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Parting words from Parsons

Dear Editors,

Elected to the Durango City Council as an independent voice, it has been my privilege to serve the people of Durango for the last four years. Participating in municipal government and formulating public policy has been a fulfilling life experience that I shall never forget.  Nor shall I forget the many residents who care so deeply about our community.  

Upon election, I anticipated that I would be a different kind of councilor – one who would provide legislative oversight, question staff’s rationale, and zealously protect the public’s right to know. I had, however, never anticipated the personal attacks and verbal abuse that have continued throughout my term.  

Many residents believed that the election of 2007 would bring a professional, pro-active Council that, as promised, would protect Twin Buttes, and adopt a critical ridge line ordinance and a long overdue public facilities ordinance. Many residents also believed that the new Council would rein in the unbridled growth that threatens the character of our community. After two years of political posturing, no real progress has been made on these pivotal issues.

As Durango’s population increases, so, too, do demands on city services and infrastructure. This creates a complexity of issues requiring more Council due diligence than ever. Yet, certain senior staff are shielded from accountability, and maintaining the status quo appears to be a higher Council priority.

The concept of representative government was founded on the principle that an elected body is charged with acting in the people’s interest. My experience, however, has been that Council authority has been compromised, that direction flows in reverse, and that meaningful policy decisions are subverted by the drama of sloganeering and acquiescing to an entrenched senior staff..

As the possibility grew dim that other independent, reform-minded candidates would emerge, it became clear that continuing on an unfriendly Council as a minority voice in support of the public interest has ceased to be a worthwhile life experience. 

It is fair to say that since Twin Buttes, the politics of intimidation and hostility that dominates today’s Council is not an encouraging atmosphere for elective office.

It is with deep regret that I will not be a candidate for re-election to the Durango City Council.

– Renee Parsons, Durango

Of radon and real estate

Dear Editors,

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and both radon and lung cancer are very prevalent here in Durango and La Plata County.

We feel we need to let others know how disappointed and surprised we are that the largest independent real estate agency here in Durango does not make it a point to advise their clients to do a radon test before purchasing a property (or the home inspectors they recommend). Consequently, our family has been exposed to high levels of the hazardous gas for the last two years.

This is in spite of and contrary to what the EPA, the city and others have advised and urged real estate agents in Durango to do: Namely actively advise their clients to have the test done.

It appears that as far as this real estate group is concerned, and probably others too, fear about not closing a deal counts more than the health of this community. It seems to be a case of money speaks to them louder than their conscience. (Statistically it has been shown NOT to affect sales though, in fact it is not difficult to mitigate radon in a home).

Exposing this community, which after all generates their business, to such a serious hazard is both morally and ethically wrong, and we strongly urge La Plata County to make radon testing prior to purchase mandatory, as has been the case in many other Colorado counties. But more to the point, the real estate agencies need to change their protocol of how they do business to include this very important precaution.

In these days of what hopefully looks like a beginning trend of more accountability, it is the least this section of the business community should do. After all, it is also the community they live in and live by.  

Those who do not do the decent thing to suggest the radon test before purchase should pay the price and lose their client’s confidence as well as the community’s confidence.

Anyone interested in further details, feel free to contact us at 764-4163.

– Sincerely, the Matheson family, Durango

End the euthanasia

Dear Editors,

Last year over 44,000 pets were euthanized in Colorado because there were not enough homes for them. Colorado’s numbers are low relative to the rest of the United States, in which between 3 million to 4 million pets are euthanized annually. This is due, in large part, to the more than 55 subsidized spay and neuter programs statewide. Despite our remote location, we have three such programs in Montezuma and La Plata counties: For Pets’ Sake Humane Society, the La Plata County Humane Society, and Dogster’s Spay and Neuter Program.

Another big reason that Colorado’s euthanasia rate is so low is because of subsidies provided by the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund. People can donate to this fund by checking a box and designating an amount on their state tax return. Last year the CPOF provided $225,000 to spay and neuter programs throughout the state, including over $38,000 to programs in La Plata and Montezuma counties.

Spaying and neutering makes sense on many levels. It eliminates the unnecessary suffering and euthanasia of unwanted pets. It eliminates or substantially decreases many behavioral problems associated with territorial aggression. It increases your pet’s life span by eliminating the risk of many types of cancer. It saves big money to taxpayers as well – the cost of a spay/neuter surgery is much less than the money it costs to impound, house and euthanize.

Please become part of the solution by spaying and neutering your pet and donating to the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund. If each of us contributed just $1 of our tax refund, we could prevent the suffering and euthanasia of thousands of homeless pets in Colorado.

– Wendy Haugen, Foundation for Protection of Animals

Durango’s parking pitfalls

To the Editors:

There is something very wrong in Durango. I hate to be the complainer, but I cannot continue to accept this. The parking situation downtown is an unreasonable tax on our workforce, the very people who make commerce in downtown Durango possible.  

I work downtown in a small, locally owned business, and I live outside of Bayfield. So I do have to drive to work. I have always been an avid walk- or bike-to-work advocate, when I lived in town, I didn’t even own a car (I was the girl “you always saw walking.”) So, I am very serious about low-impact transportation. I moved to Bayfield only because I have several pets and out of town is the only place I could afford rent (another underlying issue). All this meaning – I drive to work and have to park somewhere within a reasonable distance of my work. That is normally in the residential area to the east of downtown. Often though, those parking places are full, I am in a time crunch so the 15 min. walk from my parking is unreasonable, or I may need my car several times in the middle of the day while I am on the clock. So, it is unfair to my employer to park so far away, so, at times, I must use the meter.

