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In support of safe havens

Dear Editors,

We write in support of the "Safe Haven Resolution for Noncitizen Residents" presented to the Durango City Council by Los Companeros and the San Juan Citizens' Alliance, scheduled for a vote July 6.

This resolution will NOT cause more noncitizen residents to move to our community. Any such increase will be the result of job opportunities. As the global economy continues to favor rich nations over poor through "free trade" agreements, those unable to survive in their homelands will migrate to those places where opportunities exist for hard work to ensure their families' well-being.

What this resolution WILL do is provide noncitizen residents the ability to report crimes and seek health care and other social services when needed, without the fear of being reported to authorities for the sole purpose of deportation. Our law enforcement agencies do not have the labor power to do the work of the INS-now-U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; neither do the health-care providers and social workers that provide essential services for a healthy community.

Durango can make itself a safe home to all, including those who come here to do the work needed by our tourism, agriculture and building industries, those who are, in fact, hired for these jobs by our own local business owners. We should go no further than necessitated by law to "round up" individuals who are already plagued by race and poverty profiling. Only in those instances in which a crime is committed, by citizen or noncitizen, should the Durango Police Department be alerted to or make inquiry about the citizenship status of any resident. We pay public employees with our tax dollars to ensure community safety and physical/social health. It is not their job to step beyond those roles in capitulation to the present politically constructed climate of fear and oppression.

Remember the experiences of many of our ancestors, who suffered similar persecution upon immigration to the U.S., not to mention the genocide visited via such policies upon the first inhabitants of this land. Consider the true values of caring, compassion and peace. Support this positive resolution.

Signed, SW Colorado Peace & Justice Coalition Organizing Committee members Jacque Armstrong, Amber Clark, Marsha Cohen, Mary Dumetria, Dawn Farrington, Kalin Grigg, Faith Lemon, Lyn Patrick, Anita Phillips, Greg Rossell, Lynn Sutherland, Charlie Swift, M'Lou Swift

So much for representative government

To the Editors,

The Durango Telegraph's June 24th issue contained an article entitled "City Blasts Smart Growth Push" which quoted City Councilors Castro, Colgan and Garland as being in opposition to the Responsible Growth Initiative.

For members of the council to speak publicly against a legislative matter to come before them in the next few weeks is highly improper and inappropriate. It is also incredulous that council members spoke before the Initiative petitioning process has been completed. Since the councilors have not yet heard the merits of the Initiative, their comments were premature and contained inaccurate suppositions. For instance, it's a no-brainer that the costs of any voter election would be passed on to the developer who will reap the profits rather than the city taxpayer.

Also, the article raised the issue of representative government. With the exception of River Trails Ranch, current and past city councils have a history of unanimous approvals of every development that comes across their desks. To many citizens, the term "done deal" seems more fitting than representative government. So who exactly are our elected officials representing: the people or the moneyed interests of Durango?

Once the Responsible Growth petitions are "certified," the Initiative will be presented to the City Council for consideration. Councilors will then vote on whether to adopt the Initiative or forward the Initiative to city voters for the November ballot.

Is it possible that council members are not familiar with the city's own election process? Did the city attorney advise the council that such comments, prior to public review, would be seen as prejudicial and biased? Were members of the council aware that the public would view such comments as advocates for development rather than the opinions of a panel of thoughtful, publicly elected, independent fact finders. Were members of the council acting responsibly by speaking out thoughtlessly during the petitioning process? Has the public process now been tainted beyond any assurance that the matter will be dealt with in a fair and impartial manner?

So much for representative government.

Given that all council members are hard-working volunteers, it may be that our part-time council, which depends on an entrenched staff for information and recommendations, is no longer an effective structure to represent the voters of Durango.

If democratically elected officials consistently fail to represent the interests of their constituents, it is the responsibility of the people to assert their will. The Responsible Growth Initiative with its voter approval of major land-use decisions is a necessary step to restore true representative government.

Richard Nobman,
vice-president, Friends of the Animas Valley, Hermosa

Make Durango safe for everyone

Dear Editors,

I am writing this letter in support of the upcoming resolution declaring the City of Durango a Safe Haven for Noncitizen Residents. A resolution similar to this one has been supported by numerous cities across the United States such as New York, San Francisco and Santa Fe. The mayor of Denver and the Albuquerque police chief have issued executive orders prohibiting the use of city resources to discriminate against immigrants. This resolution is part of our constitutional right of local self-governance under the 10th Amendment.

