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Thank a Republican

Dear Editors,

Well, things are continuing to look more grim for health-care reform, especially the option of buying into a more affordable public option, since there is virtually no support from the Republican Party. It looks like the “party of ‘no’” has succeeded again. Too bad reform was not passed before the August recess. It has just given the rich and powerful more time to make up untruths (i.e. lies) and scare more people who don’t seem to think for themselves. We sure have the best democracy in the world, where rich corporations and lobbyists with their hands in politician’s pockets control so much of our policy and legislation. I call that corruption.

I am thinking ahead to the ramifications of not passing reform with the huge changes I had hoped it would have provided.  So, next time your deductibles go up and your co-pays disappear, thank a Republican. Next time your premiums increase 15 or 20 percent in one year, thank a Republican. Next time you lose your job and also your insurance, thank a Republican. Next time your health-care benefits are rationed, your claims are denied, you reach your maximum caps for treating your sickness if you are “lucky” enough to have health insurance, and you get to mortgage your house and then go bankrupt because you are sick, thank a Republican.

Yes, the Republicans, who are just so, so concerned about the deficits now, you know, remember? They are the ones who took us into an unnecessary and immoral occupation and also during those same years cut taxes for the very richest of us – these two acts alone ran up some of the biggest deficits in history. But now they are just so fiscally conservative.

The August recess is over. Those who have not put energy into this cause have less time to do so every day. Mobilize your friends and contact your representatives. It could be years before we have this chance again.

– Julie C. Meadows, via e-mail

Myths, lies and monied interests

Dear Editors,

As the national health-care debate has reached a fevered pitch, it is disturbing to witness the myths and bald-faced lies put forward by monied interests and parroted by a complicit media (makes one long for an old-fashioned liberal media bias!). More distressing is the buy-in by a seemingly paranoid segment of the populace. Those who dig deeper than sound bites learn that the status quo is where the danger lies, and reform of a broken system is what we need .

While no bills are yet finalized, some current versions contain language encouraging doctors to offer end-of-life counseling to patients and their families.4 Such language has been twisted into “death panels” by those looking to kill reform. That many seem to believe such obvious nonsense gives one little faith in an intelligent opposition.

For-profit insurance plans will continue to compete in the proposed reform packages, but one should be clear in what they offer to a patient’s health, and what is their ultimate goal: profit. It is simple to understand how this is often in conflict with what’s best for the patient. A public option, mandated to cut costs, will help drive down prices, something that is not happening in the 100 percent-for-profit system. This will also benefit those who choose (it is called an “option” for a reason) to stay with their current plans.

Claims that reform will cover those in the U.S. illegally are yet another straw man. Versions being floated contain language that restricts eligibility to those living here legally. Championed by the uninformed, this is a false claim to be ignored.

When people are educated on the facts of what is actually written in proposed health-care reform bills now in circulation, most agree with the language. Debunk the myths – polls show a majority want reform. It will be a shame for us all if the ignorant and paranoid are allowed to prevail.

– Andy Corra, via e-mail


A safer and saner Durango

To the Editors:

My wife and I spent last weekend in Durango with our children and 18-month-old granddaughter. There I encountered a controversy over whether the La Plata district attorney’s office is excessively moving to dismiss offenses described in Durango police arrest reports.

I retired this year after 39 years as a criminal justice professor. My son-in-law is with the La Plata prosecutorial team, which he tells me has consciously moved toward what I call “peacemaking.” (Google “hal pepin sky” for starters to see what I mean by that.)

I am told that the new county jail space is about empty. Wow! Normally if you build it you will fill it. I’ll be spreading the word among criminologists that La Plata is one county where criminal justice change really is something new and better.

In the classroom, on the streets, in everyday life, I have spent well over half my life among law enforcement professionals. I know the dedication of criminal justice professionals across the system. There is no reason the people of La Plata County can’t continue to support and celebrate the countless quiet ways criminal justice professionals serve public safety besides locking people up.