As every customer-service worker knows, it is, at times, impossible to get out to feed the meter on time. One day in particular, I got three parking tickets in one day. The sad and devastating part is, generally I don’t often have the money to pay the tickets. I mean not that I just couldn’t afford it, I just didn’t have the $27 by any means to cover that single day of parking.

Living in Durango is hard for working folks, and these parking fees are unfairly targeting us downtown employees. These city projects are great (free trolley, etc.) but I do not want and cannot bare the burden of these projects, and neither should others in my position.

This is what me and coworkers have given the parking division (keep in mind we are all young, do not live within walking distance and are barely keeping financially afloat in Durango): Coworker #1 - Got booted after three tickets without warning (no letter), has paid many, many tickets in past. Co-Worker #2 - Bought parking permit for the full lot, parked in metered space, paid $50 in fees. Co-Worker #3 - Got new car, has gotten two tickets in the first week of ownership. Co-Worker #4 - Carpools with husband or arrives very early to try and get a permit lot space. Me - I have paid/owed over two to three days of wages to the parking division, and I am currently on the boot list. And when I am booted (I avoid all city parking like the plague), will I have the $50 for the removal fee? Will Durango’s “transit center” leave me hitchhiking Highway 160?

Please, for the sake of me and all the downtown employees, WE NEED A REAL PARKING PERMIT! We cannot wait for the parking garage. I understand the logic behind the fee hike, but it is truly unfairly taxing a subgroup, the downtown staff and employees.

– Sincerely yours, Denise Lingerfelt, via e-mail

To the rescue

To the Editors:

Once again I have been in need of emergency medical services and have found the staff at Animas Surgical Center to be top notch, caring, considerate and thorough. The doctors, Russell Hill, Michael Paine and David Caplan, should be commended for their expertise and prompt attention. I’ve been treated by all of them in the past two years. I have been fortunate to have Devon as my nurse in the emergency room on more than one occasion. Noticing that I was cold, he put a heated blanket around me to make my visit more comfortable. The x-ray technician, James, was gentle and thorough. And there was no waiting. The last thing you want to do is wait when you need emergency medical attention. I have also had several diagnostic procedures and once again the service was prompt and all the staff members were friendly and gave me the information necessary for me to understand what was going on.

For a small town, Durango is lucky to have a choice for emergency services and diagnostic procedures. My choice is Animas Surgical Hospital. Thank you for being here for us.

– Poppy Harshman, Mayday

Register, get educated and vote

Dear Editors,

On Tues., April 7, the City of Durango will elect three city councilors who will take the oath of office on April 21 and serve on the City Council for four years. The open positions are those currently held by Doug Lyons, Scott Graham and Renee Parsons.

This election is a mail ballot-only election. Ballots will be mailed to active, registered Durango residents by March 23. After voting, your ballot may be mailed to or dropped off at the City Clerk’s Office, 949 E. Second Ave., Durango, by April 7. Drop-off hours are 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday, except April 7, when you have until 7 p.m. to hand deliver your ballot. To be counted, your ballot must arrive by mail or in person at the City Clerk’s Office by 7 p.m. April 7.

If you voted in the Presidential Election in November 2008, you should receive your ballot in the mail. However, you will not receive your ballot in the mail if you did not vote in November 2008. But, if you voted in November 2004 or 2006, you may pick up a mail ballot at the City Clerk’s Office. If you did not vote in any of the elections of November 2004, 2006 or 2008, you need to register by March 9 at the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 1060 E. Second Ave., Durango.

Mail ballots are not forwarded by the post office, so if you have moved into or within the City of Durango and have not updated your address, you must re-register by Mon., March 9.

The League of Women Voters of La Plata County (LWVLPC) will hold a City Council Candidate forum on March 19. Watch for upcoming information on this event.

You may check your registration status at the LWVLPC website, www.lwvlaplata.org , the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, http://www.sos.state.co.us/ , or by contacting the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office at 382-6296.

The League of Women Voters is nonpartisan and neither endorses nor opposes candidates or political parties.

– Marilyn Sandstrom, Voter Services Chair LWVLPC

Half full or half empty

Dear Editors,

In Thursday’s Durango Telegraph in the Quick ‘n’ Dirty section, there’s a story about home foreclosures in 2008 with the headline “Colorado foreclosures tumble in ’08.” In the next day’s Durango Herald there’s a headline of “Foreclosures in County Hit Record Highs.” Are you both looking at the same report? The Telegraph story talks about how the percentage of home foreclosures in 2008 was down from 2007. The Herald story starts out with the number of foreclosures and talks about percentages later. Is the percentage of foreclosures down while the actual number of foreclosures up?Is the Telegraph’s headline calling the glass half full while the Herald’s headline is calling the same glass half empty?

– Jeff Hammett, Bayfield

(Editors’ reply: The Telegraph story was focused on Colorado foreclosures, which did fall in 2008 for the first time in five years. The story did not analyze the change in local foreclosures, but did note that only 1 in 763 local homes went into foreclosure in 2008. Although this may be a record high for the county, it is still a miniscule number relative to the rest of the state and nation. So in our eyes, yes, the glass is half full.)

When does the bash begin?

Dear Eds,

With income tax deadlines a mere six weeks away, I need some help finding the Tim Geithner Turbo Tax software with the Tom Dashel bonus CD.  Too, inquiring minds need to know when the official Bush bashing season ends and the Obama bashing season begins. Is it on the same day, or does one end on a Saturday and the other one starts on Sunday? It’s a bit unfair that the Bush bashing went on for eight years and Obama bashing will last only four years.

Wait a minute, that’s a good thing!

– Dennis Pierce, Durango