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Hard questions for Scott Tipton

To the Editors,

I have questions for Congressman Tipton. Maybe you have them too. Maybe he’ll answer them here, specifically, not with rhetoric he and Tea Partians allege to rebuke.

As background: Before the recession, median household income in five counties of your district, Congressman, was $34,600: $20,000 lower than the national average. Fourteen percent of constituents lived below the poverty line (12 percent was national average), while 1.93 percent of households earned $250,000 or more.

So, Congressman, just before you took office three months ago, Republicans insisted on a tax-cut package, raising the federal deficit for 2011 by more than $400 billion (per the Congressional Budget Office, “CBO,” a nonpartisan federal office established in 1974 to, in part, assist Congress in decision-making). Congress maintained cuts for those 1.93 percent of Americans. Your party said this would create jobs, even though CBO’s research concluded that tax-break job creation for 2011-12 would be zero to 0.1 percent.

Does this make sense: Republican leaders insisting on tax breaks raising the deficit $400 billion, then you take pride in cutting $61.5 billion from the budget?

And who are you affecting now, Congressman? Out of so-called discretionary spending – 12 percent of the budget that doesn’t dent the deficit – you’ve tried cutting $1 billion from Head Start, $1.3 billion from community health services, $327 million from family planning, $210 million from maternal and child health, $758 million from WIC, $96 million for mental health services. Are you proud? Do you say to your constituents, “Suck it up?”

Never-mind what you did against the environment and job creation, slashing funding by $900 million for energy efficiency (Isn’t this a little short-sighted, giveninternational events?) and protection for your Four Corners constituents from pollution from one of the nation’s worst coal-fired power plants. Cutting about $3 billion from EPA, prohibiting it to set greenhouse gas limits or collect information on its sources: How does that reduce the deficit, Congressman? How does it reflect public views, when 72 percent of Americans want environmental protections kept the same or increased? This makes me wonder: Who do you really represent? Millions were spent on your campaign from unknown sources, sir. Care to disclose?

– Nancy Jacques, via e-mail


Artificial energy shortages

Dear Editors:

The prospect of someone starving in the midst of plenty is not as fanciful as it may seem. In the early 20th Century, Ukraine was the breadbasket of Europe, but the Russian communists created an artificial famine, sequestering the grain in locked warehouses guarded by Russian soldiers. Millions of Ukrainians starved to death because they were not allowed to eat the food they themselves had grown.

Similarly, the U.S. today has an abundance of energy reserves, but radical environmentalists in the Administration are creating an artificial energy shortage and starving our economy. They have denied and revoked permits for coal mining, created serial moratoria on oil drilling, and trumped up concerns about hydrofracking in order to forestall the development of natural gas fields.

Access to several promising sites in Coloardo are being obstructed, delayed or denied for no good reason. From the bountiful Niobrara formation near Greeley, to the tight sands formation near Rifle, to the horizontal shale plays near Durango, we have lots of resources, but we aren’t allowed to access these.

Keep in mind that the oil and gas industry in America currently supports more than 9 million jobs and provides nearly $90 million a day in revenue to our state and federal governments. In Colorado alone, it supports more than 137,000 jobs and injects more than $18 million into our state economy.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has promised to liberalize the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules so as to encourage energy development rather than stifle it. Now, if we could only get our leaders on the national level to show such levelheadedness.

The Obama Administration’s insistence on risk-free energy development is utterly unrealistic. Radical regulators have effectively declared war on fossil fuels – thereby, in the process, declaring war on us as well, the citizens they are meant to serve.

As free citizens in a sovereign nation, we need to speak out against capricious, self-defeating impediments to the development of our own energy. We must demand that our U.S. senators and representatives intercede for us, opposing all arbitrary restrictions on energy development, rejecting self-imposed scarcity, and embracing the abundance that lies right before our eyes.

– Debra J. Pace, Grand Junction



To the Editors,

It has been an honor to work as the Quality of Life Manager for the American Cancer Society for the past five years. My responsibilities included forming programs to meet the needs of cancer patients and providing these services through our volunteers. My territory included La Plata County, as well as Pagosa Springs, Telluride, Cortez, Mancos and Farmington. Volunteers in the counties I served are AMAZING!

