30 percent of treated water is lost has yet to be confirmed.

Clear choice

Dear Editor:

Bruce Whitehead is the clear choice for the Colorado Senate for southwest Colorado. In his service in the Senate, he has demonstrated his ability to quickly understand complex issues and to work with multiple stakeholders to come up with solutions that work well for all interests. Bruce is recognized as THE water expert in the Colorado legislature, and he has used that standing and expertise multiple times to ensure that southwest Colorado has the water resources that it needs to continue to improve our economy. Bruce also understands the need to protect the natural beauty that keeps so many of us living here in the best part of Colorado. His recent success in increasing the requirements for use of renewable energy by investor owned utilities and cleaning up power plants will benefit all of Colorado and the nation in the long run.

Let’s keep Colorado and our nation moving forward by electing a Senator who has proven he will protect our resources while providing for a thriving economy. Ballots will be in the mail soon, with election day on Nov. 2. Be sure to vote.

Gary Skiba

Durango

Spelling lesson

Dear Editor:

How do you spell Pagosa Springs?

This past five months, while a visitor in your town, I spelled it this way:

P — Playing bridge at the Silver Foxes Den; enjoying the meals and the new friends.

A — Art in the galleries; at silent auctions; on display everywhere, your paper publicizing the Art in the Garden and various classes.

G — Going mushroom hunting, to the museum, to the Fourth of July parade and activities, plus a wonderful quilt show and the “Whips” summer meetings.

O — On stage, the “Annie” musical and other dramatic performances.

S — Seeing and attending wonderful Red Hat events.

A — Attending the Methodist Church worship, Sunday School discussions and a workshop to better understand those we work with.

S — St. Patrick’s special musical workshop with outstanding guest lecturer and Sunday Night Unplugged services.

P — Praying with ladies of the Grace Church and attending their “Ordinary People” workshop.

R — Rodeo riders, reading in the summer-time program, yummy recipes received.

I — Investigating interesting stores downtown, mixing my own “happy tea” and attending an orchid workshop.

N — Nighttime musical evenings and great food. Beautiful floating balloons.

G — Golden aspen leaf trees cascading down dark green mountains.

S — Sitting on my condo deck and thanking our Creator that I had a great son and friend who said I’d be happy here this summer. I was. I stayed a month longer than I planned.

I grew older here this summer and perhaps these words from Robert Browning mean more to we senior citizens. Here are Robert Browning’s words to share with you.

“Why stay we on this earth, except to grow? If we can’t increase our skills, expand our knowledge, and enlarge our souls, what is the point of growing old?

After we finish growing physically, we are not grown up. Now we focus on interior growth to expand awareness, sensitivity, and love. Let’s grow up together.”

As I travel back to Texas, I will remember the above words, summer events and faces I associate with each. Thank you Pagosa Springs for a wonderful summer.

Darlene Warring

Donna, Texas

Concern

Dear Editor:

To Krogers:

Thank you so much for your service, concern and beautification for downtown Pagosa Springs. Your contributions to our community are just awesome and an example of how corporate America can contribute, have concern and control our economy and well being.

James R. White