Extremists highjacked Comp Plan
To the editor,
So now after two years and 150 community meetings, as well as more than $300,000 in consultant fees, the County Comprehensive Plan has been scrapped completely. What a joke. The county commissioners and especially the Planning Commission should be ashamed of themselves. Kellie Hotter and Bobby Lieb were primarily responsible for appointing this blindly ideological group to the Planning Commission, yet they have the nerve to blame Wally White for making “a bad situation worse.” Please. Commissioner White was the only one with enough foresight to suggest in August that this Planning Commission was completely dysfunctional and should be replaced.
And I don’t want to hear Bobby Lieb responding that the planning process was just too “divisive” to the community, and that “there was plenty of blame to go around.” That is a load of horse manure.  “Divisive” implies that there were equal sides opposing each other. That was simply not the case. The Draft Comprehensive Plan was the result of much debate, compromise and collaboration. Then a small minority of vocal loudmouths highjacked the planning process from the community at large, ignoring those who participated in the many town meetings that led to the draft plan. And now these fringe extremists have gotten their way by ensuring that no comprehensive plan will be adopted.  Plenty of blame to go around? The only blame lies squarely on the Planning Commission, who never wanted a comprehensive plan to begin with, and the BOCC for appointing it and ultimately allowing this group to completely derail the planning process.

Despite what some others have continually suggested, “planning”  and “sustainability” are not Marxist codewords. Nor was the Comprehensive Plan part of some ridiculous conspiracy where the United Nations would usurp our private property rights and confiscate our guns. The countywide Comprehensive Plan would have simply been a long-term visionary document to which future land use codes could have been tiered.  Now it is just a bunch of paper in a recycling bin.

– John Wickersham, Durango

Evolution with a Capital R
It just takes the decadent to gild their illusions.
It just takes the money mammon to hoard excess.
It just takes the corpulent to compensate genocide.
It just takes the politicians to rationalize perfidies.
It just takes the stupefied to wallow in apathy.
It just takes the parsons to politicize faith.
It just takes the physicians to dismiss the Hippocratic Oath.
It just takes ninety percent of the world to starve,
Before the inevitable-
Evolution with a capital R!
It just takes the bureaucracy to embrace simplicity.
It just takes the executives to appropriate fairly.
It just takes the corporate to focus on sustainability.
It just takes the worker to be elected.
It just takes the soulful to create.
It just takes the clergy to discover Christ.
It just takes the curer to conceive holistics.
It just takes the inhabitants to embrace compassion,
Before the inevitable!
- Burt Baldwin, Ignacio

More kudos to community
Dear Editor,
With so many negative letters lately, I thought it is time to point out something positive happening in our community. My hat is off to Cathy Simbeck and her Fort Lewis students who have enriched the lives of our local Special Olympics athletes. Cathy, her students, and the Special Olympics athletes recently finished third place in the State Special Olympics Volleyball Tournament in Denver. Several months of training and fun occurred prior to this event. St. Columba donated their gym two nights a week for practices.
I am thankful my daughter Melanie has had the opportunity to participate, learn and have fun with these caring people. In January this group will start basketball practice. You all get a big “Way to Go!” Thanks for all the good you do.
– Poppy Harshman, Mayday

‘Other America’ seeks social justice
To the editor,
It is far too early to tell whether the Occupy Wall Street movement will grow and develop like the social movements of the 1960s did. Each of those started small, had their ups and downs, and finally blossomed, with powerful messages and charismatic leadership, into cultural changing forces of great magnitude.
Rosa Parks was just one lady who was not going to give up her seat on the bus. That’s one way the Civil Rights Movement began. It’s still under way, but one dramatic event – in addition to the marches and other examples of “civil disobedience” – along that rough and dangerous road was the Washington Mall meeting of 1 million people.
Concern for those left out of the vast exodus into the middle class that began in the 1950s culminated in the Great Society programs of the 1960s and beyond. One of the compelling events of that movement was Michael Harrington’s The Other America. It became a best seller and laid bare for all who read it the plight of the poor, the uneducated, the disenfranchised and the never franchised in a society of growing education achievement and material well-being.
The anti-war movement began with a few small, sporadic demonstrations. Before that tragic upheaval ended, there were massive demonstrations and wide-spread violence of a depth and breadth that threatened the social fabric of our culture.
Today, even more than in the 1960s, social injustice runs amok. The “Other America” that Harrington documented has grown ever greater in numbers and with mounting tragedy. As a result of recent continuing and deepening economic catastrophes, millions of people in the United States and billions of people around the globe are suffering financially. Many have lost everything. As many, or more, are hanging on by mere threads.
A few are in better financial shape than they were before the catastrophe. They are the lucky ones. They are the ones who should be most concerned about what happened and how it happened. From them should come the “voices of change” demanding that the damage be undone and ensuring that what led to these downturns does not deepen or lead to an economic depression.
This was not an economic disaster that grew out of the normal course of capitalism and its cycles. Rather, it was the direct result of excessive greed, wide corruption and an almost unbelievable “setting aside” of fundamental principles of investment, asset registry, and business and government accountability. It was distorted and deformed capitalism put forth as “business as usual.”
The Occupy Wall Street movement suggests that the breadth and depth of the cultural pain may have, once again, reached critical mass. Something akin to the great social movements that “The Other America” helped give definition and impetus to is desperately needed. What has not emerged, so far, is bold, establishment-challenging leadership and clear platforms for change.
The great cultural upheavals now under way in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and – possibly – Syria and beyond developed through Internet social networking and in other, largely “leaderless ways.” Perhaps that will be the pattern as the Occupy Wall Street movement evolves.
What is certain is that the present Other America needs to be recognized for what it is, how its tragedies evolved and what is needed to address and solve its problems. Cultural decency, economic and political stability and social justice cry out for no less.
– Hal Mansfield, Green Valley, AZ.
Hal Mansfield retired as professor of psychology from FLC in 1993. He now lives in Green Valley, Ariz.


Clean local energy within reach
To the editor,
It is difficult for many to visualize a small country like Germany that is frequently overcast and rainy possibly being a world leader in solar energy development. The CLEAN renewable energy Traveling Team certainly was amazed to see first hand the strides this area of the world has made toward renewable energy. For those of you who attended the team’s presentation, it became evident that seeing is believing. Team members barely scratched the surface of their week-long tour, speaking primarily about the parts that interested them most. Those of us listening were captivated by the pictures and statistics on energy savings and job creation.
The main lesson, however, was not about money saved or money made but that it has happened as a result of local efforts and citizen support. Each community is finding new and creative ways to use their particular resources to benefit locals as well as the country. These are everyday people doing extraordinary things.
By using the Clean Local Energy Accessible Now philosophy here, as is done in Germany, we can save and prosper, too. We just have to work on accessibility. This can be achieved right here in La Plata and Archuleta counties, without any additional governmental policies.
For more information go to http://www.sustainableswcolorado.org/clean or email cleanlaplata@gmail.com.
– Lissa Ray, Durango

Forest Service discrimination
To the editor,
This letter is intended to be a comment on the Boggy Glade area in the Dolores and Mancos  Ranger District, but it is also a comment  on the United States Forest Service’s general policy of discrimination against senior citizens and disabled citizens.
Senior  and disabled Americans cannot hike or mountain bike to any of the areas excluded to motorcycles and ATVS, and as such, they are being discriminated against in their access to the public lands. This ongoing discrimination by the U.S.F.S. in their motorized vehicle policy violates the intent of the discrimination laws that are supposed to protect us all.
The Forest Service’s obvious bias against people who choose motorized access, as their only opportuity to use THEIR public lands is wrong and illegal! These people deserve equal rights and equal access, according to them, not the Forest Service. The United States Forest Service is violating the people’s trust by their failure to provide balance in their duties.
The irony in this issue is that many people who paid the price for our freedom and people who built this country, can’t access the forest lands because they need motorized means to get there.
I would like to suggest that the whole forest be made available to all of the people, not just the people the Forest Service thinks are “worthy.” The very selfish favoritism shown the healthy young people, is as rotten as what it is, discrimination!
Discrimination is wrong on any level, but it is evil when carried out on public lands by government employees!
Comments can be made to the Forest Service via email at comments-rocky-mountain-san-juan-mancos-dolores@fs.fed.us
– Jim Helmericks, Durango

Time running out for Iran
To the editor,
Recently, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, which thoroughly investigated the Iranian nuclear development program, concluded Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The evidence, including satellite images, overwhelmingly points to the manufacture of nuclear weapons within the short term, probably on the order of a number of months to a year.  U.S. intelligence information corroborates this assessment.
The prospect of a nuclear armed Iran, along with the capability to deliver the nuclear weapons via missile systems, poses a threat to the Middle East and Europe. Iran will be able to strike other Arab countries, Israel and parts of Europe.
Other totalitarian countries with nuclear weapons, like North Korea, China, Russia and Pakistan, have respect for the capabilities of opposing forces armed with nuclear weapons. They know retaliation will be swift and comprehensive to a nuclear attack.
Unfortunately, Iran is governed by irrational leaders who live in a closed society, cut off from reality, and who believe in the use of military force to achieve their aims.
Sanctions and diplomacy have not worked to deter belligerent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The countdown to prevent Iran from possibly launching nuclear attacks is approaching action time by threatened powers in the Middle East.
– Donald A. Moskowitz, via e-mail