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Police should protect not plunder

To the editors,

I just read Amy Maestas' article (Dec. 16, 2004) about police brutality. Thank you so much for taking the time to write something of such importance to every person in our community. Naturally, as a mother with four boys ages 17, 19, 21 and 27, it is extremely important to me that when I send my kids out the door, and I pray for their safe return, that I can be assured that the police, who are supposed to protect and serve, are going to help in the process ... NOT HURT! This is Durango, not Compton, Santa Ana or some other dreadful place. Maybe those police officers don't belong on the force. They sure don't belong in the wonderful town of Durango. I would certainly hate for one of them to be called if any one of my family members needed help. Way bother? They may do more harm than good. What a horribly disturbing account.

Another question I have is, why didn't this horrific incident make it to the front page of the Herald? Hmm. Makes you wonder. They can certainly find other garbage to write about.

While you're busy investigating interesting articles, you might ask the police department what they are doing to follow up and protect the kids who were attacked twice by masked intruders, who severely beat a boy and sent him to the hospital?

Guess the police just have a hard time differentiating who's the bad guy. Maybe they need more instruction and classes. I am not trying to paint with a broad brush, but maybe the police department needs to remember a few bad apples can make the whole bushel look bad, which would be very sad and inaccurate. Guess they need to think about that when they think about children, too.

- Lyn Markman Hanson,


Straight scoop on candy canes

To the editors,

Recently, I found a candy cane Scotch-taped to a bit of religious propaganda on the front porch of my Durango home. The message suggested that candy canes are linked to Jesus Christ and that I should attend the Christmas mass of a local sector on the north end of town. I was compelled to do some research on the matter, and I learned that the origins of candy canes go back to the 1670s when European-Christians began decorating their Christmas trees with foods as part of their Christmas celebration. They mostly used sweets like cookies and hard candies. History says that the choirmaster at a Cathedral in Germany gave candy canes to the children of the congregation in order to ensure their good behavior during long-winded church services. Eventually, this custom spread throughout Europe and then to America around 1847, when the German immigrant, August Imgard, decorated his Christmas tree with candy canes in Wooster, Ohio, as a form of entertainment for his nieces and nephews. Friends and neighbors thought this was a grand idea, and they began doing the same until it soon became a tradition. Candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavored stripes to their candy canes around 1900, and those flavors, too, became tradition.

There are many legends surrounding the candy cane. Some suggest that the candy cane is a secret symbol for Christianity. They say that the red-and-white stripes represent Christ's blood, purity and the Holy Trinity. However, there is no historical evidence to support these claims. While it is unclear who invented stripes on candy canes, history shows that illustrations of candy canes appearing on Christmas cards before the year 1900 were all white, and Christmas cards after 1900 began to feature stripes on the candy. This indicates that stripes came about some 230 years after the candy cane's introduction and makes it unlikely that their presence should have any significance or purpose other than for quality of flavor and marketing.

Legend continues to suggest that candy canes are "J" shaped because of some spiritual tribute to Jesus. This is charming folklore at best. I find it difficult to imagine the Christian ancestors referring to Jesus as "JC" or the "J Man." In fact, only recently did Americans begin abbreviating our language with terms such as "MGD," "KFC," or did "MJ" sell burgers for "Mickey D's." Historical accounts support that, prior to the 1900s, it was in vogue to communicate with full, colorful use of language as a means to express one's self or perhaps even to secure social status or to flaunt one's social superiority. It seems likely that it may just as well have

been August Imgard's niece or nephew back in Wooster, or nearly any other 6-year-old learning to read since that time, that may have turned a candy cane upside-down and said, "Look Mom, 'J' is for Jesus." Praise the Lord.

Another belief is that the aforementioned choirmaster from Germany persuaded candy makers to bend the sticks of candy at the end to symbolize a shepherd's crook. A more logical explanation may be that candy makers designed the hooks so that the candy sticks would hang securely on the wavering branches of the evergreen, and that any resemblance to a shepherd's crook will continue to be an afterthought in the imagination of thousands of 6-year-old children and for significance-starved religious fanatics alike.

