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Letters to the Editor

Expanding

Dear Editor:

This is in response to a letter to the editor criticizing me for being the only legislator to vote against a bill for homeless children. My problem with the bill was that it expanded the age of a child from 19 to 26 years old. I don’t know about you, but to me a 26-year-old is not a child and there are other programs for adults. There are already programs that take care of homeless children. The problem with our country is that politicians keep expanding government to buy votes and we are breaking the bank. I will vote against fellow legislators, Republican of Democrat, if I think it is the right thing to do and I will gladly take the criticism of those that want to see me defeated. I hope that a majority of voters will see through the hate.

J. Paul Brown

Overruled

Dear Editor:

Why did the town planning committee vote to approve the Wal-Mart design plan without first discussing with them and having a CBA (Community Benefits Agreement) in place?

A CBA outlines what a community will receive from Wal-Mart and what will happen to the building if Wal-Mart leaves town in the future. Wal-Mart seems to have been stonewalling any such discussion/agreement.

Only Cappy White, planning member, seemed to understand the relevance of this omission and advised postponing approval of design plan until such arrangements were made. Unfortunately, Cappy was overruled and the design plan was approved.

Phyl Daleske

Losers

Dear Editor:

Mussetta Wollenweber (we miss you) wrote on age-related macular degeneration in last week’s SUN. There is a treatment for the wet variety consisting of a shot in the eye. For me it was a miracle; my sight improved markedly by the next day. The doctor says there are no guarantees and the treatment may not last. Medicare paid the big share. Yes, I am a moocher, one of those bums my buddy, Jim Sawicki, is always ranting about. Of course, if I were a zillionaire like Jim and Mitt, I would not be reduced to taking government handouts.

Being at the lower end of the economic ladder, I tend to be rather frugal. It is my opinion that before one dime of taxpayers’ money is spent on Reservoir Hill and/or Wal-Mart, the issues should be submitted to the taxpayers of the county. Clearly a trillion dollar company like Wal-Mart does not need a subsidy from the county taxpayers. The Reservoir Hill boondoggle is nothing but a scheme to transfer county taxpayers’ money to the pockets of a few local contractors. If the project made any business sense the promoters would form a limited partnership and raise the money privately.

Yes, Jim, I am also a capitalist and in every capitalist system, there are winners and losers, but in modern America the losers are invariably the taxpayers.

Bob Dungan

Arboles

Local

Dear Editor:

Most of us have a natural sense that local businesses are good for communities. And they are, according to a recent study by Civic Economics and numerous other studies.

Choosing to shop at a locally-owned store generates almost four times as much economic benefit to the community as shopping at a chain.

The study found that the local retailers return an average of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared with just 14 percent for the chain retailers. Similarly, the local restaurants recirculate an average of 79 percent of their revenue locally, compared to 30 percent for the chain eateries.

What accounts for the difference?

Local payroll — locally-owned businesses spent a larger share of their revenue on local labor because they carried out all management functions on-site, rather than at corporate headquarters.

Procurement. Local retailers spent more than twice as much buying goods and services from other local businesses than the chains. They banked locally; hired local accountants, attorneys, designers and other professionals; advertised in local media; and sourced inventory from local firms.

Profits. Because their owners live in the area, a larger portion of the local retailers’ profits stayed within the local economy.

Charitable giving. Local retailers donated more on average to local charities and community organizations than the chains did.

Added dollars circulating in the local economy translate into a larger number and wider variety of available local jobs.

The implications for local economic development are significant. Expanding local businesses generates substantially greater economic benefits than chain stores.

Simply shifting 10 percent of local purchases to local stores and restaurants will lead to local economic expansion. Doing the opposite and shifting 10 percent of local purchases to chain stores and restaurants will lead to economic contraction. This proves true even without increasing local purchases.

That is why supporting our local businesses to grow and retain jobs is the primary focus of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC). A vibrant and diverse local business community will also attract new businesses to move or start up in Archuleta County.

Muriel Eason

Active

Dear Editor:

Aspen has the Ute trail and Hunter Creek. Carbondale has Mushroom Rock. All within walking distance of downtown and accessible to a variety of demographics and sports. Locals on their lunch break and tourists on rented bikes are there for the same reason, easy access to the best of Colorado: its mountains.

From Oregon to Wisconsin and back to Colorado, when I travel, I stop at bike shops and ask, “where are the local trails?” I’ve been delighted to find purpose-built, single track in parks managed by towns and counties nearly everywhere.

No different when I arrived in Pagosa Springs for a week of meetings. After two runs and bike ride, I feel at home. Time for a soak in the hot springs. I even began to look at real estate until I got distracted by the two big development projects: Wal-Mart and Reservoir Hill.

