Poor policy

Dear Editor:

The future effectiveness of the San Juan Basin Health Department (SJBH) is in the hands of the county commissioners of La Plata and Archuleta counties. The Colorado Public Health Reauthorization Act, commonly referred to as SB-194, mandates that the counties re-establish their health departments. The commissioners from both counties re-established SJBH as the health agency for both counties. The law also requires the commissioners to re-establish the board of health for its county health agency. Currently, the SJBH Board primarily consists of community members and is chaired by a medical doctor, Mark Wienpahl, M.D., of Pagosa Springs. A county commissioner from each county is also on the current board. Lynn Westberg, the executive director of the health department, reports to the board, which establishes public health policy for the two counties.

The commissioners of La Plata County and Archuleta County are contemplating replacing the current board of health with themselves. This would be a mistake. It is important that our health department have a degree of autonomy in order to have the independence to be able to perform its duties. At times SJBH has had to enforce rules against powerful local groups and organizations, such as developers, oil and gas industry, our regional medical center and more. It is important and necessary that SJBH continue to have the ability to make tough calls, even against the powerful and politically connected. This will not always make them popular and will often result in political push back.

The role of the two counties’ commissioners is to appoint qualified board members and to provide support and oversight. County commissioners are subject to political pressures from their constituents. Direct management of SJBH by the commissioners is poor public policy. The board of health should consist of members whose first responsibility is to make decisions based on good pubic health practices instead of political considerations.

The commissioners of the counties have not yet decided who should constitute the new board of health. I would urge the citizens of La Plata and Archuleta counties to let them know that an independent board is the best approach to protecting the public health.

Bob Dawes


Over the line

Dear Editor:

In your recent editorial, “Generational Shift,” you’ve crossed the line.

It is a shame that the majority of American journalists find their moral duty in supporting socialist policies, inevitably destined to fail. Nothing prevents you, personally, from joining the losers attempting to destroy our future, but you would have to do it without an audience.

April 15th Tea Parties were the only positive recent political development in the United States. Both parties, Republican and Democrats, have obviously betrayed the American people. And now, when the best and the most honest and hard working Americans have found an outlet to express their displeasure with the narcoleptic and plutocratic political establishment, you have chosen to lecture and insult these Americans. You are misinformed and misguided.

I discontinue my subscription to the “Pagosa Springs Sun.”

Alexander Feht


Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to the article written by James Robinson in The Pagosa SUN on April 16, 2009, titled “County wages, top heavy?”

First of all, I had thought that with the election of two new commissioners, things at the county would change and things would start getting done. Why do we need five people to manage only 12 people? Plus, once James Robinson questioned our elected officials about staffing, Commissioner Moomaw responded that the advisory board would look at staffing. I would think an assessment of staffing levels should have been done before the addition of any staff, especially at Road and Bridge.

Superintendent for $58,000 a year and public works director for $80,000 a year, both of which were filled this year. Are they going to lay these people off if the task force decides they are not necessary?

Commissioner Ranson states that the new public works director is needed because he has an engineering degree and is needed to oversee Park Avenue and Cloud Cap’s repaving project. But, wasn’t this project already well in process when the new public works director came on board, along with the new Juanita Bridge, re-paving CR 975, and construction of the new Road and Bridge building in Arbores — all of which were done by county staff with the engineering services contracted out. Is this new director going to do the engineering and design for these future projects?

I find it appalling to see quotes from our commissioners, stating, “Let the task force do their work,” and “The task force is in the process of assessing staffing levels.” Who is the task force and why are they running our county? The county seems to have enough staff to make this analysis themselves without a task force. It would appear that the “task force” is doing the job of county manager. Why is the task force leading the county and not the BoCC or the county manager?

Then, there is the Four Year Road Plan mentioned in this article. This is the first I have heard of this. I went to the Road and Bridge office to view the plan and they knew nothing about it. So, has the commission or the task force put this road plan together without any input from the Road and Bridge Department? How does that work? I would think that the first people one would talk to when developing a road plan would be the road department. If Commissioner Ranson is really worried about the money, then why add staff to do projects that may not happen which was his response when questioned about the new public works director. With the current economy and the way the BoCC is acting, I will find it very hard to vote for any road plan bond issue that may come along.

Roscoe Hulvey

Astroturf politics

Dear Editor:

I was one of quite a number of locals who attended the recent Tax Day Tea Party at Victoria’s Parlor.

It was gratifying to see the turnout here as well as the turnouts in many cities across the U.S. Of course you were only made aware of the large numbers of people who came out on Tax Day if you turned your TV to the Fox News Channel. In case you missed it, Fox News showed thousands of people demonstrating enthusiastically but peacefully against the government bailouts and stimulus packages which have already devastated the economy, not to mention the inevitable tax increases which will soon follow and place financial burdens on generations to come.

