People come here to live and visit because we’re a small community, fairly out of the rat race and because of our beautiful natural environment. They do not come here primarily to ride a merry-go-round or other thrill seeking mechanical amusement rides. So, rather than injecting some artificial, expensive, out of character and man made monstrosity into the picture, why not build on our real and natural (ontological) strength.
If we begin by enhancing the natural beauty of Reservoir Hill — our park — which we have already started, and follow that up with some noninvasive, low-cost amenities, the citizenry and town will be better served. There are a couple of signs on the east end of town as you enter. One says, “The Best of Colorado,” the other, “Preserve America.” Do we mean what they say or are they just trendy sayings?
All the money that will come into our community and increased tourist traffic as a result of their major facelift plan is just a paper projection and hopeful thinking of the TTC. And what will we the citizens of Pagosa Springs pay for such wishful thinking? The loss of a park. Significant and detrimental character change to the area. Unforeseen and undesirable problems that will inevitably develop. Not to mention the financial albatross that will hang around our collective necks for years to come in the very likely event their numbers don’t add up.
To go into debt on a radical, pie in the sky, pipe dream is not only fiscally irresponsible, but also an unwarranted affront to our local citizens. It is a prime example of unnecessary government interference. Most citizens do not expect or even want the government to become their savior. History has shown us how easily that leads to totalitarianism and the loss of spontaneity and freedom. What we should demand from our government is less intrusion in our lives, to simply take care of normal business, and to become less authoritarian and more citizen friendly.
2000 years ago, I was flying (some gulf airline) out of the Mideast. Amazed was the word for my reaction as I watched the ladies under veil counting hugh piles of dollars in the lounges. Wow, I thought, little did I know about feminism in the Mideast. Then we taxied toward takeoff. Wow was understated; off came the veils, double drinks, cigs everywhere … we were headed for the decadent West.
Months later, their season over, I was headed back into Saudi Arabia. Same general set of folks. Landing was damn near shock level traumatic; back came the veils, drinks disappeared, we landed, veiled heads down we disembarked. They were home Why, I kept asking myself, why did the women go back? To be treated badly and live a tenuous wedded life at best. Why?
“The Arab world has been through great change in the last year, we have seen revolutions where people took to the streets to demand change,” said Nima Abu Warda. She added that, in her view, democracy is not about people agreeing in unison but about those who care — those who bother to vote or champion a cause, which in turn may bring about or effect change. “What are you doing to enable yourself or other women to effect change? It could be as simple as this,” she said holding up a copy of “Desert Dawn.”
Then Rush Limbaugh uttered the putrid garbage of the Republican Party, slandering a woman who had the gonads to honestly testify to Congress …”slut ... whore ...she wants sexual freedom ...hold an aspirin between your knees.“ My first thought was Rush would do well with the guys with the Rhino horn daggers. My second thought was, why would Republican women defend him — or Santorum or Romney. Why?
I read in The SUN that Wal-Mart plans to build a 100,000-square-foot building at an estimated cost of eighty dollars per square foot and the school board planned to build a 160,000-square-foot building for 49 million at a cost of about 300 dollars per square foot. Granted, a school building would require interior partitions, but as long ago as the fifties the laboratory buildings at Bell Labs and Sandia National Laboratory were designed with interior walls that could be readily moved and modified to accommodate changing requirements.?
Two hundred dollars per square foot is top dollar for building schools in the USA and the 160 square-feet-per-student (based on an enrolment of about 1,000 elementary and junior high students) is far in excess that usually allotted to elementary students. Typically, 100 square-feet-per-student is the norm for elementary grade students. Greater area is required for junior and senior high students.
I realize other costs are associated with the school board’s proposal, namely tearing down the school buildings in town. I think it would be a shame to tear down these buildings, especially now that one will have a new roof. The town will be faced with two more empty spaces. Far better in my opinion, would be to convert these buildings into office space or space for retail businesses, a call center or light manufacturing as was done in Durango or in my old home town of Hornell, N.Y. When I hired on with Minneapolis-Honeywell sixty years ago our offices and laboratories were located in a refurbished old folk’s home.
I believe the school board should sharpen their pencils and reduce the costs of the new school significantly and then re-submit the proposal to the taxpayers.
