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

Missing zeros?

Hey Guys,

I just wanted to clear something up from the Feb.26 issue. In the Quick ’n’ Dirty section, you state that the mining company known as Colorado Goldfields Inc. is being fined up to $4,000 for illegally constructing a road on BLM land. You go on to report that the company “bladed” nearly 1 mile of an existing foot/horse trail, cut hundreds of trees, cut off trail access by erecting a locked gate, and wantonly drove motor vehicles off-road causing significant damage to the soil/tundra. When I read this, I was sure that the $4,000 figure was missing a few zeros this side of the decimal point. Please tell me that this is the case! If not, then by my calculations, the mining company is paying less than one dollar per foot of damage for their illegal activity. Even in this economy, I suspect that Colorado Goldfields Inc. is more than happy to pony up the $4K for the privilege of continuing to act out of self interest – laws and permits be damned.  

– Regards, John Persing, Durango

(Editors’ reply: Sorry, John. It’s true that $4,000 is the current price of a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in the San Juan Mountains.)

Rushing to judgment

Dear Editors,

The presumptive leader of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, has said he wants Barack Obama and his economic recovery plan to fail. On “Meet the Press” last week, Newt Gingrich fired back, saying, “You’ve got to want the president to succeed. You’re irrational if you don’t want the president to succeed because if he doesn’t succeed, the country doesn’t succeed.” It’s nothing new for ugliness and ignorance to spew from Rush’s mouth such as, “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” Rush also claims, “There are more acres of forestland in America today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492.” I’m guessing Rush is back on the painkillers.

In 2000, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) attached a 262-page rider to an appropriations bill to deregulate derivatives trading and other complicated financial instruments. Essentially, that killed the FDR-era Glass-Steagall Act, which enacted a number of banking regulations.

The idea: to prevent a repeat of the crash of 1929.

Deregulation is a major pillar of conservatism/Reaganism. The irony here is that bank deregulation led to this massive breakdown. Americans are finally starting to wake up. No wonder the GOP approval rating is dropping faster than the DOW. Many on the Right have even suggested Obama is a socialist and his plan amounts to a redistribution of wealth. WTF?!4

So, allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (those who make over $250K/year) to expire is a redistribution of wealth? What about that? In 1970, for example, the average CEO was paid about 30 times that of an average worker; that’s more than 100 times today. But, if you include benefits and stock options, the factor is actually closer to 500 times. If that’s not enough, recent data shows the income disparity in other ways, suchas how the highest 1 percent of income earners in the U.S. accounted for nearly 25 percent of total income in 2006. The only year higher? 1928. That’s right, just before the Great Depression. Hmmm, coincidence? Call me a socialist, fine. But I wholeheartedly support some serious income redistribution.

– Thanks, Bill Vana, Durango

A nuclear solution

Dear Editors,

Congress and the Administration are touting alternative energy sources to replace power production derived from foreign oil. They want to generate 10% to 20% of the U.S. energy needs from alternative sources.

Most of the alternative energy would have to be generated from wind power systems. If we assume 10% of the U.S. energy requirements consists of 100,000 megawatts, and each wind turbine produces approximately 2 to 3 megawatts, it will take about 40,000 wind turbines to produce the 100,000 megawatts.

The siting of 40,000 wind turbines around the country could be a monumental task since an average wind speed of about 12mph is needed to efficiently operate a wind turbine. Hilltops, mountains, canyons and some coastlines are candidate locations for the wind machines, but these locations pose logistical, noise and aesthetic obstacles. The generation of power from the wind turbines is dependent on weather conditions, and we all know how unpredictable and varied the weather can be. Furthermore, we would need an electrical grid system spread out around the country to tie in the wind turbines to the national grid.

Approximately 50 nuclear power plants with two units per site providing a total of 2000 megawatts per site, will generate 100,000 megawatts of clean, reliable, operationally cost effective and continuous power.

Nuclear power plants, domestic oil production, wind energy systems and other alternative energy sources are all viable components of a comprehensive energy program.

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via email


Touching up the Dog Park

Dear Editors,

Thank you, Durango, for moving forward with the Dog Park upgrades! The park is used a lot,and has seen almost no maintenance. I do have two concerns about the plan:1. Will there be some sort of gate system to stop dogs from escaping over the new bridge?2. Do we really need 30 parking spaces? Or can some of that money be diverted to fencing a portion of the park, (or to the Humane Society, as someone else mentioned)?

Contrary to what some people think, the Animas River & Lightner Creek are not very good barriers. Dogs escape regularly. A fenced area for untrustworthy dogs, and a small dog area would make the park much more attractive to more people. I guess that could lead to needing 30 parking spaces after all!

– LeeAnn Craig, Durango

The policing of Purgatory

Dear Editors,

This being my first winter around Purgatory ski area, after more than 20 years in and around the ski industry from the Andes to Alaska, I have noticed many odd things. One of the oddest being the police presence at Purg. The only thing I ask is how much does La Plata County spend on skiing police? They drive up there, park all day, have their own trailer, equipment and smiles, all at taxpayers’ expense. Does anyone else get to ski (bike) on county funds? How about county maintenance people getting passes and so on? 

– Just wondering, Mike O’Donnell, via email

Broken Waltz

Fog umbrella



Windows of dust hued pastel

Fumes of memory


A gingersnap Zippo

Short flame to crimson lips

Whiskey blend vertigo

A portentous look

The smell of cut grass


And upside tempo

Hips in pendulum rhyme

Locket-sway hypnotic

Redress hopelessly lost

Hand in hand

For the last time

– Burt Baldwin,


A mandate for education

Dear Editors,

I understand the frustration of many of the college presidents and their boards, that lead our state public institutions of higher education, as they face possiblefunding cuts from our state government.

These state funding cuts unfortunately are not unique to the State of Colorado. Most public state supported institutions across our country are dealing with this very same issue. Now is the time for a “federal commitment” to higher education funding andto give a much needed relief to the states. Individual institutions of higher education in this state or across our country should not be allowed to be allowed to pass off all of the financial shortfalls on to “lower and middle class” families, through more tuition and fee increases. Our children are already faced with paying off the largest budget deficit in our country’s history.The ability to keep higher education “affordable” and “accessible” for all students and their families without creating enormous student or family debt is a national” issue not just a “state” issue and certainly not just an “institutional” challenge.

We have done this before when we provided funding from the national government for the land grant universities. Again, we provided after World War II the G.I. bill that allowed for college funding for returning veterans. There needs to be a “new call to action” for the financial challenges facing public higher education in this country.

The solution, however, should not be solved by state governments alone or universities and colleges themselves through extraordinary tuition and fee increases.This is one area where a “national commitment” for government intervention is needed to promote the “general welfare.” This is clearly where government should play a role in our daily lives by providing funding and commitment to higher education as it does with transportation, Medicare and social security.Higher education is still one of the last great opportunities in this country for transcending class distinction. It provides the much needed “hope” for parents to improve the lives of their children; particularly after we have already left them the largest budget deficit in this country’s history.

To allow public university and college boards and presidents the unfettered ability to increase student tuition and fees will not give them them the ability to “control their own destiny” because colleges and universities can not charge enough to balance their budgets; even if they could this would be bad public policy!!College president “destinies” are not “controlled” by their abilities to set tuition and fees, as they are to a national public higher education funding commitment to our children’s future without student debt.

– Jim Martin, via email