There are more than 35 drivers in four counties to bring patients to their treatment. There are 15 volunteer breast cancer survivors who meet with newly diagnosed breast cancer patients to answer their questions and calm the fears that come with this disease. There is a “Man to Man” group that meets monthly to offer education and support to men with prostate cancer, and a general support group for all cancer patients and loved ones. Ten local hotels provide complimentary rooms (when available) to patients that travel more than an hour for treatment (more hotels are needed.) Volunteers work in the Cancer Resource Center, located in the Durango Cancer Center, five days a week to arrange services for cancer patients. And cosmetologists and their assistants offer the “Look Good, Feel Better” programs which provides makeovers to women in cancer treatment, including a valuable kit of products.

These wonderful volunteers are too many to name individually. I want to extend my thanks once again for the difference they are making, by giving their time and energy to the services provided by the American Cancer Society for cancer patients and their caregivers. The generous hearts of my volunteers have made my experience working with the American Cancer Society truly a pleasure. Although I am retiring, I plan on joining the volunteer team in the near future!

– With sincere gratitude, Ginna Harbison, Durango


Torn at Purgatory

“Ouch!” I lay still.

“No, that could not have been.”

“Was it?”

Please tell me that wasn’t a “pop” I just heard on my right knee, I think to myself as I scramble to get up and back onto my skis.

As I repeat my story to the nurses, PAs, PTs, Drs, and anyone and everyone who asks, it is so banal it’s almost embarrassing. Purgatory. Skiing; with my 6-year old; on a run I’ve done a hundred times. I turned. I fell. End of story.

I made it down, still in complete denial of the whole “popping” noise, even taking another run with my son, trying to convince myself that all was well. No, there4 

was no pain, just that strange feeling that something was not quite right. Yet, as I ducked and turned my way through Animas City’s jail, bank and other assorted wild west store fronts, I knew all was not well, so I bee-lined it to the Urgent Care at the base of the mountain. Thankfully, Thomas was able to continue skiing with a group of friends and their parents.

As I lay on the gurney waiting for the PA to see me, I text my husband, “Blew out knee???” I can’t believe I am writing that to him; it is just too surreal. Even after the kind PA tells me that yes, there is a weakness to my knee that concerns her, I try to convince her that I can ski myself to the Club where I have my town clothes. No, she insists that she will get a patroller to give me a snowmobile ride. This is ridiculous, I think to myself. Well, as I collapse on the ground in sheer pain, with the patroller next to me carrying my skis, I realize that yes, something not great has just happened to me, and this is the beginning of a very long ride.

Now, as I sit in my office looking out into the dark and cold of a predawn morning, I wonder what lies ahead. Surgery looms in my near future, the date fast approaching, but not really fast enough. Questions and fears swirl through my head.

Will I actually return to all the activities that keep me sane in this crazy and hectic world? Will all the hours of PT that I have already logged really help me in my post-surgery recovery?

Did I make the correct decision to have my patellar tendon removed instead of a hamstring tendon to replace the torn ACL? How am I to make that call, as the surgeon sits there waiting for me to give him an answer? I am an attorney; until recently I didn’t even know about such questions, and I don’t feel that the doctor’s crash course in ACL repair has prepared me to make the decision. But I had to make it anyway.

– Lisa Ferrell, Durango  


Back from Israel

Dear Editors,It’s not easy to understand what’s going on in the Middle East in 10 days. I will say that I have a much better grasp of the issues. I can read the news with a clearer understanding of the bigger picture. At the same time, I am more critical and confused. I am also embarrassed to learn about how disturbed Israelis are with the Obama Administration’s clueless actions in juggling the power struggle. Israel views us as weak, based on Obama’s actions. They cannot rely on our help if things go from bad to worse. That’s not to say Israelis aren’t looking at the potential positive outcomes in the wake of events to follow. They understand that today’s young generation of Muslims regionwide are rebellious because they are looking for solutions to everyday problems in poor health care, lack of education, poverty and unemployment. And radical Islamic groups don’t have solutions to these problems and are therefore at risk of extinction. Hence the Muslim Brotherhood freaking out and working its way into the scene to try and further its agenda.

This is where things are getting really messy. The escalating turbulence in the Middle East is going to result in either a positive, peaceful change or a perpetual nightmare, but it’s not going to happen overnight. There are so many gray areas with so many complicated consequences. There’s also a never-ending fear vs. hate mentality that continues to fuel the conflict. Despite the politics, I had an amazing time in Israel. You have to understand the pain to enjoy the pleasures of this country. If there is one thing I learned while talking to American Jews, IDF soldiers, political analysts, Israeli tour guides, Kibbutz community members, business owners and bus drivers, it’s that the love for Israel is a powerful force for the past, present and future.

– Stacy Falk, Durango