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A little friendly' advice

Dear Editors,

When I saw the latest housing costs in Durango, I knew I couldn't resist the "Friends" anymore. Driving the poor people out of Durango is going to make me rich? Hey, it's happening already, with affordable housing being back-burnered and responsible development hysterically opposed by our local CAVES (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). That tumbledown house in town I bought a few years back will fetch a million if we can get all the working folks to live in Bayfield and Ignacio. So, I've sold out. I'm a "Friend" for life. The constitution notwithstanding, I'm now all for direct democracy, now that I am reasonably sure my money's on the winning side.

Next time those guys want to put on a real drama about a development, they can count on my check to feed the fires. And, with the likely passage of the Responsible Growth Initiative, there will be plenty of opportunities for us rich folks to exploit the hot buttons of the disenfranchised, green voters.

But you can't spend the money that house in town is worth, unless you sell it, and I don't want to move. Maybe the "Friends'" initiatives can help me increase my earnings, too. Let's see, after "Responsible Growth" we'll need "Friends of Modular Home Developments" to assist the working class in the transitions to life in the burbs. "Friends of Petrochemical Distributors" to fuel their commutes. "Friends of Strip Malls" to make sure they won't have to drive all the way back to town to get those little necessities. And there's a warm place next to the boiler in my basement, that could serve as inexpensive in-town housing for perhaps a family of four, if they don't mind finding a way to empty their chamberpots, or finding their way out via the one rickety stairwell: I'll start "Friends of Basement Dwellers" to assure we can get the zoning to allow these resources, available and unused in so many older town homes, to be made available to the working poor as rental units.

So many Friends to be thankful for. I hope all of your voters see the light as I have, and turn toward Responsible Growth on election day for all the wonderful things it can bring us.

Robert C. Evans,

via e-mail

Vote for a competent leader

Dear Editors,

We now finally know the facts. The Bush Administration was wrong about WMDs in Iraq and is no longer denying it. There have been no WMDs in Iraq since the conclusion of the first Iraq War in 1991. The U.N. inspections and sanctions, despite all the protests of the Bush Administration, were working.

As a result of the administration's miscalculation, we entered a costly war ($120 to $200 BILLION to date, depending on whose numbers you want to believe) with no end in sight against the advice of most of our strongest allies. The Bush Administration's decision to go to war was based on erroneous information which was used to convince Congress and the American people that this war was necessary. The Administration pressured over 30 "nations" to form a phony coalition to lend legitimacy to its actions, in which the U.S. provided most of the ordinance and troops.

It is difficult to imagine that the Bush Administration could have convinced Congress or the American people to go to war had it not misrepresented the facts.

We are now left to ask how and why did all this happen. The Bush Administration defends itself by claiming that it acted on faulty intelligence. But the facts suggest otherwise, that the decision to go to war was a forgone conclusion prior to 9/11. A reasonably skeptical person might conclude that, given the influence of Big Oil and large corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton, which backed the Administration and stood to profit handsomely from this war, the Bush Administration was simply waiting for a pretext to rationalize an invasion of Iraq. 9/11, along with the misrepresentation that Iraq had the capacity to produce WMDs and the faulty claim that Iraq was somehow connected with Al Qaeda, provided the justifications the Bush Administration needed to sell its war.

Any way that one chooses to interpret the motives for the Bush Administration's eagerness for this war skewed and faulty intelligence about Iraq's WMD, imaginary and incredible links between Al Qaeda and the secular dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, or a more cynical agenda promoted from within the Administration by policy makers with ties to the oil, defense and construction industries (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Perle and Wolfowitz to name just a few) the war was a colossal and costly mistake. Nobody denies that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator. But it is now clear that he had nothing to do with 9/11 and he posed no threat to this country.

Who has suffered as a result of this misguided war? To date, over 1,100 members of the U.S. Armed Forces have died along with another 17,000-plus seriously wounded. In addition to our men and women, unknown numbers of "coalition" forces and innocent civilians, foreign and Iraqi, have been wounded or killed in this conflict, which by impartial accounts is now degenerating into civil war. And, finally, there is the American taxpayer, who is footing the bill for all this madness.

