Drunken mistake turns ugly
Dear Durango,
I almost lost a good friend last night. After an evening of drinking he stumbled, by accident, into the wrong house during the wee hours of the morning and received two gunshot wounds for his mistake. While I don’t know all the details I do know this: Had the shooter’s aim been merely inches more accurate, I’d be attending a funeral instead of signing a get well card.
In all fairness, my friend made a series of bad decisions which led to an extreme yet lawful response from the homeowner, who was apparently within his rights.
We all know young people in this town tend to over-do it when it comes to drinking, (my friend was no exception) but I must say that given the circumstances in this case, the response seems aggressively excessive. Americans value their freedom to defend themselves dearly, but along with the right to bear arms comes the obligation to bear them responsibly. In Durango the police are never more than seconds away and choosing to shoot an unarmed intruder who was making a drunken mistake (no matter how stupid or illegal) was cruel and unnecessary. The young man in question is a thoughtful, compassionate human being and despite making some extremely poor decisions, he did not deserve to die because of a drunken mistake.
Young people of Durango: Mind your P’s and Q’s when you’re out on the town. Shooter: I hope you lose more than a few nights of sleep thinking about the young life you almost took. And friend: I hope you’ve learned a lesson from all this ... I’m just sorry you had to learn it in such a strange and painful way.
– John Michael Peck, Durango

Lachelt a consensus builder
To the editor,
I think that what we all want in a county commissioner is someone who has a clear vision for a vibrant, healthy community and the organizational skills, the practical knowledge and the passion for fair play required to realize that vision. Gwen Lachelt has my support for county commissioner.
Over the years, Gwen has built an impressive record of public service. She played a significant role in founding and guiding several citizen organizations including the San Juan Citizen’s Alliance and Bear Smart. As the founder and director of OGAP (Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project) she has earned a national reputation as an effective advocate for sensible and forward-looking policies on energy, land-owner rights, air and water quality, and the protection of wild lands. In her role as director of OGAP, she has acquired essential skills in budgeting, staffing, planning and coalition building.
Gwen’s vision for La Plata County is based on many years of living here, biking and hiking our mountains and working with community members on the complex issues that effect us all whether we are gardeners, sportsmen, business owners, farmers, young or old. Gwen believes that the solutions to the issues we face – transportation, health care and human services, jobs, housing and planning for land use – require the active engagement of us all. We are all stakeholders.
Her skill and tactfulness in working with others to resolve differences and build consensus have been essential to her success. I have known Gwen since she was an undergraduate at Fort Lewis College. And like everyone who has ever worked with her, I can testify to her courage,
integrity, intelligence, compassion and her happy, optimistic spirit. I was delighted when I learned that she was running for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners. She is a candidate whose leadership we can believe in. Gwen is principled, fair and cares deeply about the future of our county. A vote for Gwen Lachelt is a vote for a more responsive, more effective county government.
– Doreen Hunter, Durango

BPA also lurks in dental products
To the editor,
On Sept. 20, the Telegraph had a thumbs down to the link between childhood obesity and bisphenol A,  or  BPA, which is found in everything from food packaging to medical goods and plastic bottles.
Unfortunately, BPA is also a major component of many dental products used by dentists for  placement of metal-free fillings, sealants and cements used in crowns, veneers and implants. The  metal filling (mercury component ) vs. metal-free filling (composite ) is revisited here.
Metal-free fillings, made of composite resins,  have  been around since the late ’60s. It has been only within the last 10 to 20 years that composition and placement protocols have allowed them to be placed with predictable success.
Composite resins are nothing more than small particles of filler that are imbedded in a matrix  of  monomer-polymer type plastics (similar to epoxy cements that are use  as a household glue.) These cements harden when the “monomer” and “polymer” – or “base” and  “catalyst” – are mixed together.  Composites can be “self setting” or can be activated by a certain wavelength of light used with a primer in which BPA is a component. The use of these materials has given  rise to the era of cosmetic dentistry.
Blood levels of BPA are present in most individuals, although no toxic level has yet been determined. It is unclear to what degree (if  any) that  BPA/composite materials contribute long term in the oral cavity to these levels. Long term research is  just starting to emerge and future toxic BPA  levels/consequence should be forth coming.
Current metal fillings (alloy ) consist of: silver (40-60 percent), tin (12-30 percent), copper (12-30 percent), indium (0-4 percent), palladium (.5 percent) and zinc (1 percent). The alloy is  mixed with  mercury (43-50 percent) by weight to form  the final metal filling (amalgam). The toxicity debate   revolves around the amalgam’s content of mercury.
Chemically, mercury exists in three forms: elemental, inorganic and organic. Elemental mercury is the most volatile of the three and mercury vapor is the most common form. Methyl mercury is a major component of coal burning. The air we breath has been estimated  by the EPA to contain 40-120 nanograms of mercury per day. The World Health Organization adopted a threshold  for mercury exposure of 25 micrograms mercury vapor per cubic meter of breathing zone air eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. Removal of an existing amalgam from a tooth releases about 15-20 micrograms of mercury vapor over a period of under 10 minutes, 90 percent of which is eliminated  by high speed suction.
Sources of mercury in our drinking water and food are estimated by the EPA to be 5.8 micrograms a day.  A patient with more than eight amalgam fillings average 1-2 micrograms of mercury uptake daily, less than one third of our normal dietary uptake through our food, water and air we breath.
Patients need to take the time to review research  as to which dental materials, mercury or BPA,  best meet their wants and desires. Other considerations may include: nonbiased based research, marketing, profitability, dentist’s preferences and lack of alternative materials.
– Jeffrey Kohlhardt, DDS

Imagine D.C. without lawyers
To the editor,
Imagine, if we as a people were to change our habit of electing Ivy League lawyers and the wealthy elite to the office of President, or to any
Congressional or Senate office. Imagine if we were to demand other choices.
We might elect a school teacher, and our system of education may be improved. Who understands the educational needs of children better than someone that has spent decades standing in front of them and educating them?
Maybe we could elect a nurse, and our medical system could be improved. After a career of taking care of those in need, who better to bring compassion back to our medical system?
Or we could elect a farmer, and then we may all have access to healthy nutritional food. After years of watching topsoil blow away, and feeling first hand the effects of climate change, who better to address our failing food system and the environment on which it relies?
But who would protect the wealthy elite and their lawyer friends? Who would continue to wage war and defend profiteering under the disguise of patriotism? Who would keep the bank vault doors open for the privileged few?
Lawyers in the White House are not a new thing. More than half of our presidents have been lawyers. But here’s the rub. This country is not about laws. This county is not made of abstract laws written on paper. It is made of human beings, wildlife, flora and living ecological systems. Rather than elect individuals that will protect ALL of these precious things, we continue to elect lawyers and those that have never struggled.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in laws. I believe in law so long as it protects everyone and everything. The problem with our current system of law is that it is written by lawyers. And many, but not all of them, along with their pedigreed friends, have written laws so that the system benefits only them.
Originally the system was not intended to benefit anyone. It was intended to protect everyone and everything we hold dear. Such as the human need for love and family, accessible education, a healthy environment, safe healthy food, and compassionate care when we are sick. Aren’t these the things that they were talking about when they wrote “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
Currently, when a president takes the oath of office he says “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Possibly, we might consider having him or her say “I do solemnly swear that I will care about the health and well being of every man, woman and child, and the planet on which they live.”
One can only imagine.
– Timothy Prow, Hesperus

Dems offer ‘big picture’ candidates
To the editor,
In accepting the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney only needed one sentence to clarify his perspective for me. “President Obama wants to slow the growth of the oceans, I want to help you and your family.” How better to help families than to focus on the bigger picture? The current chaos of Mother Nature including the rising of the seas (just check the yard stick) is making a dramatic impact on the well being of families everywhere.
We need our government representatives to legislate and execute the bigger picture for us before the metaphorical & actual rising oceans overtake our families. The overall effect of governing what individual citizens are not able to impact will serve to benefit and protect our families. In partnership with our government, there are many ways in which we as individuals must live and model responsible citizenry. This includes caring for our families, caring for others and caring for our planet.
I am counting on my elected officials at all levels to keep the bigger picture in mind and among so many other things, set policy for local land-use planning, develop alternative energy, protect our fragile ecosystems and even quell the rising seas. In our family units, we cannot provide health care, stimulate the economy or see to national security. That is why throughout history people have formed governments to address the big issues.
For this reason, I am actively supporting big picture, proactive candidates: locally Gwen Lachelt and Julie Holligan Westendorff for La Plata County commissioners; at the state level Michael McLachlan for Colorado State House of Representatives; at the national level, Sal Pace for Congress and President Obama to lead the U.S.A. at home and globally. I encourage readers to seriously consider voting for these candidates. For the greater good, we must expect our elected officials to legislate and execute beyond just what is going on in our families.

– Kathleen Adams, Durango


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