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

A call for more vacation time

To the Telegraph:

Must be a slow news week if you’re criticizing Americans for taking too much vacation (Thumbin’ It, Oct. 13). While you might think we’re a nation of slackers for tacking some vacation onto a “gratuitous” holiday, whatever that means, you might want to consider a few points.

First, Americans receive less vacation time than in any other civilized society. Using 2001 figures, the average American has 13 days of paid vacation, and many get less than that, particularly younger workers and new hires. Compare that to 25 days for the stereotypically hard-working Japanese, 26 for our Canadian neighbors, or note the European Union’s legislative requirement for four weeks per year, a minimum exceeded by most of its members. Many part-time and temporary workers have zero paid vacation time; these represent increasing portions of the labor force.

Second, many Americans are unable to take even the small amount of time to which they are entitled, due to job requirements or scheduling problems. Managers use the threat of job security in today’s weak economy to discourage workers from taking their earned time. Isn’t it natural that people would want to take advantage of a holiday, so that they only need to use four of their precious vacation days instead of five in order to get a whole week off?

Finally, I would remind you that Durango’s present-day economy is based on tourism. That is, the town depends on people taking vacations. That would seem to be a concept its weekly newspaper would support. Or do the accolades for “the reappearance of snow on the La Plata Mountains” on the

same page have nothing at all to do with the vacation-centered ski industry?

– Jon Rudolf, Farmington

(The Editors were on vacation and unable reply.)


Train needs to explore options

Dear Editors,

The train causing smoke-filled skies in the south4 side of Durango may be an old scenario, but the San Juan Basin’s recently completed study certainly is not old information. I’m curious why the same old arguments against improving the train are used when the study blatantly exhibits new information. The train could run on an alternative fuel source overnight. I have a very hard time understanding why an area that constantly markets its scenic/healthy/active/outdoor lifestyle would not choose to further investigate this potential change that would completely enhance that image. It is a positive change. Native south-siders did not thrive under coal smoke; their voices and complaints may not have been heard and there may not have been any alternatives, but that doesn’t mean they enjoyed the coal smoke. The beauty of the 21st Century is that we have options now ... why not look into them?

Articles and interviews with Allen Harper and other train employees have failed to address this new issue. Will they further investigate the scenario of running the train on alternative fuels overnight? Why has their answer to this simple question not been sought? This compromise does not affect the historical nature of the train, it does not require them to run on alternative fuels during the day or to put nine empty cars between passengers and locomotives, they would not be constantly “turning on and turning off” the engines. This compromise would not prevent tourists from taking pictures of billowing coal smoke as the train departs from the station, and it certainly would not inhibit “rail buffs” from coming to Durango because they would still be riding on a coal-powered train. This would not negatively affect tourist dollars or visitation. So where is the problem? I have a hard time believing that a company that can buy a train for $25 million cannot afford the quoted $214,000. With ridership expected to reach 175,000 this year, that’s a little over a dollar per person to raise the money. Why doesn’t Durango, including our new neighbor, Allen Harper, join to improve its quality of life for all residents.

– Jessey Tate, via e-mail


A flu shot in the near future

Dear Editors,

This letter was prompted by Shane Ellison’s recent letter objecting to influenza vaccinations.

I don’t remember many things about my early childhood, but one thing I recall very well. I was 8 years old in the winter of 1957. My sister Linda and I shared a room in the small frame house my parents had bought new two years before. My sister slept in the bunk above mine. At 8 p.m. we were put to bed, and the lights went out. A few minutes later, Linda came scrambling down from the top bunk and ran for the door. Before she reached it, she vomited on the floor. I got up and went to see, and suddenly I, too, was violently ill. Both parents were sick within a day. The ensuing week was sheer hell, with family members taking turns, jumping up and running to the bathroom every 20 or 30 minutes like clockwork. Often we would not make it, and the walls and floors took a beating. It was necessary to scrub and repaint the house after the illness had passed. We all survived the episode, but Linda developed rheumatic fever and has had a heart murmur ever since. I say, if you think the flu is not a big deal, then you’ve never really had a bad case of it. I’ve caught the flu several times since, but never anything like that time. In fact, I’ve never been that ill again from any cause.

This wonderful childhood recollection is of what later became known as the Asian flu, a pandemic that killed an estimated 1 to 4 million people worldwide and more than 70,000 in the U.S. alone. I tell this story because once again it is flu season, and many will skip getting a flu shot. If we should happen to have a pandemic such as the ones in 1918 and 1957, many people will die. (The 1918 pandemic killed over 50 million people worldwide) These pandemics occur approximately every 40 years, and we are due. Typically they affect younger people who have never been through one, and their children, with a vengeance.

For me, it’s an easy decision. Being that ill can kill you. The immunization is in my near future. It’s actually an easier decision this year than in years past – new, improved and preservative-free vaccines are available locally.