My brand of tourism is to be active, creating my fun in a unique and natural setting. Passively engaging in rides that go “whee” is not what I seek out. Perhaps I’m not the right kind of tourist and that’s why the development seems to miss the mark. Now I’m left to wonder where the town is headed, chasing tourist dollars on a spreadsheet or developing a sustainable vision for their unique small Colorado mountain town?

Daniel Fullmer

Carbondale, Colo.

Benefits

Dear Editor:

The reason we celebrate Labor Day is largely because of the contributions made by unions to the betterment of America’s workers. The idea of a Labor Day holiday itself was conceived and promoted by labor organizations.

The numerous beneficial influences of organized labor cannot be ignored. Most of the benefits workers now enjoy are directly attributable to unions. To cite but a few: the 40-hour work week, paid holidays and vacations, sick leave, grievance procedures, collective bargaining and generally superior wages.

Unfortunately, succeeding generations have come to take those benefits for granted. Most of those benefits came about because of unions and soon became the norm for union and many non-union workers as well.

All American workers owe a debt of gratitude to Organized Labor for its achievements.

Paul G. Jaehnert

Vadnais Heights., Minn.

Small

Dear Editor:

As there has been quite a bit of input from diverse people in the Pagosa area, I find it a bit disgusting that a “planner” would express sentiments such as, “We are just too small to handle a project of this size.” (Wal-Mart permitting reviews.)

There exists much evidence that this is untrue, and that such a statement put that way acts as if “the big metro areas” in this country don’t employ consultants and such (I would bet there are very capable people in and near Pagosa that are familiar with and would welcome the open and fair shot at researching, giving professional expertise and insight into the needs required by this endeavor if it is going to be done as well as possible). In addition to the capable services that the Army Corp of Engineers could provide to concerns of wetland mitigations (or, avoidance of loss of wetlands), the array of concerns could likely be handled much better without this “small” way of thinking about the people in the area that call this home. While I understand (a few people in my life have made me nearly non-existent when it comes to my thoughts and voice towards my own personal growth and endeavors that have or would have led to life improvements) the concern for doing something “right,” it doesn’t help with such an attitude that automatically blank-statement discounts the potential in people that happen to be local to the area/subject of concern. I think a “retraction” (or, better expansion) of such a statement would both help the “planner” and the town/people (if) served.

Though I feel that having a Wal-Mart (or, any of similar “big-box” stores with similar general practices/ways of doing business) in town rarely improves any given town, place or its people — any development or project can result in an improvement or growth process that is more dignified than expressing a concern in such a way.

With appreciation for the results of positive efforts (“succeeded and failed”) to make the best decisions concerning development projects.

Craig Loeffelholz

Wake up

Dear Editor:

Well, anyone who is thinking, even a little bit, should clearly see that the Republican National Committee/Convention has proven that there is zero difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

How, you say Uh … how about the criminal acts by the RNC in various states to suppress one of their own. Or, the rule changes suddenly coming to deny delegates being seated, or Ron Paul being allowed to speak, or a few other treasonous acts by Romney’s ilk, because of their fear of Ron Paul. Why do they fear Ron Paul? Anyone still having a brain in this Republic … ask yourself this: Why would they stoop to such depths to stop Ron Paul if they truly were different than the Democrats? Why nothing at the RNC about the Tea Party or the real changes the vast majority of Americans want? Because … and hold on now … they are the same as the Democrats and Ron Paul had something that disrupted their deceptions.

If you still believe in their illusions of choice — you know, “vote Republican, vote Democrat ... and you really have a choice,” you have taken too much of their kool-aid. Do you really believe they would go to such lengths to stop Ron Paul if the Republicans were really different? Teleprompters declaring the vote before it was actually taken? Ignoring the clear voice vote at the RNC? All in plain site? Is anything really different than it was 20-30 years ago? Really different? See the divisions they create to keep us at each other instead of them? Blacks vs. whites. Dems vs. Reps. How many other divisions have they created and we’ve swallowed? Does anyone see a problem with all this? If not, the results of all this will be catastrophic for 50 million-plus Americans — and likely far more, in the near future. If you are not incensed by what took place, well, I’m sorry for what is about to happen. Wake up America!

Jeff Maehr

New job

Dear Editor:

Big talk, Mitchem, town manager, three-fourths article on Reservoir Hill, Pagosa SUN, 8/23/12.

I understand he has been trying to find work elsewhere, i.e., a new job, without success.

Yeah, trash our community with his ideas and split, as well have out of town folks sign his petition.

Then leave us with the disquiet and loss of a natural resource, which requires the great outdoors, without metal, machinery, nor use of electricity, etc.

Someone hire this guy, elsewhere!

Pam Morrow

Flat-out lie

Dear Editor:

I guess we are used to politicians spinning the “truth” to fit their predetermined agenda. However, the latest Romney/Ryan attacks on President Obama’s recent changes to the welfare regulations have, quite simply, degenerated into flat out lies. The latest Romney ads claim that the president has “eliminated” work for welfare recipients, “gutting” welfare reform. Nonsense! Under the bipartisan welfare reform law signed by President Clinton, states are required to move people from federal assistance to work. While the goal was to give each state flexibility to create a program that met their own local needs, some federal requirements are extremely complex. As a consequence, states say that their caseworkers spend more time completing paperwork than helping people get work. States, especially Republican-led states like Utah and Nevada, have asked for more flexibility so that they can create more successful programs. President Obama listened to their concerns, and announced new options to help meet their needs.

At issue is a July 12 memo from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The secretary sent a letter to states saying that the department would offer waivers to states that wanted to manage welfare differently. If states had new proposals for how to run their programs, and could “commit that their proposals will move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work compared to the state’s past performance,” without any “policy which undercuts that goal or waters down work requirements,” then they would be eligible for said waiver. Sound like gutting?

Under the president’s new and sensible policy, states can build the welfare to work program that is best for them, and can apply for waivers from federal requirements that get in their way. Waivers that weaken or undercut welfare reform will not be approved. Waivers will not be granted to avoid time limits on when assistance may be provided. The only waivers that will be granted will test approaches that can do a better job at promoting work among families receiving assistance. Republican Governor Gary Herbert of our most conservative state, Utah, did not criticize the president’s decision, saying, “Some of these participation requirements are difficult and costly to verify, while other participation requirements do not lead to meaningful employment outcomes and are overly prescriptive,” explaining that state’s rationale for seeking flexibility. Ironically, when he was the then-moderate Governor of Massachusetts, Romney asked for the very flexibility now allowed by the new rules. Of course, the now right wing conservative flip flopper Romney conveniently forgets about this fact as he seeks to criticize the president about everything.

So, did the president gut welfare reform? Absurd! What he did was make it more effective by letting the states be creative, eliminating some federal requirements. Isn’t that exactly what the Republicans have been demanding for years? I guess not if this doesn’t suit them politically. And how about states’ rights?

John Porco

Unique

Dear Editor:

A very unique backdrop for our town. Driving into downtown Pagosa from the west, one sees our little town backed up to a beautiful, tree-filled hill — what a treat! One knows right away that they have arrived into the wilderness — the scenery they have come to enjoy, the small town atmosphere that they miss at home, where they live day to day with traffic, noise, bright lights, tall building, etc. — we are unique.

Using that hill, Reservoir Hill, for anything other than an amphitheater at the top for musical gatherings, hiking and XC would be an environmental crime for our community. What a beauty to destroy for a carnival atmosphere, which does not represent who we are — yes, unique.

Some say, “Let’s put an amphitheater in Town Park.” Mercy! A horrible idea — take away our beautiful park for family picnics, playing in the river, etc., again, unique.

Does the percentage of hotel/motel rooms rented provide an accurate count of how many tourists come here — many camp out, many come in their RVs, many stay in condos and many stay with friends and families who live here. Do we have to destroy who we are in order to, hopefully, fill up all those motel/hotel rooms? Maybe they overbuilt, ignoring who we are — unique, that is.

What is wrong with being unique? Do we have to be like everyone else?

Patty Tillerson

Closed

Dear Editor:

Last week, The SUN reported on a meeting between PAWSD and SJWCD boards to discuss the Dry Gulch Project. According to the reports, members of the SJWCD board accused the Southwest Land Alliance of coming up short on its contractual commitments.

Let’s set the record straight.

Members of the Laverty family approached SLA early in 2009 because they felt they were about to get railroaded by the districts, and were deeply concerned about the threat of eminent domain or a forced sale of their ranch for the Dry Gulch reservoir project.

SLA crafted a “win-win” solution that would assure the districts the ability to flood part of the Laverty Ranch sometime in the future, and protect Laverty family’s property rights and right to ranch their land as long as possible. As required in the contract, SLA delivered a complete and very thorough, “Baseline Documentation Report,” authored and negotiated several drafts of the Conservation Easement Deed, performed all necessary fieldwork, research, and GIS mapping work, participated in dozens of meetings with the Laverty family and the districts, and made periodic reports to both. All conservation easement documents are the property of the landowner.

The only item in the contract that was not delivered was a grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado. That grant application and the final, recorded conservation easement, must be based necessarily on the final Dry Gulch project. Dry Gulch began to crumble at that time, and was later abandoned altogether. No project, no easement, no grant.

SLA understands that Dry Gulch has caused great conflict in the community and within and between the two districts. We also understand that SJWCD is in their own uncomfortable position. While making baseless accusations against SLA might temporarily deflect attention, it is not the solution to the real, and tough issues facing SJWCD and PAWSD.

Until such time that the districts decide to re-engage the Laverty family about a conservation easement on their ranch, or the Laverty family should desire it, SLA stands ready to help. Otherwise, we consider this matter closed.

On behalf of the SLA board,

Michael Whiting

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