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Ambivalence and the election

Dear Editors,

This week’s Durango City Council election of virtual unknowns comes when the recession, personal concerns, the threat of an uncertain future and further conflict in the Middle East are the major concerns in many of our lives. Over the past year, I have observed or read about the actions of our current council, as they wrestled with a myriad of problems, requests and special interests during their meetings. After the last council election, I had hoped for strong, wise leadership to promote the way of life in Durango. I was dismayed at the Oct. 7 Master Plan tantrum, thrown by two of our councilmen. Many citizens and volunteers had commented and worked on the plan and had high hopes for its adoption. Then there was the puzzling flip-flop over Twin Buttes by a couple of councilmen, whom I considered to be champions for environmental concerns. Were these the candidates I trusted and chose to give my vote to? In addition, during the public meetings on Twin Buttes, I was dismayed by the unprofessional display by our city planner, who rolled his eyes, smirked and played to the press during citizen comments or when Mayor Parsons questioned speakers. It remains to be seen if the city manager will hold him in check for future public hearings. Where are we going? With their business experience, how will the new candidates influence our future? Is environmental awareness in their playbook?  I was fooled in the last election, and I won’t go there again. Much of the backbone of the present council will leave with the departure of Renee Parsons. Did she make mistakes? Sure, we all do, but she did her research and stood firm on issues. She did not back down when in the minority. I will truly miss her leadership, calm demeanor, constant questioning of issues, and her friendship.

Doug Lyon still addresses the real questions on many occasions and clearly states his conclusions.

Three days before the election, I still have my ballot. I wish the best for our council, but most of all I wish the best for my hometown and my neighbors.

– Mary Karraker, Durango


The future of food?

Dear Editors,

Tainted peanut butter has pushed food safety issues to the forefront of the government’s agenda. A congressional hearing was held this past week to discuss the USDA’s proposal for a national animal identification system (NAIS). This program is being included in newly introduced food safety bills (HR 875 and HR 814), and championed as a protection mechanism that will ensure that food derived from our country’s livestock is safe. NAIS is backed by big agribusiness but strongly opposed by small farmers concerned about the future of the sustainable, locally raised food movement. Though many people would be impacted by NAIS, few have heard anything about it.

Aimed at standardizing the way we identify livestock in order to improve the traceability of disease outbreaks, the program (which is at present only voluntary) involves a three-step implementation process. The first step is for owners of the following: cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, horses, bison, deer, elk, alpacas, or llamas to register their premise with the government. The purpose of the premise registration is to create a rolodex of livestock owners so that they can be quickly contacted should there be a disease outbreak. The second step will require all animals to be individually identified, likely by radio-frequency devices (RFIDs). The purpose of the nationalized tagging scheme is to enable officials to track the source or spread of disease within 48 hours. The third phase of the program will entail regular reporting of certain events in each animal’s life including any movement from one location to another, commingling with other livestock, and anytime an animal is tagged, re-tagged, sold, lost or dies. Reports must be filed for each individual animal within 24 hours of the event, and owners who fail to file the required reports could face fines and other penalties.

Why the objections? The time and cost of re-tagging animals seems a small price to pay for improving food safety and being contacted immediately in the case of an outbreak. What gives?

As the details of the NAIS program are uncovered, it appears that claims to improving food safety are masking other motives. For instance, it is disturbing to learn that large-scale agribusinesses have backed bills that include the NAIS program and would stand to benefit greatly if they are passed. Agribusinesses looking to expand their export markets are hopeful that this program will reassure foreign buyers that exported chicken and beef are safe.

What’s more, these agribusinesses will not be subject to the same tagging and reporting requirements as other producers. There is a clause that would permit the use of a single identification number for large groups of animals that are handled as a group from birth to death, so long as they do not commingle with other animals. Virtually the only place such conditions exist are in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, think feed lots), and it is the agribusinesses that are behind these operations. This raises a critical challenge to the NAIS program: how will it be effective in tracing disease back to the source if it can only narrow it down to a CAFO and not an individual?

Further, livestock raised in CAFOs are plagued with health issues that can be linked to the animal’s diet and their living conditions. If we are serious about food safety, why not direct our efforts at producing naturally healthy, and thus nutrient-rich, beef, chicken, pork, etc.?

I challenge you to question why we do not use the $14.5 million that has already been appropriated (HR 1105, the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill) to the NAIS program to restructure the food processing system and remove the true threats to food safety in this country.

– Meghan Scully, via e-mail

Take back your bodies

Dear Editors, 

Pelvic exams are sick, sexist ways of reinforcing the idea that womanhood is a disease, which does nothing to encourage trust, love and respect for women’s bodies. This obviously leads young women to have sex too young before their immune systems are ready, thus leading to HPV. Women need to be encouraged to educate themselves about their bodies, chart their own rhythms and cycles for health and natural birth control, and how to treat common aliments without doctors. If a women truly feels that an exam is needed, every woman should have the right to order a do-it-yourself exam kit and send it to a lab. http://www.fournierhealth.com/index.html is one such website that offers it. Also a Cervical Specific Antigen Blood test is 98 percent more effective than an exam. Why is this not being offered to women? Money perhaps? After 70 million years of homo sapiens species evolution, women are amazedly designed to ovulate, bleed, grow and birth a child without doctors. When OB/GYN’s came on the scene, that’s when things got dangerous. It was poverty that killed women, not because womanhood is dangerous. Women do not deserve to be submitted, violated, mutilated and drugged, women’s bodies are better than that. Obviously, if what happens to women in OB/GYN’s offices and maternity wards happened to men, it would be illegal. So women of the world, take back your bodies.  

– Cassandra Fisher, Durango

Access to justice

Dear Telegraph:

The Southwest Colorado Bar Association recently donated $1,000 to the 6th Judicial District Access to Justice Committee, as well as $9,000 to other deserving local organizations. The 6th JD ATJ committee has embarked on ambitious goals for the next 18 months that support its mission to allow the public greater access to the court system.

Part of those goals involves public education on topics such as landlord-tenant law, foreclosures, child and family investigators, and free legal resources available on the Internet. It is a great comfort to know that ATJ has the financial backing to achieve these goals, particularly in these challenging economic times. The donations to ATJ and the many other community organizations are a true testament to the goodwill of our local legal community.  

– Lynne Sholler, chair, 6th Judicial District Access to Justice Committee




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