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

Misleading statements about Flu Vaccine shortage

During the presidential debate last Wednesday, Bush said the problem was that "we relied upon a company out of England." That isn't true. Chiron Corp., the company whose vaccine plant was contaminated, is a California company - subject to regulation by the U.S. government - that operates a factory in England. President Bush also said, "We took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medicine into our country." Another lie. It was the British authorities who, after inspecting the plant, revoked the factory's license on Oct. 5. In June 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected the Chiron plant. Initially, the FDA found that the plant was contaminated with bacteria but later announced, "the problems were corrected to their satisfaction," and allowed the plant to continue to operate.

I don't understand why so many people feel safer under Bush's leadership. New York was attacked under Bush's leadership! C'mon people, READ, THINK, VOTE!

- Thanks, Bill Vana, Durango

Let citizens, not the market, decide

To the editors,

Marketplace correction can be extremely brutal. Let us hope that we use intelligence to make corrections in our marketplace before correction runs us over in a brutal manner.

Are the city attorney and the well-funded coalition of those profiting from growth scaring us into believing that we cannot adjust citizen involvement in the city growth initiative? With future water outlooks, loss of other resources, and in consideration of traffic/space problems, citizens of the city and county need more voice in the growth that profits so few.

- Stephanie Johnson, Durango

Don't let the mothers be fooled

Dear Editors,

Mothers for war? The polling news indicates that women are supporting Bush in greater numbers because they believe he is making this country safer from terrorism. Is that true?

Our young soldiers - in our name - have been ordered into actions that have resulted in the death and maiming of well over 10,000 Iraqi mothers and children. How are we allowing ourselves to believe that blasting through neighborhoods of innocent civilians is constructive?

Women, mothers, recall your intuitive nurturing nature, look through the rah-rah sound bites of little depth and even less honesty; sound bites that have transformed our horrific killing actions into a slick media production dedicated to deceiving instead of clarifying.

How would your son react if you were treated the same way our young soldiers have been ordered to treat Iraqi mothers and children how can we expect anything less from the sons of Iraqi mothers?

Four years ago, Bin Laden had one goal: to initiate a worldwide war against the USA. Today, we see an administration that is so wrapped up in themselves they remain oblivious to the fact that they played right into those plans. What Bush's Administration accomplished was to transform a hate-filled fringe movement of thousands, into the self-righteous rage of millions. A growing rage that is focused on us.

Mothers don't let the slick advertising fool you: Fighting terror with terror only begets more terror. Why vote for the president who played right into the enemy's hands?

-Sincerely, Peter Miesler, Durango

Trust the voters of Durango

To the Editors:

I have been reading about the Responsible Growth Initiative and am concerned about the plan to expand the city by a series of huge annexations. Of equal concern is the idea of growing to a population of 40,000. I'm sure there are those who think this is a good idea. Perhaps they believe that an increased tax base is more important. It's true that growth has brought some benefits to Durango but what some may not realize is that growth also costs the taxpayer who must pay for infrastructure. When do we cross the line between beneficial growth and runaway growth that threatens to destroy the quality of life that brought us to Durango in the first place?

The thing I like about the initiative is that voters will have a voice in major land-use decisions. It will also require that infrastructure be in place for new development. I realize the city councilors are largely volunteers who put in a lot of hours, but they need our help. They need to know that not all their constituents share their enthusiasm for a bigger city. Apparently the councilors and opponents of the initiative do not trust the voters of Durango, but I do. I trust voters to know the difference between a good project and a bad one. Clearly, there are developments in Durango that would not have survived voter approval. Hearing about the city's plans, it's not too late. If the initiative is defeated by those with the most money and the most to gain, the status quo will govern, and Durango will be just like any other town that was once a great place to live.

I'll vote for the Responsible Growth Initiative. I love Durango the way it is.

- Carla Harned, Durango

The way it used to be

To the Editors,

Well we screwed up. We made it too nice. We made Durango too nice, and attracted the wrong type of people. Thirty years ago, we had a big black hole on Main Street. We had only Country and Western Radio stations ... except for one, 1-watt college broadcast. We had a giant pile of radioactive material at the end of town; the Main Avenue area south of 6th (College) was nothing but bums, derelicts and wind-blown deposits. We had dirty air in the winter, from all the poor folks who burned wood and coal because they didn't have enough money to pay utilities. We had 60-foot tall motel signs on North Main. We didn't have a concert hall. We didn't have an arts scene. We didn't have a trail system. We didn't have a rec center. We didn't have street trees or street furniture. We had a city with almost no money, for almost anything.

Well maybe Mayor Hatfield was right - we should have "closed the floodgates to Durango." Look what we got. We used to have a tri-ethnic community, Anglos, Native Americans and Hispanics, now we still have a tri-ethnic community, but it's getting to be made up of Texans, Californians and ex-patrioted Boulderites. We used to export minerals and import miners. Today we import wealthy white Anglos and export our children. Do you know why there are more environmental groups in Durango than anywhere else west of the Mississippi? Because it got too expensive in Boulder. Well guess what? On Nov. 2, we may become Boulder. We may now be outnumbered by the very people who recently moved here and now find Durango perfect and don't want anything to change. My car doesn't cause traffic, but yours will. My fireplace doesn't cause smoke, but yours will. My house doesn't disturb the elk, but yours will. My house isn't in the view corridor, but yours will be. My house wasn't built by a developer, but yours will be. Well guess what? My house and all of our houses are in the city, and they are all on land that was subdivided. And they were built by builders and annexed into the city, and only the elected officials voted on the annexation. There was no "adequate public facilities ordinance" except the Land Use and Development Code. And we don't want any commercial property (that people can afford to shop at) over 40,000 sq. ft. in the future, including the hospital, Walmart and Home Depot. The Dark Sky is falling, the Dark Sky is falling.

This is a great place because great people spent a lot of time polishing this piece of gold. We have had the leadership of a great city staff, a consistent city policy of being tough on developers, and city councils that work extremely hard at their thankless job. We have always had higher standards than anywhere around. The governor even gave us a Smart Growth award for our 1997 Comprehensive Plan. Really???

Well I, for one, resent being defined in the negative as not being a "Friend of the Animas Valley." Please get to the bottom of the ballot, and before you put on the nose clips and vote for president... vote NO on the growth initiative. And remember as J. Paul Brown once said, "The way Durango usta be was after I got here."

- Robert Wolff, Durango

Time to roll up our sleeves

Dear Editors,

The Responsible Growth Initiative as put forth by Renee Parsons and Friends of the Animas Valley is really a "No Growth Referendum" and should be called that. I agree with Renee when she says "our community is at a critical junction." But rather than voting for this No Growth Initiative and turning Durango down the path of Aspenization, we need to roll up our sleeves and become more involved in the planning process, which works quite well despite what FOAV wants you to believe. It seems that kind of involvement with River Trails had an impact last year, did it not?

For the record, I am not someone who is going to economically benefit from growth as FOAV likes to portray any and all opposition. I am a registered nurse, a member of Durango's middle class. I worry whether my three children will even be able to live in this wonderful town in which they were born and raised. The growth that Durango has experienced over the past 25 years was not because of corrupt councilors glad-handing greedy developers. That growth is because people, like most members of FOAV, moved here from somewhere else. Durango is not the same as it was 25 years ago, and there is no place on this planet that will be the same 25 years hence. Bill Roberts (editorial page editor of the Durango Herald ) did a demographic survey of those who signed the petition to get the RGI on the ballot. It shows that the majority (83 percent) own their own home, have an average age of 56 and have resided here for 24 years which means they moved here from somewhere else. Simply put, they are part of the problem they are decrying. One of the questions should have asked the petitioners if they were bribed by the city councilors, John Gamble, Bobby Lieb or Greg Hoch to move here as some kind of bizarre goal to reach a population of 40,000, a goal the FOAV keeps claiming the city has. Of course any rational Durango resident understands that part of the job of city planners is to anticipate and plan for generations to come. Also for the record, I want to say that these councilors and town leaders are hard-working members of our community as are Realtors, contractors, construction workers and businesses involved in home building. It's these people that helped members of the FOAV obtain their own homes so they could achieve their "quality of life." Greed isn't something monopolized by unscrupulous developers or businesses profiting from real estate. People who moved to Durango and acquired their own little piece of heaven and then put themselves in a position to limit and restrict others who are also seeking a better life reflect not only blatant exclusionary elitism, but their own form of self-serving greed.

The supporters of this initiative know that, if passed, it will create sprawl and reduce open space. They know it will create higher prices. They know that costs of elections as well as the myriad other increased costs to approve and market these projects will be passed on to the consumers. They know the average citizen won't study and understand the projects to be voted on and consequently won't vote, leaving their outcome vulnerable to this small, no-growth special interest group. They know it will inhibit all major development, even good projects, but they don't care because that is what they want. Finally, they won't be basing their decisions on the big picture and future for everyone, but just on how these projects affect them personally. I urge you to vote NO on the Responsible Growth Initiative and let the "will of the people" who voted for the councilors not be subverted. If that isn't good enough for the supporters of this ill-conceived initiative, then I challenge them to vote to change the elected officials, or better yet, put their money where their mouths are and run for office.

- Malcolm Perkins, Durango

Bigger is not always better

Dear Editors,

Normally, I do not like initiatives. I know ultra democracy did in Socrates, and I know how John Adams felt about representative government. I have read what James Madison argued in the Federalist Papers about how representatives of the people may express the will of the people better than the people themselves. But I am going to vote "Yes" on the Responsible Growth Initiative.

What changed my mind?

I have listened carefully to the opponents of the initiative, and I have come to conclude they are not good government advocates, but merely spokesmen for the bigger is better crowd. Why do people move to a great small town and expect to have all the urban amenities - bigger stores, bigger payrolls, bigger recreation facilities, yes, even bigger arts communities. It only ends up making a great small town into a bigger town. They could have moved to a big town in the first place.

I know about the growth-is-inevitable argument. I'm just not interested in helping it along.

- Jim Decker, Durango

Give the pretender the boot

Dear Editors,

After reading the headlines this morning, I wonder how many of President Bush's followers still feel secure? How could we leave 50 Iraqi soldiers to travel the country's roads without arms and an escort?How many grieving families have we added to the count in the country we had vowed to liberate? How could we have allowed 380 tons of military-grade explosives to go missing? If used by the terrorists, will it add to the grief so many families and maimed veterans now know? I do not feel safer under this administration. This president knows how to start a war but no clue about how to wage it or end it. He confuses stubbornness with steadfastness. He does not deserve the right to wear camo or strut around an aircraft carrier in a flight suit when he was too cowardly to serve his country in time of war. Wake up voters, turn this pretender out.

- Mary Karraker, Durango

Don't be a 'Duh'

Dear Editors,

Watching the presidential debates, I tried to imagine another four years of Bush representing our country in international affairs: Bush popping out of his seat when it isn't his turn, repeating sound bites instead of answering questions, and winking at foreign dignitaries. Hmmm.

Bush repeatedly claimed that his administration has helped the environment. Really? The Bush Administration is systematically turning back 30 years of environmental progress - including who pays to clean up polluter's messes. Under Bush, we taxpayers do! (www.sierraclub.org) Under Bush's "Clear Skies" plan, at least 42 million additional tons of air pollutants can be released - when we know that breathing polluted air causes 200 deaths/day (www.udecide.org), is that "Clear?"

Bush's Medicare bill helps corporations, not the elderly (www.misleader.org). And while the rest of us sweat our taxes, 60 percent of U.S. companies pay no tax at all under the Bush administration ( Mother Jones magazine).

What about the courts? Bush has kept quiet about this issue because Supreme Court justices and appellate court justices are appointed, and several vacancies will be filled this next four years. If Bush is re-elected, his appointed judges could narrow the Voting Rights Act in a way that could lead to racial discrimination, ban affirmative action in higher education, curb government workers' free speech, permit the destruction of endangered species on private land, bar legal-aid lawyers from challenging welfare laws and much more ( The Nation ). Was it a slip when he said, "rule the world" during the debates?

One of Bush's consultants was quoted as saying he wasn't concerned about the election, because his "...voters don't read ... they like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence" ( New York Times magazine). Don't fall for "media-front;" don't be a "duh." Get the FACTS before you vote!

- Pamela Young, Durango

Is the Post 'up to the challenge'

Dear Editors,

Is this a joke?

On Oct. 24, The Denver Post endorsed Bush claiming: "On Sept. 11, 2001, this country accepted a great challenge - to inflict justice on terrorists who would attack us and to take every reasonable step to protect our homeland. The task has been pursued with dogged resolution, and we think President Bush is best suited to continue the fight."

The Post's final sentence read, "We believe George W. Bush is up to the challenge."

Throughout the Post's endorsement of Bush, they lambaste him and his administration for endangering the military for questionable purpose and uncertain result, mishandling Iraq, poor planning for a new Iraq, ignoring warnings of Osama bin Laden's murderous ambition, squandering global good will, job losses, skyrocketing medical expenses, lost health-care coverage, obsessive tax cuts for the wealthy, corporate preference, inadequate education funding, irresponsible spending, and record deficits.

We read that Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; that we squandered billions of dollars, thousands of lives, military might, and our world leadership role on Iraq; assets that are sorely needed to fight terrorism.

One should question The Denver Post's integrity!

- Mary Sears, Durango

Dubious ethical standards

To the Editors,

In his 10/14 letter, Dylan Norton accuses proponents of the Responsible Growth Initiative of lies and deceptions. Given his behavior on the City's Planning Commission in 2003, we wonder if Mr. Norton is qualified to write about ethics. Apparently he has forgotten that as a planning commissioner he created several inappropriate conflicts of interest in an attempt to gain approval of River Trails Ranch. When River Trails Ranch came before the Planning Commission in April 2003, Mr. Norton initiated contact with Friends of Animas Valley to discuss the project. Such an ex-parte overture by a sitting member of the Planning Commission on a pending project was inappropriate. That's conflict No. 1. In the interests of hearing what Mr. Norton had to say, FOAV attended, and Mr. Norton suggested a "compromise" that would be acceptable to FOAV; no doubt in order to facilitate project approval. As a member of the Planning Commission, it was again inappropriate for Mr. Norton to attempt to "broker a deal." That's Conflict of Interest No. 2. At that meeting, Mr. Norton was told that no compromise was possible because the proposed location of RTR was beyond discussion.

As a result of that meeting, on April 16, Mr. Norton sent what he thought was a private e-mail to City Planning Director Greg Hoch reporting on his conversation with FOAV. In that e-mail, Mr. Norton proposed a way that the developer and the City Planning Office could save the project. "If we are to salvage anything here, we must get creative. Phasing the approval may be the only way. It will look like a compromise though we won't really be watering anything down. Future phase approval can be requested when the city leadership is more progressive/informed and the Friends of the Animas Valley are less active."

Not only did the above quote constitute Conflict of Interest No. 3, it also was enough reason for Mr. Norton torecluse himself from voting on RTR annexation June 17. Mr. Norton's failure to do so, knowing the depth of his own compromised position, is further indication of, let's just call it, flawed ethical judgment.

Unfortunately, this e-mail did not come to light until after the Planning Commission voted to approve the annexation of RTR, or FOAV would have protested Mr. Norton's unethical behavior. But today we can question whether Mr. Norton should be encouraged to set the ethical standard for public discussion of city planning matters.

Furthermore, for Mr. Norton to hold himself up as the model of virtue as a "real" environmentalist is to be woefully out of touch. If self-proclaimed environmentalists like Mr. Norton had prevailed in 2003, the pastures at River Trails Ranch would now be all but a memory. If Mr. Norton's ethical standards were to prevail today, the quality of Durango's planning process would suffer.

- Richard Nobman, via e-mail

Go for quality over quantity

To the Editors:

Perhaps some people have not yet read the initiative. If they had, it would be obvious that the voters of Durango will have a clear choice. Voters may either approve growth or vote to pull the reins in on the uncontrolled growth that is current city policy.

To assume that the initiative is "no" growth is to assume that the voters of Durango will veto every project that will be considered for approval. Therein may lie the problem. Given the urbanization of downtown and general frenetic pace of construction, who could blame city voters for reacting negatively to development that threatens our small town character. The experience of other communities with similar voter approval ordinances has shown that voters approve most projects because the developers have presented a better quality project knowing it would be scrutinized by the voters.

One repeated assertion is that city voters are not knowledgeable enough to make these decisions. The city voters I know are thoughtful, intelligent people who will carefully consider whether the project fits the neighborhood and whether the project reflects Durango values.

It's also important that the initiative requires that appropriate infrastructure be in place before a new project is approved. Even though infrastructure is supposed to be considered by the city councilors and planners, in reality, cumulative traffic impacts receive no serious consideration. The council's recent unanimous approval of Oxbow town homes along Animas View Drive is a good example.

In case you haven't noticed, our traffic congestion is not seasonal and can't be blamed on the tourists. The bottlenecks, gridlock and bumper-to-bumper traffic are now routine. Each new development that gets approved will increase the number of vehicles to our city streets.

Since the city hasn't updated its citywide traffic analysis since 1984, let's support the Responsible Growth Initiative. The initiative will require that traffic issues are taken into consideration when obtaining approval.