I must confess, I the infamous Arboles Troglodyte, Neanderthal, Antediluvian, Zillionaire and Cavern Bat did spend six years in the third grade. I kept copying the work of my good friend, Jim Sawicki.
While it may seem Republicans and Democrats disagree on a lot, there is one matter upon they both agree — at least in Archuleta County — campaign finance reform. The two parties approved similar resolutions at their County Assemblies, sending the resolutions onto their respective state parties. We dare say this may be a first around the country.
Here’s what we said:
• The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v F.E.C. permits special interest corporate, union, 527/PAC, Super PAC, 501(c)(4), and other unknown organizational funding of campaign ads that distort our political process by allowing them to produce ads misrepresenting truths while simultaneously obscuring both the source and agenda of the money;
• This has allowed candidates to not only avoid the transparency required for informed decision making by the electorate, but also to avoid responsibility for the content of and accountability for false information in the ads being run either in their favor or attacking their opponents;
• Justice James C Nelson, Montana Supreme Court, dissent in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, December 2011 stated: “Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government.”
And here’s what we agree we want to do about it:
1. Affirm that no organization or thing except a naturally born human being may be recognized as a “person” enjoying inalienable rights under the first ten amendments to the Constitution, included solely and exclusively to enumerate certain natural rights of natural people (humans) of the United States and protect them from government interference and intrusion.
2. A candidate may collect and bundle contributions for all purposes in furtherance of their campaign, but other person(s) and entities are prohibited from any action that would further a campaign or oppose a campaign. This provision specifically prohibits PACs, SuperPACs, 527s, and 501(c)(4s) corporations, unions, or any other person or entity from contributing money for or opposing a candidate.
We are pleased to be in agreement about these core issues so vital to the integrity of the election process. We want to put candidates and campaigns on notice that we are serious and will hold them accountable for these standards in the elections to come.
Becky Herman (Chair of the Archuleta County Democrats)
Jim Huffman (Chair of the Archuleta County Republican Party)
Aspen Springs Metro board is planning to add additional cluster boxes. If you are interested in obtaining a box, call Lisa at 731-2758. Please respond by 4/15/12 so that an accurate number of boxes can be ordered.
Dave Schanzenbaker is a longtime resident of Pagosa Springs and is running for Town Council. Dave is a green builder and an outdoor enthusiast but, above all, he is a thoughtful and creative thinker. As a friend, I know that Dave is a person of character and, as a builder, I have seen the quality and care he gives to each project he undertakes. If elected, Dave will bring this character and pride in his work to the job of council member. The town needs fresh ideas and an infusion of new blood to take us into the future. David has no axe to grind and will fairly listen to all sides of an issue. He is committed to transparency in government and will ensure that the people of Pagosa Springs are included in the decision making process. If you believe it is time for a positive change in town government, then cast your vote for David.
The Music Boosters’ presentation of Band-O-Rama last Saturday evening was one of the finest local musical performances of the decade. It was without doubt a showcase of some of the most incredible musical talent we are blessed with here in Pagosa Country. My sincere thanks to the Boosters staff for making this event affordable, the musicians young and seasoned for their time of giving many hours to practice and rehearsal. The finale of “God Bless America” had the audience on their feet waving flags and singing along, I found myself choked up, with tears in my eyes. An event such as this is what makes our community “The Best of Colorado” and the music is the glue that binds us together.
Even though I have strong political views, I have always felt that Americans get the government they deserve, i.e. they voted them in! In short, we live in a democracy. So, even when I thought the election results were foolish or wrong, I was comforted by the thought that at least the majority of Americans got what we wanted. Not so anymore.
Increasingly, people deny the validity of election results. There is no such thing as an electoral mandate any longer unless it is for a politician you personally agree with. I think this trend is a major contributing factor to the ineffectiveness of our leadership at the federal, state and local level. And it has some basis in reality. It is increasingly obvious that the nearly unregulated flood of money into political campaigns amounts to legal bribery of our elected representatives, so they are not perceived as representing us but rather the monied interests that bought their election.
The corrosive influence of money in politics undermines our confidence in our democratic processes and delegitimizes the entire governing structure (including the Supreme Court). That is why Pagosa residents of all political persuasions are taking a stand against the undue influence of money in politics.