But not everyone was supportive of the spontaneous demonstrations, however. For example, that sage leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, announced that the Tax Day Tea Party was not really a grass root movement, it was nothing more than “astroturf politics” to protect the “wealthiest people” in America. Democratic Representative from Illinois, Jan Schakowsky, called the peaceable assemblies “despicable.” Some Tea Party bashers claimed that demonstrators showed up only where Fox News cameras were present. (Did anyone see any Fox News cameras at Victoria’s Parlor? How many of you who were there consider yourselves to be among the “wealthiest people” in America? And did you see or hear anything despicable?)

The Tax Day Tea Party was an opportunity for me to show I want a government made of people who will support and defend fiscal responsibility. I suspect that was a primary motivation of many others who attended as well, Republican and Democrat alike, despite Nancy Pelosi’s outrageous statement. My thanks to Pat Kahn, the owner of Victoria’s Parlor, for providing a warm and friendly venue for the event.

Gary Stansbury


Dear Editor:

Frankly, it scares the heck out of me that the future of our country, in a lot of people’s minds, depends on what government’s going to do. If this continues, we’re sunk. The American people are the ones who make this country work, not the government; and definitely not “Messiah” Obama. The world is collapsing and we have Howdy Doody and Clarabelle running the country. I wish I had a better solution than guns and gold.

Maybe I should remember that an arrogant Muslim now occupies the White House who has intensified the destruction of America. He tramples, daily, on our Constitution, and everything that is held dear to most Americans. His socialist foxes are running the show, eager to wage war on true patriots. Which was made perfectly clear, last week, by Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretary, who labeled good military men as terrorists! Which now qualifies this whacko as a certified Obama-ite loon.

There are three words that describe America today: corruption, nationalization and propaganda. These are the three legs of the stool of liberalism, and you can bet yer last dollar that they are a lethal trifecta; they reinforce each other.

We are being run by corrupt politicians who, with the help of propagandists in the media, are destroying the private sector. That’s exactly where this country is at the moment. Unfortunately, we no longer believe that the private sector can do a better job running business than the public sector. We are well on our way to becoming a socialist country. It has got to stop!

Ours is a nation founded on the pillar of individual liberty. The notion at the root of our founding is that we are individuals; we are not a collective. We do our best when we are working, without government shackles, in our own self-interest — not selfishness, but self-interest, quite a different thing—— improving our lives and our families’ lives, which in turn improves the lives of our communities, towns, cities, states, the nation at large.

Individual liberty will never go out of style, as our founders correctly noted. But ya better wake up America! It’s time ta stand tall with some backbone!

Perhaps a better close would be to pray for America, because whether it’s a Democratic Congress spending money on “Republican” priorities, the country is getting the shaft.

Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

The reason Obama was elected and Congress reelected, despite it being the most do nothing, lowest rated in history, is that enough people like Ray Finney plodded through the election like horses with blinders oblivious to truth. No Ray (SUN 4/16/09) defends Obama and wants to raise taxes to support his socialist agenda still blinded to the truth. Following is the truth.

Obama is the strongest advocate of the culture of death. He obviously doesn’t need more tax money because he has enough to send to foreign countries without taxpayer consent to fund the murder of pre-born babies. Here, he overturned Bush’s veto of embryonic stem cell research, which involves the murder of pre-born babies. Ray supports this in opposition to his avowed Catholic faith. Obama also went to Mexico to pledge our tax money to pay for the war on drugs and crime, which Hillary said, was our fault. Ray wants not to burden future generations, but each child born today has already inherited a $65,000 debt, which is growing.

A pathological liar, worse than Clinton, “no pork” Obama has approved billions of dollars of Democratic wasteful, useless pork. Foreign leaders, especially from England and Germany, have warned him that his recovery plan will not work and that socialism will fail like it did in England, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and Canada, where the populace finally threw out the entire liberal socialist government. There, however, failing socialized medicine still causes thousands of people to come to the U.S. for medical treatment, but Obama and Ray want to emulate it. Addressing these world leaders and the U.N., Obama denigrated and blamed our country. They will not help us with the war on terror or poverty, gleefully letting us do all the work and pay for it.

Many thousands of people, for starters, engaged in nationwide peaceful “tea party” demonstrations against taxes. They are on the verge of physical riots, to defend against which Obama has secretly assigned on standby 50,000 troops, returning veterans. Democratic leadership in Washington is pleading with state governors like Perry in Texas, to stifle movements toward state secession from the union, things being so bad and people being so fed up with Congress and the Obama administration.

The current economic crisis is due to corrupt, greedy, corporate executives whom the democratic congress refused to keep in check. Despite the scandals, they heaped upon themselves millions in additional perks. Congress pretended to be scandalized, but knew and approved of it in advance. Instead of making them give back the money, Congress — you guessed it — taxed it. Speaking of which, most of Obama’s appointees to high office had to decline because they were all admitted tax dodgers, like Daschle, or criminals, like Richardson. They won’t pay taxes, but, with Finney, want us to pay more.

I strongly urge Mr. Finney and others of his ilk to take off their blinders and look at the truth before they become victims of the corrupt government they support.

Eugene Witkowski