Mainly, I am in support of this resolution as a public safety matter. I believe that people who are the victims of domestic violence should not be afraid to turn to the police for help. Nor should someone be discouraged to seek medical attention when they need it or refrain from calling 911 when they are witnessing an emergency. Local police departments have supported similar resolutions and policies in manycities because resolutions such as this one can help them in their work of serving and protecting our community.

It should be noted that no city that has already passed a "Safe Haven" resolution has witnessed an increase in the number of illegal immigrants or immigration agents migrating to their city. This resolution does not endorse a sanctuary. Immigration Services will continue to arrest suspected criminals, regardless of immigration status.

This resolution will increase the safety of our community and allow immigrants, both legal and illegal, to live outside of fear and seek out a life in which they and their children can live up to their potential. I encourage the City Council to support the proposed resolution offered by Los Compa`F1eros and make Durango a safe haven for all.

Michael Rendon,
Durango, via e-mail

Back in action

Dear Editors,

Thank goodness!! After a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself that Mike Sheahan left town, and took "The Goods" with him, I found myself joyfully reading "The Society Page!" The Goods was always my favorite part of The Telegraph despite the lack of time, money and motivation to go out and actually participate in all the wonderful music events that it told of. It made me laugh, every week, and once or twice, I almost drove myself and my family to town to check something out.

I begged Mike not to go, but the Sheahans packed it in anyway. Then today, I was thrilled to see that Ted Holteen has taken over, and everything is under control. The same great information in a fun-filled, laugh-packed column - just like The Goods. Not many people in this town have as much humor and musical knowledge as Mike, but Ted is one of those few.

Thanks for keeping up that good work. I enjoy your paper.

But, now I miss "When Animals Attack." What happened to that one?

Have a happy day,

Pamela Marshall, via e-mail

(Editors' note: "When Animals Attack" now resides in southern Arizona with cartoonist Patrick Brawley. The mysterious Pookala has moved into the "When Animals Attack" slot.)

Sex in a really small town

Dear Editors,

Y'all crack me up, single Durangoans whining about your small town dating selves. Actually I'm not alone, we all laughed at you, not a belly roll kind of laugh, but a definite collective chuckle outside the coffee shop one morning. You see, you should try heading about 50 miles up the mountain and jumping into the dating pool of our little dysfunctional family of 400. This is the town where one of my best friend's best sayings is: "When you break up in Silverton, you don't lose your girlfriend, you just lose your turn." Get the picture?

When I moved to Silverton three years ago, my friend Ann warned me that if I didn't hook up with someone in the first year of living here, my chances of actually getting a date would decrease considerably. After that, she said, all the guys just think of you as a sister, and you'll never hook up.

But then, choosing someone to hook up with is easier said than done. Even if someone special does catch your eye, there's a strong chance that he has also caught someone else's eye, and when you're hangin' out with the sistas on Girls' Night, it gets a bit uncomfortable when everyone has their eyes on the same guy. Which will definitely happen because there are only so many of us to go around. And even if we women do sit around and compare the place to Neverland (lost boys who never grow up), we do get a bit territorial about the boy of our choice. (For the record, my guru says that we are all runners, men and women alike. It's just that the boys are running farther and faster than their female counterparts.)

And those lost boys? They have their own complaints, and the comment I hear most is that the women just have no style. Don't dress up and look pretty. It is true that we women at 9,318 feet have been known to accessorize our Christmas formals with hiking boots, but seeing as I'm female and am writing this, I can address this issue and explain it with a simple visual: Tight skirt, 2-inch heels, carrying a casserole dish across a parking lot that resembles a skating rink, in the dark no less, just to get to the party. Need I say more?

But let's say some poor couple does finally get together for a night of loving, or even a first night in a long line of loving you think there is no anonymity in a town of 10,000? Try a town of 400. Example: The guy down the street was saying the other day that he was pretty sure that his neighbor and so and so girl had just gotten together because he had witnessed the "walk of shame" when she left to walk home "the morning after." Then there was the evening when I left a party and offered the new guy in town a simple ride home because it was on my way. The next morning our (beloved) librarian wanted to know who he was, where we went and if I scored.

Nothing is sacred or private here, but overall we manage. Someone new moves to town and sweeps us off our feet. Or that guy in the coffee shop we've seen a hundred times finally strikes up a conversation and voila, there's a spark. We still find a way to order a drink from the bartender who used to date our new boyfriend without feeling like we betrayed our girlfriend, and we can still enjoy a potluck with an old girlfriend who is now dating our roommate. It's all in the family, and besides, this way there are no secrets. By the time our eyes meet those of that special someone across the room, we already know their history their little idiosyncracies. Or at least, their ex-girlfriend's version of it.






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