If you feel like our form of democracy is threatened by money in politics, please take the time to come and support this group. We are working to make these concerns known and to seek some actions that will restore confidence that our democracy truly represents “We the people.” The group will meet again on Saturday, April 21, at 4:30. The location is Greenbriar Plaza, corner N. Pagosa Blvd and Park, Unit B15.
Part of the efforts of the local group Money Out of Politics (Money-Out-of-Politics.org) is an initiative on full disclosure of campaign finance. We call this “Into the Light.” Since the Supreme Court in its Citizens United ruling made it all but impossible to regulate corporate influence on campaigns, the only thing left for this election cycle is swift and thorough disclosure.
The presence of huge sums of undisclosed, unlimited and unregulated contributions to candidates and PACs/SuperPACS erodes the trust in elections as being fair, transparent and operating in the best interests of the common voter. Into the Light means to report factual data on whom and what is giving how much to our candidates. In this way we help return elections to the people, and out of the hands of shadow contributors.
To this end we use the FEC’s Disclosure Data Base (www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/disclosure_data_search.shtml) , the Colorado Secretary of State’s Tracer system (http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov/PublicSite/homepage.aspx ), the independent group Open Secrets data (www.opensecrets.org/ ), and the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer (http://sunlightfoundation.com/about/) to publicly list the sources of funds in our elections. The first installment of this initiative, next week, will focus on Rep. Tipton’s contributors, followed by Rep. Pace, Rep. Brown,and Mike McLachlan. Each week one candidate; we will update the information as available. We make every effort to use reliable data bases and insure accuracy. Should any error be discovered, let us know and a prompt correction will be immediate. And we will do the same for those inevitable pesky ads that will soon begin to appear in print and on the air.
These reports will present key results: full information and sources will be posted on our website, http://money-out-of-politics.org/, with brief summaries on our Facebook wall, www.facebook.com/pages/MoneyOutofPolitics/106776296117893?sk=wall. Our team meets publically every third Saturday from 4:30-6 p.m. Next meeting is April 21. If you are interested in joining us, drop an e-mail to MoveToAmend.Pagosa@yahoo.com and we will get you on our update list for events and meetings.
Also, there is legislation afoot to force full disclosure. The DISCLOSE Act would require reporting of contributions within 24 hours, force major donors to be named in ads and require corporations and other groups, such as labor unions, to tell shareholders and members whom or what they’re supporting. Find out more at http://www.discloseact.com/. If you like it, tell your Senators and Representative to vote for it.
See you next week.
Last year about this time, I wrote to encourage LPEA cooperative members to be active and vote for their choice on the Board of Directors. My point was that as a cooperative, we members have an obligation to be involved and help steer the Coop by choosing our representatives to the board. This year I am repeating my plea to vote your ballot. As you think about what direction you want to steer the board, please consider a few points. 1. Your base charges have just been increased though your usage rates have not increased — so no matter how much you conserve, your base charge is going up?
2. The price of coal continues to rise and will rise further as China continues to purchase coal contracts. Over half of LPEA’s electricity comes from coal. Unless we further diversify our energy sources, prices will continue to rise.
3. R. James Woolsey advocates for distributed generation of electricity as a security issue. Relying on a few, large production facilities is less secure than developing multiple, diversified sources.
4. Here in Pagosa, we have the resources to develop both biomass and geothermal power plants. And we have the sunshine to support multiple solar projects. These kind of diversified projects bring new sources of jobs, new construction, new energy.
5. The current LPEA board has been somewhat supportive of renewables, though they have not gone beyond what is required of them by the state and have recently eliminated rebates for photo-voltaic (solar) net metering. The recent base charge increase indicates less of an emphasis on conservation and small energy production projects.
6. The majority of the current board was on the board back in 2003 when they voted to actively oppose Amendment 37 — meaning they decided to use our membership money to lobby us to vote against renewables.
