Plowed down by DEVO

Dear Editors,

This is directed to the Durango DEVO bikers who nearly ran me over on Aug. 13, while riding up to the Horse Gulch trailhead around 9:30 a.m.

I heard about five “I’m sorry’s” but not one biker yielded to me as they rode down blind corners on descending-biker’s left (they could have at least stayed right) to maintain the easier line, and to hell with whomever may have been coming up. I plugged upward, dodging and avoiding near collisions, until I finally had to unclip and wait out the onslaught of wildly descending, excited pre-teens, trying to beat their buddies to the finish.

I used to be a pre-teen myself, so I understand the moments of losing one’s head. But this went beyond the occasional, unintended faux pas of bike etiquette. It was knowingly annoying someone trying to enjoy their morning ride, because their jollies came first. I would expect this type of behavior and almost excuse it from visiting Californians or Texans, because they don’t know any better. But a local bike team, that I supported by selling my bike at the Iron Horse DEVO Veloswap? This is who wants to plow me down on my mountain bike?


– Christine Rasmussen, Durango


Honest health-care dialogue

An open letter to Rep. Mark Udall Re: Debate with Rep. Bob Schaffer, “Your Show” Channel 20, July 20, 2008

Dear Rep. Udall,

You serve neither your constituents nor the Democrats well when you revert to distorted language propagated by Republicans surrounding health-care reform. Referring to single-payer health care as “government health care” short-circuits the debate and misrepresents single payer health care, which is in fact a single-risk-pool insurance with free choice of private providers – the same as traditional Medicare before Republicans moved to privatize Medicare (at 12 percent higher cost). Contrary to assertions by the right-wing “free market” chorus, only single-payer insurance permits unlimited choice of private providers, whereas private insurance limits choice to “in plan” doctors. Only single payer is capable of providing comprehensive, continuous health benefits and protection against medical bankruptcy. 

Why are more legislators like yourself not protesting the abomination of 2003 prescription drug reform, written by insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies with billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies and inflated profits, while prohibiting negotiation of bulk drug prices? Instead of privatizing Medicare for profit, why not improve and expand its coverage for everyone? Traditional Medicare has run overhead costs of less than 4 percent, whereas private insurances diverts 25 percent or more to profits, lobbying, marketing, exhorbitant CEO salaries and wasteful administrative costs. Profit is a perverse incentive for health insurance, which protects its bottom line by reducing benefits and shifting costs to consumers.

The political class in Washington, dependent on corporate money and privy to 70 percent-taxpayer-subsidized health coverage, seems out of touch. Polls by Pew and others have revealed increasing numbers – 54 to 65 percent – support a national single-payer health-care plan. A recent study reported that 59 percent of U.S. physicians “support government legislation to establish national health insurance,” an increase of 10 percent since 2002 (Annals of Internal Medicine, 3/31/08).

Notably, more than 20 federal and state studies since 1990, including the 2007 Lewin Group evaluation in Colorado, have demonstrated that single-payer health insurance is the only reform model that can both save money and provide comprehensive health-care benefits for all. The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently endorsed national health care, specifically HR676.

Rather than parrot distorted political right rhetoric, we have everything to gain from an honest dialogue about quality-, safety-centered, universal single-payer health care, in place of profiteering health insurance gatekeepers.

– Michele Swenson, via e-mail


Vote for a sustainable future

To Whom It May Concern:

It is with great pleasure that we, the Board of Directors of the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado (SASCO), provide this letter of support to Denise Rue-Pastin in her candidacy to be a District 1 representative for the La Plata Electric Association Board of Directors.

The decision to support Rue-Pastin was made after a review of candidate responses to a survey the San Juan Citizens Alliance distributed to District 1 candidates. Three of the four candidates returned surveys (Goebel, Lindblad and Rue-Pastin. See survey responses at http: // Survey answers were reviewed by the Smart Energy Committee (SEC) of SASCO, which made a recommendation to the SASCO Board of Directors to endorse Rue-Pastin. SASCO adopted the recommendation made by the SEC. Responses were reviewed based on the following criteria:

nDemonstrated commitment to and knowledge of sustainability issues in general and specifically those pertaining to: energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental impacts of electricity generation, and economic and societal impacts of electricity generation

- Demonstrated familiarity with LPEA’s operations and the way in which LPEA functions with Tri-State Rue-Pastin’s responses were consistently in line with SASCO’s energy-related goals for the region. She provided sufficient detail in her responses for the reviewing team to discern that she understands that climate change is an epic challenge for our world at this moment, and that she, as a rural co-op board member, could play a significant role in addressing this region’s contribution to it. Additionally she illustrated a sensitivity to the impact and influence the electricity sector can have on the economics and general well being of the larger community.

Her responses demonstrated her knowledge of the workings of LPEA and the way in which it currently functions with Tri-State. She also showed that she is aware of the efficiency programs LPEA currently has in place and that she has a sense of what LPEA can realistically be expected to achieve in terms of sustainability measures.

Beyond the scope of the survey, she not only illustrated that she has a good understanding of other existing sustainable energy programs and strategies for program implementation, she bolsters that understanding by illustrating her experience with such programs.

In closing, the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado endorses Denise Rue-Pastin for the contested LPEA Board Representative seat in District 1.

– Sincerely, Kimberly Herb, Smart Energy Committee chairwoman, Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado


The rest of the wild horse tale

Dear Editors,

I am writing this letter in response to the San Juan Mountains Association’s Pony Up event at the Durango Arts Center on Aug. 19, held to raise funds for “sustainable management” of  the Disappointment Valley “wild” horse herd. The public deserves to hear the whole story about these animals, which are not wildlife but feral descendants of livestock brought here by Europeans.

While there is an adoption program that finds homes for some of the more desirable horses, some 30,000 animals deemed un-adoptable are boarded for life on ranches at a cost to taxpayers of an estimated $26 million in 2008 alone. Steven L. Davis, an emeritus professor of animal science at Oregon State University, stated: “Many of the wild horse supporters claim the horses have a right to be there. I reject that argument. They damage the water holes ... the grasses, the shrubs, the bushes, causing negative consequences for all the other plants and critters out there.” The science on these animals indicates that they are simply not “sustainable” on most arid public lands.

In a time of slashed land management budgets and severely degraded public lands due to historic overgrazing by cattle, sheep and feral equines, coupled with ongoing drought and global warming, the American public cannot afford to continue to warehouse thousands of un-adoptable equines, or allow the 33,000 that remain at large to usurp dwindling forage, water and wildlife habitat.

In the interest of full disclosure, as a horse packer and guide for over 20 years, I love horses and have owned a great many of all descriptions. Horses have a huge place in America’s history, but on the loose on our public lands, they have outworn their welcome.

– Veronica Egan, via email


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