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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

In the recent letter from Mr. Witkowski, concerning Obama, his final reason not to reelect Obama states that “He has replaced the flag on the tail of Air Force One with his campaign logo at a cost of $500,000 to taxpayers money …” This quotes exactly a widely circulated e-mail which was proven to be totally false. The picture used in the e-mail is of Obama’s campaign jet from his 2008 presidential plane, not either of the Air Force Ones which do in fact still have the US Flag Emblem.

I didn’t fact check the rest of the letter as I’m sure the results would be similar.

If Mr. Witkowski believes everything he reads on the Internet, I’ll send him some of the e-mails I get about winning a $1,000,000 in an African lottery which requires I send them my bank account number.

Whomever you vote for in the upcoming Presidential Election or any election, please base your reasons on facts, not lies.

Dan Bartley

We the people

Dear Editor:

Some little known facts about our Constitution: Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven took one year or less to become the law of the land — all because of public pressure. The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18-year-olds) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? The people demanded it. That was in 1971 — before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

What’s your point, you ask. Just this. In order to survive as a democracy, we need a 28th amendment to the Constitution reversing the calamitous effects of the 2009 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs FEC — the decision that opened the flood gates of money being spent by large legal entities (such as corporations and super pacs) to buy our elections. That decision essentially said that these entities enjoy the same 1st amendment rights that We the People enjoy and that money is speech. According to his line of reasoning the power of a multimillion dollar international corporation to spend unlimited dollars to influence our elections is equal to my vote … and yours.

How do Americans feel about this? A whopping 85 percent of voters said that corporations have too much influence over the political system, and 93 percent said that average citizens have too little. Across all parties, a full 62 percent specifically oppose Citizens United. Clearly among citizens this is not a partisan issue.

The 89 members of Congress who have endorsed one of the 13 federal resolutions to overturn Citizens United introduced thus far during the 112th Congress are supporting this constituency. In addition, and as significant is the groundswell of support at the local and state level. To name just a few, the City Councils of New York City, NY, Oakland, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Albany, NY, Missoula, MT have all adopted their own resolutions, as have the legislatures of Hawaii, New Mexico and Vermont. When given the chance to vote directly in town meetings, the citizens of 64 towns across the state of Vermont passed ballot measures supporting a constitutional amendment. In our state both Senators Udall and Bennett have signed on; the cities of Boulder and Pueblo have passed resolutions as has the Archuleta Board of County Commissions and the local Dems and GOP. Getting a resolution on the Town agenda has proven more of a challenge.

Dear reader, as November approaches and it becomes clear that the voice of We the People is being overwhelmed by corporate and superpac money, you may want to join our local group — Money out of Politics — at our monthly meetings, third Saturday of the month at #15 Greenbriar Plaza, corner of N. Pagosa and Park from 4:30 to 6. We are in this for the long haul. Take a look at

For a complete list of federal, state and local bills and resolutions introduced or passed in support of amending the Constitution to undo the harm of Citizens United see People For the American Way at

Pauline Benetti


Dear Editor:

I still can’t believe the town is actually considering allowing Wal-Mart to build a big box at Alpha Drive and Highway 160 in Aspen Village. Many have heard town manager David Mitchem claim the zoning is appropriate, the code doesn’t require any new impact studies, etc. Really?

When one looks at the LUDC the town often refers to, one sees that the mixed-use portions speak of a mix of residential and light commercial development. Light commercial development.

How can the town possibly expect us to accept that a 93,000-square-foot Wal-Mart in Archuleta County is compliant with a provision for “light” commercial? Will the town ignore the language of its codes? Will it ignore the impact on the residents already established in the neighborhood who will have a superstore shoved down their throats as “light commercial?”

Business owners in Aspen Village have stated the Aspen Village Development was represented as a pedestrian-friendly community with most of the retail portions to be located east of Aspen Village Drive (Cornerstone area). The retail area will have swung completely to the west with a Wal-Mart, a real slap in the face to those who were given a differing promise.

Also, by allowing Wal-Mart to build adjoining the residential area, the town will have decided it can substantially change what these people have planned on and destroy their investments. The LUDC is very clear that the loading areas of commercial shall not face residential areas. Perhaps this would not be such a big deal if the building proposed were a bank or hair salon or some other “light” retail store. But it’s not; it’s Wal-Mart, 24/7 lights, smell from air conditioners and dumpsters, semi’s fumes and noise… “Light commercial?” Get real.

Ann M. Bubb


Dear Editor:

As part of the press, I assume that you respect and strive to uphold the 1st Amendment. For those without a computer here is the First Amendment: “Congress (government) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Why then do you remain silent and on the side lines watching part of PS Town Council restrict the people to peaceable assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances? Further, how can you remain silent when the resolution voted on Tuesday endeavors to silence dissenting members within Town Council as well? Please see this for what it is: the bulldozing of our town by a limited and single focused group attempting to stripe our constitutional rights. Remember how important the first amendment is to you as a unbiased news organization.

You allow trivial and sordid front page articles about murder because it sells papers, but stand idly by, essentially supporting those working to stifle our constitutional rights? Now that is a story. Are you under the thumb of the Mayor as well? If you are not beholden to the Mayor, then prove it and stand up to his illegal proceedings. Come out against what he is doing. That will sell papers and make your publication believable.

Jorge Chamizo

Little Sand Fire

Dear Editor:

This is to let you know of the amazing job that has been done with the Little Sand Creek fire in the upper Piedra in both Archuleta and Hinsdale Counties.

With up to sixty mile an hour winds, the fire advanced in all directions at a frightening rate. It grew to over two thousand acres in three days and proceeded to within two miles of the historic Martin/Poma Ranch in the lower Weminuche Valley.

Within twelve hours of the time it was declared a category two fire, there were about forty Hot Shot fire fighters and five or six pumper engines on the Ranch from our local San Juan National Forest as well as from Wyoming, South Dakota, Aurora, Colorado Springs and Leadville. Fire lines were established post haste and brush and fuel was cleared and hauled away from around sixteen buildings. Over 4,000 feet of fire hose was set in place to deliver water to sprinklers surrounding each building.

Equally impressive and effective was the communication and coordination between Forest Service officials Kevin Khung, Mark Stiles and Todd Pechota, Hinsdale County Commissioners Stan Whinnery and Cindy Dozier, Hinsdale Undersheriff’s Justin Casey, State Forester Tim Cudmore, Archuleta County Emergency Manager Drew Peterson and Road and Bridge Supervisor David Guilliams, and Hinsdale road crew Gene Snow and Warren Decker.

The result is a well coordinated, highly effective and efficient turnaround of a 5,000 acre fire that is rapidly being contained and reduced to a standstill. By the time this is printed, the transition back to a category three status will have been completed. While it will be weeks if not months before this fierce wildfire is completely subdued, it has quickly and effectively been scaled back to minimal danger to private property and public lands.

With great appreciation and gratitude to all the above and to the many others not mentioned above.

Karen and Dean Cox

V. A. Poma Ranch

Wal-Mart, fire

Dear Editor:

Well, I cannot take it anymore! I really feel Pagosa citizens are being railroaded! Every time there is some form of “meeting on Wal-Mart,” the citizens aren’t allowed input or dissension! What’s up with that? This is our city and we should be able to decide its fate! But it seems the mayor and city council are doing this alone.

Could it be, given the recent revelation of the exposure of the Mexican buy off/perks, that this is the “golden parachute” for the mayor and several city council members … will they be retiring soon? I cannot believe the top position of mayor has been held by one person for so long. It seems this has given him the idea that he is untouchable and owner of this city so that he can make decisions and not bring the citizens in on what “he” decides to do! Term limits would fix that and keep the business of the city in the citizens’ hands and not the mayor’s/city council’s hands. Thus eliminating the feeling that they “own and run” the city their way, no matter what the citizens want … apparently Wal-Mart and a theme park on Reservoir Hill aren’t it!

Who stands to benefit from this decision of a Wal-Mart in town? Apparently, there was a lot of cover up now that the land purchase in the Alpha Subdivision happened in 2009! Indeed the smelly rat is getting more rotten! I say we halt and desist on this Wal-Mart deal til more info has come to light … maybe til we are rid of the scoundrels that are in cahoots in this deal and the citizens of Pagosa Springs have decided what we want to do!

Remember, Old Sam built his empire because of a vendetta against a man that wouldn’t let him into his business … he is steamrolling everyone in his path … don’t let Pagosa be one of his victims!

Who was the deciding person to allow the Little Sand Fire to become a control burn? Does no one check the weather forecast? Do we have a bunch of little boys that love to see a fire burn? The area is dry, no rain is predicted anytime soon, the winds are up? Not to mention, there is a controlled burn ban! It should have been put out immediately. I realize fires are a natural part of forests, but it seems the people that want to participate in these “controlled burns” don’t understand the word “controlled,” nor the fact there is a “ban” on them. It is a waste of our natural resources, our animals and quite possibly our homes and lives, not to mention the ones that have to fight a wildfire, to allow people who don’t seem to have a secure method for this without causing a catastrophe! And the most important is the timing … after rains, after the grasses are green, when there is no wind, when it can be controlled. It seems someone needs to look into this and get some answers. Then there needs to be some form of protocol on when, where and how before any more burns are allowed, which I thought was what the governor had mandated!

Don’t get me wrong. Our fire department and firefighters are the best … it’s the ones above that make the decisions that need to be questioned.

Susan Crane

Obama rebuttal

Dear Editor:

Eugene Witkowski asserted last week that the 53 percent of Americans approving gay marriage “placed their narcissistic self-gratification ahead of God’s law” using Bible quotes to defend his position. Problem is — that’s a Christian interpretation of God’s law that Eugene wishes to impose on all citizens regardless of their spirituality.

My Christian denomination prohibits its clergy from performing same-sex marriages. I can live with that for now and choose to remain a member of my congregation. However, it’s not appropriate in the United States for a religious group to impose its beliefs on others claiming some special relationship with God Almighty as justification for restricting their pursuit of civil rights and liberties.

I’ve heard prophesies of moral decline caused by television, teenage long hair, feminism, the pill, and racial integration. I put Eugene’s dramatic prognostications in the same fear-mongering category.

Eugene was dead-on right to be outraged at Bethesda Naval Hospital banning all religious items from the hospital. That restrictive policy, however, was issued by the Walter Reed Chief of Staff — not by President Obama. The policy was rescinded within a matter of days due to Congressional and citizen outcry.

Eugene erred again saying President Obama replaced the National Day of Prayer with dinners in honor of Ramadan. There is no official ceremony established for the National Day of Prayer and only rarely has a President hosted an event on the Prayer Day. President Obama issued the typical, annual proclamation and did not replace the Day with Islamic festivities or observances.

Finally, the charge that President Obama replaced the American Flag on the tail of Air Force One with his campaign logo is an outright lie rising to the kind of mistruths I would expect from Jim Sawicki. Go online and look at pictures of Air Force One and you’ll see our Flag is still there. Eugene is referring to a 2008 photo of Obama’s campaign airplane — not Air Force One.

It’s difficult enough for citizens to govern our country through our elected representatives when people invoke patriotism, Christianity or God to spread vicious rumors, character assassinations and deceptions (lies) intended to promote a particular political or moral view.

It’s not the homosexuals we need to fear regarding marriage, and not the Muslims or blacks we need to fear regarding our freedoms. To quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Jay Davison

Forget the lift

Dear Editor:

My suggestion to the people of Pagosa is to forget the ski lift and instead build a one giga watt (one billion) power plant at the site of the old sawmill. The SUN letter writers assure us it will be benign and the Pagosa political machine can easily squash a few NIMBYs.

The average American uses about 10,000 watts so the power plant will supply 100,000 people or about enough power for SW Colorado. A power plant needs two items, fuel and cooling water. Electric power plants operate at about 35 percent efficiency (Google Saudi Carnot) so three giga watts of fuel are required, one for useful work, the other two for waste heat. A power plant needs a radiator and exhaust pipes just like your car. Two giga watts of waste heat are sufficient to raise the temperature of the San Juan, whose summer time flow is about 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) by about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Should the fan belt break on your car or power plant cooling towers fail it is kaput. For nuclear power plants it is kaput big time.

At Mr. Sawicki’s request the plant will be designed to run on coal. The plant will require about 400 hundred 20 ton truck loads (8,000 tons) of coal per day or one industry standard coal train of 100-90 ton cars per day.

The plant will emit about 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day with a few truck loads of ash. The good thing about coal is that it is readily available at the Chimney Rock mine and no doubt coal trucks motoring through downtown Pagosa will be a delight to members of the CDC. The plant could be designed to run on natural gas, using about 250 million standard cubic feet (SCF) per day, with about half the carbon dioxide emission and no ash but Jim will never agree to any plan that benefits Mother Nature.

The population of the U.S. is about 300 million so we must multiply the results of our Pagosa Plant by 3,000 to obtain the results for the entire country. If we use the Mississippi (600,000 cfs average at New Orleans) to cool the nation’s power plants, the water will be steaming when it enters the Gulf.

In view of the above calculations, the often-made claim that every drop of water that falls on the U.S. goes through the cooling towers of electric power plants seems plausible.

Bob Dungan


Sign a contract

Dear Editor:

Wal-Mart projects are often heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, but there is usually no guarantee that the project’s “ripple effects” will actually benefit current residents. In addition, big developments like Wal-Mart do have predictable, verifiable negative impacts to the community. Mitigation plans should be required and developed before the project is approved by Town Council and documented in an enforceable contract.

A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is a contract. It is a process for the community, Wal-Mart and local officials to create an overall win-win-win scenario.

The main goals of the CBA are:

Inclusiveness: While some towns do a good job of seeking community input and responding to it, many do not.

A CBA provides a forum for all parts of an affected community.

Enforceability: A CBA ensures that Wal-Mart will deliver on its promises.

Accountability: CBAs enable citizens to hold governments accountable for the use of tax dollars by giving them a voice in how development subsidies are distributed.

Here is a sample of some items to include in a Wal-Mart/Town of Pagosa Springs CBA:

• Jobs. Make sure the numbers of jobs promised are actually created (175-200) and that most are local hires.

• No sales tax rebates. Since this is a primary for the Town, let’s make sure we get the maximum sales tax benefits.