Claims made about religious symbolisms and candy canes have become increasingly widespread as religious leaders continue to assure their congregations that these mythologies are true. Moreover, I agree, that while there is no law that prohibits finding and celebrating symbolism where there once was none, these stories of the candy cane's origins are still, like the story of Santa Claus, simply myth.

- David Stroud,


Editors note: While the Telegraph agrees that the link between candy canes and Jesus is sketchy at best, we do believe there is a direct link between being good and a fat, magical elf who comes down the chimney every year to deliver presents.

'Thumbs down' added distress

To the editors,

Alarmed, I read "Thumbs Down" (Dec. 16): "County residents panicking about revisions to the land use resolution."

Researched panic attack symptoms include: pounding heart, sweating, trembling, choking feelings, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, fear of losing control.

All or some of the above are felt by thousands of county residents. Whose editorial decision inadvertently added distress to county residents panicking about proposed revisions to the land-use code? (It is not a resolution.) Does that person have difficulty empathizing with troubled people?

Are the Telegraph'seditorial positions reflected in the "Thumbin' It" section or simply the person 4 compiling it? Does the paper's content only reflect a Durango-centric point-of-view as per the name Durango Telegraph?

Rural, agricultural and Libertarian cultures especially, found in the southeast (where I live) and southwest districts of the county, are in many ways other worldly - if objectively viewed through Durango filters of how life looks. With my background in psychology and sociology, I know that it is virtually impossible for humans to understand one another when experiences in life do not generate sufficient identification and interest in walking in another's shoes.

The bottom line of Thumbin' the Telegraph's nose at authentic suffering of thousands - is for many of those folks to feel disrespected and marginalized to say the least. A key point: The proposed code does not regulate property in incorporated Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio.

From decades of work abroad and domestically, there is a universal thread. When people are upset, they virtually always want one thing above all else - to be heard. What distressed me the most with "thumbs down" on panicking residents was what shows up as the inability of someone at the Telegraph to: a) use journalistic ethics for evaluating very large diverse demographic groupings in the county who are panicking; b) use journalistic ethics for learning about the gaps in perception and actual grievances; c) use journalistic ethics when attending public comment meetings.

The Telegraph doesn't seem to reflect the value received when ranchers and farmers in the county continue to provide free open space. While there seems to be an insatiable appetite for open space in La Plata - where Forest Service lands and Southern Ute lands and state-owned lands and agricultural lands are not enough open space - the proposed land-use code calls for what, in my opinion, are some onerous restrictions in order to create and preserve even more open space.

One rancher at a public hearing spoke of the stock for his family's future security not being in a 401.k but stock with four legs.He said 2000-plus Farm Bureau members are panicking over what may be inadvertently disastrous economic impacts found in the proposed code.Would any of your readers be panicking if just the perception of meta-losses and unconstitutional "takings" showed up when the proposed changes designating scenic corridors probably devalue your land - land that represents your entire future security?

The proposed code's first chapter (Chapter 62-3 (g) - I don't know where chapters 1-61 are) states: "(To) (e)nsure that no private landowner is deprived of all reasonable economic use of real property." Former County Commissioner Bob Taylor has formed the Citizens Code Communication group of which I am a part. CCC members report on many of the over 450 pages, that for all intents and purposes, neutralize the 62-3 (g) assertion.

Our group notified the Herald of alleged inaccurate reporting (12/9): "While many of the proposed changes will affect only a handful of county residents ... ."The headline: "Residents skeptical about land-use code revisions." At the hearings, I have not heard anyone sounding skeptical and a few have welcomed the changes. Pine River Times (12/10) headline was: "Ignacio crowd condemns proposed land-use code."

I challenge everyone interested in substance vs. sound-bites to read Chapter 68: "General Site Development Standards" (pages 186-300). Now what if you had 80 acres in unincorporated LPC and you want to build three houses for your children?Start with page 1 (Ch. 62) and act as if you can't afford to hire an agent or lawyer to assist you in learning for yourself what you can and cannot do.Act as if it is your job - not government's - to look out for your family's best interests.