As I understand recently published comments by the Durango police chief, he figures his officers have been disrespected by prosecutors’ moves to dismiss arrest charges marginally more often than under the previous prosecutor.

I also find credible reports that line police officers tell prosecutors that they see no greater community danger under a newly elected reform district attorney, and even feel relieved of making nuisance arrests.

Congratulations to the folks of La Plata County for having elected a reform district attorney who truly promotes community safety over jailing excess expense and nonsense. Here’s to supporting unsung ways criminal justice professionals serve without requiring them to bust people to demonstrate their worth.

Thanks to all that makes my family’s community in and around Durango safer and saner.

– Hal Pepinsky, via e-mail


Thumbing through bottom lines

Dear Editors,

Every week I pick up TheTelegraph and enjoy all the usual columns. I try to think of things to submit for the “Thumbin’ It” column, but each idea that comes to mind would be a thumbs down. At first I thought I was just being negative. Now I realize there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

Recently, I met a man who works for Greenpeace. He told me that Greenpeace sent him down from Denver because Durango is supposedly one of the more earth friendly towns in Colorado. As I stood on Main Ave – car exhaust swirling about me and cold air being pumped out of open shop doors – I was baffled by his comment. I wondered, “Is this the best we can do?”

Obviously not. If you ever wander through a downtown alley, you will see trash dumpsters full of cardboard, fluorescent bulbs and other recyclable items. I frequently see people sitting in their idling cars in a parking lot with the air conditioning on. As I bike up and down Highway 160 West, I see lines of single passenger vehicles driving to and from work.

People make excuses and justifications for their actions. “I don’t want to pay for curbside pick up and it takes too much time to go to the recycling center. Besides, I only use one can a day.” “I don’t have time to carpool.” “I can’t bike to work because they don’t have showers there.” “We have to have the door open with the AC on or people won’t come into the store.” I understand why they do what they do. Each one of us has our own bottom line. We do what is in our own best interests. I am no different. I just have a different bottom line. It makes me feel good to reduce, reuse and recycle. I like commuting by bike, turning off lights and bringing my own bags to the store. In the end, I know I am helping to preserve our wilderness areas and air quality. I know I am making the world a cleaner place for future generations. I just hope the kids see the worth in my actions.

I guess I don’t understand how so many people in Durango can have such a drastically different bottom line. Some people continue to act as if they are recession-proof in a land of unlimited resources. They think their actions do not affect others. They fail to see how it is all connected.

I know this letter will not move mountains but perhaps at least one person will open his or her eyes. I’ve seen it before: one person really can make a difference. Who knows? Maybe that person will inspire me to write a “thumbs up.”

– Happy Trails, MK Thompson, via e-mail


Red McCombs as usual

Dear Editors,

Last week was filled with news about the reawakened push for the Village at Wolf Creek speculative development. First Red McCombs hires Michael Dino, a heavyweight Democratic lobbyist. His mission: bring in the money cannons. Dino knows where to aim them for greatest effect in developing political channels for side-stepping public review.

As the week unfurled we learned the new plan hinges on a land swap effectively moving the development a few hundred yards. Also, “Hal Jones Development” is now proposing a resort merely three-quarters the size of the original 10,000-person conception.

The key ingredient to this new strategy would be Congressman Salazar sponsoring a land-swap bill. As Clint Jones, of HJD, says John Salazar is the only one who could credibly carry the land-exchange act through Congress. This may be true, but credibility is hard won and easily lost. It seems difficult to believe Congressman Salazar could be swayed into compromising his credibility to join this speculative real estate scheme. Should you oppose the idea of developing Wolf Creek, now would be a good time to drop the Congressman a line at http: //www.house.gov/salazar/contact.shtml

In another article, U.S. Sen. Bennet speaks of “serious concerns about the potential impacts” and needing  to “keep a close eye on the matter and get answers to a number of questions ... .”

