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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

Over the last two years, I have taken you pictures of bad road conditions and plugged culverts.

One big 30-inch or better culvert has been plugged on CR 500 west of Pagosa Junction; now after hard rain, we have a horrible mess and where are county crews? Can’t road boss or public works director do their job?

No excuse for large culvert to be plugged.

Chris Chavez


Dear Editor:

Once again Jim Sawicki seizes on half-truths (we called those lies in Oklahoma) to publicly support his ideology of self-aggrandizement.

Jim would ask you to believe the Westchester Community College adjunct professor, Carol Leitner, was fired for saying to a student, “If you speak like that, you are never going to get a job.” Jim then makes the Olympian jump to the conclusion that this is an example of political correctness gone wild.

As usual, Jim doesn’t bother with the whole truth — only that portion that supports his preconceived ideas. In fact, Ms. Leitner made that quote in 2007 and was disciplined for it. She was fired mid-2011 for other reasons. In fact, if you look at student opinions (, you will find her behavior was an isolated incident.

How about a little balance in your “fact” reporting, Jim?

Jim next leaps to the controversy surrounding the 500 professors protesting Emory University inviting Dr. Ben Carson to be the 2012 commencement speaker. Dr. Carson was not exercising his 1st Amendment freedom of speech rights; rather, he was coming as a commencement speaker to a private research university. Don’t the people employed by and attending the university have an equal right to protest his selection as commencement speaker?

Jim clearly misunderstands my objection to his speech in The SUN as he warns folks not to “push with anything factual” lest I belittle them.

Quite the opposite is true, Jim. My objection is not with yours or anyone else’s facts. Rather it’s with your using a twisted or incomplete set of facts presented in a way that is misleading. I further object to your practice of using such misleading presentations to portray whole classes of people as some level of evil.

Jim’s approach of transforming partial facts into lies about other people promotes divisiveness and unyielding ideologies which, when observed at a national level, paralyze our legislative processes. Neither Democrats, Republicans nor Tea Parties will solve our nation’s problems by themselves. Each party brings something to the table in the form of ideas and proposed solutions, and then engages in honest debate to find that compromise all can support.

Jim, like other ideologues, brings only pomposity and arrogance with the intention of vanquishing opposing views without consideration of their merit or application.

Thus, as long as I have family in Archuleta County, you can bet that I will challenge Jim when he misrepresents the truth, oppose him when he stereotypes groups of people, and call him out when he attempts to subvert our nation’s laws or our Constitution.

Jay Davison


Dear Editor:

Two centuries ago, Mary Shelly wrote a science fiction novel about Dr. Frankenstein, a noble Christian gentleman, who unlocks the secret of life in the hope of benefiting mankind.  Instead he unleashes a monster that destroys him and all he loves.

Modern science, like Dr. Frankenstein, has opened a Pandora’s Box of wonderful science and technology; iPads, computer games, Facebook, you name it. Thanks to the electric company and the TV companies, we can watch the gladiators in the coliseum without ever getting off the couch. Thanks to the miracles of 21st century medicine, we will die in the poor house instead of the hospital.

Growing up on a marginal dairy farm in the thirties, we had none of these wonders, not even electricity or indoor plumbing.  Nowadays, the Pagosa town fathers want to build an amusement park, so the kids will have “something to do.”  Eighty years ago, this was not a problem.  Like Dr. Frankenstein, has modern technology created a monster that will destroy us?

Recently a friend, high school classmate and now a retired Jesuit priest, dropped by for what will most likely be our last chat. The subject of the antichrist came up, I picked Galileo and Morey picked Walt Disney.  As Morey pointed out Disney changed the myth, when Eve ate the apple she and her consort were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.  When Snow White ate the apple, Prince Charming saved her.  It is the Snow White version of the myth that now prevails throughout the land.

I learned my theology from my mom and dad.  In my mother’s Sunday school class, I learned that if you drink beer, chew tobacco, play cards, don’t take a bath on Saturday night and don’t go to church on Sunday you are going to burn in hell. While working in the hay fields with my Dad, I learned that sooner or later everyone stands before God and God doesn’t like whiners and know-it-alls: For the whiners: “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace; and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Deutero-Isaiah, the devil loves to quote scripture): For the know-it-alls: “If you understand it, it is not God, if it is God, you do not understand it.”  Saint Augustine.

I drink beer and there is no pew in the church for a scientist, so my fate is sealed.  For my parents life was simple; if you sin, you burn in hell.  Morey would argue that even sinners can get into heaven; after all it was his job to get them in.  Morey and I, along with our archaic sin-based theologies, are history. Nowadays all that has changed, everyone is in (except me).

Bob Dungan



Dear Editor:

The first thing I want to mention is how great the new banners look downtown. I love the colors.

I have mentioned heroes before and I love the fact that more and more have made their appearance in my life. I am going to mention several:

There is a program going on in Pagosa called the Accountability Court and it was begun by Pastor Don Ford, along with judges Jim Denvir and Bill Anderson. It is new and different in the way we deal with those with addiction problems. It is so satisfying when someone completes a portion of the program and we can share their victory with them. We have seen Jerry LaQuey and Nancy and Ray Bush step up to the plate and drive people here and there to keep doctors’ appointments. They are available to assist in all sorts of emergencies. I would like to acknowledge the generosity of Janet of Sweets and Such. She is like Jim Stone of the Buffalo who never says“no.” He takes care of us when we need. Sally High won a wonderful award for her teaching skills when it came to being “green” and then there is John Vick, Liz Alley and Lily Tarbet who display such a passion in creating the Nurturing Center and their work with families, etc. Phenomenal.

Cindy Gustafson


Dear Editor:

Corporations are making historic profits, insurance companies have increased premiums amongst record earnings and the de-regulation of investment bankers has resulted in a great recession for average Americans while the bankers themselves got rich.

At the end of eight years of Republican economics in practice,  by the last quarter of 2008 we’d lost over 8 million jobs and produced actual negative growth in the economy. So at what point does reality exceed dogma? At what point do people wake up and notice the results?

You know there is a lot to dislike about the efforts of this administration to revive the economy, but the answer is not to return to the principles that sunk it in the first place. And before we blame Obama for increasing the debt, perhaps we should notice the bi-partisan support of money spent for special interests by both parties; the Transportation Bill, the Omnibus Spending Bill and more recently, the trillion-dollar Farm Bill. The last defense spending bill passed the Senate by 93 to 7, and included billions in spending that even the Pentagon didn’t want.

So, while we are trying to find leadership that actually believes in fiscal responsibility, let’s not automatically assume that the other party has a better solution; most especially when that “solution” has been so thoroughly disproved.

FJ Lozen


Dear Editor:

It’s said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Yet the two must work together to survive. The pen writing the direction we travel in and the sword enforcing that direction.

Presidents may come and go, but our fight for our freedom is ever eternal. Where is our champion? Where is our Captain America, when he is needed the most.

The foundation of our country is crumbling fast. At the present rate of decay, the red, white and blue won’t be able to last much longer.

We have had too many years of misguided politicians, both locally and nationally, with only their personal gain in mind.

It’s almost time to grab the handle, pull hard and vote. But really, in the last 40 years, has anyone run for president that deep down inside you wanted? I don’t think so; it’s always been the lesser of two evils and too many times that person doesn’t win.

It’s up to us to save our town, county, state and nation. But how, when the liar with the most money wins?

Jody Ray Morris


Dear Editor:

Let’s give it another look: The vote was split 4-4. The Chief Justice was the deciding vote and he went with the liberal side. Did he jump ship, or jist see somethin’ in the law everyone else missed and then voted “smart like a fox”?

 I think it’s important to think carefully about the meaning—the true nature—of his ruling on Obamacare. The Left will shout that they won, that Obamacare was upheld and all the rest of their slobber. Let them. It’s gonna be a mighty short-lived celebration.

 Here’s my take on what really occurred — payback. Yes, payback fer Obummer’s numerous, ill-advised and childish insults directed toward the Supreme Court.

 Chief Justice Roberts actually ruled the mandate, relative to the commerce clause, was unconstitutional. That’s how the Democrats got Obamacare going in the first place. And I think this is critical. His ruling means that Congress can’t compel American citizens to purchase anything. Ever! The notion is now officially and forever, unconstitutional. As it should be.

 Next, he stated that, because Congress doesn’t have the ability to mandate, it must, to fund Obamacare, rely on its power to tax. Therefore, the mechanism that funds Obamacare is a tax.

 This is also critical. Recall back during the initial Obamacare battles, the Democrats called it a penalty. Republicans called it a tax. Democrats consistently soft sold it as a penalty. It went to vote as a penalty. Obama declared endlessly, that it was not a tax. It was a penalty.

 However, when the Democrats argued in front of the Supreme Court, they said, “Hey, a penalty or a tax, either way.” So, Roberts gave them a tax. It is now the official law of the land—beyond word play and silly shenanigans. Obamacare is funded by tax dollars. Democrats now must defend a tax increase to justify the Obamacare law. Wonder if Jay Davison is now thrilled?

 Finally, he struck down as unconstitutional, the Obamacare idea that the federal government can bully states into complying by yanking their existing Medicaid funding. Liberals, through Obamacare, basically said to the states—comply with Obamacare or we will stop existing funding. Roberts ruled that is a no-no. If a state takes the money, fine, the Feds can tell a state how to run a program, but if the state refuses money, the federal government cannot penalize the state by yanking other funding.

 Therefore, a state can decline to participate in Obamacare without penalty. This is obviously a serious problem. Are we going to have 10, 15, 25 states not participating in “national” healthcare? Suddenly, it’s not national, is it?

 Ultimately, Roberts supported states rights. He ruled that the government cannot force the people to purchase products or services under the commerce clause and he forced liberals to come clean and admit that Obamacare is funded by tax increases. And he did this without creating a Civil War or havin’ bricks thrown threw his windshield—while energizing the voter—Brilliant!

 Heard Mr. Dungan’s celebrating in Arboles; toastin’ with spiked “glacier iced” lemonade at his cavern.

 Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

It is not possible to adequately acknowledge those individuals fighting the fire(s) in our County and the Forest, but thank you anyway. Well done!

Over 24,000 acres burned, no structures damaged or people harmed, including emergency personnel. Yes, we have had to live with smoke for two months until the monsoons arrived last week. A relatively small price, as illustrated in Colorado Springs.

In the seven years I have lived in Archuleta County, I have never been closer to wildfire than this summer as a county commissioner. Several-times-daily updates on the fire fighting efforts, and many meetings with the Forest Service, Hinsdale County, Archuleta County Emergency Services, the National Incident Management Organization (NIMO), the Pagosa Fire District and many others, has given me and my fellow Commissioners a day-to-day glimpse into wildfire fighting. The team did a great job of “gorilla” fire fighting on what was actually several fires burning simultaneously over a huge area. Our local merchants and civic leaders were fantastic in keeping visitors informed and feeling safe. Again, thank you and well done.

The 24,000-plus-acre Little Sand Fire cost over 7 million dollars to fight. At last report, U.S. taxpayers had spent roughly $300 tax dollars per acre to control this fire. That seems like a lot until you discover that those same taxpayers (That’s us folks) spend between $600 and $1,200 per acre to “treat” the forest by mechanical or “prescribed burn” methods.

Many decades of treating wildfires like house fires (i.e. put it out as fast as possible) have created a potentially catastrophic fire hazard in our back yard. But this fire behaved similar to a “prescribed” burn, moving slowly and burning mostly “understory and ladder fuels”, with minimal “crown” fire. Because the healthy trees survived the fire, grasses and other vegetation will quickly return to the previously choked forest floor, providing outstanding deer and elk habitat, a mainstay of our economy.

Transitioning to a smarter and more nimble (and lower cost) type of forest management will eventually restore something closer to a balance, allowing healthier forests to emerge. The tradeoff for us will likely be the inconveniences that come with longer duration wildfires and more prescribed burning. But every year we reduce the chance of a massive costlier disaster and now, produce electricity.

Wildfire demonstrates that we are always living with, and paying for the results of earlier decisions. It is a reminder to us current leaders to treat all input as a valuable decision-making tool, not a formality to be tolerated, to more thoughtfully choose and change our course and minimize the unintended consequences of our actions, by demanding and paying closer attention to all of the available facts.

Michael Whiting

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