With the elections approaching, I have noticed several bumper stickers around town proclaiming that the owner of the vehicle is a veteran and supports one of the two major party presidential candidates. Let me clarify immediately that I am not a veteran of the armed services. Like many members of the Bush Administration including the president, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Condoleezza Rice among others, I have never had to go to war. Any question of my being drafted was settled by General Louis Hershey when he drew my date of birth after 360 others in the first draft lottery in 1969. I served instead as a volunteer in VISTA, the domestic counterpart of the Peace Corps.

Speaking, therefore, as a nonveteran who respects and honors those who have served in our armed forces, I am troubled by the Veterans for Bush stickers on the vehicles of friends whose intelligence and integrity I trust. With all due respect to these fine people, I believe that this president has betrayed our nation and our fighting men and women by sending them into battle under false pretenses and without an exit strategy. Our armed forces need and deserve a competent commander in chief who will commit American lives only under the most serious circumstances. Our citizens need and deserve an honest chief executive. George Bush and his administration are not fit to run this nation. They should be fired on Nov. 2.

Respectfully, John B. Poole,


Bush's gifts to Colorado

Dear Editors:

The other day I was having a conversation with a liberal, Democratic coworker. He told me he was going to vote for Bush because the Bush Administration has made our country more safe and secure. I decided to do a little research on how secure our President has made us in Colorado and here is what I came up with:

n In Colorado, 25 percent of families have income levels below 200 percent of the poverty level. In Colorado, 13 percent of children live in poverty; 15 percent of Coloradoans are uninsured; 3 percent of our people live in hunger, with 9 percent having food insecurity. So where are our taxes going? Well the cost of the military in Colorado is $4,488,686,253. Cost of nuclear weapons in Colorado? $190,205,083. The cost of the war in Iraq to my fellow Coloradoans? $1,367,325,464.

n Colorado has 16 sites designated by the federal government as the most polluted in the country. This means that 54 percent of the people in Colorado breathe air classified as unhealthy; 92 percent live in areas with 100 times greater cancer risk goal set by the clean air act; 502,078 drink water with a health violation; and 3 percent of surface water in Colorado is impaired. But if you get sick? Expect to pay prescription prices that are 9.9 percent higher than you paid last year.

n The Bush Administration instituted new rules allowing coal-fired plants to expand without necessary pollution control equipment; immediately rolled back the standard for arsenic in drinking water, permitting higher levels; and refused to reinstate the tax on polluters, which has funded the clean up of the 16 sites mentioned above.

n And what about BEAUTIFUL Colorado? What will happen to us if Bush is re-elected? His new budget would further cut health programs, pollution control, conservation and mass transit, including a $28 billion cut in grants to state and local governments.

So as long as you are sure that you will not lose your job, fish in a polluted river, breathe polluted air, continue to have health insurance, never retire, and not ever have to buy prescriptions, yes, feel safe and secure. Unless that is, you consider that the Bush Administration has a plan for increasing the $421 billion military budget another $50 billion to (no, not fight terrorism), stockpile defense toys. I don't think I want a president who would rather play with toys than watch out for the well-being of his people. And has the war protected us? Experts say, no, that it has made us a "TARGET FOR TERROR."

For more data on Colorado or other states, please visit the National Priorities Project at nationalpriorities.org. TO GET INVOLVED visit truemajority.org.

Sincerely, Amy Potter,


Save money and the planet

To the Editors:

The League of Women Voters of Colorado supports the passage of Amendment 37, Renewable Energy, on this November's ballot. It requires the percentage of our electricity generated from renewable sources to reach 10 percent by 2015. The League only takes positions when an issue has been studied and consensus is achieved. LWV supports increases in our use of renewable energy and actions by appropriate levels of government to encourage the use of renewable resources.