Here are some starter questions: How viable is this 1980s pipedream of building a small village at 10,000 feet in elevation to begin with? Look at today’s economic reality and outlook. Consider the under-appreciated future ripple effects our continuing rising chronic unemployment will have. Look at the lower elevation areas around Wolf Creek Pass – they have a frightening saturation of unsold vacation homes, as documented in a Pagosa Sun article by James Robinson (July 8, 2009). Why add to the glut?

Why risk that high-value, fresh water resource?

Remember we are talking about headwaters to the Rio Grande River. Any digging and construction will disrupt, even destroy portions of an exquisitely tuned biological super-organism, one that produces any number of priceless services for all downstream inhabitants. Moving the project a few hundred yards one way or another doesn’t change that.

When will developers appreciate that some places deserve to be left alone because they are of a caliber that warrants being considered National Security Resources?

There is also the matter of the original “dirty land swap.” Documented in Mike Soraghan’s Denver Post article (Feb. 5, 2006): “Wolf Creek development tangled with political ties.”

B.J. Red McCombs may hold legal title, but he does not possess ethical or moral title to that land. Therefore some of us continue to beg Mr. McCombs, and now his daughter, to please revert that land to some Nature Conservancy status, protecting that irreplaceable resource for the greater national good.

The solution really is that simple. Leave that parcel alone to remain an unmolested portion of an indescribably important biological super-organism. It would be a fitting gesture for someone who recently received the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars award for “corporate citizenship.”

If you agree, please encourage Red McCombs to reconsider his priorities. He can be reached through http: //www.redmccombsmedia.com/us/contact-us.  

– Sincerely, Peter Miesler, Durango

P.S. Mr. McCombs: Doesn’t “The Billy Joe ‘Red’ McCombs Fresh Water Biological Preserve” – dedicated to all downstream children yet to be born – have a nice ring to it?


Factually challenged

Dear Staff,  

Normally I wouldn’t respond to a letter as idiotic as the one written by Dave Mehan, but I feel that I have to. There are many problems with Mr. Mehan’s letter beside the fact that it lacks any common sense or facts. 

First off Mr. Meha,n the Fort Lewis College Police Department is responsible for tazing the concertgoer and arresting him. The FLC Police are not facing furloughs. The police do not arrest people for tubing the river and having a beer. They are ticketed for having open containers in public. The general public, besides morons like yourself, have requested strict enforcement of this municipal law in certain problem areas. The neighborhood around the raft put-in has had it with people drinking, urinating and stripping in public. It does not matter that tourists are also being “arrested (in reality ticketed)” for doing this. Tourists should know better, after all where else besides New Orleans can you walk around with an open container? I know in my extensive travels in the U.S. I haven’t been to another city where it is legal. 

As far as being arrested at a roadside checkpoint, if you are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you should be arrested. It is the law after all and the police are paid to enforce the laws that are created by city and state legislators. I love how people like you only want the police to enforce the laws that you think they should enforce. You want the police to ticket those horrible, nasty men that drive those big, nasty diesel pick up trucks. Oh, they are such bad people for polluting our little city. Well Dave, a lot of people have jobs that require that they have a big powerful truck, like a diesel, that makes noise when you hit the accelerator. The City of Durango does have a statute pertaining to vehicles with illegal mufflers. It is enforced by the police, but the police in this city are usually short staffed and busy, and they can’t spend their whole day writing tickets for noisy mufflers. The police are busy taking reports about thefts and car burglaries from whiny liberals like yourself, who fail to acknowledge that there is crime in this city and therefore fail to lock your house or car. I personally know several of the police officers who work in this city, and I think they are very friendly, unlike you. Dave, I just think when you’re a whiny, self indulgent person, no one can please you, especially the police.

Dave, next time you write a letter, you should have your facts straight, or at least have some facts.

– Robert Langdon, via e-mail