Tipton’s anti-environment agenda
Dear Editor
As a result of a partisan fishing expedition that masqueraded as a Congressional hearing on forest management in Montrose last May, Rep. Scott Tipton and some of his colleagues have introduced a bill that specifically calls for more state control on forest management decisions in high-risk areas on National Forest Service lands as well as lands under BLM jurisdiction.

Coming after the disastrous Lower North Fork fire last March in Jefferson County that scorched more than 4,100 acres of land, burned 27 homes and killed two elderly citizens – the result of a State Forest Service-controlled burn on Denver Water Board land – the Tipton bill seems particularly ill-timed.

But then Mr. Tipton has never let nasty little facts stand in the way of his anti-environment agenda.
– Art Goodtimes, Norwood

Class warfare alive and well
Dear editor,
I am writing in regard to the frustrating situation that many state classified employees find themselves in. Colorado classified employees have not received a pay raise in five years, have been immobilized by the failure to be promoted to the next level of advancement, have been oppressed by austerity measures that have resulted in increased job duties with no measurable compensation and, last but not least, are falling behind other states in regard to actual gross earnings.

There are numerous other issues facing these employees such as health-care increases, an increase in retirement contributions and budget cuts. Why is it that the classified employee on the Western Slope has reduced health-care options unlike many of their counterparts on the Front Range? And what about the effectiveness of the evaluation process that seems to be a mere formality having little effect for advancement?4

For the past five years, I have been a classified employee for the State of Colorado working in an institution of higher learning. The above issues take on a different dynamic in this environment and further create division among fellow workers.

There are three classes of employees within this higher learning institution. They are: faculty, exempt and classified. Faculty and exempt employees received a salary increase, effective July 1, 2012, at Fort Lewis College. They also received a salary increase in July 1, 2011. Faculty and exempt employees at this institution receive better health-care insurance and earn more annual and sick leave than do the Classified Employees at the same institution.

Classified employees are required by the state to have an evaluation of job performance, which is given by exempt supervisors as well as some classified supervisors. Exempt, nonfaculty supervisors do not have an evaluation process set in place nor do they have a formal review at Fort Lewis. I believe this to be a discriminating work practice.  

Many classified employees at Fort Lewis College as well as other state classified employees feel taken advantage of and disregarded when addressing employment issues. Why isn’t there anyone representing our issues? Why do the administrators of these institutions fail to have a pro-active approach toward the discrepancies in wage increases and employee grievances? Are we moving into a subtle form of feudalism? I doubt these institutions could run without these workers and their contributions to the academic community.

How is it that our state representatives could vote themselves a $3,000 raise this past winter and fail to see how that might affect many of the classified employees: Why has Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, not acknowledged the notices many classified employees have mailed her regarding the issue of increasing our wages? Who really represents us? I believe many classified employees fear reprisals if they speak out. The old adage is, “Be glad you have a job!” How does higher-level management justify disproportionate compensations, leaving many workers close to poverty wage? Class warfare is being waged under our noses, and the real question is how enlightened are the leaders of these “so-called” enlightened institutions?
– Laurel Baldwin, Durango

Hotter darling of Tea Party patriots
To the editor,
The self-proclaimed “Tea Party Patriots” in the 4th of July Parade enthusiastically supported Kellie Hotter, waving her signs and walking with her. Well they should. She allowed this small faction to derail two years of citizen efforts to develop an inclusive Comprehensive Plan, costing the county three-quarters of a million dollars. She backed away from supporting the Climate Energy Action Plan (which she commissioned) when right-wingers objected. Her appointees to the Planning Commission have been vocally anti-planning and anti-government. Hotter has been publicly praised and endorsed by patriot leaders which is all fine and dandy. Kellie Hotter is the darling of the far right. Just don’t believe her when she claims to be a moderate.
– Alison Dance, Durango

‘Yes’ on City Charter amendments
To the editor,
Durango voters should have received mail-in ballots proposing two amendments to the City Charter. To count, ballots must be received in City Hall no later than 7 p.m. Tues., July 31. (If you are a registered voter and did not receive a ballot, contact the City Clerk’s Office at 375-5010.)

The amendments address two issues: expansion of the electorate for votes on utility franchise agreements and naming of the official responsible for managing such an election.

The substantive issue concerns who votes in franchise agreement elections. In April, when voters narrowly rejected the proposed franchise agreement between the City and LPEA, one concern was the City Charter specification that only property tax payers were eligible to vote. That provision disenfranchised the many registered voters who are renters, most of whom would pay the proposed franchise fee on their electric bills. It also disenfranchised others, such as my wife and me, for whom legal ownership of their property resides in a trust.  

The primary purpose of the July 31 special election is to correct this unfairness and remove the associated objection to approving franchise agreements in the future. In particular, the City Council is very likely to bring back to the voters in November a new franchise agreement with LPEA. Without the revenue provided by such an agreement—essentially rent of city rights-of-way for delivery of electricity—the City will have to cut nearly $1 million from future annual budgets. Such a cut would come on top of the significant downsizing that took place during the recession. At public meetings in May, attendees overwhelmingly preferred restoring the franchise agreement to further cutting city services.

The second City Charter amendment is a housekeeping issue, naming the City Clerk as the official responsible for managing franchise elections, in preference to the City Treasurer, a position that no longer exists.
Please vote “Yes” on both City Charter amendments.

– Dick White, Durango City Council member

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows