Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

Struggling with the process

Dear Editors,

Durango residents may be interested to know of the City's complex and legally questionable election law regarding ballot initiatives, referendums and recalls. Having 30 days to secure the signatures of 553 qualified city voters may not sound like a formidable hurdle and normally it would not be a daunting task. But you probably have never tried it in the City of Durango.

Some weeks ago, Friends of the Animas Valley contacted City Clerk Linda Yeager regarding the timetable and process for filing a responsible growth petition. During those discussions and since, Ms. Yeager has been consistently helpful, professional and accommodating. Let's mention here that she is not responsible for writing the City's election law but is responsible for its implementation.

According to the City's election law, the process to petition our local government presents unusual obstacles as it hampers a citizen's ability to participate in the democratic process. Here's how it works: Not only must a volunteer petition circulator be identified before (in this case) initiative language is submitted to the clerk, but those volunteers must also sign a notarized affidavit in order to pre-qualify as a bona fide petition circulator. Once those volunteers have signed up, no other volunteers may participate at any time during the signature gathering period. The City's process is much like putting the cart before the horse and is hardly an example of democracy in action if not downright unconstitutional.

The usual process is similar to how the County conducted the DMR petition drive; that is, with a stash of petitions easily accessible to any qualified voter who wished to participate. Anyone who wanted to jump in at the last minute was free to do so. Once the initiative language and affidavits of over 35 qualified city voters were approved by the city clerk and city attorney, we were off and running oops or so we thought until the morning we arrived at City Hall to pick up the initiative petitions.

Instead of receiving a bundle of petitions to be distributed according to one's ability and passion to secure petition signatures, we received petitions labeled for each volunteer with space for only 30 signatures each. After a lengthy and cordial conversation with the city clerk in which we agreed to disagree, we were refused additional petitions with the assurance that we could have another set of petitions with 30 spaces if we did not accumulate the necessary signatures by the July 12 deadline. In a second conversation later that afternoon, we were again denied additional petitions.

By the end of that weekend, some of our volunteers had already collected the 30

signatures only to be left with no additional petitions to circulate. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. In other words, given the assumption that 10 percent to 15 percent of all petition signatures would be invalid for a variety of reasons, we would have little if any "cushion" to be sure we had 553 valid signatures.

Hopefully, you've been able to follow this tortuous explanation which any average citizen would find as convoluted as the first day in Russian 101. The bottom line here is that the City has no legal statutory authority to withhold petitions from the public or to arbitrarily assign 30 or 50 or 75 as the magical threshold number.

The City has just responded that they will provide another set of petitions of 30 signatures each. Still, one can only surmise that it is not in their interest to encourage a public discussion on their plan to urbanize Durango to a population of 40,000.

Renee Parsons,

president, Friends of the Animas Valley

A real politician to support

Dear Editors,

Many people I've spoken with lately say they're not too excited by John Kerry, but they'll support him anyway. Jim Hightower (formerly a Nader guy, back in 2000) said it best: "We'll get Kerry to the White House even if we have to drag him there like a bag of cement."

If you're tired of feeling that way about politicians, if you wish there were someone real to support, then come to a breakfast for Mike Miles on Tuesday, June 22. Running as a strong, progressive Democrat for Ben "Lake Nighthorse" Campbell's seat, Miles trounced his competitor at the recent state Democratic convention. Miles is honest, open, passionately patriotic and convinced that his combination of experience West Point honor student, Army Ranger counter-terrorism expert, Vice Consul in Poland and Russia, educator/superintendent of a middle school in Colorado Springs gives him the insight and ability to represent us wisely in Washington. I agree.

I challenge all of you to show up. Do something really positive for democracy: Join Mike for breakfast at Christina's on Tuesday, June 22 at 7 a.m. Ask him lots of questions, and you'll be amazed at the honesty and integrity with which he answers them.

See you there!

Anne Markward

Durango women dominate

Dear Editors,

Years and years ago when I was competing in high school basketball, my female teammates and I dreamed of the day when we could play in gyms like the boys, with lines of bleachers stuffed with fans, functioning lights and scoreboards, and roadworthy buses. The boys ALWAYS traveled in style; they never had to battle to get five matching uniforms moments before tip off. The local newspaper covered all the boys' sports, while we would get the occasional blurb. It certainly is a good thing that the times have changed for women's sports or have they?

