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

What happened to the millions?

Dear Editors,

In response to Mayor Sidny Zink’s editorial (Herald, 1/24) scolding Open Space Board Chair Scott Graham for daring to question the current status of the city’s Open Space Preservation Program, I did not find Graham’s article alarmist. Did it raise important issues related to protection of Durango’s open space and meeting the public’s wishes? Absolutely.

While Scott identified the “potential” number of homes that could be built in the Twin Buttes area, it was clear that his concern was not with specific numbers, but with overall development at Twin Buttes while the city wrestles with what future development should look like. Why are we going through the Comprehensive Plan process if we violate it before the ink is even dry? Now the city wants to complete the Plan before the upcoming Council election. Please let the voters decide which candidates will abide by the plan rather than pushing it through to meet an artificial political deadline.

Despite the mayor’s contention, Graham’s article was about how to see the Twin Buttes area preserved to the extent possible.

Until recently, there seemed agreement that keeping density designations low until the landowners come forward with development plans was the way to go. That continues to make sense.

The mayor’s claim that Graham’s comments on the city’s funding for open space were “false and misleading” is inaccurate. The current city budget indicates that only $100,000 is budgeted for open-space preservation for each of the next three years. That is the same amount that was budgeted for open-space preservation BEFORE voter approval of the multimillion dollar Open Space, Library and Safety Referendum in 2005.

What happened to those millions of dollars voters approved to tax ourselves for open-space preservation? They’ve been voted out of the budget by current city councilors. It is unfortunate that the mayor used a public platform to bully a citizen volunteer who has

donated countless hours to the public interest.

I’m grateful that citizens have options when it comes to voting.

– Jay Wheeler, Durango

Don’t dump on Silverton

Dear Editors,

I read in the Jan. 25 Durango Telegraph (www.durangotelegraph.com) that the train company has come up with a list of proposed measures to reduce pollution from the train in Durango. One of these involves dumping half of the ashes from the train in Silverton instead of all of them in Durango, which is done now. Apparently there is a large pile of ashes that are not completely burnt, that smoke for some time after dumping. The proposal would result in two piles, one in Silverton and the other in Durango.

My concerns would be how much smoke does this produce, where is the pile planned in Silverton, visibility from town, fencing, would substances be able to leach into the Animas River and how would they dispose of the ashes once completely extinguished? My personal opinion is that this does not reduce the (considerable) pollution produced by the train, but merely divides some of it into two piles. Silverton is a small community with fewer resources than Durango and not able to cope with the possible adverse consequences of a change like this as well as could Durango.

– Earle Horton, Silverton


Dear Editors,

I recently read an article written by an author whose bio stated they were “Half Australian.” I can’t remember what the article was about but I’ve become obsessed with figuring out what “Half Australian” means. I’m also wondering why I needed to know that. Not being allowed to know what the other half is, I’m imagining something like the proverbial jack-a-lope. But with jack-a-lopes we are at least privy to both halves, jack rabbit and antelope. They don’t force us to guess at the other half until we squirm. My god, the other half could be buffalo, domestic dog or, god forbid, Washington politician. The possibilities are frightening. If said person meant that a parent was in fact from Down Under, mate, a true eater of Vegemite sandwiches, I wonder why it wasn’t important to give the other parent equal billing. What was the family secret needing to be hidden? Has the forgotten parent gone off in a sulk being so overlooked? Let’s surmise the other parent, the silent partner.... happens to be from the United States. Why didn’t the author bill themselves as half United Statsian? Now I’m starting to feel like going off in a sulk. Does my accent not measure up?

What if the hidden truth here turns out to be, their father was Australian and their mother was Brazilian. Mistaking country of origin for heritage is something like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. It takes us back to the Jack-a-lope theory. We now have a new race of folks who may be of Spanish-English descent, living in the United States with parents from say, Brazil and England – Brazilian, English. We now have a new group called let’s see “Bra-lishs” or perhaps it was “Eng-zilians.”

I’m back to my original obsession. Why did I need to know someone was “half Australian” and what is that? Does my three-year stint Down Under earn me the title “one-18th” Aussie? Would they have been as quick to proclaim they were half Iranian? Is positive prejudice (because all those Outback Steakhouse shrimp-on-the-barby feel-good ads and oh, by the way, don’tcha just love the accent?) any better than negative prejudice? When we use generalizations to enhance ourselves or hide others to protect ourselves we have uncovered the fact that even the best of us can be lured into prejudice. We have forgotten to identify ourselves by our own merits, as an individual, and to relate to every person regardless of heritage or country as an individual. By the way, I am half French. And by telling you that, you have suddenly forgotten all about me and half of my readers now love me and half of my readers now dislike me.

You may be feeling how distasteful this is all becoming. Prejudice can hide in the seemingly rational, the seemingly innocent. A phrase, a word, a gesture, a look, a moment of “better than you” pride, gathering size and momentum like dust bunnies under a couch until they become ugly and infectious. When we label ourselves in any way, we have suddenly wrapped ourselves in a cloak of invisibility and other people are seeing their own thoughts, their own experiences, what they saw on the news last night, a rumor they heard, something a relative told them. As long as we are proud to be jack-a-lopes then by default, we’ve diminished the non-Jack-a-lopes to a status of “lesser,” “not as good as.” The Jack-a-lopes will make war on those that are the “unlike.” Those without horns.

If we could be put in a room all wearing matching Speedos, borrow a Universal Translator from the bridge of the Enterprise, not hear the differing accents, not see the differing costumes, we would meet merely other humans with the same hopes, fears and dreams as ours. Where would war be? Who would we fight? And then … the miracle would be we would change out of the Speedos because sameness suddenly seems sterile, horrifying. Suddenly the accents would sound like music, the various garb would become a celebration. The food, the cultures, the traditions, the music would bring vibrancy, diversity and wonder back to the earth.

And hey, if you’ll let me, I’d love to trade you a baguette and round of Raclette for a bottle of Vegemite. I really do miss the stuff.

– Lyn Boyer, Durango

Dawning of a new decade

Dear Editors,

Maybe it’s not ientirely impossible that a female and/or even an American African male could secure the American presidency. I say maybe, only, though so far.

Just look around at the Nancy Pelosis, the Hilary Clintons and yes, even the ubiquitous Madame Secretary Condolezza Rice, along with the incredibly alluring Maria-Segolone of France, the dynamic Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica all with the blessings, presumably, of Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher. Add to that the report that just came out about a majority of women living alone or independent (psychologically, financially) of men and maybe 2008 will be their year.

– Grant D. Cyrus, via e-mail

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