I sometimes hear that these are radical points and that the Coop is in danger if folks with ideas about local economic development, energy security, diversification of energy production and cost control start using their influence to steer the LPEA. It was not too long ago (well it was 1978, but let’s pretend that’s not long ago), that the last all-male class at the Naval Academy told me that I was a radical for wanting to join their ranks. They told me that as a (radical) woman, I would ruin the Navy and risk the security of the United States. By the time I graduated from the Academy in 1982, my classmates and I had proven that not only is change good, but that it makes an institution strong. And we went on to build a stronger, more secure Navy. The Coop can only benefit as more folks get involved and help move LPEA forward.
Please consider these points as you vote your LPEA ballot. It will be in the mail to you April 20.
A new training program started this week at the Pagosa Springs Humane Society’s shelter.
Marnie George is teaching clicker training to volunteers to help de-stress the dogs, staff and visitors, and to help the dogs become more adoptable. Clicker training is a unique method that has been used successfully to train all kinds of animals. It is easy to learn and intuitive with a little practice, and pain-free for trainer and trainee. Marnie is sharing her skill and experience of many years of how to “click” with dogs who are in great need of new homes, but who may not be, at first glance, the dog you want to share your home and life with.
I have not volunteered at shelters as much as I would like because I feel so bad for the animals caged all the time. We humans can be very difficult to get along with. Barking, biting, too much energy, running away, chewing the couch up, all can land a dog in a shelter where there are no more couches to chew up and not much else to do. Life is routine to the point of mind-numbing boredom. The frenzy and tension of all that caged-up energy is enough to frustrate anybody.
The people who work in shelters have somehow learned to carry on for the sake of the animals, to give them the best life possible under the conditions mandated by society and the limited funds they are budgeted. Pagosa Springs Humane Society has made a lot of really important renovations recently and has good support from the community. They need more. They need funds and they need volunteers. Clicker training and socialization works on the buddy system, a dog and his buddy. The dogs we’ve worked with this week are learning fast what clicker training is about, faster than us humans. Their body posture and focus on us indicates a desire to learn, to please, to go home with someone who will be their best buddy.
In a few weeks, visitors will walk into the shelter and be amazed at how quiet it is. They will see dogs waiting to greet them with dignity and respect. They will still see that hope and yearning in each dog’s eyes that this time, this person will want to take them home.
Finally hit a nerve. Let’s stop giving it all away. Nothing can bring you down like your hometown (Carol Turner, Wild Blooms). I’m keeping a little something for myself. I literally sob and weep as I write this. In a world of overdevelopment and, “Gee, look at all the money we can make.” If we build that, i.e. ziplines and permanent structures on Reservoir Hill, it will ruin that natural environment of our wilderness park. My hat is off, so far, to the powers that be for the ultra fine music, kids’ functions and natural recreational opportunities afforded to us, by us, in our park on Reservoir Hill. Permanent structures, ziplines, all equal control. By people, not by the people. The festival world is much better than the real world.
Hear me out: We have one of the premier bluegrass festivals — yes, in our world, which is Pagosa Springs. Let’s give credit to the people and dub them with the word visionaries, who use and respect the natural surroundings of Reservoir Hill (take only pictures, leave only footprints). We love you all. Keep it green. What would an early American rendezvous fur trapper and mountain man event, or a renaissance fair, the queens court and knights of old, Robin Hood (future events) be without natural surroundings.
But, alas, there is a super modern music stage. I guess zip ines can be used to hang banners and enemies of the crown. We are Pagosa. Let’s get real. Water is a must; electrical power is a must for a good sound system. Frisbee golf? (go, guys). Permanent structures? Get real. The words Wilderness Park come to mind.
Let’s not cave in to the pressure to develop our precious and unique natural resource, Reservoir Hill. It’s a lot like a unicorn, very hard to find. Oh, and did I mention that it’s horse friendly and dog friendly, too? But I can almost see us losing those rights, too.
Our votes and words do make a difference here in Pagosa Springs. Remember Loma Linda and the peace sign? Let’s keep Reservoir Hill for ourselves and future generations of nature-loving people. Remember, once they take control of our hill, it becomes theirs, not ours. So, let’s please keep this tiny piece of Pagosa Springs for ourselves and our children, and let’s support the people who have thus far used our park and kept environmental impact to a minimum. Look at what Walt Disney created! And be careful what we wish for. There is only so much Pagosa to go around. So let’s quit giving it away. Let’s keep a little something for ourselves.
Michael A. Turner