• No infrastructure taxpayer assistance for costs necessary to make the land usable, including widening or improvement of roads such as Alpha Drive, water and sewer lines, moving wetlands, sewage pumps and other forms of infrastructure.

• No property tax breaks. Wal-Mart should pay its own way — like other businesses do.

• No Tax Increment Financing of improvements subsidizing projects by diverting a portion of the increased property (and/or sales) tax expected to be generated by a new development.

• No tax-exempt bond financing. Do not allow the Town to issues bonds in their name to help finance Wal-Mart. This is another kind of subsidy.

• Have Wal-Mart contribute to the PSCDC for Small Business Assistance Services. Studies by economists document that Wal-Mart causes existing retailers to downsize and layoff employees, Wal-Mart should pay for assistance to help our small businesses adapt.

• Have Wal-Mart contribute to the added costs of public services. Big box development creates substantial public costs. Studies have shown that cities that approve big box development experience higher public costs, a decline in property and sales tax revenue and an increase in cost for human services such as public healthcare and food stamps.

• Get agreement from Wal-Mart to donate the building back to the community if the store closes. As of November 2011, Wal-Mart had 152 vacant or soon-to-be-vacant stores across the country.

• Cleanup parking lot runoff. Runoff from the proposed Wal-Mart parking lot (with fertilizers, other lawn chemicals, oil from the parking lot) goes directly into wetlands then drains into Pinion Lake, which would impact wildlife, fishing and nearby homeowners.

• Enforcement of Dark Skies lighting and hours — especially since Wal-Mart will abut a rural subdivision and light does not stop at Town boundaries.

Muriel Eason

Wal-Mart fowl

Dear Editor:

I just read an e-mail from the group known as “Pagosa First” what a great effort they are putting forward to stop this atrocity from entering our community.

I don’t know if this will help their efforts or not, but I have been writing to the EPA and the Migratory Bird and Water Fowl Foundation in attempt to get their attention and to encourage someone to come take a look at the proposed site for the Wal-Mart. If we all send letters, to these or other agencies that protects these migratory animals, it might get their attention.

I have lived on McCabe Street just behind Aspen Village for 23 years and every year I have watched migratory birds fly in to this exact area to breed, build nests, lay eggs, and raise their young. Just take a good look at the low lying areas that are always moist, even in drought times and notice the reeds growing. It’s a perfect habitat for any number of birds.

Sam Goulds

Missing part

Dear Editor:

Something doesn’t add up:

Town limiting public input; inconsistencies in Town’s time line that we are only now learning about; the Wal-Mart bribery scandal; the planning board being un-welcoming of local participation; inconsistencies with David Mitchem’s job search, application mistruths; Town trying to pull a fast one on its residents; and on and on. Why?

Whenever my business partners and I can’t understand a situation we ask ourselves, ‘‘what are we missing “ or “what have we failed to see that will make the picture clear?” Invariably, we learn or find the missing element and the picture comes into focus and we are able to understand the situation and make sense of it.

Right now a part of the picture is being withheld. When it comes to light, the people of Pagosa Springs will have an ah-ha moment and say to themselves, “Why didn’t we or couldn’t we see this clearly before?” However, the missing part will come to light.

When it does, there will be great appreciation of and satisfaction for those who have said, “Something doesn’t add up, lets slow this process down.” And there will be consequences for those who have hidden their motivations for advancing Wal-Mart without due and lawful process, and respect for our town.

Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with businesses wanting to come to town. In fact, as a community you have sought to bring about just this. However, to have it happen to town with disregard for existing thoughtful and well researched ordinances put in place to shape town’s growth just feels wrong. That’s because it is wrong.

Pagosa Springs is a wonderful place and it’s where we plan on retiring. Our wish to the people of town is this: Trust your feelings, keep fighting for an open and entirely transparent public process. Don’t believe any “truths” advanced by anyone before you’ve checked the information, fight for our town’s future by insisting that the process not be rushed. Most importantly, don’t stop until you have the whole picture!

And, if you want to look for the missing part, look first to those who are fast tracking the process and ask them why. Make sure the answers really add up. When the picture is complete and understandable you will know that the process is serving the town and not being hijacked by someone’s special interest or hidden agenda.

Good luck and God speed.

Walter and Catherine James

Who’s in charge

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, Town Council will meet and vote on a restrictive resolution limiting public input during meetings. While the resolution likely adheres to the letter of the law, the spirit and sole purpose of the resolution is to limit free speech. Specifically, it strives to muzzle members of Town Council and the public who oppose Mayor Aragon and David Mitchem’s agenda, which appears to be to build a Wal-Mart in Pagosa as fast as possible with as little public input as possible.

The resolution begs the question of who is running our town. If it is Mayor Aragon, he is again working behind the scenes to impose his agenda. If it is David Mitchem, he is working to advance this agenda with the full backing and blessing of the Mayor. Otherwise, the Mayor would have stopped him. Therefore, I suggest, it is the Mayor’s agenda.