- Terry Harned, Durango

Not your father's Republican Party

Dear Editors,

OK voters, it's time to take an honest look at our choices.The Republican's options are:

For president, Mr. Bush - record deficits while gutting "compassionate" social programs, the first president since Hoover to record a net job loss, the worst environmental record of any president, more military and civilian deaths in a mismanaged and unnecessary war, and Osama is still free.

For U.S. Senate, Mr. Coors - No experience and, even worse, no interest in political involvement until last summer. Best idea? Lower the drinking age to 18.

For U.S. Representative, Mr. Walcher - Led the effort to siphon our Western Slope water resources to Denver developers.For La Plata County Commission, Mr. Phelps - Won't support reasonable land use controls while the county explodes with development, and responds to charges of sexual harassment by claiming the accuser's Dad is playing politics, even though he's from the same party.

This is not our father's Republican Party. While you may not be wild about the Democratic alternatives, until the Republicans can put the "Grand" back into GOP (Grand Old Party), they are offering us, at best, a pathetic choice and, at worst, a frightening one.

Vote for change!

- Bernard Fouke, M.D., Durango

Ignore scare tactics

Dear Editors,

The arguments of the opponents of the Responsible Growth Initiative have become contradictory and Orwellian. In one ad, the opponents warn that passage of the initiative will drive up land prices and leave the town a place for only the rich. In the next, they claim the initiative will destroy our economy. Now any sensible person understands that when the economy of a town is destroyed, land prices plummet, so they can't have it both ways. The opponents also claim that the initiative will destroy open space; yet they want to maintain the current system, which calls for annexation and building on open space around the city limits.

Virginia Castro has now weighed in with letters doing some of her own muddying of the waters. Castro warns the initiative will put a fence around Durango, leading to a town with little traffic (is this bad?), closed stores and businesses, absent students and employees. What scare tactics! I would like to ask Councilor Castro and the other opponents: Why have none of these terrible things happened in the communities across the nation that have adopted similar codes? These communities have continued to grow sensibly and remain vital. There is no reason to believe Durango would be any different. Letters in the Durango Herald fromBuena Vista have praised the town's experience with a similar ordinance and told of developers trying to repeal it. The difference in these communities with a voter-annexation code is that their growth is now citizen-driven, rather than developer-driven. This possibility scares those who now profit from developer-driven growth, and they are going to extremes to defeat it.

Castro points to the defeat of the River Trails as proof that "the process works." Having attended many of the RTR meetings, I would say it was evidence that the process does not work. I believe, as do many, that a public outcry coupled with the threat of taking RTR to the voters, caused the Council to deny RTR, by one vote. It took all that to get the council to do something it has never done - deny a development that was in accord with the city's comprehensive plan. Finally, opponents' ads have urged defeat of the initiative to "prevent elections controlled by special interests." Since when are the people of Durango a "special interest group"? Perhaps voters having a special interest in how Durango grows and in maintaining our quality of life would qualify! I hope the people of Durango see through the contradictory and fear-invoking arguments from the true special interests, and vote YES on the Responsible Growth Initiative so their voice s can be heard.

- Diane Higgins, Durango

Don't throw your vote away

Dear Editors,

The country is evenly divided, and the candidates are neck-in-neck. We are potentially facing a replay of the 2000 election. John Kerry needs every vote he can get to defeat the Bush administration. For those of you who believe that the country and the world cannot take another four years under the present administration, you MUST vote for John Kerry. Ralph Nader offers an alternative for independent voters and free thinkers, but there is no way that he will be elected. Thus, a vote for Nader is a wasted, and potentially dangerous,vote. In the 2000 election, Bush took 47.87 percent of the popular vote, Gore got 48.38 percent, and Nader got 2.74 percent. Assuming Nader's votes would have gone to Gore, the gap between Bush and Gore would have been wider, and Gore may have been the unequivocal winner.

We cannot take another four years of the Bush administration, with its emphasis on war, corporate interests, environmental destruction, fiscal irresponsibility, bullying other nations and lies. At home, there are either no plans or unfunded plans for education, health care and jobs. Bush has taken us on a reckless ride, and there is no end in sight. As Jimmy Carter said, "At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul." Please vote for Kerry - our only hope for defeating Bush and for bringing responsibility and respect back to our nation's policies.

- Rose Stout, Hesperus





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