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


Conflicts and the home industry

Dear Editors,

Mayor Sidny Zink is an owner of a local firm that markets itself as a specialist in construction accounting. A few days ago, at the City Council’s meeting on the adoption of the 2007 Comprehensive Plan, Ms. Zink was asked about her possible conflicts of interest as this plan affects land-development opportunities. When asked to disclose a client list of her accounting firm, she refused.

Article II, Section 9, of the City Charter directs that any council member who has “personal or private interest in any matter proposed or pending before the council shall disclose such interest to the council… .”

Ms. Zink may have a conflict of interest and further disclosure should be required by City Council. It is clear that Ms. Zink’s firm solicits business from developers and construction companies:

(1) The Homebuilders Association of Southwest Colorado (HBASC) website highlights the political campaign of Ms. Zink and declares that Ms. Zink had been a past board member of the HBASC.

(2) Ms. Zink’s accounting firm currently advertises in HBASC’s Membership & Buyer’s Guide (page 26) stating “Construction industry accounting is different. We’ve built our firm to focus on your industry.”

Since Ms. Zink’s firm explicitly serves the construction and development industry, it would seem fair to ask if her firm has a financial interest in the Comprehensive Plan.

Why is disclosure, if not to the public, then to at least the council, a problem?

These questions need to be asked and investigated by the City Council when changes to the Comprehensive Plan are at issue. If clients of Ms. Zink’s firm stand to benefit from these changes, I feel this is a conflict of interest. A client list of Ms. Zink’s firm presented to the council members for review seems like the minimum that should be required.

– William Y. Furse, via e-mail

Keep Durango ‘real’

Dear Editors,

A healthy, diverse economy will drive a community and keep it vibrant and strong. The candidates for City Council espouse all the hot topics of smart growth, affordable housing, open space, etc., but not all seem to understand the results of some of what they “say” they want to see happen here. Smart growth will engender good planning that affords opportunity for all ranges of housing and includes generous amounts of open space and parks without spending tax payers’ dollars. We won’t get ALL the open space we may want, but private4  property rights can be respected and affordable housing can be a reality.

The local building community and local business owners were indispensable during Habitat’s build last year on Florida Road. The current City Council waived fees for our homes and supported our efforts during some difficult infrastructure issues. To keep our economy healthy, people employed and tax revenues high, we all need to support those same local businesses and builders and not put the entire burden for future affordable housing on them. That just isn’t fair and doesn’t work!

Each and every resident needs to be willing to take responsibility for keeping our housing stock diverse and increasing the number of units that are affordable. Please ask the candidates where they stand on this issue and what means they would use to keep Durango “real.” Do they agree we all need to take that role on or do they want “a few” to shoulder the responsibility? This election for council is extremely important, and I ask that you get informed to each candidate’s position and whether or not they could carry out the tasks and the consensus building that will need to happen to keep Durango the “real” town we love.

– Connie Imig, Durango

In search of a political party

Dear Editors,

I am a youngster just now old enough to vote, but I want to be part of the process and am political by nature, so give me a handicapped parking tag and let me be. As I look around at my options for a political party, I have come to the following conclusions. I tried the Republicans, but realized, with an average age of 82, the chances of sexual encounters were slim at best, and not optimal. I then moved on to the Green Party. Everyone was nice, in an unfocused, vague sort of way, plus all the body hair (on women mostly) sort of put me off. Not that hair is bad thing, though I think (I guess I am conservative that way) it belongs mostly on the head, with a little reserved for other parts. Then I tried the Libertarians – but no one showed for the meetings, voice mails were full and it was pretty much middle-aged men. Finally, I had to try the Communists (Renee Parsons being my inspiration), but I look very bad in red and don’t normally carry a wallet, so no place to put the card.

So, I settled on the Democrats, here is why. They drink too much, seem to share partners, don’t believe oral sex is sex – and if you grew up in a small town like I did, you know that is true. They think – whatever that means – but it seems to mean something, and they care – again whatever that means – but something I suppose. They like to party, don’t start every meeting with the Pledge and the under-God thing, and smoke on weekends when no one is watching.

A dilemma to be sure, but when you are as young as I, you look for the party of the future, and I think I have found the party, lame as it may be, that is less lame than the rest.

– Fabio Bagosian, via e-mail

 

Successes and failures

Dear Editors,

The Durango Independent Film Festival was a big success this year with more than 4,600 people attending movies. We had several sell-out shows. However, one incident marred the reputation of Durango hospitality. Friday night, March 2, the movie “Klunkerz” screened at the Abbey Theatre to a packed and enthusiastic house. The filmmaker Billy Savage, along with Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly (two mountain biking legends) had traveled from California for the screening. While talking with audience members after the screening, Billy Savage’s backpack with his cell phone, personal papers, wool cap and other items including “Klunkerz” promotion materials disappeared from the Abbey. If you have any information regarding his backpack, please contact the Film Festival Office at 375-7779 or DIFFdirector@durango.net. Let’s show true Durango hospitality and return the backpack and contents to our guest.