While perhaps staying thinly within the law, the Mayor is doing everything in his power to make Wal-Mart happen. As Jim McQuiggin reminds us in his Pagosa SUN article of last week, roughly two years ago Mayor Aragon stated that Wal-Mart would not happen in his lifetime! What has changed? Why has the Mayor changed his mind? Will he gain from this in a way we are not aware of yet? Are his attempts to control public opinion and input hiding a more private and less righteous motivation? Wal-Mart breaks laws outside the country. Are the laws Wal-Mart flagrantly breaks outside of the U.S., regarding bribing officials, now being broken within U.S. boundaries? Is that happening in Pagosa Springs? When a small group, loyal to and led by the Mayor, work so single-mindedly to achieve their objective, while muzzling the public and employing shaky and shady tactics, it begs the question of why they are doing it? Is David Mitchem’s lack of integrity influencing the Mayor? Or is the Mayor just learning from and using David Mitchem?

We know the Town Manager stretches the truth to serve his needs. Does it surprise anyone that he would go to any length to achieve his objective? Asking whether it is Mitchem or Mayor Aragon is a moot point. The point is: What do they stand to gain that drives them so relentlessly? What motivates them to seek to avoid due process? In a democratic society expression of public opinion is an integral part of healthy process and a healthy community. The Town wants to know why they are being squeezed out of the process! This has the makings of a scandal that could go national!

Susan Junta


Dear Editor:

I read last weeks’ report on the USJHSD which reported my resignation.

I was a little concerned that since my full letter was not printed in The Pagosa SUN that someone could misinterpret my reason for resignation.

In fact, I did have a couple of people call me for an explanation.

I think my full resignation letter to Neal Townsend the Chair really says it all. There was nothing negative in my reason and it was purely personal and timing. (Seems like bad timing with the other resignations of which I was unaware at the time of my writing my letter.)

But I want all of Archuleta County to know that I think we have a wonderful Hospital, really excellent physicians and providers and that our Administration is doing a great job. Many challenges are to come; but we are well situated to handle it. For a town and county our size what we have is truly amazing.

My Full letter:


My time in Alaska, another birthday and a lack of distractions has given me the chance to think and reassess my involvement in the Healthcare District.

I got involved in the Healthcare District much against my better judgement about 10 years ago. Against my better judgement, because I had retired and left 25 years working at a Medical School and Large Healthcare System in Dallas, Tx. I had survived multiple changes not only in the institutions; but also from all the medical changes & Rules & Regulations coming from the Government and Insurance Industries. Finally, for these & many other reasons, I decided I would prefer to retire, move to God’s country and enjoy life rather than continue to struggle with all the ever more “challenges” to healthcare. I felt that it was possible at that time to make a life change.

But, I got re-involved for good reasons as you well know; and this involved politics, many meetings and basically immersing myself back into what I had retired from. I had several goals at that time.

1. Help find and elect a Board of intelligent and open minded people who would work together to save, modernize and direct the Healthcare District.

2. Get these people elected and help develop a system that would continue these types of people on the Board into the future — with a mixture of Business and Medical Skills.

3. Help the District become Financially Viable.

4. Promote Primary Care as the foundation of our medical care.

5. Stabilize and enhance our EMS.

6. Develop & maintain 24 hour emergency care.

7. Develop a working relationship with Mercy (now Centura HCS) Hospital.

8. Make sure the “Six Point Plan” that was the Platform of the “Slate of Six” was accomplished as promised to the voters of Archuleta County who really made all of the above happen with their overwhelming votes.

While the work is never done and change is always taking place & always leaving more to be done — I feel that I have done what I set out to do. Of course, before I, Dick Blide, J.R. and many others set out on this course — I was living out my first goal — i.e. - to retire from Administrative work, travel and do some part time clinical care. I feel it is time now to go back to my Goal #1.

I wish you, the Board and the District the best and know my absence will hardly be missed over time as this is the way of life. I have enjoyed working with all of you and know you will carry on the goals above as best as finances and the Government will let you. Please consider this as also a resignation from the Strategic Planning Committee.

Best Wishes

Jim Knoll MD


Dear Editor:

The Town Planning Commission Design Review meeting on May 22 was chock full of presentations by Wal-Mart and its minions, some work for Wal-Mart and some for the Town/Wal-Mart. There are so many issues that the people of Pagosa should be aware of regarding the Wal-Mart design and the timeline that brought us to this point. The Town attorney chose to admonish the audience before the meeting, stating that no uncivil behavior would be tolerated. OK fair enough. Sadly, many of the concerned citizens who specifically attended the meeting in order to present well-researched, thoughtful comments were shut down and not treated with civility by the planning commission chairman. Prior to the public comment period, a planning commissioner had commented to Wal-Mart representatives and the staff that he would like to see local contractors hired during the construction phase. Wal-Mart explained that they would hire a general contractor probably from out of the area and in turn, that contractor would make the decisions on hiring subcontractors. This subject was now part of the record and entered into the forum. During the public comment portion of the meeting Muriel Eason stepped up to microphone to speak on her subject of concern; A Community Benefits Agreement, this agreement could include anything from a written guarantee to hire a certain percentage of local contractors, employee wage and benefit commitments to funding the Town-to-Lakes Trail system. The planning commission chairman immediately interrupted Muriel and told her that her comments were not pertinent. Considering that the matter had already been discussed, I am certain that it was pertinent. The only way to guarantee local contractors would be hired is a written agreement in the form of a Community Benefits Package. The reason the Durango Wal-Mart looks like it does and the reason Durango received benefits like funding for portions of the river trail is because they fought for and received community benefits. Let’s not fool ourselves, Wal-Mart hasn’t proven itself to be an honest upstanding member of the global commercial community. We will need a Community Benefits Agreement if we are to get anything they have promised including the “175-200 jobs”.

The Town must require an independent in-depth interior traffic study for the Aspen Village Subdivision. The current plan is severely flawed and is based on an update of the original subdivision traffic study which did not include a 94,000 square foot big box. In fact, total retail space in the entire subdivision was slated to be only 79,000 square feet. Major traffic concerns persist and the Town must address these before the approval process can proceed.

The Town’s LUDC (Land Use Development Code) has been completely ignored by the Wal-Mart design proposal. The LUDC has specific requirements regarding placement of a building on a lot in relationship to the development. The building should face the development, not have its “backside” facing the residential area. The list of noncompliance with regard to the LUDC continues … please enforce your own code.

Juanalee Park

Into the light

Dear Editor: brings corporate contributions “Into the Light.” This report updates the data for Rep. Scott Tipton’s campaign contributions. Highlights will focus on general data and not-so-easily found sources of contributions.

1. Total contributions received as of 3/31 for the 2012 election cycle: $1,198,740 (as of 3/31/2012): 28 percent from nonparty organizations (e.g., PACs) and 70 percent from individuals. [See FEC and This was a $376,000 increase over the 12/31/2011 report.

2. Of the contributions from individuals,, 3 percent were small donations ($200 or less) and 67 percent were large individual contributions.

3. The top contributors were the Anschutz Corporation ($10,750), Every Republican is Crucial PAC ($10,000), the Freedom Project ($10,000), National Auto Dealers Assn ($10,000), the Land Title Guarantee Co ($7,500).

Major corporate contributors include: SABMiller and Barclays, both headquartered in London, England.

Top industry contributors were from the oil and gas, real estate, and lawyers/law firms,

4. PAC contributors include:

Every Republican is Crucial — receiving funding from Credit Suisse Group and UBS AG, both headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals headquartered in London, England, along with financial firms Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and 39 other corporations or organizations. This is affiliated with Eric Cantor,

The Freedom Project — receiving funds from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals headquartered in London, England, and, among other corporations, Bank of America, CitiGroup, Microsoft, Peabody Energy, 3M, First Energy Corp., Federated Investors, and 64 other corporations and associations. This is affiliated with John Boehner,

Next week, Sal Pace.

MOP (Money Out of Politics) is a group of citizens in Pagosa Springs is committed to creating awareness on all political levels, of the perverse influence of big money in electoral campaigns. We meet every third Saturday. All meetings are open to the public and all are welcome: next meeting is June 16, 4:30-6 p.m. Visit us on the Web (, Facebook (MoneyOutofPolitics), or e-mail us at

Terry Pickett

Fuel prices

Dear Editor:

I find it quite astounding that there has been no investigation nor charges brought by the Archuleta County District Attorney’s office for the more than obvious price collusion between gas retailers in the Pagosa area. It certainly would strain credulity to believe that each retailer has the exact same amount of overhead, number of employees and associated enterprises (e.g., liquor store, car wash, convenience store, grocery store chain) proportional to their gasoline prices.

Additionally, it is truly amazing that the price we pay for gasoline here in Pagosa has gone from nineteen cents below the national average retail price back when we paid $3.129 per gallon to an average of twenty cents over the national average retail price over the last 60 days. As of the date of this letter, the price is twenty-three cents over the national average ($3.819 here versus $3.58 nationally). This forty-cent-per-gallon swing is even more difficult to understand given: 1) There is no requirement here for a special blend of gasoline; 2) There have been no significant disruptions to refining at the refineries that supply us; and 3) Transportation expenses have only increased proportionally, if at all, from the time we were significantly below the national average. Additionally, retail gas prices are significantly lower in both the Bayfield and Durango markets whose gas passes through Pagosa from the east to get to those locations.

It is thus clear that someone (or some group of individuals) has made and is making a tremendous windfall profit from our town. There was a similar situation in an Illinois town last month; its mayor investigated, found the (mostly corporate) owners’ only explanation was that the town still bought the same amount of gasoline at the higher price despite significantly lower prices in neighboring communities (i.e., the market is obviously bearing it); and the mayor then prompted the town residents to shop elsewhere for their gasoline. Almost overnight, the retail price of gasoline fell sharply. While this may or may not be feasible here, I am sure the district attorney’s office could effect a marked change.

A sizeable number of individuals in this area are sharply opposed to Wal-Mart opening here in Pagosa with one of their supporting arguments being the impact to local businesses. This does not appear to be the case here, but even if it is, it is clearly against the law to collude on prices.

Bill Roemer

Facts are facts

Dear Editor:

With the elections just a little over five months away, you’ll soon be hearing some Democrats running for political office, warning how the Republicans want to take away the old folks Social Security.

Just in case some of you young whippersnappers (and other “troglodytes”) don’t know this, it’s easy to check out, should you not believe it. Consequently, maybe it’s time for a little history lesson on what’s what and it doesn’t matter whether yer Democrat or Republican … Facts are Facts.

When Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program, he promised:

1.) That participation in the program would be completely voluntary; now, it’s no longer voluntary.

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1 percent of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the program; now, it’s 7.65 percent on the first $90,000.

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year; now, it’s no longer tax deductible.

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent? “Trust Fund” rather than into the general operating fund would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other government program. Under Lyndon Johnson, another Democrat, the money was moved to the General Fund and spent.

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income. However, under Clinton and Gore, Democrats, up to 85 percent of your Social Security can be taxed.

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month. And then finding that we are getting taxed on 85 percent of the money we paid to the federal government to “put away” for us —you may be interested in the following:

Q: Which political party took Social Security from the independent “Trust Fund” and put it into the General Fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the Democratically controlled House and Senate.

Q: Which political party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which political party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants? And this one is my favorite.

A: That’s right … Jimmy “Peanuts” Carter and the Democratic Party!

Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

Then, after violating the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away! Seems ta me, that the Democrats keep taxing us to death for the same reason dogs lick their testicles … because they can. Wonder which way the “troglodyte” in Arboles is gonna vote this November? Isn’t Al Gore (a Democrat) that wealthy “Global Warmer” advocate?

Jim Sawicki

Road thanks

Dear Editor:

We recently sent this letter to the county commissioners as a thank you and felt we should share it with the community.

Dear Commissioners Wadley and Lucero,

Jamie and I would like to thank the both of you for your assistance with road and bridge to get the drainage path of the runoff from the dirt road to the east of us corrected. As you were able to see, it directed gravel and other debris into our irrigation ditch and was plugging the irrigation culvert which is vital to our pasture irrigation system.

We had tried for two years to get them to properly direct the water and to repair the damage done. The two of you took ownership of the issue and had it resolved in less than a week. The work done exceeded our expectations and we are very grateful to you for your assistance.

In our opinion, you are both a credit to the county. If we can help you in any way, please just let us know.


Doug and Jamie Sharp

Out of control

Dear Editor:

Remember the town and nuclear labs in Los Alamos, when they all but burned down due to controlled burning by the forest service? Containment costs of $37 million. How about the north rim of the Grand Canyon, a controlled burn that took 1,200 men and $22 million to control, both in the same year.

Sand Creek fire. It would have taken about $5,000 and a few good hot shots to douse the Sand Creek fire, but the decision once again was left to one individual to make the mistake of letting it burn. Now we are at $1.5 million and some of the most beautiful country in the nation goes up in flames, still to be contained.

Personally, I believe it is time to put a stop to this empowerment by one supervisor or one manager to make such paramount decisions that essentially affect all taxpayers and users of our national forest and wilderness, not to mention the resident wildlife. In each case of forest controlled burns that got out of control, the weather conditions were at the worst for fuels, drought and moisture, with prospects of high winds and more dry weather. Such is the case on the Sand Creek fire.

When Los Alamos went up, high winds were expected and the moisture levels at critical levels, yet the decision was made to go ahead. Sand Creek is a deja vu of the past and no doubt this pattern will continue to persist unless something is done to correct the error. I would suggest a panel of weather specialists be put on the payroll and act as consultants as to the timeliness of let-it-burn decisions. A let-it-burn policy may be a proper idea in ideal conditions, but it has been proven time and again that the forest service by itself is incapable of such critical decision making.

If you are in a drought, if winds are eminent, no rain in the forecast for weeks to come, would it not be prudent to douse all fires until the proper time presents itself? We would all agree that fire suppression has helped to magnify wildfires across the nation, a bad policy was put into place in the ‘60s that we all have to pay for today. Yes, the forest will have fires periodically and yes, is necessary to forest health. Forest fires are frequently manageable, yet even more often they are not manageable once they start; only nature can douse a fire, firefighters run along the edges saving structures until the rains come and the winds die down.