We have an opportunity in this state to move forward on the use of renewable energy. It took government mandates to require car manufacturers to limit the automobile's discharge of pollutants into the air. Similarly, suggestions that power-generating facilities voluntarily move our country away from dependence on nonrenewables and begin to increase the use of renewable energy are not realistic. A legal mandate is required. There has been criticism that this requirement will increase the consumers' costs. The monthly impact to residential users is capped at 50 cents.

Instead, over the long term, this amendment will actually save money for utility users. Fossil fuels continue to rise while renewable costs will fall as technology improves. Renewable energy facilities boost rural incomes. Customer rebates for the solar user is an incentive to offset the initial investment. Excess energy produced by solar and wind energy goes into the grid and can be sold just as all other sources of energy.

In Southwest Colorado, we enjoy blue skies. We have an opportunity to embrace solar energy here, while other areas will be able to take advantage of wind power. Some of the problems with wind farms, such as harm to migratory birds, can be mitigated by careful location of those wind farms out of bird flight patterns. There are states that currently require that 20 percent of their energy be from renewable sources. Fluctuations of wind are absorbed at this rate. Surely Colorado can afford a 10 percent requirement by 2015!

This is a change in state statutes not the constitution. Modifications can be made by the Legislature. The LWV supports passage of Amendment 37.

Sally Bellerue, past president, Marilyn Brown, president,

League of Women Voters of La Plata County

Business as usual

Dear Editors,

In her 10/14/04 letter, Councilor Castro accuses FOAV of "muddying the waters," while asserting that "conservation and preservation" are what we really need to be discussing. We agree that conservation and preservation are what we need to be discussing. FOAV stood ready to support and endorse the Open Space Referendum. It is therefore inconsistent to suggest that FOAV is to blame when it was the City Council that deferred the Open Space Referendum until next year.

To suggest that the issues the Responsible Growth Initiative has raised (i.e. lack of an affordable housing policy, continued reliance on a 1984 traffic study and over 500 new residential units in the council's approval pipeline since June 1, etc.) is "muddying the waters" is to imply a preference for "business as usual," with no citizen involvement or public accountability.

If there's a discussion that needs to take place regarding conservation easements, grants or other public funding for open space, FOAV supports the council in conducting those hearings. Heretofore, the city has shown little serious enthusiasm for transferable development rights; most notably when the council approved the Three Springs project after the Tierra Group's refusal to consider TDR's. Again, FOAV supports such a discussion if the city were to take the lead.

To suggest that the system worked regarding the council's rejection of River Trails Ranch is to ignore that project's inclusion in the Intergovernmental Agreement map now pending between the city and county. A copy of that annexation map may be found at www.animasvalley.org. We might ask exactly how the process worked for a denied project of considerable opposition to find its way back into the city's annexation plans. Was the system working when three members of the City Council violated the state's Open Meetings Act by attending the Homebuilders breakfast to strategize against the initiative? Further, Councilor Castro is apparently unaware of the role that the Animas Valley Land Use Plan and FOAV have played in preserving what is left of the valley. The plan, of course, is the result of valley residents forming their own zoning districts back in the mid-1990s; exactly the kind of responsible citizen action that FOAV would support today.

If the council had exhibited interest in holding a public discussion on the "projected population" target of 40,000 last winter, as FOAV requested, the Responsible Growth Initiative would probably never have seen the light of day.

After Nov. 2, the special interest growth industry that controls development decisions will have a green light to move rapidly forward. The only thing that stands in their way is your vote. Vote YES on the Responsible Growth Initiative.

Alan Cathcart,

Friends of Animas Valley

Maintain balance on the commission

To the Editors,

This is an endorsement of Wally White for county commissioner.For the future good of the citizens of La Plata County, we need to have someone as commissioner who has been involved in our community's issues, someone who is used to putting himself on the line for what he believes in, someone who does not attempt to portray himself as someone he is not, and someone who has the courage to come out and say what he really thinks about land use and growth and how he will deal with these two important issues. Balance is critical to having an effective, well-functioning Board of County Commissioners and Wally White will help maintain that balance.Please join me in voting for Wally White for county commissioner.

Josh Joswick,






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