– Greg P. Weiss, hospitality coordinator, Durango Independent Film Festival

 

Taking on the hard issues

Dear Editors,

Jim Isgar has once again stood up for the interests of Southwest Colorado. He is a co-sponsor of Colorado Senate Joint Memorial 07-002, asking Congress and the president to stop the escalation of the war in Iraq. The resolution will be debated this week in the State Legislature. Unfortunately, Ellen Roberts says she will vote against the resolution. Here is what it says:  

(1) That the State of Colorado supports and honors its servicemen and servicewomen and will support Congress in ensuring that there are sufficient resources made available to support the United States’ armed forces so long as they remain in Iraq and Afghanistan;

(2) That the Colorado General Assembly urges Congress and the president to remain respectful of the patriotism of all Americans, including those who respectfully express their dissent concerning the United States’ current foreign policy;

(3) That it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States’ military force presence in Iraq; and

(4) That the Colorado General Assembly supports H.C.R. 63 recently passed by the United States House of Representatives and urges the United States Senate to also pass this measure or a similar measure opposing the escalation of troops in Iraq.

Nine billion dollars a month and three more kids from Colorado killed last week with no exit strategy in sight. Gov.Ritter recently said, “Whatever you believe about the war, you cannot deny this is a state issue.” In 2003, Virginia Castro had the leadership ability to remind us that the war is also a local issue. Durango and La Plata County elected officials should join nearly 300 other cities and counties that passed similar resolutions. Who will take the lead?

– Jim Callard, colonel, USAF, retired, Durango

Friends of Animas Valley weigh in

Dear Editors,

In 2003, Friends of the Animas Valley opposed an 800-unit project called River Trails Ranch that was proposed for annexation into the city.

Since that time, FOAV has stood for open and transparent government, increased public participation as well as preserving our quality of life. Depending on the results of the upcoming City Council election, another RTR high-density project in the Animas Valley is still a possibility. FOAV has, therefore, carefully reviewed the statements and history of all the current candidates.

In 2003, Dale Garland, Michael Rendon and Sidny Zink were council candidates. Zink and Garland opposed RTR, were endorsed by FOAV and elected to the council. While Garland is stepping down, Zink and Rendon are current candidates.

Rendon initially opposed RTR but then reversed his position to support the project.

Since Zink’s vote against RTR, her close professional association with the Homebuilders and frequent emotional outbursts have raised questions about her ability to serve. Zink’s lack of leadership on many issues including affordable housing or protecting ridgelines have been major disappointments.

Appointed to the council in 2005, Tom Howley, like Zink, has shown little reason to be elected.  

A member of the city’s Planning Commission in 2003, Linda Geer supported River Trails Ranch while Peter Tregillus was not yet a commission member. Both recently voted to allow development in the viewshed at Twin Buttes and, like Zink and Howley, have a history of rubber-stamping staff recommendations.  

We believe that all of the above candidates share a pro-growth philosophy.

Measured against other candidates, Jerry Swingle has set himself apart by offering a healthy skepticism of the status quo and a commitment to the public interest that is currently lacking. A 28-year resident of the city, Jerry has the time and energy to be a full-time councilor. Most important is that Swingle understands a councilor’s responsibility to require fiscal oversight and staff accountability.

While we encourage Durango voters to scrutinize the positions of all the candidates, FOAV believes the city would benefit with Swingle’s election and urges voters to elect Jerry Swingle on April 3.

– Richard Nobman, president, Friends of the Animas Valley

Geer will give balanced approach

Dear Editors,

Linda Geer’s candidacy for City Council has had a long “incubation” period, a ripening through her many years of working with the Chamber of Commerce, Design Review Board, and currently chairing the Durango Planning Commission.

This commission, where members are constantly under fire from all sides in the community, shows her mettle, focus and mental toughness. As a business owner, she’s in touch with our city’s needs and recognizes that there must be growth, on a reasonable scale, while maintaining Durango’s character.

We know that Linda will never make a statement that she will not stand behind. That’s integrity. She lays out a balanced approach to our economy, environment, social fabric and city governance that shows the breadth and depth of her views, which you can see on her website, www.lindageer.com.

– Richard and Caye Geer, Durango

Geer capable and competent

Dear Editors,

There is a capable, competent candidate for City Council that I would like to bring to the attention of voters in Durango. I live in the county, so I cannot help by casting my vote, but I can write to tell you about Linda Geer.  

I have had a professional and personal association with Linda and can enthusiastically endorse her for this position. When I turned to her for assistance in producing a monthly church newsletter, she always had time for me. One of her best traits, I think, is giving 100 percent attention to a client or a friend. She listens … something lacking in society today, and a trait essential to a community leader.

Linda has experience in leadership and was a recipient of the Barbara Conrad Leadership Award and Diplomat of the Year. She has served on city boards and commissions continuously for two decades, including 10 years of chairing. She has served in many civic organizations and community task forces. She owns her own graphic design business and has worked as a ski instructor at Purgatory Ski Area. Before moving to Durango, she worked in ICU nursing and restaurant management.  