- Susan Franzheim,

founder/facilitatorCoalition of Gas-drilling Solutions

Shan masterfully does it again

Telegraph editors,

Shan Wells has done it again with his masterful, cartoon portrayal of the Bush/Guiliani fiasco over the nomination of former NYC Police Commissioner Kerik to head Homeland Security ("ReTooned," Dec. 16).

Shan's cartoon reminded me of a cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winner and then-Denver Post Cartoonist, Paul Conrad, where Conrad had then-Colorado Gov. Steve McNichols pulling rotten apples out of a barrel while then-Denver Mayor Dick Batterton,stood by and said, "Thanks, Steve; thanks, Steve; thanks a lot, Steve" during the time that McNichols "stepped in" and helped solve the Denver police burglary scandal of the early 1960s.

One sad, personal note: One of the gang of cops-turned-burglars was a boyhood acquaintance from Fort Collins. The Small World Phenomena was "at work," once again.

Keep up the great work, Shan.

- Hal Mansfield,


League supports code revisions

To the editors,

The League of Women Voters of La Plata County endorses the county's decision to revise the La Plata County Land Use Code and hopes that the revised code will be adopted within a reasonable period of time. We are very encouraged by the vigorous public discussion the approval process has engendered, by the county commissioners' decision not to rush approval, and by their stated intent to incorporate changes coming from the public review, where appropriate. We are concerned, however, that public comment has been largely negative and urge those who support the revisions to step forward as well. In designing your comments be sure that you are looking at the Recommended Changes to the code, not just the original draft, both of which are available on the county's website, http://co.laplata.co.us/.

The LWV's support of the proposed revisions to the code, and modifications resulting from the current public hearing process, is based on strong state and national LWV positions on land use and planning developed by member study and agreement over the years. We believe the existing code is weak and severely limited in its ability to promote sound and effective governmental planning that evaluates and respects community individuality, and environmental, public health/safety, social and economic impacts. The proposed revised code, by replacing "encouraged" criteria with regulated standards, and by changing the advisory elements of the district plans to legal requirements, will lead to consistent and reliable processes in the face of increasing and inevitable growth pressures in La Plata County.

As for the code itself, we urge the commissioners to consider the following:

? We would like to see a chapter included in the code for affordable housing provisions and a proposed timeframe for its completion. We agree that the various references to affordable housing should be dispersed throughout the code where they logically belong. Therefore, we see the chapter as a place where references to affordable housing provisions throughout the code are gathered and can be added to as new provisions are approved.

? The code would be more readable and easier to navigate if it included introductory guidelines and an index.

- Marilyn T. Brown,

president, League of Women Voters of La Plata County

Please return contents of wallet

Dear Reader,

Hi. My name is Tessa. I am 17 years old. I am on probation and have had a difficult time just doing what's right. Lately, I have been doing much better. I dedicated the last year of my life to getting on the right track, have made amends with people and have spent time helping my community. I graduated high school and am looking forward to college. I plan to move to Oregon with my family when the new year comes. I have lived in Durango for 11 years, and know a large part of the community.

This weekend, I finally had a chance to get some presents for my family. I just got paid, although it wasn't much. I had been waiting to get paid so I could take my 9-year-old nephew to the movies. I don't get to see him often, but when I do, I think it means a lot to him. I try to help him as much as I can while he grows into a teen. I helped him learn how to read and try to spend time with him. I am sad that I am moving from him and wanted to do something special with him before I leave.

Sunday, I took him to see a movie. While I was there my wallet was stolen. It contained all my money, my driver's license, my bank account information, my gym pass, my library card and a few other forms of ID. These are the only IDs that I have, and I really need them. Now I have no money to buy my three sisters any presents. It breaks my heart to know that I cannot trust my community members. I am a very forgiving person, and I am just trying to pay my dues like everyone else. I would be so happy if I could just get back my license and gym pass. I live out of town, and I cannot drive without my license. I just wanted to do something special with my nephew, and now I can't do anything, including work and counseling because I can't drive.

If you have my IDs, please return them or leave them at the Hi-Five box office, and they will get back to me. I don't mind keeping it anonymous. Thank you so much, and please understand that I am doing everything I can to stay on the right track too.

- Tessa Cooper-Bailey,






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