Therefore, I hope this will be a call to action to hold the forest service accountable for its misnomers and the political wheels will turn out a solution that will not allow fires to burn in sensitive areas for the sake of diminishing fuels on the forest beds. Unless the weather is absolutely favorable for let-it-burn decision making and all conditions favorable to such an end, it should not be allowed. One man’s opinion is not enough; now, let’s get on with a regional panel to help educate and expedite such decision making in the future of our publicly-owned national forests.

I hope you will join me in writing your letters of concern to your governor and statesmen to correct this egregious error.

J.M. Tucker

Relay for Life

Dear Editor:

Come on Pagosa! Join the fun for a great cause. Archuleta Relay for Life will be held Friday, June 22, from 6 p.m. till 8 a.m. We still need team participants, donations for the silent auction and, of course, money.

We also will be holding a huge fund-raiser June 19 at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium. The Hazel Miller Band, a blues and jazz legend from Denver, will be performing. Tickets are only $10 and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

For more information, please call me at (970) 406-1355.

Debbie Waddell

Relay for Life Committee


Dear Editor:

This year the candidates for president will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising. One telling us of the heroic things he has done and the other telling us of the miraculous things he will do. Almost everything President Obama takes credit for had to be passed by Congress. The promises made by candidate Romney must be made law by Congress to be fulfilled. The president can only veto a law, he cannot pass one.

Congress has the power to address the nation’s problemsp but Congress may be the nation’s most serious problem. Contact your representative and senators and ask them what they are doing about the issues that concern you. Don’t accept promises of future action. If they have not done anything since the last election, why do you believe they will take action now? Don’t allow them to continue to fail by voting for them again.

Irving B. Welchons III

Charlotte, NC

A good laugh

Dear Editor:

I got a good laugh at Eugene Witkowski’s rant in last week’s SUN titled “Obama,” which goes on to scorn a “huge” turn in public sentiment on the issues of women’s rights and gay rights. Unfortunately for Eugene, Obama has been president for just three-plus years. These ground swell changes have occurred over the past 15 or so years, during which time a Republican was president for about half. I just cannot see how President Obama is in any way at fault for any of this. Now I know that Bush must have fought tooth and nail against the sad decline in American morals, so I guess we can put all of the blame on good old Bill.

Gallup does a lot of polls and I searched for reports of one with the results Eugene stated. I did find an new article from which, I believe, Eugene has sifted his “facts.” It puts quite a different slant on the story. Go here and read it so that you can form you own judgement:

Perhaps The SUN should begin to require references from writers who state things as “gospel.” It is so easy to do these days, isn’t it?

Bob Winners

More Obama

Dear Editor:

Edward Klein, contributing editor to Vanity Fair, past foreign editor of Newsweek, and previous editor in chief of New York Times Magazine, conducted 200 interviews for is explosive Times #1 best seller, “Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House.” Among many “shocking accounts of Obama’s behavior” is one from President Obama’s own long-timer personal physician who reveals the lack of humanity in his character and carelessness with his politicized Obamacare. The doctor notes, “I think he is academic, lacks passion and feeling, and doesn’t have the sense of humanity that I expected.” Klein echoes, “Obama is actually in revolt against the values of the society he was elected to lead.”

The president is so unwilling not to get what he wants that he is already seeking legal advice as to how he can overthrow the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare he believes will be declared unconstitutional, and on how to overthrow the Constitution to postpone the November election since he believes there is a strong chance he will not be reelected. President Obama intends to launch an all-out assault on the Constitutional separation of powers stating, e.g., “No court has ever overturned a law passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” Actually, a weak majority of only democrats voted in the middle of the night without a single republican vote for the Obamacare bill.

Dr. Sam Vaknin, a world renowned psychologist and narcissism authority, admits how he was “first impressed by Barrack Obama as a black candidate, youthful, good speaker, confident and a wholesome presidential package,” reasons why he was elected. However, Dr. Vaknin soon became alarmed “not just because of his shallowness, but also by his air of haughtiness. His posture and body language were louder than his empty words. His speeches had a quasi impact on so many people.” The doctor then compared Obama to historical figures like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson and other narcissists “who developed personality cults, gave their followers’ minds new zest, and promised the moon, but alas led them to doom,” e.g., the 900 cult followers who cheerfully committed mass suicide.

In his book, “Magnificent Self Love,” Dr. Vaknin analyzes, “Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist and may have narcissistic personality disorder projecting a grandiose but false image.” He cautions that we must “never underestimate the manipulative genius of pathological narcissism which overwhelms the unsuspecting around them.”

Among many other things, Dr. Vaknin warns, “One is a fool if not alarmed narcissists are treacherous, self-serving. If Obama turns out to be the disaster I predict, he will cause widespread resentments, backlash and unprecedented racial tensions.” Dr. Vaknin concludes, “Obama will set the clock back decades. America is on the verge of destruction. There is no insanity greater than electing a narcissist as president.” Those who voted for Obama should take heed not to make the same mistake in November.

Eugene Witkowski

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