She is an active member in many community organizations, such as Healthy Lifestyle Coalition; Grass Roots Visioning Project, steering committee; Architectural Committee chair for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church parish hall renovation, and she is past board member and singer with the Durango Choral Society. Linda and her husband, Jon, live in a historic house, which they have been renovating by themselves. She has been a precinct delegate to county assemblies, worked in projects for Habitat for Humanity and chaired the Chamber’s trade show, as well as the Young Life Classic Bicycle Tour.

As for my personal relationship with Linda, I really enjoy her company. She has a special sparkle aided by a wonderful smile and a wicked sense of humor. Who else would plan a croquet party in the middle of the winter with snow on the ground!  

Durango would be blessed to have a leader of her caliber guiding the city in future decisions that will effect our environment, our economy and especially our social fabric.  Please cast a vote for Linda Geer … for me!

– June Hahl, via e-mail

Swingle a proactive leader

Dear Editors,

Jerry Swingle has lived in Durango for 28 years. Over that period of time he has worked in a variety of jobs – restaurants, construction, the ski industry and energy conservation projects. He has volunteered for a number of committees including but not limited to San Juan Citizens Alliance, South Durango Neighborhood Assoc., Colorado Western Congress and the Manna Soup Kitchen. The years and the experiences are only two of many reasons we are voting for Jerry – he understands and respects the diversity of our community. We met Jerry at a meeting regarding the quality of air in Durango. He has been active for years in working with various entities to protect all citizens from unhealthy air. If you are for new, proactive and progressive leadership and believe that is the type of leadership that will protect and preserve Durango’s unique qualities and character, then vote for Jerry Swingle!

– Ron and Linda Bunk, Durango

Choose well, Durango

Dear Editors,

It was not so many years ago when the Durango City Council was said to be a part-time body.  As the city’s population has grown over 10 percent since 2000 and the city’s annual budget has reached a hefty $95million, so, too, have the requirements for members of the council.  

The reality is that today’s council continues to function as a part-time body in spite of an increased work load, demands and pressures. While there was a time when the council conducted its business at a more leisurely pace, the new soon-to-be-elected council should expect to hit the ground running and get quickly up to speed on issues that are awaiting council attention.    

With eight candidates for three seats, it will be crucial for city voters to recognize that a well-intentioned candidate may not necessarily have the best analytical

ability to scrutinize dense policy documents, the self-confidence to ask challenging questions or the personality to “take the heat.”

Distinguishing between candidates who appear to offer similar platforms on one-dimensional issues may be tricky.  While any single issue may be worthy of support, voters might look for candidates with the broadest understanding of the issues confronting the city, a clear grasp of their oversight role and how a public municipality should operate would serve the public well.      

“Defining” issues that characterize each candidate provides another measure for how a candidate arrives at decisions and may indicate an insight into the depth of understanding of city government procedures.    

While all candidates may verbalize support for an issue like affordable housing, the deciding factor may be which candidates show the vision and leadership to actually accomplish the goal.      

Those candidates who most respect the City Charter language that states that “all powers of the City shall be exercised by, through and under the direction of a City Council,” will be councilors who best understand the basic principles of good government, which means more than just showing up, voting “yes” and going home

Choose well. Our quality of life depends on it.

– Renee Parsons, city councilor, Durango

Meigs favors appropriate growth

To the Editors:

I would like to endorse Leigh Meigs for City Council. I’ve known Leigh for many years and know her to be a very thoughtful person who will work hard to promote open space, appropriate growth, and affordable housing without fixating on any single issue to the exclusion of others. Plus, Leigh is an attorney, and the council could use one for the many legal issues it must grapple with – none of the current councilors or other candidates has that training. Leigh Meigs for City Council!

– Matt Kenna, Durango

Rendon a breath of fresh air

Dear Editors,

Michael Rendon is an excellent candidate for City Council. I strongly encourage you to learn about what he stands for (see www.votemichaelrendon.org ) and support him in the upcoming election.

I’ve known Michael for years and had the pleasure of working with him at the FLC Environmental Center. Michael will be a breath of fresh air on the council, bringing with him the ability to connect with a variety of people and groups, while remaining true to the positions for which we are going to elect him. He will fight for responsible growth and preservation of open space, boost support of local businesses, find real solutions for affordable housing, and work to increase recycling in Durango.

Through his work at the Environmental Center and his involvement in many other local organizations, Michael’s commitment to this community has been unwavering for 14 years. Michael’s commitment will only deepen as a member of our City Council.

– Amber Clark, Durango

Vote for parks and trails

Dear Editors,

Open space is wonderful, but I am quite happy with the thousands of acres of “open space” currently around us held by the BLM, DOW and the city. My understanding is the 2A tax that was passed is for three, and only three items, which are parks, open space and trails. Personally, my husband and I want more ball fields, recreation facilities and trail extensions so my children have places to play sports and trails to safely walk and ride their bikes on. If you bother to check the local maps that are available through the city and county, you will find that most of the ridges and slopes you can see from town are already in the public domain and don’t need further protection. Zink, Rendon and Geer seem to understand “balance,” and that’s what I support.

– Rachel Whidden, 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