About 100 women showed up to race the Iron Horse this year. There was a female from Durango who finished in the top three of every single category that day. The headlines the next day should have read: "Durango Women Dominate." But instead, none of the women's results were even posted in the Durango Herald. Meanwhile we got a play- by-play of the pro men's race and a full page of men's results. Within this two-page article, there were two sentences mentioning the women's pro race where three Durango women placed in the top four. What fantastic stories could have been written about the underdog, Irene Merier, who broke away and crushed the field and all the other women who hammered their way to the finish lines. But hey, we all know reading about men's sports is just plain more exciting

Sarah Tescher,

via e-mail

Sex in a Small Town The man's take

Dear Editors:I read the letter "Sex in a Small Town" (April 29) some time ago, and I thought I would take a shot at giving a guy's perspective (assuming the prior author was female trading in your "strappy 5-inch heels" in some places does not always dictate gender).

Like the prior author, I also moved here from a "larger" city (given Durango's size, I suppose that could be anywhere). Having settled in, being single and looking for fun, I decided to try out the local "scene." To set the stage a little, I'm an active guy who happens to have a mostly office job. So early on, a number of observations (and sage bar advice from those in the "know") became acute:

1. Change your style or you will never fit in. (For me personally: "when in Rome" was for Roman times; my "style" is my style).

2. The dating experience so far with Durango women has been: "Painted-nails-and-reruns" their major daily activity being TV; or "The Teva Crew" - very active, very outside women with men's hands (And makeup? You feel like you're more likely to get the response: "Do they sell that at Gardenswartz?"); or "The Birkies and Dreads crowd" just not my type; and A few wonderful women mixed in between.

3. The apparent truth of the prior author's words: Fear of the big "R" (for a brief recap: Relationships + Rumors = Reputation. Or another way of saying it: As a single female in Durango, avoid relationships, friendships, dating or any semblance thereof, for fear of creating a Reputation). I envision single, lonely, frustrated women home alone, fearing the big "R." This would explain why I have had more sex on the first date in Durango than anywhere I have lived. This also explains why there is the belief that there are few single women in Durango they are apparently at home, trying to avoid the big "R," watching reruns, perusing Match.com, or (god forbid) taking that giant leap and actually placing a Match.com ad as anonymously as possible, as if anything in Durango could be anonymous.

Looking for a big city fix and relief (appropriate word) from the dating scene in Durango, I was ripe for the plucking when some friends from Boulder assured me that there were plenty of women in Boulder who wear fingernail polish and running shoes ALL at the same time! And with the Bolder Boulder Memorial Day event, it was a great time to meet some of these creatures (who seem so otherwise elusive in day light in Durango). For anyone who has not experienced the Bolder Boulder not to take anything away from our great Iron Horse it is a spectacle, event and active persons Mecca with nearly 40,000 runners, all of whom meet at the end of the run at the Buffs Stadium for a good time and shaved legs everywhere! (Fortunately over half are female and generally wear nail polish).

As part of the pre-race, pre-weekend festivities/warm-up party, my friends introduced me to a few of their single female friends who were running the race. Perhaps it was the love-starved look in my eyes, perhaps it was a "small town" kid with "big city"experience, but finding a playmate for the weekend proved to be a joy in perusing the deli case.

Whatever the reason, what followed with wild abandon a flurry of firsts: an enclosed stairway at the stadium, the parking lot of a popular restaurant just off of Pearl Street, the outdoor hot tub at a well known resort (to remain unnamed for fear of limiting future possibilities!) clearly an experience so wildly far from possibility in Durango. Andappropriately so: A guy might get a "Reputation" for such behavior in Durango.Coming back to Durango from such a hedonist weekend felt like a bit of culture shock so what does a guy learn from this? Don't make the mistake of looking for a relationship in Durango you'll be cut off. If you're "hanging out" with someone, avoid suggesting anything remotely resembling a relationship you'll be cut off. Assume that whoever you are interested in already hasyour bio (AKA a verbal dossier of your Reputation). Avoid Match.com it just provides more evidence for your bio. Think of Durango dating as a cocooning, nocturnal event, behind closed doors in the dead of night. Date Farmington women they don't care about their Reputation.

So what does a guy who's learned to avoid all the "R" pitfalls take from all this? The sex is definitely hot in Durango, and it's Bolder in Boulder!

Name withheld by request

for obvious Reputation reasons




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