– Jerry Brown, via e-mail


Left behind by public radio

Dear Editors,

I am writing this after the KSUT membership campaign because I want to support public radio and not discourage anyone from supporting it. But, I am concerned that KSUT is not allowing “public” access to their station any longer.

As a supporter of public radio for years, I immediately became a member of KSUT when I moved here. In fact, I wanted to add the support of our new church, Open Table Christian Fellowship, Bayfield, by having our church become a sponsor of public radio through KSUT. As a church, we support public radio, in its open access to differing opinions and its commitment to impartiality. In fact, we would rather support public radio than religious programming, like Focus on the Family, which is not known for giving open access to differing opinions and certainly is not committed to impartiality (especially on political issues).

But, alas, we cannot sponsor public radio through KSUT and let people know that there are religious organizations that support the mission of public radio, “to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.” KSUT has informed the Open Table Christian Fellowship4 that it is not welcome to be a sponsor because of a policy to not allow religious or political organizations to be sponsors. Because of this policy, I felt that I could not continue my personal membership, because KSUT is not keeping with the open access and commitment to impartiality that has made public radio so important in our society.

Let me be clear that Open Table Christian Fellowship is not seeking to advertise their beliefs and practices but simply to support public radio and to let KSUT’s listeners know that this faith community supports the work of public radio.

I would hope that other people of faith would join me in questioning this policy of KSUT, because it flies directly against the goals of public radio, at least those stated by “National Public Radio,” which does allow faith organizations to sponsor its programs nationally.

– Pastor Kevin Arensman, Open Table Christian Fellowship, Bayfield


Deserving of a second term

Dear Editors,

Chris Paulson is running for a second term as a member of the Durango 9-R school board. During her first term, she successfully fought the administration to have board meetings videotaped and shown on DCAT. She has actively shown concern for both minority students in the district and our youth’s substance-abuse problems. She has asked numerous questions, listened to opinions other than that of the administration, has been very outspoken, and voted her conscience. Chris has encouraged the district to take advantage of new technologies such as utilizing the fiber-optic connections between Durango and other nearby school districts. This could increase video conferencing and distance learning, thereby giving our kids and teachers more and better learning options.

Chris has worked hard as a board member and deserves a second term. We need people like Chris, who are willing to spend the many hours required to understand the various and complex issues within 9-R. Chris has shown vision and courage in confronting controversial issues. I urge you to vote to give Chris Paulson a second term. Remember, ballots must be returned by Nov. 1.

– Thank you, Cheryle Brandsma, Durango


Good art is good art

Dear Editors,

Jared Boyd’s photographs of the Cowboy Gathering and the Motorless Parade captured the essence of the event – it’s all about people enjoying themselves and appreciating the “culture of the West” before it vanishes utterly into the increasingly homogeneous American landscape. Plus they’re simply fine photographs. Good art is good art, regardless of the subject. Thanks for the coverage.

– Elizabeth Testa,  via e-mail


C and D won’t raise taxes

Dear Editors,

A lot of Orwellian manipulation of the facts has been taking place in the last few years. Develop a spin that resonates with public values, and it will sell whether or not it’s the truth. Clear Skies Initiative, Healthy Forests, and now Referendums C and D. When you, I or our children twist the truth, don’t we call it lying?

Pre-recorded telephone messages touting that C and D will raise your taxes are being used across the state. They’re flat-out lies. There are no changes in TABOR, no tax hikes. So, who would spend money trying to defeat Referendums C and D? Grover Norquist and his gang. Already I have received two pre-packaged phone messages from these thugs, who, in no way, have our best interests at heart.

These out-of-state political guns are interested in how we vote because they’ve got a national political agenda, which Norquist has expressed is threatened by what C and D imply. He doesn’t want other states to recognize that sometimes TABOR-type laws can hurt citizens when economies slow down. He doesn’t mention that citizens are voting for a temporary hold on tax refunds, which we haven’t seen in about four years anyway, due to recession. Norquist doesn’t care. He’s only concerned with impression, the seed of doubt a C and D victory could plant in the minds of legislators elsewhere, who are considering passage of TABOResque laws in other states.

Grover Norquist, known as the extremist of the extreme right, helps to author America’s economic agenda through the Bush Administration, if you can call giving away the nation’s financial future to China and Japan an “American” agenda. He’s the dude who helped bring huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. He’s Wall Street’s hired gun behind privatizing Social Security and public education, and reforming-to-death Medicare. (And you’re surprised that health care is nowhere on President Bush’s “compassionate conservative” agenda?)

Norquist and his Fortune 500 elites who bankroll him could care less about the thousands of families, seniors and children who would be hurt at defeat of C and D. Norquist would love it if our colleges and universities turned virtually private. He’d cheer at Colorado losing federal grants, which we will, should these referendums fail. Bipartisan Referendums C and D don’t raise taxes.

I guess I should feel honored to have received a “personal message” from such a high-ranking liar as Norquist. Instead, I’m reminded he represents an administration that once told the public it stood for morality.

– Nancy Jacques, Durango


In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows